are few holidays that offer so many dog training
opportunities as Halloween. I currently have a
15-month-old dachshund, Curtis, who needs to catch up
with my other dogís education concerning house rules.
Halloween, with lots of foot traffic and ringing of the
doorbell, presents the perfect training scenario.
will not offer Curtis any meals on Halloween ó I will
use his food, combined with additional yummy treats,
during the training process.
do not wish my dogs to bark when someone rings our
doorbell. This is a personal preference; with numerous
dogs living indoors, it is paramount to my sanity that
all dogs remain quiet when someone comes to the door.
is easy to accomplish and fun as well. As I hear people
coming up the steps, I will toss a handful of treats
down the hallway and allow Curtis to begin his cookie
hunt. When the doorbell rings, he will be busy on this
other task, and he canít possibly bark and eat at the
same time. Not only does this prevent the bothersome
door barking from becoming a habit, this also reinforces
the concept that the sound of the doorbell equals a
been working on Curtisí "Settle" for a while
now, and Halloween will offer some great distractions to
proof this exercise. When given his "Settle"
cue, he is to lie down and remain in that spot until
given his release cue. As I hear people coming up the
steps, I will give him this "Settle" cue.
I will toss him a treat about every five seconds, to
reinforce his settled position. As the training session
progresses, I will raise my expectations and criteria,
and will only reinforce about every 10-15 seconds. Once
the trick-or-treaters get their loot and leave, I will
release him, but not always immediately; his release cue
will be given at random times after we have closed the
front door, so Curtis doesnít assume that the closing
door means itís his time to get up. Of course heíll
probably make the mistake of getting up before I cue him
to do so; this simply results in me returning to him,
and recuing him to "Settle" once again. I donít
pay out treats when mistakes are made; I ignore them.
new cue that I will begin to shape is the "Leave
It" cue. Like all cues, this can be taught many
ways, and may have different meanings for each
individual. In Curtisí world, "Leave It"
will mean, "Donít touch it: not now, not
ever." I prefer to teach this concept using only
items that will never be appropriate for my dog to
touch, pick up, or otherwise molest in any way: a roll
of toilet paper, the television remote, my guinea pigs,
a dish towel, etc.
Curtis facing me, I will drop the household item at my
side; as he moves to investigate it, I will step in
front of it, blocking his access, and say "Leave
It." Any attempt he makes to get around me to check
out the goodie on the floor will be met with me stepping
in between him and the item and again repeating,
"Leave It." Regardless of how many attempts he
makes to get at the item, when he ceases this activity
he will be rewarded with praise and a treat from me; he
will receive a bonus treat or game of tug if he
immediately avoids the dropped item and looks at me
when he has gotten accustomed to the routine of the
evening, I will practice one additional desensitization
exercise. People come in all shapes and sizes and can
sometimes be rather scary to a dog, particularly on
Halloween. With Curtis attached to a leash, Iíll bring
him to the door with me. About one second after I open
the door and he looks at the costumed kids in front of
us, I will drop a handful of treats to the floor for him
to consume while I hand out candy.
accomplishes a number of things: strangers at the door
equal something good for Curtis, and the treats also
keep him in place and quiet, so attempting to go out the
door or interact with the kids in any way is prevented.
a safe and Happy Halloween, and remember: Chocolate is
toxic to dogs, so keep the candy bags out of reach.