with Lisa Peterson
Dear Lisa: We have a male 16-month-old Shih Tzu that we love dearly. He gets very excited whenever someone comes around. He barks non-stop and he likes to jump on people. He barks so long until his heart is pounding. We enrolled him in a beginning obedience class for 6 weeks when he was 10 weeks old. Please give us some advice. – Heart-Pounding Pup
Dear Heart-Pounding: I can’t tell you how many people say to me, “I took him to one obedience session but he doesn’t seem to “get it” or “learn” or “remember anything” or [add an appropriate excuse here]. Dogs, just like people, need consistent, focused, training if they are ever going to get good at anything. You know the old saying, “practice makes perfect”? Well, it couldn’t apply more to puppies. I’m really glad you did take him to class during that critical time between 10-16 weeks when learning is easy and seems to “stick” with the pup for life. Fortunately, you can build on that early exposure and cure your pup of the behavior that ails you!
In the meantime, I would put a leash on him when you are expecting company so you can control his reactions better. The leash will keep him from jumping on people and you will be better able to ask him to sit and stay quietly when guests come to the door. Practice the sit and stay on leash when there is no company around. Praise and reward him when he is quiet and not barking. When company comes over have him repeat this sit and stay quietly. Then as a reward have the guest give him the treat for being quiet and polite. Then get to class and work on building solid solutions to his bad behaviors. You’ll be surprised at how a little bit of obedience training can go a long way to having a great dog!
Dear Lisa: I have a 5-month-old Vizsla and the biggest problem we have with her is leaving her in the crate when the family has to go out. The longest we leave her is 3-4 hours and when we get home and let her out, she runs around us in circles crying, whining and barking.This will usually last about 15-20 minutes. Does it get better? Or is there something we aren't doing correctly? – Vivacious Vizsla
Dear Vivacious: I’m curious, does your pup do this before she goes outside to go potty? If so, the most important thing you aren’t doing correctly is letting this annoying behavior last for 15-20 minutes! As soon as my dogs do something that I’m not happy with or that is loud or disruptive to the household I stop it immediately. Remember your dog looks to you to set the rules. By allowing this to go on and on and on, you are in essence telling her that it’s okay to carry on like this. You might even be encouraging it and not even know it.
New Routines for Success!
Bark Back ~
Reader comments to that scratching nesting behavior discussed in last month’s column:
Dear Lisa:I have 4 male miniature Dachshunds and one female Golden Retriever who do the scratch thing and 1 female Dachshund who does not. Putting a blanket on the couch for the Dachshunds and one on the big dog bed for the Golden has solved the problem. They can scratch all they want and not hurt anything and the Dachshunds even grab the blanket with their mouths and move it around that way to help them get the blanket just right! - C.L.
Dear Lisa: I have dogs, Brittanys by the way, that love to nest, always. I learned to have some big sweat shirt, fluffy towel or even an extra blanket on top of the bed/couch/chair. They dig that up into a nest and leave the furniture in tact. I just push the "nest" aside when I sit or go to bed.– L.S.
Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at email@example.com and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions we cannot offer individual responses. Read previous columns here.