FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Below is a copy and paste of a game called click the trigger which is ideal for teaching dog a different reaction to things that trigger them to bark.
First introduce him to clicker training.
Once he is clicker savvy sit with him on a lead in the garden OR indoors near the open outside door where you can see birds passing but where he will still be responsive to you with clicker and treats. Have your clicker and a pot of tasty treats and wait. As soon as his body language indicates that he has seen something you have a nano second before he barks to click so that he turns to you for the treat. Repeat, repeat, repeat. If you click and he still barks it doesn’t matter, he still gets the treat just be careful not to click the barking but click before he does and he should prefer to eat a treat than to bark. If he is unresponsive to clicker and treat then you are too close to the trigger or the treats are naff. Move further away or get better treats.
At some point he will see something, you will be slow to click and he will turn to you and say “Oi, you forgot to click!” Click that and jackpot reward for him. Now you have stage 2. See bird, tell you he saw it, click treat.
You will have to do this as often as you can and gradually up the ante. Closer to outside, off lead eventually and further away from you so he has to return for his treat. Once he’s got it the reward can be a game with a toy, or occasionally just a smile and a ‘good boy’. You should soon find that he will be willing to ignore birds and play training games with you instead......
GETTING PUPPY USED TO BEING ALONE
To start with, let him follow you/take him with you.
Right now shutting him away from you is just increasing his frustration and distress, which won't help him learn, settle in, or well it won't help with anything at all really!
Your clothes, radios, ticking clocks, tasty treats etc - won't work at this stage, because he is over threshold, he's too stressed to really know or care that those things are there, let alone process that they are enjoyable.
So, step one is that he is not left alone at all, to cry or scrabble or whine etc - let him follow you, take him with you - yes, even to the bathroom or the shower etc etc.
Step TWO..... you now fit in your training sessions where you teach him things are ok!
One of the reasons people get this wrong is they try to fit the training sessions in with the jobs and chores they have to do, so 'let’s get the dog used to the crate whilst I take a shower' but he can't cope with anywhere NEAR long enough for you to actually get something useful done yet!
Check out our files for crate training - because you are now following step 1, you'll only be using the crate for these training sessions
As well as the crate training sessions to be done daily...
'Don't follow me it’s boring' sessions - where you teach him by your actions and through his own choice, that trailing about after you is sometimes extremely tedious and boring and ultimately there are better things to do.
So set a timer (with a vibrate not a beep!) on your phone, for 10 minutes.
Pick two convenient rooms in your home, I would suggest living room and kitchen.
You are going to 'flit' between these two rooms, and you are going to allow your dog to follow you but NOT speak to him or make eye contact etc - to make this as boring as possible.
So you flit from living room to kitchen... busy yourself with a cup of tea or something at the worktop - as you see him begin to settle, into a sit or a down, flit again back to the living room, sit down - as you see him settle, flit back to the kitchen again...
When the time is up, you can go back to talking to your dog and stopping flitting about,
When you start doing these sessions a couple of times a day it’s also good if you possibly can, to get into the habit of inviting the dog by name if you DO want him to come with you, and NOT inviting him when you don't/are doing a flitting about session.
This is part 1 - you need to watch out for your dog starting to be reluctant to follow you if you didn't invite him - watch for him getting up slower, hovering in doorways, lying down in doorways or in halls instead of coming right into the room. When that happens you know he’s getting the idea that this is very tedious and boring, which is exactly what we want.
Part 2 is exactly the same but, you pop down a bone or a stuffed Kong sufficiently large that he cannot tote it about with him! So now he has a choice to make - follow you, boring. Or stay put, eat yummy kong/bone.
Because he already knows following you IS boring he’s much more likely to choose not to, and be in the frame of mind to enjoy that reward for staying put.
When this happens make a point of being OUT of the room only very very briefly and back IN the room for much longer, so maybe 2 seconds out, 10 seconds in, 2 seconds out again, 10 seconds in, 4 seconds out, 10 seconds in..... back down to 2 seconds out.
THIS is how gradual the exposure to being left alone needs to be, and again it’s a common area where people go badly wrong, they start out at like 5 or 10 minutes, when they needed to start at 1 or 2 seconds!
This is just the beginning stage - once you can flit from living room to kitchen you might vary it to another room - when you DO, start with part 1 again for that, so he figures out it is still boring, before you try adding in part 2 with the kong.
When you read through the crate training file you'll see that the way to increase the duration or difficulty is VERY gradual, and the same process applies to this flitting about game.
Unfortunately, there is no quicker way to resolve separation anxiety, than this gradual desensitization and counter conditioning method, if only there were!
Whilst obviously if you can do more sessions of both the crate and the flitting about work in a day, progress may happen faster, you must be careful NOT to rush - and so I cannot promise you that your dog will be ready to be left home alone when you start work again - and that means you need to sort out some sort of daycare or sitter for that eventuality, or you are likely to undo all the work you've put in.
Preventing the behavior is the first step - otherwise he will get better at finding and humping his targets. Then you need to work out what he is getting from the behavior and how he can achieve that feeling without performing the behavior.
Is he humping because he is stressed - the feelings he gets from humping can be a stress relief and so preventing anything occurring that causes stress should reduce his need for relief.
Is he humping because he is trying to play? Does he have enough structured play time with appropriate toys?
Is he humping because he is bored and the response he gets - albeit likely a slightly negative one - is better than no attention at all? If so then maybe spending some time doing brain and body challenging activities such as trick training / scent work or similar might fulfill his needs and as a result he would no longer need to hump for attention?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBvPaqMZyo8&app=desktop (Positive Interrupter link)
Digging is a natural behavior for a dog. Most dogs dig. If all of her needs are being met then just provide her with a digging pit. This can be a corner of a flower bed or a child's sandpit. Let her watch you bury some treasure there, bone, toy biscuit.... and then help her dig it up. Do this a few times and then bury the treasure when she isn't watching and let her discover it. Before long, as long as you occasionally bury something for her, she will only dig where you want her to.
For now don't eat in front of the dog even if you have to do meals in shifts (if there is someone else to entertain the dog whilst you take turns to eat).
To teach a more desirable behavior, during a quiet period, sit at the table with a cuppa and biscuit and some treats for the dog. Decide what you would like him to do. Could be to lie under the table, go to his bed, something else.... Toss a treat under the table/on his bed... Do this a few times. He may then try and get you to give him another. Continue to drink your coffee and say nothing at all to him. Don't be tempted to tell him what to do or what not to do. This is a more reliable behavior in the end if it his choice to do it.
Now wait for anything that is in the right direction.. looking away would suffice for starters, and reward each and every behaviour that is not begging, gradually shaping the behavior until you get to where you want to be.
If you google free shaping/clicker training it will help you to understand how to do this and why it works.
You will need a lot of sessions gradually adding to the difficulty before he is ready to show off his new skill at mealtimes.
INTRODUCING A NEW DOG
When introducing new dogs keep in mind, first impressions count, for SO much.
So you need to do everything you can to set both dogs up (or all dogs) to have the best possible first meeting and to create the best possible first impressions of one another.
This is going to mean meeting in a calm quiet place that is neutral territory for both dogs (if you are intro’ing a new dog to several resident dogs, do this one at a time), and giving the dogs plenty of space to get used to one another’s presence.
Off lead is really too much of a risk so long lines and harnesses is the best way forward here – walk the dogs around a big space, ideally a secure field or as close to that as you can get, with them a long way apart from one another. Ideally, play follow the leader so that each dog can pick up scent from the ground the other dog has walked over, so walk in a big circle or loop – they need to be far enough apart that neither dog feels the need to react and both dogs can take high value rewards from their respective handlers.
Gradually reduce the circle, each dog being allowed to sniff and look but encouraged with rewards to keep moving. Gradually catch up and walk parallel, again with enough space between the dogs that no one’s reacting, each dog can focus on their handler.
Throughout this process keep leads nice and loose, be interesting and rewarding, avoid any telling off or ‘correction’ – we want the dogs to associate one another with low stress, high reward, calm activity.
If at any stage someone does react, just increase the space and get your dog’s focus back on you using rewards.
When you can walk the dogs sufficiently closely without reaction that they could sniff each other, have one of you drop back a little so the other can sniff butts – keep this first greeting really short and positive, 3 or 4 seconds then a happy voice ‘let’s go’ and back to parallel walking again and then repeat a minute or so later.
This allows the dogs to get used to one another without there being time for anything to go wrong.
If you are in a secure space, now you can consider allowing them to choose what they do, so drop the leads and let them drag them, and allow them to interact, but be sure to recall them frequently before any play can get giddy or over the top, reward well and send them back to play again. If you do this and either dog ignores the recall, use the long lines to split them up, get their focus back on you before allowing them back together. It’s important that when this happens, BOTH dogs are brought back under control as if you have one dog loose trying to play and the other dog secured on the lead that’s a recipe for something to kick off.
Once all the above is done, then if it’s just the one dog you are introducing to another, walk them home together, enter the house together.
Ideally I would put away all toys and highly prized items such as bones, chews etc, and provide multiple beds and water bowls (so three or four beds, three or four water bowls) so that you reduce the value of these items and reduce the chance for competition between the dogs.
Feed them in separate rooms to begin with, and introduce toys and treats gradually as the new dog settles in, supervised by an adult per dog.
The above is the ideal practice, this isn’t always possible so if necessary, remember to keep things calm, give dogs space, avoid tight leads and head on meetings and avoid competition over food/toys.
CHASING/LUNGING AT CARS
For now you need to stay away from roads and walk him in traffic free places which may mean driving somewhere for exercise. This ensures that he isn’t practicing the behavior.
I recommend that you introduce him to clicker training. You can just use a marker word instead but it’s quicker with a clicker.
Then find a location where you can watch traffic in the distance. This could be on a footpath or a rarely used side road with a road running along the bottom of it or somewhere like a quiet corner of Sainsbury’s car park. The traffic needs to be going across your view from left to right or right to left not coming towards you and ideally needs to be just one vehicle at a time with at least a few seconds between them but preferably more.
Then find the distance where he can see a car and not react other than noticing it. You need him on lead, some small, yummy treats and your clicker.
Watch his body language, you are looking for the slightest ear prick and when he notices a car you are going to click. If you have put in the groundwork with the clicker, if he knows there are yummy treats on offer and if you are far enough away from the traffic he will turn back to you for the treat. Step back if that makes it easier for him to turn to you and then step forward for the next one. Repeat, repeat, repeat. He notices the car, you click he gets a treat. At some point you are going to be slow with the click and he is going to see a car, turn back to you and say ‘Oi! You forgot to click’. Click and treat that. Now you know he has got it and we can move to stage two. See a car, turn back to you, get a click and a treat.
You will need lots of sessions in lots of locations, always ensuring that he remains below his threshold but gradually increasing criteria, getting nearer the road and in different locations until he can walk along the road and get the occasional reinforcement for not wanting to chase the traffic.
It's quite normal, undesirable but nonetheless something that some dogs do.
It's possible that it started in the nest if they were not kept clean and mum or later the breeder wasn't cleaning up after them and if he wasn't getting enough to eat. But that is just speculation.
What you need to do is teach him a special cue that will become an interruption between pooing and turning around to eat it.
Needs to be a happy sound so I suggest something like "yay!" said in a cheery voice. So grab a few really yummy treats and with no distractions and when you are interacting with him say "yay!" and immediately give him a treat. Repeat this about ten times then wait for him to turn away from you, try the "yay!" and I would hope he would turn to you for a treat. You can do one or possibly two sessions before he is due for his next poo.
When you take him out have him on a lead and harness and as soon as he poos give him a "yay!" as you gently move him away from the poo. Throw a few more treats on the ground for him to allow you to move in and remove the poo.
Because he is young this won't take long at all to teach but you do need to consistently and ceremoniously attend every poo for a while.
I really do not recommend putting anything in his food although there will now follow a lot of comments suggesting you give him pineapple.
You must prevent it.
Dogs learn best using positive reinforcement. That means that any behavior that is positively reinforced with food is going to be repeated. So every time he takes food from the children he is learning to take food from the children.
Do not allow the children’s hands to be within his reach if they have food in them.
Then when you have prevented the opportunities to practice and be reinforced for a behaviour that you don't want to teach him you can teach him the behaviour that you do want.
I'd recommend some impulse control work first: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipT5k1gaXhc
Next, take a chopping board, a knife, a tin of hot dog sausages and a Tupperware container. Open the tin and tip the brine down the sink and rinse the sausages. Take out a sausage spend some time carefully cutting it into small pieces. What is your dog doing at this point? If he has feet on the worktop then just turn sideways and block his view of the chopping board. If he has all four feet on the floor toss him a bit of sausage. If he is barking, whinging, whining then ignore and continue to chop up sausage. If he stops, chuck him a bit of sausage. Give him maybe half a dozen rewards for four feet of the floor and quiet. (Note: You are not asking him to do anything and neither are you asking him to stop doing anything. All you need say to him is a quiet “good boy” when you reward him.)
Now hold off on the next reward and see if he offers anything even better. It could be to move away from the worktop, he might offer a sit or a down if either of those has a history of reward. Basically reward the behavior that you like. The more repetitions you do the more he is learning what pays off and so when you are preparing food those are the behaviors that he will offer. You will need to reinforce them still occasionally once learned.
You can adopt a similar method when the children are eating. Reward him for lying down or going to his bed still making sure that he cannot get the food in the children's hands.
CATS – INTRODUCING THE DOG
You need to make sure that your cats have safe areas that the dog cannot access preferably with an 'air lock' in between if that is possible, so two doors or stair gates in doorways between them at all times, just because he is so frantic to get to them.
Then you need a helper and lots of yummy treats for the dog and the cats. Sit with him on a lead at the farthest point you can get away from a cat where he will be able to still see her and have someone bring the cat into view (only if the cat is willing) the cat gets fed salmon and the dog is rapid fire fed sausage or liver or whatever in tiny pieces. Cat then goes from view and feeding stops.
You will need to repeat this many times. You are aiming for the cat to see the dog and think 'Salmon! Yummy!' and for the dog to see the cat and turn to you expecting a treat. Eventually the rewards can be toys, fuss, praise or just a smile from you as long as you continue to reinforce the behavior of 'see a cat, do this instead'. It is imperative that he gets no opportunity to chase or even just look and want to chase because there is no higher reward for some dogs than the chase and the anticipation of the end result.
Put him on a lead before opening the door and always keep two doors between him and the outside. Meanwhile using an interior door teach him not to rush through doors by opening it a crack and closing it again as he moves forward. Say nothing. Continue to do this until you can open it a crack and he pauses. Then open it and tell him OK. He has to want to go through the door of course. Then at each session open it a little more before releasing him for waiting. Increase the time he waits there as well just a little. For outside doors you can still get him to not rush through but ALWAYS have him on a lead.
GREETING OTHER DOGS POLITELY
Do you have any friends and family with dogs that he gets on with? Ideally dogs that are well rounded and won't be intimidated by his lack of manners. He doesn't need to practice his social skills on unknown dogs or dogs that you meet out and about and bedsides on lead meetings are not ideal because the lead will interfere with communication.
As with anything prevention in the first instance. So that means that when you are walking him you need to give other dogs and people a wide berth. It might mean taking him somewhere in the car for a walk. Then you need to find somewhere where you can watch dogs and people passing in the distance and where you can teach him an alternative response to seeing them. If you clicker train you can use a method called click the trigger. If you don't want to use a clicker then you can just use a marker word such as 'yes'. Every time he sees a dog you would click and then give him a treat. You have to be far enough away from the trigger for him to want the reward. I will post a link to our recall file which has tips on increasing the value of rewards. So lots of practice in different places if possible of him seeing a dog in the distance and getting a click and treat. After a while he will look or may even pretend to look and look back to you quickly in anticipation of the reward. Then you have stage 2. See a dog. Turn back to you to tell you he has seen it. Click and treat. Continue in this fashion, vary the criteria, closer to the trigger, you walking, but not towards other dogs until you are both really competent. Once you have him ignoring other dogs for the most part then you can also use play with other dogs as a reward for not rushing at them.
Here are some of the things I did with my dog. A reliable instant down taught using the method in the video that follows. This incorporates the release into the exercise by rewarding it which means the dog reorientates back to you on the release and doesn’t just take off again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk4PPcE1CqY Teaching a predictive cue as explained in this article. http://www.dog-secrets.co.uk/how-do-i-stop-my-dog-chasing/ I also hand fed him outside, everything, all of his meals during the training period. All he had to do was come one pace to me and eat when I said his name and stepped backwards. Started in the garden then progressed to the edge of the woods that was his ‘hunting ground’ then into the woods. When he wasn’t distracted, he ate, we walked on, he ate some more. (He was on a long line attached to a harness). Then I would only offer him food when his ears pricked and he thought he had heard something. This of course took longer to get through the meal but eventually he would hear something and turn to me for some of his dinner. I also went hunting with him on a line, joined in and let him take me wherever he wanted to following a scent. Got dragged through a few brambles but it was fun and I was part of the activity he wanted to engage in. Of course there was no way we were ever going to actually catch anything with me in tow but he lived in hope. I used premack (http://www.intropsych.com/ch05_conditioning/premack_principle.html ) for the bird chasing. On a line, if he saw a bird I asked for a down and he was rewarded by being allowed to chase if it was safe to do so. If it wasn’t safe to then he would reliably return or wait for me to catch him up. I also joined in the chase sometimes with him and we would end up playing together and forgetting about the bird.
BARKING FOR ATTENTION
Probably the first thing to address is that your dog does get enough interest and enrichment in his life, which will help him to rest and relax while you’re busy with other things. So have a look at his schedule – does he get enough exercise appropriate to his age and needs? I don’t mean does he get miles and miles every day – that just gives you a super-fit dog with more energy for you to divert, but regular daily or twice-daily walks are important for most dogs. Does he get some training/play (should really be the same thing, all training is best done by play) in regular small doses to tire his mind? Does he get time to just mooch and be a dog? If you have been at work all day, or crated the dog for a good while for some reason, he can’t be expected to also do nothing all evening. For more ideas on how to keep a dog happy and entertained, this is a good link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1747279312231501/about/
Once you’re sure the above is in order, you can look at teaching your dog to entertain himself at times. The best way to deal with attention seeking behavior is to give the dog the attention they need before they have to ask for it. Ignoring the barking will result in a dog that has spent a lot of time practicing barking and getting frustrated.
Teaching a dog to bark on command so you can teach a “quiet” also has its problems - rewarding a dog for stopping an unwanted behavior sounds fine in theory but in practice the dog has to do the behavior first in order to stop. It's always best to reward the absence of the barking.
So, if your dog barks when you’re trying to have a meal:
When you sit down to eat, have a bowl of treats available for him and a strategically placed bed by your feet or under the table or across the room. BEFORE he barks toss a treat onto his bed for him and continue to do this at a pace that keeps him on his bed and not barking. If there are two of you then it would be a good idea to eat in shifts in the beginning whilst the other concentrates on training him to stay on his bed whilst you eat.
If he barks when you relax to watch TV, do pretty much the same but sat on the sofa. Keep this one as calm as you can and Sally Bradbury’s rule is an excellent one to adhere to – lounges are for lounging in. If you never play with your dog in the lounge he’ll learn not to expect it and will realise that in that room, he must settle quietly.
If he barks when you’re trying to do the housework, keep the treats in a pocket and scatter a few on the floor to keep him occupied for a short while, then again when you move to the next cleaning spot. Alternatively, if you know he is bored and really does need attention/play, try multi-tasking and use one hand to play tuggy and one to dust – this may extend house-work time!
I’m sure you get the picture – just adapt the technique to whenever your dog looks for attention.
It might mean that he has his dinner this way – there’s no problem with that, no rule that a dog’s food has to be in a bowl.
In time, your dog will see you busy with eating, housework etc and go to his bed. Bingo! Give him a few treats to reward, or have a kong ready stuffed with his meal. As long as settling on the bed is rewarding you should have the result you want.