Yesterday I was at a new Home Dog Training client in Big Canoe working with their Pit Bull. I love Pit Bulls and Marcus was no exception. The big problem that they had was his excitement when meeting other people. As you could imagine, some people don’t find it amusing when a strange Pit Bull comes over and jumps on them. Well, we worked through that issue pretty quickly and by the end of the lesson, Marcus could calmly greet people, allow them to pet him without getting excited, and sit at my client’s feet while they had a conversation on the living room sofa. This was all great and my client was thrilled with the results. I explained that the results needed to be reinforced and repeated every day for about six weeks to fully implement the behavior. Since Christmas was fast approaching, he said that there were going to be a lot of people over that week and he wasn’t sure if Marcus was ready to handle that many people all at once so soon after the beginning of our training. He asked what he could do to help Marcus through that period. No problem…
There are several points that I always stress with my clients as they begin their training experience. The first is that they must always be in charge as they are teaching their dog. Second, they must understand what their dog has the ability to learn and respond to that day. Teaching them something over their head will never work. Also, it is important to understand what the client is prepared to teach that day. If the client does not feel comfortable with a particular lesson, he will never be a good teacher. With this said, let’s look at the Thanksgiving party/family scenario.
Usually, people arrive roughly at the same time or within an hour or so. The house is normally a bustle of activities introducing new smells and sights. People are coming and going, doors are left open, and things are left on tables and the ground. Kids are screaming, the TV is blaring, and people are talking. You know, just another crazy Christmas Season. Well, this might be fine for people. We are used to this and we can comprehend what is going on. Since Marcus is a little rambunctious when he meets people, he will be going nuts when a whole hoard of over adrenalized people descend on him at the same time. There is no way that my client can control him in such a situation so early in the training process. Again, no problem…
Before all the guests and family begin to arrive, take your dog into a room in a quiet part of the house. Turn the TV on and close the door. Make sure that one person is with your dog. Have toys and goodies that you can use to redirect and play with him. Keep a leash on him so that you can easily direct him back to you if the noises in the rest of the house start to agitate him.
Once the house becomes quieter and everyone has either settled down to watching the game, helping in the kitchen or just being quiet, slowly come out of the room with him on a leash. Take him to where most of the people are and stand in the doorway with him sitting. After he scans the area, slowly enter, allowing him to walk next to you. If there is pulling on the leash or hesitation, stop and let him settle down. Walk around the room without any interaction with the people in the room.
After one or two passes, allow people to quietly pet him. Once he is fine with that, drop the leash, leaving it on him. Allow him to walk freely with you close at hand. If he starts to become excited, step on the leash and guide him back to you. He should now be fine. Always make sure that he is always in your sight in order to correct him if he starts to get excited. Chances are, he will find a quiet corner or a welcoming lap and just chill out.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you are in need of any dog training assistance. You can find all of our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Big Canoe Georgia.