Cynthia S. writes, “My adult Great Dane has been exhibiting a few behavior problems. She’s chewing things around the house that are not edible, but only does it when we are gone. She’s great at playing outside unleashed until it’s time to come in, then she takes off running and I have to chase her down the street. She also doesn’t follow commands other than ‘sit’ and ‘shake’ when there is food. How can I fix these behaviors?”
A little management will go a long way. To a dog, anything within her reach is fair game. When you are not home, your dog should be in a crate with a nice chew toy or in a room that’s been doggy-proofed. By eliminating opportunities for undesirable behavior, you are setting her up for success.
Until your dog learns a reliable recall, she should never be unleashed in an unfenced area. Practice calling her in the house where distractions are low, and always reward and praise her when she comes to you — no matter what she did before. Don’t get into a situation where you are chasing her because she’ll consider it a fun game and it will only make her run faster.
One of the most common dog training mistakes people make is forgetting to “fade the lure.” As soon as she learns a behavior using a lure (a reward), such as “sit,” morph the luring into a hand motion without the lure. Mark the behavior and give her a treat that comes from out of sight, like your pocket or the countertop.
Our dogs are cherished members of the family, sharing our lives and providing unconditional love. But dog owners know that our canine partners have different perspectives on life than we do.
If you have ever asked, “Why does my dog do that?” then this feature is for you. The AKC GoodDog! Helpline training team will answer your questions about dog behavior and offer training advice to help you and your pup have the best relationship possible. The AKC GoodDog! Helpline is a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by professional dog trainers. For more information on the service and how to enroll, go to www.akcgooddoghelpline.org.