QUESTION 1: Submitted by Abby
My dog is a horrible street scavenger and eats garbage and plant matter whenever he gets a chance. How can I train him to stop? HELP!
ANSWER: If your dog is a scavenger, it would help to get him into some nose work classes or give him some “find it” activities around the house to satisfy his instinctual need to “scavenge”. As for training, I would recommend impulse control training consisting of solid loose leash walking and “leave it.”
QUESTION 2: Submitted by Bellinda
Where can I train my lab to be a therapy dog for kids in hospitals?
ANSWER: Most hospitals require at least a Canine Good Citizen Certification, which requires your dog to go through a series of behaviors successfully. Check: http://www.akc.org/dog-owners/training/canine-good-citizen/about/ for more information.
So as you may know, Rocco’s loose-leash walking video received some recognition from APDT earlier this year for National Train Your Dog Month. Although I was very flattered, I wanted to share the credit with a very special dog person, canine interpreter, rescue advocate and all around good person, who helped turn Rocco into a Canine Good Citizen. Specializing in socializing shy and rescue dogs, trainer, AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator and owner of Rollover Rover Dog Training, Nadine Litterman. “A lot of the dogs that come here are rescue dogs, that’s why they need to be socialized. They’ve never known anything outside a cage”, says Nadine. When asked to share a little bit about her theory for dog training, the word reasonable was key. Not only are Nadine’s prices reasonable, but also “training needs to be tailored so that it’s reasonable for the dog, and the expectations of the owner must also be reasonable”. Hmm, reasonable, makes sense…but what does that really mean? She explained that there are important factors such as age, temperament, breed, upbringing and background that should always be taken into account before creating expectations. Ah, I thought, just like people, some of us excel at some things and others at other things. How unreasonable would it be if our parents expected and demanded that we all be marathon runners or Olympic swimmers, without taking into account our strengths, weaknesses, upbringing, knowledge, etc? “Too often owners place unreasonable expectations on their dogs when they really should be focusing on ensuring their dogs are 100% social by showing good behavior toward people and other dogs”. Another very important part of Nadine’s philosophy is walking your dog. People need to walk their dog, even if the dog weighs .25 ounces, okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea. “You can’t keep your dog inside all the time and expect it to be good when it goes out and you can’t expect your dog to be well-behaved when you haven’t given it enough experiences for it to know what’s appropriate”. This all makes so much sense, but then again that’s why Nadine’s a canine interpreter, it takes people like her to speak on behalf of our dogs for us to listen. Here are some other tips from Nadine:
- Don’t handicap your dog. Let your dog figure things out for him/herself. It’ll make him/her confident.
- Dogs bark to communicate and they only do so when they have something important to say, or when they want you to do something. Listen to them. Yelling only makes them think that you’re barking with them. And yelling their name can sometimes cause them to block their name out; which is a bad thing if you want him to come when called.
- Be careful not to project human feelings onto your dog.
- Having a backyard can be a double-edge sword. While it’s nice for your dog to have the space to run around, it won’t give your dog the necessary exposure. It’s still important for your dog to get his daily walks and have experiences outside your home and backyard.
Cool, huh? Want to learn more? Stop by Rollover Rovers at 1933 NE 164th Street in North Miami Beach or call her at 954-531-8421. Nadine conducts private and group lessons and free small dog socialization on Wednesdays at 10:00 AM and 5:30 PM. She’s also an activist against animal cruelty and an avid dog rescuer, always looking for foster homes. So if you have some extra love for a doggie who’s had none, she wants you!
- Nadine can train and then test your dog for AKC’s Canine Good Citizen