The chilled winds of winter begin to sweep the landscape, leaves carpet the earth as the days become shorter and the nights lengthen. A leafless horizon invites your dog to run. The snow deepens, boundaries disappear, and your dog left unattended by their warmth seeking human, steps over snow shortened fences and goes off to explore.
You realize you must do something to curtail this dangerous roaming. You try your best to trudge through the snow and slush on your regular walks. Soon you realize you must supplement these outings with more inside time, and more inside time means better inside manners.
Begin by teaching your dog to stand calmly at the threshold while you remove snow from their coat and wipe mud from their paws. Even if they are not wet or dirty give them a brief inspection. Talk to them in a soft gentle voice as you slowly wipe their fur and paws. Don’t rush this process. Take your time and enjoy the feel of your dog’s fur, and watch the affection mirrored in their eyes.
To help your dog to understand the rules of your house begin by teaching, “In Your Spot”. Place an old mat or towel on the floor where you want the dog to rest. This spot should be out of the way of the flow of people, but in a place where your dog can see the door and most activities.
Over the first few days, scatter food treats on the towel. The dog will discover the treats and will think this spot is wonderful. Next, use a treat to lure the dog over the towel with the command, “In your spot”. When the dog has all four paws on the mat, say “Good spot”, and give the dog the treat. In a few days the dog will connect the command, “Good spot”, with the treat and will willingly rush to the mat whenever you say the command. You can reward them by throwing a treat.
Once the dog eagerly rushes to the mat when asked, command your dog to display a down posture before saying, “Good spot.” Challenge your dog further by making them down and stay on the mat for longer periods of time before rewarding with a treat. If your dog makes a mistake and leaves the mat, redo the exercise before giving the treat. Soon your dog will love this exercise and will gladly stay in their spot even when company arrives.
Remember to be calm and patient while teaching indoor manners. Give your dog clear direction, and reward them with treats and attention when they listen and respond.
Noel Pepin — Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists