Correcting undesirable habits of your pooch

We all love our pooches but sometimes, like children, they have naughty ways. But, these undesirable habits can be corrected, just by positive training. Here are a few common problems and their easy solutions.

Once I chanced upon a dog in my training session who would just not get toilet trained inspite of trying all techniques. When I took him in for training, he got toilet trained in three weeks, but he would still remain untrained at home. It turned out that the dog was scared of a siren sound near his house every hour. The solution was not changing the house or accepting the dog’s behaviour, but rather using our training techniques to get him out of the problem. And once he was trained to get accustomed to that sound, he became the obedient chap, such is the power of training.

Here are a few training techniques to help overcome day-to-day problems you may face with your dog. But, as a word of caution: please do not attempt this on an untrained dog as you may end up accentuating his fears and compounding the problem. Also, do not attempt correcting all your dog’s problems at once, instead, do it one at a time.

Jumping

Jumping is a very common problem with overexcited and friendly dogs. They greet all and sundry with a big jump. The roots of this problem lie in the fact that pet parents encourage it when the puppy is 2-month-old and weighs 3 kg. Later on, when the pup is 2-year-old and all of 40 kg, the act doesn’t remain amusing at all.

The solution is to turn away from the dog whenever he jumps on you. If he still jumps at you, just keep looking away without talking to or petting the dog. After some time, the dog won’t enjoy it and will get off. As soon as he does this, give him the command ‘Sit.’ No sooner doeshe sit, you should shower him with praise and may be a treat too. A dog trained with positive reinforcement will soon understand the difference in reaction. A couple of weeks of consistent practice by all family members, will have a dog who runs upto you and sits without a command to greet you.

Expert advice: Remember you cannot pet him “just a bit” and tell him to go. That is exactly what he wants; he will keep coming for more and will never stop greeting you with a jump.

Destructive chewing

Another common problem in dogs is destructive chewing, the roots of which usually lie in boredom. Now let us assume that he has chewed up your remote in drawing room. Avoid touching the object. Bring your furry friend to the ‘scene of crime’. (Please note it is –‘bring’ not call. The last thing you want is break his trust by calling him and then reprimanding him. Be sure the next time you call him; he will run the other way!!! )

Give him the ‘down’ command, positioning him in such a way that the remote is right in front of him. Ask him to ‘stay.’ Thereafter start scolding him. If he makes any attempts to get up and run away from the fi ring, put him back on a ‘stay.’ This should continue for close to half an hour. Repeat the training if he does it again. You will need to correct him for different things in the course of the next few weeks.

Expert advice: You could back it up by introducing toys in your playing sessions. Encourage him and praise him when he plays with his own toys. It is then that he will understand that he is not supposed to chew anything other than his own toys.

Toilet untrained

House breaking a dog requires lot of time and patience. Take your dog’s stools and keep them in the place where you want your dog to ease himself (his toilet). In case of pee, blot it with a newspaper. Then place the newspaper in the dog’s toilet.

Expert advice: Watch the dog’s timings. It is usually after a meal or a nap. A combination of all these would be the only way to toilet train your dog.

Gate rushing

This dog cannot resist the sight of an open door or gate. Such dogs tend to rush out every time the gate is opened, and the pet parent is left shouting or running behind him to catch him.

Use the ‘Sit stay’ command. You need to create a situation where you feel he may rush out. Be prepared. Give the dog a ‘sit’ command and tell him to ‘stay.’ Then open the door and tempt him to run out. (Don’t actually tell/ encourage him to run, just pretend you’ve left open the door by mistake.) As soon as he gets up, command him to ‘stay’ again. If he holds his ‘stay’ for 5 seconds, close the door and praise him. Gradually you need to work towards making him ‘stay’ for upto 5 minutes inspite of the open door. Your dog will develop character and learn to resist the temptation. Expert advice: It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for you to trust the dog enough and expect him not to rush out.

These simple techniques can actually work a long way in controlling undesirable behaviour in your pooch. So, here’s woof to Happy Training!

(For more on training, await our next issue.) (Philip A Butt is a renowned dog trainer and chief trainer at Commando Kennels, Hyderabad (www.commandokennel.com). He can be contacted at: commandokennels@yahoo.com

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