Do you have any questions regarding your dog’s behaviour or need help and advice? Please don’t hesitate to ask a question below. Hope you find our articles on dog training and dog behaviour helpful!
Help! My dog is…
Overexcited dogs most likely lack stimulation or are just plain bored, and there are different ways of correcting this.
First off, ask yourself what role you play in your dog’s behaviour? Dogs will sense their owners energy and reflect back. If you are full of energy, stressed, worried, sad, nervous or anxious you will see a changed behaviour in your dog. If you come home and the first thing you do is get your dog excited over the fact that you are home by greeting and cuddling them, they will learn that overexcitement is acceptable because they are being rewarded for it. Ignore them for just a few minutes until they settle down, then give all the love and affection you want. A dog doesn’t understand hello and good bye the same way humans do. They understand attention and no attention. Attention while presenting bad behaviour=reinforcement of that very behaviour. Also make sure that when you intentionally get your dog excited – follow through! Don’t wind them up and then call it quits when you’ve had enough. Follow through with the “play-time” until it is out of your dog’s system.
Hyperactivity in dogs can come from psychological needs as easily as it can from physical needs. Take them out for a walk or give them a task to preform. Giving your dog a mission can change their state of mind completely. You will notice a sense of pride when you put a little backpack with your water bottle for your dog to carry. The hyperactive behaviour will redirect from being unfocused or easily disrtacted into getting this job done! Remember that even though you take your dog out for a walk to get rid of built-up energy it’s not an excuse to pull or walk uncontrolled. They will still get tired by walking nicely next to you.
Pulling and biting the leash
There can be many reasons your dog bites or keeps mouthing the leash, for example they can be bored, overexcited, frustrated or just like having something in their mouth. You can prevent this by letting your dog have a stick or a toy to carry on the walk. You can also teach your dog the “out” command to let things go. Some dogs might think the leash is a toy, therefore it might be useful to take away the “charm” of it. By putting the leash in front of your dog, wait until they switch focus onto something else (preferably you) and reward immediately for not being interested.
Pulling can become a big problem if not dealt with in time. If you are experiencing difficulty controlling your dog on walks it’s best to book a training session with us. But here are a few quick tips:
*Keep your dog on a short leash. Don’t worry, they will still get the exercise they need.
*Use small subtle corrections often rather than hard “pops” of tugs on the leash a few times. Sometimes you might need to give a less subitle tug initially to let your dog know that you only accept a certain distance from you.
*When they start pulling, change direction. This will throw them off balance a bit and forget what they were pulling towards. Walk a few steps in the other direction and turn around again and continue your walk.
Not listening to me
To be consistent is key regardless of methodology. Grab your dog’s attention with treats or toys, or anything that’s rewarding for them. Once you have their attention it is important they learn the “look” command.
The goal is to never repeat yourself when giving your dog a command. If you ask them to sit they should sit, the first time you say it! If you then go ahead and say “sit” again without correcting the refusal to sit the first time, you are teaching your dog that they are in control of when they sit because they learn that you will keep repeating the commands until they feel like executing it. Control your feelings, if you are worked up or uncertain as you give a command, your dog will turn a deaf ear. Have a friend/family member observe your behavior and give you feedback — or even film it so you can see for yourself. Also ask yourself if your dog truly knows the commands you’re asking for. They simply might not understand what you want them to do.
Make sure your entire family is on the same page when it comes to interaction with the dog. As mentioned, consistency is key! Use the same commands, don’t repat yourself and mark the behaviours you don’t like. Pay attention to underlying issues like your dog’s emotional state. They might not listen because they are busy being scared or nervous because of another dog across the street or focused on claiming territory.
So much can be gained when you have your dog’s full attention. You will be more successful with keeping them out of trouble like running out into the street or picking up something from the ground when they listen to you.
Takes treats too hard from my hand
We all love an enthusiastic dog, it’s certainly great for dog training but sometimes a bit painful. We’re talking about dogs who accidentally bite your fingers off when taking a treat. Believe us when we say it can get ugly if a person or a child without experience tries to give a treat to a dog who doesn’t know the concept of taking treats gently. Most dogs with this behaviour is generally the result of people giving the treats the wrong way from the beginning and you want to relieve much of the conflict-induced frustration that occurs when you want to reinforce your dog’s good behavior but also want your fingers to remain intact and connected to your body.
So what we want to do is get the dog in the habit of being gentle when it comes to treats and food, teaching them that lunging and grabbing won’t get them far. There are several ways to teach your dog how to be more gentle and PetSpots methods can be applied to all of them. Many people instinctively pull their hand away when they notice a dog is really going for the treat, this makes them want to follow the hand and will snap at it. What they basically do is get the dog more excited and that makes it a game for the dog.
Positioning of the treat
First step is to position the treat in the hand in a way that it makes it harder for the dog to bite your fingers, don’t make the mistake of holding the treat between the tip of your thumb, index and middle finger. Another reason not to do that is that you’re showing your dog the treat. Next time you ask your dog to do something and there’s no treat visible , there will be a risk your dog won’t listen to you. Instead try putting the treat in your palm holding it with the base of your thumb. This way you are still able to do all the hand signals and the treat is hidden from the dog. It also makes it harder for your dog to bite a finger when your palm is open flat.
Low value treats
If your dog is already at a point where it hurts when you give a treat, start the training using low value treats. Treats that aren’t as interesting as that piece of sausage or biscuit that your dog loves is going to lower the excitement and it gives you the chance to start working on changing and moulding their behavior into one that will suit you.
Before it gets too bad
One of the techniques you can use for your next step is to aim the treat forward in front of the mouth so that when you present the treat your dog naturally has to move their head backwards to focus on the treat. This simple trick will condition the dog into automatically doing the opposite of lunging forward to get the treat.
Close your hand with the treat inside, your dog will smell it and will try to go for it. When you notice they come on too strong you quickly remove the hand and correct them using our corrective word. Try again and again until your hand (palm up) with the treat is so close to your dog that they can take it but they don’t, that’s when you give the treat and reward the behaviour you asked them to do. It takes patience from you and it’s important not to get frustrated with your dog.
Marker training is a great method and can be used in these cases as well. Hold a treat in your hand, close your fist around it and offer it to your dog. If your dog bites at your hand, keep it closed; this means either toughing it out or wearing gloves, depending on your dog’s behavior and your tolerance. When they stop biting and just look at your hand give them a treat from your other hand. The mark happens when your dog stops biting and nibbling. Keep doing this until your hand is open completely. You can then slowly move your hand lower to the floor and eventually put the treats on the floor and cover with your hand until the treats can be on the floor totally free to be eaten but your dog just looks at them. This last technique is mostly used for teaching dogs not to eat anything unless given permission to do so, but is equally helpful when teaching them to take treats nicely.
Barking too much
Nuisance barking can be quite a problem and we are often asked what to do about it. Barking is perfectly natural for dogs, be it for warning, protection or expressing excitement it is still one of their most important forms of communication. Usually it is not very long lasting and is hardly a problem for most dog owners, they are after all just talking to you, just letting you know what’s on their mind. But excessive barking on the other hand could be an inconvenience and is mostly caused by plain boredom or lack of stimulation.
Undoubtedly, this is a strong indication that there is a problem that needs to be dealt with. Our initial reaction is to ask ourselves what problems the dog has but what we really need to focus on is us, the humans! Ask yourself these questions: Do you give your dog enough stimulation and exercise? Could you unintentionally be encouraging the barking? Or could the problem simply be that your dog suffers from anxiety?
It mostly comes down to how you treat your dog when they are excited. How many of you pat your dog when they bark, telling them “there, there, it’s ok…” or if the dog is smaller, pick them up when they get excited over something. Think about that for a second. You are actually rewarding a behavior that your are trying to get rid of. This is called unintended positive reinforcement and it can do more harm than good. Touching and patting your dog is rewarding for them, if you give them that reward when they are displaying a behavior we do not want to encourage you are in fact doing the opposite of what you want to achieve.
When clients ask us this question, the first thing that comes to our mind is to teach the dog how to bark. This might seem a bit confusing, but let us break it down for you. If your dog learns what barking is and knows how to bark on cue, they will also learn what not-barking (i.e being quiet) is and you can just as easily have a command for that too.
Secondly, we want to point out the importance of exercise and stimulation. A dog that gets to have an outlet for all that energy is often a dog that dosen’t feel the need to bark excessively. Contact our trainer if you want to know more about how to deal with this.
Reasons Why We Never Recommend Retractable Leads
Trains your dog to pull and take charge
Training dogs is easy, and many dog owners don’t realize they train their dogs into bad behavior when using a retractable lead. If a dog never learned how to walk properly using a regular lead, using a retractable is not the best idea. Think about it, your dog pulls away from you, what happens? The lead extends! Would you not drive your car faster if there were no speed limits on the motorway?
Dogs look to you to lead them, but if you keep letting them lead you on walks you’re not only training them to pull the lead but you are allowing them to dictate the speed and the entire walk. This is simply not a sustainable way to walk your dog.
It’s easy to lose your grip when holding the bulky and awkward handles on retractable leads. If your dog runs to the end of the cord and you are not prepared then you can count on a runaway dog. Your average leash always has a loop handle which will make it easier for you because you can put your entire hand through it and still have the use of your grip for something else, like a poo bag (remember, always pick up after your dog! ;))
Harder to protect your dog from a distance
Any situation can quickly turn into i nightmare if your dog is far away from you. A retractable lead allows dogs too much distance between you and them, as well as freedom to pull uncontrolled. Imagine they are walking a few meters ahead of you on the side walk. You will have no time to reel them in or stop them from running into the middle of the street if they see something on the other side. With your dog too far away from you, there is next to no chance for you to prevent them from making uninvited contact with other dogs or people, or even control the situation if another uncontrolled dog approaches. Other dogs might see it as an alarming sign and view it as a hostile approach when meeting your dog. Remember that having your dog close to you using a shorter leash will allow you to regain control and helps you protect them better.
You can get tangled or pulled off your feet
You can get cuts, burns, broken bones and bruises when you, in a failed attempt, try reeling in your dog grabbing the cord or get tangled and pulled off your feet when your dog runs out of line and keeps running. This is easily avoided if you use a regular lead when taking your dog out for a walk. Don’t worry about them not getting enough exercise because they can’t run “free”. If you make your dog walk nicely next to you they will get equally if not more tired out from the walk because they have to focus on you more.
Dogs can get neck injuries
Dogs often run until the lead stops, and what most owners usually don’t realize is the impact this uncontrolled and hard yank has on a dog’s neck. It can cause injuries to the throat, neck and spine if your dog manages to get a lot of speed before running out of line on the lead.
Sound may scare the dog
If your dog is anxious or is easily frightened it’s a bad idea to introduce them to a retractable lead. The sound it makes sometimes when trying to stop the line can scare them as well as the thump of it dropping to the ground (thanks to the bulky handles). They might run off trying to escape that scary thing on the other side of the lead only to realize it’s chasing them and coming closer with each step. This might not harm your dog physically but think of the consequences it may bring for your next walk. You’d want to avid training your dog to associate walks with fear.
Malfunction over time
Anything with many functions have tendencies to stop working over time, especially retractable devices. There are many ways they can break- the thin cord might snap or break if you have a powerful dog or they run off at full speed. The stopper could malfunktion in a way that the lead unspools easily or it might not even retract properly. Don’t risk walking your dog with a lead that might break at any time. Save yourself the trouble and get a proper lead for your dog.
Only for training recall
If you like to let your dog off leash from time to time but they seem to get selective hearing while off, it might be a good idea to train some recall with them.
The only time we would recommend using a retractable lead is when training your dog to learn recall.