We, at Intelligent K9, had a blast at the Del Mar Home Show this past weekend. We met plenty of homeowners who have less than ideal relationships with “man’s best friend.” Although we sympathize with what fellow dog parents are going through, we also feel that the struggle is not necessary. With a little bit of proactiveness, we can build on the relationship we have with our dog and simultaneously work through the issues that may cause us frustration.
At the Del Mar Home Show, many people are obviously going through or planning major renovations at their abodes. Instances of increased excitement and distraction can be a stressful time for their pets. With workers going in and out, new territory, and countless distractions, it is not uncommon for dog behaviors to change noticeably. Significant lifestyle changes often affect our dogs. Renovating your backyard landscape will often affect your dog. Remodeling the kitchen can have an affect on your dog. Many people approached us with questions about what they can do to make these transition periods easier for themselves and their dogs.
If you are planning to make significant changes at your home, try these top tips before the problems start:
Be proactive. Don't wait for your dog to make mistakes. Manage behavior from the get go. We talk about this quite often because it is so important. Know that, just like young children, dogs can become stressed during periods of change. Dogs may also not know what to do in a new situation, environment, or changed environment. By understanding this potential confusion, you can stop many problems before they start; and you can help build new successful habits in the process. If you know that workers are coming over, and your dog will start barking or get overly excited at the sound of a doorbell or construction equipment, be sure to help him through it. Be ready to help him get it right before he gets it wrong or makes a mistake. Teaching your dog a solid sit and stay will help with this. Having your dog sit and stay while you answer the door is a huge plus!
Use a leash. One of the most helpful tools you can use to help your dog is a leash. If your dog does not respond well to you when distractions are present, using a leash will help you prevent your dog from making major mistakes. A leash is an excellent tool that shouldn't be reserved only for walks. If you are around to supervise your dog, leave a leash clipped to his collar. If he attempts to run after a distraction or jump up, it is much easier to grab hold of or step on the leash to prevent the mistake than it is to yell or chase after your dog with no successful result. Keep in mind, safety first; never leave the leash on your dog if he will be unattended.
Implement structure and accountability. The quickest and easiest way to begin implementing a little structure and accountability is to actively teach your dog. Training starts with teaching your dog to respond to you; helping your dog respond to you around real-life distractions will allow you to increase your success potential. When things are changing around us, it is even more important that you have a predictable routine for your dog to follow. This will help create a little structure in a potentially confusing time for your pet. Practice holding a "sit" while you are doing things around the house. Practice loose leash walking when moving from one place to the other.
By following these top tips, you'll be able to help your dog through transitional times. Once the work is complete, and life has gone back to normal, you'll be back to your usual routines in no time! For long-term success, keep your structure and accountability up as part of your routine and lifestyle. Remember, you are your dog's leader. Show him what you want from him so you can build your relationship and enjoy your life together!