Building Good Behavior Into Your Dog

by | Dog Care News |


If you have a dog, you know how important it is to make sure they are well behaved. We all love our precious pets, but it’s never fun when they act up. To help us build good behavior into our dogs, the Toronto Star‘s animal behavior consultant answers questions to important dog behavior questions.

I have a three-month-old Golden retriever puppy that gets excited when let out of the kennel. She then barks and jumps all over our older dog. Can you give me any advice on how to stop this please?

Most owners are well aware that they should only let a puppy out of its crate when the puppy is quiet. However, that does not stop the dog from temporarily settling, only to bolt out the door at the first opportunity. Exiting the kennel should not mean that the dog has the freedom to charge.

Dogs benefit from learning both self-control and a series of behaviours that form routines. After waiting patiently, the dog should move seamlessly into another good behaviour.

This process, or behaviour chain, is similar to children learning routines in school. First, they line up. Next, they walk single file into the room. Then they hang up their coats and change their shoes. Finally, they sit at their assigned desk and open their books. One step leads to another and yet another. Free play happens only when the teacher releases them for recess.

reating these habits prevents dogs from behaving one moment and darting the next. It is also an important safety lesson. Dogs that learn to wait can transfer this skill to other situations. Pets should learn to wait prior to exiting the home or car. These areas present very real dangers to a bolting dog.

Many trainers use a process called, “Crate Games” designed by Susan Garrett. Despite its name, Crate Games is not so much about crate training (although it can help). It’s about teaching dogs to focus, relax and show self-control.

Where a family pet is concerned, the dog learns to wait inside the crate even if the door is open. They wait to be leashed or invited out. After exiting the crate, the dog learns to look to its owner for direction. In the case of a young pup, this quickly leads to a trip outside to go pee. Nowhere in this chain of events does the dog run off or pester another animal.

Once the puppy has calmed down and received some exercise, the owner can then choose to allow calm interaction with the older dog. Alternately, they can direct the puppy to other appropriate activities.

Our teenage children want to teach our dog some tricks. Some quickly come to mind like shake-a-paw and speak. Are these good tricks to start with?

Tricks are great fun and can provide mental stimulation and enrichment. However, some tricks quickly become a nuisance. Two of those are shake-a-paw and speak.

Properly taught, a dog will only demonstrate a trick if asked to do so. People who are just having a bit of fun often do not fully complete the process of teaching a silly behaviour. Usually this means that the dog offers their repertoire whether invited to or not. Sometimes even at inappropriate times.

For example, some dogs swat their paw at every extended arm. Someone offering a pet on the chin winds up with a scratched arm instead. Where speak is concerned, repeated uninvited barking grows obnoxious quickly, especially if the dog is barking at guests or when owners are trying to rest.

With any trick, ask if it has the potential to become irritating. If so, those are best to avoid unless there is a firm commitment toward completing the trick.

Instead, try tricks that have minimal nuisance potential. Bow is an easy trick to begin with where the dog is quiet and keeps all four paws on the floor.

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