Training Tips and Tricks Part 9 – “After The Honeymoon”
Most hounds adapt to pet life with ease but it is fair to say that there are usually a few minor hiccups along the way. After six – eight weeks your hound has really started to settle into his new life and it can be with this timing that issues start to pop up. Your hounds’ confidence is up and he is really starting to relax into his new home.
Your hound may use this opportunity to test the boundaries of what is acceptable behaviour in the home – see my previous blog for furniture etiquette and training your hound what is acceptable around furniture.
Some of the things that I have experienced are:
– Going loopy when you return home from work & at walk time
– Rushing in front of you
I’m sure the above can be added to but this is what I am going to concentrate on for this blog.
So your hound has started acting with what appears to be demonic possession at certain times of the day – when you get home & walk time
Instead of saying to your hound ‘don’t’ ‘no’ ‘stop’ think about what you want him to do instead.
For example you get home from work, which generally means walk/food time, and your hound is going completely bananas. He may be jumping on you, round you, tearing around the house, throwing toys wildly just to give a few things I have experienced. You don’t like this behaviour at all but what do you want him to do instead?
I want my hounds to come and greet me, but quietly when I get home from work. I taught them to do this with very clear signals. When they were acting with the above mentioned loopyness I simply ignored them. No talking to them, eye contact, touching – they didn’t exist to me UNTIL they calmed down. Then I would call them to me for a pat/ go to them for a pat/ get ready for a walk. If one was being calm (we have a Percy Perfect and a Problem Child) then she got kind words and eye contact and the other one was ignored until she calmed down.
Hounds are very adaptive and mine generally come and greet me at the door when I get home and then lay down on their beds while I get myself sorted. HOWEVER they will quickly slide back into loopy behaviour if given attention for it – talking to your hound is attention, even if you are saying bad words!
On the first morning of having our second hound I got out of the shower to find the clothes I had laid out neatly on the bed were gone. Well my jeans were still there but socks, underwear, singlet and t-shirt were gone. Where did I find them? On the dog bed of course!
Though this happened very early in the piece with our second hound I would still approach new hoarding behaviour in the same way. It was so to speak ‘after the honeymoon’ in that our first hound was so good and our second, arriving a few months later was so cheeky.
Firstly ‘hound proof’ your home. Move anything valuable out of your hounds reach. Don’t leave things lying around that your hound may damage or that may damage your hound. If your hound does take something undesirable to his bed only interact if it may damage him otherwise ignore him. For example my hoarder stole a pair of earrings off the coffee table and took them to her bed so I retrieved them with minimal interaction with her. I just went and took them back, with no eye contact and no interaction with her. Any clothes she got were my fault for not picking up after myself.
Secondly make sure your hound has something to play with/hoard instead like dog toys. Don’t give him free range of the doggy toy bin with fifteen toys. Give him two or three to have on his bed/s and to play with and change them up every few days. If he has access to all of them all the time they become BORING. If you are rotating them they are new and exciting. If he’s playing with them and you walk passed, smile softly at him and say ‘good dog’ quietly. You like that he is playing with his toys, not your stuff, so tell him so. You are saying I like that behaviour.
Thirdly and most importantly provide some mental stimulation. See my previous blogs for some training ideas. 10mins of mental stimulation can excite and exhaust your hound, provide him with some new skills and most importantly improve your relationship. You become much more interesting and fun and you are learning to communicate with your hound. Mental stimulation can be more exhausting that exercise alone for a hound.
The above mentioned clothes and jewellery stealer (who also demolished a remote control and a full packet of cigarettes amongst other things) is an energiser bunny. After our first session (with an awesome trainer) on mental stimulation and clicker training she fell over comatose for a couple of hours and was calm and collected for the rest of the day.
Rushing in front of you
Your hound may start rushing through doorways and knocking into you or trying to push you out of the way. If your hound does start to show this behaviour the best thing you can do is turn around and go the other way. Every time he goes to rush passed you turn and go another way. Do not follow him.
By doing this you are communicating to him that firstly you do not like this behaviour so you are moving away from him and secondly that just because you are heading that way now doesn’t mean you will keep going that way. You are acting unpredictably which is more interesting and your hound. He will need to keep his eyes on you to see where you are going and he can’t do that from in front of you!
I will follow on from this blog next month with improving manners around feeding and walks.