- “Adolescent Changes” From Dog Star Daily. No, you’re not losing your mind — the cute puppy who would never leave your side is now blowing you off and stealing from the trash. Learn what to expect, and take heart. A well-behaved adult dog is just around the corner!
- “Surviving Your Puppy’s Adolescence” Trainer Tehani Mosconi provides you with tips and tricks of the trade.
- “How to Calm Your Dog by Playing Tug” Nan Arthur at KarenPryorClickerTraining.com offers a comprehensive look at the game of tug, which many trainers (myself included) agree is a wonderful energy burner for young dogs. Arthur shows you how to choose a good tug toy, rules for play and how to teach a quick, safe release.
- Is Your Dog Ready for Agility Training?” If you’re thinking about agility to keep your young monster occupied, Sarah tosses out questions to ponder before beginning a training program.
- Your adolescent dog and the dog park The Association of Pet Dog Trainers offers three articles geared toward determining whether your local dog park is a good fit for your dog, including “Dog Park Etiquette,” “Pros and Cons of Dog Parks,” and “What Makes a Good Dog Park (PDF).”
- “Safety Tips for Running With Your Dog” A tired dog is more often a good dog. This article from Runtheplanet.com offers a number of health and safety tips for getting your partner into shape.
- “When To Seek Help With Your Dog” Sarah talks about how to tell whether your dog’s behavior is more than just adolescent rowdiness.
Invisible fencing may seem like a good idea on the outset, but I believe the risks outweigh the benefits. Below are five reasons I think these fences aren’t the best option for containing your dog.
- You still have to train the dog. Many people assume an invisible or underground fence is “plug ‘n’ play” — that is, you simply install it, plop the collar on your dog, and let him play to his heart’s content. This is not the case (as the reputable underground fence dealers will tell you). The dog still must be trained to accept the fence’s boundaries. But the assumption that it is an “easy” way to contain a dog makes me question whether the potential owner is really willing to put effort into the dog’s care and training (i.e., regular walks, obedience), as well as make sacrifices (e.g., increased cost and imperfect landscaping) to accommodate the dog.
- Electric shock. As far as I know, all varieties of invisible fencing operate on the premise that the dog wears a collar which produces electric shock when the boundary line is approached. Some dogs are so determined to make it through the fence that the shock level must be turned up unusually high. I have seen instances in which a dog wearing a fence collar was inadvertently shocked by the owner’s television, computer or vacuum. (Think of how healthy this is for the poor dog’s mental state!) I have also heard horror stories and seen pictures of third-degree burns caused by fence collars that have malfunctioned. Beware of the underground fencing dealer who tells you this can’t/won’t happen — after all, he’s there to sell you something, not to look out for your dog’s well-being. That’s your job.
- Dogs can — and will — go through an invisible fence. And once they do, guess what? They won’t come back into the yard for fear of getting shocked; they aren’t stupid. They’re simply willing to take the shock the first time through to get whatever they’re after. And once they’re through, they’re free to chase other animals, get into fights, get hit by cars, be shot at, picked up by animal control, etc.
- Underground fencing does not keep anyone from entering your property. Therefore, children, cats, other dogs, wild animals and the like are free to come onto your property and tease or terrorize your dog. And dog thieves find underground fencing absolutely delightful — all they have to do is take the collar off the dog and go!
- This study linking use of or malfunctioning of underground fencing to serious biting incidents. Do we really need to make dog owners more subject to lawsuits and breed-specific legislation? Further reading: “Train With Your Brain” — Green Acres Kennel
Keep in mind this is my reasoning, and there are plenty of responsible trainers, rescuers and breeders who will place dogs in homes with invisible fencing. Also understand that a “real” fence can be a hallmark of lazy or irresponsible dog ownership and is certainly not a cure-all. But given the fact that regular exercise and training can eliminate the need for a fenced yard (a luxury) and given the variety of fencing options available, I’m inclined to discourage clients from using invisible fencing, for the reasons listed above.
Teaching your dog to lie down is a relatively simple task. Start with some tasty treats your dog loves, and in a location your dog is already comfortable. Smaller dogs can first learn this task on a sofa or soft chair, if need be.
Grab a big handful of treats. Ask your dog to sit or lure her into a sit by holding a treat above her nose, just out of reach. As soon as your dog sits, feed one little treat, then put your fist with the remaining treats right on her nose. (It’s OK if she sniffs or licks the treats — that’s the goal!)
Keeping your fistful of treats touching her nose, slowly lower your hand down — not out — to the ground. It’s important that you don’t pull your hand out away from your dog, or she will stand up and follow your fist. Try to draw a straight line from your fist down to the ground.
When your dog’s elbows touch the ground, say “Good down!” and open your hand and feed the treats. Repeat until your dog will lie down with your fist full of six, five, four, three, two, one and then no treats. You will still feed treats even when your dog is lying down for an empty fist — you’ll just pull those treats out of a pocket, your other hand, or off a nearby table, instead.
What if your dog stands up while you’re trying to teach Down? Say nothing, and show her the treats, then start over with your hand on her nose. As soon as her back feet go up, your fist with treats should go away. She’ll soon figure out to keep the treats where she can sniff them, she needs to stay down.
Teaching your dog not to jump up on you or your guests may seem like an impossible task, especially if you have a dog who loves people (and people who love dogs)! How many times have your guests been greeted at the door by your overenthusiastic canine’s nose and front feet, while you haplessly shout “No! Down! Stop it!” in the background? Or you meet a friend while walking your dog, your dog jumps up, and your friend praises and pets the dog, and says, “Oh, it’s OK, I love dogs!”?
Let’s work on changing that scene with three simple strategies for training your dog not to jump on people. You’ll have the most success with your dog if you use these approaches in combination with one another.
Strategy Number One: Ignore the jumping. Unless your dog weighs more than 60 lbs. or is using his mouth when he jumps, ignoring jumping up is the fastest way to permanently make it go away. Dogs jump up to get your attention — so stop giving it to them! Pushing your dog down, yelling “No!”, kneeing him in the chest, stepping on his back toes, bopping him on the head or any other interaction you can think of are a “score” in the needy dog’s book, and make him even more likely to jump next time. (After all, if a dog wants something, what’s the first thing he has to get? Your attention.) To instruct others on how to completely ignore your jumping dog, ask them to turn their backs, cross their arms and look up at the ceiling until all four of your dog’s feet are on the floor.
Strategy Number Two: Manage the behavior (of both people AND dogs). The doorbell rings — where is your dog? Rushing, barking, to the door, waiting to pounce the minute it’s opened? Before you answer the door, grab a leash and put it on your dog. Then use the leash to keep the dog out of jumping up range, even tethering your dog in a secure location if necessary. This strategy is a must if your dog is big, your guests don’t like dogs, or your dog mouths and bites when he or she jumps. On the street, keep enough distance between your dog and anyone unlikely to follow your rules so the jumping isn’t reinforced (and follow Strategy Number Three).
Strategy Number Three: Teach your dog an incompatible behavior. A sitting dog isn’t jumping up — simple as that. Work on improving your dog’s sit or down at the door while no guests are there, and on walks while no one’s around. Then you can ask for and reward a sit or down during progressively more difficult trials: You ring the doorbell, you pretend to greet a guest, enlist a friend or family member to play the guest’s part, etc. When the time comes, have really great treats handy and either you or your guest can ask your dog to sit or down BEFORE the dog jumps. Ask people not to pet your dog unless he is sitting or lying down.
Like everything else in dog training, consistency is key. Teach everyone in your family these strategies, and soon your pup will have one more feather in his good manners cap.