Pet parents have heard this one many times: “It’s okay, I love dogs!” Guess what – it’s not okay! Here’s how to deal with friendly strangers who undo your training.
You’ve sunk hundreds of dollars into obedience classes for your dog and spent countless hours teaching him not to jump on people. And all your efforts seem to wash away as soon as an overly enthusiastic dog lover crosses your path–arms flailing, baby voice squealing, exclamations of “It’s okay, I love dogs!” as your pup covers the person’s chest in muddy paw prints.
While there’s not much you can do to train the human in this scenario, you have some options to keep your dog under control during a greeting.
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Feeding your dog from a bowl is like using a Blackberry… there are infinitely more useful options out there. For the overworked urban owner, feeding a dog in a food-dispensing toy is an effective way to help him release some energy (especially “mouthy” energy) and engage his brain while you’re busy doing other things. While never a substitute for training or exercise, these toys add a little fun to your dog’s day without any extra effort on your part.
One of my go-to toys is the oddly named -- and oddly-shaped -- Kong Genius Mike. This tube-like, rubber toy has slits at both ends, which you can fill with treats or kibble. I use this to feed both my dogs their evening dry food; I put the dogs in separate rooms and shut the doors, giving them 5-10 minutes of alone time to work independently. In turn, I get a few minutes of peace and quiet while they’re busy getting all the pieces out. This toy is also suitable for training treats or other hard goodies, but not for wet or sticky food.
If it takes your dog an hour to walk around the block, a simple training technique can help get his motor running.
At Doggie Academy, owners sometimes contact us because their dogs refuse to walk on leash. It’s most common with puppies, though occasionally it happens with older dogs, including new rescues who are unaccustomed to walking on a sidewalk. In many of these cases, particularly with puppies, the dog is on sensory overload. He’s taking in so much information that he can’t focus on the actual walking. In other cases, the dog might be overwhelmed or anxious in an urban environment, making him unwilling to venture further from home. Or, perhaps, the dog is just perfectly comfortable sitting there on the sidewalk, taking in a sunbeam or watching people pass by.
Kate Naito, CPDT-KA, MS, is an author and dog trainer with Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY.