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Q&A

As a dog owner, you may have dozens upon dozens of questions concerning your dog and training problems. Here are a few informative obedience questions and answers that may help you out in your training.


Q. I recently purchased your DVD on Basic Obedience Training. My dog has been doing well with the marker/treats training but will ignore me if I don't have any. Ideas?

I recently purchased your DVD on Basic Obedience Training. My dog is a two year old Yellow Lab. He has been doing well with the marker/treats training. He knows very well the basic commands of sit, down, and stay. He is very attentive when we do the training with treats. However, if we are somewhere and I don’t have treats, or if he is distracted by the presence of someone else, he pretty much just ignores me. It’s like he is saying “I know what I’m supposed to do, but if you’re not giving me a treat, forget it!”

Where do I go from here?

Answer: You’ve only had the video for a month, and that is WAY too early to be testing the training without any rewards. My advice is to back up your training and continue using rewards, especially in the face of distractions. By not giving him treats this early in the training/learning process you are teaching him to “check out” and ignore you. Dogs need to be rewarded a lot at first, then you go to random rewards to keep them trying all the time.

I’d highly recommend The Power of Training Dogs with Food, I think you’ll get a lot out of it.


Question: My German shepherd doesn’t obey my wife. What can we do?

I really enjoy your web page. I believe I've read most of your training articles but don't know how to get my 6 1/2 month old male GSD to obey my wife. We've trained him in basic obedience (no, heel, sit, down, stay, come). My dog ignores my wife's commands when he becomes even slightly excited because he wants to play or he sees a strange person or another dog.

He obeys me on the first command as long as I use a deep, stern voice. I've found that he is much slower to obey if I don't.

My dog often gets bored and uses a very high pitched bark to get us to play with him. With my wife, he will escalate to the point where he runs in, nips at her pants or shirt, and then runs away to get her to chase him. My wife has corrected him as you describe for over a month, but he still doesn't seem to take her seriously. I think he sees her as more of a playmate than a master.

He will also completely ignore my wife if he sees a strange person or a dog. He will bark at strangers and will run to play with other dogs. We usually play and exercise with him about 30 to 60 minutes a day. My wife uses the sternest voice she can muscle when he ignores her but it doesn't work.

Answer: You may think you have trained your dog but it is obvious that you have only half trained him. You need to learn how to administer a proper correction. Raising your voice should not be part of the equation. This only creates the situation you currently have, which is he only listens to you when you raise your voice.

The dog needs to go through a correction phase and a distraction phases, but this needs to be balanced with praise. The tape will show you how to do this.


Question: My 8 month old Rottie growls at me when I try and take his toy away. What should I do?

I have an 8 month old rottie. He is a good dog, however, I have some problems making him give me something (anything) he has stolen from me. He just looks up at me and curls his upper lip. I don't think he wants to bite or harm me, he is usually a very gentle dog. I can put my fingers in his food bowl, and even put my hands in his mouth, however, when he takes something he will not give it back. What do I do?

Answer: What you are seeing is one of the first stages of dominance. This needs to be stopped now when the dog is young rather than allowing him to mature and the problem to grow, (which it will).

The reason you need to be so concerned at 8 months is that you have a window of opportunity to deal with dominance. At 8 months this dog is just a puppy. He does not have the maturity to be a serious threat to you, 5 or 6 months from now this will be a different situation.

Growling at you over his toy is his way of beginning to challenge his position in you pack order. He needs to learn that this is totally unacceptable. How you handle this depends on your size, his size and your skill as a handler.

If it were me I would have the dog wear a prong collar with a drag line (we sell these) . When the dog growled I would take the drag line and give a firm POP on the lead. The dog would learn very quickly that any form of aggression will be quickly dealt with.

The reaction from the dog needs to be avoidance not aggression or more growling. If the dog growls when you correct him the correction needs to be harder.

A prong collar on an 8 month old dog is going to solve the problem.

You had also better put some good obedience training into this dog right now. Get my 4 hour DVD titled Basic Dog Obedience. This training will also help establish you as the pack leader and boss.

And finally - read the article I wrote titled DEALING WITH THE DOMINANT DOG. There may be more things you are doing wrong in this dogs life that are causing it to act like this.