The Dog Trainer and Mighty Mommy get together to answer kids’ questions about dogs. Why do they bark so much? What is it with the butt-scooting? And why will some dogs fetch, but others just hang on to the ball?
This week, Mighty Mommy and I have teamed up! Mighty Mommy conducted careful research to find out what kids want to know about dogs – that is, she asked her 8 kids. And I answered. The result: 8 earth-shattering questions about dogs, and the equally earth-shattering answers.
Our two dogs – Molly, a 9-year-old Black Lab, and Gracie, a 1-1/2-year-old Pomeranian – always bark at squirrels, birds, or other dogs when they see them out the front window in our home. Why are they both so crazy when they see other animals near our house? (Brady Butler, age 10)
Because it’s exciting! That’s the short answer. Molly and Gracie would probably like to chase the fast-moving, furry squirrels and the hopping, walking, flying birds. And I’ll bet that once one gets going, so does the other. When one dog gets interested or excited by something, usually other dogs nearby will get interested and excited, too.
When one dog gets interested or excited by something, usually other dogs nearby will get interested and excited, too.
Molly and Gracie might just be excited about the other dogs going by the way you get excited when you see a friend. Or they could be warning the other dogs off their territory. You might be able to tell from the way they bark and from their body language. If they bark at the other dogs the same way they bark when they’re happy and playing with you, then they’re probably feeling friendly toward the dogs. If their barks are deep and scary-sounding, they’re probably trying to warn the other dogs away from their turf.
When our friends come over to our house, both our dogs like to jump all over them—what’s the best way to keep them calm? (Annie Butler, age 7)
One good way is to make sure your dogs are good and tired before your friends come over – that way they’ll have less energy left to get excited with. Some dogs won’t jump up if you toss a toy for them to pick up and run around with instead.
But the best thing to do is probably to teach your dogs that the way to get people to say hi to them is to sit politely or even just trot around without jumping. You can help your dogs learn that sitting is a great way to get attention from people by asking them to sit and giving them lots of attention and treats when they sit. Be really, really generous with love and treats.
If they jump up, walk quietly away from them and don’t talk to them. You might even need to leave the room! It can be hard to keep this rule 100% of the time, but it really helps your dog figure out what to do.
You can also have practice sessions to teach your dogs to sit when people come over. I did an episode about that. You probably need an adult’s help for the training. Lots of people need a trainer’s help, so I promise I’m not saying that just because you are kids.