Surviving Canine Adolescence – Session 2 Q&A

We have to be very careful about punishing a growl because it’s a very low-level communication signal for a dog to say, “hey, back off”. So if you punish the dog for growling, you actually run the risk of eliminating it from your dog’s responses and instead of growling you might get a snap next time. And if you punish the snap, you might escalate to a bite. So as tempting and difficult as it is not to punish your dog in that moment, it’s actually just good information that okay, well I’ve got to figure out a different way to set this up in the future. We recommend teaching a really strong “drop” so that if your dog has an item that you don’t want them to have, you can get it away from them without any physical confrontation. And then a “leave it”, so a leave it would be in the event of, like, seeing something dead in the road…leave it is, “hey, don’t take that” and you’ve got to really build that leave it up over time. But we need to have communication with our dog in a way other than getting physical with them. Because they don’t really have much way to communicate with us that they don’t like being grabbed, or taken away from something they are interested in other than growling. We’d much rather have a growl than have a bite or anything like that. I recommend doing a really strong “drop” and a really strong “leave it” for those situations.

When you have a very large dog like that, it can also be a safety issue, too. So you may need to condition your dog to wearing a muzzle. I’m not sure if your dog is showing any aggression towards people or if they’re just barking and trying to get away? But maybe, for now, walking your dog in less populated areas, if possible. And I would definitely get a professional to help you with this because it is gonna be probably very similar to our leash reactivity protocol. You may also have to do some work with people coming into your house as well. But again, when we have that large of a dog, we’ve got to be super careful if there is any possibility of any sort of aggressive behavior. We do have to make sure that we keep people safe and keep you safe from a liability perspective. So
if you do feel like a muzzle would be helpful as you’re working through training, we really like the Baskerville Ultra Muzzle. I know I’ve seen them at our local Hollywood Feed and they work really well and they’re able to be conditioner really easily. There are some great videos online about how to condition a basket muzzle. We don’t just shove it on your dog, we want them to like wearing it. But then otherwise, working through that passing distractions exercise that we went over in the presentation will be a really good starting point, too.

With these types of dogs, less is more. We tend to try to push dogs a little bit too fast in our efforts to help them, but for some dogs they just need a little bit more time. I’m not sure how long you’ve had your dog? But really trying to set up situations where your dog can be around people or around whatever they are afraid of at a distance that they feel safe and comfortable. Pairing that scary thing with something your dog really loves, like a favorite food, and just over time you should start to see your dog’s confidence grow. We don’t want to throw them into situations that are overwhelming. When we flood the dog with too much too quickly, then we end up going backwards in our training. So just remember that it needs to sometimes happen more slowly than we would like. We have to work at the dog’s pace. It sounds like you’re doing a great job. Typically the peeing happens when people kind of try to hover or loom over the dog. So try to avoid letting people do that, because it can be a little bit scary for especially a nervous dog.
I would say just really going back to basics. I would just treat it as though the dogs had no training. We sometimes will change the word if maybe the dog has had training and has a really negative association with a certain word. We’ll just use a new word and retrain the behavior in a way that’s positive for the dog. So teaching just from the ground up. I also recommend the first couple of weeks that you have your dog, don’t do any training. Just focus on getting your dog comfortable in your home, letting them acclimate, let them settle in. We sometimes jump right into training and your dog hasn’t even gotten comfortable in their surroundings yet. So give them a few weeks to settle in. You don’t need to teach any obedience right away. Give it a couple of weeks and go from there.

A: The most common bells we use, they sort of look like jingle bells? I think you guys carry that type of potty bell? 

K: The Poochie Bells!

A: Yes, the Poochie Bells! We really like those because they’re super easy to move around. They work on most doors. We have to teach the dog, first, how to ring them. Which we’ll typically use food for. So just hold the bell up, wait for the dog to come and check it out, tell them “yes” when they touch the bell, even if they don’t make a noise with it. Reward them with food for that. We keep doing that until the dog starts to ring it harder and more consistently. Then we’ll move it over to the door and make sure the dog can still ring the bell at the door. Then we’ll take the food out of the equation altogether. So the reward and the consequence for ringing the bell becomes that you get to go outside. It’s normally a pretty quick process unless you have a dog that’s afraid of the bells. So be careful about getting them out of the packaging and ringing them in front of your dog. We want to keep them nice and quiet so you don’t risk startling your dog in the beginning. But as long as that doesn’t happen, normally just a couple of days and they’ll be able to ring the bells pretty well. 

K: I think another thing that was super beneficial-we’ve had lots of potty bell questions in a couple of sessions-but I think it’s really nice and interesting to know that the potty bells are actually an alert tool and not actually a potty training specifically tool. I thought that was very interesting. 

A: Yeah, absolutely! I think we traditionally people would think about it as being, “well, it’s going to teach my dog to go outside”, but really it’s about a dog that already knows it should go outside, but needs a way to communicate that it needs to go.

So it’s not acting out, per say, but it’s a behavior that your dog has learned works. So it has been reinforced one way or another. Whether it’s barking or jumping or whatever it is that they’re doing-has worked for them in some way. So I want you to take that situation and really look at it as objectively as you can. So, “when my dog does this, what do I do? or what do the people in my family do? what happens? what does the dog get out of doing it?”. Because dogs simply do what works. So we have to figure out in what way is this working for the dog? And then you can set up and change the environment so that that no longer happens. That’s typically the easiest way to extinguish attention-seeking behaviors like that, where the dog’s kind of figured out that it works.
So this is one that is-I can’t answer it quickly-because honestly at least half the cases that we work with, that people think it’s separation anxiety, it isn’t. It’s either the dog is simply hoping that the barking will work to get it out of the crate. The dog is not actually upset in the crate, or there is just some very mild distress. So there’s a lot of questions that we have to run through. We typically like to see a video of the behavior, for 15 or 20 minutes of the dog being confined, so we can really determine, “is this separation anxiety or is it something else?”. But the short answer is, if it’s a milder situation, often times just some exercises with making the confinement area a happy place feeding meals in there, tossing treats in there, giving your dog something productive to do when you’re gone like a stuffed Kong or some other type of interactive toy that they don’t typically get-works wonders for milder cases. For more severe cases, we definitely recommend working with a professional if your dog is harming themselves, trying to escape the crate, absolutely panicked. We’ve had dogs literally bleeding trying to get out of the crate, I mean we’ve had dogs literally jump out of windows to get out of the house. So when you have an extreme case, you definitely want to seek professional help. We focus on desensitizing the dog very slowly to the absence of a person. So actually the training requires that your dog’s not left alone for several weeks at a time at a minimum. So COVID is actually a great time, if you have a dog with separation anxiety during these kind of quarantining times, it’s a really good time to do this training because we’re already kind of mostly at home anyways.
When you have a dog that is offensively charging at people, kind of a “let me at ‘em” type dog, those are the situations where we have a liability on your hands for sure. These dogs can harm people and pose a real risk to everyone depending on the severity of it. I’m not sure if there’s been a bite history yet or not, or if the dog just charges and stops. But I definitely can’t address that here without a huge assessment being done with exactly what’s happening. So the best advice I can give you is definitely seek a professional in your area. A great way to search would just be looking for a certified professional dog trainer, CPDT-KA, that means their knowledge is assessed. That’s our standardized certification. So look for those, you can search for that. There’s a website: Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. You can go on their website and search your area and find a trainer locally to you. And that would be my best suggestion when you have an offensive, conflict-seeking dog like that.
Great question. The answer is yes and no. Your dog will always need to be paid. It’s just like us, you know? How long would you work if you no longer were receiving a paycheck? They’re kind of the same way. But what we want is for the dog to expect a reward every time they perform a single behavior. So, it’s important that early on in the training process we are not rewarding every single repetition. The best way to maintain a behavior is an intermittent schedule of reinforcement; meaning that your dog doesn’t know exactly when they’re going to get the next reward, but they know they’re going to get one at some point soon. So it’s worth it to them to keep working. We also are very careful not to show the dog a reward, if we have one, so we’re not bribing them-saying, “hey look, I have a treat, please do this”. That food is tucked away in a pocket, behind us on the counter, somewhere the dog cannot see it. So that after they perform the behavior, now I may get you a reward. But you can’t expect it. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean you might not get something. So that’s some good ways you can wean them off of the expectation of being rewarded every time. But when you’re teaching a new behavior, from the very beginning, we reward every single repetition until the dog is proficient. And then once they are doing well and really understand what we’re asking for, then we move to that intermittent schedule where they’re not sure exactly when they’re going to get something, but they know they’re going to get it at some point. So it’s worth it to them to keep doing it.
We want to avoid rewarding after they get off, because then you can actually create a chain of: I jump on the counter, I get off-i get rewarded, on the counter, off-i get rewarded, this is great! So instead, what we want to try to do is prevent the counter surfing in the first place. That invisible line training that we talked about in the presentation works really well for keeping your dog out of the kitchen, especially if you’re cooking or there’s food out-you can set that up. So that works really well for it. Otherwise, really managing the situation…so, if your dog does happen to sneak in and start to go to jump on the counters, you’re right there to interrupt the behavior and not let it continue. Especially if you have an adolescent dog, this is the age where they test those things. They like to explore what’s up on the counters, so really, really important that you manage them like crazy right now.
Without seeing it, I can’t tell you exactly what’s going on. Because this could just be rude play behavior that, you know, if your cats have their front claws, that they can let your dog know when he’s over the top. But if your dog is going beyond that and we’re looking at more of a predatory issue-we also have a major size difference on our hands, we’ve got a large, powerful dog and we’ve got small cats. So the biggest advice I can give you is do not ever leave them unattended together. It’s just a recipe for disaster, even if you haven’t seen predatory behavior. But we focus on, in this training, a lot of impulse control around the cats. So teaching the dog to be able to see the cats go by and not react to that. If you saw our passing distractions section in the presentation-I know I reference that a lot-but we use this training for a lot of things, including impulse control around cats. So being able to notice a cat go by and not lunge, bark or chase at it. And teaching that as a skill to the dog can be really, really helpful. If you have any concerns that there might be some predatory behavior going on toward your cats, I definitely recommend getting a professional in just to make sure that we have the cat’s safety as first priority.
The leash can be a little bit uncomfortable for a lot of dogs. If you think about the options that a dog has when they’re in a situation that is stressful: fight or flight, your big two. And the leash eliminates the option of flight. Dogs like to have some distance and like to be able to add some space if they’re feeling uncomfortable, and with the leash they don’t have that option. So the growl is just a very, actually, polite way of your dog saying to that other dog, “hey, I don’t really want to do this interaction like this”. So I recommend for your dog no on leash greetings. And even if your dog wasn’t growling, I would still suggest it. It’s very uncomfortable for dogs to greet this way. It’s fun for us but it’s really, kind of, stressful for them. So if you see that dog coming, you can just politely say hello and keep walking. Or if they want to say hello, you can keep your dog next to you. Reward your dog for staying with you. Talk to the person and ask them, “hey, my dog just doesn’t like to meet other dogs on leash” and that is totally okay and it’s not an indicator that there’s something wrong with your dog. They’re being, actually, quite polite in the way that they’re saying that, “hey, I just don’t want to meet you quite like this”.
I love that your cat is enjoying the play. As long as both animals are enjoying it, even if it feels rough to us-typically, even between species they’re able to communicate that to each other-so you may not have to worry too much about that. But my two favorite things are going to be the flirt pole that we talked about in the presentation. Great outlet for those herding breed dogs. And then also dog sports. So agility is an absolute favorite for those herding breed dogs. But also there are in certain areas, depending on where you’re located, there are trainers that will actually do herding training with your dogs. So fun to watch them get to do that! And so gives your dog such an appropriate outlet. So you can see, again depending on where you’re located, you can look up any kind of herding trials or see if there’s any groups around you that are offering that kind of thing. It’s really, really cool to see the herding breed dogs get to do that.
Going back to what we’ve talked about in a few other of these questions is, first of all: not doing on-leash greetings, because it creates a barrier that can be uncomfortable or frustrating for your dog. And it also gives them the expectation that it’s okay to kind of charge up to other dogs on leash. And your dog might actually freak other dogs out, and then kind of get themselves in trouble that way. So I recommend avoiding those on-leash greetings, especially for now, and then going through our reactivity protocol. Because that is really the only way. Is teaching your dog to be able to see something go by and not react to it. All that is what that training is about.
That’s a great question. You are absolutely welcome and I encourage you to let your dog sniff on walks. It is the best part of a walk for your dog, for most dogs. And it is a great way to relieve stress for them, it is a great way to give them some mental enrichment. Those smells are so interesting to them, they get a lot of information from the smells that they’re going after. So definitely allow them to do that. Now, if you’re really ready to power walk and you want to go, you don’t have to let them stop every two seconds. But absolutely, periodically throughout a walk, you should let your dog be a dog and sniff. But great, great question.
It sounds like she’s just a little bit uncomfortable with the unexpected motion and not knowing where she’s going to go next. I recommend either of two things: one-get a car harness, so that you can harness your dog into the seat so that she feels a little bit more secure; or personally I would just recommend crating your dog, so I’ve mentioned I like the fabric crates-they’re easy to get in and out of the car and you can cover them with a blanket-giving your dog a little bit more security in the car will go a long way. Because for a lot of dogs it’s like, “oh, i don’t know which way I’m going to get turned…this way?” Because they don’t know which way we’re turning and going, so they often times end up flopping one way or another. So that kind of stiff leaning back is usually just bracing for what’s the next turn going to be. I would either do a nice, sturdy car harness or a crate in the car.

K: And being a boston terrier owner, I understand. They are definitely very high energy chewers, and just high energy overall!

A: Yes, For sure. With the crate, just make sure that you don’t place it anywhere that’s near something that could be pulled into the crate like curtains or wires or anything like that. So just watch what you have around the crate. And then, my favorite for dogs that are really good at chewing through stuff is: get a black Kong. Especially for a small breed dog. The odds of her being able to chew through that-it’s their most durable one-is very low. So, stuffing that with some favorite things is going to be really, super safe for her. Great questions. It is important that your dog learn the coping skills to be able to be without you. I know it’s hard for everybody, but you can just start with short, short absences. 5 or 10 minutes. And then build up as everyone feels comfortable. But we want to make sure that she can be without you and she has those skills. So if she had, for example, a medical emergency and she’s got to stay at the vet overnight-that that’s not the first time that she’s ever been out of your sight. So, it’s an important coping skill for her to have, too.

K: And something that I even utilize with mine that works pretty well: I try to get rid of some of that energy before I crate her, before I leave. So that’s when we would do the interactive toys and stuff like that. Just to get some of that energy out before she’s crated and kind of has to sit and hang out for a little while. And that seems to really help her calm down and relax after she’s played with an interactive toy or we’ve done a teaser toy or went on a walk or something.

You can actually start this inside. Just getting her comfortable wearing a leash and going back and forth in the house. We want to be very careful that we’re rewarding motion and not rewarding stopping. So we tend to let the dog take a step, and then we reward them when they stop. So that can become a game of: I take a step, and then I stop, and then take a step, and then I stop. So be careful of exactly what you’re rewarding. They make these squeeze pouches that you can actually reuse. I think you can get them on Amazon. You can fill them-there’s all kinds of ideas you can find online-of different squeezy type stuff that you can fill these pouches. So, rather than having to bend all the way down for delivering a food reward, you can just bring that pouch down. So it saves you a little bit of strain of bending down. It’s really easy and quick to deliver rewards that way, too. So that could be a good idea. And then just taking it slow at first. Make it your goal to just get to the mailbox and back with no stopping. So, we’re starting with rewarding every time we’re in good motion, but then we want to fade that food away so that your dog is having to walk for longer and longer between rewards. We want to eventually fade that out altogether, but just making sure your dog’s comfortable outside, too. Maybe you have a dog that’s scared, especially super tiny dogs; you know, the world is very large and crazy. So maybe even starting to walk in really boring, quiet places at first. Don’t just go straight out to a busy area. That can help a little bit, too.
Great question! If you type in: Peach on a Leash Dog Training YouTube, I don’t think we have a customized url for it. But if you search for it, we should be the first thing that comes up when you type that in. You’ve got to have a certain number of followers before you get the custom url. So, we’re working on that. But for now if you just type in: Peach on a Leash Dog Training YouTube, you should be able to find our channel.
That’s a great question. Prevention is always easier than treatment, for sure. People are oftentimes surprised by this recommendation, but not to rummage around your dog’s bowl, in order to prevent resource guarding. You can actually cause it that way. We think of that as we’re just getting our dog used hands in the bowl. But what ends up happening is the dog eventually gets tired of every time eating, somebody’s coming over here to rummage around in my food. And that can actually cause them to start to stiffen up, eventually growl, eventually even snap or bite. So leave your dog alone while they’re eating. Especially when they’re puppies. There’s just no need to get those hands in there-to touch them while they’re eating. You can actually sensitize them to that versus desensitize them that way. So if you want to do something proactive about it: as they’re eating or if they have a favorite toy or bone, approach them and toss something better than what they have. So a really high value piece of food…toss it to them and walk away. So every time that you’re approaching them while they have something, you’re there to provide something even better. And what you’ll see is, when you do that, as you start to approach your dog-even when they have something they really enjoy-you might see them let go of what they have and look back at you, like “hey, what are you coming to do?” So you have absolutely no confrontation, Because resource guarding is almost always stemming from some sort of repetitive confrontation between the dog and another dog, the dog and a person. And that may not have been you, it may have been a previous owner. But typically it’s coming from the dog is concerned it’s going to lose something that it values. So if we don’t give them any reason to be worried they’re going to lose those things, then we typically don’t ever see resource guarding develop.
That’s a tall fence, too, oh my gosh! There’s a couple of solutions. The first one is going to be, for a while, sending your dog out on a long line. So like a 30-50 foot long line. I know it’s frustrating. You have a fence, you want to be able to just let your dog loose. But if they’ve proven that they can hop that fence, then you’ve got to have a way to contain them because they’re getting some sort of fun out of jumping that fence. A coonhound probably got some fun scents on the other side that they figured out makes it really fun to hop the fence. So the long line can be great to help break the habit and teach the new habits. Make sure that you make the yard a really fun place. Don’t leave your dog unsupervised out there. So you can entertain them with some toys out there and make it a functional place to hang out with you versus being worried about hopping the fence. They also make several options to put on the top of the fence. There’s something called a coyote roller, which is a rolling type of structure that can go on top of your fence. Depending on the style that you get, some of them are pricier than others. But it’s a pretty impressive fix. It’s intended to stop coyotes from jumping the fence, so it should stop your coonhound as well. But they just can’t get over the fence, because it prevents that. So something like that on top of the fence can help with that as well. Just eliminate that issue.
Okay. I would say if you can go back to basics with this. If you can find one or two dogs at a time to get your dog exposed to off of a leash. So maybe start in your yard, if that’s where your dog is most comfortable, or a friend’s yard. And just letting your dog interact with one or two dogs at a time. Friendly, social dogs. That’s a really good starting point versus trying to go right back out into public again. And then, if your dog is barking and lunging at other dogs, back to that reactivity protocol that we talked about. But if your dog’s just very fearful of other dogs, we just have to do this very, very slowly. And there’s just no rushing it. Even though your dog may have had a bad experience, that doesn’t have to define the rest of their life. But you do want to not throw them into situations with too much, too soon. So just try small gatherings, one or two dogs max, until your dog is starting to show they’re a little bit more comfortable in those situations.

K: So, great feedback! But, a great question!

A: Yeah, that is a great question. Kayla, you probably have even more first hand experience than I do. We do work with a lot of Bostons, but I don’t live with one. I think a lot of times people get them because they’re so adorable and they’re such a fun size. But it’s like having a little tiny rocket ship that you have purchased or adopted for yourself. They tend to be very high-energy, very high-drive. They’re down for anything, especially if they’re well socialized. They typically are very social with other dogs, very social with people. If we see issues, a lot of times it’s with impulse control. It’s with knowing when to stop and when to put on the brakes. They tend to have a hard time going from one hundred back down to zero. We can find that it is very helpful to give them some enrichment activities that are not aerobic exercise. They’re going to get plenty of that, but also trying to get them to settle as well. And making sure we teach settling as a skill. So early on we’re having them in a confinement area with some toys and things to do, so that the dogs are able to kind of learn those skills of not being able to go go go go go all day long. Then just making sure that you provide lots of outlets to burn off steam. So that flirt pole is one of my favorite things. Most terriers absolutely loved it. And it’s a super quick and easy way-especially if you’re having a busy day and just have 5 or 10 minutes-you can probably wear your dog out for a couple hours with
that. And they absolutely love chasing it. So, Kayla, if you have any other suggestions, let me know!

K: That was 100% The only thing that I would really add to it is: patience! They are a very, very headstrong breed and they have such a big, big personality. So outgoing-or most of the ones I have met and mine in particular. The zero to two hundred, that is very, very typical and you just have to have patience. My boston is 3 years old and you would think she was 6 months old. She is exactly a little rocket on the ground. But using things like interactive toys-they’re so, so smart-really helps her burn off some of that energy. But even at 3 years, it is sometimes hard to get her to settle down because they are so wound up and so excited all of the time. So lots of patience, lots of reinforcement, and working on training with them. And then lots of interactive toys and outlets for them to really burn off some of that energy. Absolutely, Alex. Those were great suggestions

A: Unless you have a very young dog who physically can’t hold it, or your dog’s been cooped up for 8 hours and really has to go-in those cases let your dog rush to use the bathroom, we’ve all been there! Otherwise the same training applies-we have a blog on our website specifically on leash walking, so if you need more than what was discussed in the presentation we have that written out there, too. But follow that video tutorial that we showed in the presentation. That’s the key to leash walking, is find good equipment. So a good front clip harness is typically our standard. Make sure it’s very well fitted and you’re clipping at the chest. And then we are rewarding the dog for walking next to us. And for some dogs, the real reward is they just get to go where they want to go. Some dogs don’t even care about the food when they’re outside. So you would have to use a really, really high value food for those types of dogs. And then if they hit the end of that leash, we’re just changing our direction so that they don’t get rewarded with that forward motion for pulling. And that is really the basis of how to train it effectively.
No, it really is the same training. We want your dog to be able to carry those skills beyond just outside. You will have to have done some training outside before you take this into a pet store because you’ve got lots of dogs in close proximity. So depending on the severity of your dog’s reactivity, they may really struggle in those situations. Although we have some dogs that actually do better in those situations than they do out on a walk. We see a lot of dogs that are on their worst behavior in their own neighborhood and then when we take them to a neutral location, their reactivity is vastly diminished. But it is absolutely the same training in a pet store, or in any indoor location, as what you do outside. You just might have to be a little more creative about how you create that space when you need it.
Unfortunately I don’t count it. Because the yard can become an extension of the house pretty quickly. So if they’re just sitting out there for a few hours, most dogs will either just lay around if you’re lucky. Other dogs will get into trouble. They might dig stuff up or try to dig out or bark at everything that goes by. They don’t typically get worn out or specifically, super tired from being outside for a few hours. They’re still going to need some sort of different enrichment. Whether that’s a walk, whether that’s playing with a flirt pole or other type of an interactive activity toy or an enrichment toy. It doesn’t always have to be active go go go with you directly involved. There’s lots of awesome enrichment toys that you can just set it and let your dog handle it. I love the Kong wobbler for that reason. It’s basically just a giant version of the Kong that spills treats out as your dog bats it around. So the yard is not a substitution for exercise or mental enrichment and I know we wish that it was. But for a lot of dogs they just end up getting really no exercise out there, even if they are active dogs.
At nine weeks, you definitely have a baby, baby puppy. So we want to just start with good habits as much as we can. You may want to have your puppy on a leash some of the time. It’s also sounding like you may want to increase a little bit of exercise and mental enrichment. Sometimes these puppies are just bouncing off the walls and just need a little bit of something extra. And then make sure you’re feeding 3 meals a day and you’re feeding enough. So make sure that you’re really watching what the food that you’re using, what they recommend in terms of feeding. Because when we have hungry puppies, we have crazy puppies. So make sure you’re getting enough exercise, mental stimulation, using management strategies as you need to-remember puppies sleep a lot at this age. If they’re not getting enough sleep, then they can be over-tired, bouncing off the walls. So make sure that you have dedicated rest periods. And then you’re just not giving your dog the attention that they want. Don’t pet them or pick them up for having jumped on you. So really trying to step out of the way and offering your dog other options of things they can do to get themselves a reward. I love teaching a hand touch, so again on our YouTube channel we have a video on how to teach that. It keeps dogs at eye level. Their eye level vs our eye level. Then teaching just a basic “sit”. So things that your dog can offer that will get them what they want that don’t involve things like jumping and barking for attention. So offer me a “sit”, offer me a “down”, touch my hand down here…those things can all get you interaction. But the jumping and all that will not. So keep at it. 9 weeks-you’ve got lots and lots of good time.