Lizzi & Rocco's Natural Pet Market

Ask the Trainer: Part Two

In honor of National Dog Training Month, we had Lizzi & Rocco’s Head Trainer, Jennen Herbst, answer questions that were submitted by customers!

Jennen can even train tigers (Results may vary!)

Jennen’s Background

Question: What is the dumbest or silliest or funniest trick you have ever heard of a dog learning? 

I originally started to train my dog to help me when I have migraines so I worked on teaching her to get water out of the fridge. It was fun but also backfired on me when she got something out while I was gone one day. I always think the buttons are fun, getting the dog to communicate. I have used them in unique ways and not just for the basic things to have a little fun with the training process.

Question: What are you working hard on to learn?

I am actually in a course right now learning a new way of approaching reactivity training. While that is the main focus, there are a lot of things that we learn that can help with some of the basics as well. I try to work on coursework in my free time and am so excited to bring the methods into our training program. I have started using it with a few of the reactive dogs and it has been going well so can’t wait to start incorporating it more this spring.

Meia, the dog behind our reactivity program

Dog Behavior Questions

Question: How do I train my dog to not get so upset when the delivery people (UPS, FedEX, USPS) come to the house? 

If it is when they can see the delivery person walking up, then they should start with management techniques, such as blocking the window if a handler will not be there to work with them. When a handler is there, they can work on redirecting their attention to something else when they are coming up. As with most things, it is about desensitizing the dog and teaching them appropriate behaviors to do in the situation.

Question: Hi. My dog is a year old and has a great disposition most of the time. When I do things he hates nails cut fur trimmed etc he started showing his teeth growling and snapping at me. I have tried treats but nothing works. Help!

Cooperative care is important with this. There are a few things that I recommend people do, one is regularly touching their nails, body, teeth, feet, ears, etc so that they begin to get used to it and are not as uncomfortable. The big thing that I do to help with cooperative care and them not being as uncomfortable in this situation is to put a word/cue to each body part before I touch it. So if I am going to touch their paw, I will say “paw” or something similar. I am putting that cue with touching that part. This helps them learn what is coming when we need to handle them. Being taken by surprise a lot of time is a big contributing factor so taking the element of surprise out by teaching a cue of what is coming in the situation can help with that.

Question: How do you treat littermate syndrome and prevent aggression?

The dogs should spend some time every day separated. They can walk, train, play, and socialize separately. Training them separately can be beneficial because then they will not distract each other and they learn independence and start to realize they have to work and focus even when the other dog is not present. They need to be crated in separate crates and fed in two different spots. An owner should bond with each dog separately so the dog has confidence and trust in the owner that they do not have to rely on the littermate.

Question: How can I help my Labradoodle to learn to keep her paws on the floor? Every time someone comes to our house or sees her in the morning she immediately jumps up on them. She is so excited, but what we have tried hasn’t been working. 

When it comes to any type of attention-seeking behavior, I prefer to take what they want away (which in this case is attention). I do not look at them, I do not speak to them, I just turn away and ignore them. Dogs do what gets them what they want so teaching them that jumping does not get attention, they will start to pick up what does get them what they want. It is hard at times but I would prefer the dog make the decision not to jump on its own, so I try to get them to think it through and learn what to do. The reason this is tricky is that it is easy to immediately say something or you have the people that say “oh it’s fine”. Consistency is the key. If they get away with it once, they will keep trying. It is important that every person during every greeting does this.

Assistant Trainer, Margot doing an enrichment activity!

Ask Margot!

It wasn’t just Jennen who got questions, her faithful assistant Margot also got questions as well!

Question: Margot, do you feel like you’ve gained anything from being a well-trained dog?

The training program is named after me which has brought a lot of attention to me and attention is my favorite. I get to experience a lot of new places and things that are always fun. I also get to do a lot of fun things now since I have my manners down. Treats are a big plus as well.

Question: Is it hard being a role model dog?

Even though I embarrass mom a lot of the time when I goof off, I think that I’m perfect. It is hard at times having all the attention on me. At times, I just have to put myself back in my crate in the middle of the class so the fans give me a break.

Question: Jennen, does Margot have a giant ego from being the best? 

Margot has the biggest ego ever. With the basic manners training program named after her, she definitely thinks she is a big deal. She thinks that everyone should cater to her and she struts around like everyone wants to meet her and give her attention. If you ask her brother Mac how big her ego is, he will tell you that she definitely has a giant ego based on how she treats him at times.

Deeper Dives

Question: My little Shichon barks at the neighbors when we pass their houses, and she would run into cars while barking if she weren’t on her leash. How can I help her settle down and not be so reactive? 

 In our reactive dog training program, we use a combination of desensitization and counterconditioning. We have to find the distance that they can be without reacting (the threshold) and start working from there. We have them work on things while the trigger is at the distance they can focus. We then get them to do some basic skills or walking around while the trigger is present. As they get comfortable then we move them closer and closer. You cannot really train this ‘in the moment’ and have to set up appropriate training set-ups to work on it before relying on the methods when out on walks. If you have more questions, you can contact me to discuss potential training opportunities at training@lizziandroccos.com.

Question: We have a female Yorkie that’s almost 1yrs old and we have a new dog (bully breed) he’s 4 months the Yorkie goes crazy and tries to attack she has also started peeing and pooping in her cage and refuses to go outside how do we get them to get along why is she not going outside anymore 

Any changes in the home can cause a dog’s behavior to change. Without assessing the dog it would be hard to rule out other things. I do always recommend that when there are behavior changes, especially when it goes to the bathroom issues, since having a medical issue can also contribute to the behavior. I suspect though that it is related to the new dog being in the home. This is a major change so it can cause potential issues and behavior changes. When introducing dogs,  I will walk the dogs outside either one in front of the other or parallel. I do this outside or in a neutral area. I let the dogs sniff the area that the other dog was in so they begin to get used to each other. It is important when bringing in a new dog, to take greetings slowly to prevent potential issues and a dog getting hurt. You should give them as much space as needed and not push them too fast too soon. If they are meeting on a leash (I don’t usually recommend this but know it may be needed for safety purposes) it is critical the leash stays loose. If it is tight and the dog does not feel like it can get away, it can cause bigger issues.

Question: My 6 year old dog always liked other dogs and played and interacted well with them. However recently, another dog was very aggressive towards her (almost biting her) outside of our house. The last two times she has met new dogs she barks and growls at them which is a new behavior and makes me not trust her with other dogs. I am assuming she is on guard now because of the negative experience. How do I retrain her to interact appropriately with other dogs again?

I never guarantee that a dog will like every dog they meet as they all have their own personalities which cause them to behave in certain ways in the presence of a dog. Learning dog body language is critical if you are wanting to introduce your dog to another dog so that you can notice signs of your dog being uncomfortable and get them out of the situation. While the growling and barking are signs, it is important to learn the warning signs before them so that you can get them out of the situation before they even react. It also takes slow introductions having them greet for a few seconds and then moving them away. You can increase how long they are interacting as they get more comfortable in the situation. If they do not appear to be getting comfortable, there is no reason to push them. If dogs meet on leash, I always make sure to keep the leash loose since if the dog feels pressure they will realize that their “flight” option is taken away so they turn to the other. Setting them up in a neutral environment can help as well as is letting them sniff where the other dog has been. In our reactive program, after having the dogs go through a desensitization process, we move them closer together and introduce them when/if ready. For more information, you can check out our reactive program.

Thank you to Jennen for taking the time to sit down and answer these questions! To learn more and register in our training programs, click here!

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