When my private training clients are faced with their dog’s behavior issue, I generally recommend we do “doggie therapy.” But when does a dog need “therapy,” as opposed to regular manners training?
Do versus Feel
Typical dog training is intended to teach your dog good manners: staying on his dog bed while you eat dinner, walking on a loose leash, or sitting while you open the door for him. This kind of obedience training prepares dogs to be polite members of your household and community by teaching them what behavior is acceptable and what is not. For instance, a well-trained dog is able to sit calmly when being pet by a stranger, rather than jump up on him. In essence, training teaches your dog to do something, whether it’s a sit-stay or recall.
Then there is behavior modification, which is the technical term for doggie therapy. (I use the latter term with clients to lighten the mood and help them relate to the behavior modification protocol.) The purpose here is to encourage your dog to feel something rather than do something. But what does that mean, exactly?
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Does your dog thrash and squeal while you prepare his food as if to say, “Hurry up, human”? Bark at you when you don’t throw the ball fast enough? Protest when the treats or playtime ends? You may have a Bossy Barker on your hands.
Canine vocalizations can have a number of meanings, expressing everything from elation to fear. If you consider your dog’s barking a nuisance or problem, it’s important to identify the underlying emotions for the outburst. The Bossy Bark generally indicates frustration intolerance; that is, the dog gets frustrated because he wants that food/ball/attention NOW. By implementing a few rules based on force-free training, you can teach your pup patience, which will in turn reduce or stop the bossy barking.
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You love your dog, that’s a given. But do your neighbors feel the same way? Make sure your dog has neighbor etiquette both indoors and out, so he brings a smile to everyone’s face.
Well-behaved dogs are made, not born. To ensure your dog is a pleasure for everyone in the neighborhood to be around, a little training and management will go a long way to prevent bad habits from forming. Here are some ways to get started.
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(Photo by constantism.com. Check him out!)
In your dog's eyes, the kitchen is likely the most exciting room in your home. The counter, fridge, and garbage constantly beckon him with alluring smells. And if you eat your meals in the kitchen, your dog may have learned to position himself right next to you, in hopes you'll drop something delicious. All of these things contribute to bad doggie behavior, including begging, whining, and jumping up.
Rather than simply banish your dog from the kitchen, teach him to go to a dog bed or mat where he can enjoy the sights and smells of the kitchen without getting underfoot. This technique, called "Place," creates a win-win situation in which your dog is rewarded for being on his mat, while you get to enjoy your time in the kitchen without worrying about what the dog is getting into behind your back.
This video follows some of the key steps to teaching Place with Distraction in the kitchen, where you gradually add in higher and higher distractions to build your dog's impulse control. For the full description of Place (and many other behaviors to teach impulse control), check out the BKLN Manners™ book!
Does the doorbell send your dog into a frenzy? A simple management solution will keep your dog from going bonkers when he hears that irresistible “ding-dong!”
Check out the steps by going to my petguide.com article here, or by clicking "Read More" if you don't see the text below.
Kate is a certified dog behavior consultant, certified dog trainer, certified dog parkour instructor, and award-winning author in Brooklyn, NY with Doggie Academy and in Southbury, CT.