Mason is a 10 month old Labrador/Pit mix. Mason is very willful and demanding of attention. He likes to chase his owner’s cats, jumps up on his owners and guests, and barks to demand food, or as a way to “ask” to be let outside or play.
Mason’s owners have cats, which because of his energy, remain upstairs. Mason and the cats need to learn to co-exist. With dog-cat introductions and teaching a new puppy the rules of the house, It’s important to set up situations where your dog can be successful.
Use an Indoor Leash
We recommended using the leash inside the house to help set up Mason to learn more quickly. A tether is a 4-6 foot leash you tie off to the wall or a piece of heavy furniture. A drag line is when you leave your dog’s leash on inside the house. Using a leash indoors is essential with cat-dog introductions. The indoor leash dragging behind your dog is easier to grab if they decide to chase the cats or you can tether your dog so cats can explore without getting chased.
The trick is to identify situations and put on the indoor leash, before your dog is really ‘acting out.’ For example, when visitors come over, while kids are playing, or if your dog starts chasing the cat, you can put on their drag line or tether them to get control.
How to Use a Tether
The first step was to tie him there for a short period of time while they sat nearby on the couch. They encouraged him by keeping a nice bed there and giving him his favorite chew, a bully stick.
The idea is to reward Mason with calm attention when he is quietly chewing. Occasionally, they said “Good Boy” and pet him gently before going back to reading/sitting on the couch.
Over time, they could leave the room without Mason getting nervous or anxious. You are teaching him to ‘self-sooth’ or relax and chill on command. By using the tether, he learns that the rewards Only follow Good behavior!
Managing behavior like this will help your dog learn that he cannot follow you whenever he wants; he must be relaxed and behave to be rewarded with attention.
When to Use a Tether
One of the goals they had with Mason was to stop his jumping up on people when they came over to visit. Eldon and Libor started to use the tether BEFORE opening the door to let visitors come in the house.
They asked visitors to play Radioactive Dog with Mason, when people come in the house, they were instructed to ignore him until he sits down, only when he sits and acts calm, should they pet and acknowledge him.
The leash step (placing the front of your shoe on the leash just past where it connects with the floor) is also helpful in correcting jumping, making it easier to control your dog when saying hi to someone coming in the house, or when meeting people on walks.
To help with the cat-dog introductions we recommended scheduling a 20 minute nightly pet-session with the kitties. First, tiring Mason out with some vigorous exercise, then feeding him in the crate so they can pet the cats in peace. Also, tethering Mason more often to help the cats explore the downstairs without constantly being chased.
Mason has shown great progress since these methods have been put into practice, and is well on this way to being a Zen Dog!
To learn more about Management Tools, and other solutions for having a demanding puppy, check out www.zendogtraining.net.