Greet 2021 by Re-Committing to Your Dog
Every January brings us new opportunities to look forward to a new year that is brighter and happier than the last. Without dwelling on why I’m saying this right now, at the end of 2020 (that “C” thing…), let’s turn our attention to one of the reasons why even our bluest days are made better: our dogs!
Can I get a show of hands (paws?) from those folks who turn to their dog every day and just smile? We know how much our canine pals bring us unbridled joy, fun and love. Life without our furry companions is simply unimaginable.
In this post I want to discuss a few questions that clients and other dog owners have asked me in 2020. These topics include behavioral issues that have come up with so many of us staying at home this past year. Perhaps you’ve become more aware of your dog’s particular behaviors or he’s begun exhibiting some new behaviors—some that are good, some that need work. I hope these tips offer ideas on how you can help your dog be a better canine citizen and housemate.
1. Can my dog give me Covid?
Im asked this question often… lets leave that one to the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here is some of the latest information available on this ever-changing topic.
2. Help! My dog has suddenly been destroying the house whenever we leave him alone. He never used to do this! How do I get him used to being alone?
Even the calmest of dogs are starting to act out due to the sudden change in home lifestyles this year. You can help your dog get used to being on his own again, but it is most successful when introduced gradually.
A good way to do this is to start separating yourself from your dog while you are both home together. Put a baby gate up and teach the dog to stay on the other side of the gate for five minutes at a time, then gradually increase the length of time over a series of days. If he can be separated from you while you’re at home, it may help him to be more comfortable when he’s separated from you when you leave.
This recent post offers some details background and tips that can help.
3. My dog pulls like a draft horse when I walk her on leash. My arms are tired! What can I do?
This problem often has to do with the type of equipment you’re using. Don’t use a harness that clips on the dog’s back. Many people use this kind of harness because they think it’s more humane for the dog. However, it actually gives the dog better leverage to pull you. Think about it: harnesses were invented for animals to pull things! Thus, a harness does not help a dog to learn how to heel on a leash. (See below for more information about equipment.)
Start teaching your dog proper leash manners inside your home. Put on her leash and collar and start walking her in your house and your back yard—nowhere that’s exciting for her or she won’t lear because she’ll be too distracted. Build on success…
It’s okay to keep a treat by your side to hold your dog’s interest. Remember, you are the leader, so you take the lead—your dog should be walking by your side, not pulling ahead of you. Changing directions sometimes helps you to stay in the lead.
In many cases using the correct equipment can make all the difference in the world. Consider the Easy Walk harness or a similar harness, where the leash is clipped to the front of your dog. You could also try a Halti or Gentle Leader. These tools all come with clear instructions for their proper use—be sure to follow them! If your dog is an extreme puller, you may need to seek help from a professional dog trainer/behavioral therapist.
4. My dog goes ballistic when someone comes to the door, especially when the person is wearing a mask. How can I stop my dog from going nuts? (Nuts & Ballistic means barking & jumping )
This is also a behavioral modification method that requires gradual training. Start by desensitizing your dog to a mask. Let your dog see you (and others in your household) put your own mask on and then take it off. If you are meeting a dog for the first time, keep your mask off at first (while maintaining proper distance from other people), then let the dog see you put the mask on once he gets comfortable with you. This helps a dog be more accepting of the mask.
Next, desensitize your dog to the doorbell. Remember Pavlov’s dog? Ring the bell, feed the dog, “Classic Conditioning” Teach your dog to associate the doorbell (or knock) to treats or praise; then when the bell rings, he’s going to be more focused on you and getting treats and praise, and less reactive with his jumping and barking. This type of training is called counter-conditioning, because your dog has actually learned to do the unwanted behavior of barking at the doorbell.
5. Training your dog to come when called can be a life saver for him.
Teaching your dog to come when he’s called (the “recall”) is paramount for his safety (and your sanity!). Remember that when you call your dog, it should always be for something good—a treat or praise—never for something bad- harsh tone. We never are to call our dog then punish them in any-way. Any dog that is treated that way will be less likely to come when called.
Teaching The Recall or Come When Called is done by using “classic conditioning.” Conditioning the dog over and over so that he / she understands that every time he comes to you, he’s going to be praised and maybe even given a treat.
This is a simple exercise to teach! Put your dog on a 6- to 10-foot leash (not a retractable leash) and do not ask him to sit or give any command at all. Then stand directly in front of him and take a long step backwards, saying “Fido, come.” When he steps toward you, praise and give a treat. Repeat that process 10 times, then switch places and do the exercise another 10 times. Practice this over and over (and over!) again, gradually increasing the distance between you, until the dog’s response to your call is instantaneous and he comes to you every time. During this exercise do not give any other commands, no sit no down, in fact I suggest to not even correct if your dog jumps on you, just ignore that for now and celebrate your dog coming to you. We don’t want to confuse the dog or put any doubt in his mind that coming to you is the best thing ever. Giving other commands or correcting at this time may confuse the dog and turn the dog off to being excited to come to you. At this point It has to fun, exciting & rewarding for your dog. After a few weeks of solid recall response, then you can start chaining sits and correcting for jumping during this exercise. Of course you can correct for jumping when you’re not conducting the Recall command.
The repeated process of “Fido Come” is called “classic conditioning.” Just like when we see a red light or stop sign, when we are driving, we are conditioned to step on the brake pedal. You really don’t even think about it—you just respond with the action. That’s the same type of reaction you want from your dog when he hears you say “Come.” Remember back to when you were learning to drive a car? Someone had to teach you, “Hey, hey, slow down—you’re coming up on the stop sign too fast.” You weren’t very good at reacting right away, but now you probably don’t even think about it, you just automatically stop the car. That’s exactly the way it should be for your dog when you call him—he comes to you right away.
Remember Dog Training Mobile uses Dog Friendly, non- harsh methods & Human Easy training methods… I come to your home and help you in your “real life” environment. Please, visit my website at www.dogtrainingtucsonaz.com and don’t forget to take our free behavioral quiz
As always, if you have any questions you can give Gerard Raneri a call at 520-440-8848 Serving the Tucson area.
Feel free to use our contact us form, it’s the quickest way to contact Gerard. https://www.dogtrainingtucsonaz.com/contact-gerard-raneri/
Happy Holidays !