Training 911 – Back to School

posted March 29th, 2015 by
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Training 911

Training 911

by Khara Criswell, MA, CPDT-KSA, CNWI

 

Back to School, Fall Activities

 

Since your kids have gone back to school, your pet might feel left out. Some pets experience anxiety and wander out of their yards to follow their little owners to school.

 

One helpful tip is to leave a T-shirt from your child in the bed where your pet sleeps at night. In the morning before you leave for work and kids leave for school, you can do some training with your pet. Practice waiting with the food bowl or at the door.

Wait at the Door

1.Stand in front of the door (any car door will work too) with your dog inside the house. Say, “Wait.”

  1. Start to slowly open the door. Whenyourdog moves forward, even just a tiny bit, quickly close the door, preventing him from going through it. You can use your body to block the dog from going farther .
  2. Good timing is important, so be sure to close the door the instant you seeyourdog start to move forward.
  3. If you close the door, start to slowly open the door again. Continue to quickly close the door whenyourdog moves forward until he stays put for a couple of seconds with the door open about a foot. When this happens, say, “yes!” and “good dog.” Then toss a treat in his direction.
  4. Next, say “free” or “ok” or whatever you wantyourrelease word to be to let your dog know his job is done. Open the door all the way and let your dog walk out of the door. (You want your verbal cue to release your dog from the wait position, not your body movement.)
  5. Restart the exercise from the beginning.

Also, provide plenty of enrichment activities, such as interactive toys you can place your pet’s kibble in—Kong, Nina Ottoman toys, Zane’s interactive toys, Squirrel Dude or Football Dude. Give your pet some chew toys because chewing reduces stress in a pet.

As fall parties begin, make sure to keep the human food away from your pet, especially candy and gum. Create a safe space for your pet to retreat to and relax when the house gets hectic. This is especially helpful during Halloween when the kids’ costumes can be scary to your pet. If your dog has a crate, make it into a fun place for him to hang out. You can teach your dog to go to his spot.

Mat Train

  1. With a treat in your hand, tell your pup, “Go to your mat,” in a cheerful tone of voice and point him toward the mat.
  2. Pause a second or two (one-one thousand, two-one thousand), then lure your dog onto his mat by putting the treat up to his nose and slowly moving it over the mat. If you move your hand too quickly or too far away from his mouth, he may give up and lose interest.
  3. As soon as your dog has four paws on the mat, give the treat.
  4. Tell your dog, “down/sit.” Give the hand signal or lure him if he needs helps. When he lies down, give him the treat. Continue to give treats to keep the dog on the mat. After a few seconds, tell your pup, “OK/free” and allow him to get up.

Repeat steps 1 through 4, gradually increasing the amount of time you ask him to stay on the mat.

Pick some time during the week that the family gets involved with your pet’s activities, like going for a walk during the evening, playing fetch, a game of “find it,” hide and seek (recall), or just getting petted on the couch will be enough to calm the dog and the kids down after a long day of school.

Two books/resources I recommend to my clients with kids or who are thinking of having kids are “Living with Kids and Dogs” by Colleen Pelar and “Happy Kids, Happy Dogs,” a paperback by Barbara Shumannfang.

With a little work, every family member including your pet will be adjusting well with the season’s change.

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