Some dogs won’t take “no” for an answer. When you stop playing fetch, Fido responds with jumps and barks. When you try to stop petting Pattie, she crawls into your lap and demands more, more, more. Or when a training session has come to an end, Rover silently protests by staring at you for five minutes. If any of these sound familiar, it’s time to teach your pup to have an “off” switch.
Can You Blame Them?
We can’t fault our dogs for demanding things. After all, when they beg for food, attention, or play, it tends to work! When your pup nudges your hand for one more scratch, there is a pretty good chance that you’ll give in and start petting her again. And thus a habit of demanding behavior is born. Even if you only give in some of the time, it can teach your dog to be bossy. In fact, if you tell your dog “no” for her first few demands but then give in eventually, you are actually teaching her to be more persistent than if you give in every time. Dogs who are intermittently rewarded for demanding behavior are the ones who develop the most stamina, and they’re often the ones whose habits are hardest to break.
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One of the misconceptions about positive training is that you become a treat dispenser for your dog, constantly giving out food rewards for the rest of his life. While there are some situations that may require long-term treat rewards, there are also many others that rely on other kinds of reinforcement for good behavior.
The main principle of positive training is that polite behavior such as sitting is rewarded, making it a win-win for both dog and owner. Failure to do the polite behavior generally results in the owner withholding a reward. Therefore, only polite pups get what they want. But who says the reward has to be a treat? Enter life rewards, calorie-free reinforcement that gives your dog access to everything he wants... as long as he sits first.
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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!)
Tired of yelling at your dog to stop jumping on people? Tell him to “give paw” instead!
Tricks aren’t just for fun; they can have numerous practical benefits. One of my favorite tricks is to “give paw.” It’s easy for many dogs to learn, and it provides a fun way to replace jumping on people, play biting your guests, and other exuberant behaviors. (I generally do not recommend this for shy dogs who are afraid to greet strangers, however.)
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Not able to attend my café manners workshop at Boris & Horton on May 31? Worry not! My newest article, which you can read below or here at petguide.com, outlines a simple training technique to help your dog remain calmly by your side at the dog-friendly café. Because, let's be honest, facing the outside world is so much more tolerable when your dog is with you.
Still, going to the café is a doggie privilege, not a right. In a few simple steps, you can teach your pup to be polite in public. Take it from Beans and her friend Boris (pictured right): having polite café manners allows your dog to enjoy city life with you!
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As if the release of the BKLN Manners™ book wasn't enough excitement for one week, we just got word that a segment Sarah Westcott and I did for a Japanese TV series has aired. (It's almost entirely in English.) Watch it here!
The segment, which begins at the four-minute mark, gives you a glimpse of how to teach polite leash walking, not jumping on people, recall, a trick, and agility. In addition to Sarah's dogs Hank and Fever and my dog Batman, our wonderful client Margaret and her dog Grace volunteered to take part in the filming. Grace picked up hand targeting and jumping through a hoop with lightning speed.
On a personal note, Japan is a country close to my heart, where I have both family and friends. But dog training there isn't as robust as it is in the States, at least not yet. (However, excellent trainers like Miki Saito are changing that!) Therefore, I couldn't be happier to share what we do at Brooklyn Dog Training Center to a Japanese audience!
Does your dog know how to sit, stay, and come in the house? What about in the park? If that second question makes you cringe, you’re not alone.
A dog’s inability to respond to cues outdoors is a common problem, but there’s hope! Some patience and methodical training can help you teach your dog that “sit” means “sit,” no matter where you are.
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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!
Ahh, the boundless enthusiasm of some dogs. It's why we love them, but uncontrolled excitement can present a danger when that enthusiasm is launched onto grandma or a passing toddler. It's critical to teach your bouncy dog to greet people politely, whether in your home or out on the walk.
The video below gets you started in teaching a polite greeting. Essentially, it's your job to teach your pup that, when a friendly person is approaching, your dog should actually turn his attention to you. This allows you to control the interaction in a way that is pleasant both for your dog and for the person who greets him. Sound too good to be true? Watch here to see it in action.
Treat & Train, developed by Dr. Sophia Yin and owned by PetSafe, is a multi-purpose training tool that is most frequently used to help with problem behaviors such as barking and jumping when people enter your home. It can also provide a ton of rainy-day indoor fun for your dog by making him work for his food, burning both physical and mental energy in a small space. (See the video below.) The device includes a food-dispensing container with several options for dispensing treats, a remote control so you can activate the machine from far away, and a target stick. Sound strange? It’s actually brilliant. Here are some ways you can incorporate it into your routine. (Click "Read more" below.)
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.
Kate is a certified dog behavior consultant, certified dog trainer, and award-winning author in Brooklyn, NY with Doggie Academy and in Southbury, CT.