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Ok, so you are sitting at home watching t.v. or enjoying a nice cup of java when all of a sudden the door bell rings. Automatically, you dog starts barking up a storm. You can’t think, or concentrate on answering the door, because your dog is going nuts. You finally make it over to the door to answer it and…..boom… your dog bolts out the door past the company and is gone.
How many times has this happened to you? Why do dogs do this? Why would your beloved, pampered, spoiled little dog run away from you?
The answer is simple. You dog is bored to death! On top of that, he/she doesn’t see you as the pack leader. Yeah, you and your dog, and your kids, and cats and birds or whatever else lives with you, is a pack to your dog. All packs have leaders, and if your dog is running away, you aren’t the leader.
A good leader exercises his/her pack daily. How often do you take your dog for a walk? Once a week, once a month, never? Dogs build energy just like we do. When they can’t get rid of it by walking or exercising, they explode with behavior problems. Bored, anxious dogs usually start chewing everything, barking at everything, and go into frenzies around the house. (A frenzy is when a dog runs in circles, or runs around all crazy).
A big back yard is not enough for a dog. Dogs get cabin fever just like we do, they need to go out and explore new places. So take your dog on walks everyday in new places. He’s dying to see new places and smell new trees! There’s a saying in the dog training world. "A tired dog is a good dog!"
Pack leaders always enter and exit first, submissives second. So if you dog is bolting ahead of you, you are not the pack leader, the dog is. On walks, the dog should be next to or behind you. Pack leaders are always in the lead.
Practice rewarding your dog for behaviors you like, even if you are not prepared for them to happen. Do not reward bad behaviors. Most people inadvertantly reward bad behaviors by giving their dogs attention and/or affection durning the bad behavior. Giving an anxious dog affection, only creates more anxiety. Even repeatedly saying NO to the dog, is only encouraging the dog to do it, because he is getting attention and you aren’t really doing anything to stop him. Some people even give up and start petting the dog…OUCH! That sets the behavior and the dog learns to keep doing it, not to stop. Once you start something, you must ride it out to the end. Set a goal and don’t stop until you achieve it.
Block your dog if he/she tries to run infront of you at the door, and then move him/her to a specified spot in the house that he/she must sit at when you answer the door. Practice this with family members, by having them ring the bell, and then making the dog sit in the spot. Be firm, don’t let the dog give you the "puppy eyes." They will try that. When the dog tries to get up, correct by making some kind of harsh sound, if the dog doesn’t stop trying to move out of the spot, go over immediately and put him back in it. Be calm, but assertive. Reward your dog at the end of the exercise with treats and praise for staying in that spot.
Stay consistent and practice every day, and you will substitute running out the door with sitting in a spot when company comes to the door. Practice enough, and the dog will even run to that spot and sit down when the door bell rings!