Patience is a virtue with Dogs

Patience is a virtue with Dogs.


It’s funny as a Dog Trainer I like to “practice what I teach” but even I can find myself sometimes realising I could do a better job.

I was out with our collie “Gracie” today using the ball thrower to give her a good run.

This is her favourite game by far.

She even prefers it to “Agility” (a story for another day).

While throwing it I realised that she had got into a habit of dropping the ball a couple of feet from me.

This meant that I had to either lean right out to get the ball into the thrower or even had to walk a couple of feet to pick it up.

Don’t get me wrong…I don’t mind bending or having to walk. But this is not how I originally taught her the game.

Gracie has always been a dog that tries to test you.

When I play ball at home with her while sitting down. She knows she has to actually drop the ball in my hand…

…But still, she sometimes insists on throwing it at me where it can end up either on the floor by my feet or somewhere else.

I am not sure if this is her dominant side coming out (She tends to rule the other dogs) or she is just “trying it on”.

Probably a bit of both.

At home if she does this I just ignore her.

She will bark at me…But I will just ignore here more.

Eventually she realises that she won’t get me to play unless she puts the ball in my hand.

This is where patience comes in.

I believe if you have enough patience you can probably teach your dog pretty much anything.

And that’s where we get issues in the dog training world.

We are in a time when everyone wants a “Quick fix” and “Done Today” which is ok if you are queuing at your local restaurant or pizza place…

…But it’s no good when it comes to training your dog.

It’s funny. We don’t expect our kids to learn to walk in a day or ride a bike perfectly after a few minutes, but we seem to expect our dogs to learn all sorts of commands and do them perfectly in a very short space of time.

Just as your child will have to learn to ride a bike on the pavement, across grass, up and down hills and eventually on the road, your dog needs just as much time to learn many of the tricks we train them.

So back to Gracie dropping her ball away from my feet.

What do I do…

Reward the habit I want and ignore the one I don’t want.”

So I stand and just wait looking at the sky and the trees, anywhere but at her.

She barks…

She tries to throw the ball at me…

But eventually she realises what I want.

See she didn’t forget, she just wanted me to forget!

And as soon as she does what I want she gets high praise. But more importantly she gets the reward of running after the ball.

So please remember:

“If you have enough patience anything is possible”

How to stop your dog eating flowers

How To Stop Your Dog Eating Flowers.

Dog Eating Flowers

My dogs eating the flowers…

Last night at my regular obedience training session at St Marks and owner of a lovely little (well maybe not so little) boxer asked me this question.

How do I stop my puppy eating the flowers in the garden?


Unfortunately we had run out of time and the next group were knocking to come in so I said that would email her with the answer.

So here it is…

Poisonous flowers.

The first thing you should think about is…

Are your flowers or plants “Dog Friendly”.

Many you think look nice could be a potential problem to your dog.

Sweet pea
Daffodil Bulbs
Morning Glory
Lily of the valley

Are just some you should be aware of.
(See here for a full list)

On with solving the problem…

It’s funny because if you look around the net I see answers like.

Spray the flowers with something the dog doesn’t like (diluted lemon juice is a favourite).
Put something around the flowers.
Only let them in the garden on a lead

“Old School”

I also remember an “old school” method probably still taught by some trainers.
(Which I really wouldn’t recommend)

This is where you get a few plastic bottles and fill them each with a some stones so they rattle noisily.

You then get someone to let your dog out while you are at the bedroom window.

When the dog goes for the flowers you chuck one of the bottles to the ground.
(Make sure this is away from the dog and no one is around.)

Now you are probably thinking that this would distracts the dog from chewing the plants.

But the idea is to get the dog to associate that every-time he touches a flower there is a loud bang.

The problems are…

  1. This needs good timing which to be honest most people don’t have.
  2. The dog could get scared and this can cause other issues.
  3. The dog ignores it.
  4. The dog bolts and hurts himself.

As I said this is old school and I wouldn’t recommend you doing it at all.

So what’s the alternative?

First of all puppies are curious and they are probably just going through a phase of figuring out what they are.

Once they realise they are no fun they will leave them alone.

That’s said here are some ideas to help you.

The first thing you need to think about is your reaction.

If you go out there shouting and waving your hands at your pup every time it touches your flowers what do you think is happening?

Your dog probably doesn’t understand you’re mad at them…

…So they could be associating that if they touch the flowers you give them attention.

Dog eating flowers 2

So stop doing that!

Here are three things you can try.

  1. “No”Walk out into the garden with you pup with some treats and then just go quiet and let them play around.

If they go over to a plant and look like they are going to eat it just give them one command like “Ah”, “No” or “No” in a low non emotional voice.

If they turn away and look at you call them  over with excitement and reward them.
Then ignore them again to see what happens next.

If you keep everything quiet and level until they react how you want they should learn to just look at the plants then realise it’s better if they leave them.

  1. Leave it”. The “Leave it” command I think is one of the most important you can teach your dog because it can be used in a variety of situations.

It’s an easy thing to teach and can be expanded to cover a whole range of things.
Especially on walks where you don’t want your dog picking up things that look like they could harm the dog.

  1. Time out”.

I use this command for dogs that bark in the garden or get hyper when you have visitors.
But it can be adapted for this situation as well.

Time out is where you ask your dog to stop a behavouir you don’t like. If they don’t they are put somewhere where they get chance to calm down.

This is normally a quiet room or crate.

But…This mustn’t look like punishment.

We are simply saying to the dog…

If you don’t behave then you will have to go and be quiet for a bit.
It’s like telling a naughty child to go to their bedroom and miss out on fun.

Once they calm down they can come out again.

If you do this correctly (call me) then you can use for a variety of situations.

When it comes to one dog and a specific issue it is far easier to actually see the dog in it’s own environment.

So get in touch and let me help.