More Dog Bad Habits

My Springer Spaniel has gotten a little more resistant to the come command when she knows it means “Get in the kennel.” At night, she goes in between nine and ten. And like clock work, she wakes me up at 2:00 am. I am sure I have started a bad habit, but I am afraid the neighbors are being disturbed.

She still digs once or twice a week during the day. It’s like she goes into a panic after 4 to 5 hours in the kennel.


Dear Dick:

1. Go to her and make her come when you call her, if you do not see that she moves to respond within 1/2 a second of your command. But I personally like to use a specific command such as, “Get in the kennel.” If she doesn’t immediately move towards the kennel, I will go and get her and walk her in the kennel. If you wait to see if she’s going to respond, then she will wait to see if you’re going to make her. (That is, until the behavior has become a conditioned response.)

When you say kennel, you mean a crate– for at night, right? If not, then this is where she should be sleeping at night. Put her in the crate and then give her a cookie. This will reinforce that going into the crate is a positive thing.

2. For the outside kennel, buy some hardware mesh or chicken wire and put it under the entire kennel run and then put about an inch of dirt on top of that. Dogs don’t like digging and clawing against this type of material.

3. Increase her exercise regimen. Buy yourself a bike and take her for a 2 mile run each day. It’s good for you, too& and it will work wonders in reducing your dog’s boredom.

Best regards,

< body>

A Reader Wants To Know If You Can Make A Dog Be Social With Other Dogs

I recently purchased and downloaded your book, “Secrets of a
Professional Dog Trainer” and have found it very helpful.

My wife and I adopted an abused 5-month old Hungarian Visla cross,
and found that she was very friendly with humans but vicious with
other dogs, (Probably from being abused as a puppy by bigger dogs).
We’ve applied your techniques and tips and have seen tremendous
progress already in just a few weeks with the basic sit, stay and heel
commands. Still, though our biggest problem is trying to get her to be
“social” with other dogs, and trying to get her to not pull our arm off
every time she sees another dog. That said here is my question, Is
there any trick, tip or special way to get her to be social with other
dogs and not jump over the fenced yard every time another dog walks
by. Your advice is appreciated.


Dear Rob:

Thank you for the kind words.

Unfortunately, you cannot “make” a dog be social with other dogs. You
can use the techniques to teach your dog to IGNORE other dogs by
correcting him if he shows aggression& but I would not recommend putting
the dog in an off leash setting around other dogs that are off leash.

Ignoring vs. socializing with are two completely different things.

It’s like with humans. Some are poorly socialized. You can teach a person
to be respectful around others, but you can’t always MAKE them LIKE other

As for “pulling your arm off” when you’re walking your dog on-leash, I would
recommend you use the “loose leash/attention getter” technique I describe
on page 175 (the section titled, “How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Pulling On
The Leash”) and for the fence jumping, look at page 168 (the section titled,
“How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Jumping On The Fence.”)

Training The Down Command To An Overly-Submissive Dog

The “Down” command is so important that there is no room for any error. There are three types of dogs that will overreact to down training and will have to be handled carefully:

1) Dogs that are over-submissive

2) The nervous dogs

3) Dogs that are dominant and aggressive.

In this article, we will discuss about the over-submissive type and the proper way to teach him the “Down” exercise.

The Over-submissive Dog

This dog will be overly stimulated by his owner’s presence and his touch will raise nervousness. As the owner tries to influence him, the dog will prostrate himself, perhaps on his back, and he will totally misinterpret the objective. Rather than doing a simple down with a focus on the food, the dog will keep his focus on the owner. In other words, the dog is defensive rather than clear in his drive; he is driven by nervousness to show submission to his owner.

Making this dog hungry is effective, not to reduce fear but to increase his focus and stamina when he’s in drive. This dog is very easy to inhibit, so his owner felt that his dog’s subdued behaviors were an appropriate response to his confrontational approach to dog training. However, the dog really only learned to give up his drive and become submissively nervous, rather than learn what to do with his drive. Therefore, when the dog rolls on his back, the owner should neutralize this reflex by running away and commanding the dog to jump up and make contact.

The running will relax his nerve; as he gets the urge to roll over, the owner, the object of the dog’s maneuvering, is long gone. What you are doing here is converting his nervous drive into clear or calm drive. If the dog wants to focus on you, he will only get to do it by being pure in his drive activity, running after and plugging into you. Immediately after making contact, the dog is rewarded with food.

When the dog can stay focused on the food and remain resilient to a shock, he can be shocked for this nervous display of submission, and the shock will actually convert the nervousness into being poised for a drive behavior. After the dog becomes calm about staying, be sure that the shock is then followed by the pure drive activity of chasing you.

In this way, the dog can start to choose drive over nervousness. He will work to avoid the shock by self-inhibiting his nervousness. Then he will learn that the calm position of lying down in a focused manner on his owner and the food ends up causing the fun and pure drive activity of chasing you. Also, you are disassociating yourself from the nervousness, which you probably helped to create in the first place, and that will make life calmer for your dog.

Dog Training: Why It’s About Teaching, Not Winning

When training your dog, you cannot prevent him from experiencing some stress.  Learning is stressful.  But you can keep it at a level where he can learn. And have fun, too.

You must recognize the signs of stress and when you should end the training. When your pet reaches the point where he is no longer able to learn, all of his actions will be the result of random, redirected, or displacement behaviors and will not be committed to memory. Even though he may respond to a command, his feeling of anxiety will be such that he will not retain what you are trying to teach him.

Of course there will be moments when your dog just does not get the message. It can happen at any time, especially when you are working with distractions. It seems like nothing you do works and you feel that you are not making any progress.

What do you do in this situation? You may think that if you stop, then your dog will think that he has won and will never work with you. This kind of thinking assumes that you and your dog are adversaries in some kind of a contest. If you approach dog training with this kind of attitude, you are doomed to failure; at best, you will have an unrewarding relationship with your pet.

Training is about teaching, not winning. You can walk away from a training session at any time, whether or not you think you have been successful. When you see that no further learning is taking place, end the session. If you do not and insist on forcing the issue, you will undermine your pet’s trust in you and the relationship you are trying to build.

Let your dog rest for at least thirty minutes and then try again. You will find that all of a sudden the light bulb seems to have gone on and your dog is more willing to learn. By having taken a break at that point, you are giving your dog the opportunity to get the point through time.

You must stop the training as soon as you find yourself becoming irritable or when your dog starts to show signs of severe stress.

Dog Obedience and Behavior: How To Understand Proper Dog Training

The dictionary defines discipline in several ways. I favor the following: “Discipline is a branch of knowledge or of teaching.” I interpret this to mean that when an individual is motivated, he becomes self-disciplined by virtue of what he learns. It is an internal phenomenon. A musician isn’t controlled by the conductor; his passion for music is channeled and orchestrated. The musician controls himself, as does an artist or a football player or anyone dedicated to his field.

In martial arts training, if the student doesn’t display the correct attitude in his training the sensei ignores him. When the student shows spirit and dedication the sensei will seek to shape him in the discipline of the art. Whatever the art form, discipline is more the responsibility of the teacher to know his subject, and to be able to teach, than it is something to be imposed on the student.

This subtle aspect of discipline is even more true in dog training because, unlike with a human student, the motivation behind the dog’s desire to learn is wholly dependent on the trainer. To motivate a dog, we need to know how he perceives, how he feels, and how he learns; it is the dog owner who requires discipline so as to inhibit the impulse to lash out in anger or to be discouraged by failure or immobilized by guilt. A problem must always be approached from the dog’s point of view. When we ask, “How much discipline does my dog or puppy need?” remember that the question is moot. Discipline isn’t like a vitamin that needs to be dosed out periodically.

Dogs are disciplined by their instincts and they don’t need more. There is, however, a lesser definition of discipline that has some value in dog training. To quote the dictionary, “Discipline is a systematic method to obtain obedience. A state of order based upon submission to rules and authority. Punishment intended to correct or train.” While we are about to explain that there are times where this more limited view is necessary, we wish to reaffirm that the higher definition should be foremost in our minds and at the foundation of your training program.

Being an avid dog owner and trainer, there are those times when I will correct an extremely nervous dog – ideally with the lead and collar and in a training context – in such a way that he associates the correction with me. By acting confrontational, I can calm such a dog. My specific purpose is to have the dog attribute the shock to me so that his nervous system is dampened. It is quite analogous to grasping a tuning fork to quell its vibrations. Once dampened, and depending on the dog’s temperament, I will immediately try to put the dog back on the path of pure drive and happy motivation.

But what must be reemphasized is that most dogs considered hyper are only that way because their prey instinct has been allowed to find gratification at its own level, away from the owner. Or because of a lack of exercise, either mental or physical.

Why Dogs Roll in Poop

I’m wondering if you could tell me why– when I’m walking Yogi through some grass– that he smells something and the next thing I know, he’s stuck his head on the ground and starts to roll his body over the area he was smelling. On two occasions, he coated himself in another dog’s poop. I’ve been asking vets and laypersons to explain this behavior but no one seem to know.

Thank you so much for listening. Very Sincerely, -Robin Dear Robin: This is a hold-over instinct from before dogs were domesticated. They would roll around in a heavily scented object to mask their own scent, when hunting. This behavior can be stopped by telling your dog, “No.” Sounds easy, right? Well, if that hasn’t worked, then you can bet that your, “No” command doesn’t have any meaning to your dog. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Establish yourself as the pack leader.

2. Leave a training collar and tab on your dog, so that you can start consistently associating a “negative” with your verbal “No” command.

3. If your correction is motivational, your dog will get the picture, fast. Dogs simply do not continue to do a behavior that does not feel good.

Dogs Who Eat Their Own Feces

Dogs Who Eat Their Own Feces

I have a cousin named Leonard who was in the Army during Vietnam.

He and his fellow soldiers would often be in the jungle for several days at a time.  The Army would supply them with MRE’s.  (Meals Ready To Eat.)  These are kind of like T.V. dinners… packed in foil bags.  After the novelty of eating out of a foil bag wears off, you come to realize that MRE’s are some of the most bland-tasting food you will ever eat.

Leonard once told me that he and his buddies would pack small bottles of Tobasco sauce in their bags.  That Tobasco sauce became a real life-saver…. in the culinary department, that is… as dousing enough Tobasco sauce on any meal would make it edible.

I always think about Leonard whenever somebody tells me that their dog eats it’s feces and they’ve already tried seasoning it with Tobasco sauce.

Some Con-Man came up with this as a remedy for a dog’s fecal appetite, but it always seemed like a pretty good way to make it more appetizing for the dog, if you ask me.

So what should you do if your dog or puppy has this nasty habit?  Here’s a couple of things you can try.  My clients have had success with all of these:

  • Keep his area clean.  Don’t let him be in an area where he has access to feces.
  • Correct your dog with a collar and leash if he tries to eat feces.
  • Add pineapple juice to his meals.
  • Add ‘Accent’ meat flavor-enhancer to his meals.  (Apparently, this gives the feces an odd odor that repels dogs… as if the odor of feces wasn’t bad enough by itself???)
  • Pick up your dog’s waste immediately after he eliminates.

Canine Hypochondriacs

What makes human hypochondriacs so odd and disturbing is that they really do believe that they are suffering from an illness in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Canine hypochondriacs are in many ways far more innocent. They have simply learned that certain actions are rewarded, and behave accordingly. Given the inventive repertoire of behavior that dogs are capable of thanks to their playful propensities, and given how strong a drive social attention is for a dog, they are adept at forming such associations in their minds and sticking with them.

Dogs that have been genuinely sick and who get a lot of attention as a result are the prime candidates for the “sick pet syndrome.” They can quickly discover that when sitting quietly or acting normally they are ignored, but if they suffer a sudden relapse of an alarming symptom, their owner immediately rushes over, pets them, makes concerned cooing sounds, and so on. Dogs that suffer gastric upheavals, as all dogs do, often get extra attention and sometimes special food. It doesn’t take long for certain dogs to learn that bouts of vomiting and diarrhea are rewarded with hamburger and rice dinners, while behaving normally results in the same old dry dog food. Dogs have acquired such imaginary ailments as lameness, paralysis, muscle twitches, and runny noses, among others.

The surefire test for whether a dog is faking an illness is to leave the house and then sneak back and peek through a window to watch what the dog does when no one is around to provide the immediate reward of attention. Many alarmed owners, concerned that their pets are suffering from some horrible disease, who refuse to believe that it could just be an act, quickly become converted when they see their lame or paralyzed dogs get up and prance around the house when they think no one is there.

The solution, once it is clear that it is an act rather than a true illness, is simply to ignore the dog whenever he is performing his routine, and to pet him and give him extra attention and food treats whenever he is acting normally, or even just lying quietly. This exactly reverses the previous reinforcement schedule, under which the dog was rewarded for acting goofy and ignored for being normal.

It might seem that a dog that can put on an act only when it has an audience must have some ability to understand the mental state of its audience, a conclusion that seems at odds with the experimental evidence that dogs lack a “theory of mind” and an ability to imagine what others are thinking, perceiving, and feeling. But most likely the dogs in these cases have learned a fairly simple association.

Dogs that seek attention seek that attention from a human, so the presence of a human is the stimulus for its learned behavior. This is no different from a dog that learns to jump up on a bag of dog food – it is the simple presence of an object associated with a reward that is the trigger for the behavior. A dog does not have to grasp the idea that another being is watching and interpreting his actions; all he has to learn is that taking such an action when a person is present results in a reward – and doing it when no one is present does not.

Is Your Dog Ever a Pain in the Neck

Do you ever experience those moments when your dog is a proverbial, “Pain in the neck”? Maybe you’re sitting at your desk, and your dog won’t stop shoving his head into your lap and demanding attention? Or maybe she’s just restless for whatever reason.Or feeling needy? Well, there’s really three things you can do:

#1: You can put the dog in the kennel/crate. Just because your dog is demanding attention, doesn’t mean that he’s always going to get it. Remember: You’re the Alpha dog. You’re the pack leader.

If you let your dog decide when to play, you’re communicating an important lesson: That you’re NOT the pack leader, and you DON’T make the decisions. I recommend putting the dog in the crate when you’re sure that your dog has already been exercised, played with, and given attention.In other words: When you know his demand for attention is a dominance ruse.

#2: Put the dog into a formal “down-stay.” Even though your dog won’t be actively doing something, he will be inactively concentrating (and becoming conditioned) to hold the “down-stay” for longer and longer periods of time.

How long can you expect your dog to hold a “down-stay” exercise for, while you’re in the same room? How about 2-3 hours! Don’t believe me? I have a drawer full of testimonials from readers of my books and dvds who regularly have their dogs hold the “down-stay” while they watch t.v., drink coffee, wash the dishes, work on the computer, etc&

#3: Even better than #1 and #2, you can use your dog’s restless mood to practice active obedience exercises. Channel her need for attention into something positive. You’d be surprised at how just 10 minutes of working your dog through the various obedience routines (sit, down, heel, come, stay) can “wear your dog out,” mentally. Then, finish up with a good 20 minute (or more!) “down-stay” exercise while you’re going about your household chores.

Why Ignoring Your Dog’s Bad Behavior Does Not Work

I have a friend who has a 10 month-old German Shepherd who likes to nip at his feet. He is taking an obedience class and has made lots of progress in teaching the dog good behavior but can’t seem to get past this one behavior.

He uses a pinch collar and when the dog nips at his ankles, he gives the dog a correction and tries to either redirect him to something he can chew on or put him in a “time out,” but he says this hasn’t made any difference.

Someone suggested that he yell loudly and ignore the dog for a couple of minutes so he was going to try that but I thought I would email you to see if you have any thoughts on how he can handle this issue? Thank you in advance, Abigail Dear Abigail: This is a simple one: If the dog continues to do this behavior, then the handler is not correcting the dog firmly enough.

Ignoring the behavior is akin to ignoring bank robbers, in the hope that they will stop robbing banks. Here’s the key to fixing this type of behavior: Your friend will need to thoroughly understand three concepts: -Timing -Consistency -Motivation