Archive for the ‘Dog Training Tips’ Category

How to Deal With Your Dog’s Destructive Behavior

March 13, 2014

Puppy biting shoe

As you may have suspected from my previous post, I am taking a bit of a break from blogging in order to spend time with my mom. So what I have here is a great and informative article written by Helen Cole:

It’s normal for dogs to chew, says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. When chewing becomes destructive, however, you must control the behavior to keep your pet safe and your belongings intact. Learn more about why your dog chews to prevent this inappropriate use of teeth:

Reasons for Destructive Chewing and How to Prevent It

Dogs chew for a variety of reasons. Puppies do so while they are teething to relieve pain and help adult teeth break through, according to the Humane Society of the U.S. By providing your puppy with an appropriate chew toy, you help her feel better while also teaching what what is appropriate to chew. Anytime her teeth get too close to a furniture leg or other off-limits item, interrupt with a loud noise, such as a clap, then offer an appropriate toy and provide praise when she takes it.

Kong offers a line of chew toys for puppies. They feature soft rubber and are freezable to provide numbing relief. You can find these products at pet supply stores.

A poorly trained puppy can grow into a destructive chewer. That being said, certain circumstances can cause even a well-trained adult dog to chew. They include:

  • Medical issue — A poor diet or intestinal parasite can lead to pica, an abnormal desire to eat substances not normally eaten, which can be mistaken for inappropriate chewing, veterinarian Dr. Kristy Conn points out. She also states that gastrointestinal problems can cause nausea, which can trigger chewing as a way to cope. She recommends seeing your vet to rule out such issues.
  • Separation anxiety — If, in addition to destructive chewing, your dog whines, barks, paces and forgets his housetraining when you are away, the cause may be separation anxiety, according to the ASPCA. The organization offers a lengthy description of this behavioral problem as well as ways to deal with it.
  • Boredom — If you rule out a medical issue and separation anxiety, simple boredom could be the cause. Try upping the physical and mental stimulation you give your animal. Add another walk to your daily routine or hit the dog park for off-leash play with other dogs. Food and treat puzzle toys engage a dog’s mind. Nina Ottosson toys, for example, require your dog to use his mind — plus nose and paw — to get a treat.

No matter the reason for destructive chewing, you must control both your dog’s behavior and access to items you don’t want chewed. Move what you can out of reach and spray taste deterrent on what you can’t, such as furniture. Crate your dog when you cannot provide supervision.

If you catch inappropriate chewing in the act, the Humane Society recommends the same actions as given for puppies. Never punish after the fact, as your dog cannot associate the correction with something done even a few minutes ago.

A Separate Issue: Fabric Sucking and Licking

If your dog doesn’t chew but instead sucks and licks on your fabric furniture, the above advice works as well. Instead of using a taste deterrent spray, which could stain the fabric, invest in removable covers for your furniture. Wayfair.com, for example, sells machine-washable futon covers that are easily replaced.

Back to me, Dawn. I have been lucky these past several years in that I’ve had very little problems with Maya and Pierson chewing on things they are not supposed to. The last time I had issues with a chewing dog was with Sephi in 2002 when the little devil dog chewed up all my bibles! What are some crazy experiences you’ve had with your dog chewing?

Help Working with Different Leash Reactive Behaviors

March 3, 2014

Does your dog react when he’s on a leash and sees another dog? The first thing to do is admit you have a problem.

Dog Pierson Sitting

Hi. My name is Pierson and if you’re a dog, I’m probably not going to like you. (Well, unless you’re Maya. I love Maya.) It’s nothing personal. If you’re a big dog, I go into protect-mode. If you’re a little dog, my prey-drive kicks in.

Dog Maya on the Chair

Hi. My name is Maya and I love other dogs. Well, except Pierson. Okay, I like him most of the time, except when he’s being a pest. Then I just tolerate him. But anyway, when I see another dog, I just get so happy that I start barking and lunging.

Pierson not liking dogs and Maya loving them both cause a leash reactive behavior. But because the causes are different, they require a different approach. To be honest, I have had more success dealing with Pierson’s aggressive behavior than with Maya’s excitement behavior. Just how do you deal with a crazy Labrador with GLS, anyway? (BTW, GLS stands for Goofy Lab Syndrome.)

If I see another dog while walking either Maya or Pierson, the first thing I do is cross the street. Because it has been more difficult for me to get their attention with the look command while still walking, I also make them sit. I give the look command and reward. I do this a few times until the other dog is passed.

This method works very well with Pierson unless the other dog reacts. He has made a lot of progress. However, this method is not working as well for Maya. When Maya gets excited about something, it is very difficult to distract her. She is so intent on what she sees (the other dog), that I couldn’t tempt her with a big juicy steak.

With Maya, I need to add another element to her training. If I see that she is going to start reacting, I need to turn her around and go the other way. So far, this is working, but it is not always possible for us to turn around. And I’m curious to know how doing this will eventually help her learn not to react. Any ideas on what training methods I can use for Maya? Keep in mind that when Maya gets excited, nothing, and I mean nothing can distract her. Not treats, not collars, not commands, nothing.

Pierson is Terrified of the Vet

February 17, 2014
Pierson Head Down Looking Up

Is it time to go to the vet again?

My poor Pierson has a vet appointment tomorrow. Don’t worry, it is nothing bad. It is just time for one of his vaccines and his annual checkup. So why poor Pierson? Because he is absolutely terrified of the vet. At his last appointment, he peed all over the place. Pierson can be skittish at times, but this was the only time he’s been so terrified that he peed. What happened to my poor baby boy to make him so scared?

When I first got Pierson he was nervous at the vet, but not terrified. He did just fine on that very first day I caught him and took him in for a checkup. Three days later I took him to the emergency pet hospital because he had a severe bloody nose. He had to stay overnight. And while I doubt the experience was pleasant for him, he was not terrified when he went to the vet a couple weeks later for booster vaccines. Nor was he when he went another couple weeks later to be neutered.

It was probably a combination of all these vet visits that made last year’s annual checkup visit so terrifying. So I vowed to do some things to make Pierson’s experience more pleasant this year:

Travel Calm, Maya, and Me

Travel Calm helps keep Maya from acting so excitedly on car rides.

Canine Calming Remedy
I have a product called Travel Calm, which I use for Maya when we take long road trips. Maya gets excited in the car and this stuff helps her to relax. Travel Calm is an all-natural product from Earth Heart. It contains bergamot, lavender, tangerine, and other calming ingredients. Earth Heart also makes a product called Canine Calm. It is the same thing as Travel Calm but Travel Calm also contains ginger to help with car sickness. Pierson doesn’t really need the ginger, but it won’t hurt him either and I don’t have any of the Canine Calm.

Pierson Wearing the Thundershirt 003

Doesn’t Pierson look comfortable in his Thundershirt?

Pet Anxiety Shirt
Another product I have is the Thundershirt. I’ve tried it on Pierson before and loved how it fit. But for him, his anxiety about the vet was just too strong. However, with a combination of the Thudershirt, Travel Calm, and the below methods, I believe this shirt will make a positive difference for him.

Visit the Vet Regularly
For the past couple of days I have been taking Pierson to the vet for a visit. He doesn’t go to get a checkup or anything. He just goes so that he can hang out for a bit. Even though Pierson is just stopping by to say hi, the staff has been very helpful. If they have a moment or two, they come and introduce themselves to Pierson while at the same time bribing him with tasty treats.

Take Maya
Sometimes when Pierson is afraid of something but my dog Maya isn’t, Pierson calms down. Maya absolutely loves going to the vet so I will take both her and Pierson at the same time. Perhaps her attitude about the vet will help influence his attitude.

New Vet?
I don’t know if these few visits are enough to help, but I’m hoping so. I’m also thinking of having the new doctor check on Pierson. The two doctors at this office that Maya and Pierson usually see are males. But they have a new doctor who is female. I’m interested in seeing if this can make a difference. We’re going to the same vet office, but seeing a different doctor. If all this doesn’t make a difference, next year I may have to try a new veterinary office.

Wish us luck! I will try to follow up later this week to tell you how his vet appointment went. Let’s keep our paws crossed and hope for the best.

Challenges of a Leash Reactive Dog

February 13, 2014

Progress
Pierson has made a lot of progress with being better on his leash when he sees another dog. Two things helped. First, we cross the street when we see another dog. I have Pierson sit and I use the “look” command to distract him. He gets rewarded with lots of treats every time he pays attention to me and not the other dog. Second, I was fortunate enough to find a group of people who were willing to get together once a week or so to help work with our dog’s leash reactive behaviors. We walked our dogs at a distance from each other and the distance depended on our dogs’ own individual thresholds. Pierson was always last in line and furthest away. But by the end of fall, he was able to get within a few feet of those other dogs without reacting.

Pierson Group Walk Group Photo

Everyone is proud of Pierson’s progress.

There have been four major challenges in trying to overcome Pierson’s leash reactive behavior:

Challenge – Walking Two Dogs
Pierson’s leash reactive behavior is due to his high prey drive. He could even be called aggressive, although it is difficult to imagine such a cute ball of fuzz with a girly bark as aggressive. But that is what it is. He whines, he barks, and he lunges. Maya’s leash reactive behavior, on the other hand, is due to excitement. She loves other dogs and really wants to go say hi. She barks and lunges too, but only because she is so happy.

Needless to say, I can’t walk Maya and Pierson together. Maya’s happy bark makes Pierson’s aggressive bark more intense, and vice versa. So in order to properly work on their behaviors separately, I need to walk them one at a time. By the way, the “look” command does not work on Maya when she is excited. I need to find a different training technique for her.

Pull No More dog harness

First I walk Pierson, then I walk Maya.

Challenge – Loose Dogs
One day when I was walking with this group down a nature trail, someone coming up from the other direction had two dogs not on a leash. When the dogs saw us, they ran towards us. Their mom called them but they didn’t listen. They ran straight for Pierson. In order to keep something terrible from happening, I quickly picked Pierson up out of the way. Luckily the two dogs were small. That would not have worked if the dogs had been bigger. The lady was apologetic but she didn’t really grasp what had almost happened. Luckily, the group of people I was with explained to her just how close her dogs had come to being injured. Having a good recall is extremely important, and this trail was not an off-leash trail. I think the reality of the situation sunk in and I hope she learned her lesson.

A similar situation happened in my own neighborhood. A Lhasa named Barkley is often allowed off leash in his front yard when his mom is out with him. I have met Barkley a number of times and know that he usually has a great recall. But one day, there was just something about Pierson that he had to investigate head on. I picked Pierson up out of the way. Barkley’s mom kept saying that Barkley was friendly. I told her I knew that, but my Pierson was not. She finally understood. And the next time I met her while we were both walking our dogs, she called Barkley back and put his leash on while I went across the street. She complemented me on being so responsible.

Challenge – Other Leash Reactive Dogs
Pierson is very good about paying attention to me when we cross the street and I use the “look” command. It works most of the time. The only time it doesn’t work is when the other dog is also leash reactive. If the other dog reacts, Pierson does to and no amount of bribing with treats will distract him.

Pierson on a Leash with Look Command

The “look” command helps me to distract Pierson whenever we see someone else walking their dog.

Challenge – Winter, Fewer Dogs
We are getting a little out of practice this winter. Even though I still try to walk Maya and Pierson every day, we seldom see other dogs. In fact, we have gone over an entire week without running into any other dogs. I fear Pierson will be greatly out of practice when spring arrives.

Do you have a leash reactive dog? If so, what are your challenges?

See what other people with leash reactive dogs are doing to manage the behavior in the WOOF blog hop below.

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Dog Trick Training Goals for 2014

February 3, 2014
Pierson on a Leash with Look Command

Because Pierson knows the “look” command, it is easy to get his attention so he can learn new dog tricks.

On Friday, I went over how I’ve managed to keep my New Year Resolution to teach Maya and Pierson more dog tricks. So far we are on the right track. But a resolution shouldn’t end after just one month. I want to keep going. So I’ve made a list of tricks and have resolved to teach at least one a month:

*Heel-Sit – Maya and Pierson know heel and they know sit, but they don’t know how to do both at the same time with a specific command. Yes, they will sit at my side if I stop walking at a walk, but I want them to be able to do it when I call them from across the yard or something.

*Sit in a Specific Spot – I think once they learn to heel and sit at my side on command, it will be easier for me to teach them to sit in a specific spot I point to. This will help me with photo-taking.

*Stand – Stand means to stand up on four feet after being in a sit or down position. Sephi knew how to do this one, but I don’t think I taught Maya. Or if I did teach it to Maya, I haven’t made her do it in so long that she’s probably forgotten.

*Back up – To back up means to walk backwards. I think it will be easy and fun to teach. It can be especially useful if Maya and Pierson are trying to crowd me for their treats or toys.

*Cover Your Eyes – I don’t think this one will be easy, but I think it would be fun to try anyway. They both know how to shake, and I saw in a book how I can get them to cover their eyes.

*Wave – I started this one with Pierson some time back but didn’t stick to it. Once I have a better idea on how to teach it, and when I commit to teaching more consistently, I think both he and Maya will get it.

*Roll in a Blanket – I bet Pierson will learn this one easily since he’s done it on accident a few times. He will already grab his blanket on command so it is a matter of getting him to roll over with it in his mouth. Teaching this to Maya will probably be more difficult since she has no interest in the blanket.

Pierson Playing with Blanket

Pierson was getting stir crazy in winter. He wrapped this blanket around his head by himself while playing.

*Jump Up – I won’t teach this to Maya because I am worried she may develop arthritis. She’s a Lab and I understand Labs are quote prone to this. Pierson, on the other hand, is quite bouncy. It will be a breeze to teach him to do this on command.

*Put Toys Away – This one will be the most challenging. I can already get them to pick up a toy, but to teach them to put it in their toy box will be a bit more challenging. Putting toys away is completely backwards from what they want to do with the toys!

I got many of these ideas from the “101 Dog Tricks” book by Kyra Sundance and her dog Chalcy. She has some great ideas on how to get dogs to put toys away and cover their eyes. The book does not give detailed step-by-step, like what showed on Friday for teaching “all the way” and “hold”. But since I am a certified dog trainer, I can fill in the blanks easily enough.

This list may change or be taught in a different order. But having a list will help me stay on track with our dog training resolution. If Maya and Pierson learn each trick so quickly, why am I taking a whole month between each? There are a few reasons for this:

1. Reinforcement – Repeating the same trick for several days helps them retain what they’ve learned.

2. Gives Confidence – By having Maya and Pierson do dog tricks they already know, they have the confidence and the desire to learn more.

Synchronized Spinning

Synchronized Spinning – Maya and Pierson have this trick mastered. So if they don’t succeed at a new trick, I give them the command for another trick they know well so that training ends on a positive note.

3. Keeps Training Fun – Learning is more fun when you do things right. If you’re being told you’re doing things wrong more often than you’re being told you’re doing things right, then learning becomes a chore. When dog training becomes a chore, it is more challenging and, therefore, more frustrating. We enjoy training and we want to keep it that way.

Dog Tricks for Treats

Learning is also more fun when you get lots of treats. ;)

Do you like teaching your dog new tricks? What are some dog tricks you want to try?

January Train Your Dog Challenge

January 31, 2014

One of my resolutions for 2014 is to teach Maya and Pierson more dog tricks. So far, I have been pretty good about keeping this resolution. Maya and Pierson have learned two new things this January.

TEACHING ALL THE WAY (aka head down)

You saw Maya do the “all the way” trick posted on January 6th. Now I have a photo of both Maya and Pierson doing it together.

Head Down All the Way Dog Trick 002

Maya and Pierson have both mastered the dog trick where they put their heads all the way to the floor.

Have your dog lay down in front of you. Tell them to stay, and then squat down and put the treat in front of them. If they reach for it, say “no”, “eh eh”, or “wait”. Slowly bring the treat (or toy) to the floor, leading their nose downward. Say “all the way” or “head down” the moment their chin touches the floor. Then say “good” and give them the treat or toy as a reward.

If they have a hang of this, move the treat down and a little out so that their entire muzzle is flat on the floor. Next, work your way up to where they don’t just touch the floor, but actually rest their head on the floor for a few moments.

Eventually, you will be able to say the command without having to put the treat in front of their nose and leading them into the position. Don’t worry if they don’t get to this point right away, like Maya. Train for only a few minutes at a time and be sure your training session always ends with a reward. So if your dog doesn’t get to the point where his entire muzzle is on the floor, that’s okay. Reward him if he is at least getting his chin to touch the floor. Reward your dog for what he can do and stop training before your dog gets bored or before either of you get frustrated.

The hardest part of this trick for both Maya and Pierson was keeping them from trying to crawl after the treat in my hand. It’s easier to teach this trick if your dog already knows to stay or wait.

TEACHING HOLD AND CATCH (aka balancing a treat on the nose then flipping it into the mouth)

The next trick is still in progress. I’m trying to get them to balance a treat on their nose, and then catch it when I give the release command. Once again, Maya was the first to get a hang of the trick. She will hold still without me having to hold her nose while Pierson still needs me to touch him. Both of them are still trying to learn how to flip the treat into their mouths rather than flip the treat behind them. Maya catches them more often than Pierson.

Pierson Balances Dog Treat on Nose

“I can see the dog treat. Why can’t I eat it?”

To teach this trick, hold your dog’s muzzle. Be gentle. Don’t make them uncomfortable, but hold on well enough that they can’t move around. When they seem to be holding still, give the “hold” command. Reward.

Next, add a treat to the mix. Hold your dog’s muzzle and gently balance the treat on their nose. This is a very tough one for most dogs because the can see the treat and really want to move so they can get the treat. Hold their nose gently and say “hold”. If they try to move out of your hand say “no” or “eh eh”, whichever your dog is more familiar with. If you dog doesn’t try to move out of your hand, hold for a few seconds. If he does try to move out of your hand, hold for only a split second. Try to only hold for just under the most amount of time your dog will hold still. You can gradually increase this amount of time over several training sessions.

When you reward them, let go of their muzzle and give the release command. I can say “catch”, but I use “okay”, which is the command I use to release them from “stay” or “leave it”. At this point, don’t worry about whether your dog flips the treat in their mouth. You want to teach them to balance it first.

Once you think they understand the “hold” command means to hold still, cradle their muzzle in your hand rather than hold it. After several successes, simply touch their chin when you give the “hold” command. Eventually, you can have them balance the treat on their nose without you having to hold them still at all.

Pierson Tries to Balance Dog Treat on Nose

I still have to touch Pierson’s chin in order to get him to hold still and balance the dog treat on his nose.

To teach them to catch the treat rather than flip it backwards is not easy. The best way I can say to do this is to double-reward them when they do it. In other words, if you give the release command and the flip the treat behind them, let them get the treat as their reward. But if they actually flip the treat in their mouth, give them another great right away and give lots of extra praise. Make a big deal out of their success.

The hardest part about this trick for Maya and Pierson is teaching them to hold still. I think it was easier for Maya because I have sort of used it before when I tried to balance my glasses on her nose.

Maya Balancing Dog Treat on Nose

Maya is good at balancing a dog treat on her nose.

Student Dog Maya Wearing Glasses

Maya already knew how to hold still and balance a pair of glasses, so teaching her to balance a treat on her nose was easy.

January is train your dog month. Dog training doesn’t have to be a chore. Teaching tricks is a lot of fun. So take up the challenge and remember to keep training sessions short and train often.

To see what’s next on our dog trick training agenda, come back on Monday to see. :)

Check out the blog hop below for more Train Your Dog stories, tips, and challenges.

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Learn More Dog Tricks – A New Year’s Resolution

January 6, 2014

Pierson's Fuzzy Feet

The first half of 2013 went pretty well with dog training. Then I got lazy in the summer. Sure, Maya and Pierson earned lots of treats by doing dog tricks, but they didn’t learn anything new. I only reinforced tricks they already knew. So one of my resolutions for 2014 is to teach Maya and Pierson more dog tricks.

I started this resolution out right on January 3rd when I taught Maya a new trick. I call it “all the way”, which means put your head down all the way to the floor. Maya figured out what I was trying to get her to do in the very first 3 minute session! Pierson was much too excited about the treats to get it the first time around. But by the third training session, which was on the 4th, he got it! Since our training sessions are short, it took Maya less than 3 minutes to learn and Pierson less than 9 minutes.

Teaching the trick was very simple. I put them in the down position, and then led their noses down to the floor and out. I put both the “stay” command and the “all the way” command together. Sounds simple, right? It was for me. But I have a really good training relationship with my dogs. We understand each other well. Maya and Pierson are good at figuring out what I want them to do, and I understand their limitations and try to work with them accordingly.

Pierson Head Down Looking Up

Me – “All the way.”
Pierson – “Okay, but I want that cookie in your hand.”

I think dog training works a lot better when you train together regularly, even if it is with stuff the dogs already know. Maya and Pierson get treats almost every day. And they know they always have to earn those treats. So when the treats come out, they are automatically ready to listen and take action. Plus, I keep the training sessions short. Three to five minutes at the most. It keeps us from getting bored, ensures I can find time, and several small sessions help them retain information better than one long session.

So what’s new on the dog training agenda? I sure would like to make it easier to get good photos of them. This means I need them to sit where I tell them instead of wherever they want. I would also like for them to stay in the position I put them in. So if I want their head to face a certain way, I need to teach them that stay means to not move at all. Maybe I will call it a “freeze” command. I’ve already started this a little with trying to get them to balance a treat on their nose.

I also want to do a different version of the “look” command where I have them look certain directions without me having to point. These dog tricks will really help me when I make more pet travel videos or take photos of them wearing their dog seat belts or using other pet travel products from my retail site. Although they will be learning these things for work, I will make sure it is fun. Maya and Pierson love to learn and I want to keep it that way.

We have a few more resolutions in 2014, including staying fit. But they aren’t “new” resolutions. They are just promises to keep doing what we are already doing. Maya and Pierson are already very fit and already eat healthy. We resolve to keep up with that trend.

So what is a New Year’s Resolution you have with your dog?

Dog Training Pays Off at Dogtoberfest

November 11, 2013

Last month I talked about how I fell short on dog training. Despite my shortcomings, Maya and Pierson have really come a long way. Maya’s behavior at Dogtoberfest reflected this. She was such a good girl!

Yes, when Maya first arrived she did try to drag my husband to the park where Dogtoberfest was held. But this was only because of her initial excitement. When Maya gets excited she is extremely difficult to manage. But I’ve learned that once her excitement wears off (about 10 to 15 minutes) she is much more manageable and will listen to my commands. So for the first 10 minutes of Maya’s arrival at Dogtoberfest there was pulling, barking, butt-wiggling, tail wagging, and all-around happiness. But for the rest of the day after that, Maya was relatively calm.

Dogtoberfest here in Lawrence was held downtown in South Park on October 6th this year. There were a lot of activities including a dog-walk-a-fest, disc dogs, canine good citizen, dog agility, dog training demonstrations, face painting for kids, bobbing for hotdogs for dogs, etc. In between activities, people could visit all the vendors and dogs up for adoption through the Lawrence Humane Society and various rescue groups.

Dog Maya Playing with Stick 2

There was not a single dull moment for my dog Maya at the Dogtoberfest. While I tended my booth, Maya found a stick to play with. Sticks are her favorite toys.

I was one of the vendors for Pet Auto Safety.com so unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to check out all the activities and the other vendors. Maya stayed with me and showed off her new ClickIt Utility dog seat belt. She was an excellent model. And she was a good dog in other ways, too. Many people wanted to pet her. She actually managed to sit still in most cases. She did try to jump a couple of times, but I was expecting it and was able to keep her from doing it.

Dog Maya Playing with Stick 1

Yep, Maya really does love sticks. That red thing she is wearing, by the way, is her new ClickIt Utility dog seat belt.

Maya did very well with other dogs, as usual. Other than the initial excited barking in the morning of the event, she didn’t bark again for the rest of the day. I’m so proud of my Maya.

Have you had any recent breakthroughs in dog training?

My Dogs Are Perfect, I’m Not

October 5, 2013

Me Maya and Pierson

You may have some misconceptions about my dogs. I bet you think they are perfect and can do no wrong. That’s because most of what you see on my blog are photos of them doing cute or fun things or articles on training tips or health tips. I generally don’t tell you the bad stuff. Why is that? Two reasons. Firstly, my dogs bring me such an enormous joy that I don’t really think about their imperfections. Secondly, I’m a bit embarrassed that I don’t have my dogs completely well-trained. Well, today you are going to get to peek into the real Dawn, Maya, and Pierson.

For the most part, I think many of Maya and Pierson’s imperfections are my own fault. They are dogs and do some doggy things that many in society don’t think are appropriate. But it is up to me to try to work through and redirect their most annoying behaviors. And here they are:

Barking

Pierson barks at almost every little thing. Since he is mostly indoors and it doesn’t really bother anyone but those inside the house, his barking isn’t a big deal. In fact, we’ve gotten really good at tuning him out. But what about when he is outside? As a responsible dog owner, I should really be working with him more on not barking so much. Believe it or not, teaching him to bark on command helped a little with teaching him not to bark on command.

Jumping on People

Even after six years, Maya is really bad about trying to jump on people. I’ve trained her not to jump on me or my husband, but it has been difficult teaching her not to jump on others. She gets so excited that it is difficult to control her when she is in this state. I tend to blame her behavior on the fact that she is an excitable dog, but truthfully her behavior is my fault. When she was younger, I did not actively seek anyone to help me teach her not to jump on them. Sure, I took the opportunity when the chance arose, but there was no consistency. Lately, I’ve been trying to amend that.

Pull No More dog harness

This dog harness / leash helps reduce Maya’s ability to pull.

Walking on a Leash

This is by far my biggest downfall. I have done a number of posts about it and have been great about giving tips. But I haven’t been so good at following my own advice. When we go for a walk, I just want to walk. I don’t want to have to stop and correct. There are some days when I focus on the training, but I don’t follow through on every walk or even every other walk. I think I am only about 20% consistent. This has helped. Maya and Pierson are not as bad as they used to be. But if I would only be consistent, they could be much better.

I have genuinely tried the Gentle Leader on Maya. I followed their instructions and advice very consistently every day for a month. All to no avail. I should try again, but probably won’t.

Pierson Group Walk Photo

Look how much progress Pierson has made with his leash reactive behavior.

Leash Reactive Behavior

Now this one I have been fairly consistent with on with Pierson. And I am so proud of how far he has progressed. The part where I may fall short is when winter comes. We won’t see as many dogs on our walks when the weather gets cold.

Maya is leash reactive too, but in a different way. Where Pierson barks because he hates other dogs, Maya barks because she is excited about other dogs. She does very well in public settings, such as the recent Responsible Pet Owner’s Day event and the Mutt Mixer event. But on walks, she does not do so well. I’m not quite sure how to handle her behavior. The methods that have been doing wonders with Pierson are not working on her. The only things I have not tried out is hiring a professional dog trainer or using an electronic collar, and I don’t want to do either. I can’t afford the first one and I don’t want to resort to the second one.

So there you have it. Maya and Pierson are not perfect because I am not perfect at training them. I think I’ve done a pretty darned good job with what I have done. And I believe they are mostly very good dogs. But I have fallen short on being consistent. It is my fault they are not perfect by society standards. But they are perfect to me. And I love them just the way they are, barking, pulling, jumping, and all (although it would be nice if I would train them to stop doing those things).

Do you have any shortcomings when it comes to training your dog? Come on, admit it. I won’t tell on you if you don’t tell on me. ;)

Wordless Wednesday – I’m So Proud of My Dog Pierson

July 24, 2013

Remember my post about ideas for working with Pierson on his dog aggression on February 9th of this year? Or the follow up post on the group walks we’ve been going on to help leash reactive dogs on May 15th? Well, I’m happy to say that the hard work is paying off! Look how close I was able to get Pierson to these other dogs without him going bananas! And it’s not just working on the group dog walks. It’s working on walks in our neighborhood too. I still have to cross the street to go around the other dogs, but it is much easier to distract him and keep him from acting out. I’m so proud of my fluffy boy!!!

Dog Pierson in Group Walk

This is a photo from one of the first group walks. Look how far Pierson had to stay behind.

Dog Pierson Group Walk

This is Pierson on our most recent group walk. We got even closer than this towards the end of the walk but I didn’t get pictures.

Pierson Group Walk Photo

Look how close we were at the end of the walk! It’s like the saying goes, “A tired dog is a good dog.”

Pierson Group Walk Group Photo

Everyone is proud of Pierson’s progress.

Thanks for stopping by on the Wordless Wednesday blog hop. For more great dog blogs around the web, check out the link below:

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