If you would love for this image to be your reality, then teaching your pup not to bark now is vital. Because your Shih Tzu is still a puppy, barking is less likely to be an ingrained habit yet, and teaching him now to be quiet, rather than bark, will lay a foundation for him to be quiet for years to come.
Your pup might find barking itself to be rewarding, so it is very important to reward your puppy for being quiet instead. It is easy to ignore a dog that is being quiet, but remember to reward your puppy for that calm, quiet behavior so that he will offer it more often. Once a dog gets very excited about barking it can be hard for him to stop, so it is also important to interrupt your puppy's barking early by telling him something like "Aha". When he stops for a second then you can use that opportunity to reward him for being quiet. Doing this will teach him to offer the quiet behavior more often.
Many dogs bark simply because they are bored, and then it becomes a habit. The easier way to stop barking is to prevent it from becoming a habit in the first place. 'The Chew Toy Method' is best used for preventing bad barking habits from starting. By giving your pup something interesting to do that involves his mouth that is not barking, you are encouraging him to be quiet and to relax. He will learn over time to relax and to self-entertain with chew-toys when he is alone or bored.
If you use 'The Quiet Method' then it is important to praise your pup for speaking when you tell him to, but to only reward your pup with a treat when he is being quiet when you tell him to. This is so that 'quiet' will become his preferred command, and he will not bark in order to get a treat. When you tell him "Quiet" is is also important to sound calm and for your tone of voice to be soft. Even though it feels counter-intuitive, speaking softly close to your dog's ear is more likely to get his attention and to calm him down than speaking loudly is. If you become loud like he is, he is more likely to get excited and more agitated. After all, when you yell it seems like you are barking also.
If you are using 'The Quiet Method' or 'The Desensitize Method' then you will also need a small bag or a treat pouch. For both of those methods, you will also need an assistant, a front or back door in your home to practice at, and a leash. If you are using 'The Desensitize Method' then you will also need a location with other dogs and children, who are at a distance, a window that your puppy likes to look out of, and anything else that your puppy tends to bark at, to practice around.
How do I get my dog to be more obedient in following my commands? He has a high food drive but doesn't really focus much when I don't have treats?
Hello Grashalle, First, know that what you described is normal for basic obedience, especially at this age - the initial goal is just to teach pup what a word means and motivate them to learn. What comes next is intermediate obedience. For intermediate obedience, you will gradually work up to distractions and pup developing the skills to obey in those situations too - at first the distraction might be someone walking through the room, a squirrel in the yard, a leaf blowing by, ect...Start with less distracting environments, then gradually move onto harder environments and spend intentional time practicing in each of those new environments until pup can focus there too. For example, in your home without others around is easiest, your backyard is a bit harder, your front yard is even harder, your neighborhood is even hard, your home with guests present is even harder, a pet store is even harder, ect...Go out of your way to practice at the current level pup needs to learn at and to create the distractions pup is ready to learn to overcome during training sessions when you can control things - so that pup can also respond when things are more out of your control in every day life, but keep the distraction level what pup is ready for at that point in the training so pup can still succeed with your help - the goal is to guide pup and provide consistent, calm boundaries at this point. Second, it's time to start phasing out treats. First, ask pup to do a command to earn things they want in every day life, like before you open the door for a walk pup wants to go on, tell pup Sit, then wait to open the door until they do - even if you wait for fifteen minutes the first time. If your consistent pup should learn that you mean what you say and start obeying more quickly as you practice. This takes you being more persistent than pup. To practice come, use a long training leash, call pup to come in an environment they like to go explore, then keep the leash tight enough they can't get to what they want, until they finally come. When they come, then give more slack in the leash and let them sniff that bush or say hello if it's safe, as a reward for obeying. When you do use treats, only give a treat for something new your are teaching, for pup practicing something at a harder level than usual, like at a park when they normally just practice at home, for better obedience than normal - like a come where pup ran over right away instead of slowly walked over, or at random intervals, like every third time pup comes. Keep treats hidden in pockets or a treat bag that's tucked under your shirt out of sight and don't show pup the treat until AFTER they have obeyed. If you show pup the treat beforehand in order to get pup to obey at this point in the training, the treat becomes a bride and a dog will learn to only obey if you show the treat first. You want pup to obey not knowing whether they will be rewarded or not, like a surprise. Always praise pup for obedience though. Third, you may need to switch some of your training methods now that pup knows the commands and is sometimes choosing to disobey. For example, when teaching Sit I would first recommend using the Treat Luring method from the article linked below. Once pup knows that method well and has worked up to some distractions, I would enforce my command using the Pressure method from that same article when pup chooses to disobey something they know. The pressure method will still reward some but will also give a gentle consequence for disobedience to encourage pup to obey even when they don't find it as fun. Sit - Pressure method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-sit Some other methods to help enforce commands when pup is ready: Reel In method for Come: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Turns method for Heel: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel The Leash Pressure method for down: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-lay-down Finally, check out the Consistency and the Working method from the article I have linked below. You can use everyday things pup wants as motivators to get pup to obey, such as telling pup to Sit before giving breakfast and waiting until they do so before putting the food down. Often you will have to wait pup out pretty long the first time, fifteen minutes being normal. Repeat your command just once every five minutes. When pup finally complies, give the food and praise calmly. As pup sees that you are consistent, calm, and firm, pup should start to obey more quickly as you practice. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you A drag leash can also be kept on pup when you are home to supervise, to ensure it doesn't get caught on things. When you give pup a command like Leave It, Place, Off, Come, Out, ect...You can calmly pick up the end of the leash and help pup follow through with your command, like walking pup over to where you called them from originally, showing pup that you mean what you say and they need to follow through without having to get angry or let pup get away with ignoring you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Separation anxiety at night especially, but also during the day. My eldest daughter is very anxious and won’t stay in the house by herself with Poppy. I want her to sleep in the kitchen,( it is not big enough for a crate), but she howls and I can’t let her do that it makes me cry.
Hi there. I am going to send you some information on separation anxiety. This is a multi-fold process and does take time to correct. But it is not impossible. 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. 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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Hello... my puppy barks a lot... during the night in the day ... she just barks all the time. And I’m not sure what do to .... I try to comfort her ... I buy her toys . But here’s the thing I work for basically 10hrs for the day and she’s just sitting for that time. What can I do so she can stop barking and play with her toys ?
Hello Kai, Look up Pet Tutor and Auto trainer. These devices can be set to automatically dispense treats when they detects that she is being quiet and calm. Also, give her food stuffed chew toys to make chewing her own toys more interesting. You can soak her dog food in water until it turns to mush, mix a bit of peanut butter or liver paste into it, then loosely stuff a hollow chew toy, like a Kong. If you freeze it it will take her longer to get it out if she is a determined chewer. There are several other ways to stuff a Kong that you can also Google. I also suggest hiring someone to come mid-day to stimulate her mentally. A game of fetch where she has to do obedience commands in between throws, a walk where she practices heeling, sit, down, and focusing, or a small agility course. You can also enroll her in a doggie daycare a couple of days a week when she is old enough. Look for one where the staff is trained in canine body language, dogs are grouped together according to play styles, and there is careful supervision of the dogs to prevent bullying or timidity. Check reviews, tour the facility, and ask a lot of questions. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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