Last Wednesday I was in Boynton Beach installing a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® system for a new client and his Brittany Spaniel, Dusty. My client lived on a road that got a lot of weekend traffic to the beach and he was worried that Dusty would bet hit by a weekend beachgoer. I put in a fence that went around the perimeter of his entire property and taught him how to easily and quickly instruct Dusty to “stay home”. Like most dogs, she got it very quickly and my client was positive that he was on his way to making sure Dusty was safe. As I was packing up, one of his “inquisitive” neighbors wandered over with a general dog training question. He said that his dog never wanted to roam off his front yard, but he was having some behavioral issues with him. His dog would do annoying things like jumping, stealing food, or bothering his guests and he would put him in a “time out” to fix it. He had been doing this ever since his dog was a puppy and it just wasn’t working.
My first question to the neighbor was to define what he meant by a “time out”. Well, he said, I normally just push her into another room for about half an hour when he jumps or steals food or leave him in there all day when I have guests over to the house.
I recognized the problem right away. His dog was doing things that were bothering him and he thought that his dog could understand that being sent away was a bad thing and it was the direct result of what was bothering his owner. Although we love our dogs and think they are the greatest companions in the world, they aren’t that smart. His dog had no idea what was going on and could never make the connection of a random act bothering the neighbor and being put in another room.
On top of that, the neighbor told me that the room where he would send his dog was the same place he fed him every day and the same place his dog would sleep every night. The issue was that his dog had no idea of the special circumstance of his being put in the room for misbehavior.
I explained to the neighbor that his actions would never teach his dog to stop doing those bad things because he was never teaching him what was right. Being put in a room that he was placed in several times a day with multiple activities occurring might not even be thought of as unpleasant to his dog.
He needed to create a “teaching experience” with his dog the moment that the dog did something wrong. In the same way that we might incorrectly answer a math problem at the black board and have our teacher immediately assist us in understanding the path to the correct answer, he must to the same thing with his dog. I proceeded to give him an example of what he could do.
One of the things the neighbor mentioned was his dog loved to beg and steal food at the table when they were having dinner. He needed to set up a situation where he could deliver a “teaching moment” to his dog regarding the “house rules”. I suggested that the “teaching moment” be that when they were having a meal at the table, his dog should not be under the table or immediately by table. I told him that a great and simple rule would be that when there was food on the table, his dog needed to stay back three to five feet from the table. I provided the following steps for his exercise:
- Gather some family members who will act as the “eaters of the food”. Explain to them that they need to keep their dog away from the table while eating. The distance should be about three to five feet away. Point out where that “line in the sand” will be.
- Have everyone sit down at the table. Have another family member have their dog on a leash at the other end of the room.
- Create an “alternative distraction” for their dog so that he can have a parallel activity during their meal. This could be feeding him near the table or placing a favorite toy near, but still away from the table.
- Place some food on the table and have the family member let go of the leash.
- If the dog approaches the table and gets inside the “line in the sand”, the nearest family member needs to stand up, face the dog, and sternly say “NO” in a low and forthright manner. If needed, that family member needs to direct the dog away to their “alternative distraction” by guiding him with the leash.
- Once their dog is away from the table, the family member should acknowledge the correct act by offering verbal praise such as a high toned “Good Puppy” and then calmly return to their chair. It is important that they return to their chair while always facing the dog. This creates a continuing visual message of “I mean it” to their dog.
- They should continue this exercise for about five minutes, moving their dog away from the table every time he encroaches their “don’t be here” area.
I suggested that they repeat this exercise once or twice a day for about a week or so. This will build up a clear and consistent rule with their dog that when it is meal time, he has something else to do. They have now taught him what is right in a way that he can understand instead of simply ignoring the issue.
When we understand that trying to solve a problem involves teaching and not ignoring, we are on the way to having a great dog. We encourage you to contact us with any dog training or dog fence issues by clicking Dog Fence Training Help Boynton Beach South Florida. Our direct phone number is (954) 424-0170. Find out more about Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® and having a well behaved and obedient dog at Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Boynton Beach South Florida. Robin and I are honored to have been your South Florida dog experts for over twelve years in Boynton Beach and across South Florida. Our products work great in keeping your dog safe and at home. We have trained nearly 4,000 dogs to be great and loving pets. Learn more concerning our Dog Obedience and Behavior Training by checking out Home Dog Training Boynton Beach South Florida.