Pets 101

Furry Forum

November 1, 2009 by Tails Magazine in Behavior, November 2009 with 0 Comments

QuestionWe recently got a rescued 2-year-old Rottie. She jumps and licks and mouths when people come in. She has been through obedience, but is very strong willed. I know she knows the commands, but she gets so caught up in the greetings that she doesn’t listen. I tried to ignore her and turn my back, but she jumps on my back and then focuses on my feet. She gets a 45-minute walk every day (she’s a very high-energy dog). Please help!

AnswerWhat would you like your dog to do instead of jumping and mouthing? If you want her to settle on a mat when people arrive, train “settle” and proof it around many different distractions. By “proofing” the behavior, you practice teaching your dog to settle on a mat in an environment with minimal distractions. Then, once your dog achieves at least an 80-percent success rate, you can move on to more stimulating environments. Until the behavior is reliable, use management tools (crates, tethers, gates) to keep her from practicing the unwanted behavior and keep a stuffed frozen Kong on hand to redirect her excitement to a toy when guests arrive.

QuestionI have a 3-year-old German Shepherd named Jack. Here is the issue: We have a curio cabinet, a fireplace, and a TV stand in our living room that all have glass fronts. If Jack sees his reflection in the curio cabinet, his hair stands up and he runs after “the other dog.” Generally he looks behind it to see where the other dog is. Then he goes after “the other dog” in the fireplace. Again, his hair stands up and he barks really loudly. He also tries looking out the window beside the fireplace to see where the dog goes. Then he looks at the TV stand and goes after that dog. He will poke his nose on the doors. Since the doors are magnetic, they come open sometimes. If he goes to one, he most always follows suit with the others. I have been putting him in timeout every time he does this, and it seems to be getting better. However, it has not stopped, so I am interested in any suggestions. He is not overly fond of other dogs. He will tolerate them, but only if they are so far away or if there are large groups of dogs. My sister has a toy-sized dog, and he feels more comfortable around her than any other dog. What do you suggest I do?

AnswerPractice what Leslie McDevitt calls the “Look at That” game (from her book Control Unleashed) by clicking and treating him for looking at his reflection quietly. Also work on redirection through toys, play, and training of alternative behaviors, giving him something else to focus on in the living room. Until he is able to view his reflection calmly without reacting, it is best that you cover reflective surfaces (or keep him out of the living room) when you are not there to train to avoid providing him with the opportunity to rehearse unwanted behavior.

About the Expert

Casey LomonacoCasey Lomonaco is an author, dog trainer, and graduate of Karen Pryor Academy. Lomonaco’s work has appeared on ClickerTraining.com, Dogster.com, Catster.com, APDT.com, and PetExpertise.com. Lomonaco is also the winner of the 2009 APDT Dogwise John Fisher essay contest. To learn more about Lomonaco and Rewarding Behaviors Dog Training, visit RewardingBehaviors.com.

* The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Tails Pet Media Group, Inc. Please consult your veterinarian before making any major decisions for your pet.

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