Let your dog know that you are the leader of the house. This is easy to do for most dogs. One of the most important things that you can do is to control his or her resources. Resources to a dog are; Food, treats, toys, anything that he/she views as valuable. To control the food, offer your dogs food for 5-10 minutes, if no food is consumed during that time period, take up the food and wait until the next feeding time. YOUR DOG WILL NOT STARVE!!! Do the same thing the next time you feed and each time after that. I am aware that there are some dogs that are ěpicky eatersî or that there are dogs that seem to subsist on very small amounts of food [Yorkshire Terriers are famous for this] Donít worry, your dog will learn to eat when you say it is time. The other good news is that the dogs that usually pick at their food all day and donít eat much actually tend to eat more if you feed in this manner. The whole feast or famine thing.
You should also call the shots with toys and treats. Play fetch when you want to, not when your dog pesters you to. Offer treats for special tricks or other commands on your terms. Donít let your dog bully you into giving him/her a treat by running up to the cupboard and whining. You approach and give a treat only when you want to.
Another simple thing to do is to walk into your dog. This is another really easy thing to integrate into your everyday interactions with your dog. All you do is to walk towards your dog. You can do this when he/she is standing, sitting, sleeping. This lets your dog know in ědoggie languageî that you are the boss, he/she needs to make way for you [no translation is necessary] I am a fan of not having to translate when ever possible. If your dog is being particularly bold, you can also ban him/her from the sofa, the bed, any coveted area of the house. You can wait a few weeks and then allow access again once there is a better understanding of exactly who the leader is.
When you go to the dog park, do several random "false leaves". This is how it works, at a random time during your dog park visit, say nothing to your dog, walk over to the exit gate, wait for your dog to get to you and leash him/her up, immediately unleash and let the fun continue. If you do this "FALSE LEAVE" several times randomly each time you go to the dog park, your dog will learn that each time he/she comes to you it doesn't mean that the party is over, it means[at least most of the time] that the fun will continue for some time. Please note; if your dog is already trained to not come to you, the initial waiting times can be long, resist the temptation to call your dog, just wait. You are creating a new reality for your dog and that can take time depending on how long this behavior of not coming to you at the dog park has been allowed to continue. The more "False Leaves" you do the faster your dog will learn, repetition is the key here and for that matter, in most dog training situations.
Do take this issue seriously. Disease can be transferred thru feces and plus, it is just plain gross to kiss a poop smelling dog. That aside, try to remain as calm as possible. If your dog is eating his own poop and/or the poop of one of your other dogs, you can often solve the problem by feeding the dog[s] with the irresistible poop PINEAPPLE[canned is fine and comes in easy to dispense chunks] Depending on the size of the dog, start with a chunk or two and add more if you see no results in a few weeks. Please note, Pineapple is a garnish, not the meal. Your dog needs the nutrition of his dog food, make sure that is the bulk of his meal. If this is ineffective, you can try meat tenderizer [available in the spice section of your market] start by adding a shake or two to the dogís food. Add more if needed. Remember [garnish]. There are also commercially marketed items designed to address this issue, check with your vet.
Other things that can help are, keeping all poop out of reach for a period of time to break the poop eating habit. You should also try to ignore the poop eating as some dogs will actually eat poop just for the attention that you give when they do it. The little stinkers! [Pun unfortunately intended!]
Praise your dog when he/she ignores the poop and focuses on you. You can use the ěLookî or ěWatch Meî command if this is something that your dog knows. [this will be covered in a future Blog]. I always like to prevent problem behavior by replacing it with a desired behavior when possible [then I can praise instead of disapprove] Example; Your dog sees poop. You say ěLookî, your dog looks at you. You then praise and/or offer a treat. This can be very effective. Another option is to say ěNoî and then give a command that your dog is very good at responding to such as ěSit". Praise/treat your dog for sitting. What you are doing is correcting the unwanted and replacing with the wanted. You can now praise your dog for something that you do want him/her to do. It changes the balance of power. You can also use the ěLeave itî command if that is something that your dog knows. Try one or a combination of the above suggestions and keep track of what works for your dog.
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