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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 27 November 2002 Issue

What Jill Knows
Training Your Companion Animal

Dear Jill,

Our dog, Bianca, (a.k.a. "the shredder") is a terrier mix and the most headstrong and stubborn dog I have ever encountered.  She has slight aggression issues and is still settling in with us--we have had her a year.  Clicker training worked for a while but then she began to ignore it so I will get some different treats to see if that is the problem.

I was hoping you might just have a quick tip to stop her from putting her paws up on the dining room table, the sink counters, just about anywhere.  I have given her time outs and scold and say no and even scruff shakes but they have no effect at all.

-Bianca's caretaker

Dear Bianca's caretaker,

Sounds like your dog Bianca is an opportunistic counter culprit!  :-)

Begin by setting up an interesting, tempting counter situation.  Put Bianca on a Gentle Leader.  Get some really delicious food out.  If she even starts to go for the counter, tell her "No!" and firmly snap the lead back.  Then turn to the counter and discipline IT, not Bianca, saying firmly "Bad counter! BAD! BAD!"

Remember to avoid bending over to correct your dog, avoid yelling or using your hands (especially to push her away or down).  All these corrections are INTERACTIVE and encourage play and roughness. Practically any behaviour can be reinforced as an attention-getting behaviour, so be very careful to not "reward" her with (hands-on) scruffing, or anything involving touch. 

Also makes certain Bianca is thoroughly exercised and given plenty of positive attention every day. All healthy dogs, especially terriers and terrier mixes, need A LOT of daily physical activity.  I highly recommend dog 'play groups,' where dogs of all ages and sizes are allowed to freely socialize in a controlled setting (such as a dog park or doggie day/play care center).  A well-exercised dog is more likely to curl up on their bed while at home, rather than cause havoc and break house rules--because they're too tired to act up!

Try stationing Bianca for a while, in the kitchen.  Tell her to "WAIT" as you leave the room.  Repeat the same set up without stationing her.  Also correct the surfaces Bianca shows interest in with double stick tape and scat mats
(Available at: PetEdge ).

Remember persistence pays off in successful training, so don't give up!  Good luck in your training endeavours!

Love and paw pats,
Jillouise Breslauer
Companion Animal Behavior Consultant
What Jill Knows, Copyright 2002
[email protected]

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