Earlier this year, I had a remote consultation with a client who was having trouble with her dog’s behavior when the family sat down to eat at the table. The dog wasn’t happy with the arrangement and expressed her dissatisfaction by barking throughout the family meal. Not ideal!
In this case, it was quite easy to remedy the issue. By teaching the dog to settle on a mat a few feet from the table, she could still feel like she was a part of the family gathering. Using a remote-controlled treat dispenser then made reinforcement of quiet behavior ridiculously easy. Initially, the owner made staying on the mat very easy for the dog by dispensing treats frequently. And as the dog learns the new routine, the frequency of treat delivery can be gradually faded.
In this photo, you’ll see the dog lying peacefully on her mat, awaiting the next magical appearance of a treat in the dispenser’s hopper! The owner has a small device at hand that triggers treat dispensing with the simple press of a button.
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In the photo shown at the beginning of the article, another treat dispenser is parked atop a crate. This dog wasn’t fond of crate-time. To begin, I made sure the crate I used was roomy and made comfortable with soft bedding. A food-stuffed toy was also supplied to help her pass the time peacefully. And from varying rooms of my house, I was easily able to trigger treat dispensing with the press of a button, to reinforce calm/quiet behavior.
When the early foundation training has taken place, both of these remote-controlled treat dispensers allow you to pre-program a specific schedule of treat delivery that occurs independently of you, so you are free to go about your business.
Though it’s a bit of an investment upfront, once you have a remote-controlled treat dispenser, you’ll discover all sorts of useful applications for it. Here are a few other examples:
When working with a dog who barked at people when riding around in the car, I hung a treat dispenser in the back of the car so that I could conveniently trigger it for quiet behavior. This guaranteed the treat landed conveniently and accessibly for the dog, rather than relying on the accuracy of me lobbing to the back.
To reduce barking at the front door when guests arrived, a client used a treat dispenser and a settle-mat in the adjoining room to reinforce the dog’s quiet behavior while stationed at the mat.
For a dog who likes to bark at passersby from her fenced yard, a dispenser was hung from the porch. Quick and timely treat delivery got her started on the road to a quiet and calm response.
For a dog who would follow and bark excessively when a family member was leaving for work, a dispenser in the kitchen kept him stationed quietly in one area.
Pretty nifty, right?!
If you need help with a situation and think a remote-controlled treat dispenser could be used to help remedy a problem behavior, please let me know. I’d love to schedule a remote consultation with you, either by video conferencing or phone.
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Virginia Dare is a certified dog trainer & behavior counselor with decades of experience. Her business offers live video consultations anywhere in the US for training and behavior help, puppy matchmaking services, and pre- and post-arrival counseling for new puppies. She also provides in-home, private lessons and behavior consultations in northern Fairfield and Westchester counties, western New Haven county, Putnam and southern Dutchess counties.
Please visit www.NorthStarCanines.com/services to learn more, or contact me at 804.784.0120
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