The next step in “Go to Your Spot” training is to recruit friends and family to help you conduct mock practice visits. Arrange to have someone come to the door. You will work with your dog to help him stay on his own. Be prepared! This will probably take a long time the first few visits. When you open the door, one of two things can happen. Sometimes you leave your dog there on his spot while you talk to the person at the door, as if your visitor is a courier or delivery person. Your dog never gets to say hello. (However, you, the person or both of you should frequently toss treats to your dog to reward him for staying.) At other times, invite the visitor in. Wait until the person sits down somewhere, and then release your dog to join you and your guest. When you have a friend help you with a mock visit, be sure to repeat the scenario over and over, at least 10 to 20 times. Practice makes perfect! Have the person come in for 5 to 10 minutes or just pretend to deliver something, then leave for 5 to 10 minutes, then return for a second visit, and so on. Your dog should experience at least 10 visits in a row with the same person. With each repetition, it will become easier for him to do what you expect because he’ll be less excited by the whole routine—especially when it’s the same person at the door, over and over again.
Leash issues are a huge problem for the dog-owning public and a leading culprit for why so many otherwise healthy dogs are doomed to life (or usually more accurately, an early death) in animal shelters. Whether it’s simple leash-pulling or more significant leash reactivity and leash aggression, the primary thing to keep in mind is that these issues are almost always preventable and manageable when using positive training methods.
Find a replacement behavior. One of the best ways to train an animal out of undesirable behavior is to teach her an alternative behavior. That way, instead of growing increasingly frustrated and irritated that you are not responding to her desires, your dog will eventually realize that if she wants to get her way, she’ll need to engage in the other, more-desirable behavior.
As an example, think about barking when left alone. A dog that is very loud when left isn’t making a noise because he or she is being spiteful or wants to get you in trouble with your neighbours. The vocalization is an expression of the dog’s fear, loneliness and sometimes even panic. By strapping a device such as an electric shock collar to an upset dog, you don’t do anything to make them feel safer or more comfortable when left on their own – and what’s more, the pain confirm their fears that being left means horrible things happen to them (painful electric shocks occur every time they bark).
While you cannot stop a healthy dog from normal shedding, you can reduce the amount of hair in your home by brushing your dog regularly. Your veterinarian or groomer should be able to recommend a specific type of brush or comb that will work best for your dog’s hair type.
“I tend to ignore it or actively get up and walk away if a dog demand barks at me,” Spaulding says. That’s because caving and giving dogs what they want can reinforce the behavior and encourage them to demand bark more in the future.
Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, is Whole Dog Journal’s Training Editor. Miller lives in Hagerstown, Maryland, site of her Peaceable Paws training center. She is also the author of, The Power of Positive Dog Training and Positive Perspectives: Love Your Dog, Train Your Dog.
What seems like excessive shedding can be normal for some dogs, but it can also be the result of stress, poor nutrition or a medical problem. Your veterinarian can best determine if your dog’s hair loss is part of the normal shedding process or is a symptom of an underlying disorder. Excessive shedding can sometimes be prevented through proper nutrition. Quality pet-food manufacturers work hard to include the right amount of nutrients so that supplements are not needed, but dogs with allergies and/or sensitivities still might need to experiment with different brands and formulations to discover which food works best for them. We recommend that you consult your veterinarian for advice on what foods will best suit your dog.
Recognize separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can take various forms in a dog, but the most common signs of separation anxiety are destroying the house/apartment and barking incessantly. These behaviors are typically only engaged in when the dog’s owner is at work or otherwise out of the house, and if the dog is not destructive, some owners may not even be aware that their dogs have separation anxiety. Common signs of separation anxiety to look out for include:
Alarm barking is very similar to territorial barking in that it’s triggered by sights and sounds. However, dogs who alarm bark might do so in response to things that startle or upset them when they’re not on familiar turf. For example, a dog who barks territorially in response to the sight of strangers approaching will usually only do so when in his own home, yard or car. By contrast, a dog who habitually alarm barks might vocalize when he sees or hears strangers approaching in other places, too. Although territorial barking and alarm barking are a little different, the recommendations below apply to both problems.
Your dog probably has separation anxiety, as you must have noticed by now. When you have time, try training your dog by leaving the house for short periods of time (e.g., 2-4 min) and then gradually increasing the time. Eventually your dog will realize that every time you leave, you will always return.
Give your puppy a “bark limit.” Maybe he’s allowed to bark three times or five times — until you acknowledge warning so he knows you can take over for him. After the designated number of barks, praise your puppy — “GOOD bark, GOOD dog, now HUSH,” and give him a treat as you praise. It’s hard for dogs to bark while chewing so this actually serves a dual purpose.
I know first hand the frustration of dealing with a barking dog. Trust me, I have a Chihuahua! While inappropriate barking can make you want to pull your hair out at times, it’s important to remember that it’s a natural behavior for your pup. Barking is the way he communicates and of course he’s going to feel the need to alert you when an intruder is approaching (by “intruder” I really mean a friendly neighbor)!
The key concept is to keep control at all times. In other words DO NOT LOSE control of your dogs (think of a horse that has bolted from a stable)…a dog who is off leash and does not respond to a recall is by definition “out of control”.
If your dog barks at people coming to the door, at people or dogs walking by your property, at people or dogs he sees on walks, and at people or dogs he sees through the fence, and his barking is accompanied by whining, tail wagging and other signs of friendliness, your dog is probably barking to say hello. He most likely barks the same way when family members come home.