- Calm introductions to all types of people. Focus especially on infants, toddlers, children (all ages), men with beards, people wearing hats, elderly people with walkers, people in wheelchairs, etc. Give your puppy the choice to approach each person, and not the other way around. Ask each person to offer your puppy a tasty treat.
- How to sit, lie down and walk on leash without biting the leash (training to walk on a leash without pulling goes on through the first year or so).
- How to be gentle with his or her mouth (How can I get my puppy to stop biting me?).
- How to rest quietly in a crate with yummy chew toys, such as a Kong stuffed with canned food.
- How to potty outdoors (How to Housebreak Your Dog in 7 Days: Shirlee Kalstone: Amazon.com)
Your dog may not have a 9-to-5, relationship issues or financial worries, but stress in dogs is real, and can have real implications on your dog’s ability to behave appropriately.
4PawsUniversity has a handy visual guide to Stress Signs in Dogs, which can help you read your dog’s signals before a bark, growl or bite happens. Pay particular attention to the avoidance signs. These are warning signs that your dog is not enjoying the interaction! Think of avoidance as a stop sign. When you see it, stop what you are doing and change tactics, or remove your dog from the environment that’s creating the avoidance behavior. There are a number of reasons a dog could be avoiding a particular person, dog or other scenario, but in any case it is a signal that should not be ignored.
If your dog is continually stressed by specific events or situations, behavior modification can help your dog learn to cope with stressful events before a bite, bolt or other unwanted behavior occurs.
It’s -8º, the sidewalks are covered in ice, and it’s also sleeting. You just don’t want to go out. As a result, your pup is a little terror–running circles around your house and chewing things up because she needs some exercise. What should you do? Try some of these fun games! The mental exercise will help wear her out, keeping you both sane and toasty warm.
Play “Hide and Seek”—Rope a family member or a friend into playing with you. You and your friend should each have a stash of delicious treats or a favorite toy in your pocket. Then, go somewhere in the house and hide. Don’t make it too tricky at first. Call your dog to you. Give her a big reward when she finds you —either a tasty treat or a chance to play with her toy.
In the meantime, your friend should hide somewhere else in the house and repeat! Your friend can’t make it to your house in this weather? Work on your pup’s sit-stay while you hide. Then call her to you!
Feed your dog her meals in a toy—Mix up some dog food with a little bit of yogurt, stuff it into the center of a Kong, put it in your freezer overnight, and then let your dog enjoy her meal, frozen-yogurt-style! You can stuff multiple Kongs and feed your dog her whole meal this way. The chewing will help tucker her out. Buster Cubes are another great option. You fill the ball with kibble, and your dog has to roll it around with her nose to get the food to come out.
Play tug-of-war with your dog—This game is a great way to burn energy, build a strong bond, and teach obedience like “Take it” and “Drop it”. Watch Emily Larlham of Kikopup teach her dog to play tug. Remember to set rules for the game. Teeth on skin = Game over!
Teach your dog to “Find it!”—Find three large cups and place them upside down on the floor. Put them about 3 feet apart at first and then gradually extend the distance between them as the dog gets better at the game. Put your dog in a down-stay or a sit-stay. Hide a very tasty treat under one of the cups—like a piece of chicken or cheese. Allow your dog to get up and find the cup with the treat. When she finds it, she gets the treat! Once your dog gets the game you can put this skill on cue by telling her to “Find it!”
Your dog is a bundle of energy, and—sleeting or not–that energy tank needs to be drained each day. These games provide stimulation for your dog, through safe chewing, the mental work of learning, or exercising with tug. We hope these games help keep you and your dog sane and having fun together this winter!