Tips to Improve pooch behaviour
by Erika Ehrenreich
Whether you are a first-time dog owner newly educated in dog training, or have experienced the joy of owning a dog before, you will likely find that your dog displays some common behaviour issues. Some of the most common issues are pulling on leash, chewing on inappropriate items, and not coming when being called. Below we explore how to curb and work on these behaviours.
Pulling on leash & loose leash walking: Find out what currency your dog will work for. (This can be food, toys, or praise.) Once this is determined, you can use that to reward them during your training.
Sniffing and exploring the environment is very enriching for your dog and should always be allowed. However, having them pull you towards said interesting smell or stimulus is undesired. To correct this behaviour, we use loose leash walking.
If your dog pulls ahead and reaches the end of their leash, stop walking. You must wait for them to return within a distance that allows the leash to become slack. Once completed, reward them and continue your walk.
Practice loose leash walking in low distracted areas before going on to more exciting and stimulating areas.
Inappropriate chewing: Chewing is a normal dog behaviour, so it is very important that we teach our dogs, in a gentle manner, what is and is not appropriate to chew on. To help our dogs distinguish what we are asking of them:
• Dog Proof your home – put away items that you do not want them to chew on;
• Confine your dog if you are unable to supervise them;
• Give your dog plenty of appropriate toy options to chew on and pay attention to toys that they really enjoy;
• If your dog is chewing on off-limits items, do not punish. Instead, give them an item that is appropriate to chew on as a trade-off;
• Reward with a treat or praise for chewing on appropriate items.
Recall: Recall is an important and highly beneficial skill to teach your dog. Sharp recall skills are invaluable in emergency situations when you need your dog to come to you. Recall training also provides your dog with more freedom. Here are some tips and tricks to training recall:
Start with training recall in a low distraction area, such as inside your home. When your dog is reliably coming to you 95 per cent of the time, slowly increase distractions by practicing outdoors.
It is important that you do not repeat your cue word for recall (come). Only say the cue once and if your dog does not respond the first time make yourself the most interesting thing to them. You can do this by making kissing noises or slapping your thighs to encourage them towards you.
Avoid asking your dog to come when they are less likely to do so.
Erika Ehrenreich is the Behaviour Specialist at the Georgian Triangle Humane Society.