I’ve been working on a variety of training issues with my pups lately and have learned a bunch of things that I wish I had known when we owned our doggy daycare in Denver. Since the moment Roxie and Oscar entered my life at their young age of 4 weeks, little innocent-looking Roxie has had a fiery personality, often chasing and pinning the much larger Oscar to the ground.
When the treats come out, it’s even worse and her naughty personality becomes amplified with the worst sounding snarls and baring of teeth that I have ever seen. She steals his treats and often has two of them sticking out of that tiny little mouth like cigars and thank heavens, Oscar just turns away resigned to losing once again to his little sis.
I started putting Roxie into her crate the minute I aw her anger starting to brew and boil over and that solved the problem. Then my friend Ana Melara of Grace Dog Training told me how to teach them about sharing, the most unique training technique I have ever heard of.
I sat down with them on the floor at their level and held the chewy treat out to the Oscar, who really could have cared less. I slowly started feeding Roxie tiny bits of training treats. She was eyeing the bully stick and trying to jump over and get it. After I few minutes I traded the treats and she was a happy camper, with Oscar not caring about what he was noshing on. When I traded back again, Roxie sounded like she was going to exchange my fingers for the bully. She was livid and sounded like a wild animal, snarling and clamping on to the bulky stick. I was actually a bit frightened and let her hang on for a few minutes while I thought about it. I started dropping crumbs of treats to entice her and she loosened her hold on the stick and I gave it to Oscar to finish up. I was actually afraid to give it back to her. This continued all week and now they share very nicely. Sharing truly is a concept that dogs can be taught to do just like with kids.
The process has continued on with no snarls or possessiveness showing from Roxie. The one big takeaway from this training lesson was that Roxie needs twice as much sleep as Oscar and if she’s tired, she can be an angry snarling little dog, so unlike her usual precious little perky personality. Anyone with kids knows when they desperately need a nap, but rarely do dog owners think about putting their dogs back to bed for a nap or timeout.
I’ve never personally used dog crates at home before, but these two have each had one since the beginning. Crates are not a punishment, they are great training tools and a way to give them some much-needed time alone from another crazy dog in the house, the kids, or just when they need a nap. Oscar just got us up a few minutes ago and after the potty break, he wanted to play and be a pest. Roxie tried to burrow down under my hip and started snapping and snarling. I forgot for a second and then realized that I was writing about the very subject and it was happening right now. She’s now curled up sleeping in her kennel and Oscar is looking lonely, so I am going to wrap this up now.
More training hints to come!