Pat Baker - REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West



Posted by Pat Baker on 6/9/2017

Dogs, like humans, are territorial by nature. If a stranger came into your home unannounced you would likely react in either a fearful or aggressive manner. Dogs who are aggressive and protective are no different. Fortunately, there are training techniques that can be employed to help your pet grow more comfortable when you have company at your home. Whether you have an older dog who behaves aggressively toward visitors or you are raising a puppy that you want to train to be comfortable around strangers, here are some tips that can help.

Know your dog

Before you start training you need to understand exactly what makes your dog uncomfortable. With some dogs it may be a certain type of person (like a mail carrier or the oil delivery driver). With other dogs any stranger who comes in or near the home is a trigger. Determine the fine line between your dog's comfort zone and where your dog becomes scared.

Employing a training partner

Start small by having a friend (someone your dog doesn't know) walk past your home where the dog can see. The moment they show signs of fear, assure your dog that you have the situation under control. Scolding the dog, grabbing them, or otherwise exhibiting aggressive behavior toward your dog will only exacerbate their fears. You want them to know that you have the situation in control. Saying firmly and calmly, "I got it; I'm OK" will tell your dog that you see the stranger and you're in control. Oftentimes, dogs bark at strangers because they want us to be aware of the potential danger. Acknowledging your dog is vital in these situations. If your dog is the type who barks or growls at strangers, reward them with treats when they don't bark as the "stranger" passes by your home. From there, you can try other triggers with strangers outside the house such as ringing the doorbell or walking through the yard.

Let the stranger inside

After a few sessions working with the stranger outside your home, it's time to introduce your dog to strangers inside their territory. If you think your dog will be aggressive toward the stranger, make sure you keep your dog leashed or basket-muzzled during the first visit. It will protect your training buddy and will help let your dog know you are in control. Start by having a family member let the stranger in the home while you hold your dog leashed at length. If your dog barks at the stranger, attempt to get your dog's attention and verbally reassure them you are okay; you are in control. Have your training partner avoid eye contact with your dog. Once your dog calms down enough to stop barking, try having them follow commands for treats (sit, stay, etc.). If this is successful, have the stranger try tossing treats to the dog as well. If your dog is too nervous to eat, reward them with pets and other positive reinforcement ("Good girl!").

Tips for productive training sessions

  • Try to keep your dog's focus on you as often as you can. Use treats and positive reinforcement constantly
  • Exercise your dog before training if they are high-energy
  • Train in small increments; if your dog is afraid of strangers don't start by introducing him/her to a party at your home
  • You need to be calm at all times while training. Your dog takes his/her cues from your behavior. If you get frustrated or anxious take a break and start again when you're fully calm

   





Posted by Pat Baker on 1/20/2017

Puppies can be a great addition to any household. They're cute, cuddly, loyal, and can grow to be a loving family member. However, when they are still small and untrained, puppies can wreak havoc on your home. There are also items that you should be aware of that could affect your puppy's health In order to protect your house, and dog, from any permanent puppy damage, follow these tips.

  • A new puppy will be curious, so make sure to remove most items that are within reach, and not nailed down, to prevent them from becoming too destructive, or making themselves sick.
  • Believe it or not, some common, household plants can prove very toxic for dogs. To protect their fragile stomachs, familiarize yourself with these plants (see this article from Pet Education). Remove these plants from your home, or put them in a place where they cannot be reached.
  • Puppies will eat pretty much anything, so you will need to keep them from getting into your food, garbage, and cleaning supplies. Keep cleaning supplies in high cupboards, or use child locks on your lower cabinets, to prevent a nosy canine from getting in and using your bleach bottle as a chew toy. This same tip can go for food. Particular foods that can harm your dog include grapes, raisins, chocolate and coffee. For your garbage, try finding a locking garbage can, that way even if it gets tipped over, he cannot get into the bag and eat things that he shouldn't. For smaller, bathroom trashcans, try to keep them up high and out of reach.
  • Close off stairways with a baby gate, until they have fully mastered going up and down the stairs safely.
  • To prevent the puppy from chewing on wooden legs of furniture, spray them with a disinfectant with a particular scent or smell that may deter them away from this object. Just make sure it is non-toxic! Vinegar may work just as well.
  • Keep cords and wires well out of reach. These can be a potential fire hazard, as well as could seriously injure the pup. You could bundle them together with clips, or get cord protectors. Also, anything on the floor level that is plugged into an electrical socket (i.e. phone charger, air-fresheners, etc), make sure to unplug those, as they could electrocute the puppy if they attempt to chew on it.
  • Make other spaces in and around your home puppy safe, as well. Your garage has many dangerous chemicals and objects that a puppy could easily get into if they start roaming around. Make sure everything is up high, or locked up tight.
  • For your yard, make sure you get rid of any plants that could be poisonous to dogs, as well as any yard decorations that are eye level to them and could get chewed up. Make sure your garden chemicals are not hazardous to animals. If they start chewing the grass or plants, they could become ill. To protect your wicker lawn furniture, try typing cloths around the legs to prevent your dog from chewing them.
As much as your home and the quality of your material possessions are important, your dog's life is of much greater importance. Make sure to keep them safe, and your home less chewed up, by taking precautions before you bring Fido home!




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