Tools to Help While You Work on Behavior Problems
Raising a new puppy or trying to retrain your dog to correct a bad habit can be very frustrating to say the least,
The intent of this article is not to give you a step by step set of instructions on how to train your dog, but to give you some ideas of common items you can use while you are in the process and possibly help your nerves.
There are many good books, trainers and obedience classes available to help you with the actual training part.
The prime requirements for training a dog are patience, patience and more patience.
However, with a little bit of ingenuity, some common pet tools and determination and patience on your part, it can be done.
Training your puppy or retraining your dog needs a positive approach for you to be successful.
Do not expect to accomplish the job in a matter of days, some things may even take a lifetime of positive reinforcement.
With dogs, praise, treats and a positive attitude will bring much better results than scolding or hitting ever could.
Yelling or hitting your pet will only instill fear of you in the dog and will not accomplish the goal of having a well behaved family pet.
If you have a puppy or dog that has not proven itself to be trustworthy enough to be left in the house alone, a crate or exercise pen is a great addition to have.
A puppy or young dog alone in the house has the opportunity to learn that chewing furniture legs or other things in the household is fun.
If you keep your puppy or young dog crated or penned up when you cannot supervise them and you, correct them when you are home for improper behavior, chances are you will not have a chewing problem, except for chew toys.
This does not mean the dog should be crated until it is an old dog.
Most dogs after the age of one year or so can be trusted to behave unsupervised in the house.
It is suggested that you do trial runs of short periods of time, before you leave the dog alone for long periods of time.
A good run or long walk before you leave will tire out the dog and a tired dog is a good dog (most of the time.)
Using the crate is a good thing, as long as “you” don’t abuse the use.
Do not expect a puppy to be able to hold its urine or poop for long periods of time. By taking the age of your puppy and adding an hour you can pretty much determine how long it can wait (2 month old dog plus 1 hour gives you about a 3 hour range.)
Adult dogs should never be left in a crate more than 8 to 9 hours maximum.
Do not use a crate if you dog has separation anxiety. Do Not Use a crate if you are going to be gone longer than the dog can hold its elimination or if your dog has a medical problem such as diarrhea.
Dogs need to be part of the family, dogs need to be socialized, so please do not use the crate or pen as a place for the dog to live for long periods of time.
If you are using an exercise pen as you would a crate and the pen is outside make certain your dog has shelter from the weather. Shade from the sun is important, as is shelter from rain or snow.
Keep the outside pen clean and make certain the dog has water available.
Again do not use the pen in place of real exercise or time to socialize with the family.
Leashes are a great tool when training your dog. You can attach a leash to your belt and keep the dog under your supervision at all times(even in the house.)
If your dog is fairly well behaved in your presence, you can use the leash as a tether and secure it in the room where you are staying.
Do not let the dog chew the leash.
A leash or tether is a good tool to use, when you are trying to teach your dog good manners (not to beg at the table) and/or to prevent inappropriate behavior.
Use a tether only when you are present to supervise the dog. Leaving a dog alone while tethered could cause injury to the dog if it tries lunging to get away or knocks something over that it is attached to.
Baby gates and doors are another asset, when trying to prevent inappropriate behavior or to keep the dog out of certain areas.
Baby gates are great if you dog tends to be under foot while you are preparing dinner in the kitchen or is a “counter surfer” looking for free food.
The gate will let the dog see you, but prevent its entry.
Again, the use of gates or doors should be used as a deterrent and not for use if you dog is not trustworthy being on the other side.
Dogs with separation anxiety are liable to scratch or chew on the doors and try to either jump over or break down the gates.
Boxes, upside down chairs and lids are great access restriction tools.
If you have a dog that just loves to get into or on things, these are tools you can use when you are not around to supervise.
Lids on garbage cans in the house, very necessary, the children’s toy box should have a lid and/or latch, too.
The family should be trained to put the toilet bowel lid down or shut the bathroom door after use.
Laundry hampers should have lids or be put behind a closed door to prevent underwear snatching.
Empty boxes or chairs that can easily be put on couches or other chairs to prevent the dog from sleeping on them is a good idea,
Boxes or chairs can be used to build barriers around things you cannot keep the dog away from when you are gone.
Do not use objects as barriers that could possibly fall and hurt the dog.
If your dog is prone to nipping at people a muzzle is a good tool. The market now is selling attractive and comfortable muzzles for all types of dogs.
A socialized dog generally is not a nipper or biter, that is why your puppy and/or dog needs to be taken out to see the world.
If a dog is accustomed to all types of people, other animals and different social occasions, it will generally will not feel threatened and have the need to bite in what it considers self-defense.
However, there are times when a muzzle is necessary and you should early on, (during the training period) get your dog used to wearing one, if only for a few minutes at a time.
Should your dog get injured and require treatment a muzzle is a good tool to have.
A muzzle should only be used when your dog is in a difficult situation.
There may come a time when you move into a home where another dog has lived or a situation has occurred in your home, that has upset the dog and it is creating elimination problems.
Crates, leashes, gates and doors can help to manage inappropriate elimination problems, but they may not be enough.
It might be necessary to use belly bands for male dogs and diapers for female dogs, while you are going through the re-training procedure.
These may sound silly, but it allows the dog to continue to be a part of the family, while restricting accidents.
Dogs really do not like to soil themselves.
This does not mean you can put a belly band or diaper on a dog and expect it to go for hours and hours without having to eliminate.
It is a means to help the dog refrain from eliminating, while you are in the process of re-training it.
However, one of the first thing you should do, if your dog suddenly starts having accidents in the house, is take your pet to the vet.
A urinary tract infection or some other problem could be the culprit.
The major goal in a dog’s life is to please its master. Whether you believe it or not, your dog loves you and wants to do all the things that are proper and good.
The responsibility you have, is to give your dog the proper guidance and training.
Dogs do not come with on and off switches and they do not know right from wrong, unless you teach them.
Do not expect that screaming, yelling or beating is going to correct a misbehavior or bad habit.
Take a minute to think of your reaction to such treatment.
Then think of a time when someone (your mom, dad or even a teacher) took you by the hand and gently showed you the error of your ways.
You felt good and you remembered that experience and did not repeat the misdeed.
Dogs feel the same way.
Kindness like honey will catch more flies than vinegar.
Love is a two way street. If you do your part in making the relationship work, your dog will do its best under your guidance.
If you feel like you are at your wits end with the training process, do not feel discouraged, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I have found a wonderful site and someone who has written a wonderful book on dog training that I feel should be in every dog owners library. I have it in mine and currently we only have cats. If you have a moment or two to look at this site, I think you will be well pleased and just might consider the information that is offered. It will only take a few minutes to look at it. Click Here!