This week, Traci Moriarty, Certified Pet Dog Trainer, addresses two helpful behaviors for your dog.
“How do I keep my dog from barking at other dogs that are walking by?” “How do I keep my dog from jumping up on people or bikes passing us?”
STEP 1: As always when teaching a new skill, start in a quiet place with little distraction. Then, place a treat in your hand, put it next to your face, and say “Watch Me.” When your dog looks at you, give him the treat.
STEP 2: Start to place your hand further from your face each time you give the “Watch Me” cue. Continue to move your hand away until you can have your hand completely down at your side and when you say “Watch Me,” your dog still looks at your face. (This can take up to 2 weeks of regular practice.)
STEP 3: Next, build up how long your dog watches you by delaying the treat for a few seconds. Say “Watch Me” and when your dog looks at your face, praise him for a few seconds before giving him the treat. You can practice this during commercials while watching TV.
STEP 4: You’re ready to bring it outside! First, try it outside without any distractions coming to make sure your dog understands the cue outside. Once you feel confident that your dog is responding to the “Watch Me” cue, try it as another dog or a person on a bike is approaching. Say “Watch Me” and when your dog looks at you, give a treat and praise enthusiastically! Build up to having your dog look at you, then cuing him to Sit and Stay or just keep walking by the distraction while your dog is watching you. Make sure to generously treat your dog for ignoring the distraction—your dog has earned it! If your dog won’t take the treat, then try better treats, increase your distance between your dog and the distraction, and/or practicing with lower level distractions.
The goal that when something distracting is coming at you or is nearby, you can ask your dog to “Watch Me” and your dog will look to you, ignoring the distraction.
Sit can be taught by “capturing” every time your dog sits. To capture the behavior, you “mark” it by saying “Yes” and giving a treat. Adding the verbal cue “Sit” prior to the behavior after a few successes will help your dog associate the cue with the behavior.
You can also lure the dog into a sit with a treat just above the nose, moving the treat back just a bit so the rear part of the dog “Sits.”
Practice makes perfect, so practice sitting for attention, treats, for meals, and before going in or out a door. Waiting for your dog to sit before pets and/or treats will make this a default behavior. Your dog can also learn to sit before every person and not jump!
To build on the Sit behavior:
- Practice teaching Sit from a distance, for example, from the couch while your dog is across the room.
- Have your dog sit next to you and not just in front of you.
- Apply a hand signal to the Sit cue.
- If you are expecting a baby or have a baby, practice Sit while holding things in your arms.