Your Dog Training Questions Answered

 

Ask the Trainer….

Does your dog bark, chew, bite, steal food or hump your leg?

Send in your dog training questions and we will try our  best to provide the answers.

 

 My Jack Russel is driving me Mad!!!

My male Jack Russel is very active, I want to keep him busy during the day while I am at work. So I buy toys, but within 2 minutes he has eaten it up. What can I leave out to stimulate him if he keeps breaking his toys. Can I train him to play nice? I think the only thing he knows to do with it, is eat it.

 Taryn

Our Trainer replies:

Before you leave for work, take your dog for a walk then give him breakfast. Invest in a genuine Kong toy (you can buy Kongs from a good pet supply store or from our club). This is tough rubber beehive shaped toy with a hollow middle – perfect to stuff with soft food like peanut butter or canned dog food. You need to refill the Kong every day before you leave for work. Another option is to fill an empty 2l cooldrink bottle with dry fog food (with the lid left off). Either of these will keep your dog occupied for ages. Most shop-bought dog toys are only designed for interactive play (with you) and should be packed away after a play session. They can be dangerous if chewed up and swallowed. You can also create a digging pit for your dog in a corner of your garden. Every morning before you leave for work, bury some dog treats and biscuits plus a raw marrow bone. Encourage your dog to dig in the pit by digging with him until he gets the idea.  Good luck!

 


63 Responses to “Your Dog Training Questions Answered”

  • Penny Mustart says:

    We adopted a 7 month old mixed breed terrier last week. He was previously kept in a small front garden alone all day and possibly in the evenings. He was got as a small puppy for small children, but after a divorce the children moved out to be with the mother, leaving the dog with the father who works during the day. He “plays” very agressively with my husband and I, biting our feet and arms, and growling when he jumps up to bite our sleeves and higher up in the lower face area. . At times I get quite scared. A smack on his nose with a rolled up newspaper seems to stimulate him even more to “play” in this way. I tried smacking him on the side of his face with my hand, he did not like this at first and stopped his “play”, but now he just avoids the hand and jumps away to “attack” from another angle. How do I treat all this?
    He seems to behave this way in particular in the evenings after supper and before he goes to sleep. However he behaves like this at times during the day, or anytime when he feels full of energy.

    When he is calm he is a delightful ,lively dog.

    I would apreciate any advice.
    Thanks
    Penny

    • Trainer says:

      Well done for saving your pup from such sad circumstances. Smacking a dog is never a good way to stop out of control behaviour as it can make your dog hand shy and potentially more aggressive. As you have seen, with pups, they also often think it is part of the game. It is important that you do not play rough with him at all. All play should be with a toy (which you pack away afterwards). Do not allow any chase games or roughhousing. When you play with him using a toy, you need to be in control of the game by either keeping the toy attached to you (with a rope) or keeping your dog on a lead. This will prevent him taking off with the toy. If while playing with your dog, he loses his cool and starts biting, use a spray bottle of diluted citronella water to interrupt the bad behaviour and stop the play immediately then ignore him for a few minutes until he is calm.

      To control aggressive behaviour which occurs when you are not playing with him, you will need to have better control, generally. The best way to do this is to leave a trailing lead on your dog. When he “loses it”, you can either use your spray bottle or just stand on the lead, tell him firmly “That’s enough!”, pick up the lead and march him to a quite spot for 5 minutes of time out. This could be a small bathroom or enclosed area. When you let him out, do not make a fuss, just ignore him.

      To help your dog to behave more calmly, you need to be as calm as possible with him. Ignore him some of the time, particularly when you come home even if he jumps up for attention. The less you fuss, the calmer he will be. Give him attention only when he is calm and relaxed. Anticipate the time of day when he is most energetic and schedule your daily walk for that time slot. Find a local park where he can socialise with other dogs and burn off some energy. Follow the walk with a meal and then ignore him for the rest of the evening.

      I recommend that you have your pup neutered and also enrol him in some basic obedience training.

      Best of luck

  • Elaine says:

    Hello – I have an 8 month German Shepherd bitch – Lola.She is loving, attentive and very bright. She swims all day in summer and even now in winter. My problem is that she only went to a couple of puppy classes and I have been remiss in taking her to obedienace classes, she is really playful on the field and is fine with her pack of 2 but is fearless in leaping around larger dogs with her hackles raised. As soon as they respond she runs away. I try and walk her on the lead daily but feel she needs more. She also goes off lead to the field daily. At home she is destructive in that she will dig holes, chew shoes, rip cushions …need I say more. She is with 2 other dogs all day, and as we work from home has access to humans as well. I am going bald trying to figure this out – maybe agility classes or obedience classes….not sure. She is also really protective of me and sometimes will make a funny noise and go for Annie our little spaniel from the SPCA. Please advise, does she need someone to come to the house for help. Thanks elaine

    • Trainer says:

      It sounds like you are doing a lot of things right with Lola. Daily exercise, stimulation and socialising are all important for your dog. Obedience training is essential for a working breed and would give you more control over Lola but won’t address all the other issues you describe.

      Destructiveness is “normal” behaviour for a puppy of Lola’s age but can be controlled by giving her things to keep her mind occupied. You can try building a digging pit for her in the corner of the garden, stuffing a Kong toy with food or filling a 2l plastic cooldrink bottle with dog pellets. Always leave her with something to do and something to chew (raw marrow bones are ideal).

      I would recommend you get a behaviourist in to help you work through Lola’s socialising issues. (Mail info@capeprovincedogclub.co.za for a referral.) Agility training would be a good option later but Lola will need to be a year old before you start and have had some basic training.

      Best of Luck

      • Sipho says:

        My puppy named Blue. She has one eye which is blue in colour. I love her to a bit, but the fact that she doesn’t want to sleep ime in her kennel or spend time. This is really make me mad. She is now 12 weeks and I want her to start sleeping out side in her new house I bought her at night. What must I do to make my puppy get. Use to sleep outside?

        • julie says:

          Hi Sipho

          Your pup is far too young to be living outside. Bring her into an inside room where she can get used to you and your family. Dogs are social animals and need human attention.
          Julie

  • Marianda says:

    Hi. We have a male Jack Russel (9 months old). He is well behaved at home. The problem is the moment he gets out of the yard, he runs and doesn’t listen when we call him. We take him to the park daily to play fetch which he loves. He cannot walk on his lead, he runs and pulls so hard that I sometimes think he is going to suffocate himself! I understand he is very excited, cause he knows we are walking to the park… but is there a way I can teach him to walk properly and calmly on his lead? Once we get to the park we take the lead off so he can chase some balls. He often runs away and chases people. He does not listen when we call him. I know you shouldn’t smack a dog, but I don’t know how else to discipline him. I would appreciate your advice. Thanks!

    • Trainer says:

      Thanks for your questions about your Jack Russel. Let me reassure you that he sounds like a normal adolescent Jack Russel! I assume you have not yet had him neutered, right? If not, I would suggest you do. All three of the problems you mention i.e. running away and not coming back when called, pulling on the lead and not listening when off lead at the park (chasing people) are general control issues and can be addressed with the correct training. Your dog also needs to learn to respect you (not be scared of you) so smacking and harsh handling are not the answer.

      Your dog needs a daily routine to keep him occupied and stimulated. Every day he needs to go out for at least two walks of least half an hour each. He also needs to play with you with a toy (throwing the ball is perfect) and be given something to chew on (like a raw marrow bone or hoof). He also needs some time every day when he is not given any attention but can be around you. Make sure no one is playing rough with him at all.

      To get your dog to listen to you, your dog needs to think you are worthy of some basic respect.To instil some basic understanding of the fact that you are in charge, you need to control everything that matters to him. Feed him after the family has eaten and make him sit and wait for his food. Pack away toys after playing with him, so that he needs to come to you if he wants to play. Keep him off your furniture and beds and give him a bed of his own in a quiet spot. Brush and handle him every day and teach him to accept being restrained in your arms until he is calm and quiet. Don’t make a fuss of him when you come home, just ignore him until he is calm.

      To address the running out of the gate you will need to be really careful that he doesn’t get out while you are working on teaching him to come when called. For now, he needs to be on lead all the time that he is off the property. Every time he gets away with running off, he gets better at running off! You need to start by attaching a lead to his collar, then call him (once only) in a happy tone, running backwards to encourage him. When he comes to you, greet him warmly and give him a treat. Immediately let him go off to the end of the lead and repeat the exercise. Repeat the exercise at least 10 times per session. Do this every day for a few days until he is coming happily when ever you call his name. The next step is to increase the length of the lead to about 3m and continue the some process. Once he will come happily from 3m you can increase the distractions by taking him to the park for his practice sessions. Once he is coming back reliably in the park from 3m, increase the length of the lead with a piece of rope to 5m. Repeat as before until he will turn on a dime when you call and come straight back to you. Always reward him with a small treat. Once he is fine on the 5m line, you can start dropping the line and just stand on it if you think he is about to run off or ignores your calls. Slowly you will see your control improve over a distance and you can then shorten the line until eventually you don’t need it at all. If during the training process, he succeeds in running off, call him once and then calmly go and fetch him without shouting. Do not punish him, just go back a few steps in your training programme.

      To address his pulling on the lead, I would suggest a head collar, a webbing halter like those used for horses. You can see some pics of head collars on dogs elsewhere on our site. The head collar give you better control of your dog’s head and where the head goes, the body will follow. (You can purchase a head collar from our club for R50). Attached your lead to the head collar under the chin and stop or change direction every time your dog pulls. At first you won’t really get very far but as long as you train yourself not to follow your dog when he pulls, he will rethink pulling on the lead. You can use the head collar/long lead combination when you throw balls in the park until he has been trained not to run off.

      Remember to praise and reward your dog when ever he behaves in a way you like. Dogs are quick to learn what behaviour gets a positive reaction from you and will want to repeat the behaviour. This works far better than punishing him for doing the wrong thing

      Good luck

  • Dawn says:

    Hi guys, please help with some advice. My student neighbours have a lovely german shepherd. He is a very well behaved dog, and quite gentle. The problem is that he barks continously, during the day and during the night. The students do nothing, and sleep through the night. At first I tried going out and saying “shush / go to sleep / enough!” quite firmly. That actually worked at first. The barking did not stop though, and we have gradually tuned it out. More recently it has got worse – last night I rang their door bell at 3 in the morning – they did not answer – but I had a lovely quiet chat with the dog, who lay down at the gate and seemed to calm down. I went back to bed and he started up again as I lay down. I would like to chat to the student, and give him some advice – do you have any helpful things he/we can try? My teenage son has offered to walk his dog anytime – so I will offer that again and see what he says. Please help, we’re desperate! Regards, Dawn.

    • julie says:

      It sounds like this GSD is desperate for attention. I would suggest that you chat to your neighbour and offer that your son could walk the dog regularly (tired dogs are far better behaved) and also suggest that he allow the dog to sleep inside at night. Dogs who sleep inside usually settle quickly and sleep when their pack (the owner/s) sleep. If the barking is driving you crazy, you can report the owner to the local municipality who will serve a complaince notice in terms of the current legislation. Chatting to the owner first would be the most neighbourly option though. There are lots of other tips I can suggest to address the barking problem but you would need a commited owner and it sounds like you don’t have one!
      Good luck
      Julie

  • Sonja says:

    I’ve noticed our pup shows (7.5 months old) that on my hikes with him he shows some aggressive behavior (running towards them barking with raised hair on the back) when we come across stray people or even groups of people. He otherwise never displays aggression – not towards other dogs, other people nor to us. It seems he is taken off guard, or overly protective of me – perhaps fearful but without apparent cause as the ‘triggers’ vary completely. In social environments he is completely comfortable; this only happens when he is alone with me. Please help…

    • julie says:

      It does sound like a fear response to me – which is quite common in adolescent puppies. You need to continue to socialise your pup with a cross section of people at home and away. I would recommend you take him on lead to places like craft markets and other areas where lots of people are around, like outside your local Spar or Seapoint Beachfront. I would also always keep him on lead while out walking, while you are addressing the problem. There is always the risk of the bark turning into a bite or a startled person falling and hurting themselves. You can set up a training situation for your dog with people you know. When you are taking your dog out, ask that your friend ‘appear out of nowhere” and approach you and your dog. The friend can carry a spray bottle of citronella scented water which can be used to spritz your dog if he shows any aggression. In the meantime, you need to work on your recall so that you can call your dog away from any situation. It is always best to practise this when he is calm. Call him to you often for a treat and send him off again. Use a happy tone and do not nag or shout. Call his name and “come” once only so he learns to respond when you call the first time. Once you have done a fair amount of socialising, your dog is non -reactive in your training sessions and your recall is reliable, you will be able to allow him off the lead again. Good Luck!

  • Dean says:

    Hi there
    I am getting my new labrador puppy at 8 weeks and three days on 30th Jan 2012. I am planning to bring him to puppy traning on that first saturday and take things from there. But before I get to training, there are certain basics that I want to start straight away. For example, I want to start crate training from the time I fetch him from the airport and use it as an ongoing positive tool for life. I know I need to be consistent. What size of crate would you reccommend? The ones for an adult dog seem too big (in other words, he might just have enough space to sleep at one end and wee/poo at the other! So I feel that I may be in for two crates – one for when he is a puppy and ther other for when he is bigger. I’d really like to avoid that expense. I had the idea of using the crate that he is going to fly down to Cape Town in initially and then switch over to the correct size adult crate in time. I am worried that as it is wood, that he’ll chew it, but more so that it is too closed off – a wire crate, at least he can see what is going on around him but still have a safe place as his own. Please advise…..Thanks, Dean

    • julie says:

      Hi Dean

      You are off to a good start! Yes,crate training is an excellent idea and is incredibly easy if you start from day one. Yes his travel box will be perfect for the first few weeks as most of the time your puppy is in there, he will be sleeping. I actually cover the wire cage with a sheet when I want my puppy to settle especially at night as this creates a den-like atmosphere.

      I would buy an extra large wire crate and cordon off part of it to make it smaller. You could even use his travel box inside to take up some of the space (with the door closed) or just use a piece of board instead.

      You are very welcome to come down to the club to watch some classes in the meantime. I am sure you will pick up some useful tips. Also, once you have signed up, you can borrow books from our library.

      Look forward to meeting your new arrival

      Julie

  • Marianda says:

    Hi.

    I have a very friendly 9 month old border collie. She is really good around people including kids, but she gets very aggressive when someone with a puppy or dog comes to visit us.

    She did attend puppy socialisation classes, and she did very well. She was calm, and ignored all the other puppies.

    In the park she is good and actually very submissive towards other dogs, but the moment a strange dog comes into our yard, she becomes nasty.

    We have a jack russel as well, and the two of them are best friends. The jack russel gets along well with other dogs, even in our yard, he just wants to play with them. The border collie gets jealous and nasty and will herd the other dog away from the jack russel and all the people.

    Can this territorial behaviour be changed?

    Thanks

    Marianda

    • julie says:

      Hi Marianda

      Yes I remember Marmite well from puppy class. A puppy who ignores the other puppies in the class is different from one who plays with the other pups. It is very common for Border Collies to be “stand-offish” and prefer the company of their own pack or their humans to other dogs. We see this often in puppy class. At the park Marmite can choose to move away from a dog she prefers not to interact with. When a puppy or dog is brought into your home, she cannot escape and this makes her very stressed. That is the most likely reason why she is acting aggressively.

      I would suggest that you introduce any doggy visitors to her away from your home first so that she can interact with them on her own terms. This needs to be done a few time so she an become familiar with them. Once you have done that, you can bring the visiting dog to your home – best to bring them home from the park together. Keep the visiting dog on the lead so that you can prevent it harassing Marmite who can retreat and walk away, if she chooses.

      Let me know if you need more help and I will recommend a behaviourist who can help you at home.

      Julie

  • Heather says:

    We have owned dogs for years however, the dog we have now is the most hyper dog we have ever owned. We have had 2 other dogs, over the past 25 years; both were easily trainable, quiet, calm and loving dogs. We adopted “Benny” (part Australian Shepherd and part Yellow Lab) from a local animal rescue agency about 9 months ago. He has a lovely temperament and is very friendly, however, he is incredibly hyper. When anyone comes to the door, he goes into quite a state. When we have company “Benny” will jump almost like a kangaroo up very high, stiff legged, off the floor; which is quite impressive actually as he is 70 lbs. He whines, yipes and carries on until someone finally has to say something to him. With our other dogs, we would ignore bad behaviour; only giving attention and affection to good behaviour. The bad behaviour changed quickly. With Benny, if you don’t acknowledge him, the bad behaviour will continue, for as long as 30 minutes until you finally have to remove him out of the room. If someone comes over with their dog, all he wants to do is wrestle with the dog; constantly…for hours. There is no biting or vicious behaviour involved. It is pure wrestling. Benny will even take some of his toys in his mouth and run over to the other dog and waves the toy in their face to get them to play tug of war with him. That is unusual because he does not play that with us. If he has something, we can easily take it out of his mouth with no issues. You just cannot stop it. We have had him on a leash in our home to get him to leave the other dog or guests alone. All he does is whine and pant uncontrollably to the point, his teeth begin to chatter. He has serious separation anxiety; if someone from our household goes outside and is working in the yard, he cries and yelps quite loudly at the window until they come inside which can be for over an hour. We are at our wits end to know what to do. He gets tons of exercise; he is walked every morning and every night for approx. 45 minutes each. If it is raining, we will put him on the treadmill. We have a large space near the local park where we live, where he can run full tilt in an enclosed area so it is safe from cars and other people. He runs to the point of vomiting. We find that the more he is exercised, the more hyper he becomes. We are becoming mentally and physically exhausted over this dog and are looking for some advice. Is it something physical or something we are doing? Please help.

    • julie says:

      Wow Heather, Benny sounds like quite a character! Australian Shepherds are often excessively hyper and it seems that the Aussie half dominates in Benny temperament-wise. As you have observed, hyper dogs often get even more hyper when they get lots of exercise. (Not that I would reduce the exercise as he needs the outlet and the stimulation). it is just that the fitter he becomes, the more exercise he can handle.

      I would suggest the following:

      Get Benny involved in some kind of formal training. He would probably love agility or flyball and some obedience training would give you more control over him and keep him mentally stimulated. Both the Yellow Lab and the Australian Shepherd are working breeds, so without an outlet for the working side of his personality, you will get to see some out-of-control, demanding, obsessive behaviour. Teach Benny some lower energy thinking games at home like how to indicate which hand hides the treat or searching for hidden toys.

      You mention that he gets 45 minutes of exercise twice a day. Is that just free running in the park or does it include leash walking? If he is only going to the park for exercise, his only outlet away from home is a high energy one. If you could manage a half hour of lead walking twice a day, using a head collar (you don’t mention if he is also hyper on the lead) in addition to his visits to the park, that would be a good idea.

      To address his out of control behaviour when visitors arrive and his separation anxiety when a family member leaves the house, I would start crate training. You’ll find lots of references on the web of how to get started. Introduce the crate in a positive way so that Benny regards it as his safe haven. Don’t make the crate feel like punishment by giving Benny something delicious to chew whenever you put him in the crate. If all chews are only given in the crate, he will come to love it. Once he is settled in the crate, send him to lie in his crate when someone needs to go outside or when visitors come. This needs to be done gradually, calmly and firmly. Once he is calm he can be allowed out.

      Get everyone to agree to interact with Benny in a calm and relaxed manner. He needs to see everyone around him leading by example. Only give him attention when he is quiet and, even if that means only petting him when is half asleep. Make sure no one is playing rough or excitedly with Benny (including kids).It is also important that you not feel bad for Benny about his being a rescue dog. Dog’s become very insecure when we fuss or give too much attention. You can also help Benny by teaching him that certain “good” behaviours are vey rewarding. Sitting in front of the door calmly makes it open, sitting and watching you makes you feed him, sitting and waiting to have your lead attached makes the walk start, lying down in the car makes the car door open etc. Benny sounds like a bright dog who has found ways to entertain himself. He needs to learn some new alternatives.

      The way he plays with other dogs at home sounds fine to me. As long as the other dog is enjoying the wrestling, there is no harm at all. Dogs need to have a chance to interact with other dogs and each dog will do this in their own way.

      I think with a daily routine of walking and training plus the opportunity to participate in some form of dog sport, you should see a great improvement in Benny’s behaviour.

      I look forward to hearing how it goes. Benny is a lucky dog to have chosen such a committed owner!

      Julie

  • Dean says:

    Hi there
    I thought that I would share a story that reiterates just how important (and life saving) that ‘leave’ command can be! Hopefully it will be useful for others too.

    I have a 5 month old lab puppy that has been to puppy socialisation and training since he was 8 weeks old. He has most of the basic commands down pat but the more challenging ones he is still learning – in particular the ‘down’ command when his is some distance from me and doing something else.

    I was visiting a holiday home today that I look after – a large property that my lab knows well as he always comes with me on my rounds and loves checking out all the interesting places. Today he found a dead rat… I saw that he had it from a distance and immediately shouted for him to ‘down’ and ran toward him. Bad mistake as my pup immediately thought ‘game on’. After a few minutes he did go down, I got to him and told him to ‘leave’ which he then did.

    What worries me about a dead rat in a well to do area, is that there is a good chance that it had been poisoned. I felt sick at the thought of: “What if he had eaten it?” Or even just got a good bite into it? Labs have little discretion when it comes to food, so that scenario is not beyond possible.

    I have watched him like a hawk all day for any signs of poisoning – nothing, thank goodness.

    Never under-estimate the need for good training and for your dog to understand that you mean what you mean when you mean it for his safety too! Thank you Julie and Lynda (and everyone else) at the club for your fantastic training!

    • julie says:

      Shew! Good to hear that your story had a happy ending. It is so difficult to imagine just how valuable the basic exercises will prove to be when you first learn them.

  • Vanessa says:

    I Have two Jack Russel’s, my neighbour who is retired and home all day has complained that there is incessant barking when I leave for work early in the mornings. Please can you advise what I can do about this, he is now starting to get nasty about this.

    • julie says:

      Hi Vanessa
      There is no magic cure for barking as dogs bark for so many reasons. Does your neighbour say if they bark at any other time during the day, or only just after you leave? Let me know as that will help me to try to identify what might be causing the barking. Are the dogs inside or outside? Do they have a view of the road? Do they bark when you are at home too? How often do they get to go out? How old are they?

      In the meantime, there are some basic tips that would be useful no matter what the cause of the barking. Jack Russels are high energy dogs who get bored if there is nothing going on. I would suggest you take them out for a walk early in the morning, before you leave for work. Include some play time on your walk, like throwing a ball for them at the park. When you get home, feed them at least half of their daily food ration. (make breakfast larger than supper). Leave them with something to chew on like a stuffed hoof or a raw marrow bone. If they are tired, full and have somthing to chew, they are likely to be more relaxed. They should go out for a second walk when you get home from work too.

      Let me have some more information and I will try to help you work out the cause of the barking and hopefully, keep your neighbour happy!

  • Poppie Oosthuizen says:

    I am a widow and have a new bull terrier puppy girl now for 3 weeks. Her name is Bianca and she is 11 weeks old now. She is a sweet puppy and I already love her very much. She is a fast learner re toilet training and the accidents become less inside. She sits and is grasping the lie down command in Afrikaans ‘lê’. She is used to her collar, but does not like the idea of the lead yet. She gets a grip on the lead, bite it, refuse to walk further – sort of attempt to start a tug game (that I do not play with her). This is however not the problem I bring to you….. Bianca has a thing about catching my trouserlegs and shoes and ripping them to pieces – my pants are full of holes and she does not want to let go of it (also when walking on the lead) when I say ‘no’. She has lots of chewing toys that I rotate and I also give her a raw bone to chew on in the morning. I have tried myself tired saying no and then offering a chewable chew for her, as it does not seems to work.
    What I then did was close the half door (barndoor) to the outside and the half door to the rest of the house and then leave her to herself in the kitchen (this is the restricted area where I leave her, but this obviously then cause potty mistakes …) This seems to work for short periods but then she starts again. This morning I put her for 15 minutes in the inside toilet, opened the door and picked her up and took her to the kitchen with the open door and gave her no attention …. she was furious and ran in circles and then straight to my trouser legs again and started again pulling it left right and centre as if it was a tug toy. I ‘no’ again, gave her a chew toy (which she ignored) and darted to my trouser legs again. When we picked her up from the breeder, she mentioned that she loves shoes and take them outside to a tree. When I heard that I feared that something like this would happen, as one of our bullterriers we’ve bought had this obsession for our shoes and it is very difficult because it feels one cannot give all the love you have to your puppy as you must just always say no-no-no. It feels as if one has been robbed of this mutual love. Do you have any advice you can share? I’ve bought The Puppy Listener by Jan Fennell and also Puppy Whisperer by Paul Owen. Many thanks for listening! Poppie Oosthuizen

  • Nadine says:

    We have a 2 year old Boerboel cross. She is not aggressive at all and gets along well with our Maltese Poodle. We took her to puppy training classes where she was attacked by another dog. ever since then she is very skittish of loud noises and strangers. If something falls over close to her she will run away with her tail between her legs. What can I do to get her over this and help her not to be so scared anymore?

    • julie says:

      I am so sorry to hear about your dog’s bad experience at puppy school. Unfortunately puppies are very impressionable which means that bad experiences can have lasting effect. The best way to begin to address fear issues is to make sure that you are not inadvertently encouraging her fear. When ever she is nervous, make sure that you do not praise, touch or comfort her. Any attention she receives while she is anxious will result in her feeling even more anxious. You need to act very calm and matter of fact. Ignore or distract her. If she is on the lead, make sure you keep the lead loose so that she does not pick up your tension. What happens is that we tend to anticipate that the dog will be anxious and the dog then picks up our concern.

      To help your dog learn to deal with load noises, she needs to associate noise with something pleasant. For most dogs, the most effective reward is food but for some a toy is more exciting. Choose a sound that has made her nervous in the past and start regular sessions where you make the sound and then follow it with a tasty treat (or a quick game with the toy). After a while, she will start associating that sound with the anticipation of food instead of feeling nervous. Once you see her nervousness improving, you can add additional noises in the same way.

      To deal with her fear of strangers, you need to use the same thinking as with noise. She needs to start associating strangers with something pleasant instead of feeling fearful. Ask everyone who comes into contact with her at home or when you are out to ignore her completely. Nervous dogs feel even more threatened when people try to hard to befriend them. Get visitors to drop treats on the ground when they meet her. This works better than trying to feed her by hand. If she is too nervous to pick up the treats, ask her to sit and offer the treat yourself. Carry a pocketful of treats when ever you take her out walking. When ever you see anyone approaching, ask her to sit and give her a treat. Once she realises that every new person she sees will result in the treats coming out, she will start focusing more on you then worrying about the person.

      Good luck with your training.

  • Anja says:

    Hello

    Four days ago we got our first puppy a border collie called Marley. He is almost 12 weeks old (long story) and a beautiful boy. The first two days he was on good behaviour but now he has started jumping up and biting and tugging our clothes and occasionally us. He does this in a playful way and we can’t distract him with a toy. He is also started chewing the couch and other furniture instead of his chew toys.
    is there anything we can do to discourage and stop this behaviour?

    Thanks
    Anja

    • julie says:

      Hi Anja

      12 weeks is a very busy age for a puppy particularly a working breed like a Border Collie. (even more so if the pup comes from working stock on a farm). Your collie is super intelligent and unless you provide the right stimulation and boundries, is going to be very destructive and demanding. When he is around you in the house, keep him on a lead for the first few weeks. This allows you to control his behaviour and allows you to teach him how to behave around people. He should never be left unattended to chew on the furniture but should be either on the lead or in his crate (or any confined aread) with a chew.

      He needs about four short training sessions during the day when you teach him basic obedience exercises and tricks in a positive, fun way. He also needs at least four play sessions in the garden when you play with him with a toy – teaching him tug, leave and fetch. In addition at least two short on lead walks to interesting places where he can meet other dogs, people and see the world. It is also a good idea to take him out to the park to play with a toy on lead away from other dogs

      When he bites you or your clothing, give him a firm vebal reprimand and hold him still until he calms down. Then ignore him for a few minutes. If he comes back for more, put him in time out or use a citronella spray bottle to stop the behaviour. If he is growling at you, grab him firmly by the scruff and hold him still in your arms or on the ground until he relaxes. Be sure not to be aggresive with him – never ever smack a puppy.

      Get him into a puppy class as soon as possible where he can play with other dogs and get started with his training. Best of luck.

      • Anja says:

        Thank you for the advice, there is also another ‘problem’ I forgot to include, he is fine travelling in cars, he even enjoys it. But he is terrified of them if they drive past him and this makes it extremely hard to walk him along the streets. We have managed to coax him down our street but if a car comes past he will back as far away as he can ( occasionally he will whine) and watch the road. When this happens it is almost imposible to get him back on the road and walking again.

        Thanks for the advice
        Anja

        • julie says:

          There is only one way to get your puppy over his fear of moving cars and that is to expose him to as many as possible. Teach him to sit and watch you using a treat. Once he will snap his head to look at you as soon as he hears his name, you are ready to take your show on the road. Choose a spot on your walk which is quite busy to practice your new skill. When you see a car is coming, tell your pup to sit and watch you before the car gets to you. (always carry treats with you) as soon as he watches you, give him treat. After a few repetitions, your pup will realise that whenever he sees a car, he is going to get a treat. Slowly his attitude to cars will change as he realises that cars = food!

  • Peter Godson says:

    We have a very pretty 16-month-old spayed “rescue” dog from the SPCA who has been a member of our family for about a year now. She looks a bit like a small saluki, with German Shepherd-ish colouring, a magnificent penant-look tail and fold-over tufted ears. She is a great pet, house-trained herself within two days, loves to play with toys and walks well on the lead, especially the retractable one, and, providing her head is kept high which stops her pulling, on a short lead, too. But she does have a few problems, the biggest of these being her fear, mainly of men but also of all strangers, including children. If I bend to give her even one of her favourite treats she will back away, obviously with a deep-seated fear from before she came to us. We wonder whatever could have happened to her, as she’s never even been threatened here and loves to be stroked if you are sitting down or to “hold hands” for up to half an hour at a time (as you see, she’s thoroughly spoilt!) I have tried Cesar Millan-type ideas like sitting down with my back to her with a treat in my hand, but even that doesn’t work consistently. As I say that’s her number one problem – any ideas? Her other problems are that, when I take her for a walk, whenever we come across another dog on a lead she “scares” them, or at least their owners, by jumping at the pets. It looks as if she is tempting them to play but other dogs don’t “get it” and I have had to pull her away very quickly on occasions when the other dog jumps back at her but in a serious “I’m about to savage you” sort of way. Off the lead, if she comes across another dog she will immediately roll onto her back submissively and allow herself to be dominated but if the other dog then loses interest she will run at them and start the front-feet jumps again. She also does not come when called or whistled (especially if she sees another dog, even in the distance) but comes running most times if she sees me walking in the opposite direction. Compared to our last dog (a boxer)she’s not the brightest spark in the fire, but maybe we were spoilt by one of the canine world’s incredibly smart animals. She does however have an incredible sense of smell and can find the tiniest morsel left by a picknicker.

    • julie says:

      Hi Peter

      Well done that you have rescued your dog and given her a second chance. Interestingly dogs that have been neglected during their formative stage are more likely to be fearful of people than those that have been abused. It is likely that your dog lived outside and did not have much human contact between 4 and 14 weeks of age. Unfortunately fear is not easily treated and even with professional help it is likely your dog is always going to be a little shy. With the right help though, you will be able to see some improvement with both her confidence to with you and her manners around other dogs. I would suggest you contact a reputable behaviourist who can work with you to modify your dog’s behaviour. What area are you in? Julie

  • Anja says:

    Hi Julie
    Our puppy Marley, you might know him from classes, has always been good with house training. The breeder sent him to us almost completely house trained so we just carried on. In the first few days he had one or two oopsies but after that he was fine.

    Now almost three months later he is 6 months old and has broken his house training twice. He just gets up from what ever he’s doing and does a pee. One minute he’s chewing his toy, the next he’s peeing on the carpet.

    The one time it was raining outside so we had all the doors closed but he didn’t cirle or sniff or anything.

    Could this be marking behaviour? It doesn’t seem like it to me, but he is my first dog so it might be.

    Thanks
    Anja

    P.S. Your advice for his road fear worked and he is much better, a little fear on the road outside our house but other than that he’s fine.

    • julie says:

      6 months is about the time that the behaviour of an un-neutered male starts to change. I would go back to the very beginning of your training and keep him on the lead whenever he is in the house for a week or two. The only time he should be left unattended is when he is in his crate or playing outside. Remember to praise him when he ever he messes outside just as you did when he was tiny. Also make sure he has frequent visits outside. Is he lifting his leg yet – that can be an indicator of marking?

      Go back to reinforcing your basic pack leadership rules – who eats what, who goes where, who owns what etc. Remember to keep to a daily routine to ensure Marley doesn’t become insecure. Sometimes when dogs lives turn upside down, their behaviour becomes erratic. Examples may be: arrival of a new pet, the death of a companion, a new member of the household, a new neighbour, family trauma etc.

      Let me know how it goes

      Julie

  • Stefan says:

    Hi Julie
    We have a 8week old pitbull puppy join our household just over a week ago and we already have 5 Jack Russels (3males & 2females). What can I say but that we are animal lovers.
    Q1: Will the pitbull, with the necessary and relevant training, be able to successfully integrate and live in harmony with the other dogs?
    Q2: Is a pitbull very “trainable” to be a loving pet, just like other dogs?
    We are determined to, with all the training and socialising classes, prove that this joyful and energetic bundle of fur are not the typical stereotype dangerous dog. At present he is exposed daily to a wide variety of people and where possible, other animals. I want a bundle of joy and love…..not a ferocious fighter.
    Thanks
    Stefan & Jenny
    PS: Very nice and informative website!!! Keep up the good work!!!

    • julie says:

      Hi Stefan and Jenny

      Thanks for the compliment.

      Wow you really have a handful! We get many Pitbulls in our training classes. Fist step, I would suggest you sign up for puppy classes straight away. It is essential that your pup learns social skills away from his pack. To answer your questions. Yes Pitbulls can live happily alongside other dogs if they are well socialised, calm,confident and carefully managed. Powerful dogs of any breed need to learn to accept handling, grooming and restraint while they are still tiny. To answer your second question, Pits are very trainable and are very affectionate and lovable with people.

      Your pup needs to meet a variety of people (aim for one new person every day). he needs to meet old people and children too. He also needs to be exposed to other animals – other pups, friendly dogs, cats, caged animals, livestock etc. It is essential that your pup go out every day to meet the world without your other dogs.

      Don’t take your pup out to parks where other dogs run off lead just yet. You don’t want your puppy to have a bad experience which can lead to issues later.

      Feel free to drop me a line if you need more advice info@capeprovincedogclub.co.za
      Julie

  • Karen Ford says:

    Hi Julie, my 13 year old husky…Ace totally bosses me around. He very vocal and food motivated and I give him 10 out of ten for determination. He is the worst for getting his way with treats. If I say no more he will sit in front of me rocking from side to side lifting each foot in turn and whine. He wont quit . He wi even go to the pantry and put his head on the door as if hes listening to the cupboard but and then hangs his head and cries. Then the routine starts again. Throw in a demanding bark every few breaths. He does what he is told in other aspects and will even give his food up to me if I decide he isnt going to eat it and he is just guarding it from our other dog. If Ace is whinging I know that hes fine. In fine form I mean. Its when he is quiet I know he is sick. He whinges at me all the time and once my daughter put a big book in front of his face to block his view … He didnt move but got more upset and keep trying to look around the book! If I leave the room after 30 mins of him carrying on , he gets angry and just waits for me with this angry face then jumps up barks at me and starts again! My whole life is my two huskies which I have chosen happily but Ace is a bit much. He takes up the whole couch and my bed if he is thirsty just puts his head up and whinges. He always wants ‘loving’ every time I walk past him and will wait till Im almost next to him and lie back for his tummy rubbed. He gets loads of loving and attention but wants more. His passion…. Other than food is to sit in front of me and winge. He is a brat. I love him so much , have I spoiled him rotten? Karen

    • julie says:

      Hi Karen

      Yes you have spoiled him but it is not too late to change. What has happened is that Ace has come to expect the attention he gets and has come to rely on it. i know it is hard but sometimes you just need to pretend he is invisible even when he is right there. This will help him to relax a little. Sometimes when we give our dogs too much attention they get a bit worried. This can make them very demanding and difficult. If you can be firm enough, you will find your dog will calm down and eventually whinge less. Good luck!

  • Shayne says:

    Hi there
    I have a 9 month male and a 4 month female pit bull red nose.
    there are so playful and happy go lucky nature. I am looking for a place for them to get some stimulation and socialization other than only at the training classes on a Sunday at Theo Marias sport club. My male gets so excited to see other people and dogs he drags me in all directions. he is so excited he goes bezerk and training has been rough. He is good at home and so obedient. My puppy is a real lady and she does well in classes, can you advise me on my big boy.

    • julie says:

      Hi Shayne

      It is a tough one and quite hard to find places that you can allow Pits to play freely and safely. We have someone at our club with a young Pit who may be able to give you some guidance. I will mail you his contact details so that you can get in touch. Julie

  • Diane says:

    Hi There

    I have a 15 month rescue dog mixed breed, Bella. We have attended puppy classes and passed the beginners class. At the moment my biggest concern is chasing cars. When I am walking on the road she is on the lead and pays no attention to the cars but occasionally when she gets out of the yard and a car drives past she runs after it. Then today when I was just finishing up an off lead walk at Keurboom park we were still about 30m from the road she caught sight of a car and bolted, Thankfully she just ran alongside the road and didn’t get onto the road, but it is obvious that this is a behaviour of huge concern. How can I stop her from doing this?

    • julie says:

      Hi Diane

      Chasing is an instinctive dog behaviour. Dogs happily chase balls, squirrels, cats and other dogs. If not corrected they also will chase joggers, bicycles and cars. Movement stimulates the dog’s need to chase. This is even more pronounced in herding breeds like border collies. Some dogs chase as a predatory behaviour while others only in play.

      You need to teach your dog a command to stop chasing before addressing the problem of chasing cars. Take your dog to a quiet spot and use a tennis ball to teach the “leave” command. Have your dog on the lead and roll the ball past her. If your dog tries to grab the ball, say, “Leave!” firmly and tug on the lead. When she does leave the ball, praise profusely and/or reward with a treat. Once your dog gets the idea that she should not go after the ball when she hears the “leave”command, you are ready to use this new skill to address your real problem.

      Have a friend help you by driving a car in a quiet place like a parking area. Start with your dog on lead. Have your friend drive the car past you repeatedly. If your dog tries to chase the car, use your “leave” command and a tug on the lead. Praise and reward as before if your dog manages to ignore the car. Once your dog is reliable on the lead, attach a long line to your dog’s collar and unclip her lead. Repeat as before correcting if necessary with the long line. Eventually you can leave the long line dragging, only removing it when your dog shows no interest in the car.

      It is essential that your dog is always on the lead when out and about as you can undo all your hard work if you allow her the opportunity to chase while you are working on the problem. You might need to set your dog up with a few training sessions before you can assume that the lesson is learned.

  • Teresa says:

    Hi, Bailey is 2, Mel is 1yr old. We can handle their food no problem. Recently Mel has started getting very possessive of her chews e.g. both Bailey and Mel have hooves to chew on, she will growl if he comes near her or she will distract him with barking at the door then she will go and steal his treat – should we be leaving lots of chews around for them to take when they want – as this giving each of them is causing them to fight, and Mel showing possessive behaviour?
    Please advise thanks

    • julie says:

      Hi Teresa
      Leaving lots of chews around is just going to encourage Mel to collect and guard them all. It is fine to allow her to warn Bailey off if she is chewing something as long as he backs off when warned and it does not escalate into a fight. It is quite normal for one dog in a group to be more assertive around food and remind everyone else that they should not interfere if they are eating. If she is fine with you handling her food and your dogs are not fighting, you need not be alarmed. To make sure Bailey has a chance to enjoy a chew – just give them chews separately and when they have finished chewing, pick up the chews before the dogs are allowed back together again. Good Luck!

  • Lucille says:

    Hi Julie
    My 7 month old Yorkie Sophie (weighing 3.5kg) has started becoming very dominant and at times v aggressive with my 12 yr old rescue minature cross yorkie (weighing 2,5kg). Emma is very submissive, has arthritis and cardiac problems. She is quite fragile physically.
    Sophie sits on top of her and stands over her whenever she can. Play sessions together, as the excitement escalates, can end in a viscious attack from Sophie . My older dog ends up on her back with Sophie holding her at the throat. So far she has drawn blood twice by puncturing Emma’s nose.
    Any attempt to separate them seems to escalate Sophie’s attack. I do not know how to handle this once an attack is under way as she refuses to let go. My “No’s” are not heard and tend to make thing worse.
    Since food has triggered some of the episodes, I feed them separately. Now the episodes start out as play but quickly becomes an attack.
    They do everything else together including sleeping together quite happily. Since Emma is physically limited I cannot walk them together. I am afraid that Sophie will injure Emma very seriously if I cannot control this behaviour. Sophie is ending off the 5-7 month puppy class and has always been very timid and fearful around other dogs in the class.

    • julie says:

      Hi Lucille

      I would suggest we get Lynda (who is a behaviourist) to come round to your home to help you. She would need to see your dogs together to be able to
      give you the best possible advice to manage the situation. You are right to be concerned as terriers when they do fight – tend to be very good at it and can cause serious damage. It sounds like Sophie feels that she is ready to take over the assertive role that your older dog has filled up to now. Julie

  • Carien says:

    I need your help. Our staffie (male) is being neutered tomorrow and someone suggested a deprovera (?) injection to help lower his tostestorone levels immediately as we have rescued a dog who is at our welfare at the moment while we sort out our staffie. A professional will introduce them as the staffie has not been socialized. What I want to know is do you know, are you familiar with the deptrovera injection and is it safe?

    Thank you!

    • julie says:

      Hi Carien

      I am finding out for you about the injections as I have no experience with them. Neutering will take 6 weeks to take effect.

      Julie

    • Angie says:

      Google “depo-provera” injection in dogs, its a contraception for females. I would do more research before going with it.

  • Angie says:

    Hi, My lab x barks non stop whilst in the car. Jumping backwards and forwards chasing cars, motor bikes etc whilst we drive. She has done this since she was a pup and is now 4 years old. It makes car rides a bit unpleasant. I used to shout at her but now just completely ignore her barking. She gets very excited and also barks at me if we are walking or “working” and then stop for long periods of time and the minute I touch her or we walk on, she stops.
    Any tips, hints or ideas to break this “habit” of hers would be greatly appreciated.

    • julie says:

      Hi Angie

      Barking in the car is triggered by the stimulation of movement. The best way to correct this is to block your dog’s view out the windows. The most effective way to block the view is with a covered crate. In the crate you need to provide something delicious to chew and a comfy cushion. Another option is to block off the view out the windows like one would for a baby with a towel or blanket. Tethering your dog to a low spot in the car will physically prevent her seeing out the window and prevent her from jumping around and can also work. You can use a doggy seat belt with a harness to achieve this. You can buy the seat belt connector from the club or from Laird Leatherware.

      Barking for attention needs to be ignored completely. Make sure you are not inadvertently rewarding the barking by giving commands or attention. Just turn you back and fold your arms. Wait for the barking to stop before continuing what ever you were doing (even if this takes quite a long time).

      Hope that helps
      Julie

  • Chanel says:

    Hi,

    My boyfriend and I adopted a 1 year old female border collie in March this year. She seems to suffer from incredible separation anxiety. We were originally concerned our garden might be too small but the house inspection seemed fine. She displays no destructive behaviour when we are home, only follows me around and whines occasionally when I am in the bathroom and no one else is in the house.

    She is exercised daily, is very obedient and is a simply amazing dog. When we first got her she would jump over the wall if we left her alone. She has stopped this but does destroy the garden, digging holes and chewing through hose pipes. We have tried giving her a pit, she has a kong (which I think only keeps her busy for five minutes) and other chew toys. According to the neighbours she howls when we aren’t home.

    I feel terrible as both my boyfriend and I work fulltime and I cannot imagine the stress she must be going through for most of the day. Are you able to assist with something like this? Her destructive behaviour seemed to subside at one stage and now it seems it is getting worse again.

    Thank you

    • julie says:

      Hi Chanel

      I will mail you a referral to a behaviourist. I think it would be best to get someone to come to your home and give you some guidance. Rescues are always a challenge as we can never be sure what has happened before they came to you. Collies are also super intelligent and thrive on mental challenges. I assume you are stuffing the kong with treats?
      Julie

  • wesley says:

    hi I have a 2 year old male pitbull X boxer. He was bought at birth and has been living with me ever since. He is nothing like a boxer but has all the characteristics of a pitbull and as a result no one can enter my property. He has attacked quite a few people but only when provoked. I have a problem taking him to the vet for his check ups because he doesn’t like needles. He is very temperamental and attacks at any time without warning , however I also have a smaller basenji and 2 cats whom he has never hurt. The 4 of them play together and sometimes very roughly but he will never lay a paw on them. I have tried sending him to a training academy but they refused to train him because of his aggressiveness. Any advice would be appreciated as he is very loving and caring when its just the 2 of us

    • julie says:

      The kind of aggression you describe is not something that can be trained out. It is most likely a combination of
      genetics and fear. Perhaps you should consider working with a behaviourist who has experience with Pitbulls. Can you let
      me know what part of the country you are in so I can point you in the right direction?

      Julie

  • Bronwyn says:

    Hi Please can you help I have a 11 week old JRT and he is very active I know this is normal but 3 things I need help with he is always biting my hands. He attaches himself to my pant leg when I am walking. And he keeps messing in the house. Please can you give me some advice that may work. I love him to bits he listen to certain things like we have taught him to give paw and to sit so far so he is definitely trainable. Thanking you in advance.

    • Julie Tobiansky says:

      Hi Bronwyn

      I would suggest you start puppy classes as soon as possible. This will give your pup a good outlet for all that energy.
      I would also suggest you keep your pup on the lead when indoors so he can learn how to relax at your feet when you sit down
      and can’t get away with messing in the house. If he is near you, you will be able to see when he is wanting to get to the toilet. Also consider crate training which is a life changer for a busy dog. Make sure your pup always has lots of good things to chew like hooves, pig’s ears or bully sticks. Raw bones are also a good option. When he grabs your pants leg, just pick up and hold him still until he calms down. Don’t get angry and don’t turn it into a game. Put him down when he is relaxed.
      Best of luck

  • Ruweda says:

    Good Day

    I have a four month old Boerbul puppy. He is very energetic a the moment and expresses his affection by standing on his hind leg and putting his paws around me. I really adore him but need for him to stop this behavior because as he gets older I will be going to work with dog paws on my dress :)

    I do basic training with him and he listens but this happens especially when I am feeding him its as if he can’t resist. He does not hump as I stopped him from behaving in that manner.

    Thank You.

    • Julie Tobiansky says:

      Hi Ruweda

      You can teach him to run and lie on a mat when he gets very excited by teaching it as a fun exercise using treats. Just toss treats on the
      mat until he doesn’t want to get off it. Then gradually lure him to lie down and place treats between his paws. Once he is crazy about the mat – you
      can send him to lie on it when he is over the top excited. Always reward once he is there – eventually the reward can come after quite a while.

      You can also say ‘That’s enough’ quite firmly and walk out the room and close the door. He will quickly learn that dinner is delayed if he gets too excited. Hope that helps – good luck.

  • Christo Bester says:

    Hi Julie
    Our two-and-a-haf year old female Staffie SARAH,(trained at your school for more than a year, handler Wane) were doing very well. Happy and healthy, shares the home with two males (Staffie 14y old and Boston 11y old) and Tigger the Ginger Cat, 12y old: good mates with all. Last three weeks, when no one is at home, she tries to (successfully) break through the fence with neighbour and just wants to get on her lap (hardly ever want to sit on ours!), She is anxious, and at times cowers and refuses to act on commands as we leave for work. We are a bit at a loss as to why this would now all of a sudden happen.
    Thanks

    • Julie Tobiansky says:

      Hi Christo
      It is likely that something has happened to trigger this change in behaviour. An attempted break in is one likely possibility.
      Other possibilities could be a change which she has found disturbing like a change of routine, changes to the family situation
      like someone arriving or leaving, house guests etc. The best way to manage this would be to keep a strict routine so that life
      can become predictable. Try to secure your fence so that Sarah cannot get out. In the event that she does, ask your neighbour not to
      make a fuss but to secure her in a safe space and contact you ASAP. Have you considered crate training? Dogs who are anxious often
      benefit from the security of knowing that they have a space of their own even if the door is left open eventually.

      Hope that helps

      Julie

Leave a Reply