Look at the world through a dog’s point of view;barking,chewing and more

 Have you realized most of common dog behavior problems you would like to stop or curb them are natural canine behaviors or something we kept reinforcing the behavior without any intention?

Barking can become problems for you if your dogs constantly barking,and as I have written on “why dog barks “previously,barking is natural way of communication of dogs. And in case stranger came to your turf, you do not want to stop their barking completely.You want a couple of alert bark for you to notice. Not all barking is bad.They need to communicate with us too. They growl, bark, whine,howl.. Everything has its meaning behind it.We just need to learn the Dogs.

Chewing can also become a big problems if they love chewing your expensive shoes or other inedible stuff in your house.Chewing is also natural behavior of dogs.They need to chew. And if they were puppy, teething time comes. They need to chew to ease the pain. If dogs were grown-ups, still having chewing problems, then you need to see why they are chewing things and, teach them what is allowed to chew.

Jumping up on people is also common dog behavior problems especially if your dogs were big dogs. They can push a little kids pretty hard by jumping up to them. But again, jumping up is their way of showing excitement or greeting.

Digging in the yard, making huge holes to sniff or bury is also natural behavior of dogs. It just not something we human would appreciate it if they dug in beautiful flower garden or vegetable garden.

Stealing socks or any other stuff and run off can be another problems you like to stop, but rewind the time when your dog stole something from you and runoff, what did you do? Did you chase after them? Chasing is pretty fun activity for dogs and, if you were chasing the dog with stolen items in their mouth, chances are, you were reinforcing the behavior without you noticing it.

Begging is another problem you could be reinforcing the behavior if you gave your dogs something off the table every time they give you puppy eyes.Dogs do what worked for them and if something worked for their favor,they would keep doing it.Ignore puppy eyes,don’t talk to them or look at them.They would give up.

There are some more things in the list but,my point was that some of the behavior problems are often dog’s natural behavior or something you kept reinforcing them without noticing it.

 So,what can we do about it?

I think many of the behavior problems such as chewing,barking,digging etc can be helped largely by

1.taking your dogs for long walks

2.play balls or Frisbee in the yard

3.play hide and seek inside or outside the house

4.daily training at home -should be short one

5.agility class-dog goes through many obstacles;jumping poles,weave poles,tunnels etc and,it helps building confidence and it can become good outlet for pent-up energy

These are basically mental/physical exercise.Exercise is very good for making bond with your dogs stronger as well.Adding to this list,you can add some more of  mental/physical exercise.

**Find it game inside house-this is nice mental exercise.Palette enjoy this game a lot.

**buster cube (treat/kibble dispenser)-you can make your own interactive toy with cereal box (watch Palette enjoys homemade interactive toy here. Very bottom video in the entry is my homemade interactive toy made with cereal box.)

**raw feeding diet – ripping,tearing,chewing edible bones are great way for mental/physical exercise. Raw feeding diet gives plenty of opportunity to chew/eat the bones in addition to mental/physical exercise.Read more on raw feeding diet here.

Adding to these mental/physical exercise list,you can try some other things to help curb specific problems.

With barking,you want to listen what they say. Barking has its meaning behind it. Could be delivery guy,trash truck,tress passing people in your yards,potty call,fear,boredom,unfamiliar noise,attention seeking..

I prefer to allow my dog a couple of barks.I usually go to her and look what she is barking at,then I say “Enough” and get her attention by blocking her view and she usually sit nicely,no barking. So,when she stopped barking,I click the clicker,give her small tiny treats saying”Thank you”.

You can also teach your dog to bark on cue (speak)and teach your dog to be “quiet” on cue. If your dog were quite barker and you cannot get their attention while they are barking,you can teach them”Speak”&”quiet”. Anytime you find your dog starts barking, you click the clicker,give them a small teats.You then say “Speak”,click and give treats. Next step,ignore your dog barking until they stop barking or interrupt the barking to stop such as blocking the view.And as soon as dog stop barking,click the clicker give them a treats saying”quiet”.You can repeat this many times.But before click for speak/quiet on cue,you need to let your dogs know that clicking sound equal to yummy treats coming.

So,if your dogs were new to clicker,just simply click when your dog looks at you(give attention) and give them a small treats.Repeat it many times.This practice let dogs associate clicker sound with yummy treats and clicker becomes very effective tool.Don’t use dog biscuits or snack type treats that dogs cannot swallow for rewards.Use something you can break into small pieces either by hands or by scissor.You can read more on clicker training entry titled”Clicker is your friendshere.

Some people suggest to scold your dogs when not stop barking or spritz water to their face.I oppose to this idea because I feel it is aversive. What it does is that you tell your dog if dog misbehave something, uncomfortable/bad thing happens. This is not right.You should be teaching them what they should do, NOT what they should not do. I do not like the tool that gives off citrus scent when they bark either. I do not like shock collar that gives zaps when dogs do something not supposed to do,either.

With chewing problems, if your dogs were at teething period,you can do a couple of things. Our vet told us to give Palette ice cube to nibbles on to ease the pain. Cold temperature numb the gum and it helps teething pain.Also,he suggested to give Palette frozen water soaked cloth. Just put cloth in water,squeeze a little water out and put it in the freezer.Then,give it to chew on.Coldness again helps to numb the gum and helps pain. If you like variety for this method,you could make variety of flavored ice cubes by homemade broth.

Here is homemade broth for Palette I used to make. Store bought chicken or beef broth usually
contains additives called “yeast extract” (MSG) even if the broth container says it is all natural and organic.

So,what I did was just pour water in sauce pan,drop lamb rib bone (You can drop beef rib bones if your dog likes beef best),heat it up and take bone out for trash (Do NOT feed cooked bone.It is hard,brittle,splinter sharp and indigestible).Then, pour the liquid into plastic container and put it in fridge
when cool. Next morning,get rid of fat you can find on top.There you have your homemade broth! So,you can vary the flavor by putting many kinds of rib bones in water and can make unique broth for your dogs. You can then make ice cube out of it.Too much fat can cause digestive upset and, too many of these flavored ice cube may not be a good ideas.Maybe occasional jackpot?

If dogs with chewing problems were all grown-ups,then,you need to review their daily activity,and if necessary, teach them what is allowed to chew on.It could be from boredom or maybe they just don’t know what are ok to chew on,or maybe by attention seeking if they kept getting attention even if negative ones,or maybe by separation anxiety.

Adding to physical/mental exercise list above,here are some things you can do.Pickup everything that are on floor they can mouth on. Doggy-proof the house.Then,provide chews that they can chew on. Giving chew is not the ultimate solution for any behavior problems.Mental/physical exercise comes first,and chews are just supplemental thing to help them.

Bully sticks are good,dogs love them, but it just last 30min or so entertainment for my 33lb Corgi. So, I tend to give those for big jackpot in training occasionally as reward of “Find it game” (I hide her toy in the house while she is sit-stay at one spot,then,she goes look for toys.This is a little up level game for her, but she gets jackpot treat after this.She gets very excited) .

What are on floor for her to chew at our house is Deer Antlers.This is basically deer horn,if you will. No refrigeration necessary.It is naturally shed and collected.Our Deer Antlers comes with different color,thickness,length,shapes and it provides variety even if you got two Antlers. Occasionally,we gets all straight Antlers in stock, but if there were different shapes,we include different shaped Antlers for order.

What is good about it is that,it lasts pretty long. Guess how long my dog is on the same Antler?

She is chewing on the same L size Antler for 1.5 year plus. By chewing,it grinds down and it does not splinter and it gives natural minerals etc and I like it better than any other chew for long lasting chew.Palette spends 2 times a day,15 minutes session. It worth the cost for chew.Supervise while they are chewing it though. You can read more on Deer Antlers for long lasting chew here. Or, you can read taste test entry on Antlers with titled “Palette’s note:   Deer Antlers

This is also important to remind yourself not to play with your socks or anything you don’t want to be chewed on with your dogs. If you played with socks,you are sending mixed confusing messages to your dogs.And I do not buy squeaky toys that is similar shaped to slippers or shoes.It will be confusing for dogs.The would think why same shaped items are sometimes not allowed,sometimes ok to chew on.

Other than Antlers,we have toy box. It is full of toys for Palette. She never gets to pick what she wants from the box.It has lid on them so she can’t open by herself. What I do is put out 4-5 toys for Palette to play with and rotate it next week. So,for her,there are some toys on floor that are different from week to week. It is good way to keep their interests in their toys. If you leave the house,probably letting them rest in their crate will be better because you can’t supervise them when they play with their toys. If you prefer to let them be at home outside the crate,you may want to pick up toys such as squeaky toys that could be de-stuffed and ingested.Then,instead,give them kong for them or take them to doggy daycare.They can look after your dogs while you cannot be home for long period of times and dogs get to play and energy out with their doggy friends.This would help when dogs chew things due to separation anxiety too.

If dogs were chewing things due to attention seeking,then,making time to play with them a lot,petting them a lot or take time to do something with them would help curb the behavior.If the dogs chewed shoes to get your attention, even negative response from you is in their favor.Suppose dog chewed shoe one hour ago and,you come in and get mad at them,but dogs would not see why you are mad.You need to catch them in the act to let them know,but you should be calm,not mad.Just like when you do potty training.If you caught them in the act,get their attention and give them appropriate chew item and when they take the item chew on it,praise them big.

With jumping up to people problem,you can practice a lot at home. As soon as dog start jumping up to you,show them back,ignore the jumping then, when4 paws are on floor,lower yourself and give them a treat. Dogs try jumping up to you because they are happy to see you,but if that did not get your attention,they get bored and calm down.

Jumping up usually happen when you come home.Dogs are happy,excited,they want to greet you. You can do just ignore the jumping,stepping inside the house,no eye contact with your dog. Simply ignore them completely.Don’t talk to them.Talking to them makes them more excited. When you see them calm down,looking up at you with 4 paws on floor,praise them.Then,you sit on floor,offer petting time.

With digging problem,you can offer place where they are allowed to dig. You can make digging space by putting sand in wooden box. It is more fun if you got jackpot treats in it.Every time you find them digging the place they are allowed to dig,you can praise them.

If you think you have dogs that have behavior problems,review yourself first. You can be sending confusing message to them,or maybe you may be reinforcing the bad behavior without your knowledge.Maybe you are not taking them for a walk good enough.Maybe you are not providing enough mental/physical exercise.

Then,if necessary, teach them what they need to do with clicker. Make the training short and fun.Always finish the training after they succeeded.I myself finish Palette’s training session with her favorite”find it” game. I like watching her trotting around house with her nose up in the air,down on the ground with excitement. Let them earn the treat. Palette does not get “FREE” treats.She needs to earn it by herself.You can watch my Corgi “Palette” play “Find it” game here.

Don’t give them one biscuits per behavior or other unbreakable treats per good behavior.That is too much treats.It adds up kcal.Give them lots of small tiny lentil size treats (cubed lung treats or any other Jerky type,dehydrated treats that you can break up into small pieces) as rewards. Rewards does not have to be food/treats.It can be by pat on the head,scratch around chest,tug of war.. anything dog loves. After all,you would not be carrying treats all the time.

Key of good training Palette has taught me is to be patient,be consistent,be calm. Look at the world through a dog’s point of view.


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Jul 29, 2009 | Comments are off | Dog Training

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