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AHS Dog Training Tips
Common sights, sounds and activities can often cause your well-behaved pup to turn into a frantic furry friend. Debbie McKnight, Manager of AHS’ Behavior Programs, shares a few tips on how you can train your dog to handle these tricky situations. Barking when the doorbell rings Many dogs act like the doorbell is a cue to bark, but you can teach your dog that the doorbell is a cue to come to you instead. The easiest way to do this is to know when the doorbell will ring – either because you send someone out to ring it, or if your dog responds to a doorbell ringing on TV, you can record it. Have your dog on a leash near you and have some high-value treats, like hot dogs or cheese. With your dog within arm’s reach, ring the doorbell and then immediately feed your dog a couple of treats. If he barks before you get the treats to him, that’s ok. Keep repeating this step (ring bell, give treat) until you see your dog start to turn towards you in anticipation of treats when the bell rings. Jumping up on people during greetings Most dogs jump on people because they want attention. To teach them a new greeting, the dog needs to get attention when they do a more appropriate behavior – usually ‘sit.’ If you’ve tried teaching your dog to sit when they approach someone but they are too excited to listen, you can try a different method. As the dog approaches, have someone toss a treat on the ground a couple of feet in front of them. With repetition, the dog will start to anticipate the treat on the ground and will look down rather than jump up. This interrupts the dog’s excitement and it’s easier to ask him to sit before he gets any attention. Pulling on their leash There are a number of ways to teach a dog to walk politely on a leash and it’s best to meet with a trainer to see which method will be the most effective and fastest for your particular dog. Most dogs generally walk faster than humans and they want to get to interesting things in a hurry. If you allow them to pull you to the item or smell of interest, you may be reinforcing pulling on leash. One training tool that works for the majority of dogs is the Easy Walk Harness. This harness has a leash attachment in the front which provides a sort of “power steering” to help control the dog. No matter which method you choose, reinforcing polite walking with rewards is the best way to teach the dog not to pull. Did you know AHS offers training classes and private training lessons for dogs and puppies? Our classes, taught by certified trainers, can help turn your dog into the best-behaved pet on the block. For more information, visit our Dog Training page. Debbie McKnight, AHS Manager of Behavior Programs, CPDT-KSA, has a Master’s Degree in Behavior Analysis as well as 15 years of training and behavior experience. Debbie is the proud pet parent of a 2-year-old German Shepherd, who she describes as “not perfect yet.” Her German Shepherd agrees.