How do I teach my dog to go to “place”?

dog training, Michigan Dog Training, teach your dog to go to place, behavior shaping, clicker trainingMax and Lucky are attending private dog training lessons at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan with dog behaviorist Michael Burkey. In the video below, they demonstrate how to teach your dog to go to “place” via clicker training and behavior shaping.

Clicker training is using a sound such as the click of a clicker to mark the moment your dog did a desired behavior and to signal that a food reward is forthcoming. Behavior shaping is capturing and rewarding behavior as it occurs such as the dog touching the target stick with his nose versus luring the dog into the desired behavior. Luring tends to be a faster method of dog training but behavior shaping requires the dog to think instead of just follow a hand and thus cements the exercise into his mind more soundly. A dog taught via shaping is also more engaged in the learning exercise and willing to try new behaviors.

Teaching your dog to go to “place” (a pre-designated location) can be helpful when welcoming your guests into your home, having your dog go away from the kitchen table to prevent begging, jump into your vehicle, go to a spot and relax, etc.

Place can be taught via hand luring or in this example by teaching the dog to touch a target stick such as an Alley Pop freestanding target. The target stick is used to get the dog to move away from the handler. Later, the target stick is placed on the mat where you want your dog to go to and the final step is to remove the target stick and simply have the dog go to the mat on the cue of “place”.

The five steps for teaching your dog go to “place” using behavior shaping include:
1. Teach your dog to touch a target stick held in your hand,
2. Teach your dog to touch a free standing target stick,
3. Send your dog to the target stick from a distance,
4. Place the target stick on a mat to start teaching “place”,
5. Remove the target stick from the “place” mat and cue – Place

Service Dog earns Canine Good Citizen

Service Dog, Diabetic Alert Dog, Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan


On January 31, 2017, Piper Dashwood Kane and his owners Sheldon and Cheryl Kane of W. Bloomfield, Michigan earned their Canine Good Citizen title.

Piper also successfully completed the Train Your Own Service Dog training program to become a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan. The training was provided by Dog Behaviorist Michael Burkey and Assistant Dog Trainer Matthew Bryant.

Congratulations to Piper, Sheldon and Cheryl!

Michigan Dog Training, Diabetic Alert Dog, Service Dog, Canine Good Citizen


Number One Best Dog Training Tip

Michigan Dog Training, all dog breeds, large dog breeds, small dog breeds

What is the number one or best dog training tip that a dog trainer can offer? That can be a hard question to answer as there are a lot of things that go into training a dog to have the relationship you desire. However, if you pressed me to answer that question, the answer would be hands down – “consistency.”

Dogs are quick visual learners. They are keen observers and remember your routines. They jump for joy when you pick up their leash telegraphing them it’s time for a walk, they become anxious when you pick up your car keys signaling you’re going to work, etc. One of my clever clients told me that their dog got anxious when she washed her morning water glass as she always did that just prior to putting on her coat and leaving for the day. So sometimes it’s not just picking up the keys or coat that can trigger a response. A dog can recognize an earlier part of the chain of events, especially if you’re consistent in your routine.

When you think your dog has learned an obedience cue via a hand signal or a verbal cue, is that the only thing that triggered them to perform or do other subtle cues prompt them to act? Some examples may include; reaching into your treat pouch before giving a command, learning forward into the dog prior to giving a command to lay down, turning away from them as you want them to exit a vehicle instead of waiting for a command to do so, etc.

Michigan Dog Training, Police K9

K9 Simone

Before I worked on the street as a law enforcement officer, I did an internship in the county jail. That experience taught me I never wanted to work in the jail but it was an interesting social observation. Because the inmates have nothing but time on their hands, they are keen observers of the Correctional Officers’ (COs) routines. And, COs just like all humans are creatures of habits despite trying not to be so. Many of the inmates would purposely try to frustrate the COs for entertainment purposes. Some of the COs recognized it was all a game and were able to not take the inmates’ antics personally. Whereas, many others took it personally and sequentially caused themselves a lot of undue stress that would probably result in elevated blood pressures and other medical conditions.

Similarly, I see many dog owners who are stressed out and struggling with the undesired antics of their dogs. It doesn’t have to be that way. Just like one hires a professional to help them with their taxes, legal matters, and health issues; one should seek help from a professional dog trainer or dog behaviorist. The main thing that separates a pet owner from a dog trainer is consistency. Pet owners can learn how to train a dog but their success level will be dependent upon their consistent follow through.

Years ago, my college roommate was studying abnormal psychology. One of his homework assignments was to have his friends take a 500 question survey. When he scored my results, he told me that I was “abnormal”. I asked jokingly, “what do you mean I’m abnormal!?” He said I was considered abnormal because the test measured consistency and I scored a 100%. We had a good laugh about that and I told him I wasn’t surprised because I recognized many of the questions were the same questions with the same results, they were simply asked in a different manner. He said, well it’s not normal to score 100%. As a dog trainer, this analogy shows me how important it is that we be consistent in our physical cues (intended and unintended), verbal cues, and inflections with our dogs. They are keen observers of our behavior.

To be consistent with your dog:

  • Look how you might be giving unintended cues,
  • Understand your dog is always learning (desired or undesired behaviors)
  • Seek out a professional dog trainer/behaviorist to learn how to train your dog
  • Follow through with the instruction with deep practice
  • Realize your dog is a keen observer of your behavior and
  • Understand your dog’s antics are not personal but rather shows you what your dog still needs to learn.

Michigan dog training, teacherA dear client of mine was struggling to get her dog to go to and remain at “place” (a dedicated location such as a dog bed) while she prepared lesson plans on her computer for her school children. Her dog would do the command during a training session but not when she needed it otherwise. Her dog knew what the command meant so that wasn’t the problem. The problem was consistency. While my client was preoccupied, the dog was no longer receiving reinforcement for staying nor a fair correction for leaving the place.

She became increasingly frustrated with her dog leaving the dedicated place and thus gave up, allowing her dog to come off the place during “non-training sessions” (all moments of time are training sessions). So I asked her a question, “would you ask one of your students to do something that they understood but then take no action when the student simply walked away?” Her response with a smile of passionate enlightenment was, “nooo wayyyy!”

My suggestion was to either be mindful of her dog and be able to respond if her dog stepped off the dog bed or not to give the cue in the first place. It seems like a simple solution and it is. However, many times without a coach (dog trainer) to guide us, we can’t see the obvious because we are stuck in the mind.

Bart Bellon, an internationally known dog trainer coaches dog handlers to know what the rewards for doing are and consequences for not doing. Thus,

1. Teach your dog what to do,

2. Reward your dog for doing,

3. Use fair corrections for not doing, and

4. Above all else be consistent in your approach and response.

Please comment below how you will become more consistent with your dog. And, if you need help, contact Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan at 734-634-4152. We can help you!

President Trump, Human Needs & Dog Training

Donald Trump, Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan, Fear of Change, dog training

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States.  The Inauguration lasted approximately five hours. However, the most interesting part for me was the few moments the camera showed Donald Trump just before he walked out onto the swearing-in platform.  He was quiet and looked focused, deep in thought, and solemn.

I found it interesting to study him for this glimpse of his persona because this is not an image of Donald Trump we commonly see. Even more importantly I was intrigued by what he may have been thinking knowing he had captured the ultimate position of power. Was he visualizing his upcoming acceptance speech? And, was he nervous, ecstatic or in wonderment that he was about to become the 45th President of the United States? It would’ve been interesting to be able to read his mind in that moment of time.

Then my thought went to how an incredible feeling it must’ve been to know one was about to walk out and Michigan Dog Training, Gladiator, President Donald Trumpbecome the President; to go from President-Elect to “The President” in just a few minutes. No matter how prepared one is, change is often scary because people thrive certainty. It is one of the Six Basic Needs That Make Us Tick according to Tony Robbins an internationally known Personal Coach and Strategist. Yes, Trump was certain he would be sworn in but what challenges would he soon face as a leader of the free world?

Similarly, people face uncertainty when bringing a dog into their home. They envision the dog will be a welcomed new family member and the joy the dog will bring to their lives. Later, they realize the puppy or dog requires a lot more work to supervise and train than they first envisioned. This causes a disconnect with the original reason they got the dog. It can also cause disagreement amongst family members as they have their own ideas how to train their dog. This is where it’s beneficial to seek help from a professional dog trainer to give you the certainty you need – to build the relationship you desire with your dog and to restore family unity.

In relation to dog training, many people also need Uncertainty, Significance, Love & Connection, Growth, and Contribution; the other Human basic needs. While people seek Certainty to feel comfort, they also need Uncertainty. It provides variety, for example when a person goes beyond teaching their dog basic obedience and learn the exciting dog sport of Nosework. What fun activities do you want to learn with your dog? Please share below.

Learning how to influence and train your dog can certainly make one feel significant. It’s getting out of “the head” by dismissing self-limiting beliefs, deep practicing new skills by chunking them down into easily achievable parts, practicing them slowly, and then allowing the parts to flow back together. This is how you go from zero to mastering new skills.

Michigan Dog Training, Michael BurkeyLove & Connection can be obtained through personal relationships or by getting a dog.  I know this to be true from personal experience as it was a dog who taught me how to talk. I missed out on hearing beginning language sounds until the age of four. The speech therapist advised my parents to get a dog who would seemingly sit still and listen to me trying to make babbling sounds as I petted my friend Princess. How has a dog changed your life? I’d like to know so please share below.

Growth is crucial for self-fulfillment. If we’re not growing, we’re dying. Humans have a need to push themselves and explore their world and themselves. Working with and training a dog provides that growth not only of new skills but also the personal connection with the dog. As Robbins says, “And the reason we grow, I believe, is so we have something of value to give.”

Contribution provides meaning to life. When one gets out of themselves and focuses on the needs of others, Michigan Dog Training, Michael Burkeyone finds fulfillment. This is what motivates many people to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization rather than purchasing a dog. They want to provide love and improve a dog’s life that doesn’t yet have a forever home. For me, I make an unspoken contract with each dog I meet that I will be there for them and help their human counterpart better understand them. They cannot speak for themselves so I can be that catalyst for them, ending suffering and restoring peace within the home. What is your contribution? Please share below. I’m always inspired learning about individual’s contributions to dogs and others.

4 actions will make a lasting change in the relationship with your dog:

  • Realize your dog’s behavior is not what you desire and use your suffering to motivate yourself to take action.
  • Know, declare and own that you and your dog deserve a close and fun relationship together.
  • Get clear on how you want your relationship to be with your dog. Commit this to being a lifestyle change.
  • Call a dog behavior expert to help you achieve your dream.

I started this conversation by wondering what President Trump was thinking before stepping out onto the platform and what were his fears as he became the President. So too, I’d like to hear what your fears are in training your dog or seeking out a professional dog trainer/dog behaviorist for assistance. What prevents you from taking action today?


Future Service Dog becomes a S.T.A.R. Puppy

Saoirse, Michigan Dog Training, Michael Burkey, Diabetic Alert Dog, Service Dog, Puppy S.T.A.R., puppy obedience, puppy training, plymouth, MIOn February 28, 2016, Fleetwood Farms Thee “Saoirse” JedIrish, an Irish Setter puppy and a future Service Dog for Diabetic Alert Detection passed her American Kennel Club (AKC) Puppy S.T.A.R. Evaluation with flying colors. Saoirse is trained and handled by Johanna Anderson of Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Saoirse and Johanna are participating in private dog training lessons to become a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) team at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan with its CEO and Dog Behaviorist Michael Burkey. Saoirse will be ready to test for her Canine Good Citizen title at her next training session and Johanna has set her sights on also obtaining the Advanced Canine Good Citizen and Urban Canine Good Citizen titles.

While only 8 months old, Saoirse has already alerted Johanna to her sugar levels dropping too low on many occasions. A DAD is an important part of a Diabetic’s medical management program. When a Diabetic’s blood sugar falls they often times don’t feel the oncoming symptoms until its too late thus requiring hospitalization.  A dog trained to detect the change in blood sugar is an early warning system, reminding their human partner to test their sugar level and take appropriate medical intervention.

The below video clip shows part of Saoirse’s training exercises to alert on a blood sugar scent sample that was collected previously when Johanna’s blood sugar level was below 70. Contact Michigan Dog Training if you are a Diabetic 1 and want to train your dog to be a Service Dog / Diabetic Alert Dog.



How to teach your puppy to come

Golden Retriever, puppy, pup, puppy training, Michigan Dog Training, Plymouth, Michigan


In the below video, Michael Burkey demonstrates one way to teach your puppy to come when called. You can use your puppy’s daily food ration instead of treats which will make him more motivated to come when called when he has to work for his food instead of getting it for free in a bowl. Hand feeding through training also increases your puppy’s bond with you as he or she learns to depend on you for what they want; food, balls, toys, verbal and physical praise, etc.

As outlined in the below video, begin by tossing a piece of food away from you and label it with the word “go” to teach your dog to go away from you. Just before he returns to get another piece of food from you, say “come” and as he comes back reward with a another piece of food. This is an easy and very effective way to teach your puppy to come when called. You can practice this routine during the three minute commercials during your favorite television program. Now how much easier could that be?.

As your pup returns to you, show them a piece of food in your hand and lure them in close between your feet. This will teach your puppy to come in close proximity to you, so later when done from a standing position; your puppy will already use to coming in close to you. This makes it easier to snap their leash onto their collar.

At first, there is no need to have your puppy sit once they get to you. I like them coming in fast before you throw in a second command such as sit. The only exception to this is if you have a very fast recall already or your puppy is tempted to jump on you once they reach you. If so, add the “sit” cue to the equation. Otherwise, work on one thing at a time such as the “come” cue and later add the “sit” to the equation.

For help with puppy training, check us out at Michigan Dog Training or call us direct at 734-634-4152. We have a wide variety of services to help you train your puppy the right way, the first time. Maize featured in this post is in our Puppy VIP Day Care training program and Puppy Manners group class. Doing that combination of training provides the owner with the knowledge they need to train their puppy and have it reinforced by professional dog trainers during the week-days. It’s great socialization, obedience training and potty training as well.

So in review:

  1. Sit down in a chair with a bowl of your puppy’s food
  2. Throw a piece of dog food away from you and say “go”
  3. As your puppy finishes eating the thrown kibble but before he returns, use the word “come”
  4. Lure your puppy between your feet and reward him/her with another piece of yummy kibble
  5. As your puppy is solid on the come command eliminate the lure and verbally cue your puppy to “sit” just before he or she reaches you

How to teach your puppy not to jump

Dogs love to jump! They’re excited to see you and want to explode upward toward your face. In doing so, they can get closer to be able to lick your face. So its a natural thing for a dog to do. Instead of correcting the Michigan Dog Training, Golden Retriever, dog jumping on ownerdog for “wanting to be close to you,” which is your dog’s intent; teach your puppy or dog not to jump by reinforcing the behavior you do want. You can teach your puppy to be calm and self composed by keeping four paws on the ground and later to offer a sit in order to get attention from you.

In the video below, Michael Burkey CEO and Dog Behaviorist and Eric Allport, Program Coordinator at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan demonstrate how to teach your puppy or dog not to jump. Here are the key ingredients:

  1. Tether your puppy to something they can’t move so you can stand just out of their reach preventing their ability to jump on you.
  2. Walk up to your dog. If your dog tries to jump on you step back out of reach.
  3. When your puppy is calmer, walk back to them and offer a tasty treat or petting. If they try to jump, step back again. Soon your pup will learn that jumping on you makes you move away and keeping four paws on the floor makes you come back to them.
  4. If your puppy starts to bark due to frustration, wait them out and when they are quiet mark it with the sound of a clicker or a verbal marker such as “yes” and return to them.
  5. If your puppy won’t stop barking, try walking up half way to them but stop before going rest of the way until they stop barking for a second.
  6. Once your dog is good at keeping four paws on the floor, raise the bar by giving a “sit” command (assuming they already know the sit command) prior to you walking up to them. If they break the sit, step away as before.
  7. In no time, your puppy will replace jumping on you with sitting for the attention they desire. For more puppy and dog training assistance, contact Michigan Dog Training at 734-634-4152.

Burkey gives UPS Dog Bite Prevention Tips

Michigan Dog Training, Michael Burkey, Dog Bite Prevetion tips, United Parcel Service, UPS, Belgian Malinois

Michael Burkey and Kaboom, Belgian Malinois

On July 8, 2015 Michael Burkey CEO and Dog Behaviorist at Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan gave Dog Bite Prevention Tips to 40 United Parcel Service (UPS) employees. The training was arranged by UPS employee Chris Taylor and was held at their Livonia, Michigan hub location. Some of the tips provided included:

  • How to recognize a dog’s stress relieving behaviors before the bite occurs
  • A wagging tail doesn’t mean it’s friendly but instead it’s aroused which could be good 
(excitement) or it could be bad (ready to bite)
  • Items to put between the dog and themselves that will either distract the dog or act as a 
  • Don’t run away from the dog as the dog will probably catch you and the prey behavior of 
the chase will ensure the dog will bite.
Warning signs to a dog bite

Taylor bravely put on a bite sleeve and received several bites from Burkey’s dog Kaboom, a Belgian Malinois. During the bite work demonstration, employees clearly saw that a wagging tail didn’t always mean friendliness as Kaboom wagged his tail while waiting to bite Taylor on command. Additionally, Burkey showed how easily Kaboom could pursue and over take a fleeing person. Thus, it’s not recommended to run from a dog. Instead, find something to place between yourself and the dog and stand like a tree giving no direct eye contact to the dog.

Dog bite prevention talks

To arrange safety talks for your employees or to schedule dog training for your dog, contact Michigan Dog Training at 734-634-4152.

Michigan Dog Training, Michael Burkey, UPS, United Parcel Service, dog bite prevention tips, Belgian Malinoisdog bite prevention tips, Michael Burkey, Michigan Dog Training, UPSdog bite prevention tips, Michael Burkey, Michigan Dog Training, Livonia UPS

Kaboom; movie dog star at “Mr. What” premier

movie dog, Kaboom, Michigan Dog Training, Michael Burkey, dog movie star, Plymouth, Michigan, Dancing Deer Productions, Alan Maki, Shaun Maki

The cast of “Mr. What”


Michigan Dog Training, dog movie star, Kaboom

Shaun & Alan Maki with Kaboom

As reported earlier, Kaboom, a Belgian Malinois trained by Michael Burkey, Movie Dog Trainer for Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan was an invited guest at the premier showing of the movie they appeared in, entitled “Mr. What”. The Shaun Maki film was produced by Panting Deer Productions and Sun and Paw Films. The lead actor was Pastor Alan Maki. The move is about a man, “Mr. What” (shortened name of his long hard to pronounce legal name) who was sentenced to serve 22 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Upon release, he seeks redemption in the town of Tecumseh, Michigan through his ailing father, a young boy and a dog.

Kaboom played a misunderstood wandering dog and had four scenes in the film; 1. he appears on Mr. What’s porch unexpectedly, 2. he is seen running up a hill for about 50 yards, 3. he does a take down protection bite to defend Mr. What who was being assaulted, and at the end….well, I can’t spoil the end now can I?. Michael Burkey was the on set Animal Trainer as well as the stuntman taking the bite from Kaboom.  Annie Zhao Yang assisted Burkey with the animal scenes. Most of the summer scenes were shot in Tecumseh, Michigan with the winter scene in Canton, Michigan. Kaboom did a fabulous job as at the time the movie was filmed, he was only about 8 months old and had only three months of protection training under his belt. Additionally, he worked in extreme temperatures. In the summer time it was about 95 degrees Fahrenheit and in the winter it was only ten degrees. Kaboom is now 2 years old and was bred by Michael Ellis.

Besides having Kaboom appear in a movie which is a cool thing by itself; what I really found intriguing was the on spot problem solving required to get Kaboom to do the scenes the director wanted. When I showed up on set, I had about ten minutes or less to prepare Kaboom for each scene before the camera started rolling. It was like being given a puzzle to solve in ten minutes or less. And, Kaboom nailed the scenes with each take. As one who loves to problem solve, this was one of the most intriguing aspects of dog training I’ve experienced thus far.

After the filming was completed, it was time for the director to do his magic and thread all the scenes together to tell the story. And, I had to wait for about 16 months before seeing it at the premier. As I sat down to watch the film with Kaboom at my feet, I imagined this must be what movie actors feel like when they finally see the cast and crew’s work come together. You see famous actors on talk shows such as the Tonight Show and they say they haven’t yet seen the film. And of course no one believes them. But I do now. It was a long wait to see the finished product but it was well worth it.

The 90 minute movie is heart touching, comical and full of wonderful local talent (musicians, actors and real people such as local police, a waitress, etc.) The lead actor, Alan Maki gives a wonderful performance and he is the story writer, a song writer and the singer in the film. He is also the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Tecumseh. And, the boy named “Bo” in the film will steal your heart with his genuine spirit and acting talents.  I expect him to go far in the acting business. As with their previous movie, the “Sidewalk Singer“, “Mr. What” earned five out of five Dove Awards.

Edwin L. Carpenter of the Dove Foundation gave the following film review: “Mr. What” is a terrific movie named for the question Mattiesko Wupio gets every time he says his name: “What!?” He always replies, “Exactly!?” Mr. What spent the last 22 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, yet lives with the stigma of jail time as he re-enters society in tiny Tecumseh, Michigan….The movie reveals that miracles are never far away, especially when one is needed. Because of a blessing received by Mr. What, those around him with needs have them taken care of in miraculous ways. Alan Maki gives an inspiring performance as Mr. What. We are pleased to award the movie our Faith Friendly 12+ Seal. This movie has earned five Doves, our best rating. “Mr. What” is a film that will make you feel great and make you glad you watched it.”

It was a true pleasure working with the father / son team of Alan and Shaun Maki. They are true film professionals and much more than that. They really care about people and it readily comes across in  their interactions with others as well as through their movies. Their stories are about human experiences, including the difficulties we face. However, with “faith, hope, and love with love being the greatest of these,” we can overcome our struggles and be miracle workers for others.

Look for the film to come out on DVD in mid January, 2015. Its a great film for you and your family to experience together.

My dog and children dressed in Halloween costumes; What do I do?

Michigan Dog Training, Michael Burkey, Halloween, Dog

The above picture is making the rounds on Facebook and the pic is just fine; the dog was painted with a non-toxic paint for dogs. I’m using the picture to add humor to a serious topic, “What should I do with my dog when trick or treaters visit my home on Halloween?.

Halloween is a fun time not only for the children dressing up in various costumes and visiting homes asking for candy but also for the home owners who delight in seeing the costumed children. But, its not so much fun for your dog as explained by Michael Burkey, Dog Behaviorist for Michigan Dog Training in Plymouth, Michigan.

Children / kids and dogs

Many dogs have issues with children in the first place. This is because the faces of small children are at eye level for many dogs and children tend to move, scream and laugh unexpectedly. Compound that with, now the children are dressed up in various costumes in which they only see on Halloween and many of the costumes prevent the dog from seeing the childrens’ faces. Some of the costumes even scare me let alone the dog.  LOL

Let me share a couple of examples to highlight how dogs fail to recognize people due to changes in their appearance. I had a friend, Sheree, for whom I picked out a German Shepherd puppy, Bullet, for her and saw the dog on a weekly basis.  One day I parked my vehicle in the parking lot overlooking the training field where Sheree was practicing obedience skills with Bullet.  I don’t normally wear a baseball cap but that day I did.  As soon as Bullet saw me from 50 yards, he became reactive and barked non-stop until I removed my ball cap. As soon as I did, Bullet recognized me and happily greeted me. Later, Sheree went through a hard time in her life so her other dog, a French Beauceron came to live with me for about three months. When Sheree got her life back on track, he went back to live with her and a week or two later I went to visit the two of them.  That day, I happened to be wearing a business suit and as soon as I exited my vehicle in her driveway, he was instantly spooked, became reactive and would not come to me. I took my business jacket off and with some coaxing, he finally came to me. He was never reluctant to come to me other than that one time when he saw me dressed in a business suit. I share these examples of dogs who knew me well and trusted me to illustrate how dogs are so keen on noticing differences in their environment. A small change in my appearance made a big difference in the dogs’ comfort levels. So consider, how difficult it can be for many dogs to see children whom they don’t know wearing Halloween costumes on one day a year.

On Halloween, there are three potential triggers for the dog:

1. Doorbell

2. Hearing children at the front door

3. Seeing children dressed in Halloween costumes at the front door

You can desensitize your dog to counter-act these triggers. For most dogs, their dog food or special treats are powerful motivators. Prior to people visiting your home, hand feed them their treats at the sound of the doorbell.  You can have a family member ring the bell or purchase a wireless door chime from Home Depot or similar store.  During commercials of your favorite television program, activate the doorbell and give your dog his special treats.  When the sound of the doorbell stops, cease the food treats until the next doorbell sound. It is recommended that you do this exercise with your dog on leash so that he will stay with you to quickly receive the treats rather than running off to the front door. You can desensitize him to hearing and seeing children in the same way by pairing the sounds and sights of children with food treats.  If you don’t have children available to help with the training, tape record children laughing, talking loud, etc. and play it while your dog eats his meals.

Then when the trick or treaters come to the door for real, have a family member or friend that is trusted by your dog to handle your dog’s leash. They can treat the dog when the doorbell rings as well as when the children are heard or seen at the door or you can be the one handling your dog and your friend deliver the treats to the children. If the sight of the children is too much for your dog, then prevent your dog from being able to see the children and just work on the auditory distraction. If even this is too much for your dog on Halloween, then place your dog in a dog crate in an inner room, turn up the music to deaden the noise of the children and give your dog a frozen stuffed Kong so that it will last longer for him to lick out the yummy contents.

Home away from home (dog boarding)

Or, if you know that this Halloween will be too scary for your dog and thus stressful for you, then give Michigan Dog Training a call at 734-634-4152.  We will be happy to board your dog over the holiday so that he doesn’t experience scary costumed children.