Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Evaluating the Things We Don't "Love" About Our Dogs

(by Brianne Statz, CPDT-KA)

Five Things I Love About My Dogs:

1. Their infectious enthusiasm in greeting me when I come home, even if I’ve only been gone a
few minutes.

2. Watching them run, mouths wide open like they’re smiling, the picture of joyful.

3. Cuddle time – mentality, not size, makes a lap dog.

4. If I drop food on the floor, all I have to do to clean it up is whistle.

5. They’re just really freaking cute.

Five Things I Don’t Love About My Dogs:

1. Payton barks at other dogs and people going by the window.

2. They jump up when they’re excited (sometimes with very dirty paws).

3. Finley insists on stopping for a thorough interview of every single trash can if we walk on
garbage day.

4. Payton likes to race up the stairs, and doesn’t care who he has to cut off to get up or down as fast as possible.

5. They leave fluffy little fur clouds in every crevice of the house.

One thing that’s great about making a list of things I don’t like is that I can evaluate each one, and usually find a solution to help. Here are some examples:

1. Reward the behavior you want – For barking out the window, I spend some time watching out the window with Payton, and rewarding him for being quiet when someone goes by. He now will often just whine and look at me, rather than have a frenzied barking meltdown.

2. Reward an incompatible behavior – For jumping up, I taught the dogs “go to your bed”, and I can send them there to do sit or down stays until I am ready to greet them. I will also reward jumping nose touches out to the side, so they can jump, but not on me.

3. Foundation Skills – Leave it is a skill every dog should know well, and it’s perfect for this situation.

4. Self-control exercises – Asking Payton for a wait at the stairs gets me up and down without breaking a leg, and also strengthens his self-control.

5. Well, not everything can be fixed with training. That’s when I look at my list of things I love and decide they are worth it! :)

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