We dog folk are fab at lovin’ up on, cuddlin’ with, and snappin’ cute pics of our pooches. But training? Not everyone’s specialty. That’s why it’s key to enlist the help of a trainer, like the experts at Bark Busters when Sadie’s got you stumped. We tapped Lynne Willeke, CPDT-KA, master dog behavioral therapist and trainer, to answer your training Qs. (Working on a prob that seems utterly unsolvable? Time to bring in a pro like Willeke.)
How can I help my basset hound stop howling at dogs and people who walk by our house? –Andrea L., Hopkins
A howlin’ hound can be lots of fun in the right moment — but not so fun every time your neighbor walks his dog. Your basset is likely howling from the excitement of seeing dogs and people. He may be watching out the window to fulfill his entertainment needs. Look for other ways to satisfy these needs by giving him enough exercise and mental stimulation. And of course winter calls for gettin’ creative with indoor games. Consider puzzle toys, like the Kong Wobbler or Buster Cube, to keep him busy.
Also help him learn to calm himself when he’s stimulated by happenings on the street. For example, do a “down, stay” or an on-leash exercise that redirects and calms him. And don’t hesitate to contact us if you are concerned about protective or fearful behaviors, or if you just want some help with calming ideas.
Lola the golden doodle can do everything but recall. As soon as it’s time to leave the dog park, it’s a game of catch and woof. I’ve tried to bring treats and call her back multiple times to reinforce positivity, I don’t make it a game and chase her, and she’s totally good at recall indoors. But outside? Nope. Suggestions? –Brandy D., Minneapolis
It’s wonderful that Lola is good at most things! Lots of people tell me they struggle with recall at the dog park — after all, catch and woof is a very fun game! In fact, last week I went with 2-year-old boxer Jacob and his person to the dog park to work on recall.
We first worked outside the dog park on-leash, getting him to focus on his person when another dog was entering the dog park. We did this by backing up behind him when he was looking at the other dog and then calling him to come, adding praise and excitement as he refocused his attention to his human. His person crouched down low to encourage him to come, then stood tall when he came.
Then we went inside the park and worked at calling Jacob to us when he was just a few feet away and not interested in another dog. His reward was a “free” command to go play. Jacob’s person will keep workin’ on these skills when the park is not too busy. I recommend starting with outside recall at a location less exciting than the dog park. Work in a fenced location or with a long lead on, calling Lola back to you in an outside environment. Then you can add distractions, like the excitement of the dog park. And remember: Be sure to have fun together while you build recall skills!
How do we get our 2-year-old Border collie mix to stop jumping on people? Turning your back makes him jump more! –Lisa S., Chanhassen
So your pup has springs on his paws?! He sounds like a happy pooch. I agree wholeheartedly that dogs should learn polite greeting behaviors. Setting up a situation to teach and repeating the set-up will allow both you and your pooch to have success.
Teach your dog to stay away from the door as people enter and allow him to come forward only when you release him. If he tries to jump up when he does come forward, set up situations with a trusted friend that will just come in, stand still, and pay no attention to your pooch while you show him what you expect. Your body language is very important as you teach your dog. Crouch down to get him to come, stand tall when you want to show authority. And remember: Always praise him for the proper response.