DOG TRAINING TIPS
Finding the right information about dog training can be difficult. At TAILored Pet Services, we know this fact all too well which is why our accredited dog trainer answered some of the most common dog training questions below.
Dogs might develop numerous behavior concerns that can be distressing for pet parents. These problems most often stem from a fearful/bad experience, a predisposition for anxiety, or simply a human and dog miscommunication. No matter the cause, we are here to help you/your tailed friend.
Food aggression/resource guarding
Resource guarding comes from a desire to protect something of value from being taken from your dog. It is a natural instinct present in all beings, including humans; but problems can arise for dogs living in the domestic setting. The goal of behavior modification for resource guarding is to teach your dog that they have a choice and more good things occur when we interact with the resource they have.
The game is meant to teach your dog that giving an item of value to you can be profitable for them. To start, use an item of low value to your dog (you can use toys they will not guard to begin teaching this game). The key to this game is to trade up; don’t bank on your dog giving you something of value for a dry biscuit or normal dog food. Would you trade a $50 bill for a $1 bill? Your dog is intelligent enough not to make that trade either. Make sure the deal is worth trading for!
How to implement:
- Once your dog has a low value item in their mouth, show them the high value treat. When they drop the item, pick up the item and give the treat; immediately give the item back. Practice until your dog is no longer interested in the low value item. Move on to a slightly higher value item.
- When your dog has the item of value in their mouth, show the treat and say “give” or “out” (whatever word you will remember and use consistently) Once your dog drops the item, give the high value treat while you pick up the item. Then ask for “sit” or a different cue they know well to earn the item back. On the last trade of the session, give several treats and practice at least one other cue. Be sure to take the item and move it out of your dog’s reach until the next training session.
- Practice this skill randomly throughout the day with a variety of items that your dog does not generally guard. The more you practice and your dog wins the game, the more likely they will perform the behavior when it really matters!
Leash reactivity can come from a number of causes, such as fear of other dogs and people, excitement over the walk itself, or frustration due to the restrictive nature of a leash. This type of reactivity can encompass a number of behaviors; but the most common are excessive barking, pulling at the leash, and whining. Our goal in training away leash reactivity is to teach our dog they need to walk at our pace and check in with us if they encounter something that scares them.
This fun and simple training game works to decrease leash reactivity because it teaches your dog they have nothing to fear when they see other dogs and people, or even unusual things like plastic bags or medical equipment.
How to implement:
(1) Start far enough away from a potential trigger so your dog is unlikely to react strongly to it (i.e. if they would normally bark and lunge, be far enough they only growl.) Wait for your dog to notice the trigger. As soon as they do, say “yes” and hand them a high value treat.
- If your dog starts reacting or they do not turn to you to accept the treat, you will need to try again at a further distance.
- Repeat this step three to five times (or more if the trigger is changing in intensity) before moving on to the next step.
(2) Next, without moving toward the trigger, allow your dog to look at the trigger and wait for your dog to look away from the trigger on their own. As soon as they do, say “yes”, hand them a high value treat.
- If your dog isn’t looking at you after about 5 seconds of looking at the trigger or starts reacting before looking back at you, go back to the prior step.
- Repeat three to five times before moving on to the next step.
(3) If your dog has completed both prior steps without reacting, and they continue to take treats, move a bit closer to the trigger and start again at step one. Do this process until you are a bit more than leash length away from the trigger.
Fear of certain noises/noise phobias
If your dog is fearful of the things that go bump in the night, fourth of July fireworks, the sirens of emergency vehicles, or even the humble vacuum cleaner, they may have a specific kind of anxiety called noise phobia. Noise phobia may be a type of inheritable anxiety, but is always caused by a dog having a heightened awareness of their surroundings. The goal of training for noise phobia is to show your dog that the noise that used to scare them can mean good things will happen.
The popcorn game
This is a very simple yet extremely effective game your dog will enjoy. It works because of something called desensitization. Desensitization is when you see (or hear) something so much it stops being scary. *You will need access to Youtube for this game to work.
How to implement:
(1) Start in a safe environment you have full control over. The goal is to have it be as close to silent as possible with few/no distractions. You will also need a way to play sound clips from Youtube (there are thousands of options and you will be able to control the sound which is crucial.)
(2) Choose a video that contains the sound your dog is fearful of and gather small (think around the size of your pinky finger) high value treats.
(3) Play the sound at an extremely low volume (you should strain to hear it). If your dog is only curious about it and isn’t showing signs of fear, you’ve found the sweet spot.
(4) Start by giving small treats continually while slowly turning up volume.
- If your dog starts showing signs of anxiety at any point, slow down and let the dog get comfortable with each change in volume.
- If there is a volume your dog consistently shows signs of anxiety at, work just below that volume for the remainder of the session.
(5) Keep sessions short and happy, and practice often!
As much as we all wish new puppies came with a handbook, sadly they don’t. TAILored Pet Services understands and is here to save you from puppy woes. For example, we will help your puppy become a distinguished dog by working on house training to save your shoes from your adorable fluffy shredder.
One of the most common problems for new puppy pet parents stems from the fact that puppies simply don’t understand human values. Even if they could, we need to give our puppies the tools to tell us when they need to eliminate and to get to an approved place.
Tricks to accomplish these goals:
- Use an appropriately sized crate (it should be large enough for the puppy to walk into and turn around comfortably, but not large enough to have a sleeping nook and an elimination nook) Be sure your puppy is getting lots of exercise when not in the crate.
- Offer trips outside often (immediately upon waking, minutes after eating or drinking, before bed, and every few hours throughout the day.) Ask “do you need to go potty” or something similar each time you take them outside. Give rewards when your puppy gets it right!
- Make sure not to punish any mistakes that do occur, simply take them outside to the correct spot. Be sure to clean up any messes with a cleaner meant for pet messes.
- Build a schedule for your puppy with set mealtimes, potty breaks, playtimes, and sleep times.
If you have started to look like you lost a fight with a feral cat because of your young puppy, you are far from alone. Puppies are equipped with very sharp teeth and sadly do not arrive understanding when it’s appropriate to bite and what is not, so we must teach them.
Tricks to accomplish this goal:
(1) Replace what you do not like them chewing on (your arm, the couch, a shoe) with something you are okay with them chewing on like a puppy chew toy.
(2) Make the item you offer more exciting that what they had before. Our hands are often targets because we move our hands around a lot, especially when we don’t want puppy teeth sinking into our flesh.
(3) Offer soothing chews. Much like a teething baby, puppies can experience pain when they teeth, often contributing to increased biting.
- You can make a homemade soother by soaking a washcloth with no frays in low sodium chicken broth, twisting out the excess and allowing it to freeze before presenting it to your puppy.
(4) Avoid punishment with your puppy. They are simply looking for fun, engagement, or pain relief when they chomp on things.
For a puppy to become well-rounded/sociable adult dog, they must have good socialization from puppyhood. Once they come home from their litter, it is our job to provide them with that. Our goal in socialization should be for our puppy to have a good experience, but for them to ultimately not care too much about what we are presenting. A well socialized dog has a take it or leave it attitude toward most things outside of you.
Tricks to accomplish this goal:
(1) Introduce your puppy to as many sights, sounds, smell, and textures as they can safely be exposed to. This will require you to think outside of the box and see things you might take for granted, like the noise a refrigerator makes.
- This also means listening to your vet about when and how to face the real world in terms of immunity.
(2) Keep it lighthearted! Puppies will often defer to us when they are uncertain how to feel about something. Show them you you are unbothered, and be ready to laugh things off if your puppy isn’t so sure.
(3) Take it slow! Allow your puppy to explore new things at their pace, and try to keep sessions less than ten minutes in the beginning.
(4) Remember you are laying the foundation for how your puppy will view the world years after they can’t be considered a puppy anymore.