Jan 07 2013

Quick and Easy Dog Training Tips

Here at Summer Valley Veterinary Clinic, we tend to think our pets are perfect just the way they are! But every cute canine can use some guidance when common behavior problems arise.

How do I get my dog to feel less anxious when I leave?

Actually it’s not so nice to be missed by a dog suffering separation anxiety — either for you or the dog. You have to break the cycle and get on with both your lives.

When you brought this loving creature home for the first time, he bonded with you and associated his safe new home with a wonderful human. That was fine for the first couple months — being followed everywhere by an adoring dog is one of the joys of the human-canine relationship.

If jangling keys and putting on your coat makes home-alone your dog go nuts — do those things and don’t go anywhere. Do that again and again — and when you actually do leave, don’t make a fuss. A simple “Good-bye, Dog” is enough. Lock the door, walk away, ignore the howling, and be gone.

Make it awesome to be alone — by leaving things that he never gets when you’re there, like a special food-stuffed toy.

“Hello, Dog” is ample greeting upon your return. Ignore and turn away — don’t push –if your dog jumps all over you. When your dog does calm down (that might take a half hour) reward that calm with the fellowship he craves — hugs, maybe a treat, conversation about how each of your separate days went.

Dogs with true separation anxiety are in real distress, so don’t hesitate to talk to your veterinarian about other treatments (including medications) that can help relieve anxiety while you train him to be comfortable being alone.

Never punish a dog for wrecking the house hours earlier. Catch them doing something right and reward that.

How do I get my dog to like riding in the car?

If your dog hates car rides because he associates them with dreaded vet visits, take a trip to the veterinary clinic, just for fun.

If Post Traumatic Vet Disorder really is the problem (or even if it’s not) the time will come when you have to get that balking dog into the car in a hurry. Coax PTVD Dog into the car with a treat. Get him in the door of the vet’s office with another treat. Look for fun things to do (get weighed on that big shiny scale, meet other nice dogs in the waiting room, have a fresh drink of water, shake paws with the friendly staff. Go home, be happy.

Repeat as necessary, and even when it’s not needed. Veterinarians love visits from healthy pets, too.

How do I get my dog to stop chewing shoes?

You may have heard about tying a chewed shoe around his neck, in shame, but that that method is usually not effective. (You may be confused with the old farmer’s tactic — tying a dead chicken on the neck of the dog that killed it and that didn’t always work either.)

For habitual shoe-chewers, shame has nothing to do with it. They know they’ve done wrong, but the next time opportunity presents itself temptation is too much to resist.

If you can’t keep shoes out of reach, make them distasteful to the dog. Non-toxic sprays, such as Bitter Apple, are available in pet supply stores — to take the enjoyment out of chewing things dogs shouldn’t.

Re-spray tempting items frequently and hope your dog grows out of the habit.

How do I get my dog to stop dominating dinnertime?

Somehow the dominance hierarchy in your human-canine family has gone awry. Just when you thought your dog’s innate desire to rise to alpha status was satisfactorily suppressed, along comes dominance once again. Has the dog been sleeping on your bed? That puts the dog on the same level, symbolically and altitude-wise, as the leader of the pack, and it’s a slippery slope from there. And who eats dinner first, the dog or you? We thought so.

Just say “No!” to inappropriate dog games. If necessary, say it again: “No! Sit! Stay! Good dog.” Don’t forget to use his name when giving a command
Summer Valley Veterinary Clinic
Aurora Veterinary

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