Teaching your pet to greet visitors politely
If your pet jumps on guests when they walk into your home, you probably want to stop that behavior. The best way to stop the jumping is to teach your pet to do something else that is incompatible with jumping, such as sitting politely in front of the door. You could then ask your guests to pay attention to your pet only when he or she is sitting politely. Another option would be to have your pet go to a specific spot whenever the doorbell rings and wait there until called. You could also teach your pet to go grab a toy from his or her toy box and bring it to you so you can throw it for your pet whenever a guest arrives. Each of these behaviors prevents the behavior you dislike – jumping – and gives your pet a specific task that allows him or her to earn a reward when guests arrive.
Dogs (and other animals that use leashes and other types of lead lines) are not born understanding the concept of walking politely while attached to you by a piece of string (so to speak). In fact, walking without pulling is particularly counter-intuitive, since most mammals are born with an innate desire to draw away from pressure. It's therefore very important to teach animals how we want them to behave while on a lead. The best way to do this is to reward them for being where you want – nearby – while on a lead. For assistance in teaching your pet to move politely on a lead, contact us.
Aggression towards other animals
Most pets that behave aggressively are doing so out of fear. For whatever reason, they find other animals (or human strangers) frightening. Some pets cower in these situations, but many others growl, snarl, bark, hiss, or lunge, in an effort to make the scary stranger go away. Unfortunately, aggression towards other animals – even when it's related to fear – often gets worse over time.
There are a variety of tools for dealing with fear, such as counter-conditioning and desensitization (CC&D), Constructional Aggression Treatment (CAT), and Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT). Some of these techniques focus on teaching your pet to use a different, more desirable set of tools when they encounter something that makes them feel insecure. Others are designed to help your pet actually feel more comfortable around the scary thing. For expert assistance in dealing with your pet's aggression in a pet-friendly manner, contact us.
Coming when called
When people call their pets (this is called a "recall"), they usually want them to respond immediately. Unfortunately, people often undermine this goal because of what they do after their pet responds by coming to them. For example, when someone sees their pet eating something inappropriate, they might recall their pet and then wrestle with their pet for the inappropriate item or yell at their pet when he or she does come to them.
To humans, it seems obvious that the wrestling or yelling is punishment for eating something inappropriate, but your pet might interpret the situation as something like the following: "I was eating something. You called me. I came. You punished me for coming when you called. I'll think twice before coming when called again!"
The key to ensuring your pet comes promptly when called is to make sure good things happen every time your pet responds to your call. Good things include petting, praise, yummy food, an opportunity to play, being sent back to what they were doing before the recall… the possibilities are almost endless. The only rule is that whatever follows coming when called should be something your pet enjoys. It can take a little while to rehabilitate your pet's recall, but if you reward your pet every time he or she comes when called, your pet will soon become more willing to respond promptly every time.
For help teaching your pet to come when called, please contact us.