Archive for October 2011
Your Enthusiasm, how important is it anyway?
Your enthusiasm is really a huge ingredient when training your dog. Dog’s don’t speak your language, they hear your tone, discern trained words, watch your body language etc. to determine and figure out what it is you want from them.
At home with the family, we are usually very relaxed with our dogs and perhaps a bit silly. We might squeek at them, tell them we love them, cuddle with them, play with them and we are generally pretty happy when we are at home with our dogs.
But what about when company comes ………… dreaded company. Do we then Yell at our dogs to “get off” if they jump or “get off the couch” or “GO LAY DOWN” in a stern voice, etc. Take the time to train your dog nice behaviors with one guest at a time and be sure to have that same enthusiasm that you would have if there was no guest in your home.
What about when you take your dog out? Maybe to training class, maybe shopping, maybe for a walk. How important is your enthusiasm then? It’ is very important! If your dog sees a stiff, stern, grumpy human when he is out and about, and a happy, silly, relaxed human when he’s at home it sends mixed messages but the one CLEAR message it sends is “get me home, it’s more fun there”.
Your Enthusiasm is very important !
My Dog Growled, what do I do!
Tell your dog “Thank You” and move your dog out of the situation that caused him to growl.
Dogs communicate predominantly using body language, usually if a dog resorts to an audible warning, he has offered many physical signals that we humans just don’t notice or don’t understand. A simple head turn away from a person is a HUGE signal to the dog, the dog is thinking “geez human, don’t you see me turning my head away from you?”
It is important that you don’t move the person or object perhaps that the dog growled at. We are not trying to teach the dog that his growl will make things that he doesn’t like go away, rather we are trying to encourage the dog to let us know that he is uncomfortable in a particular situation and teach him that he has the option to move away.
If your dog growls, use your outside voice and say “Thank You” with enthusiasm and kindness and encourage him into another room, give him a cookie or a stuffed Kong and some time to reset. Evaluate the environment and assess if you need to work to desensitize your dog to whatever he growled at.
If you “correct” your dog for growling, you are effectively training him to not tell you, or another person, that he is uncomfortable and he may bite seemingly without warning. Never teach your dog that he cannot communicate with you.
The Evil and Dreaded Vacuum!
Does your dog HATE the vacuum? Chase it around, bark at it, lunge at it, bite it? Do you have to put your dog outside or in a crate to get the vacuuming done? Do you yell, body block and get totally frustrated? Well help is here!
Remember, don’t do your training when you want to get your housecleaning done. Set up training sessions so that training is the priority of the moment.
First - desensitize your dog to the mere existence of the vacuum. With the vacuum turned off, put it in different rooms. When your dog walks by it without taking notice or without reacting, REWARD HIM! Praise is good but food treats is better! Are you thinking, “ya, my dog explodes at the mere sight of the vacuum, I have no chance to reward!” Be creative, there is always a way to introduce your dog to the dreaded vacuum and get one second of quiet behavior that you can mark and reward. When your dog is quiet for just one second, say “YES” and toss a cookie away from the vacuum. Repeat repeat until the dog can be in the same room with the vacuum without reacting to it. Reward the quiet behavior. Be proactive, don’t wait for the barking but rather reward BEFORE any barking commences. Move to the second step only when the dog can be in the same room with the vacuum quietly.
Second - Plug the vacuum in and turn it on without moving it. Reward any quiet behavior. Do not move the vacuum. Continue to mark with “YES” and reward each time your dog looks at the vacuum and does not react to it. Do not move the vacuum for this part of the process.
Third - Put your hand on the vacuum handle but do not move the vacuum. Your dog will anticipate that the turned vacuum is about to move, but it won’t. Mark with “YES” and Reward for each occasion that he looks at the vacuum with your hand on the handle and does not react. Vacuum is turned on but not moving.
Fourth - Move the vacuum an inch while simultaneously tossing a treat in the opposite direction of the vacuum. Move the vacuum another inch and repeat. Mark with “YES” and reward for each occasion your dog looks at the vacuum and does not react.
Fifth - Move the vacuum a couple of inches – repeat steps four and five until your dog can quietly tolerate the dreaded vacuum!