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As a trainer, I never discourage dogs from barking to alert you someone is at the door. In fact, I think alert-barking is useful because it lets the person at the door know you have a dog (which could be discouraging if an uninvited knocker has ill intentions). However, some dogs become so excited by the doorbell that it is extremely difficult to calm them, much less get them to hold a sit-stay so you can safely let your guests in.
Few things fray the nerves more than a dog that barks incessantly for attention. In fact, constant yapping ranks up there with soiling carpets and dismantling sofas in the amount of frustration it causes owners.
To beat incessant barking, you must be consistent and patient. It may even become necessary to purchase some earplugs. But if you set firm boundaries and insist upon them, your dog will learn that barking no longer accomplishes his goal – your attention.
Humans need to feel connected to others, and we sometimes bond as deeply with our dogs as we do with those of our own species. However, the flavors of human-canine bonding can vary wildly. On one end of the spectrum are those who fall in love with dogs based on their looks, personality or intelligence. On the other end are those who become attached to dogs in order to fill the holes left by emotional wounds. There probably are as many variations of this bond as there are dog owners, and any variation can be unhealthy if proper consideration is not given to providing for the dogs' needs. So, what do dogs need from us?
For tens of thousands of years, humans have bred dogs to accentuate characteristics that are useful for us and eliminate traits we dislike. That is why dogs integrate so easily into our families and are called “man's best friend.” They can help us navigate streets if we cannot see, pick up the phone for us if we cannot reach it, hunt with us, herd our livestock, guard our homes, play sports with us and be loyal friends when we have had a lousy day.
Science regularly sheds light on what we have suspected all along: dogs are brilliant at deciphering our facial expressions, body language and verbal communication. They can follow the point of our finger, which even chimpanzees struggle to do. Sometimes it seems they understand us in an almost human way.
But what does this have to do with training dogs and dealing with behavior issues?
UPDATE:Lucky successfully completed his Level One Obedience Training and was promptly adopted by a very nice family with another black Labrador about Lucky's size. They consider themselves (in their own words) "lucky to have Lucky." A special thanks to the woman who relinquished him. It is sometimes too easy to pass judgement, but it takes a good person to do what is best for a dog.
I find great satisfaction in my work as a dog trainer in Denver, Colorado. There are many things about my job that make me feel like my time has been well-spent.
For example, helping a dog with severe behavior problems stay in its home makes my day worth the hours I spend on I-25. So does watching the human-canine bond grow between my clients and their dogs. However, one of the things I enjoy most is training a raw dog (that is, a dog that knows nothing at all) and watching him grow into a great companion animal for some lucky adopter.
After seeing their dogs make progress during training, clients sometimes confess to me with a sense of relief that they previously thought their dogs were dumb. Typically, they had equated their dogs' behavior problems and lack of responsiveness to obedience commands as deficiencies in their dogs. It is understandable; if a human just stared at you when you told him to sit down, or if he repeatedly peed on your floor despite multiple corrections, you might come to a similar conclusion.
When a client asks me how far I think they should take their dog's training, I find myself in a slightly awkward situation. On the one hand, I am a dog trainer and have some well thought out reasons for giving dogs as much training as they can handle. On the other hand, I am a business man and offer several sequential training packages designed to take a raw/green dog and bring him all the way to off-leash reliability.
All dogs need an outlet for their energy, and a couple walks per day usually will suffice. However, some dogs seem to have an endless amount of energy, regardless of how much activity and attention you give them. These dogs usually are prone to mischief and require a more thoughtful training and management approach than the average dog. If this sounds like your dog, the solution is right in front of your nose. More accurately, the solution is your dog's nose.
Some dogs seem to have an endless supply of enthusiasm for particular activities. They may play fetch until your shoulder is out of joint or play tug until you have rope burns on your hands. Other dogs quickly get bored with the things you wish they would enjoy.
Their lack of interest could indicate a poor genetic predisposition, suppressed drives due to previous training or corrections, or a host of other issues. Regardless, it usually is possible to train a dog to become more enthusiastic.
Here are a few tips for convincing your dog that fun activities are ... well, fun!
In previous articles, we discussed the causes of fearfulness in dogs, appropriate ways to manage scared dogs, and the need for developing a slow-but-steady, systematic approach to helping dogs overcome fear towards humans. In this article we will discuss a tried and true way of dealing with other manifestations of fearfulness.