It is not uncommon for dogs to be sensitive to loud
noises. In some dogs, this sensitivity to turn into a
"noise phobia" where the dog panics when he/she hears
loud noises, eg cars backfiring, thunderstorms or
fireworks. This can become very distressing for the dogs
as well as their owners as affected dogs may try to
escape from their house or yard and/or become very
destructive. As these dogs are in a state of panic, they
are unable to control their actions.
There are things you can do while your puppy is young to
make them less likely to suffer from noise phobias as
they get older. Socialising them thoroughly and in the
appropriate way will help your puppy become generally a
better, "more rounded" dog who will be more able to cope
in stressful situations. To prevent your puppy
developing noise phobias, CDs are available that you can
play while your puppy is in the house to acclimatise
him/her to noises in a non-threatening setting.
If you have a dog that already is showing a sensitivity
to noises, you can use the same CD to help desensitise
and counter condition the dog to be less anxious when
he/she hears loud noises. However, once your dog
develops an actual "noise phobia", they will need a
visit to a veterinary surgeon with an interest in
behaviour. The vet may prescribe anti-anxiety
medications as well as a systematic behavioural
modification programme to control the problem.
The earlier the owner seeks professional advice and
implements a plan, the more successful the outcome.
Leadership without confrontation
have a healthy relationship with your dog it is
important that you are making all the important
decisions. Most dogs are much less stressed if they can
leave the decision making up to you. To help you gain
your dog’s respect and make you an effective leader in
his/her eyes, be consistent in following these rules.
your dog to say “please”
do anything for your dog that he/she enjoys or wants,
ensure you ask for your dog to do something for you
first. Once you have taught your dog to “sit”, start
asking for a “sit” every time you are going to do
something your dog wants, eg feeding time, putting a
lead on, going through doorways and gateways, getting a
pat, getting a treat, throwing a ball, etc. If your dog
does not comply then simply don’t give him/her what they
were expecting. There is no need to get angry or yell
at the dog. It is more effective to say nothing and
your dog regularly for doing something good, even if you
didn’t ask for it
If your dog
comes up to you and sits, reward him/her with praise,
patting and/or a treat. If your dog settles at your
feet, praise. Any time your dog does something you
approve of, let him/her know that it will get rewarded.
If something is rewarded it will be repeated. It is
easy to get into the habit of giving the dog attention
only when he is not behaving appropriately and ignoring
the dog when he is being perfectly behaved. When this
happens, you’ll find the behaviour you do not like will
increase and the good behaviour will diminish.
reward attention seeking behaviours
learn that things such as barking, whining and jumping
up at people are effective ways to get people’s
attention. Any time the dog does these behaviours, do
not give any attention (not even “no”), but simply turn
around and walk away from the dog. He will learn that
demanding behaviour will not get him what he wants
(which was your attention). However, when the dog is
being calm and well behaved, ensure he is getting your
dog to move out of your way
become possessive about spaces such as doorways and
sleeping spaces. If you train the dog to move when
asked it will help prevent possessiveness. To train the
dog to move when asked, walk up to the dog when he is
settled somewhere and, making sure he sees you, toss a
treat a couple of feet away. The dog will move to get
the treat. Try this a number of times until you are
sure he will move when you throw the treat. At this
stage, you can add a word to mean “move”. This can be
any word(s) you like as long as you are not using this
word for any other cue. Suggestions include “excuse
me”, “move away”, “out the way”, etc. Don’t add the
word until you are sure you will get the action,
otherwise you may get a dog that thinks “excuse me”
means “stay where you are”! Remember, they don’t know
control over the play sessions
decision when you want to play with your dog and when
you want to stop play. Before you begin playtime ask
for a “sit”. If the dog doesn’t comply, don’t play. It
is also useful to have a break during playtime, ask for
a few obedience cues (what you ask will depend on what
you have trained) then resume playing.
dog is getting enough mental stimulation as well as
have training sessions with your dog (using only reward
based training methods) and think of new things to train
your dog to do. Give the dog food releasing devices
rather than feeding from a bowl (eg Buster Cubes, Kongs,
etc.). Take him for walks regularly and let the dog
sniff at lots of things (this is the doggy equivalent of
reading the newspaper). Try to find other friendly dogs
for your dog to have regular play sessions with (unless
your dog is not friendly to other dogs). Buy new toys
regularly and rotate the toys around so your dog is not
getting bored with the same things.
your dog his/her own “safe area”
Have an area
that your dog is able to go and not be disturbed. This
is particularly important if there are regular visitors
to the house or children reside there. This may be his
kennel or a corner of the lounge room or bedroom. Try
to choose somewhere the dog already has a preference
for. Keep this area as a “do not disturb” area and
ensure visitors and children are respectful of that.
your dog to give you things that he/she has
effective way of making a dog possessive of items is to
try and take them away. Train the dog that if he gives
you a low value item then you will replace it with a
higher value item. You can also do lots of object
exchanges where you take an item, give the dog a treat
and then give the item back.
dog's access to toys
interactive toys should be kept away from the dog unless
you are directly playing with them, eg balls, tug ropes,
can be given but the dog should be asked to do something
for you before getting it (refer to getting the dog to
not leave food out all the time
Always ask for a “sit” before offering the food bowl.
needs to know that the food comes from you, not from a
bowl. If the dog does not eat everything that is
offered, take the bowl away after about 5 minutes. You
can also use a large proportion of your dog’s meal as
training treats so he/she “learns to earn”.
little dog psychology…
All dogs repeat behaviours that
are rewarding – make sure you are rewarding the
behaviours you want to be repeated! Too often we
pay all the attention to our dogs when they are
doing the wrong thing and we ignore our dog when
they are doing what we want.
Dogs are dogs – they are not
little people. They do not have the moral values we
do and do not do things to “get back at you”.
Dogs do not understand English.
You need to patiently explain what the words mean
and make sure they understand before you start
labeling your dog as “stubborn” or “stupid”.
Whenever your dog is doing
something you don’t like, always try to think of
what you would like the dog to do instead. For
example, if the dog jumps up to greet you, train the
dog to sit for attention when greeting.
Be consistent when with your
dog. Your dog needs to see you as a predictable
leader who doesn’t change the rules. Confusion =
anxiety, anxiety often = aggression
Your dog will learn more quickly
and enjoy training more if you use positive
reinforcement training (i.e. you reward the dog for
doing the right thing). Contact the surgery should
you wish to find a positive training class near
Training your dog to “sit”
This should be the first thing you
train your new dog or puppy to do. Once they understand
what “sit” means, you can then use it as “please”. In
other words, you can ask your dog to sit before meals,
before going through doorways, before jumping in and out
of the car and before getting the lead on. In fact, you
can use it for everything the dog enjoys. Doing this
ensures that your dog or puppy are under your control
when the most exciting things are happening rather than
jumping up and down like a lunatic!
To train your dog to sit hold a treat
at the dog’s nose. It’s okay if he nibbles it, just
don’t let him get the whole treat. Take the treat over
the dog’s head and towards his back. He should follow
the treat with his nose and as he does his head will go
up and his bottom will go down. As soon as his bottom
hits the ground, praise him and give the treat.
If your dog just goes backwards as
you lift the treat over his head, try doing the exercise
in a corner.
If your dog jumps up to get the treat
hold the treat closer to the dog’s nose and don’t have
your hand too high when you are bringing the treat over
If your dog is not interested in the
food try experimenting with different types of food (e.g.
a small piece of cheese or fritz) rather than their
usual dog food. Food is a primary motivator (the dog
needs it to survive) so dogs that are truly not
motivated by food are rare (and it may be an indication
that he is not well).