Your Top Training Qs, Answered!

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.)

The pro herself! (Photo: Bark Busters)

The pro herself! (Photo: Bark Busters)

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

The dog park can be pretty exciting. (Photo: flickr.com//rickharris)

Recall at the dog park? No prob. (Photo: flickr.com/rickharris)

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!

Not everyone is keen on the pup's greeting. (Photo: flickr.com/mr_t_in_dc)

Not everyone is keen on the pup’s greeting. (Photo: flickr.com/mr_t_in_dc)

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.

—Kate Nelson

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4 Responses to Your Top Training Qs, Answered!

  1. Anupa Patel` says:

    I really need help with tips on potty training. Our dog, Goose, can do ANYTHING. Sit. Stay. Sit/Stay with distractions. Spin. Everything.

    The one thing we cannot teach him is potty training. We keep him in a crate so hes good during the day (have a dog walker let him out at lunch). When we’re home, him and our older dog play. We try to keep him supervised at all times. We let him out nearly three times after we get home so his bladder is always empty.

    We praise and treat him every time he goes outside. It seem like constant and continuous reinforcement but then an “accident.” Its almost as if he waits only 2 minutes for him to notice he’s at the front door and then he goes inside. We’re trying to get him to associate outside with a bell at the door. He just doesnt seem to get it.


    • Dealing with toileting issues can be very frustrating! You are doing so many things right to set your pup up for success, but still he makes mistakes. You didn’t mention how how he is, but if he is quite young-be patient and keep working on prevention. If he has a favorite spot to have an accident, clean it well and try scatter feeding dry kibble or treats in this area daily for a while. When home, try tethering him to you so he can’t run off. Also, to further train him when you are home, try a rotation of potty, play, crate. Then out of crate, potty, play and crate again. Here is a link to helpful tips http://www.barkbusters.com/dog-training-tips-housebreaking Good Luck!

    • Lisa says:

      My puppy just turned 10 months and we were having a heck of a time potty training him, he was quick to learn everything else. He didn’t seem to know how to tell us he had to go out or we just couldn’t read his signs. We started the bell training at about age 8 months and now he has it down! Keep trying, sounds like you are getting it. Just make sure you ring the bell every time you let your pup out to go and praise him like crazy when he rings the bell and goes outside. Also, make sure the bell is loud enough to hear if you are in a different room, you don’t want to miss a ring, have an accident and then punish him because you missed the bell ring. Now that we have been doing the bell for a couple of months he is starting to quietly huff a little when he needs to go so seems like it’s little steps :) Good luck!

  2. Andrea says:

    Thanks so much for your excellent howling hound advice. I’ll check out the indoor games for sure!

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