Greyt Inspirations Life

A little about our life, our business and our pets.

When guarding is bad

Pearl when she's not barking.

Pearl when she's not barking.

I apologize for being a little behind schedule this week.  I’ve had a cold all week long and I’ve been scrambling to try to get things done when they’re supposed to be done.  I had to take a day or two off to just stay in bed because nothing I wrote was making much sense.  Clients generally take a dim view when you give them articles with bad punctuation and grammar.

We missed our clicker training class yesterday but I was feeling a little better this afternoon.  I hauled myself and Blue and Pearl to our training class today.  I still let the trainer do most of the work but at least we were there.  Unfortunately, I had not been careful to make sure that Blue and Pearl were hungry before we went to class.  In fact, I had left a big bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts out accidentally overnight and, when I realized what I had done this morning (the aroma!), I gave the chicken to the dogs.  So the dogs shared about four pounds of chicken breasts just 3-4 hours before class.  I think Beau got the biggest share of the chicken breasts — he can be a real piggy!  Blue is a little more selective about what he eats.  Billie and Pearl probably ate one breast each.  Taylor only showed up at the end even though I called him.  But it was enough to make Blue and Pearl less interested than usual in treats during class this afternoon.  Blue wasn’t even very interested in peanut butter when we practiced getting him to come when called.

We did get some good trotting from him when the trainer and I took him outside and the trainer started him off in the grass on the little hill.  Desterie and I had thought that Blue was starting to trot there because it was higher ground.  The trainer thinks it’s because the grass is higher and Blue has to lift his legs higher.  I don’t know what the reason is but he definitely trots when he is coming off the little hill with the high grass, but he still paces on the flat ground.

Blue and Pearl are both learning to sit, too.  That’s coming along.  We also worked on a few behavior issues.  Oh, my, yes.  Even my dogs have behavior issues.  Pearl is a horrible barker.  Every time we ignore her to work with Blue she starts barking.  We’re trying to teach her to be quiet using clicker training.  We ignore her when she’s barking.  Then, when she is quiet she gets clicks and treats.  LOL  It’s not really fair.  Blue has to work for his treats and all Pearl has to do to get her treats is be quiet.

Blue is also having an issue with the other dog in the class.  The other person and dog who come at the same time we do are a woman with a Lab mix puppy.  Friendly, outgoing puppy.  Well, the puppy likes to walk right up to Blue and get in his face and he’s not used to that.  He doesn’t know the puppy.  I think part of him would like to play but he’s also got this status thing going on.  Then, if I’m next to him, he also acts like he is guarding me.  If the puppy comes near me Blue puts himself in front of me like he’s defending me and he doesn’t want the puppy to get close.  So, Blue needs to learn how he should react to the puppy and he needs to learn that he can’t guard me.

Lots of dogs exhibit guarding behavior, whether it’s about people or toys or their food.  When they do this the solution is to generally remove the thing that they’re guarding to let them know that it’s not okay.  If your dog is guarding his food bowl you can remove the bowl and feed your dog from your hand for a few days to remind him that the food comes from you.  If your dog is guarding toys you can remove them and offer your dog something else to stop the guarding behavior.  You can teach many dogs to trade toys with you — offer them something of higher value than the toy they are guarding.  And, if he’s guarding me (as the trainer reminded me), I can get up and leave the room to let him know that it’s inappropriate.  Because Blue does guard me at home, too.  When some of the other dogs try to come to me to be petted he will sometimes put himself between us so I can’t pet them.  Even if Blue follows me when I leave the room I’ve let him know that this is unacceptable behavior.

I can’t tell you how helpful good training classes are.  Classes where you can discuss behavior and not just learn obedience commands are wonderful.  If you have classes like these in your area I highly recommend them.  You and your dog can learn a lot.

If you’d like to read some good articles about dog training this site has some that I like.

July 25, 2009 - Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , ,

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