Teach Your Dog to Guard an Object

Most dogs have a natural inclination to guard coveted items. Just look at your dog when it sits next to a favorite toy. If you have other dogs, it may try to use visual and other cues to signal ownership of that toy. It could be a bone, a sock or almost anything that it likes -- including you.

In her book 101 Ways to Do More With Your Dog: Make Your Dog a Superdog with Sports, Games, Exercises, Tricks, Mental Challenges, Crafts and Bonding, author Kyra Sundance shows you how to train your dog to guard an object. As she astutely points out, it’s easier to teach your dog to sit on an object than it is to have your pet stay near it. With that in mind, let’s say that you have left your suitcase behind and would like for your dog to guard it.

First, Sundance instructs that you should use a treat to lure your dog on top of the object, which in this instance is a suitcase. Tell your dog to stay, and have it hold there for a few seconds. Again, reward it with a treat. As your dog is staying, walk around the suitcase, continuing to instruct your dog to stay. Although you are moving, your dog should not. At this point, you can try slowly backing up, creating distance between yourself and the suitcase. Monitor your dog to ensure that it is holding its position.

Once your dog learns this basic technique, you can replace the suitcase with other items. Often just having a watchful dog present is enough of a deterrent for would-be thieves, so this can be a very handy skill to teach your furry pal. Later, you can also train your dog to bark if someone else approaches, alerting you if you are still within earshot.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/ManicBlu

Can a Tether Help You Train Your Dog Off-leash?

Tethers are ropes, chains or other leads that, when fastened to a stationary object like a pole or stake, allow you to restrict your dog’s movement while also permitting some freedom. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “Placing an animal on a restraint to get fresh air can be acceptable if it is done for a short period or while supervised. However, keeping an animal tethered for long periods is never acceptable.”

In terms of training, tethers are sometimes used to housetrain puppies and dogs. Veterinarian Dr. Rolan Tripp explains that the dog is confined to a small area with a leash or tether. Instinct prevents dogs from soiling their den, so the tether restriction encourages the dog to “hold it” and wait for an appropriate time and place to do his or her business. Tripp advises that you not do this with a puppy until it is leash trained at about 10 to 12 weeks of age.

If your dog is tethered for a short period of time as you supervise and go through a training session, it should not hurt your dog. Tethering, however, is a very controversial practice since many owners abuse it, keeping their dogs on tethers for hours and even days at a time. As a result, more than 100 communities in more than 30 states have passed laws that regulate tethering animals.

Maumelle, Ark., and Tucson, Ariz., fully prohibit the unattended tethering of dogs. Orange County, Fla., does not allow tethering between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or during times of extreme weather. Those are just a few examples of laws that are established in certain areas. If you use the tether like a leash, it can be a useful tool for supervised, limited periods. In most other cases, though, better options are available for training purposes.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/PK-Photos

How to Stop Dog Begging

Dogs seem to know how to push our emotional buttons when it comes to food and other coveted things. If the sweet puppy-dog gazes don’t get to you, your dog might opt for annoying, whiney persistence and then downright grabbing. Begging at the table can be one of the most difficult dog habits to break, because the rewards are just too visible, plentiful and desirable.

Dog trainer Jason Ellis of Dog-Training-Works.com shares the following tips:

1. What your dog doesn’t know won’t hurt it.
The best way to stop your dog from begging at the table is to never introduce it to table food in the first place. Your dog won’t know what it’s missing, and you won’t have to know how to stop it from begging at the table.

2. Let your dog know its place.
Dogs are very particular about social rank, and they need to know that they’re at the bottom of the social ladder. Keep to a feeding schedule, but make sure that it only eats after the family has eaten. If it so much as gets a crumb from the table, it will assume that it’s moving up in status and may become more aggressive.

3. Learn the power of commands.
The commands “Sit” and “Stay” are very effective when learning how to stop your dog from begging at the table. After the family has finished eating, reward your pet with praises or treats for behaving.

4. Get your dog out of there.
You may eventually need to take drastic action. Your dog might get aggressive, so let it stay in another room or outdoors while the family is eating. Do not let it watch you, because it’ll only frustrate it further. Once the family has finished, you can then allow your pet to enter the room and eat.

“No matter how cute your dog is, or how aggressive it gets, there’s absolutely no reason to give in to its demands,” says Ellis.

How to Stop Your Cairn Terrier From Chasing

One famous cairn terrier was Toto from The Wizard of Oz. In that classic movie, it seemed like Toto was being chased more than he chased. In reality, cairn terriers are infamous for going after cars, bikes and anything else that catches the dog’s eyes.

If you do a Google search for “cairn terrier” and “rescue,” you’ll find quite a few hits. That’s because a lot of people want this attractive dog, but adopt one knowing very little about its needs and temperament.

This type of dog was originally bred to hunt small game, according to the Cairn Terrier Rescue League. According to the league, even the most highly trained cairn terrier will take off after small animals, like squirrels, “with no regard for danger.”

To protect your dog, you should have a fenced yard. The league does not require this, but mentions that the dogs should never be left off-leash unless they’re in a securely fenced yard. That is for the benefit of your pet as well as for potential chase victims.

Cairn terriers are extremely intelligent, therefore they learn relatively quickly. But since they do have such a strong instinct to chase, consider seeking professional help with training. As previously mentioned, training likely won’t prevent your dog from dashing off, so you have to be proactive by keeping your dog on a leash when on walks and praising your dog’s good behavior.

Housekeepers and Dog Safety

Housekeepers and other service professionals who may visit your home are at first strangers to your dog. Depending on how well-socialized your pet is, the meetings could be disastrous for both your dog and the housekeeper. Keep in mind that not everyone loves animals, and most professionals just want to do their job effectively and quickly before moving on to the next client.

Wendy Nan Rees and Kristen Hampshire, co-authors of Dog Lover’s Daily Companion: 365 Days of Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Living a Rich Life With Your Dog, offer some great tips to ensure safe and easy dealings with housekeepers and other workers. Based on their advice, try doing the following:

  • Be at home during the first few visits. You want to ensure that introductions are made and that you can step in should there be a problem.
  • If need be, place your dog in its crate, offering a treat and praise. This is a courtesy to your worker. Stay near your dog so that it knows everything is OK.
  • Request that your housekeeper use dog-friendly cleaning products, and provide them if necessary.
  • Give your housekeeper some of your dog’s favorite treats during the first visits. This will help him or her win over your pet from the start.
  • Vacuum cleaners and other noisy appliances can often scare pets. Keep your dog preoccupied during such moments at first, which will help it to realize that nothing scary or problematic is going on in your house.
  • Provide your housekeeper with any special instructions pertaining to your dog’s play, feeding and sleeping areas.
  • When dogs bark and become anxious, they are often busy guarding you. If you are at ease, your dog will probably be too.

If your housekeeper is at all troubled by your dog, or if your dog doesn’t get used to this individual’s presence after the first few appointments, you probably will need to crate or otherwise contain your dog on cleaning days. Consider having a neighbor, friend or other helpmate do this if you need to be gone for long periods during the day.