TIP #1: SIGNS OF RESOURCE GUARDING
Ever had a dog who won't give you his bone or chew toy if you try to take it from him? Or one who gets uncomfortable or growls if you get close to him when he's eating his dog food? Or snaps at you if he's on the sofa and you want him off? Or lifts his lip in a snarl if your friend tries to get close to you?
Answer yes to any of the above, and you've successfully diagnosed your dog as having a guarding issue. The catch-all, technical term is "resource-guarding," and can include guarding of dog food bowls (or food), place (dog crate, dog bed, sofa, etc.) items (rawhide, bones, balls, tissues, etc.) and less commonly, people.
Resource-guarding simply means that a dog gets uncomfortable when we (or other animals) are around him when he has "his stuff." He's nervous that we're going to take it away, so he tries to warn us off in a variety of ways, ranging from simply consuming his food faster, to an all-out bite. Trainers often hear the cry, "he bit without warning!" More often than not, there was a warning, somewhere, sometime - we just missed it.
During resource-guarding, dogs exhibit components of ritualized aggression. That is, they have a fairly explicit hierarchy of warnings - accelerated eating, cessation of eating or "freezing up," glassy/hard eyes, growling, lip lifting, snapping, biting - that they'll run through to get a competitor (YOU!) to back away from what they have. They're nervous that you're there and don't want to share.
If you believe you have a resource guarder please contact a competent, force free trainer to help you.
- Whole Dog Journal
TIP #2: SLOW DOWN YOUR TASMANIAN DEVIL
You contemplate taking your dog for a walk with mixed emotions. You love the idea of going for a companionable stroll through the neighborhood together, but when you pick up his leash he becomes the Tasmanian Devil.
Here are suggestions for turning this potential disaster into the enjoyable outing you dream of. Exercise first. Spend 15-20 minutes tossing a ball for your dog in the backyard, or providing intense mental exercise with a heavy duty shaping session. You'll take the edge off his excitement, reduce his energy level, and make leashing-up and walking more relaxed and enjoyable for both of you.
Pick up his leash throughout the day. He gets amped up when you touch his leash because it always means the two of you are going for a walk. If you pick up his leash numerous times throughout the day, sometimes draping it over your neck and wearing it for a while, sometimes carrying it from room to room, sometimes picking it up and putting it back down, the leash will no longer be a reliable predictor of walks, and he won't have any reason to get all excited about it.
If, when you pick up the leash, he goes bonkers (the behavior you don't want), say "Oops" or "Too Bad" in a cheerful tone of voice (what's known as a "no reward marker," it simply tells him no reward is forthcoming), set the leash down, and walk away. When he settles down, pick the leash up again. You're teaching him that getting excited makes the opportunity for a walk go away; staying calm makes walks happen.
- Whole Dog Journal
Why do dogs pull? Because there's lots of interesting things out there! And every time we allow our dogs to pull us over to that bush, pole, or fire hydrant the behavior of pulling is being reinforced and growing stronger. Prior to today Mabel has been a puller, but by reinforcing her for being near us she has learned that's a better option. See for yourself.
Eddie's baby brother or sister will be coming in about 6 weeks, so tonight we taught him how to Stay on his bed in the nursery while mom and dad went through the process of changing and dressing baby. He was truly a rock star, staying in his bed for an extended period of time while not making a peep.
TIP #1: GO TO YOUR SPOT
A useful exercise involves teaching your dog to go to a specific place, like a mat, to lie down and relax. This can be a fixed location in your home (in front of the fireplace, by the toy box, etc.), but I find it more valuable to use a portable carpet square, mat, or dog bed of some sort. This gives you the flexibility to send your dog to her spot wherever you are; you just have to take her mat along with you. This behavior is very useful for a dog who tends to "bug" you (or your guests) for attention.
1. Take your dog to a bed, mat, carpet square, or throw rug you have obtained for this purpose, say "place," "go to bed" (or whatever word or phrase you plan to use). You can lure her to the bed with a treat, or place a treat on the bed and encourage her to go to it and eat it. Click or say "Yes!" when she does it, then ask her to "Down," and click and treat for that.
2. Do this a number of times until you think your dog is beginning to associate the word or phrase with lying down on the mat.
3. Then you can start cueing the behavior without the lure. Click (or say "Yes!") and give her a reward when she complies. You can also request a "Wait" so she doesn't pop right back off the mat.
4. When the dog is doing this part well, begin moving farther away from the mat before giving your "Place" cue.
5. Ultimately, if you wish, you can ask your dog to go to her place from anywhere in the house. You can name several different places and teach her to go to each on your request. You can also take the mat with you when you go out and use it in public or at friends' houses (this is why a small, portable throw rug or mat is ideal).
One alternative to the approach described above is to "shape" the behavior. This is done by marking (click or "Yes!") and rewarding any behavior remotely related to the mat, gradually raising the criteria (what she needs to do to get a click and treat) until she reliably goes to the mat and lies down on it. Add the cue when she reliably moves to the mat, and then go to Step 4 above.
Challenge: Your dog lies near or only partially on the mat in an effort to be nearer to you or your guests (or whatever he'd rather be doing).
Solution: Be clear about how much of your dog has to be on the mat for it to "count" (your choice!) and reinforce your dog only if he meets that standard.
- Whole Dog Journal
TIP #2: CRATE TRAINING DONE RIGHT
A crate, or, in other words, short-term close confinement, can be used to help dogs teach themselves two very important skills. The first is eliminating only when and where it is appropriate. The second skill is keeping out of trouble - behaving appropriately in the house. Without these two skills, a dog doesn't have much of a chance in this world.
A crate is inappropriate for long-term confinement. While some puppies are able to make it through an eight-hour stretch in a crate at night, you should be sleeping nearby and available to take your pup out if he tells you he needs to go.
During the day, a puppy should not be asked to stay in a crate longer than two to four hours at a time; an adult dog no more than six to eight hours. Longer than that and you risk forcing Buddy to eliminate in his crate, which is a very bad thing, since it breaks down his instinctive inhibitions against soiling his den.
A crate is not a place of punishment. Never force your dog or puppy into a crate in anger. Even if he has earned a time-out through inappropriate behavior, don't yell at him, throw him in the crate, and slam the door. Instead, quietly remove the dog from the scene and invite him into his crate to give both of you an opportunity to calm down.
- Whole Dog Journal
Nettie was nearly flawless in learning how to Drop It and Leave It today. We first taught her with food, then practiced with things like paper towels. She is doing so well at just 14-weeks
Mabel did great with her Come When Called training, except when it comes to being called
into the house. It has become a "poisoned" cue, as Mabel sees it as punishment. She likes being outside and doesn't want to come in. The fix is to make coming inside mean the most wonderful things happen to her: petting, play, belly rubs, and fabulous treats that she doesn't get any other time.
Lucy did fantastic learning how to Come When Called. We began by playing recall games, like Puppy Ping Pong and Rocket Recall, with her inside. After she started responding well we took her outside on a 100-foot long line and she didn't miss a beat. She came to us every single time because coming when called now means "something really good is going to happen to me!"
Meet Ripp. At just 11-weeks old he already knows how to Sit very well, so we simply taught him to also do it with a hand signal. We then taught him how to Down without luring him with
food in our hand. He's extremely smart and so darn cute!
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, CTDI