Is your dog fearful of loud noises or events, such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or even the vacuum cleaner? Or is your dog fearful of certain people, like children or strangers? Creating a safe place where your dog can escape as needed can help reduce your dog’s anxiety during stressful situations. It also helps establish clear boundaries—if the dog is in the safe space, the dog needs alone time and does not want to be pet or played with.
When people think of dog training, they don’t often think beyond teaching basic cues. However, dogs are capable of so much more! Instead of simply cueing your dog to retrieve an object, you can teach your dog to retrieve the object on the left versus the object on the right—or the big object instead of the small object. Or you can teach your dog to go over an obstacle or under an obstacle, through an obstacle or around an obstacle.
Have you ever dropped a pill and scrambled to pick it up before your dog rushed over to scarf it down? Have you been out for a walk and your dog discovered a sharp chicken bone or other dangerous object on the ground? Teaching your dog to “leave it” is establishing an essential behavior that can save you an emergency vet visit!
As eye infections in dogs are common, your veterinarian may prescribe eye drops for your dog at some point. After introducing your dog to eye drops to acclimate your dog to the approach of the eye-drop bottle, your dog now has positive associations with the bottle. However, the application of the actual drops can be aversive for many dogs (and humans), so how do you teach your dog to cooperate?
Is your dog obsessed with chasing balls and toys? It’s tempting to try and wear out your dog by mindlessly throwing the ball over and over again. However, often this only increases your dog’s arousal and risk of injury. By being thoughtful and controlled about retrieve games, you will not only provide safe, physical exercise but mental exercise as well!
Does your dog spend most of your walks sniffing the ground? Well, there’s a good reason for that! Unlike humans who rely on sight for environmental cues, dogs rely on scent. Sniffing is how they learn about their environment. Sniffing also has a calming effect on dogs. For these reasons, sniffing is a primary reinforcer, or something that is inherently reinforcing. So, why not harness a dog’s need to sniff by putting it on cue?
Vet visits are stressful for many dogs. Being placed on strange surfaces and touched all over your body with strange objects can be unnatural and frightening. However, a vet visit doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience! By getting your puppy comfortable with what might happen at the vet before the first visit, you can help minimize those fears and have a profound impact on how your puppy views vet visits!
What is the first step to becoming a good trainer? Good clicker mechanics! By practicing your clicker mechanics before you begin training your dog (or any animal), you will become skilled at communicating to your dog precisely which behavior earns treats. Sloppy mechanics can cause frustration for both the teacher and the learner, so brushing up on these skills is important for novice and experienced trainers alike!
Shelters can be a stressful environment for dogs. Fortunately, there are simple, low-cost enrichment activities that can be implemented to provide comfort, reduce stress-induced behaviors, increase confidence, and promote adoptability. Enrichment can also be used to teach shelter dogs how to interact with their environments in a way that delivers a positive outcome. One easy way to provide enrichment is with shaping, the process of gradually teaching an animal a new action or behavior by clicking and treating the animal during each step of the process.
Bringing a new cat into a home with other cats? Let’s face it: cats are territorial, so you will want to be sure to introduce your cats slowly to minimize fearful or aggressive interactions. In the beginning, you will want to confine the new cat to a separate room to encourage them to get used to one another’s scent. Eventually, you will be able to progress to a controlled face-to-face meeting, allowing visual contact through a barrier, such as a pet gate, baby gate, or screen door. But how do you progress to visual contact while avoiding a stare down or confrontation? Try training!