After a long and hectic day at work, you finally get to settle down on the couch with a hot drink and an episode or two of Judge Judy, but as soon as you get comfy you hear that unmistakable sound. Yep, you’ve forgotten your dog has an unbearable habit of scratching at your once clean and new-looking doors. While you could forgive him the first few times as he only wants to come and join you, now your patience is wearing thin, much like your doors.
You know the raised eyebrows the in-laws are going to give you when they step into your home and see that you and your partner live in a house where the dog rules. If the damage itself wasn’t bad enough, the sound isn’t the least bit comforting and the collection of paint under your dog’s nails and the dangers of splinters run high too. Enough is enough, you want to paint the doors for the final time this year.
The good news is training him to leave your doors alone is relatively straightforward. You will need to use obedience commands to discourage and to incentivize him to focus his energy elsewhere. You may also need to use a number of deterrents to help highlight that doors aren’t for scratching. This training will require patience, but if your dog is a puppy he should be receptive and respond quickly. If he is older and the habit is more ingrained, he may need several weeks to fully kick the habit.
Mastering this training will be essential not just for the health of your doors, but also for the health of your dog’s paws and for your sanity. You don’t want a hefty vet bill because he has picked up another splinter, or guests thinking your doors have been through a world war.
Before you begin your training campaign you will need to collect a few items. You will need treats or his favorite food to incentivize and reward him.
You will also need a quiet room, free from distractions but with a well-fitted door! For one of the methods below you may want to invest in food puzzles to help direct his attention elsewhere. If the scratching is a result of separation anxiety, you may want to consider pheromone dispensers to help soothe and relax him while you’re away.
Once you have stocked up on the above, just bring a can-do attitude and patience and you’re ready to get training!
pees on my funiture out of spite, beats on my door when outside
Hello Ty, First, I suggest crate training pup and crating pup when you cannot supervise or are not home. Since pup is older, you can adjust the potty times from the crate training method below, to be trips to go potty every 3-4 hours during the day (pup should be able to hold it 5-7 in the crate if you are gone to work all day most of the time, less at first, longer as pup gets used to it). After pup goes potty outside, you can give 2 hours of freedom out of the crate - before crating until the next potty trip at 3-4 hours. Crate Training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If he is marking to distribute scent and not as a potty training issue, the crate will only be half the battle though. During the 2 hours he is out of the crate between potty trips he will probably still try to pee to mark his scent - since the issue isn't needing to pee but wanting to "claim" things by peeing on them. To deal with that behavior, use the crate training method, but also keep him tethered to you while he is out of the crate between potty trips using a 6 or 8 foot leash. Have him wear a belly band - which is a sling/diaper for male dogs that catches urine, and when he tries to lift his leg to mark, clap your hands loudly three times. Use a cleaner than contains enzymes to remove the smell from any new or previous accidents - since lingering scent will only encourage more marking and only enzymes fully remove the smell. Look on the bottle for the word enzyme or enzymatic. Many (but not all) pet cleaners contain enzymes. The belly band will keep marking from being fun and successful for him and stop the spreading of the smell - which encourages more marking (and keep your things clean). Attaching him to yourself with the leash will keep him from sneaking off to pee uninterrupted, and clapping will make peeing unpleasant for him without it being too harsh. Reward him with treats when he potties outside so he understands that pottying outside in front of you is good, it's only inside where he shouldn't do it. If pup has shown any signs of aggression, I would work with a trainer in person to deal with that rather than tethering pup to yourself, unless pup is wearing a basket muzzle. If pup generally lacks respect for you but does not have issues with aggression, check out the article linked below, working on commands like Place, Down, Heel, and other structured obedience regularly to build respect gently. Again, only proceed under the supervision of a qualified trainer who specializes in aggression if pup has shown signs of that as well. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you As far as the door goes, spy on pup while they are outside. When you catch them sitting at the door nicely, open the door briefly and either let them in or toss a treat to reward calmness. When pup beats on the door, open it just a bit, tell pup Ah Ah calmly, then spray a small puff of air from an unscented air pet convincer at pup's side or front, and close the door again after. Repeat rewards for calmness and corrections and not letting pup inside yet, for banging. Only use unscented air - not citronella. Do NOT spray in the face. If the air is too intense for pup, spray from further away, and keep the correction brief with little additional attention being given. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog keeps scratching the door, and I don't see any method that includes positive reinforcement. Could you tell me another way?
Hello Kien, Most methods for this behavior include corrections, but if you are willing to be a bit creative, you can reward a good behavior - that when he does that good behavior he can't do the bad one at the same time - laying down is a good example of this. A dog cannot easily lay down and scratch a door at the same time. For door scratching, he is likely doing it to get your attention, so you need to reward him without giving him any attention while he scratches. If you have a fenced in yard with a door into the house and a window next to the door, that is a good spot to practice this,. You can also set up a camera to spy on him and slip a treat under the door (where he can't see you) when he lays down and is not scratching. Doing that is going to teach him to lay by doors though - just not to scratch on them while he does it. To practice the training at an outside door in a fence, crack open the window that leads outside enough for you to toss a treat through it. Pull the blinds down so that he can't see you through the window. Recruit an assistant to stand at the window inside and you go outside with Lucky. Tell Lucky to "Down" (if he doesn't know "Down" spend time teaching him that first). When he lays down, praise him and have your assistant toss a treat to him through the window - you want him to think that the treats come from the window and not you so that he will do this when you are not there. Practice this with your assistant for several days until he lays down by the door every time without being told to. When he will do that, at your next session, put Lucky outside and you stand by the window inside. He will likely scratch or bark at first - ignore it. Wait for him to lay down. When he lays down, reward him by tossing treats to him through the cracked window. If he never lays down, then you need to practice being outside with him and having an assistant for longer, and try the training by yourself again in a few days. For inside, under a door, recruit an assistant also. Go into the room with Lucky and tell him to "Down". When he lays down, have your assistant slip him a treat under the door - She can tell when to slip him a treat by listening to you praising him when he lays down or hearing his body hit the floor if he lays down hard. Practice the training until he will automatically lay down at the door every time, without you telling him to first. When he can do that, then set up a camera in the room where he is to spy on him (Skype or Facetime on mute from two phones or tablets work for a camera. A GoPro with the Live App, a video baby monitor, or a security camera will also work - other types of cameras work too but many people already have one of those options on hand). Leave him in the room by himself now, and quietly spy on him from the camera on the other side of the door. Ignore any scratching or barking. When he lays down and is not scratching on the door or barking, slip a treat to him under the door. Practice this until he consistently lays down by the door when you leave him alone, or until he leaves the door and goes somewhere else to lay down. Once he has learned to always lay by the door quietly without scratching, then when you leave him in a room alone, give him something rewarding to focus on so that he does not revert to scratching on the door again. A Kong toy stuffed with food, a Kong wobble toy that will throw pieces of his dog food out when he bumps it, a durable puzzle toy will with some of his dog food, or an automatic treat dispensing device like one of the ones I will talk about below - Pet Tutor or AutoTrainer. To avoid him laying down by the door or needing two people to train him, you can also purchase an automatic treat dispensing device and tell it from an App on your phone to give him a treat whenever you want it to. You can set this device up in another spot in the room instead of by the door, so that he will not learn to lay the door. To teach him with this device, you would start out in the room with him. You would tell him to "Down", then push the button on the app for the device to release a treat for him when he lays down - so that he thinks the device is rewarding him even when you are not there later. When he begins to automatically lay down near the device in hopes of a treat, then leave the room and watch him with the camera. Have the device give him a treat whenever he lays down quietly. You can also program the device to detect when he is being calm, such as not barking or staying in one spot for a while - hopefully laying down. Continuing to give him treats to reward him for being calm while he is alone will help him learn a long-term habit of generally settling down also. This device is probably the most effective option out of the positive reinforcement training options I mentioned, but the first two ways to train this are free (minus some treats) and automatic treat dispensing device can be expensive - although you can use it for other things too. AutoTrainer and Pet Tutor are two automatic treat dispensing devices on the market. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Wall, corners and door scratching/ pawing especially when left alone.
Hello Indrajeet, First, I highly suggest crate training pup to build independence, keep pup safe while you are away, and prevent the scratching when you aren't there to enforce training. Surprise method for crate training: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Second, work on surprising pup for the scratching. Leave the door with the door closed - like in a bedroom or room that pup would scratch to get in or out of. Wait quietly on the other side of the door. When you hear pup scratch, quickly open the door just enough to do the following, but not enough to let pup through. When you open the door, calmly tell pup "Ah Ah" and spray a small puff of air from a pet convincer at pup's chest or side (Do not use citronella, only the unscented air canisters, and do NOT spray in the face). After correcting pup calmly, close the door again, and wait for pup to either scratch again or stay quiet. Repeat the correction calmly without freeing pup each time they scratch - if pup persists more then 10 times, you will need to use a remote training collar for this so that you don't have to open the door to do it, but try the pet convincer first since there is less room for error there. When pup stops scratching and doesn't scratch for at least three minutes, open the door to let pup through as a reward for waiting patiently. As pup improves at this, gradually make pup wait longer without scratching before you let them through. Practice this often! This needs to be practiced proactively enough for it to become habit to wait quietly instead of scratch. I also suggest teaching pup the Out and Leave It commands, and following some of the same general guidelines that you would for a chewing issue - like confinement when not supervising, providing mental stimulation like puzzle toys and stuffed kongs in calm locations like a Place bed or crate, and teaching commands like Leave It. Chewing article: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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She is scratching the doggie door while we are gone and ripping it trying to get in. How can I stop her if I am gone? Are there preventative measures that won't deter her from using the door as she should?
Hello Savanah, Since you do not want to deter her from coming near the door, I suggest attaching something to the surface of the door that doesn't feel good to touch - such as sand paper, bubble wrap, something crinkly or any other odd texture that would feel uncomfortable against her paw. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I have recently taking in this Shar Pei and when I leave her she is scratching my door frame quite badly, barks at everything that walks past the window. I rehomed her as her owners said she never barks, never chews, she just eats and sleeps. I've had the complete opposite. I understand it's probably an anxiety issue however I'm living in fear that she will trash my house every time I leave. Are there any techniques that I can teach her? I can't catch her in the act to train her not to do it as she only does it when we are out. If this carries on I'll have to move her to another home
Hello Amanda, She needs to be crate trained to teach her how to settle in her new location. Crate training her and giving her a wonderful food stuffed chew toy can condition her to settle down while you are gone. When she has developed a long term habit of staying calm when you leave and chewing on her own toys in the crate, then you can try transitioning her out of the crate if you wish, by leaving her for fifteen minutes at a time and seeing how she does. If she does well, then you can increase that time to thirty minutes, then 45, then 1 hour, ect... If she doesn't do well, then she is not ready for the freedom yet. She needs to be crated for probably several months to create a long-term calm habit. Some dogs need less and are just transitioning, but if it's not simply transitioning, then I suggest crating for a few months before easing into more freedom. You can also set up a camera and use a remote training collar such as Mini Educator to deal with specific behavior issues, as well as provide her with something else to focus on, such as an Auto Trainer or Pet Tutor, but she honestly sounds like she needs to be given the structure and confinement of the crate with a food stuffed chew toy, to help her practice self-soothing, self-entertainment, and learn how to rest while alone, before she is ready to transition to more freedom. To introduce the crate follow the Surprise method from the article linked below; https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate https://www.solidk9training.com/sk9-blog/2013/02/21/separation-anxiety-im-not-seeing-it-at-my-place Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog has been scratching on the door and we just moved so they are all new doors any ideas of what I could do? P.S. my dog has separational anxity I know it is that I just don't know what to do.
Hello Adonica, Is the scratching only happening while you are away? If the scratching is happening only when you leave the house, then the separation anxiety needs to be addressed, which will involve crating him for a while. There are a couple of routes you can take with the separation anxiety. The first step is to work on building his independence and his confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into his routine. Things such as making him work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching him to remain inside a crate when the door is open. Change your routine surrounding leaving so that he does not anticipate alone time and build up his anxiety before you leave - which is hard for him to deescalate from, and be sure to give him something to do in the crate during the day (such as a food stuffed Kong to chew on); this is the general protocol for separation anxiety. It is gentle but can take a very long time for some dogs. Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work much quicker for many dogs. If you go this route, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using both positive reinforcement and fair correction. Who is extremely knowledgeable about e-collar training, and can follow the protocol listed below, to help you implement the training. Building his independence and structure in his life will still be an important part of this protocol too. First, check out this video from SolidK9Training on treating anxiety. It will give a brief over-view of treating separation anxiety more firmly. This trainer can be a bit abrupt with his teaching style with people but is very experienced working with highly aggressive, anxious, and reactive dogs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Make sure you are implementing what he teaches there in other areas of his life too. Second, purchase a remote electronic collar, e-collar, with a wide range of levels. I recommend purchasing E-Collar Technologies Mini Educator for this. If you are not comfortable with an e-collar then you can use a vibration collar (the Mini Educator is also a vibration mode) or unscented air remote controlled air spray collar. DO NOT use a citronella collar, buy the additional unscented air canister if the collar comes with the citronella and make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh). The vibration or spray collars are less likely to work though, so you may end up spending more money by not purchasing an e-collar first. The Mini Educator has very low levels of stimulation, that can be tailored specifically to your dog. It also has vibration and beep tones that you can try using first, without having to buy additional tools. Next, set up a camera to spy on him. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with your pup’s end on mute, so that you can see and hear him but he will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Next, put the e-collar on him while he is outside of the crate, standing, and relaxed. To learn how to put the collar on him, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Turn it to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if he responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning his head, moving his ears, biting his fur, moving away from where he was, or changing his expression. If he does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when he is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing his reaction at that level until he indicates a little bit that he can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Once you have found the right stimulation level for him and have it correctly fitted on him, have him wear the collar around with it turned off or not being stimulated for several hours. Next, set up your camera to spy on him while he is in the crate. Put him into the crate while he is wearing the collar and leave the room. Spy on him from outside. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear him barking or see him start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, push the stimulation button once. Every time he barks or tries to get out of the crate, stimulate him again. If he does not decrease his barking or escape attempts at least a little bit after being stimulated seven times in a row, then increase the stimulation level by one level. He may not feel the stimulation while excited so might need it just slightly higher. Do not go higher than three more levels on the mini-educator or one level on another collar with less levels right now though because he has not learned what he is supposed to be doing yet. The level you end up using on him on the mini educator collar should be low to medium, within the first forty levels of the one-hundred to one-hundred-and-twenty-five levels, depending on the model you purchase. If it is not, then have a professional evaluate whether you have the correct "working level" for her. If he continues to ignore the collar, then go up one more stimulation level and if that does not work, make sure that the collar is turned on, fitted correctly, and working. After five minutes to ten minutes, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back inside to the dog. Do not speak to him or pay attention to him for ten minutes while you walk around inside. When he is being calm, then you can let him out of the crate. When you let him out, do it the way Jeff does is in this video below. Opening and closing the door until your dog is not rushing out. You want him to be calm when he comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore him when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Continue to put a food stuffed Kong into the crate with him. Once he is less anxious he will likely enjoy it and that will help him to enjoy the crate more. First, he needs her anxious state of mind interrupted so that he is open to learning other ways to behave. Once it's interrupted, give him a food stuffed Kong in the crate for him to relieve his boredom instead, since he will need something other than barking to do at that point. When the anxiety is dealt with and he has learned how to be calm when you leave instead of destructive, then you can try giving more freedom from the crate in a few months if you wish and if he has shown signs of being ready. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog keeps waking up at 5/6 am in the morning and start scratching the door and barking untill someone gives him food and lets him into the garden for a while. As you can imagine it’s very anoying to wake up at such hours everyday. Especcially on the weekends! We have two dogs. Woody & Tidor. Both Shih Tzu’s. Tidor just lies by the door while Woody is going mental. When trying to get them to quiet down without giving them food or anything, he just starts right up with scratching the door again. Do you have any advice for this particular problem? Many thanks!
Hello Maeve, First, understand that every time you feed him after he scratches you have rewarded him for scratching and increased that behavior - I can certainly sympathize with feeding at 5 am just to get him to quiet down though, but that's part of why he is doing it still. At 11 years old the waking may have started because his bladder capacity is decreasing due to age, then once up he figured it was time to eat also. If that is the case he will continue to wake up indefinitely to pee because he physically won't be able to do better. You need to first determine if this is what's happening. Has his bladder capacity decreased some at other times too? Many people teach their older pups to do potty on an indoor potty at night when night wakings start happening due to age. Since he is trained to go potty outside, I suggest limiting any indoor pottying to an exercise pen with a disposable real-grass pad inside, set up in an area where he normally won't spend time unless it's time to sleep or you have to be gone for several hours - so that he only learns to pee in that one spot and not in the house in general. Do NOT use pee pads if he is currently trained to go potty outside - they can lead to accidents on the carpet and rugs and general confusion because they don't resemble outside but fabric things found in your home. Exercise Pen method for potty training inside - don't phase out the exercise pen in your case, set it up somewhere were he doesn't normally hang out the rest of the day so he won't learn to potty in the house in general, and use real grass pads instead of pee pads or a litter box - this method mentions a litter box which isn't a bad thing to use, but you can use grass pads instead for more effective training since grass is familiar to him already. This method mentions puppies but older dogs can learn it too: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Real grass pad - not astorturf - most of these can also be bought on Amazon: www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty.com Deal with the potty issue first - making sure he can get to the potty when he needs to in early mornings by either having him sleep in an exercise pen with a real grass pad on the opposite end, or by taking him potty on a leash when he wakes, but not letting him play or eat at that time and making him go right back to bed afterwards, so that he doesn't learn to wake at that time for any reason other than actually needing to go potty. If you don't feed him or let him play but make him go back to bed, then if he is waking for reasons other than actually needing to pee he should start sleeping in again. When you take him potty, then return him to bed. Correct any scratching or barking using a pet convincer - which is a small canister of pressurized air. When he scratches at the door or barks, tell him "Ah Ah" while at the same time quickly spraying a small puff of unscented air at his side (not face), and then leaving again. Try to get your timing as close to his barking or scratching as possible. Repeat the corrections every time he barks or scratches. You are removing the reward for waking and scratching - the food and play, and making scratching unpleasant so it's not worth doing anymore. You can also put him in a crate if you are confident he doesn't need to go potty, and correct barking through the crate wires the same way (avoid his face). He will be more likely to settle down in a crate and go back to sleep and he won't be able to scratch at your door - I understand if you are hesitant to crate train this late if he has never been trained though. He can certainly learn it still but that's up to you. When using a Pet Convincer do NOT buy citronella spray - you want unscented air. The citronella is far too harsh and can be confusing because the smell lingers. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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She scratches at the door like she wants to come in, then she just stands there and looks at me while I tell her to come in and she doesn’t come in. Then I close the door cause she is not going to come in, and no sooner I coalesce the door she scratches to come in. Goes on for 3 or 4 times then I just ignore her for as long as I can.
Hello Carl, If you would like for her to signal to come in be scratching at the door - but her only do it when she wants to come in, I suggest making her come in every time she scratches at the door, whether she actually wants to come in or not. To do this, while you are home to supervise through the window, keep a drag leash on her. When she scratches at the door, calmly grab the end of her leash, say "Inside", and lead her inside. Don't make it optional. If she wants to come in, she will associate the scratching with coming inside. If she doesn't want to come inside, then having to come inside is a consequence for scratching at the door. Once she is inside, ignore her for several minutes, since the scratching appears to be attention seeking or her trying to get you to come outside with her. If you don't want her scratching at the door, I suggest purchasing a pet convincer. Practice two things. Practice having her on a long leash while in the yard. Tell her "Inside" after a while, and if she comes in willingly, give a treat. If she doesn't come inside willingly, reel her in with the long leash - to teach her to come in when you tell her to. When she scratches at the door, open the door, tell her "Ah Ah" calmly, and spray a small puff of air at her chest or side (NOT face), then close the door again. A Pet Convincer is a small canister of pressurized air. Only use the unscented, normal air ones. DON'T use the citronella. If she has any history of aggression, then I recommend using a correction that is more remote, so that you can correct without being close to her. The correction should be mild and very calm, then close the door again after so that you are not giving any extra attention. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog has the most irritating habit of scratching/tapping on the door when she wants to either go outside or inside. I work from home and spend most of my day opening doors for her. I have tried to teach her to sit and not scratch when she wants to go inside or outside but it doesn't work. She just learns to tap before she sits. I want her to not tap at all. Also, my dogs are very loved and she gets to spend lots of time inside with us and outside in the garden. She's not deprived of anything. I want her to find a new way of telling me she want to come in or go out. Also, we have installed a doggy door, but sometimes i lock it when i don't want them in. For instance, today i had a business meeting and wanted a dog free house for a couple of hours and she scratched at the door relentlessly and almost broke the doggy door! Please help. I cannot tolerate this behaviour anymore.
Hello Heather, There are two routes you can take here. The first is to purchase a protective door cover and ignore the scratching - only letting her in or out when she is sitting quietly. Door cover example: https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/cardinal-gates-door-shield-1309730?cm_mmc=PSH-_-GGL-_-SPP-_-PME-_-PET-_-AQU-_-0-_-PTC_P_SUP_PLA-GG_FY19_SBU04_Dog_Dwellings_SMRT-_-Product_Listing_Ads-_-Smart_Shopping&kpid=go_6511744693_76933123183_382987290680_pla-710339910673_c&utm_config=tad0iunwp&utm_campaign=PTC_P_SUP_PLA-GG_FY19_SBU04_Dog_Dwellings_SMRT&utm_source=google&gclid=Cj0KCQjwoaz3BRDnARIsAF1RfLcditLCKck4R-2A3f2WTJjLLFpMGCm2KR1Vk8Pp7OWB3RBrpQKOoLIaAq9bEALw_wcB For the second option, whenever she scratches at the door, briefly open the door a few inches, tell pup "Ah Ah" calmly, and spray a brief puff of unscented air from a pet convincer at her side or chest - do NOT use citronella and don't spray in the face. After the correction, watch from the window and when she is sitting at least a few seconds without scratching, then let her inside as a reward for sitting without also scratching. Repeat the brief correction each time she scratches, and letting her in for sitting. Gradually increase how long she has to sit calmly for before opening the door, until it's at least a couple of minutes - so that she will learn to be self-controlled and patient. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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So at night my dog sleeps in a room with me but as soon as she hears the slightest movement she scratches on the door and jumps on me so she can get out. She has water in the room and if she gets let out she jumps on other peoples beds waking them up. What can I do to prevent this? I can't yell cause other people are sleeping in the house.
Hello Jayde, I suggest working on crate training during the day. Get her used to the crate and work on training her to settle down in the crate. You can then either crate her in your room each night from the start of the night to develop a new habit of ignoring the sound and not waking you - then reintroduce freedom out of the crate later, once the habit has become a long term habit for her (often 2-6 months). OR you can start the evening with her out of the crate and when she wakes you, immediately, calmly send her to the crate for the remainder of the night to stop the pestering and facilitate her going back to sleep. It's important to practice crate training during the day (or early evening with a break between practice and actually going to bed if you are at work during the day) and work on encouraging quietness and calmness in the crate ahead of time by practicing the Surprise method from the article linked below, and crate manners from the video linked below. If you go straight to crating at night, she is more likely to just bark in the crate and not understand the calm, quiet, sleep association. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Crate Manners protocol (practice ahead of time often until it becomes routine): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn5HTiryZN8 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I trained Murphy to use his nose and ring a doorbell when he wants to go outside. He will ring it and wait for someone to let him outside. My problem is that we have a lot of other doors in our house and he is scratching at them. When he wants a door opened he scratches it. There is always a family member on the other side that he wants to see. If it's the tv room, workout room, bedroom any place his humans are that he wants to be with. He gets put in his crate and told "no" but I am looking for a solution of what I should train him to do instead of what not to do. This is our first dog and I don't want to teach him something that will be annoying later on.
Hello Sherry, You can either teach pup to lie down quietly or sit, or you can teach him to make noise in an acceptable way if you wish to hear him and let him through the door each time. Teaching pup to nudge a door stopper so that it makes noise is one method that doesn't involve tons of bells that look unusual to guests in your home. If you want pup to get used to being alone (which is a good thing for a dog to learn to prevent separation anxiety), then teach pup down, and tell pup to Down before you go through a door. Set up a camera to spy on pup via something like two smart phones or tablets with skype on mute. Leave through the door. If pup scratches, briefly open the door, tell pup Ah Ah, and spray pup's side briefly with air from an unscented air canister - Pet Convincer, then leave again (don't use citronella and avoid the face - you can also hold the canister further away from pup to make gentler). Repeat each time pup scratches. When you see pup lie down or stay down after your first command, return, open the door, and place a treat between their paws. If pup doesn't stay down but also doesn't scratch, do nothing. After a few minutes return but don't give treats and act like nothing happened. As pup improves, wait until pup stays lying down or at least quiet without scratching for longer periods of time before rewarding or returning - start with seconds, work up to several minutes. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog Fancy is 11 years old. If I close my bedroom door at night she scratches and scratches on it, but if it is cracked and she can get in and out it doesn’t bother her. The past year I have left the door opened and it hasn’t been a big deal. The past couple of nights she has been scratching on any closed door, even when I am awake. She has even started scratching on my 1 year olds door, which she typically never touched unless I was in there. She seems very anxious and disoriented and when I close the baby gates that lead to the hallway where my daughters room is she will scratch and scratch on the gate frantically. It’s as if any constriction all of a sudden makes her anxious. It only happens at night, not during the day. Please help!
Hello BreAnna, First, you may want to consider a trip to your vet. Vision, hearing loss, or mental decline that is common with age, can all make a dog feel more anxious and confused about their surroundings. I am not a vet, so consult your vet about any potential medical conditions. I would get a better idea of what's going on first by talking with your vet. If it's simply a behavior issue, I suggest giving pup something to do while separate from you to encourage calmness, such as an Automatic treat dispensing device like Pet Tutor or AutoTrainer, and to use something like a Pet Convincer to blow a brief puff of unscented air at pup's side or chest whenever they scratch at the door - then leave again rather than letting pup through the door. (Do not do it in pup's face and don't use citronella - it lingers too long and is too harsh for a dog's sensitive nose. Only use the unscented air canisters). If the issue is due to mental decline, pup may not be able to learn new behaviors. If you can't take a training approach to this due to pup's limited capacities, you will need to simply take a management approach. If management is your only option, I suggest keeping the baby gate up at night so that pup can't get to all the doors to scratch, then using something like the shield from the link below to discourage pup's scratching due to the slipperiness of the shield, to protect your doors, and to make the scratching quieter. https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/cardinal-gates-door-shield-1309730?cm_mmc=PSH-_-GGL-_-SPP-_-PME-_-PET-_-AQU-_-0-_-PTC_P_SUP_LIA-GG_FY19_SBU04_Supplies_BOPIS-_-Local_Inventory_Ads-_-0&kpid=go_6481492731_78915878158_381032557656_aud-772759913222:pla-742607889594_c&utm_config=tad0iunwp&utm_campaign=PTC_P_SUP_LIA-GG_FY19_SBU04_Supplies_BOPIS&utm_source=google&gclid=CjwKCAjwwMn1BRAUEiwAZ_jnEkei4jupx2Tz5F9t1R6s5Wgon_XIlXk5q1Ke_P2ccSKEG7IPzkr5fxoCZZQQAvD_BwE Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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she always barks at night and the neighbors always complain i don’t know what to do please help.
Hello, what is the situation at night? Is Zuri crated away from you and she barks? If so, I suggest bringing the crate into your room, helping her to calm down by seeing you. Make sure she is well exercised before bed, pees at the last minute before bedtime and has a crate space she likes. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate. You can put white noise in the room to distract her from outside noises. Close the curtains for a dark room and put her to bed only when you go. Once she gets used to quietly sleeping in the crate, you can gradually move it out of the room. You move it only an inch or two a night (this takes a while but is worth the effort) until she is back in her previous location for sleeping. Good luck!
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my dog sleeps outside and I think she gets bored at night that why she barks so much at night my neighbors came outside and shouted my dog I was so embarrassed pls help with this situation someone has help me before but I share my room with someone and she doesn’t really like dogs so please help thanks
Hello, little Zuri could be nervous and feeling uncomfortable outside and that is why she barks. I would bring her inside. Train your little pup to sleep in a crate and that will solve the issue with the roommate and keep Zuri safe at night. You could also set up an exercise pen area for her to sleep in, inside at night. Take a look: https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-set-up-puppy-long-term-confinement-area. As well, https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate. I am sure once your roommate gets used to her, all will be well. Exercise Zuri with games and a long walk every night and she will settle down in her crate or pen. She'll be happy to feel safe inside. (If you leave her out, the neighbors could put in a noise complaint.) All the best!
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My dog scratches the dishwasher and the trashcan (both semi-shiny metal containers), as well as the wall by my feet when I sit at my desk. There's no damage from the scratching, but it's a pretty annoying sound. I know she's doing it for my attention, but I don't know if there's another reason she wants my attention? How do I correct this behavior?
By the way- she also scratches at her empty water bowl, but we've decided to teach her that this means "Water" and give her water every time. She thinks she can do the same with her empty food bowl and sometimes knocks it over, but we aren't going to feed her outside of meal times.
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My dog koda separation anxiety cant go anywhere without it crying and scratching doors will not stay outside and scratches doors even when we are home
Hello! Treating separation anxiety takes a decent amount of time, patience, and consistency. Because so much goes into it, I am sending you quite a bit of information on the topic. Some of the tips may work, while others won't. Every dog responds differently. You may have to do a little trial and error, but you will find something useful within all of this information. The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break the cycle of anxiety. Every time a dog with separation anxiety becomes anxious when their owner leaves, the distress they feel is reinforced until they become absolutely frantic any time they are left alone. Owners should give the dog an acceptable item to chew, such as a long lasting food treat when they go out. The goal is to have the dog associate this special treat with the owner’s departure. Treats might include hollow bones stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, drilled out nylon bones, or hollow rubber chew toys such as Kong toys with similar enhancements (place these in the freezer before giving them to your dog to make them last longer). Give the bone to your dog about 15 minutes before preparing to depart. The chew toy should be used only as a reward to offset the anxiety triggered by your departure. Hiding a variety of these delectable food treats throughout the house may occupy the dog so that the owner’s departure is less stressful. In an effort to prevent destructive behavior, many owners confine their dog in a crate or behind a gate. For dogs that display “barrier frustration,” the use of a crate in this way is counterproductive. Many dogs will physically injure themselves while attempting to escape such confinement. Careful efforts to desensitize and counter condition the dog to crate confinement before leaving them alone may be helpful in some cases. However, some dogs rebel against any form of restraint, including restricting barriers and, for them, crate training may never be a positive experience. Crate training and utilizing the crate while people are home can be a positive way to make the crate a safe place. If you utilize it when people are around, your dog won’t necessarily associate the crate with departure and being left alone. Creating nap time in the crate throughout the day can also be helpful. Building Independence Independence training can help fight separation anxiety and loneliness. Independence training can help build confidence and instill obedience. “Doggie Daycare” or hiring a pet sitter may be a better alternative for dogs that are initially resistant to treatment. It can be expensive, but prices vary. Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program. It involves teaching your dog to “stand on their own four feet” when you are present, with the express intention that their newfound confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement. Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive. Essential components of the independence training program are as follows: Your dog can be with you, but the amount of interaction time should be reduced, especially where attention-seeking behaviors are concerned. You should initiate all interactions with your dog, and they shouldn’t be permitted to demand attention. If you give your dog attention every time they whine, it helps to foster the dog’s dependence on you and increases its anxiety in your absence. You should ignore your dog completely when they engage in attention-seeking behavior, and avoid catering to them when they appear to feel anxious. This means no eye contact, no pushing away, and no soothing talk or body language, all of which will reward their attention-seeking mission. Attention is encouraged only when your dog is sitting or lying calmly. The goal is not to ignore your dog, but to stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors so that your dog develops a sense of independence. Minimize the extent to which your dog follows you by teaching them to remain relaxed in one spot, such as their bed. To accomplish this, it is helpful if you train them to perform a sit-stay or down-stay while gradually increasing the time that they hold the command and remain at a distance from you. Providing a treat or toy and encouraging individual play time can be helpful. Once your dog has learned basic obedience commands, you can train them to hold long down-stays while you move progressively farther away. First, your dog should be trained to perform a “down-stay” on a mat or dog bed using a specific command, such as “lie down.” Your dog may have to be gently escorted to the designated spot the first few times. Initially, they should be rewarded every 10 seconds for remaining there, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. Once they have figured out what is wanted, you should switch to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement [reward], as this will strengthen the learned response. Each time your dog breaks their “stay,” issue a verbal correction, indicating that there will be no reward, and then escort them back to their bed. First, your dog can be made to “down-stay” while you are in the room. Next, they can be asked to stay when you are outside of the room, but nearby. The distance and time you are away from your dog can be increased progressively until your dog can remain in a down-stay for 20 to 30 minutes in your absence. Your dog should be warmly praised for compliance. Of course, they need to accept the praise without breaking the stay. Your dog should become accustomed to being separated from you when you are home for varying lengths of time and at different times of day. You can set up child gates to deny your dog access into the room you’re occupying (i.e. reading, watching television, or cooking). Instruct your dog to lie down and stay on a dog bed outside the room. As previously mentioned, you can provide an extended-release food treat or toy to keep your dog calm and distracted. Once they are able to tolerate being separated from you by a child gate, you can graduate to shutting the door to the room so your dog cannot see you. Allowing a dog to sleep in bed with the family can increase dependence. If you decide to prevent your dog from sleeping in your bed, there are some steps to take to establish this routine. First, you need to train your dog to sleep in their own bed on the floor in your bedroom. They may have to be taken to their bed several times before they get the message that you really want them to sleep in their own bed. Alternatively, you can train your dog to enjoy sleeping in a crate to prevent unwanted excursions. Do not use a crate if it causes more anxiety and distress for your dog. Once they tolerate sleeping in their own bed in your bedroom, you can move their bed outside of the bedroom and use a child gate or barrier to keep them out. Always remember to reward your dog with praise or a food treat for remaining in their bed. Develop Departure Techniques Many owners erroneously feel that if separation is so stressful, then they should spend more time with their dog before leaving. Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the condition. Everyone in the family should ignore your dog for 15 to 20 minutes before leaving the house and for at least 10 to 20 minutes after returning home. Alternatively, your leaving can be made a highlight of your dog’s day by making it a “happy time” and the time at which they are fed. Departures should be quick and quiet. When departures (and returns) generate less anxiety (and excitement), your dog will begin to feel less tension in your absence. Remember to reward calm behavior. Teach your dog that your departure and return are just normal parts of the day and are not times to be stressed. You should attempt to randomize the cues indicating that you are preparing to leave. Changing the cues may take some trial and error. Some cues mean nothing to a dog, while others trigger anxiety. Make a list of the things you normally do before leaving for the day (and anxiety occurs) and the things done before a short time out (and no anxiety occurs).Then mix up the cues. For example, if your dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, you can try taking the laundry basket with you when you leave for work. If your dog becomes anxious when you pick up your keys or put on a coat, you should practice these things when you are not really leaving. You can, for example, stand up, put on a coat or pick up your car keys during television commercials, and then sit down again. You can also open and shut doors while you are home when you do not intend to leave. Entering and exiting through various doors when leaving and returning can also mix up cues for your dog. When you are actually leaving, you should try not to give any cues to this effect. Leave your coat in the car and put your keys in the ignition well before leaving. It is important to randomize all the cues indicating departure (clothing, physical and vocal signals, interactions with family members, other pets, and so on). The planned departure technique can be very effective for some dogs. This program is recommended only under special circumstances because it requires that you never leave your dog alone during the entire retraining period, which can be weeks or months. Timing is everything when implementing this program. If your dog shows signs of anxiety (pacing, panting, barking excessively) the instant you walk out of the door, you should stand outside the door and wait until your dog is quiet for three seconds. Then go back inside quickly and reward your dog for being calm. If you return WHEN your dog is anxious, this reinforces your dog’s tendency to display the behavior, because it has the desired effect of reuniting the “pack” members. The goal is for your dog to connect being calm and relaxed with your return. Gradually work up to slightly longer departures 5 to 10 minutes as long as your dog remains quiet, and continue in this fashion. Eventually, you should be able to leave for the day without your dog becoming anxious when you depart. When performed correctly, this program can be very helpful in resolving separation anxiety. Other Treatment Options Obedience Training Obedience training helps to instill confidence and independence in your dog. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes daily training your dog to obey one-word commands. It may be helpful to have training sessions occur in the room where your dog will be left when you are gone. All positive experiences (food, toys, sleep, training, and attention) should be associated with this area of the home. Exercise Your dog should receive 15 to 20 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise once, preferably twice, per day. It is often helpful to exercise your dog before you leave for the day. Exercise helps to dissipate anxiety and provides constructive interaction between you and your dog. It is best to allow your dog 15 to 20 minutes to calm down before you depart. Fetching a ball is good exercise, as is going for a brisk walk or run with your dog on a leash. Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the aerobic exercise will be beneficial since most dogs will not tire themselves if left to their own devices. This is incredibly helpful in dogs that are working breeds that need a job to expend energy and work their brains. Supplements Recently, supplements have been released to the public that can help dogs with anxiety. Purina created a probiotic that has been shown to reduce anxiety and provide a calming effect on some dogs. Your veterinarian may recommend this product for treating anxiety, or other products that contain L-Theanine or L-tryptophan.
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He follows me round constantly and when I leave a room and shut the door he scratches the door until I open it.
Hello Lynn, Work on teaching pup a distance Down stay using a long leash as a tether on something behind pup to help pup not follow, and a Place command. Work up to pup being able to stay on place for one hour, then work on pup being able to stay there while you enter and leave the room routinely. Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ The above can help with the over dependence, which may also help with the door. I also recommend gently disciplining the door scratching. Set up a camera to spy on pup from the other side of the door, like a second phone or tablet with skype on mute. When you see or hear pup scratch or beg to be let in, briefly open the door, tell pup "Ah Ah" very calmly and spray a small puff of air from a pet convincer at pup's side or chest. Do not spray in the face, and only use unscented air. Don't use citronella - it's too harsh for their senstive nose. After correcting very calmly (your voice shouldn't sound mad, just matter-of fact that what they did was incorrect), then close the door again. Repeat the correction each time pup scratches or demands in other ways to be let in. When you see pup sit calmly, leave the door, or lie down, open the door, calmly walk over to their place bed in that room, and sprinkle a couple of pieces of dog food onto the place bed to reward the calmness and patience. Don't reward pup right at the door though, you want the train pup to go rest on the place bed and not beg at the door - if the place bed is where rewards happen and you return to, that should help motivate pup to simply go lie down on it when you leave the room. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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He scratches the wooden doors when we put him in the hall
Hello, this is not unusual behavior for a young dog at all. When you have to put Alfie in the hall (I am assuming for a short time), give him an activity to do. The kong toy works very well. Take a kong, stuff it with moistened kibble and a smear of peanut butter (dog-safe peanut butter only - no xylitol as it is toxic to dogs!). Put the kong in a zip lock bag and freeze it. It can remain in the freezer until you need it. Then when you have to put Alfie in the hall, give him the kong to keep him occupied for quite a while! Save this special treat for the times when Alfie has to spend time in the hall. Soon, he'll be happy to wait there while he enjoys his treat. Good luck and all the best to Alfie!
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I’m after a bit of advice please.
I’ll start with a bit of context. Vespa is almost 7 months old, when we first had her we crate trained her, the first week was terrible as imagined but she’s slept through every night since, from around 1000 till 0700. So much so about a month ago we decided to take the crate away and she’s just slept in her bed in the kitchen for the past month, with no problems at all.
Also ever since we’ve had her we have really worked on her being left alone, gradually building it up in the crate to then giving her the run of the house bar the bedrooms and living room, and she’s been on her own up to 5 hours and been perfectly fine when we get home.
Now I went back to work 3 weeks ago. However this week Vespa has been so off, really hyper when I get home from work. She never really had the zoomies, I can count on one hand how many times she’s had them. However now she’s really odd when I get home right up until 9ish, she always has an evening walk and she’s the same when she comes home. Sniffing everything in sight, if I close the living room door she wants to be out of it, constantly wanting to be in and out the house but not going for a wee and then barley eating her food.
Then tonight I put her to bed as usually, gave her a treat and then as I got upstairs she started to cry and moan, I left it for a little while and it only got worse, she was crying not stop for 45 minutes, scratching at the kitchen door! It was worse than the night we got her (and we all know how bad that first night can be) I knew my partner would be home an hour later so I got up and just went in the room and waited till my partner got in eventually as she just wouldn’t settle.
I’m just after some advise really, any tips on what could be happening and why the sudden personality change!
Hello Hannah, It may be a combination of pup adjusting to you returning to work and possibly that coinciding with a developmental period - there is often an increase in chewing again as jaws begin to strengthen at this age, as well as full blown puppy adolescence as pups mature more sexually and mentally around then - which comes with some testing of boundaries often and sometimes restlessness, several fear periods also happen throughout the first 18 months. There also might be something that happened while you were away, like a smoke detector beeping, loud noise outside, scary person coming to your home (like bug inspector or even delivery or lawn person if pup's not used to the things they do and noises they make) to make pup feel more anxious about your departure. I would start by giving more structure and boundaries rather than less. I would add in stimulating pup more mentally - since that can help with anxiety, energy, and building respect and trust. I would also be sure to give pup something constructive to do while you are away - like a couple of dog food stuffed Kongs, or an automatic treat dispensing device - like Pet Tutor or AutoTrainer. When pup cries when you go to bed at night, you have a couple of choices, you can either ignore the barking for the next two weeks - as long as you will really do this consistently and not give in and go to pup before they truly need something, and there is a good chance it will go away on its own, and this is related to pup testing some boundaries and adjusting to the new rhythm. You can also correct the barking, starting with teaching pup a Quiet command. First, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day on weekends and evenings practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. On evenings only practice for one hour. On weekends, you can practice a few times with breaks between them. Crate or confine pup where they would sleep at night while you go to where you normally sleep - so pup can't get to you either way. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate or with you out of the room for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate or room without opening it or letting pup out, then leave the room again. As she improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice confining her alone while you are there for 1-3 hours each day that you can. Whenever she cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If she gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if she stays quiet. If she continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at her side through the crate or at her side in the room while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever she cries. When she cries at night before it has been 8 hours - or a bit less if you feel she can't hold her bladder that long yet consistently, tell her Quiet, and correct with the pet convincer if she doesn't become quiet and stay quiet. If you know something happened while you were gone that may have scared her, you will need to spend time desensitizing her to that thing or the area where that thing is located, to rebuild confidence using food rewards most likely. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My puppy is scratching the door. How do I make her stop?
Hello Michelle, Check out the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. That method addressed barking, but you can also listen for when pup isn't scratching and reward that too to help pup learn that patience is what gets them attention, and not scratching. Which door are they scratching at? If it's a door like your bedroom and pup is scratching to get inside the room where you are, I would also place a dog bed in the general area, but not right in front of the door, and when you go to reward pup while they are being patient, place the treat on the dog bed instead of right outside your door, so that pup learns to go wait for you on their bed. If pup is scratching the outside door from a fenced in area, to be let back inside, before you let pup back inside each time, tell pup to Sit and wait until they do before you let them in (teach Sit if they don't know it). When pup is used to sitting before being let in and you catch them sitting outside the door without scratching, let them in at that time so they learn that sitting is the way to ask to be let in, not scratching. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate At this age pup is still just learning the rules, so I would give a grace period, practicing the above with things like rewards for good behavior. Once pup understands the rules clearly and isn't being rewarded for bad behavior by getting what they want when they scratch, if pup continues to scratch, you can use a small canister of pressurized unscented air (not citronella - that's too harsh), to blow a small puff of air at pup's side briefly whenever they scratch, then close the door again after, not letting pup in yet, wait until they are not scratching, then reward or let them inside - teaching don't scratch or something unpleasant happens, do wait quietly and you get something you want. Never spray in the face though. You can purchase door scratch protectors to cover the bottom of your doors in the meantime until pup improves, to protect doors during the learning process. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog won’t stop barking at anything that comes past the window or he won’t stop scratching At the doors what can I do to stop this
Hello! You will want to start out by teaching him "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.
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