We have a labradoodle puppy who is 4 months old, we have had him for a month. He has been sweet, house trained well and has learned the basics of sit, get down and shake. In the last week however, he has become unbearable almost 🙁 He has began to show signs of aggression in that he barks at me in frustration and has begun to bite at me and the leash as I try to take him out to potty, even biting me with those razor sharp puppy teeth several times as he jumps to get the leash out of my hand. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I don’t want these behaviors to continue” -Melissa
Hi there Melissa.
The first thing to do if you haven’t already, is to get into a puppy class. It sounds like you have some training already and that will put you ahead of the game.
Next, The puppy needs to learn that the leash means good things. Positive Association. So to do that, use a “high value” treat when you put him on the leash. Every time. You should only use the high value treat when the leash gets put on. To use it at any other time lowers the “value” of the treat. Its not so special if they get it all the time.
Here’s the idea. We’ll use bacon as the high value treat, but it can be anything as long as the dog will go nutty for it,.
I love bacon + the leash = I get bacon when the leash is near = I love the leash.
That’s the principle.
Also, leave the leash on for a while after he comes inside for a while, and before he goes out. This way he gets used to relaxing when he is on the leash. This way he wont build any anxiety towards it.
Make an effort to make the entire experience as positive as possible. Lots of praise.
I would suggest putting the leash on him, using the high-value treat, and then just walking away (while inside, go do something else for a few minutes and then take him outside). Give him a few minutes to de-stress.
Do this several times for the first week.
Please let me know if this works, or if you have any other issues.
My dog is a Husky x English Mastiff and she listens to me sometimes but sometimes doesn’t. I know she doesn’t take me seriously when I try to use a big voice. If I take her out to the park she plays keep away with me. Like she won’t come to me no matter how much I call or coax her until she’s ready. How do I stop this and make her listen to me without hesitation? ~Morgen
Hello Morgen! What a fantastic mix you have there! I bet she is certainly a handful. I think I can help you. (: There are actually a few things you want to remember, and a couple different solutions.
Many dogs enjoy the ‘game’ of keep-away. The chase simulates their hunting instincts stretching back thousands of years (although many dogs don’t consciously relate the two). I’m willing to bet your pup finds enjoyment in the ‘chase’. The park also likely resembles an area she feels safe with playtime activities.
Huskies are a very energetic breed, actually bred as a working dog to help pull loads far distances. In fact, these guys are the prime choice for professional dog mushers, commonly seen in endurance races like the world renown 1000 mile cross Alaskan Iditarod.
In the early 1900’s, before Huskies became the breed of choice, mushers preferred breeds like the larger and more powerful Malamutes. While they are stronger and able to endure heavier loads, Alaskan Malamutes aren’t nearly able to match the outstanding endurance of the Siberian Husky!
Your Two Options
This first option uses a reward based training method, and is by far my preferred method. Think of a command word you want to use (I prefer to use ‘Here’). Every time you use the command, give your dog a tasty treat reward. Eventually, she will begin to relate the reward with the word you use, and return to you every time- as long as the reward you’re offering is more preferable to whatever is currently occupying her attention.
Since she will be playing in the park, she might prefer to continue playing over your reward. You want to try and become the most entertaining thing around, using plenty of enthusiastic praise and joyous body language.
This option uses a punishment based enforcement method. Where as you might cringe, punishment based training has its place. If you are trying to train your girl to avoid dangerous areas, like busy roads, or dangerous animals like poisonous snakes (depending on the part of the world you live in), this is certainly something you want to consider. I much prefer a little discomfort to a potential fatal situation.
This is where things like the electric collar come in handy. If you do decide to purchase an e-collar, be sure not to overuse it and make sure the setting is appropriate for your girl’s size. Inappropriate use of these tools can lead to fear or even aggression.
I hope this helps you. If you have any further questions please let me know!
I have two four year old cats, and my boyfriend and I just adopted a new puppy. We are slowly introducing the puppy and cats – we have a pet gate with a cat door splitting the house into two halves. The cats have a towel with the puppy’s scent and vice versa. They eat meals on opposite sides of a door (which one of my cats still doesn’t like so we haven’t moved on). They look at each other through the gate mostly without hissing or incident.
One of my cats, Tesla, was getting more comfortable with the puppy and coming into the puppy’s area of the house on her own until the other day she came out without me noticing and the puppy chased her. Not in an aggressive way, but ran up to play bow to her. It freaked her out and now she won’t come back through the gate anymore, and it seems like now the cats are no longer making progress.
My question is this – how do I train my puppy not to chase the cats when the cats refuse to come out so I can interrupt the behavior? Everything I’ve read about training a puppy not to chase a cat requires the cat to be present, and I’m afraid it would be counter-productive to force my cats into a room with her while they are scared. Is there any OTHER way to train her to ignore the cats when they’re around so they will be more comfortable? ~Lisa
Training a puppy not to chase your cats is definitely a must for many reasons. Not just for the safety of your own cats, but other small animals your dog will likely come across in the future. Your puppy is likely chasing the cats based on 2 things – one is curiosity which all puppies are full of and the other is a natural instinct called prey drive.
Prey drive came from your puppy’s ancestors as a survival instinct to hunt and eat smaller animals as prey. In dogs, this usually does not get to the point of killing another animal, however it can and does happen. Stopping this behavior and redirecting your puppy’s prey drive will be of great use to your family.
You can redirect this prey drive using a ball, other toy or even an item called a flirt pole. These objects allow the puppy to chase something small and put the object in their mouth to carry. It fulfills the need to chase and grab without causing damage to another animal.
Meanwhile, without the cats in the room you can try teaching your puppy to pay attention to you using a positive interrupter noise. This is a sound, usually a kissy sound or special word, that will grab your dog’s attention no matter what he’s doing. So, when you reintroduce the kitties you can use this noise to grab your puppy’s attention and put him in a down stay or allow him to go into his crate with a special chew to observe the kitties in a safe manner.
To teach the positive interrupter noise, start with a handful of high value treats such as real meat or cheese and have your noise picked out. Make the noise and wait for your puppy to give you eye contact. He does not get rewarded until he provides even half a second of eye contact. Once he does, reward him and make a big fuss over it. Do this for a few minutes at a time in multiple training sessions. Always end on a good note, such as play time or a cuddle.
As you and your puppy get better with the eye contact, ask for longer periods of eye contact. Ask for 3 seconds, 10 seconds, and so on. However, don’t move too far beyond your puppy’s capabilities. He’s still a baby, after all!
When you do bring your kitties back into view of your dog, make sure the puppy cannot get into physical contact. This means keeping your puppy in a crate or playpen for periods of time to observe the cats. The puppy may get excited and rowdy, ignore this behavior. However, once he calms down and is quiet, you can reward him with a treat through the crate bars. As this behavior gets better, you can move to using a leash and allowing minimal contact. Don’t be afraid to correct your puppy’s behavior if it is unacceptable with your cats! This means asking your puppy to go into a down stay instead of pulling at the leash to sniff a kitty.
I hope this helps you. If you have any further questions please let me know!
We have a 6 month old lab mix and a 3 month old terrier mix (both rescue puppies). They both really want to play, but but the older lab pup gets way too rough and hurts the little one (I’m quite sure he’s not teeing to hurt her, he just plays rougher than she can take). How do we get him to play a little less aggressively workout discouraging play between them all together? ~Barbara
You do not need to separate your puppies permanently to keep them safe. It is important for puppies to be able to interact and learn from each other as a part of their socialization. This is how they learn to “speak dog” and respect each other, making them safe to be around other dogs in the future.
The older, larger dog can be worked with on his energy levels before allowing play between the two of them. For example, you can take him on a walk on his own or play ball with him before allowing the two to play together. Helping him use up some of his energy will help him interact with the smaller puppy in a less excitable way.
Another option is to take part in puppy socialization classes at your local kennel club or dog obedience school. Dogs of the appropriate sizes are allowed to play and romp and they will naturally learn what is and is not okay while playing together. This can help the larger puppy to learn his strength and self control while playing with another dog.
Meanwhile, I am including a training exercise to teach your dogs a positive interrupter noise. The purpose of this noise is to help your dogs immediately stop whatever they are doing, no matter how much fun they are having, and give their full attention to you. It will help to redirect their attention if play gets too rough and you need to get them to stop without anything negative attached to it.
Positive Interrupter Noise
When you make this noise, once it has been trained with your dogs, they will be able to stop whatever they’re doing and pay attention to you. This could be anything from an unwanted behavior to rough play that you need to interrupt, and you can do it simply by using a noise that will peak their interest.
You can use a kissy noise, a whistle, or even a certain word. Just remember that whatever you do use, it should not be used for any other purpose than as an interrupter noise.
Teach each dog one on one instead of working them together. Start with a high value reward, like real meat or cheese and sit at their level. Make your sound, and when they give you eye contact, give them the treat. Don’t give the treat immediately, wait for the eye contact! You can do this for about 5 minutes or so and take a break. You can do multiple training sessions in a day, but keep each session short and fun!
After your first few sessions, begin adding this interrupter noise into your daily lives. Your puppy could be just relaxing in his bed or sniffing around outside. Use the noise and when he comes to you and gives you eye contact, give him a treat!
As your sessions progress, ask for longer eye contact. Go from 1 second to 5, then to 10 and all the way up to 30 seconds. However, if your puppy gets bored and frustrated, you have moved too far too soon, and it’s time to dial the time back a bit.
I hope this helps you and your pups learn to play safely together! If you have any questions, feel free to message me!
Hello, My Lucy is a 5 year old border collie. She is very well trained. How do I train her to go through a doggie door? ~Carley
A doggy door, while convenient for us humans, can be pretty alien to dogs. They need to learn not only how it works but how to be confident about using it. Once you get started in the training process, it can become quite easy for the dog to catch on. You have to start simply to set her up for success and she will develop the use of it as a reliable behavior.
Start by removing the flap. Either tape it open or take it off completely. It helps to have another person, but you can do this alone if you need to. Use small, easily eaten treats that Lucy loves. This can be small bits of cheese, pieces of hot dogs, or her favorite treat.
With Lucy on the inside, and the doggy door flap open, ask a friend to stand on the outside of the door. Make sure you both have a handful of treats. The person outside should stand maybe a foot away from the door, and attempt to call Lucy through. If she is hesitant, your helper can lure her through using a treat in a closed fist. When she gets her first paw through the door, let her have the treat. This is helping her gain confidence in the door and associating it with positive emotions because of being rewarded.
As Lucy becomes more comfortable stepping 1 or 2 paws through the door, increase the difficulty by asking her to step half her body through. The moment she does it, praise and reward with a treat! She might walk straight through after, or pull backwards. If she walks on through, give her a treat and begin working with her coming inside the same way, starting with just 1 or 2 paws going through. If she pulls backwards, just ask her to come halfway through again before getting a reward.
Keep these sessions under 5 to 10 minutes long and always end it on a positive note. It can be a surprise “jackpot” of a few treats or even play. You can, however, have up to 4 or even 5 sessions in a day if you have the time and she does not grow bored.
In the next session, you will start with asking her to come halfway through the door, but after that first reward ask her to continue to walk on through. Reward her with a jackpot of treats when she does, and reverse it by asking her to go through the door again to go back inside. As a border collie, Lucy will most likely catch on to this very quickly, and you will be able to add in the door flap.
When you add in the door flap, using the lure technique may work best at first. With Lucy on the inside, place your hand in a fist with a treat inside. Put it just inside the flap so she will be able to see and smell it. Attempt to lure her to step her first 2 feet and head through the flap this way. When she does, remember that the flap resting on her may feel weird and scary to her. She may shy away and back up. Be patient and just try again unless you succeed.
Just as before, once she is comfortable with stepping through with just her front feet, ask her to walk halfway through the door. When she does, make a big deal out of it with praise as well as treats. She’ll learn this is a great thing to have the flap touching her!
She may step through or back out. If she steps on through the door, praise her some more, and attempt to get her to go through the door again to go back inside using the same hand-in-the-door technique.
In your next session, start with asking her to come through the door without putting your hand through at all. When she does, make a huge fuss as if she just did the best thing ever. Practice with it many times. Incorporate play by tossing a ball or favorite toy through the door and she must go through to fetch it. When going for walks, ask her to stay inside til you are out the door and ask her to come through the doggy door to get her leash on. Incorporating these little things will continue her love for using the doggy door and she will develop a habit of using it on her own to go outside.
Imagine the following scenario. You’re happily walking your dog. He’s trotting beside you, sniffing everything he possibly can. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everything seems perfect! Suddenly, your dog sees Mr. Hairy Pawtter, the front neighbor’s Poodle. His body becomes tense and he immediately starts barking like a maniac. You tell him to be quiet, but it’s useless; he’s now lunging and growling. As you try to walk away, feeling embarrassed and angry, people stare at you, judging your misbehaved, unruly dog. As soon as Mr. Hairy Pawtter is out of sight, your dog returns to his sniffing duties. Why does he have to hate other dogs? Why does he have to act like he wants to kill them all?
Leash reactivity can be a complex behavior. First, we need to make the distinction between aggression and reactivity. Although it may seem like aggressive behavior, it’s simply an expression of frustration (or fear, depending on the cases). Leash reactivity usually starts when the dog sees another dog and has a strong desire to approach him; since he’s unable to do so, he becomes frustrated. As a result, the dog starts whining, pulling on the leash and may even bark at the other dog. The owner feels embarrassed and punishes the dog. After a few repetitions, the dog wishes to avoid other dogs at all costs, since he gets punished every time he sees one! Frustration has evolved into fear. At this point, the dog wants to get away from other dogs, but he feels trapped by the leash; henceforth, he may try to bite. This is the Flight or Fight response in action! Once you remove the leash from the equation, the reactive behavior vanishes, and the dog may even act very friendly and sociable.
Should you throw your dog’s leash away, then? Well, not at all. Leash reactivity is trainable, and you can improve your dog’s behavior by changing his emotional state. If you choose to treat the symptoms only, you’ll probably fail; one must address the root to be successful. First, remember never to punish your dog by barking, lunging or growling; it will only create more fear and frustration. If your dog is reacting because he’s frustrated for not being able to play with the other dogs, teach him self-control skills, by rewarding calm behaviors. If he sees another dog, ask him to sit or to look at you instead. If he does, even if it’s just for a second, reward him with high-value treats or his favorite toy. Increase the behavior’s duration, by rewarding him for longer periods of time. On the other hand, if he’s reacting because he’s scared of the other dog’s presence, you need to work with classical conditioning techniques only. As soon as your dog sees the other, offer him a steady flow of high-value treats. Keep doing so until the other dog leaves your dog’s sight, even if he’s acting hysterically. After enough repetitions, he’ll start to associate other dogs with treats and, as a result, the reactivity will decrease.
My dog is about a year old and is around 40 lbs. She goes to daycare Monday thru Friday and does well there, but sometimes I think she feels the need to defend herself or assert that I’m her owner when I come to pick her up. Other dogs will growl and nip at her and she does it back (sometimes in defense of another dog doing it first, or she does it when other dog gets to close to her face). She’s fine at dog parks and being around dogs when she’s off leash. But when we’re on a walk on a leash and another dog comes and walks next us that’s on a leash, that dog can’t greet her or she will growl and try to bite. I’m assuming she feels the need to defend herself since she’s on a leash and can’t run if she feels uncomfortable. The other dog is usually excited and gets right up to her face and this causes her to react in this negative way. However, it’s getting to the point where I have to shorten the leash, because she will growl if the get a foot or two away. Is there any way I can get her to be friendly to other dogs on a leash or is this just something I have to deal with by never meeting another dog in a leash on walks? ~Abigail
There are many dogs that doesn’t like when others jump around their faces, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, you can desensitize your pup to be a little less reactive, but I still recommend you to ask the owner of the other dogs to keep their pup calm, as your dog is a bit sensitive/reactive, and in training.
Let’s start with the leash problem: have a bunch of treats on you while walking on the leash. When you see a dog coming towards you, ask your dog to sit and look at you. Give her a treat, and try to maintain her attention on you with talking nicely and giving her treats. At the same time, ask the owner of the other dog to keep the dog close to them to avoid any incident. If you feel like you can’t keep up your dog’s attention, walk away from the situation. She’ll get better day by day, the other dogs can come closer and closer. When you are confident in yourself and your dog, you can do this without making her sit, and keeping her eyes on you while walking past the other dog. Just never forget the treats… And if you lose your confidence, always walk out of the situation. Every negative experience can throw back the progress.
About the doggy daycare: you said she nips BACK. Why can other dogs nip at her at a doggy daycare? The professionals at the doggy daycare shouldn’t let it happen. When someone comes to pick their dog up, the excitement rises incredibly high, so the environment should be controlled enough to avoid accidents. When your dog greets you, other dogs shouldn’t go near her face. Of course it’s not good that she nips and growls, but you can’t stop it from a minute to another, so there should be someone to control the other dog in this situation, not to go too close to her, while you are training on desensitization.
What you wrote suggests that the cause of this “protecting” behavior is some sort of insecurity. Desensitization can solve a lot, but on the other hand, she has to feel that you are absolutely in control, and able to protect her from anything. I recommend you to get into some dog sport where you have to work together.
I rescued an adult Rottweiler and I can’t leash train him because he’s stronger than me. I’ve tried to stop and give him a treat when he behaves, but he’s very excited and couldn’t care less about them. He ends up walking and drags me to where he want to go. Nothing has worked to counter the bad behavior. I know I need to walk him everyday and eventually he’d learn. But I don’t because I can’t control him. Any suggestions? ~Ann
Sometimes dogs are not food-motivated, especially when they are excited. Treats are great as reinforcement of wanted behaviors, but when your dog is not interested, their effectiveness is non-existent.
Ideally, the size of your dog should not determine the extent of control you have over him. There are tools you can use that will increase your ability to influence your dog’s behavior by at least 50% right away. I’ll go into those in a minute.
First though, it is important that your dog is getting enough exercise, especially if he is a young, exuberant adult. He needs to run, and if this is not allowed to him, he will try to work off all that energy on your walks. That is a problem.
Second, it is important with any size dog to get him into obedience training so he can learn basic commands, like Come, Sit, Stay, Leave It, Heel and so on, and to respect you when you ask them.
You will find he will listen to you better when you use
1) a proper walking harness, and
2) a head collar or Halti-type harness.
We do not ever recommend pain-causing equipment such as prong collars or shock collars because these can cause more deeply-seated emotional issues for your dog in the longer term, and – we don’t want to cause pain to our beloved friends.
Find an ‘anti-pulling’ harness where the leash attaches to a clip on the chest, not the back (example: Easy Walk Harness). This will interfere with his ability to run straight forward. Next, use a Halti or Gentle Leader on his head, making sure it is not pulled too tightly and that you can slip two fingers under the straps. Just wearing one of these tones many dogs down immediately because the world looks different to them. If you need more control, use a second leash and attach it to the Halti, but do not use force by pulling hard on it on it – this can damage his neck. Use it to redirect him only.
With these methods you should find that before too long, your walks are a lot more enjoyable – for both of you!
Another great resource is to work with a Tellington TTouch Practitioner, or get yourself a copy of the book “Getting in TTouch With Your Dog”. They have very effective techniques to stop leash pulling.
I have a 9-month-old corgi (Yuki) and she was well-potty trained when she was staying with my boyfriend. She pees and poops in a designated area and pees on command every time. She rarely goes out as she’s still a puppy so she mostly pees indoors. Recently, she has come to stay with me and my parents love her so much that they bring her to potty outside at least twice a day. Initially she would pee on command on the pee tray but gradually she has stopped listening to me. She would still pee at home but she wouldn’t pee in the pee tray anymore. She will either pee in her playpen or in the kitchen when nobody is looking. How can I re-train her to pee on the pee tray again? I want to maintain the habit that she poops outside but I also want her to know that if she ever feels the need to pee/poop, she still can do so at home but only on the pee tray. I have tried not bringing her out so that she will pee at home but she just held her pee till we bring her out in the night. Help! What should I do?~Jane
Hello Jane and Yuki! I am pretty sure I can help you here.
You must have trained Yuki by offering some sort of incentive for eliminating in the designated areas. Yuki eventually learned ‘If I relieve myself here, it makes my owner happy, or I will get something. If I go somewhere else outside of the designated area, I won’t be rewarded or my owner will become upset/won’t be happy.’ Hence, your Corgi would go out of her way for what she perceived as a reward.
This regular routine changed when she moved. Her environment changed. Her human ‘pack’ family members even changed. Many dogs develop anxiety due to drastic changes like this; you’re actually lucky this is the only issue!
Peeing in the playpen or kitchen: Your main problem is your dog peeing inside. You’ll have to go through potty training again, teaching her she is supposed to eliminate outside or in your ‘pee tray’, not anywhere she feels like. Don’t scold or chastise her, but keep constant supervision. This normally requires leashing your pup by your (or your parents) side so you are able to catch accidents 100% of the time, and running her outside every single time she begins to go indoors.
Set a regular, consistent bathroom schedule, and don’t alter it. When you can’t offer direct supervision, crate Yuki. Dogs will prefer not to eliminate in close confines or where they sleep. Yuki should probably begin sleeping in her crate during this potty training process.
If you want her to pee on the pee tray, you’re going to need to offer her incentive again; reward her when she does. Whenever she is about to pee, carry her directly to the pee tray. You can’t miss mistakes here, which will require her to be leashed by your side at all times.
Dogs will also prefer to eliminate in designated areas because they smell familiar. Even thorough cleanings don’t always mask the scent; change the bedding if possible.
Offer Constant supervision
Reward desired behavior
Don’t reward mistakes, and don’t scold excessively either
Catch mistakes 100% of the time, correct by moving to desired location
Crate when you can’t have Yuki leashed by your side (if possible).
Set regular bathroom schedule; don’t deviate
Follow this advice, and I can all but guarantee your problem will resolve itself in time. With today’s busy schedules, I understand how it might seem difficult to offer constant supervision though.
Buffy was doing great at our previous home in terms of going potty outside. She had a fenced in backyard and went without any issues. She had accidents inside the house, but they were always close to the door to the backyard. We had to relocate to a downtown apartment last week. She walks on her leash 3 times a day and refuses to go potty outside. There is a dog park near our apartment we take her to on these walks where she can run free, and she still refuses to go there! She will only go to the bathroom inside our apartment. She goes on walks with her older dog sister Bella. We have reinforced pottying outside by giving Bella treats each time she goes outside, and we make sure to do this so Buffy can see Bella getting the treats as reward for pottying. We are at our wits’ end! Spanking, yelling, saying no, walks, and sitting at the dog park for 30 to 45 minutes are all NOT working!~Caroline
Potty training can be a difficult task, especially with smaller dog breeds – somehow it takes more time for smaller dogs. For the owner of Buffy I would recommend to take a step back and basically forget how good Buffy was in her previous home. Use a potty pad, but do the regular 3 times a day walks, just like the potty pad wasn’t there. Put the pad relatively close to the door, easily reachable for Buffy, and make sure she feels safe. At first, if an accident happens anywhere else than the pad, put it on the pad and leave it there for half an hour before changing the pad – but clean the place where the accident was immediately.
NEVER shout and get angry with the pup when accidents happen.
Pottying is a time when the dog is very vulnerable. She is there, doing her thing, and couldn’t immediately run away if there were danger. That’s why many dogs look in their owners eyes when pooping. To make sure they are safe. It may be ridiculous to us, but it is serious to them. Give her time to get used to the new place, the new smells, the new objects, the sounds of traffic, meeting other dogs and stuff like that. Do everything you can to make sure that only good things happen on walks. If she is good with the potty pad, you can take one with you on walks, because it is familiar to her, and she may do her thing on that outside (some people won’t understand, but it’s about you and the pup, not them).
The other thing is timing. Always go on walks around 20-30 minutes after eating. On this walk, Buffy shouldn’t run and jump, because it can mess up her digestion, but this is the time it is most likely that she needs to pee or poop.
Don’t let food out for the day, there should be 2 (if she is more than a year old, one, if she is less than half, 3) times when she gets food, and if she doesn’t eat it, you should put it away. Don’t worry, in some days she will learn that this is the time to eat, she won’t starve herself.
With only this much information, these are the best advice I can give.
(Btw reinforcing the other dog when she potty outside is a very good thing 🙂 )