Tag Archives: behavior modification

Pick up the Poop

OK, fair warning!  This is going to be venting on a pet peeve, to some extent!  It’s also talking about a rather distasteful subject — feces!   But dog owners have to deal with that lovely substance as a fact of life, so here goes!

I saw a posting on FB asking if anyone could tell her what to do about her dog eating poop in the backyard.  She said she’d taken the dog to the vet and tried changing dog food.  She said she’s yelled at the dog and punished it and asked how to train away this bad habit.  She never said why the poop was left there to eat in the first place.

This goes back to my philosophy of MANAGEMENT is easier than TRAINING.  If you do a poop-patrol a couple of times a day, it’s not lying around the yard.  If it’s not lying around the yard, the dog won’t be tempted to eat it!  If the dog isn’t tempted to eat it — well there isn’t a problem, is there?  In the winter when the snow is falling and it’s difficult to find the piles, I’ve followed dogs with well-known feces-fetishes around the yard.  As they’ve sniffed ’em out, I’ve scooped ’em up!

In my experience, a lot of dogs indulge in coprophagia — the scientific name for eating feces.  I’ve seen some ads that say, “10% of dogs” do it, but I think it’s higher than that.  Some are really addicts and eat it hot, frozen, their own or other dogs.  Some (like my Kita) really only indulge when it’s frosty “pupsicles” that other dogs have left.  Some only do it at home, some only when away from home, and I’ve never seen an explanation that covers all the bases.

Dogs often raid the cat litterbox because a cat’s digestive system isn’t very efficient and their poop has a lot of real “food” value, as disgusting as sounds to us.  Most dogs LOVE to eat herbivore scat, though I’m not sure what food value it has for canines!  I have to stay on high alert when walking dogs around the fields because they ALL seem to head straight for those piles of bunny or deer droppings!  Dr. Patricia McConnell has a sheep farm and says she knows visitors have an idealized pastoral fantasy of their dog running free through the fields in the sunshine, chasing butterflies, but that the reality is they’re out in the pasture scarfing down sheep poop.

Some folks say it could be a dietary deficiency.  Some folks say it’s an attempt to keep the area clean.  Some folks say the dog wants to take on the scent of the alpha dog who’s marked territory, or to pacify themselves when they are stressed, or because they’re bored, or somehow gotten in the habit of doing it.

When it gets right down to cases, I think dogs eat poop — of whatever variety — because they LIKE it.  If that’s the reason, you’ll have a hard time training them  out of the habit!  I’ve heard that feeding a dog pineapple makes the poop “taste bad” (you mean it doesn’t already?) so the dog won’t like it so much.  There’s also commercial products with the enzymes from pineapple to sprinkle on their food to accomplish the same result.  But that only works if ALL the dogs that do their duty in that yard eat their pineapple.

I saw an episode of IT’S ME OR THE DOG where Victoria Stillwell tried to help a family with three pugs kick this problem.  She wasn’t entirely successful.  In that case, the dogs had progressed to where they would almost eat it as it was coming out of another dog’s behind.  But most dogs aren’t that bad.  So, I maintain that it’s easier — and cheaper — and cleaner all around to just pick up the poop!

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Use What You Have!

Still spinning off Arthur Ashe’s quote: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” It’s just so apt for dog-training that I can’t resist!

Dog training doesn’t require any special equipment! Except for a collar, you can use just what’s around the house! Even to train leash-manners, you don’t have to go to the store! The leash can just be a piece of clothesline or old belt! Of course, the real thing with a clip is easier to put on and take off, but as far as practical function, you just need a hunk of rope!

A collar, leash, and some treats and you’re good to go!  And the best treats I’ve ever found for training aren’t some in some expensive pet-store package —  regular ole hot dogs and white meat chicken!  Dogs are meat-eaters and there’s nothing that says, “YUM!” in your dog’s book like that meaty flavor.  I almost said “real meat” but not sure hot dogs apply.  However, they’re as “healthy” as most processed dog snacks and dogs LOVE THEM!  I usually reserve the chicken for small dogs.  Not that they don’t like hot dogs, but too much salt can overload those little ones really fast!

[NOTE:  Dogs don’t have taste buds for salt because, as wild carnivores, they got enough from their diet of meat.  A dog’s system isn’t designed to get rid of salt (because they don’t sweat) as easily as humans, so they can get “salt poisoning” – an electrolyte imbalance – easier than we can.  Big dogs because of their size, don’t usually run into problems with a tiny bits of hot dog during training, but Toy breeds and puppies don’t have much body mass!  So I use chicken just to be on the safe side.]

You don’t have to worry about this “feeding people food” making the dog beg at the table, either.  Unless you teach a dog NOT to beg at the table, they mostly all do, anyway!  If you never feed scraps from the table or counter, a dog won’t really expect to get hot dogs and chicken when the family is eating.  They’ll try to fool you by begging, on the off-chance that they can sucker you into it, but they recognize dinner time as different from training time!

I always pull out the good stuff to teach new behaviors or when working someplace new or with new distractions, so the dog is really motivated!  However, reviewing learned behaviors, especially in familiar places won’t need anything special.  Most of the dogs I know are very happy to work for a piece of their kibble, if nothing else is offered.

Your dog isn’t food motivated?   I’ve had a lot of clients tell me that.  Never believe them until I’ve tried hot dogs and chicken!  Most dogs are food motivated, but it might take a little experimentation to find what they really like.  It might be hot dogs or chicken or bacon or peanut butter (ou can put a bit on a spoon to let them lick a reward) or Cheerios or frozen peas!  However for those dogs who are really PLAY motivated, the chance to chase their ball or Frisbee can literally make them sit up and roll over!  If your dog loves squeaky toys, then a crackley container from bottled water usually gets ‘em going just about as well !

Interested in some of those “dog sports” but don’t want to invest in equipment before finding out if your dog is good at/enjoys it?  Be creative!  The first step in training a Dock-diving dog is to teach them confidence in the water – so start with a kiddie pool and work up!  Dogs that have great fetching and catching skills are great at fly-ball; if you’ve got one of those, bounce a ball off a wall to train catching  accuracy.  Play hide and seek – asking your dog to find you and/or his favorite toy to see if you’ve got a dog that might be good at tracking!  I knew Kita would LOVE agility long before buying jumps and dog-walks!  At the park, I encouraged her to walk along a seat on a bleacher, and she didn’t want to get down!  She learned the tire jump with a hula-hoop!  A blanket-over-table “tunnel” showed me she had no fear of enclosed spaces!

You wouldn’t think that a life spent training for and working in theater would transfer well to dog-training!  However, those of us in community theaters – especially the education departments of same – learn how to “make due and make it marvelous!”  with what we HAVE because there’s never enough money for what we’d really WANT!  This attitude and way of looking at things really helps in the dog world, too!  Instead of wishing to be in a different time or place, or waiting to start until we have everything needed, I’ve learned to DO what I can, with what I have, right where I am at the moment!  Otherwise I might never get started at all!

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Walking the Dog, part four

So tomorrow I’ll pick up another theme — I promise — but I just can’t leave this subject without discussing a “variation” on the basic dog walk that seems to be getting all too popular. I’m talking about folks letting their dogs run free, off-leash.  I mostly see this at the nearby county parks.  I understand how it is awfully tempting to give Rex that extra freedom.  First off, most dogs obviously LOVE to romp around a large space with grass and bushes and scent trails from all sorts of wild-life to explore!  Plus, Rex gets MORE exercise running about off-leash than he possibly could on-leash, right?  (And, of course, un-clipping his lead neatly side-steps any problems with poor leash manners!)

There are OTHER problems with letting Rex roam off-leash, though.  1) First off, it’s against the law!   It violates the leash laws current in most communities. In addition, all the parks around here POST at the entrance “The Rules” and always include dogs are to remain on trails and on leash!  If we ignore that, then why should folks obey the “no firearms” or “no alcohol” rules?  2)  It puts your dog in danger from following a scent or chasing an animal until he’s lost, runs across a road, or encounters an animal that will fight back.  3) It puts your dog and others in potential danger when they meet off leash.

Leash laws have been passed to make sure that handlers have control of their dogs at all times.  Unless Rex has a rock-solid, bomb-proof RECALL he is OUT of your control the second you un-clip the lead from his collar.  Most of our dogs will come when called inside, in their own yard, probably around the neighborhood – all familiar, rather hum-drum spaces.  When Rex goes to the PARK! – it’s a whole new ballgame!  Unless you’ve frequently trained in new spaces– practicing the Recall where Rex will have 20 million scents and sights and sounds that (I’m sorry) are far more interesting than you are — and unless he’s been 100% consistent in coming when called in those new places, then you cannot be sure he will obey at the PARK!

Certain breeds of dogs – mostly the hounds, sight or scent, should NEVER be off-leash except in a fenced-in area.  Their instincts are far too strong to CHASE!  Shelters get loads of Beagles, Harriers, and other Hound-mixes because the dog was off following some little critter and couldn’t find his way home before being picked up by animal control.  Other breeds like Huskies are also poor risks for the same reason – their prey drive just takes over!  And you can’t play down the danger cars pose to dogs running free. Even if you’re on a trail that seems far away from the roads – what about the parking lot?  If a dog scares up a bunny or deer it could take off in a straight line that might encounter a car far more quickly than you’d think.  I’m not willing to take that risk!

But, to me, the main reason to keep Rex on a leash at the park is that there are sure to be lots of other owners and dogs around, and you don’t know them (the person OR dog) or how they will react.   Nor do you know, with certainty, how Rex will react to those other dogs and people!   Most folks I encounter with off-leash dogs shout out, “Oh, my dog’s friendly!” as if this covers all possible contingencies!  Think about it, folks!  Just because YOUR dog is friendly doesn’t mean that all other dogs and people will be friendly towards your dog!

And allow me to take such “friendly” claims with a grain of salt!  To be on the safe side, I’ve taken to responding, “Oh?  Mine isn’t!” when they say that. This is not really true – Kita gets along very well with other dogs if I introduce her slowly — but that response is the only one I’ve found that will make other owners call their dogs back and put them on leash with no discussion.  Unfortunately, this might be giving Kita an underserved reputation.  Still, Kita, being big, black and a GSD is going to be the bad guy no matter what happens, so I’d rather nip possible problems in the bud.

To be frank, I’ve considered carrying mace or pepper spray to keep dogs at a distance just in case they don’t obey their owner – or if they run up with no owner in sight!  That happens a lot!  Not just in the park, but also when I’m walking in the new, fashionable neighborhoods that prohibit fencing!  Walking Kita and a boarding Spaniel and having a Rottie and a Pittie rush out to defend their territory – with only an 11-year-old boy to try and restrain them — is not an experience I’m eager to have repeated.

I’d much rather see folks “bending” the 6-foot limit part of the leash law and put Rex on a long-line.  Of course, you can buy a 30-foot lead at the pet-supply store, but you can make one much cheaper with a package of clothesline and a clip from the hardware store.  This would give Rex a lot more freedom, but allow you a “back-up plan” if he fails the Recall Review at an awkward moment!

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Walking the Dog, part two

Most cities, housing communities, and government-run parks currently have leash laws. They require any dogs (and sometimes, cats, too!) in a public space to be on a leash, in their handler’s control at all times. Most ordinances specify that the leash be no more than 6 feet long. I have seen some that allow 10 feet, but those aren’t common.

Just as there are many collar and harness choices for your dog, there are also many different types of leashes. Most are variations on the standard leash which has a buckle at one end and a loop for your hand at the other. These are made in many lengths, from 3 feet on up, and come in a variety of materials from nylon or cotton to leather, woven to be flat or round like a rope. Some have an extra loop several feet above the buckle to hold when keeping the dog at your side. But they all work the same way. You buckle the one end to the dog’s collar or harness and can give him more or less freedom depending on how much length you play out.

The second most common leash has become very popular because it makes “playing out” more or less leash automatic. Usually called a Retractable Leash, the rope is coiled up in a plastic holder with a grip for your hand and a “locking” button on top within easy reach of your thumb. A heavy spring makes the leash — usually 16 feet long — recoil back into the handle when the dog comes closer to you eliminating loops of tangling cord.  In theory, the locking button allows the Retractable Leash to do the job of a standard leash by putting the brakes on the spring and fixing the leash at any length desired.

If the Retractable Leash sounds too good to be true – well I think it is! There have been many cases of dogs being hit by cars because of the locking button failed to engage — either equipment and/or operator error.  Despite manufacturer claims, locking the leash off at 6 feet doesn’t give the flexibility and training opportunities of a standard leash.  That big ole plastic grip really gets in the way, so the leash can’t be used to reinforce commands using only one hand – necessary to deal with treats and/or a clicker with the other!  The necessarily thin rope used in them can quickly wrap around the dog’s leg or neck, other dogs’ legs/necks, (or yours or another handler’s) and do damage from rope burns to lacerations before you can untangle everybody.  In addition, the springs inside (especially in those designed for the larger breeds) are of necessity very heavy-duty and if the buckle or collar loop should fail, the recoiling leash whipping back into the holder could also do damage!

Unfortunately, this means Retractable leashes despite their automatic leash-handling function aren’t ideal for “auto-pilot” walking.  The handler really needs to focus on the dog and the leash and be aware of what’s going on, ready to engage the locking mechanism or avoid a tangling situation.  In the Animal Planet documentary, GLORY HOUNDS, I noticed them being used in for Military Working Dogs on patrol overseas.  This would be a great application, as the soldier-handler’s job is to be aware of what’s going on and anticipate problems.  The recoil spring would take up slack in the leash allowing the soldier-handler to keep his other hand free, because the MWD is well-trained and the leash isn’t being used to reinforce commands.

Yes, a Retractable Leash works for military dogs because they’re already well-trained, but I don’t recommend them to my clients.  The main reason is because it’s not a training leash and can’t be used as one — because it can only be used one way.  And that brings up another BIG problem.  The number one complaint clients make is that their dog pulls on the leash.  With a Retractable Leash, the dog is REWARDED (by getting more line) whenever he pulls against the pressure of the heavy spring.  So, those leashes actually TEACH a dog to PULL!  In addition, if you attach one to a Gentle Leader or other head-collar, it creates constant pressure on the dog’s nose – totally sabotaging what the head-collar is designed to do — encourage a dog to stop pulling to RELIEVE pressure on his nose!

There’s really no substitute for a standard leash in training.  They make a good taking-out-for-a-potty-break leash if you don’t have a fenced-in yard.  After a dog has learned to walk nicely on leash, it usually doesn’t hurt to use a Retractable Leash on walks – though still not attached to a Gentle Leader or other head-collar!  However, be aware that they also violate the letter of leash laws which restrict dogs to only 6 feet or so of freedom – not 16!

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Known by the Nose

It’s common knowledge that a dog’s sense of smell is much better than a human’s. The scent receptors in a dog’s nose would almost fill a sheet of typing paper while ours fit on a postage stamp. I’ve heard estimations that a dog’s scenting ability is anywhere from a few thousands to a million times better than that of  homo sapiens.

It seems like scientists could be a bit more precise than that! After all that’s quite a range of possibilities! I’m sure one of the reasons it’s so big is that not all dogs have the same ability. Shorter-snouted dogs are less gifted in the number of receptors whereas long-nosed dogs like Beagles and German Shepherds have more. The Sultan of Smelling is, of course, the Bloodhound that has been bred for centuries to track and trail.

Just what does does that mean, anyway? — that dogs smell “better” than humans? Surely it’s not all about how many sensors, but how they are used. Scientists have discovered the percentage of a dog’s brain used to interpret scent information is about 40 times bigger than ours. So, while our brains are designed to interpret and store visual data, a dog’s is used mainly to process information from the nose.

A dog’s vision is quite poor, not seeing details, but mostly perceiving shapes. That’s why dogs will bark at familiar people who are wearing a different hat, or big bulky coat or have a backpack slung on their back. The outline is different than the remembered outline, so the dog treats the person as a stranger. It’s only after the dog catches the person’s scent that recognition sets in. Toss a treat to a dog, and if it falls to the ground, the dog obviously stops LOOKING for it and starts SMELLING it out. Walking our dogs is often a start-and-stop experience as we wait for them to read the “pee-mail!” Clearly all dogs depend far more heavily on the information their nose “knows” than people do.

Our memories are full of pictures and anchored by language. Dogs, who do not have language as we do, and for whom vision is a lesser sense, must have memories made up of smells. Think about that for a moment — remembering a place you’ve been by the aromas there. Not a visual map of landmarks, but a grid of odors, a puzzle of perfumes, reeks, tangs, whiffs and fragrances. I can’t begin to conceptualize it. I imagine someone with Synesthesia, who might “see” smells as colors or hear numbers as musical pitches might find it a bit easier to visualize.

See, even our language reflects how the human brain thinks: “visualize” because that is how our brains process information. In our “mind’s eye!” Do dogs think with a sort of mental nose?

I find it fascinating that such a familiar, well-know, well-loved animal that lives in my home with me can be so alien. Not “alien” in a creepy, scary, inferior way, but a mind-blowingly interesting and awe-inspiring way. So different from us, and yet we presume to “know” what a dog is thinking!

How can we think that we really understand what is going on in a dog’s mind? It seems we’re only guessing according to our human-visual bias. We’re really imagining what another human might be thinking in the same circumstances.  Unless we really know what our dog’s nose knows, those guesses won’t be very accurate.

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Food overcomes Fear

My big, bad GSD mix, Kita, is afraid of the refrigerator.  Not all refrigerators.  She’s terrified of the one in our current home, a bit wary of a friend’s fridge, extremely nervous around one in a cottage we visit, and I don’t remember her showing any reaction at all to the appliance in our old house.  Kita doesn’t go to see anybody else, so my sample is limited, but it seems that the ice-maker is what sets her off.

I believe the refrigerator in our old home was the first Kita had ever encountered, since all her reactions pointed to never having been inside a house before coming to live with me.  That model was very basic, no ice-maker or anything high-tech like that. Then we moved to this house.  The refrigerator had an ice-maker, but it wasn’t hooked up to a water line until I had that done nearly 6 months after we moved in.  Kita didn’t seem to pay any attention to the fridge at all, until it started making ice.  This is speculation, because I don’t remember any huge traumatic incident, but I’m willing to bet that Kita was walking past it when some ice dropped in the bin, and that startled her.

The noise is quite loud and in our galley-style kitchen Kita must walk right past the refrigerator to go outside.  At first, I noticed that she trotted through the kitchen, but wasn’t nervous at other times.  Soon, Kita began to anticipate ice-dropping by reacting with “airplane ears” and panting to the gurgles and burbles of the ice-maker.   The cottage refrigerator that also makes her very nervous has the same system and makes many of the same noises, whereas the high-tech, well-insulated appliance (delivering ice to the door) in my friends’ home is very quiet.  Kita began avoiding the cottage kitchen, but would pass the quiet fridge with no more than a few doubtful looks.

At first, Kita’s antics to avoid the dreaded Refrigerator Monsters seemed funny and not a serious problem.  Would that I knew then what I know now!  A dog’s phobias and fears, if left unaddressed, deepen and worsen with time.  Now, after many years of the fear settling in, Kita goes through a ritual every time she must pass our refrigerator:  hesitating, looking at it, taking one step, then looking again, backing up a step, putting out a front  paw, making a couple of bobbles in the direction she wants to go as if she’s revving up her courage, and at last trotting past — fast!  If something (even the cat) is blocking her “only possible” path along the cabinets on the far side of the kitchen, she can’t bring herself to take the plunge.  If someone steps in the way as she’s trotting through, Kita puts on the brakes, skids and is obviously terrified.

I know she’s panicking in that situation because she will refuse to take a treat. That is a bench-mark used almost universally by dog trainers to test a dog’s stress level.  A dog that is able to accept and eat a treat, while it may be showing signs of extreme nervousness, is not experiencing a traumatic level of anxiety.  Kita won’t even touch a treat held under her nose until she is in her safe zone — which is apparently off the kitchen’s tile floor and onto the carpet of a room on either side.

Kita used to eat her dinner in the middle of the kitchen, not right next to the fridge, but within a few feet.  Gradually, she needed her bowl placed further and further away until it was actually on the carpet.  Then darkness began exacerbating the fear.  Soon, Kita absolutely refused to pass through the kitchen if a light wasn’t on.  I could kick myself now, but it wasn’t until she’d reached that point that I realized what a problem had developed.

Here’s the interesting thing — if anyone stands at the opposite end of the kitchen WITH A TREAT — Kita will trot through without her whole “ritual.”  One quick look to make sure the Refrigerator Monster is in its corner and she goes!  This is another universal in dog training — a dog accepts anything that brings or is connected with food. Food can be used to overcome Fear.

It’s also axiomatic that the higher the food’s “value” (in the dog’s eyes) the more fear the dog is willing to overcome for it!  A dog will do a lot more for a bite of steak, or gravy than for her kibble.  Most dogs will even be willing to put up with a bit of nervousness for just their usual boring bowl, as long as we don’t ask too much at one time.

Especially when a dog has reached the level of panic that Kita experiences, progress is very slow.  I’m using both her dinner and special treats to encourage Kita to overcome her fears.  We are gradually moving her food bowl closer, so she is now eating with the bowl on the tile.   Each day, I move the bowl to a different place — sometimes closer, sometimes backing away a bit from the Refrigerator Monster.  Sometimes in her “only possible” safe path, sometimes on the other side in the scary zone!  If I have a special treat, like some broccoli scraps (go figure, the dog loves cooked broccoli!) she must come in the kitchen to get them!  Kita hasn’t accepted food with all four feet on the kitchen tile, yet, but we’re getting there.

Today, for the first time, Kita pushed a bowl she was licking along the tile until it was in front of the refrigerator.  She knew what she was doing and gave the boxy beast some doubtful looks!  But she kept on licking until every bit of gravy was gone.  It’s going to take some time, but she’s on her way!

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An-ti-ci-pa-a-tion…

Several years ago (OK, so it was many years ago!) there was a TV commercial for some brand of ketchup.  The visual was a hamburger with a bottle of the red stuff poised  to pour over it.  The ketchup was moving ve-ry sloooow-ly as somebody sang Carly Simon’s “Anticipation!”  The point was that the best things in life (including ketchup, apparently) are worth waiting for and appreciated more when we look forward to them.  It’s a philosophy that most humans try to espouse — even if not over ketchup.  Dogs don’t!

Dogs aren’t really into savoring the moment.  Dogs want to get from A to B as fast as possible — and are always looking for short-cut C!  So they commonly produce an activity labeled “anticipation” by dog trainers, but utilizing an alternate meaning of the word: to act in advance.

Just like the know-it-all who interrupts mid-sentence with smug expectancy of what you’re going to say, dogs take a pinch of previous experience and jump to conclusions!  When I was a kid, we had a GSD who, upon seeing anyone pick up a treat, would Sit, Offer a Paw, Lie Down, flop over in a Dead Dog, Roll Over, then pop back up and grin in expectation of her reward.  She’d do all this without a cue being spoken and faster than it took me to type it all.

Yes, it was very cute, and yes, she was a very smart dog.  However, this wasn’t necessarily a display of her “smarts,” just a dog’s impatience to cut to the chase.  (It also displayed a defect in the way we trained her — always asking for behaviors in the same order, but that’s another subject…) All dogs do this sort of thing.  Once they make the connection between Behaviors (A) and Rewards (B) they want to get there as quick as they can and so THROW a behavior (one or more) out there, hoping they’ve guessed right and that will be the Shortcut (C) that gets them to their desired goal.

Another way of looking at it is Fifi considers her owner to be sort of a Vending Machine stocked with Doggie Treats.  So, when Fifi wants one, she starts doing her tricks, hoping that one of them will push the right button to make a treat drop.  This works pretty well for Fifi!  It’s soooo cute and it makes us laugh and because the dog has “worked” for it, we give her the treat.

Unfortunately, this makes Fifi less inclined to listen for a cue the next time!  Yet, it’s amazingly easy to persuade Fifi to listen.  First, we have to stop rewarding behavior we didn’t ask for.  Yes the dog “worked” but if your employee shredded a document instead of filing it, you wouldn’t reward him, would you?  So, if your dog SITS when you were going to ask for a DOWN, she shouldn’t get a treat.  Even if she SITS before you were going to ask for a SIT, she can’t really read your mind and still shouldn’t be rewarded.  Reward obedience, not just behavior.

Instead, no matter what trick Fifi “throws” at you, ask for a DIFFERENT one.  If she keeps on trying one behavior after another without listening, simply turn away.  With your back to her, wait for 10-15 seconds.  By doing this you are taking 1) your attention, 2) the treats, and 3) the opportunity to earn those treats away!  The Vending Machine’s buttons have left the building! That will make Fifi feel like listening!  If she scoots around to face you, simply keep turning your back until the 15 seconds is up, then turn around and try again.

For most dogs, this does the trick.  It’s like magic!  Fifi suddenly concentrates on what you’re SAYING because you’ve taken away the rewards of guessing — i.e. the short-cut!  You may have to repeat the turning-away trick several times, even in the same training session.  Certainly, you’ll need to do it every once in a while in different training sessions.  Sometimes the smarter the dog and the more willing to work, the more they try to anticipate, especially if we aren’t going fast enough for them.

Anticipation occurs all the time with dogs.  Move her leash from the counter to its proper hook next to the door and Fifi frolics, clearly expecting a walk!  Looking through your purse jingles the car keys and Fifi runs in her crate with sad, reproachful eyes.  Dogs cope with their world by being able to predict what’s going to happen.  They learn that A happens before B and jump to conclusion C.  Most times, as in these examples, Fifi’s reactions are cute and harmless.  The only time ANTICIPATION becomes a problem is when we undercut our own authority by rewarding Fifi for behavior we didn’t ask her to do.

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