Quick Tips of the Day: If your dog is engaging in inappropriate behavior (behavior you don’t want them to repeat), stop those behaviors now! The more your dog practices that inappropriate behavior, the harder it will be to teach them a new habit.
Quick Examples: (1) A client has a new pup who is curious about the kitty and loves to chase the cat. Unfortunately, this behavior, based in curiosity right now, won’t go away on it’s own and the puppy quickly learns how fun it is to chase the kitty. (2) Dogs in my neighborhood love to bark when people pass by (they’re behind underground shock fences) and their owners don’t call the dogs in when they begin to bark. This novel behavior (barking at people) will quickly become an ingrained habit – very tough to break!
Earlier this afternoon, I heard a ruckus in my fenced yard (we have a physical fence – not a shock fence). A neighborhood child was skateboarding in the driveway next door. A quick "Come, dogs" was all that was needed to quickly silence my dogs. I brought them in, gave them a piece of cheese for coming so quickly, and silence reigned.
Quick Solutions: (1) For the puppy, simply put her on a leash, so kitty can come and go without being chased to the gate. Also, work on having the pup sit (yes, even 8 week old pups can learn this!) and earn treats when kitty is around. (2) For the barking dogs, teach the dogs that coming when called is extremely rewarding (think cheese or another delectable morsel). Then at the sign of the first bark, call them indoors and reward them heavily. (Or better yet, call them before they bark or keep them indoors during periods of heavy foot-traffic (think: when kids get off the bus).
Don’t wait – if there’s a behavior you see that you don’t want to continue, make sure you interrupt it early and prevent your dog from re-engaging in it. AND – reward your dog for doing something other than that inappropriate behavior.