Ask the Trainer
Q: Our Dalmation, Casey, barks all day out in the yard. My neighbors are getting angry, but he's too wild in the house; what do I do?
A: Dogs usually bark out of boredom, loneliness and frustration. Contrary to what many people think dogs don't need fresh air (meaning tied out in the backyard barking day and night). Dogs are pack animals and need to be with their families; they don't want to be left outside with nothing to do. Instead, try these suggestions with Casey:
- Find another dog in the neighborhood that can come and play with Casey in a safe, fenced-in area. Playing with another dog can release lots of energy and tension, making for a much happier dog.
- Exercise your dog regularly. If you run, bike or rollerblade, how about taking Casey along too! The stimulation of being with you and releasing some pent-up energy will make a 'too tired to look for trouble' dog at home.
- Attend an obedience class to brush up on the basic commands and give your dog a job to do-obey you.
- Pay a pet sitting service or a neighbor to play with or walk Casey if you don't have the time.
- Buy some safe but interesting toys for your dog to play with. Chewing on rawhide is an excellent way for Casey to take out his frustrations and expend his energy.
- When Casey is in the house don't give him too much freedom if you can't trust him. Consider using a crate or confining him to one room with toys of his own to chew on and play with. Leaving music on often helps as well.
Q: I have a mixed breed named Ginger who growls when she's chewing on rawhide bones; what should I do?
A: First of all, a dog that understands that his owner is his leader does not growl at him under any circumstance. Since this has not been accomplished yet between you and Ginger I would strongly recommend a training class to teach you how to become the leader and to firm up Ginger's basic obedience commands. Here are some things to practice in the meantime:
- Offer Ginger her rawhide bone, but hold onto the end of it and let her chew it a little. After a few minutes, tell her to 'leave it' and pull the bone away, giving Ginger something in trade (like a treat or toy). Do this in short sessions for about a week.
- The next week tie a piece of fishing line to the rawhide and give it to Ginger to chew. When she's been chewing it for a few minutes, tell her to 'leave it' and, using the fishing line, wisk it away. Praise Ginger in an excited voice, make her sit and then offer it again. Practice this so that she begins to step back from the bone willingly without you yanking it with the line. Don't forget to praise her every time.
- As you become a more respected leaderfigure in Ginger's eyes, she'll be more willing to comply with your demands , and you will end up with a terrific companion.
Q: Our lab Mike is a non-stop jumper. He's friendly enough, but his enthusiasm bowls us over.
A: Though this is normal canine greeting behavior most people find it too rambunctious. The best way to get Mike to stop jumping is to teach him to sit instead.
- put a leash on the dog and stand on it, only allowing Mike enough slack to sit comfortably;
- completely ignore him until he sits;
- avoiding eye contact with Mike, praise him quietly when he sits.
Follow through with all visitors. Mike will soon learn that jumping up does not bring him any more of your attention, but sitting does. This method works quickly and well, but everyone in the family must be consistent and follow through.
Q: Our four-month old puppy Trevor constantly bites his leash! He thinks it's a game and this makes walking him next to impossible. What can we do?
A: Dogs learn early on that you have less control if they have the leash in their mouth. Some people recommend coating the leash with hot sauce or bitter apple, but most dogs simply lick this off or wipe it all over your pant leg. Try these tips instead:
- Don't make a big deal out of the whole thing- the more attention Trevor gets for this, the more fun it is.
- Distract Trevor with a tennis ball or squeaky toy. Let him chew on that instead and praise him.
- Put 2 leashes on the dog- when he puts one in his mouth give it to him and tell him to ´carry it'. You'll still have the other to control him with and Trevor will learn to carry his leash.
Take heart, most pups eventually outgrow this obnoxious stage. Training Trevor the basic commands will definitely speed it up.
Q: My dog is 6 months old and is still having "accidents" in the house, what do I do ?
A. You didn't mention whether your "accidents" were puddles or piles, so I'll assume it's both.
- Get a urine sample to the vet to be tested for a urinary tract infection.
- Bring a stool sample as well and ask the vet to worm your dog with Panacur- a medication
that treats whipworms and other intestinal parasites. These can often be the cause of a lot of housebreaking mistakes.
With the medical possibilites eliminated here are some other factors to be dealt with....
- Control the water bowl. Put it down during feeding time and pick it up shortly after.
Some dogs just love to drink, drink , drink and then of course tinkle, tinkle, tinkle.
- Feed the dog twice a day and walk him shortly after. (Dogs younger than 6 mths should be
fed 3 times a day.)
- Take him out to one spot on a leash and call it something; praise him for going.
- Crate the dog when you can't watch him or after an unproductive walk.
- Don't give the dog too much freedom. If he's loose you're watching until you can trust him,
i.e. no accidents in the house for 1 month straight.
- Clean up accidents out of the dogs sight, and don't make a huge fuss over it unless you catch
him; even then keep it short and sweet.
- Consider switching your dog to a higher quality food if he's going more than 3 or 4 times a day.
If a food is being digested properly a dog should defecate after each meal and maybe one other time. If you do switch foods do it over a two week period so as not to upset his stomach.
Lastly, don't despair: housebreaking takes time and different dogs respond in different amounts of time. Check the medical reasons first, put your dog on a strict schedule and be patient: some dogs are housebroken easily in a short period of time, and others require the patience of Job.
Q: My dog is 3 yrs old and doesn't come when called. I never let him off-leash except in my fenced yard, but I still can't catch him and he makes me late for work all the time. What can I do ?
A. First of all you need to teaach your dog to come, this is so important to his welfare and your sanity. Next, what you've taught your dog is when you say come, that means the end of his fun in the yard. Don't call him only when you really need him, call him frequently for no apparent reason.
- Start by putting a 20' leash on him and let him drag it around. Call him frequently before he gets too busy, and have him sit and give him a treat.
- Get a friend to help, and call him back and forth between you. Use a small piece of a cookie or petting as a reward. Start at close range, same room, and gradually call him up and down stairs and from room to room. Always act excited and really make this fun.
- Keep your voice happy but don't be afraid to give a hard tug if he ignores you during either exercise. Praise and reward him even if his response is slow and you had to tug. Remember we're convincing him that coming to you is better than all the smells and sights of the rest of the world. Be convincing.
- As he gets good at this start waiting a little longer to call him - follow through with the leash.
- Leave him out in the yard alone with the long line for 5 minutes, go out and call. Practice this often, calling him when you don't really need him, not just when you're late. Dogs sense urgency and know when to play hard to get.
General Rules for "Come" :
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