|01/||How To Housebreak A Puppy or Older Dog|
|02/||The Problem with All-Positive Training|
|03/||My Dog is Dog Aggressive|
|04/||How to Fit a Prong Collar|
|05/||Introducing a New Dog into a Home with Other Dogs|
Not many people need to worry about poison proofing a dog. But if you happen to be someone who is being stalked, or if you engage in a profession where people may try and hurt you or your family, then its not a bad idea to consider doing this. Even if its just to insure that no one will kill your pet.
The KNPV (Royal Dutch Police Dog) sport has food refusal as an exercise. I have an excellent article on my web site titled The Royal Dutch Police dog Association - Food Refusal. In this exercise the dog is put in a down position and the helper comes up and tosses food to the dog - who is suppose to ignore it. Food is also left on the ground around the jumps and the dogs also ignore this. It takes less training to do this type of refusal than it does to poison proof a family pet or personal protection dog.
Dogs can learn that the only place they accept food is out of their own food bowl. If that food bowl is not left in an outside dog run they should not eat any food left in a run or a back yard.
The initial concept is the same. Food is left in the front or back yard in a dog bowl. The dog is walked on leash (I prefer a Flexi Lead). Get down wind of the food bowl and watch for when the dog gets odor. As he approaches the bowl give a firm "NO", if need be give a leash correction. The level of correction or tone of the voice needs to be firm and not MEAN. We don't want to kill the temperament of our dog here.
It's also important to vary the type of treats and the location. Use table scraps, steak bones anything you can think of. You want to include food dipped in anti-freeze (allowing dogs to drink anti freeze is a common way to kill a dog - its a terrible death). A strong word of caution here, when you use the anti freeze it is absolutely critical that you pick up every piece of food that was dipped in it after you are done training. If you forget a piece you run the risk of poisoning a neighbors pet that comes along and eats the food.. The purpose for using it in training is to teach the dog that this is a scent that they are supposed to stay away from.
This work in the yard can go on for several days. We can put several bowls of food out around the yard or even down the block where we are going to take a walk. The dog is never off leash during this training. If a prong collar is needed then use it. If you are not familiar with the proper use of a prong collar, refer to my training tape Basic Dog Obedience. As the dog gains experience we want to see him make a definite decision to leave the bowl alone. When we see this - its always followed by a lot of praise. I would not give a food reward for proper behavior. A key here is for the handler to develop some skill at having enough patience to allow the dog to acquire odor and have enough time to make up his mind to leave the food alone. So there is a fine line between giving a correction and allowing the dog to show you that he is learning and will walk away on his own.
When we see the dog leaving the bowls of food, its time to eliminate the bowl and just leave food in the yard or on the street. You will find that this step is going to require additional training. Again, its done on leash. The dog should pick it up pretty fast. You should be able to test the dog in your yard, while on a walk, down in the park - actually everywhere you normally take the dog. It is not a difficult concept that the only place he eats is at home in the house or in his pen (although if someone is bent on killing your dog you will have to take this into consideration).
When a dog is doing a good job of ignoring the food tossed in the yard then its time to start your proofing. Here you should use an electric collar. For non-professional dog trainers I like the Tri Tronic Companion model. Here the dog can be allowed to be off leash. Initially you can be in the yard with the dog. If it goes near the food and you feel he is going to go to it - give the dog stimulation - without any verbal command. We are doing 2 things here, eliminating the leash and eliminating the voice command "NO" (you will not always be in a position to warn your dog to not take food so its going to have to learn to not do this on his own.) After the stimulation you can praise the dog when he moves back away from the meat.
It should take very little work at this level of training for the dog to be reminded that its not suppose to be going near this temptation. When you are comfortable, then its time to let the dog out on his own and you stay in the house. Make sure the collar is going to work from where you are hiding (have someone take the collar out and put the test light on it so you are 100% sure that the dog will be stimulated at the proper time.)
If by chance your timing is off or something happens and a dog gets a piece of meat before you can stop him, then you need to back up your training. By this I mean, put him back on leash, put a prong collar on him and put a really tasty piece of meat out in the exact same spot he snared one on you. This time when he even acts like he wants to make a move on the meat he gets a level 10 correction.
When I have a dog that will leave food left in the yard I will start to work with the dog being outside on a tie out and having a stranger come up and toss food to him (similar to what is done in the KNPV) You can get a lot of ideas on what to do from my friend Bobs article on my web site.
When a dog will leave food that is tossed to him while he is tied out, then its time to allow him to be loose in his yard or kennel and have meat tossed over the fence when you are not outside with him. Again, he will have the collar on and we will stimulate him if need be.
If you feel that s some one is trying to poison your dog, and you find food that has been left for him, pick it up in a zip lock bag and make sure the police get it. They will be able to have it tested for poison. If you are not satisfied with efforts by the police you may want to get the local District Attorney involved or the news media.
I am always open to other good ideas or additional training steps to problems like this. If you care to pass them on and I agree with the approach I will add them to this article.