The use of food is a
high motivator for most dogs. Certain behaviours (most we don’t like) are
highly reinforcing for dogs. It is our job to ensure we teach our dogs
what we would like them to do rather than punishing for doing the inappropriate
stuff. When I mention ‘treats’ it can be their normal food. High value
treats should be something your dog loves but doesn’t get on a regular
basis. Using food/treats (along with praise) is an easy way to reinforce
the good stuff. When the behaviour is well understood by your dog the
food/treats can be reduced and replaced with other exciting stuff (praise,
How to teach your
dog that voluntary eyecontact pays! Try Step 1with food OR toys 2-3 times a week
just to get the behaviour understood by your dog.
Step 1 Hold
out (to your side) two handfuls of treats. Your dog should be facing
you. he will likely “ping-pong” back and forth looking at each hand. Wait
until he looks directly at your eyes. When that happens, say Yes! and
Step 2) Have
your dog on lead while walking him around your property. When the lead
goes tight, stand still and wait for eye contact. Don’t say anything to him.
I want him to make the right decision. When he makes eye contact, say Yes
and reward (food, praise or cuddles). Reward can also be to “go
Step 3) Gradually
increase distractions so the he has the chance to pull which, means he has the
opportunity to make the decision to look back at you. This is the
foundation exercise for good lead walking skills and helps to teach your dog that
engagement with YOU is important.
When walking on
lead, don’t let him get away with pulling (refer to step 2). If
distractions are too great (like someone walking towards you) then you need to
use your “Let’s go” cue and walk away.
Use consistent visual cues to encourage
specific behaviours from your dog. Dogs are great at seeing movement and
it gets their attention. Use this to your benefit! The flowing videos
demonstrate hand movements by luring with food. Remove the food after a
few repetitions so the dog is following the gesture to earn the treat.
Hold a treat in one hand (you may need to
hold the treat behind your back) and present the other (empty) hand to your
dog. Hold your hand out low and to the side and don’t move it. Wait until
he approaches and sniffs your hand. As soon as he does, say Yes!
and give him the treat. Keep the hand low to discourage jumping up.
Adding a few backwards steps as you present the empty hand should encourage
your dog to move towards your hand.
Come often means “the fun has ended” to your
dog so the new cue needs to be fun and exciting. Sometimes the
environment could be just too exciting for your dog. Or perhaps another
dog is approaching, and you don’t want your dog to pull or lunge toward them.
“Let’s go” is a handy phrase that means ‘I want you to move with me now’.
Sometimes it means ‘we need to turn around and go the other way’.
Use this phrase often to encourage your dog to follow you whether it is in the
house, on the property or somewhere else.
This should be initially taught off lead for
your dog to make the right choice. This should be lots of fun, make some
noise (hand clap) if you need to get your dog’s attention. Praise them when
they start to follow you. Practice this often so it becomes a default
behaviour for you and your dog.
When your dog is on and you need to say
“Let’s go” you may need to gently pull your dog away from the
distraction. If your dog is happily responding to the “Let’s go” cue off
lead, then pulling your dog shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing. Praise your
dog the moment you feel the lead go slack, as that means your dog has chosen to
move with you.
Rather than chasing after your dog when he
has grabbed something that he shouldn’t have try this: Squat down (this
body language is inviting and non-threatening) and in a happy/silly voice say “whathcha
got?”. Chances are that your dog will happily run towards you with
the item in their mouth. If they run past you avoid the temptation of
reaching out to grab him! This is certainly an easier way to retrieve those
valuable items from a doggy disaster. However, don’t just do this when
you want to take something away from your dog. Do it even when they have
a toy, leaf, etc. so that you can take if from your dog and then give it back
to them! If you always remove the item, they are likely to catch onto
this trick and continue playing the keep-away game.
You may need to practice this when your dog
doesn’t have anything! When your dog approaches you give him praise and cuddles
AND get in the habit of gently taking hold of his collar. Then let him go
back to what he was doing or play a game with him.
It’s normal for puppies to mouth and bite us, however it is
something we need to discourage in a clear and kind way. There is no need to physically punish a pup
for this behaviour as they may become frightened of you and it can actually
cause a dog to become aggressive.
When your pup bites too hard, say “Ouch!” and remove your
hands (to avoid further bites) and stop interacting with your dog. You may need to redirect them to a toy. Be aware that you may have been playing too
rough or too excitedly with your pup which has gotten them hyper aroused. When a dog is in that state, they are not
able to make good decisions! Avoid
getting this wound up during your next play session.
Jumping up often gets attention. Telling off your pup. Pushing your pup away.
Glaring at them. It’s all
acknowledgement to your puppy. It’s
best to simply ignore this behaviour, stand still and do not look at your
dog. DO be aware of your puppy when he offers four paws on the
floor and reward with praise. Try this
simple exercise of stepping backwards
(with your dog facing you) and encourage
your pup to move towards you. If he
approaches and sits (or offer 4 paws on the floor) then reward. If he jumps up do nothing/say nothing and
repeat the exercise. Soon your pup should figure out the jumping gets
Sometimes your pup may redirect his enthusiasm to biting
your pants or shoelaces. You can either
redirect him to a toy or teach him what you would like him to do instead. Teach a ‘follow me’ behaviour by laying
down a line of treats. Start with your
puppy at your side and place a treat (or
a biscuit) on the floor. When he
goes to eat it that treat take a step away and place another treat on the
ground. Keep repeating and gradually take more steps between treat placement.
also introduced a new exercise to help teach your pup not to
jump up on you. Do this ‘Backup and sit” exercise a few times each
day. Show your dog you have a treat in your hand and then back up a few
steps. Your dog should approach and may choose to jump or sit. If
they jump, say nothing and back up another step or two. When your dog
chooses to come to you and sit (or just keep four paws on the floor) then give
him the treat. Pretty soon he’ll stop wasting energy jumping up and
realise that sitting is better. In fact, you’ll likely see that your pup
starts to jump and then corrects himself! This is a thinking dog!