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Is Your Dog A Space Invader?

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Space Invader dog
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Do you like to sit quietly and read a book, only to have your dog nudge his way between you and the book to get some attention?  Much as we love our dogs, it can be frustrating when they interrupt.  The January 2015 issue of Whole Dog Journal offers some suggestions to stop the “space hog” behavior:

  • The  “Off” Command.  Pick a spot where your dog is allowed, such as the sofa.  Invite her up.  Once up, invite her “off” and toss a treat on the floor to entice her down.  Positively reinforce when she hops up, but if she begins to do a quick jump up, then down, invite her to “wait” before she jumps down.  It shouldn’t take long before your dog is jumping up, then down on cue.  Slowly reduce, then eliminate the use of treats when performing the commands.
  • “Touch.”  This command teaches your dog to target her nose to your hand and is a great way to get your dog positioned without having to physically move her.   To teach this command, offer your palm a few inches away from her nose, at nose level, with finger toward the floor.  If your dog stiffs your hand, say “yes!” and give a treat.  If she doesn’t move to sniff your palm,  put something yummy on your hand to entice her.  Keep repeating until she deliberately nudges your hand with her nose for a treat.  Begin adding the “Touch” cue when you offer your hand.  Once she clearly understands “touch”, put your hand in various positions and ask her to touch.  As she gets better at the command, it will become increasingly easier to move her where you want her to go.
  • “Find It”.  This is a personal favorite of mine and dogs LOVE this game!  Tell your dog to “find it” and toss a treat on the floor near you.  If she doesn’t find the treat right away, give her a clue by tapping your foot close to the treat.  It usually doesn’t take long at all for dogs to catch onto the “find it” command.  Increase the distance you toss the treat to move her out of your space.  This game is also great exercise and mental stimulation for dogs, you can even feed their entire meal this way, hiding treats around the room.

For more training tips, check out the January 2015 of Whole Dog Journal.  Go to whole-dog-journal.com for subscription information.

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