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Ask the Trainer with Sandy Finley

QuestionMy dog Bubbles loves to play “Fetch!” The problem is that he could play for hours and hours. Every time I try to put the ball away, he whines and puts up a ruckus to continue the game. He eventually gives up and lies down, but not until he’s made his displeasure known for a good half hour. Is there a way to get him to accept the fact that playtime is over when I want it to be over?

AnswerYour little Bubbles is demanding attention. I would venture to guess that he whines on other occasions when he doesn’t get his way. It is obviously a rewarding behavior for him, or Bubbles would not continue doing it. To stop this behavior, you must examine exactly the things you are doing to reinforce his bad manners. Do you continue playing just a little longer when he demands it? Does he get his way other times when he whines and nags? The trick is to make whining and other demanding behavior unrewarding and he will stop (Bubbles is no dummy).

Start with the retrieving. Take a loud alarm clock with you and set it for five minutes. Throw a ball for Bubbles until the alarm sounds and then stop the game. If Bubbles complains, sternly take him in the house and give him a time out. If you are consistent, Bubbles will learn that “Fetch!” has rules and he must abide by them. Set rules for other demanding behaviors and enforce them consistently. Change will not be instant. However, if you set rules and boundaries while consistently enforcing them, both you and Bubbles will be much happier.

About the Trainer:

Sandy FinleyFinley is the owner and senior trainer at Perfect Manners Dog Training.

He has over 30 years experience in all aspects of dog training. Finley is a published author, conducts dog behavioral seminars for other trainers, and has a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Michigan University.

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