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Tuesday Training Byte: Naturally follows

In the dog pack, the leader establishes the alpha role and the other dogs follow. In the wild, dogs mostly stay together, so it is natural for your pup to follow you everywhere. However, sometimes you need to leave and that causes separation anxiety. Does your dog bark frantically when you leave him in the crate? How about when you go shopping and leave him in your vehicle? Often owners inadvertently reward or make this behavior worse by immediately returning to the dog to pet and console him! Think of the 2-year old child being told "NO!" in the store and then they flop down on the floor and start a full blown tantrum? Embarrassed moms sometimes then give in to the child just to shut them up. Same concept- the dog is now training you to return when it barks. The fix at home can take a bit of time and patience. Set up 3 dog beds or mats in various locations around your house. As your dog is following you to the kitchen, point to the bed and praise him. Tell him to wait, walk a few steps away and then return, praising your dog. If he gets off to follow you, just return him calmly to the bed and repeat the process. If you are going into the living room, walk by the dog bed and repeat the process there- leaving and returning. Build up to the point where you can go briefly into the next room while the dog remains on the bed or mat. Put a little throw rug or mat in his open crate and ask him to go there and wait while you step away. The final step is heading to the front door while the dog remains on his bed or mat within sight. With repetition, your dog will build trust in you that it is safe when you are not there, and you will come back- usually with treats! If you happen to go through the front door, close it then return in a few minutes to find your dog greeting you at the door, send him back directly to his mat and make him wait a few before giving treats. If your dog barks when in its crate and seeing that you are leaving- do not return to the pup. Tell it "Hush" or "Quiet" or other word. Wait a moment while the dog is quiet and calm then return with a treat. If you are patient and work on this consistently, you pup will catch on. Always praise the progress however small in a calm and soothing way.

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