When clients contact us, they often have an urgent need. Your new puppy Sadie is crying all night and upsetting the neighbors. Roscoe, on his walk yesterday, dragged you down the sidewalk in pursuit of a cyclist. Toby literally ate the couch on his first day home alone. And so on.
The good news is that there are strategies you can put into place immediately to get your dog’s problematic behavior under control. Kate’s Manners 911! seminar on June 3rd covers both management and training techniques to address the most common problems urban dog owners face:
- Knocking people over
- Leash walking
- Naughty when alone
This 90-minute seminar is based on her new book, BKLN Manners™: Positive Training Solutions for your Unruly Urban Dog.
The path to a well-behaved dog includes a balance of management and training. But what do those terms mean? Management is when you create a situation in which the undesirable behavior simply can’t occur. Oftentimes, this can be enacted right away, by shutting doors to off-limits areas, using leash walking equipment to reduce pulling, or giving a treat-filled toy when the doorbell rings. During training, however, you teach the dog how to engage in a polite behavior instead of the old, frustrating one. For instance, teach your dog to sit when greeting strangers, rather than jumping on them.
Let’s look at an example.
Problem: My dog gets underfoot while I’m cooking in the kitchen.
Management Strategy: Block his access to the kitchen. There are several ways to do this.
- Use a barrier such as a baby gate to prevent him from entering the kitchen.
- Put him in his crate or in another room with a peanut-butter filled Kong toy to keep him busy.
- Create a comfortable spot in the kitchen to tether him: have a leash (secured to a stable object) and his dog bed in a corner of the kitchen, and give him a chewy to work on.
If managing the situation is good enough for you, then voila, problem solved! However, it’s wise to go the next step and train your dog to replace his undesirable behavior with a polite one.
Training Strategy: Teach him to go to his bed while you cook.
Teach your dog a Place cue, which is a behavior that is incompatible with kitchen scavenging. (If his butt is firmly on the dog bed, he can’t be walking around the kitchen.) While a baby gate simply prevents the dog from counter-surfing, Place tells him what he should do instead. It’s a win-win.
For almost every undesirable behavior, it’s wise to consider both management and training, as they often complement one another.
If you need help with your dog’s problem behaviors, be sure to register for Kate’s 90 minute Manners 911! seminar on June 3rd.