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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Visitors. Part III

If you have a dog who doesn't like visitors or who gets over stimulated by visitors, here are some options:

Desensitizing Touching

Helping a dog learn how to be touched

Visitors Part II

First I'd start with management, stress reduction, relaxation and treating the whole dog.
More details here:

Then I'd work on some training/obedience. Decide what you want the dogs to do instead of what you don't want.
Sit when visitors arrive? Run to Mat? Run to crate? Grab a toy, etc..  Teach the desired behavior during relaxed times when no visitors are there.

Then I'd work on visitors with one dog at a time. Starting with someone that they know and like - roommate, spouse, best friend etc..
You can use techniques from Grisha's Stewart's Behavior Adjustment Training or Leslie McDevitt's "Control Unleashed"
Or just plain ol counter conditioning - starting with one dog at a time and staying below threshold.
Teach what you what you want the dog to do as the visitor arrives (after you've taught it alone)

After each dog is performing well separately with known people, then you can put them together.

When you are ready to work with less known visitors, separate the dogs and start from the beginning. For unknown folks it is probably best to start outdoors - far away enough from the person so that dog becomes comfortable. Once the dogs are comfortable outdoors (could take days, weeks or months), then bring that person indoors. Have the person walk in, then the dog.    Ask the dog for the behavior you desire while the visitor does absolutely nothing.

If that goes well, you can start acclimating the dog to visitor movements
visitor lifts a pinky, YOU toss a treat
visitor raises hand (arms still), You toss a treat
visitor raise arm, you toss treat
visitor pretends he is about to get up but doesn't, you toss treat
and so on.

Do this with one person at a time, one dog at a time. Until each dog is comfortable. Then put the two dogs together

You might have to back this up even further by just acclimating the dogs to knocks and doorbells. 

While you are doing this, keep visitors to an absolute minimum.  Meet friends at their place or a  coffee shop or something. If you must have scary visitors before you have acclimated them to visitors, teach them how to relax in a  room by themselves. When visitors are due to arrive, have them call so you have time to calmly put the dogs away.  Tell visitors to not ring the doorbell or knock. Just calmly let them in while the dogs are put away.

More on visitors

Be sure that You always give treats and not the visitors

Friday, November 22, 2013

Training Classes

A. When a pet guardian should consider NOT taking group classes (Private sessions with a highly skilled trainer might be in order in certain cases)  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Trigger Stacking

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing goes right.  You wake up late, then get stuck in traffic, then spill coffee on yourself, then the boss yell's at you.  You finally make it home. One of the kids accidentally spills something and you yell at her like she just wrecked your car or something.  Normally you wouldn't react so strongly, but with all the other things piled on to your day, you just snapped.

Adoption Counseling

We've already talked about how to find potential adopters and preparing pets for adoption.

Before sending your foster to his/her new home, help the new pet parents make the transition easier for the new family member.

Preparing Pets for Adoption

We've already talked about how to market your adoptable pets.  But we should actually get pets ready for adoption before we start marketing them:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dogs Who Aren't Treat Motivated

From the mailbag:
Two of my dogs are not treat motivated in public places.  I use hot dogs and pet botanics at home occasionally and they devour it with enthusiasm.  But in public they are too nervous.  Because of this I pretty much only take them to the vets and car rides where we do "drive thru" errands only.  I'm nervous about exposing them to too many people if I'm not able to give them treats to create positive experiences for them. I know they are nervous and don't want them to be placed in a position to snap or bite someone.

What would you recommend for dogs who are not treat motivated in public places?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Classical Conditioning

From the mailbag: I've always wondered... Do dogs that love car rides change if they've been in a car that's been in an accident? Thanks again.