Dog’s Eye View: Where do I start?
November 3, 2018
If life has become insane over challenges with the family dog, it's time to think about systematically tackling training and behavior issues. Making a list of all the things that bug you about your dog is a practical starting point. Let's create a typical short list so that you can use it as a template if you are experiencing exasperation with your canine relationship.
Fido jumps on you when you get home. He tears up things in the house when unsupervised. He barks at the front window and rushes out the front door when company comes. Here we have a list of four behaviors that you want to change. I believe that every behavior modification program must have a reliable obedience foundation. And when fixing problem behaviors, you must have a clear picture of what you want to teach your dog to do to replace the problem behavior.
If we break down the jumps on you when you walk in the door, what would you rather have him do? A good choice would be, sit for all interactions with humans. That initial sit for greeting should be followed by offering a reward for compliance. What does your dog really want from you when you get home? Attention. He's been alone in the house with pent up energy and probably not much to do for self-entertainment. Dogs will come up with their own agenda if we don't provide and encourage what we like. You might think they know, but you are kidding yourself to put human expectations in an animal with little experience in reading the training books on his own.
Knowing what your dog likes add to the list of what a good reward should be. Thirty seconds of belly rubs, a great chewy toy or a quick run outside might just be enough to fulfill the initial excitement needs. Don't just blow him off with a quick reprimand. He's missed you. A two-minute training session including the following prompts will help: “walk by my side,” “sit while I hang my coat,” “walk by my side to the refrigerator,” “sit while I get out a frozen chew bone,” “walk by my side to your bed” and “settle down on your bed” with a reward of a frozen chew bone. How long did that take? You guessed it. Two minutes. The training and interaction with your dog have set him up for success. When added to an everyday routine that is easily repeatable, you can relax and enjoy those home coming greetings.
Accomplishing the initial behavior problem at the door is a great start. Now get busy and train that dog.
Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with more than 30years of experience and has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants as well as certified nose work instructor through the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC here in Northwest Colorado.