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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If your neighborhood is anything like mine, it's littered with dangerously delicious "treats": chicken bones, garbage bags awaiting pickup, food wrappers, and more. Teaching your dog a reliable Leave It is essential for his safety.
I teach several levels of Leave It, which allows the dog to develop impulse control first in simple situations, then in moderately difficult ones, and finally in very challenging food-on-the-sidewalk scenarios. To execute it correctly, use both the video below and the detailed steps in the BKLN Manners™ book to guide you.
The video follows a training session with Gritz, a Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue pup and friend of Doggie Academy. He had learned Leave It but needed a refresher at each level. Though our session all took place the same day, a dog learning this behavior for the first time may need weeks to get a reliable Leave It.
My newest video focuses on one of the most important training behaviors: recall! BKLN Manners uses a hand target for recall, as many dogs seem to find "touch" a lot more fun than "come." (To see the steps of a basic hand target, watch my video here.) And if your dog thinks it's fun, he'll respond much more easily.
This video features the perfect pittie duo Penelope and LooseSeal (Check them out here on Instagram!) Recently LooseSeal slipped out the front door and gave her family a scare as she played the "can't catch me" game. The recall techniques we used in this training session are meant to prevent a future incident.
As with all training, the key is to increase the difficulty methodically, raising only one criterion at a time. As you'll see in the video, we are increasing either distance between dog and handler or distraction level, such as toys in the vicinity. Both Penny and Loosey nailed their recalls during our session, meaning they can soon start to practice on long lines in areas that offer slightly greater distance and more distractions, like a quiet corner of a park.
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.
Read the full article here at petguide.com or click Read More if you don't see the text below.
Few topics are as contentious in a household as the dogs-on-the-furniture question. Should you let him sleep with you? Will bed or sofa access make your dog dominant? Can he sometimes be allowed on the bed, and sometimes not?
The answer is not a clear-cut “yes” or “no.” The rules depend on the individuals, both two- and four-legged, in your home. Let’s look at your options.
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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.
When training your dog, certain tools can help the learning process. A go-to tool for many trainers is a clicker: a simple device that fits in your palm and makes a unique “click” noise when you push its button. It works to mark the moment a dog does the behavior you were asking.
Read the rest of the article here on petguide.com or click "Read More" if you don't see the rest of the text below.
Does this frustrating behavior sound familiar? “My dog always comes when called…. except at the park.”
Not only is this frustrating for owners, but it can be dangerous if your dog won’t come to you when danger is present. Fortunately there are steps you can take to teach your dog that coming to you is actually the best part of his outing, not the end of the fun.
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Who's a good dog? These dogs are! This good lookin' bunch of pups just completed the four-week BKLN Manners(TM) class at Brooklyn Dog Training Center. Congrats to (L to R) Mowgli the Coonhound mix, Jones the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Rosy the itty bitty Pitty, Clara the Toy Poodle, Hudson the Yellow Lab, Bea Arthur the shih tzu mix, and (not pictured) Wilbur the Cockapoo! Now they've got the tools to deal with doorbell drama, sidewalk snacking, jumping on people, and more.
Interested in the BKLN Manners(TM) class? Click here to learn more!
Bored with the same old walk around the block? Turn your surroundings into a doggie playground! Parkour is a fun way to to burn your dog’s energy and teach polite leash walking skills. Read my full article here at petguide.com to learn what Dog Parkour is all about and how to get started.
Dog Parkour is a sport I've just started to dabble in with my two Chihuahua-ish mixes, Batman and Beans. For me, the appeal of Parkour is its flexibility. While other sports require a large open space and/or specific equipment (for instance, Agility jumps and tunnels), Parkour can be done anywhere, even in your living room, and the equipment consists of the "environmental features" that naturally occur there. The two Dog Parkour titling organizations allow you to earn titles by submitting videos of your dog performing certain exercises with these environmental features, such as putting two paws on a tree stump or jumping inside a cardboard box. That means no traveling to trials, plus as many do-overs as you want until you get just the right take. The organization All Dogs Parkour has very flexible requirements for earning titles, so even a 14-year-old tiny tyrant like Batman can find enough exercises that fit his abilities. The other, more established (meaning, created in 2014) organization is International Dog Parkour Association, which has stricter criteria for titling submissions.
Below are two videos. The first is Batman's Level 1 submission for All Dogs Parkour. You can see how easy it is. (Please don't judge too harshly... this was the first time we'd tried these exercises!) The second video is a Level 5 Grand Champion submission by trainer Kristine Hammar and her fantastic dog Tessa. You'll see that, even at the highest levels, Dog Parkour is all about interacting with the environment safely.
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.)
If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably been there countless times. You’re taking Sadie for a walk down the sidewalk and an oncoming dog, also on leash, is approaching you. What should you do? Should you let Sadie greet the other dog when it reaches you, or is it better to just keep walking?
I recommend you avoid greeting the other dog if:
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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.
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.
Allow me to introduce my all-time favorite training behavior: the subtle but mighty Hand Target! While one of the lesser-used techniques among owners, Hand Targeting has so many practical applications that it is well worth teaching it to your dog. Rather than explain it in writing, watch this video to see Hand Targeting in action.
Hand Targeting teaches your dog to touch his nose to your outstretched hand. “Why on earth would I want to do such a thing,” you ask? Once your dog can come to you and “boop” your hand, the possibilities for polite indoor and outdoor behavior are endless. For instance:
Having introduced the Emergency Recall in the previous blog post, now it’s time to practice it in a variety of real-life situations, so your dog will come back to you even if he spots a squirrel or slips from his collar. Click "Read More" to see the video of Beans learning Emergency Recall. The more you practice this, the more ingrained the “kiss-and-treat” sequence becomes in your dog’s mind, and the more easily he will be able to come back to you, no matter what.
When you start practicing Emergency Recall outside, choose a relatively quiet location. Make your kissy (or other unique) noise, and reach down to give your dog a treat regardless of what he’s doing. Once your dog clearly understands this sequence, you can start to add other elements.
For the typical urban dog owner, nothing is scarier than the thought of your dog slipping out of his collar and taking off down (or worse, across) the street. The first thing I teach my own new rescue dogs is an Emergency Recall -- a cue that will get my dog to come back to me, regardless of the situation. It’s incredibly simple to teach and can be a building block to more advanced training, like loose leash walking and “leave it.” I’ve only had to use Emergency Recall in a real emergency once, when Beans’s leash slipped out of my hand and she darted towards a squirrel in the middle of the street. Because we’d been practicing the recall regularly, as soon as she heard the cue, she she stopped in her tracks, spun around and raced back to me.
Emergency Recall simply pairs a unique sound you make -- in my case, a kissy noise -- with a delicious treat. In the dog’s mind, this sound comes to mean “cookie time!” So naturally, he will stop whatever he is doing and come galloping to you. In fact, your dog doesn’t have to actually “do” anything to get the treat. You’re simply teaching him that a kissy noise is followed by a treat, regardless of what he does. Though you are not overtly teaching the dog to come, by making this very strong association of “kissy noise = treat,” the end result is a solid, enthusiastic recall.
There is one catch. Because we are using classical conditioning, you will never fade out treats. Think Pavlov’s dogs and the bell; the bell only triggered salivation because it predicted food. Take away the food, and over time the bell becomes meaningless. Same goes for the kissy noise. Before you complain, “But I don’t want to give my dog a treat every time I practice this,” ask yourself, “Do I want my dog to come back if he gets off leash?” This is for emergencies, after all. While you can certainly use other training techniques for recall, the strength of this classically conditioned association makes it worth the extra treat or two per day.
Though I practiced Emergency Recall constantly when I first adopted my dogs, I now do it on a “maintenance” level: one kiss-and-treat per day while we’re on walks. This keeps it fresh in the dog’s mind.
The video below shows what the sequence looks like. To see how Emergency Recall can be a building block to more advanced training, especially when outdoors, check back here for future posts and keep an eye out for the BKLN Manners™ book coming in early 2018!
When your goal is to modify an unwanted behavior, whether it’s from your dog, your kids, or yourself, you always have two options:
Problem: My dog gets underfoot while I’m cooking in the kitchen.
Management Strategy: Block his access to the kitchen. There are several ways to do this.
Training Strategy: Teach him to go to his bed while you cook.
Teach your dog a Place cue, which is a behavior that is incompatible with kitchen scavenging. (If his butt is firmly on the dog bed, he can’t be walking around the kitchen.) I prefer teaching an alternative behavior like Place to simply telling the dog, “No!” or “go away”; shooing him away simply tells your dog what he shouldn’t do (and that’s if he understands it at all), whereas Place tells him what he should do instead. It’s a win-win.
For almost every undesirable behavior, it’s wise to consider both management and training, as they can often complement one another. In the example above, until your dog has learned a solid Place (which will be discussed in detail in future posts), the management strategy can keep the problem from exacerbating.
Stay tuned for future posts outlining management and training strategies to address a number of urban dog issues. Got a request? Email me!
Kate is a certified dog behavior consultant, certified dog trainer, certified dog parkour instructor, and award-winning author in NYC and Connecticut.
The views expressed on this website belong to Kate Naito and may not reflect the views of the agencies with which she trains.