On Leash Greetings

Many otherwise social dogs will behave aggressively toward other dogs while on leash with their owners.

Many dogs are less social than your own.

If your dog is straining at the leash as he approaches another dog, the other dog may perceive your dog’s body language as confrontational or intimidating, and vice versa.

A tight leash may telegraph stress to your dog, and cause him to be more on guard.

Safe and successful introductions between adult dogs are most likely when the following conditions are met:

a.  Both dogs are regularly socialized and have no history of aggression

b.  Both owners have voice control (at minimum) over their dogs in stimulating situations (i.e. there is a balance between stimulation and control)

c.  Both owners know their dogs well and are able to read canine signals

d.  Both dogs are able to approach on slack leashes with relaxed body language

e.  Both owners are relaxed and confident

f.   Owners have good communication with one another

g.  Neither dog is wearing any training equipment that might cause unintended corrections or inhibit natural body language

h.  Neither dog is on a taught leash or a retractable leash

i.   Both dogs have the freedom to walk away

j.   Owners have good communication with one another

Allowing unwelcome or uncontrolled introductions may undermine your leadership with your dog, who may trust your judgment less after being subjected to an introduction that goes badly.

If you are not certain your dog (or the other dog) is adequately prepared for a successful greeting, try walking in parallel with the other dog and owner at a safe distance, to see if both dogs relax a bit, to give them each an opportunity to take in the other dog’s body language, and to gauge your control over your dog (and the other owner’s control over his) in each other’s presence.

Holding the leash can cause the following issues:
– inhibits body language of the dog
– feed off of human emotions because of tension in the leash
– resource guarding of owner
– fearful dogs can’t escape
– frustrates playful dogs who may redirect on owner
– leashes tangle causing potential injury dogs/humans

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Taking Treats Nicely

Some exuberant puppies and older dogs will grab at food treats or chomp down on your hand while taking the treats.  Its worth the effort to teach your puppy to take food gently.

One effective method is to teach them to lick for treats using the “fist of Kong” method.

1. Put a smear of peanut butter or cream cheese in the palm of your hand.

2. Make a fist and then relax you hand and move your thumb so that there is an opening near your thumb. Your hand should be shaped like a kong.

3. Present your hand to the dog.

4. The dog will sniff and then use their tongue to get to the stuff in your fist. When the dog licks your hand, verbally praise your dog and then open your fist and allow him to take another lick or two.

After the dog gets the pattern, you can transition to solid foods, by using a peanut butter smear and also a treat in your hand. When he licks, open your hand and let him eat the treat. The treat should be presented in a open hand with the treat resting on your palm (don’t present a treat between the finger tips).

In the case where you can’t outlast the dog because he is chewing your fist, remove the fist, turn your back and walk away for 5 seconds. It might be necessary to tether the dog so that you can walk away. This doesn’t happen all that often because most dogs quickly learn that they can lick the peanut butter.

For the first rep, present an open hand – this makes it more likely that he’ll lick when you present the fist (and it tests whether he’ll be interested in the smear you are using).

Once you’ve started doing this, use the lick for treats method for delivering treats while doing other training. So when you deliver a treat when luring a sit, use the fist of Kong.

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Teaching Your Dog to Love Toys!

People will often lament that their dog is not “into” toys. Some dogs will not innately want to play with toys but you can create the desire within them with a little work on your part. If your dog is really motivated by food and has never shown any interest in toys, an option available to you is to take the motivating toy you have chosen to work with and simmer it in a pot of liver, or chicken broth to make it more attractive to your finicky hound. BE LEERY–if you choose to go this route, be very careful your dog is never given an opportunity to be alone with this wonderful smelling toy or THEY MAY EAT IT. The key to training old Rover to play with you and your toy is that you are SINCERELY interested in playing with your dog. If you are truly not having fun, your dog will quickly realize this and will be even more reluctant to join in. So be sure that you are both enjoying yourselves.

– Choose a throwable toy–i.e. one that you can toss, but won’t roll too much, like a tug rope, or a ball in a sock or a stuffed animal.
– Attach this toy to a light line, string or lead that is about 3 meters long.
– Put the toy in a drawer in your living area– somewhere else that is easily accessible at all times.
– Before each meal start to act a bit loony. While saying really fun things to your dog (like “oh no”, “what is it”, “do you want this”, “where’s your toy”, etc.) walk, dance, skip…basically act goofy while you make your way over to the special drawer.
– S-l-o-w-l-y open up the drawer while continuing to say nutty things to your dog.
– Stop talking momentarily (a pause for effect) and then pull the toy out of the drawer, like you just unexpectedly came across a $50 bill and run with it into the next room.
– Swing the toy above the ground while acting nutty to show the dog what a great time you are having with this fun toy.
– Dance around for a few more seconds and then toss the toy out like a lure on the end of a fishing pole.
– This whole process should only take 1-2 minutes the first time you do it.
– End your fun game, which didn’t include your poor dog, by running back to the drawer, your toy in tow snatching it up and quickly putting it back in the drawer with a phrase like “oh no, it’s gone”.
– Then proceed about your regular routine as if nothing out of the ordinary just happened.
– Repeat this 2-3 times a day. After the second day, allow the dog to get his mouth on the toy if he is really interested–but only for a few seconds. Pull on the line to try and steal it from him. Once you get it away (be sure you are taking it from him in a very informal, fun way), play with it a little more by yourself before quickly putting the toy away.
– Gradually progress, letting him play with you and the toy (tug of war style) a little more each time until you have a dog who loves to see the toy come out.
– Do not allow him to play with this toy at any other time except during this routine.
– Ideally, you should remove any other toys that are lying around the house during this time. Leave out only things your dog can lie down and chew on by himself, such as his chew bones.
– Before you know it you will have a dog who is as nutty about this toy as you apparently have been!
– This method works particularly well on new puppies.

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