Not sure what to do with your new pup? Once you are able to resist the cuteness of your new family member, it is time to start training. Dogs can be trained from an early age, so begin teaching your puppy about your expectations and the world around them as soon as he or she arrives in your home. The sooner you begin teaching them good manners and social skills, the easier it will be for you when they hit the difficult period of adolescence.
A few days ago we received a letter from the local council stating that someone has complained about dog barking. To say that we were shocked is not enough. Milo is never left alone for long periods of time except for the two days this year, when we had to leave him for the whole day. The only people, who could have complained, are our upstairs neighbours. When we asked them about it, they said that they were concerned for Milo’s well-being, because he barked almost every day for 10-15 minutes at a time. I’m not going to share my annoyance with the fact that they failed to tell us first. After all, how on earth could we know that he barks, when we’re not home? Moreover, I seriously doubt, that Milo actually barks that often. Next day after we received the letter, we installed a web-cam. I was on holiday for a few days, and Milo was home alone, while my husband was at work. We haven’t seen or hear him bark once. He was sleeping like a log on the sofa, which is pretty much his favourite pastime. Anyway I’m going to share a few tips on how to make your dog comfortable while you’re gone. From now on, I will make sure that I stick to them myself, although being home alone had never been an issue for Milo before.
Think about a recent situation, which involved you seeing another owner walking towards you and your dog. What was your reaction? Did you hold your breath for a moment? Maybe you tightened your grip on the lead? Probably, you even pulled the lead a bit or started talking to your dog. Chances are, you did all three and something else, if you were walking a dog that is reactive on lead. The behaviours are not themselves a problem. The issues arise, when your dog learns to associate them with other dogs approaching him. After that you are trapped in a vicious cycle:
In addition to your behaviour and body language, there are other possible triggers for your dog. A common trigger is a certain type of dogs. For example, your dog has been attacked by a large white dog and will display aggression towards similar looking dogs. Another possible trigger is a certain place. For example, your dog may only react to other dogs on a narrow pathway or on a certain street corner.
This is the second part from a series of posts on lead aggression. Please read “Lead Aggression. Part 1” first.
Since I’ve been writing a lot about focus, concentration and stress, I will just briefly summarize the main points. Improving concentration will involve some actual training and exercises, while stress management will be focused mostly on lifestyle adjustments. I believe, that the easiest way to deal with dog behavioural issues is to create such an environment, which will set the dog up for success.
Do you find yourself hiding from other dogs during walks? Keep reading then. One of the most common complaints among dog owners is related to the so-called “lead aggression”. If your dog is lead-aggressive or lead-reactive, your walks can become a nightmare and a source of constant embarrassment. The most frustrating thing for me is to see this on the streets, while I know, that it can be easily corrected. When I say “easily”, I don’t mean “overnight” or “by a wave of a magic wand” kind of “easily”. What I mean is that this issue is curable with some simple adjustments, re-conditioning and commitment.
I have already touched upon some common mistakes in leash handling and on some techniques that can help overcome leash pulling. Today I would like to share a more proactive technique that will teach your dog to walk on a leash nicely. You will need a clicker, some nice treats and a leash. Before you can work with loose leash walking, your will have to know “touch” (and to be able to follow your hand) and “look at me”.
1. Have your dog on a lead by your right side. Hold a clicker and a leash in your left hand, opposite to where the dog will walk. You will need your right hand to dispense treats.
2. Start walking. When your dog pulls, stop.
3. Do your attention-getting sound (I use “kissy” sound) to get the dog’s attention.
4. When he looks at you, guide him with your right hand back to your side. You may find that taking a step back with your right foot at the same time helps the dog understand the required position.
5. Once the dog is in the required position, click and treat.
You may not be able to take a single step at first as the dog will instantly start pulling again. Just give it time: after a few sessions. you will notice that you are able to walk a few steps. Sometimes it helps to teach a dog to follow your hand for a couple of steps and reinforce it. After a while you will gradually remove your hand.
Important: don’t bribe and lure your dog into the position by holding treats in your right hand. Have the treats hidden in your pocket until it is time for a reward. Also, be aware of your dogs limitations. Some things are just really difficult and require an enormous effort to teach. For example, Milo is a hound. I don’t think that I will ever have enough patience and desire to teach him not to pull, when he smelled a strong track. After all, that is exactly what he has been bred for: to smell and follow it with an annoying howl (just like he does on this picture taken a few weeks ago in Minley Wood near Ancells Farm in Fleet).
Teaching a dog not to pull can be one of the most boring and annoying things you’ve ever done, but it is worth it. Just think about being able to relax during a walk!
If I could use just one dog training technique apart from clicker training, I would choose “time-out”. It can be used to correct so many behaviours: inappropriate barking, jumping, aggression… Although it clearly shows the dog that his behaviour is not acceptable, it is quite gentle and does not involve physical force. As my readers know, I will never recommend using physical force for correction, because it leads to aggression and damages the relationship between the dog and the owner.
“Time-out” is a very simple technique that even a child can use. It is a type of negative punishment, which means that you punish behaviour by removing something. In this case, you will remove one of the things your dog values most (besides food, of course!): your attention. You will need a light 5 ft. /1.5 m leash and a designated space. The designated space should be isolated from the rest of the house, and you should be able to physically prevent your dog from leaving it. Let’s try.