Friday, 17 December 2010

Do male dogs have to lift their legs on every lamp post?

I was recently watching a gentleman with a dog walking in central London. The large dog pulled him from one lamp post to pillars, to bins and then lamp posts again... I have also had this question from clients on several occasions... Do male dogs really have to lift their leg on every lamp post they come across?

The short answer is: NO, they don't!

It is of course perfectly natural behaviour for a male dog (regardless of whether they are neutered or not) to cock their leg and leave their mark wherever they go - it's their way of communicating with other dogs. However, a dog can be taught to walk without pulling the owner from one lamp post to the next provided of course they get ample opportunity to mark in appropriate places.

So it is perfectly acceptable and actually good manners to expect your dog to walk next to you on a pavement without pulling left and right to mark every vertical surface they come across. If your dog is already used to walking like this then it will take some getting used to until the dog learns that it is not allowed anymore, but in no time he will understand the new rules. The side effect of stopping the marking whilst road walking also means that your dog is less likely to pull and you won't annoy the neighbours if your dog is not the first of many that mark their house wall or garden fence.

Of course, as I mentioned before, the male dog needs to have opportunities to display their natural marking behaviour, but there is a place and time for everything!

TRAINING TIP: if the lead is short, the dog is not allowed to mark or venture from your side in any way, when the lead is long, then the dog gets more freedom. Simples!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Aggression over toys when playing ball in the park

Q: I often play ball with my dog in the park and he loves it, but when another dog goes near his ball, my dog becomes very aggressive and attacks other dogs. How can I stop him attacking?

A: Guarding toys against other dogs is perfectly normal behaviour for dogs. Many dogs guard resources they love (e.g. toys) and do so with lots of aggression! Playing ball or playing with any other toy in the park with your dog whilst there are other dogs around is asking for trouble. So your best and safest option is to simply keep the toys in your pocket when there are other dogs around. This applies whether your dog guards toys or not as you never know what an approaching dog might do, e.g. steal the toy and then guard it against your dog. So, be safe and only play with toys in the park when there are no other dogs around!

If your dog is guarding indoors against you or your other dogs, then that's a different story and will be material for another blog post in the future.

Hi and Welcome

So here we are, applying what we do in class to real life - that's what dog training is all about! I will cover topics that come up either in classes, as questions from members or in the press. If you have any suggestions of topics YOU would like to see covered, please give me a shout! Stay tuned in.