TIP #1: HARNESS YOUR DOG'S PULLING
Front clip harnesses do a good job of reducing pulling. Like any tool, these harnesses do not teach your dog how to walk nicely, but they do help you control him while you practice. Try any one of the top-rated front clip/no-pull harnesses as reviewed by Whole Dog Journal.
TIP #2: HOW YOU CAN SPEAK DOG TOO
As we wrote last week, communicating with your dog is a two-way street. Here are more tips to enhance your relationship and your training.
4. Don't hover. Leaning over a dog can cause the dog to become afraid and possibly defensive. When we bend over dogs to pet them or to cuddle them, we are unwittingly offering a posture of threat and intimidation.
5. Pet appropriately. Approaching dogs by petting them on the head is ill-advised. Envision the interaction from the dog's point of view; a palm approaching from above can be alarming. It's not that dogs should never be petted on top of the head, but that head-petting (or petting over the dog's shoulders, back, or rump) should not be used as an initial approach. It is wiser to make a fist, hold it under the dog's nose is to allow her to sniff, then pet the dog on the chest, moving gradually to the sides of the face and other body parts, assuming the dog is comfortable. Likewise, a hand moving in quickly to grab for a dog's collar is more potentially fear-inducing than a hand moving slowly to a dog's chest, scratching it, then moving up to take hold of the collar.
6. Stoop, don't swoop. Small dogs in particular are often swooped down upon when people want to pick them up. Fast, direct, overhead movements are much more frightening than slow, indirect ones. To lift a small dog, crouch down, pet the dog for a moment, then gently slip your hands under her belly and chest, and lift.
7. Watch your smile. While humans interpret a smile as friendly, a dog might not be as fond of seeing your pearly whites. A show of teeth is, after all, a threat in the animal kingdom. Smile at dogs with a closed mouth.
- Whole Dog Journal
Today we taught Georgie how to Wait and Stay. He did great when we went out of sight, even for a period of time. Still needs some practice staying when we answer the door, but not bad for just learning it.
Oakland did a great job with her socialization outing. We went to a very busy park where she encountered kids, dogs, and saw ball games. Nothing seemed to phase her.
TIP #1: WALK AFTER EXERCISE
Try practicing loose-leash walking after your dog has had some vigorous exercise. He will be much easier to work with after he expends that excess energy.
TIP #2: HOW YOU CAN SPEAK DOG
Communicating with your dog is a two-way street. While you're teaching her to understand and accept primate language, you can also learn and use canine body language. This will greatly enhance your relationship and your training program, since your dog can respond very quickly when she realizes you are speaking Dog. It's also a useful skill to have for when you're meeting or interacting with a strange dog.
The following tips on humans' body language are applicable when interacting with any dog, but are especially important when dealing with a fearful dog, or any dog who appears worried or unsure about an interaction. Adopt these mannerisms and teach others who interact with your dog to do so as well.
1. Let the dog come to you. If a dog is frightened, she must be allowed to decide whether or not to approach. It's never a good idea to restrain a dog and force her to accept contact from others. Remember the "fight or flight" response; if the opportunity for flight is taken away, a dog's choices are limited.
2. Turn to the side. Facing a dog directly is more confrontational than keeping your body turned partially or completely to the side; even turning your head to the side will make a frightened or worried dog feel less anxious.
3. No staring, please! A direct stare is a threat in the animal kingdom. It is perfectly fine to look at a dog; just soften your expression and don't hard stare directly into her eyes. Do not allow children to put their faces near your dog's face or to stare into her eyes. Adults who insist on direct eye contact with strange dogs also tend to get bitten.
To be continued next week!
- Whole Dog Journal
Tonight we taught Daisy how to Come When Called. She did really well in the house, but
when we went outside she was distracted by the wet grass, which she doesn't like. We
then took her for a walk where she saw a dog and she didn't react to it, so that was progress too!
Today we taught Georgia how to Down on cue. It took a little while but patience paid off. Also, he hasn't had a potty accident in the house since we met for our consultation. Diligence and reinforcing for going outside really does pay dividends.
Charlie was initially very distracted which made teaching him Stay very difficult. But he finally settled down and we were able to walk a distance away and completely out of sight.
We even worked a little bit outside and he did ok there too.
TIP #1: WHY DO DOGS PULL?
To get to whatever is out ahead: Great smells, other dogs, open spaces, fun and adventure. Pulling gets dogs to what they want faster. As a strategy, it works. This is why it is best to teach dogs to walk nicely on leash as early as possible. Pulling is rewarding to the dog, so the more he does it, the harder it is for him to give it up. If you have an expert puller, however, don’t despair. Any dog can be taught to walk nicely.
TIP #2: ASK YOURSELF "WHY?"
If your dog is exhibiting some behavior you don't want, you may have wondered, "Why is he doing it?" Does he not love you? If he knows you don't like whatever it is he is doing, then why does he keep doing it? Is he not your best friend, after all? I think the answer is that he behaves the way he does simply because he has some need that the behavior helps him meet. He may not even find the behavior particularly fun to do, as is the case with most reactivity. But your dog has learned that behavior is a way to get what he wants or needs.
Think creatively about what your dog gets as a result of doing a problem behavior (whatever he's doing that you want to change). In other words, what is the functional reward for his behavior? Think of the functional reward as a "real life" consequence that reinforces the problem behavior. Has your dog learned that barking at strangers makes them move away? The fact that the person moves away creates safety in the dog's mind by putting distance between him and a stranger. That is the functional reward for his barking.
Once you know the functional reward(s) for your dog's problem behavior, the next step is to find other behaviors you can encourage your dog to do that can reasonably lead to that same reward. For example, you can reward your dog's choice to turn his head away from approaching strangers instead of barking at them. That would make looking away a replacement behavior for the problem behavior of barking. Sniffing the ground, yawning, sitting, or looking at you are also appropriate possible replacement behaviors for reactivity. Reinforce the replacement behavior(s) by using the same functional reward that your dog earned from doing the problem behavior. For example, when he looks away (a replacement behavior), happily walk your dog away from the stranger, thereby increasing the distance between dog and stranger (the functional reward). That's the core concept of Functional Analysis - using the functional reward of the problem behavior to pay for more appropriate behaviors. The functional reward concept can be applied to just about any problem behavior.
- excerpted from Behavior Adjustment Training
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, IAABC-ADT, FFCP, CTDI