13 Oct 2017

You paw thing

From Afternoons, 3:16 pm on 13 October 2017

Animal behaviour expert Clare Browne gives advice on wayward dogs.

For a start, Clare recommends schooling up on canine body language.

The signs that a dog is anxious or fearful can be subtle and research shows we don't pick these up as well as signs a dog is happy, she says.

Dr Sophia Yin has free downloadable posters of what fear looks like in dogs.

If your dog is very shy and anxious with visitors, look at how you can help them feel safer in the home environment, Clare says.

Set up a safe space such as a dog bed in the corner of the room away from guests and give them something to chew on.

Reward them for calm behaviour.

Take them for a walk before and after the visitors come so they have positive associations with the event. 

If necessary, and to ensure everyone's safety, keep them on a lead when guests are over.

If your dog goes crazy when around other dogs, try and avoid challenging them with high dog-traffic areas, Clare says.

Train them away from other dogs to respond to look, sit and come, then practise those commands with another dog at a distance and give them a good reward.

"Don't be stingy on the treats. Reward them really well for appropriate behaviour."

Muzzles can be useful, and your dog can even be trained to enjoy wearing one with the help of exercises on the Muzzle Up! Project website, Clare says.

For further reading, she recommends Feisty Fido: Help for the Leash Aggressive Dog by Patricia McConnell.

If your dog is escaping, the first strategy is to try and prevent that by containing them if you can.

Otherwise, Clare recommends looking online for 'environmental enrichment' ideas such as KONG toys which help make it more rewarding for them to stay home than roam.