In our second post in the Tips from A Trainer series, professional dog trainer Ashley Parker answers more of our audience’s dog-related questions. Read about how to leash train and curb chewing, jumping, biting, and more.
1. How do I get a puppy to stop chewing on everything?
Puppies, like teething children, need an outlet. Giving lots of appropriate chew items or enrichment foods can help such as frozen banana slices, kongs with puppy friendly treats, and safe chewing toys under supervision help. Otherwise, puppies need a lot of structure! Just like we’d never set a three-year-old human child loose upon the world to figure it out themselves, we need to provide a lot of direction and guidance to puppies.
2. How do I leash train my puppy? They are so curious about everything, especially grass
I would follow the same methods for leash walking as the prompt above. That’s not to say that puppies can’t explore and enjoy their surroundings, but they need to know there’s a time and place for it as allowed by you. Remember that you are raising a dog. While puppies are very cute and their behavior can be endearing when small, it’s more difficult to correct the older and bigger they get. It's hard to say to a puppy “you can get away with this now, but you’ll be in trouble for it when you’re older.” If you teach them from the beginning, you will have a polite pup that knows they have greater freedoms and privileges if they listen in the first place.
3. What are the best tips for training a dog not to jump on people?
It’s always easier to teach foundational commands to prevent this from happening before jumping straight into correcting. For example, if your dog always jumps and barks at guests as they come in through the front door, it is easier to teach a solid place command. This ensures you can greet and enjoy your guests without having to pull your dog off them, while giving your dog a chance to calm down in order to make better choices. Another tip is to have your pet on leash and instruct people not to pet them as he jumps. Humans almost always put their hands up to stop a dog from jumping, but if the dog desired touch, and was inadvertently rewarded with touch as the guest pushed them away, it’s only further reinforcing this unwanted behavior!
4. My dog pees from excitement when she greets people. How can I stop this?
There are many reasons as to why dogs urinate upon greeting. I always rule out any potential underlying medical conditions but more often than not, it can be due to: age, excitement, overstimulation, nervousness, or fear. Teaching her to settle and be calm prior to greeting people will help. I definitely don’t mind a friendly dog getting attention! I just ask people to respect the training ground rules I’ve set. I’ll have my dog sit (and make sure they retain that sit!) Once they’ve settled, I’ll then allow people to pet my dog but I ask them to use a calm/neutral tone. This helps her work through impulse control and teaches her how to politely greet without getting worked up to the point where she pees.
5. How can I stop a puppy from nipping or biting my hands?
I try not to enable nipping and biting by giving appropriate chew items/toys. If they choose to nip you instead of the toy, I take a small break from play. Once they’ve had some time to settle down, you may resume play. Try to engage in an activity such as fetch or tug rather than allowing them to make contact with your clothes/hands.
To read more of Ashley’s answers to pet training questions, read our first Tips from A Trainer post. Training is a long-term commitment, and your success depends on the level of consistency you maintain with your dog. Ashely recommends setting a strong foundation by teaching commands, setting rules or boundaries, and then progressing towards teaching your pet how to retain command.
Every dog is different, and dog training is not a one-size-fits-all approach. There are many approaches and tools, and some may work for your dogs while others do not. Find out what motivates your dog, whether that be food or positive affirmation. If you struggle with making progress, reach out to a professional to help train your dog.