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Readers Respond: Behavior training tips that really work

Responses: 8

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Different breeds, histories and personalities create a mix of behaviors. Basic manners are desirable. Some behaviors, such as getting into the garbage and aggression towards people or animals may ultimately be dangerous for your pet's health.

What worked for you and your dog? What didn't? Please share your pet's behavior problem and how you modified it. Did you work it out on your own, with a vet or a trainer? Please share your experiences. View additional behavior modification responses here.

Please note: each submission is your own mini "article" to help others. For questions, please visit the VetMed forum.

positive reinforcement

The problem with a show like "the dog whisperer" is that they simplify all problems with dogs as "he/she thinks its the alpha" and all problems are instantly fixed when the owner asserts his dominance. Owners who watch the show think every dog problem is about dominance and think walking through doors first and walking ahead on a walk will solve every problem. In reality most problems are much more complicated and have little or nothing to do with dominance. Distracting a dog when he is doing something he shouldn't, like chewing a sock (which is probably about prey drive, not dominance) and rewarding a dog when it does something it should is the tried and true method of dog training. Me and my husky/german shepherd mix puppy do targeting and clicker training, and I never scold her harshly when she misbehaves. I don't even think about dominance yet since she is only 6 months old.
—Guest Matt11

Aggression to humans who say goodbye!

My Coton who is normally friendly and sweet natured to children and adults, but also thinks every human who comes in the house who is playful with him is a new addition to his pack, and obviously think he is the pack leader at home. Tuffy gets very distressed when they leave (especially if they say "goodbye!") and runs after them growling and pawing the back of their legs. I ask them to ignore him and I also tell him "stop/ leave it", and get his attention.
—Moxamomma

Two things ...

I rescued a young, small dog who was extremely hyper and nippy. He would attack me with play biting every time I sat down! I had a metal piggy bank that I kept close by and when he would start his attack I'd shake the bank and say no. In a relatively short time he stopped the behavior and by just asking "Do you want the pig?" he'd behave. Secondly, on walks my dog would get riled up when passing other dogs or a yard where a dog was fenced. I would get the little treats out of my pocket and say "Leave the puppy" while focusing his attention on the treats (and moving forward) and now he marches by without so much as a look.
—Guest Oldedog

PATSY

I have 2 Irish wolf hounds, one is 6 and grumpy the other is 3 and sweet, the grumpy one growls at the 3yo on entering a room or coming in from out side, sometimes the 3yo decides he's had enough and they have a fight, only little nips and bites, but these huge dogs could inflict terrible injuries on each other if they really meant to, I challenge them before the grumbling gets out of control and if they don't or won't stop I spray their noses with coat conditioner, it's a shock and they don't like the smell, so what I and most other people are saying on these comments is Distraction in any form is the way to go, plus timing, finish it before it starts . by the way urinating in house is a dominance thing, spraying her would stop that instantly, especially if you shout no at the ame time, infuture all you would need to do is reach for the dreaded spray. EDITOR'S NOTE: please make sure any sprays used are NON-toxic.
—Guest PATSY

Good and Bad

We have always had dogs as part of the family, I do very much agree with positive reinforcement, but we rescued a lab about 6 years ago unfortunately she has now passed on she had been assessed by dog behaviourists and was rehomed with us. Defa was a very affectionate dog, but while on holiday about 4 weeks after getting her she went for my sister. We eventually figured out she had a treat. When she was with previous owners she had been starved. We could have said it was their fault and left it at that, but we did not want her turning on children or anyone else, we tried lots of different methods but every time she would attack. Eventually I had had enough and while she was growling she went for me I grabbed her and held her front legs so she could not get me. She was not hurt, but she realised that she could not do this, after I worked with her every day little food was added into her bowl. After this she was very good & anyone could feed her without fear. But it took respect from her
—Guest Teigan

Dominance aggression

I have 4 dogs. Two are 12 yrs. 2 are 4 yrs. One of the 4 yr olds would growl and snap if he got something he wasn't supposed to have if I tried to take it away. So instead I would say TREAT TIME and while they were eating their treats I would go get the object. Now as it always was with the other 3 all I have to do with him is say OOHH NO THAT'S MOMMIES and he drops it and walks away. "Never get in an argument with a dog...you won't win. Instead distract them." per my trainer from Petsmart.
—Guest Saundra

training pets

I'm not a pro. I believe that first one must love the pet, be willing to have infinite patience and willing to devote much time to training! It has worked for me! Second one must remember they are not people, they are animals, they don't speak our language, but they listen to us! Keep trying!
—Guest Sylvia

Helped with aggression toward other dogs

I have to admit I learned this from The Dog Whisperer. My miniature dachshund (all 12 pounds of her) went berserk every time she saw another dog on walks, even if the dog was across the street or 20 times as large as her. It was so embarrassing. (I didn't live with this dog until she was 5 years old, so I don't know what might have happened to her in her puppyhood.) At any rate, from the TV show I got the idea of redirecting the dog's attention to me during (or even before) these outbursts. Instead of letting her lunge on her leash and bark, when other dogs approached or passed by, I made her sit down -- by forcing her rump down if necessary. I'd keep repeating Sit! and (if she sat) Good Girl! and most of the time she'd be so surprised by my behavior and so intent on trying to understand what I wanted from her that she'd practically ignore the other dog. Over time, her behavior has improved a lot. We hardly ever need to do that Sit! routine anymore. It's really an impressive change.
—NancyL.

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