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Carrie in Texas asks...

This question is about: Pulling on the Lead

This week's question comes to us from Carrie M. in Texas. She has a one-year-old male pit bull/mastiff mix that pulls when on leash. She asks: "Can you suggest a proper collar to use when I walk my dog? I have a gentle lead collar and it seemed to help in the beginning, but he is so massive now and strong that this collar doesn't help much anymore."

G’day Carrie,

The abundance of collars, head collars, and harnesses that are available for sale indicate that the concern you have with walking your dog is very common. While devices may help, their primary purpose is to make the dog uncomfortable when he is pulling on leash, or to give the handler more leverage in controlling the dog’s movements. We believe that teaching a dog to walk at heel is about educating the dog and handler the proper methods to teach a dog that pulling when on leash is not a desirable behavior.

Training starts well before the leash and collar are attached to the dog. Teaching your dog without the leash attached, to instead of charging ahead, follow you through the house, when answering the door, going in and out of doors and up and down stairs, all help lay the foundation of teaching your dog to not pull on leash.

Once your dog learns to follow you rather than rush ahead of you in the house, you can then progress to the yard. Attach the leash and collar and start walking. If he rushes ahead, simply change direction until he starts to realize that he should be following your direction instead of the other way around.

All dogs should follow instruction because they trust and respect the person giving the instructions, not because of any impending pain or fear. This is especially important when working with a large, powerful dog or multiple dogs. Having enough leverage with multiple dogs or large powerful dogs is not always possible. Therefore, the dogs must choose to walk properly. Being patient and teaching your dog to walk properly in a controlled environment will make for more pleasurable walks in the future and enhance the bond between the two of you.

If you have further questions, please contact your local Bark Busters trainer.

Tim asks...

This question is about: Pulling on the Lead Puppy Management Toileting

Tim Miller - 9-week-old male boxer, Tucker: "Hello, I am having a communication issue with my little boxer. Granted we have just had him for over a week and he is still adjusting, but he doesn't seem to be comprehending housetraining. He doesn't seem to like to go outside and he also does not like walking on a leash. Any thoughts on what we might be able to due to help the little guy along?"

G’day Tim,
Congratulations on your new puppy. Communication is key in building your relationship with Tucker. Puppies don’t have a long attention span, so short learning interactions work better. To get Tucker used to his leash, pop it on him during activities that he likes, such as feeding or playtime, so that he starts to experience the leash in a good way. ??When taking him outside to go potty on the leash, crouch down so that you look inviting to him and encourage him to come to you in a nice light voice, such as “good puppy.”
Remember that he is a pup and mistakes will happen when housebreaking him. Tucker’s bladder is small, and he will likely need to go potty several times throughout the day, including the middle of the night. Following is a guide of the times that he most likely will need to go potty:
1.    Before going to bed for the night
2.    As soon as he wakes up
3.    After a nap during the day
4.    After eating
5.    After exuberant play
6.    After you return home from an outing
If you have Tucker inside with you, be aware where he is at all times. If Tucker disappears from your view, he is likely to get up to mischief like toileting or chewing. Puppies should be confined to a sleeping area, preferably a crate that is just large enough for them to turn around and sleep in.
If you follow these simple steps you should see immediate improvement in Tucker’s toileting and leash behavior. Remember, do not hesitate to contact your local trainer, who can come to your home and teach you one-on-one!

Paul asks...

This question is about: Hyperactivity

My dog constantly nips and bites at my wife. Not in a mean way but as he grows he is becoming stronger and it is hurting her. When we tell him to stop just keeps coming back for more as if we are playing, and it gets to the point where we have to put him in his cage. How should we respond to him and why does he choose not to listen to anything we do to him?

G’day Paul,

While play biting may be acceptable to dogs, we are not covered in fur and don’t have loose skin to protect us. It also can be disconcerting to you and your wife, visitors and small children.
If this behavior is not curbed soon it could become a serious issue in the near future.
A couple of suggestions to help minimize the likelihood of further incidences: Have your wife spray a taste deterrent, such as Grannick’s Bitter Apple, on her hands and let Harley sniff or lick them. Harley’s reaction should be to back away from her hands. Do this three to four times a day for a couple of weeks until he gets the message.
If he persists, have your wife freeze when he starts to become playfully aggressive. Dogs respond to movement; if we stop moving, this tends to make them stop what they are doing. Your wife should also get into the habit of doing some obedience training with Harley on a daily basis. Having him walk to heel and sit/stay with distractions is a great way to engage with him and have him use his brain, and it will enhance his respect for her leadership.

If you are still having issues, please contact your local Bark Busters trainer for assistance.

Brooke in Alabama asks...

This question is about: Aggression to a dog or other animal or where the dog is aggressive to the owner or a stranger Puppy Management

This week's question comes to us from Brooke C. in Alabama. Brooke has a Pomeranian named Flynn who is only 8 weeks old. She states: "I just got my puppy however he will growl and try to bite me I'm not sure why he does it but I was wondering if you had a way to teach him to stop."

G’day Brooke,

While it is a little unusual for a puppy of this age to act aggressively, particularly to humans, dogs can act aggressively for a number of reasons. Identifying the reason for the behavior is the first step to resolving it. For example, acting aggressively to guard food could be the result of a dog from a large litter having to compete for access to food and essentially survival. The act of growling and attempting to bite could also be the result of attempts to play and compete for authority with siblings. If we consider that growling is a form of communication that a dog will use to influence another’s behavior, how we respond can influence future interactions. I cannot emphasize enough that we want to build a relationship based on mutual trust and respect, and responding incorrectly can damage the relationship and influence future interactions in a negative way. That is why we do not believe in a “one-size-fits-all” approach to dog training.

In some cases the growling and attempting to bite could be considered a chasing game. If that is the case, one of the most effective actions to take is to freeze the action and vocally correct the dog in a stern voice. Look for a submissive response and praise softly if the dog stops the behavior. Another option could be a small spray bottle with plain water to discourage biting and growling in conjunction with a stern vocal correction.

As you are able to establish leadership with Flynn by being calm and consistent, you should see a reduction in unwanted behaviors.

Be sure to consult a training professional if you are not seeing improvement quickly.

Bark Busters is the World’s Largest Home Dog Training Company with nearly 240 locations in the United States as well as locations in 9 other countries.

Jean in Massachusetts asks...

This question is about: Other

This week's question comes to us from Jean D. in Massachusetts. Jean has a five-year-old female Rottweiler who has to be sedated to have her nails trimmed. Jean asks: "We have had Rudy for one year and she has some issues. You cannot touch her feet. To clip her nails, she needs to be sedated because you cannot muzzle her. Any suggestions? Do you train in Massachusetts?"

G’day Jean,

Having had a five-year-old female Rottweiler who would not allow us to touch her paws as a puppy, we are sympathetic to your situation.  There may be a number of reasons for a dog to be sensitive to nail trimming or having her feet touched or examined: a previous trauma involving nail trimming or grooming, general sensitivity of the feet, lack of trust or respect for the person attempting to trim her nails.  In any case, since we cannot do anything to change the past, it is important to stay focused on moving forward.  As a starting point, it is essential that you develop a relationship based on mutual trust and respect with Rudy. Once the relationship is in place, you can begin a desensitization regimen to get her accustomed to having her feet touched. Sometimes the use of a therapeutic wrap or Thunder Shirt® can provide a measure of comfort in stressful situations. It is important that you begin slowly because any attempts to forge ahead before she is ready will be a setback and diminish the level of trust she has for you.
By changing her association with the nail to a favorite treat, you will slowly and surely desensitize her to the clippers. Bring out the clippers, show them to her and give her a treat that she really loves. Once she takes the treat, put the clippers away. Do this several times a week until she starts focusing more on the treat than the clippers. As she becomes more relaxed and trusting, start to touch her nails with the clippers without actually trimming.

With patience and persistence, you should be able to recondition her to accept nail trimming. 

Bark Busters is the world’s largest In home dog training company with nearly 240 locations in the United States as well as locations in 9 other countries. Visit the Bark Busters home page and insert your zip code beneath the Fetch a Trainer line on the upper right corner to be directed to the trainer who services your area.

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