Training Tips


How can I stop my dog play biting

You need to teach him not to bite. This is normally learnt through play fighting with the rest of the litter but in the absence of canine companionship you'll have to take up this duty.
Consistency in your response here will really speed up his understanding of what you want to achieve. Every time he nips you, let out a loud, high pitched yelp, turn your back and walk away from him. Don't scold him.
How you behave will have an incredible impact on the dynamic between you and your dog, remember that dogs are by instinct pack animals and will behave as such. If the dog comes to view you and your family as subservient to them you'll find it incredibly difficult to readjust the dynamic without causing grief.
Be dominant and decisive in your actions. Make sure that it is you who lead the pack and enforce this hierarchy at every opportunity. Little things such as making sure that the family eat before the dog and not letting over-zealous Behaviour gain attention will all contribute to your dog's sense of position within this structure.

Don't be aggressive or rough with the young puppy as this will reinforce this Behaviour, if your puppy nips you let out a high pitched yelp and stop playing with them, this is what their litter and mother would do. The best way to avoid poor Behaviour is to pay it no attention. If you make your puppy realise that chewing shoes and barking at the door isn't a game that you want to play with them they will soon catch on.



How can I teach my dog to return when he ignores me

Teaching recall is crucial
Some common reasons why a dog won’t return include:

  1. The owner has ‘taught’ the dog to disregard the recall.
  2. The owner has ‘taught’ the dog that he does not need to listen to his owner.
  3. The dog has learned that it is not in his best interests to return to the owner.
  4. The owner is giving confusing, contradictory signals to the dog.
  5. The bond between dog and owner needs strengthening.
  6. The dog does not live in an environment which has an easily understandable set of house rules.
  7. The owner has never seriously and systematically taught the dog the recall.

Starting with the last reason, it is surprising how few people do this, as a recall is one of the most important things you can teach your dog. Most puppies immediately run up to their owners if they are called, especially if they have been bred by a responsible breeder who has done much of the initial work. However, when the puppy gets older, particularly when he reaches the ‘teenage brat’ stage, owners are surprised when their perfectly behaved puppy suddenly starts to ignore their increasingly desperate calls!

Confusing signals to your dog
The recall sound people often use of the dog’s name followed by ‘Come’ (such as ‘Rover! Come!’) is fine if you never use a sound that can be confused with ‘Come’ when talking to your dog but I guarantee that most dog owners will, at one time or another, say ‘Come on!’ to their dog — often when he has stopped to sniff an interesting smell when on a walk.
In this way it is so easy to destroy all your previous hard work in a few thoughtless moments without even realizing it! Another way owners inadvertently teach their dogs to ignore the recall is when the dog stops to investigate a smell while on a walk and is almost 100 metres away from his owner. The owner realizes, quite rightly, that this is too far away to be safe, so shouts the recall sound. The dog immediately returns and the owner is delighted and congratulates himselfon having a well-trained dog. Once the dog has caught up, the owner walks on but what has he really communicated to his dog? Think about it!

To my dog her name means: ‘Get back to ‘Mum’ as soon as possible because something wonderful is going to happen!’ but this means it must happen every time she hears her name and particularly when first teaching the recall. The dog’s name should never be associated with recriminations, for example: ‘Rover! You naughty dog! Look what you have done to my wallpaper!’ and it should never be used if you are going to do something which your dog perceives as unpleasant, such as cutting his nails or giving him a bath. Never tell him off if he returns to you in his own time (which may take a long time!). You should stop and think ‘Why did that happen?’ and then take steps to address the problem.

Don't remonstrate your dog
Discretion is always the better part of valour where dogs are concerned and to begin with it is much more sensible if, say, your dog has his head down a rabbit hole or some other fascinating place, to walk calmly up to him and attach his lead. If you know that he is unlikely to return, calling him is pointless; it will only teach him that he can ignore your recall sound. Make it obvious to your dog that if he comes back he will receive titbits.
When recalling your dog he should never know how many titbits he is going to get. As he can smell that there are plenty in your hand he will stay close in case another one is on offer. This will prevent your dog from grabbing a single titbit from you and running off again before you can do anything about it!

Play the game with your dog
When out on a walk and your dog gets distracted, you will just have to do the best you can but remember your dog ‘sees’ the world through his nose, so if you take him to a field where you think there are no distractions it may appear differently to your dog who can smell that a rabbit has been running around just a few seconds earlier!

Trailing line
If you are worried about your dog’s safety should he not respond to your recall, you could use a long line, about 40ft long, left trailing on the ground. Never hold it in your hand as it could cause injury both to yourself and your dog. Always recall your dog well before he gets to the end of the line so that he has time to react. If he does not
respond — and (unless a sudden distraction appears) this is unlikely if you have followed the instructions carefully, slowly and systematically — put your foot on the end of the line to stop him moving away from you, not to make him return.

Introducing distractions
Distractions have two components. The first is the severity of the distraction. Make a list of anything that you feel may distract your dog and put them in order of severity. The second component is the distance from the distraction. No matter what the distraction, if you are far enough away from it, it will cease to be a distraction. Start with the easiest distraction at a distance you know your dog will not react; then add on a few paces and gradually get closer and closer to it. After three consecutive successful attempts at each distance, move closer. Take your time over this. Remember there must be high-value reinforcements on offer and stop at the height of the excitement so the dog continues to enjoy the game.

The extra effort spent in ensuring that your dog will return to you when called is very worthwhile and it could also save his life.



Why dogs bark
Barking is not only a problem while owners are out - dogs bark for all sorts of reasons such as frustration, excitement and fear or when they are seeking attention or trying to be threatening. How you tackle problem barking depends to a large extent on the cause. In some cases there may be a quite simple and obvious solution but with others it may be more complicated. In such instances it may take time, effort and much patience before you begin to make progress and you may also need the help of a behavioural trainer. Remember to try to work out why your dog is barking so you can address the cause and not just the symptom. Reward him for being quiet and never punish him for barking.

Making demands                                
Dogs often bark when they want something, whether it's a toy, game, some food, or a cuddle, and this is often a Behaviour learned in puppyhood. This type of barking can be very insistent and difficult to ignore but ignore it you must since, from a dog's point of view, any attention is better than none. Make your dog's barking counter-productive by turning your back on him or leaving the room until he's quiet. When he does quieten down you can reward him with a pat and word of praise. Teaching a "Hush" command may also work, as can asking your dog to do something - this will interrupt the barking and show him he has to earn your attention rather than demand it.

Visual stimuli for your dog
Some dogs are reactive towards people or other dogs walking past 'their' house. Drawing curtains when you're not around and using a "Hush" command when you are should help. If your dog tends to bark at passers-by through the garden gate or fence create a screen of some kind or confine him to a different area. There may well be other issues, such as fear, territorial feelings or lack of socialization, at work which will need to be worked on to resolve the barking problem successfully.

Training check for your dog
If your dog barks a lot during training sessions try breaking down the actions you want him to learn into a series of steps you can progress along in easy stages. Check your verbal and physical cues are consistent and clear and, if necessary, go back to the last step he understood. Also, make sure he is physically able to perform the task you are asking him to do.

Noise fear
Some noises may startle your dog into barking and, again, teaching and using a "Hush" command can help. Where a particular sound consistently triggers barking you could try desensitizing your dog to the noise by using recordings of it in the same way as when helping a dog to overcome a fear of fireworks and thunder.

Intruder alert!
Alarm barking alerting you to a stranger calling at the door isn't necessarily something you want to discourage but you should certainly be able to control the duration by teaching a "Hush" command.

Separation anxiety
If this is the cause of the barking your dog may exhibit other signs of distress too, such as panting, pacing and destructive Behaviour. You'll need to spend time working on increasing your dog's ability to cope without you - maybe by putting him in an adjoining room using a door gate so he can still see you initially. You could also change your habits when you leave the house. Try acting as if you're preparing to leave the house but don't actually go out as this may also help to reduce your dog's anxiety levels. If you're unsure about devising a programme for reducing separation anxiety contact a behavioural trainer for advice.

Your dog may give short, sharp barks at times when he is keyed up, such as when you arrive home, when playing an exciting game, or perhaps on seeing another dog he wants to play with. If this happens when you are playing a game, put the toy away until your dog is calm. If he's spotted another dog, walk away with him in another direction. When you arrive home don't greet your dog until he is quiet.

Dog Boredom
Many dogs are both under-exercised and lacking in mental stimulation. Increasing the amount and quality of exercise you give your dog may mean he'll be happy to snooze while you're out rather than bark. When you do go out, provide him with activity toys.

Dos and don'tsThe causes of barking are multiple - this is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few common causes. If you're having trouble working out the cause or finding a successful solution seek expert advice as the longer a Behaviour continues, the more established it becomes, taking longer and being more difficult to remedy.

DO: Stay calm, even though the noise makes you feel like screaming yourself. Reward quiet behaviour, keep obedience training up to scratch, as this can make it easier to resolve some barking issues. Seek help if you're having trouble remedying the problem.

DON'T: Shout yourself - your dog will simply think you are joining in and bark even more. Be inconsistent - choose a single-word command such as "Hush", "Quiet" or "Enough" and make sure you always use it when you want your dog to stop barking, speaking in a low-pitched tone.