If your dog is an adult, purchase a crate large enough for him to lie down, turn around and stand up comfortably. If your dog is a puppy, get a crate for his full-grown size, and divide it now.
Dogs learn the rules of going outdoors by being successful at it repeatedly. You can help by establishing a reasonable schedule. Your dog will need to go out early AM, again after breakfast, again early to mid-afternoon, upon your arrival home from work (or around early dinnertime) and again before bed.
Puppies need to go out a little more often, and always:
Right after a nap
Within half an hour of a meal
Within 20 minutes of drinking water
The puppy should sleep in his crate at night and be placed in the crate whenever you are not home. Put your puppy in the crate for brief periods at times when you are home, so he doesn’t associate it only with your absence.
He should learn to appreciate it as his own personal sanctuary. Toss treats and toys in frequently and allow him to find the prizes.
To minimize accidents, keep your young dog or puppy in his crate if you are too busy to keep track of his whereabouts. If he is allowed to wander into another room, he will have the opportunity to make a mess. To take this opportunity away, tie your pup to you by having him wear his leash and looping the end around your wrist. While he is tied to you, notice his body language for hints that he has to go. These hints could be restlessness, barking at you, or sitting and looking pointedly at you. When you do take him out, walk him in the same spot each time, on leash, using a phrase like “Hurry up” to encourage him. Always take your pup out the same door, so that eventually, when he has to go, he will stand or sit near that door. Now that’s progress!
Does your dog become very anxious just before you leave for work or to go out in the evening? As you prepare to leave, look for the following signs:
- Rapid panting
- Circling or pacing
- Following you expectantly
The above are among the signs that indicate possible separation anxiety. In severe cases, the dog may dig at the doorway that you left through, or dig in his crate. He may have self-inflicted injuries like open sores on his paws. He may chew carpeting and furniture, but dogs that only chew may just be bored or need confinement and not have severe separation anxiety. Consult with your veterinarian about the latest in medical treatments.
Often the dog reacts to your “triggers” such as when you pick up your car keys and turn off lights in the house. Try the following exercises to help your dog feel more relaxed about your absences:
- Think about the things you do before you leave the house. Do you lock a back door? Pick up a purse or briefcase? Pick up car keys? Now go through the motions of leaving, but instead of walking out the door, un-do the things you just did. Put the keys back, your purse; unlock the back door, etc. Go about your business as if nothing has occurred. Praise your dog in a very low-key way if he doesn’t react. Do this at least three times per day, especially in the morning before a long absence.
- If your dog is successful with exercise 2 (he is not reacting to the triggers), now take it a step further. Go through the motions of leaving as in exercise 2, but now walk out the door and lock it. Count to 5 only and re-enter. Don’t talk to the dog during this exercise, except to praise him in a low-key way when you return. If your dog seems calm during this exercise, increase your time away to a minute or two. Do this at least three times per day.
The goal of these exercises is for your dog to stop reacting to the triggers of your getting ready to leave. When you return home, always keep your greeting very low-key. With patience and practice, your dog should begin to accept your absences.
Dog park manners
Does your dog get distracted at the dog park and refuse to come to you?
Your dog comes to you most of the time, but once you are in that wide-open area, your dog forgets you exist. And when it’s time to leave the park, he ignores your commands. Set your dog up for success by doing a little homework before playtime. As you arrive at the park and exit the car, tell your dog to “Stay” and hold his leash as you open the door. Then say, “OK” and allow him to jump out.
Stay away from the action and practice the Come command at least three times, making sure you are bending and putting a coaxing hand down at the dog’s eye level. Bring tasty treats to help you compete with the distractions. Repeat this process, until he comes willingly. If your dog is not responding well, move a little farther from the other dogs and try again. Once your dog is coming to you right away, praise him lavishly and give him a treat. Make this a habit before he is allowed to play with friends, and you’ll see your dog responding faster with each visit.
Food aggressive dog
Is your dog possessive with food or toys?
Commands are a great way to foster respect, so that your dog sees you as a leader. Go a little farther with that concept and set up situations in advance that, in the past, have caused your dog to lash out. If your dog is protective of his food, put his leash on before feeding time and try the exercise below. In general, your dog should only receive the things he wants, petting, treats and meals, couch time, when he does a command for you first.
Mealtime presents an opportunity to assert your leadership and improve your dog’s manners. Put his leash on and hold it. Ask your dog to Stay, holding the leash in one hand and extending your arm back behind you to keep him from reaching the bowl. Place the bowl down. If he moves, pick up the bowl and start over. Once he holds his position without restraint from the leash, pull a tasty treat from your pocket and ask him to Sit. Once he complies, give him the treat and say, “OK”, allowing him to eat.
Coming when called
Teach your dog the most important command.
Use game-playing techniques to teach the Come command. Use a long leash, at least ten feet, and hold just the handle, allowing the rest to trail on the ground. Stroll away casually and when she looks away from you, say, “Come” and clap your hands as you jog a few steps away. Praise her lavishly for following you and reward her with play. Then walk away again. As soon as she looks away, repeat the “Come” with enthusiasm. Soon your dog won’t let you out of her sight.
Does your dog demand attention like a Diva?
A dog that waits politely for petting is a source of pride. Ask a friend to help you accomplish this worthwhile goal. Make sure your dog is on leash, and ask your helper to stand nearby. Tell your dog to Sit and Stay as your helper stays at a distance. If the dog is holding her Sit, ask the helper to approach and place a hand under your dog’s chin as a low-key greeting. If your dog stands up and wiggles, the helper should retreat, ignore the dog, and you should start the Sit-Stay over. Ask the helper to walk up to the two of you again and say Hello. You may need to hold a treat just over your dog’s head to keep your dog in position. Once your dog holds the Sit-Stay, even as your helper touches her, then give your dog the treat and praise her. Now repeat the whole exercise until your dog holds the Sit-Stay easily as the helper approaches and talks to you.
The Down Command
Would you like your dog to lie down at your feet while you watch TV?
Sit in a chair with your dog on the floor in front of you. Make sure he is wearing his leash. Hold his leash in one hand, and a favorite toy or treat in the other. Ask him to Sit, then say “Down” only once, then move the toy or treat slowly down past his nose to the floor between his front legs. Slip your foot over the leash, leaving a little slack but so the dog cannot just walk away. Keep the treat covered up in your fingers until his elbows touch and he is down. This could take a couple of minutes, so be patient. Keep the toy or treat down between his front legs until he decides to lie down. When he does, praise him and open your fingers to give the reward. At the same time, take your foot off the leash and allow him to stand up if he wants. To be successful at this, try it when your dog is in a mellow mood, not when he wants to play.
Does your dog leap on you gleefully when you come home, putting paw prints on all your clothes?
When your dog jumps on you, teaching her to “Back up” will discourage this behavior, because she won’t be able to balance on you with her front paws. As she jumps up on you, immediately say “Back up” and walk two steps directly into her. She will step out of your way. By jumping on you, she is violating your personal space, and by walking into her, you are re-claiming that space.
Jumping on your guests
Does your dog greet people coming into your home like a cruise missile?
Jumping up on other people can be alleviated by re-directing your dog to another command. Re-directing means that you are changing the dog’s mind about jumping up and giving him another, more satisfying activity. The Come command is most effective for this. Hold the leash, but allow your dog to greet another person without restraining him. When he begins to jump up, say “Come” and back up with a treat in your hand to coax him toward you. Praise him as he turns from the person and comes to get his treat instead. Allow him to immediately go back to greeting the person, and interrupt the jumping up again with the Come command. With practice, your dog will learn to greet briefly, then come back to you.
The "Wait" Command
Does your dog pull you down the street like an Iditerod champion?
You can use the “Wait” command, where your dog will be required to stop her forward movement and put slack in the leash until you say “OK”. When she pulls too hard, stop and say, “Wait”. As she stops with you, reach forward just a few inches to put slack in the leash. If she still wants to forge ahead, say “Nope” and start over with “Wait”. Offer slack again. Encourage her to turn toward you. When she does, say, “OK” and proceed. Practice “Wait” at least 3 times on each walk, sprinkling in a Sit or Watch command occasionally, and your dog will start to interact more with you on your walks.
The "Watch" command
Does your dog have a short attention span, or seems like she just won’t listen?
This command is designed to get the dog’s attention onto you. Your dog will learn that looking at you, and paying attention to you makes good things happen for her.
Hold a tasty treat or favorite toy in one hand, and the leash in the other. Say “Watch” in an animated tone and bring the treat or toy up to your face, pointing to your nose. If she looks away, make a funny noise, like a kissing or clucking sound to get her to look again. The instant she looks at you, praise her and give her the treat or toy with the same hand that brought it up to your face. Timing has to be good: Praise as soon as she looks.