Dogs for 6/5

Dog Gone Problems is a weekly advice column by David Codr, a dog behaviorist in Omaha. David answers dog behavior questions sent in by our readers. You can reach him at dogbehaviorquestions@gmail.com.

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Dog Gone Problems,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year, and I recently moved in a couple of months ago. He has two female Dalmatian/Husky/German Shepherd mixes that are almost 3 years old. The dogs really like me and listen every now and then, but I am not a dog person at all. I brought my four parakeets into the mix.

I have two questions. First, how do I go about training behaviors I don't like — jumping on me, pulling on the leash and barking — when I don't enjoy petting or really interacting with the dogs to provide positive reinforcement? Second, the dogs will run up and stare down my bird cage and go underneath the table it's sitting on to lick their feathers off the floor and it causes a lot of anxiety for my birds. How do I stop them from doing this?

Thank you,

Shauntelle

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Hi Shauntelle,

Just like every other living creature on the planet, it’s not possible to train a dog if you are unwilling to reward and reinforce them when they do what you want. I doubt you would be willing to give up things you do for no apparent reason, yet this is what you want the dogs to do. Surprisingly, the dogs like you even though you don’t like petting or interacting with them.

Considering how many people write me asking how to get a dog to like their partner, you should feel very grateful the dogs hold you in high regard despite your distaste for interacting with them. You have two choices. First, be willing to do things like pet or give treats to get what you want. Or, second, you can continue as you are and the dogs will continue to do the things you don’t want.

I'm going to be optimistic and assume you realize it's unreasonable to expect the dogs to change unless you pitch in. Here are some free dog training videos that will help you stop these unwanted behaviors:

This video covers my preferred way to stop dogs from jumping up on people.

This video goes over how to teach a dog the quiet command. 

Teaching a dog to stop pulling on the leash requires quite a bit of time and practice. Based on your initial request, I’m assuming this is more than you would be willing to contribute. Instead, here is a video that shares the secret of teaching a dog to stay calm while being leashed up. 

Finally, this video explains how to teach a dog to stay behind an invisible line.

Good luck and remember — everything you do trains your dog. Only sometimes you mean it.

David

Submit your pet questions to David Codr by emailing a photo of your dog and question to dogbehaviorquestions@gmail.com. Visit doggoneproblems.com for more from David.

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