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Dog Behavior Management and Tips (and how an aerial track system can help)

INTRODUCTION

Does your dog talk to you but bark to others? Can you feel her staring at you even before you've woken up? Does you're esoteric connection with Rover help translate the enigmatic nature of canines? Well, whether or not you really can read your dog's mind, for this excersize, perception is enough. Just by asking "why" instead of barking back orders to your dog is a healthy start to understanding why your shoe keeps ending up in the backyard. Lets explore some common dog behavior and how an overhead track system may be able to assist you in training.

An aerial dog run like the Sky Track by Rover Roamer is but one behavioral tool to help your dog stay out of trouble if there is a propensity to chew outdoor furniture, rip up the new hot tub cover, dig up the flower bed, graze on dangerous plants or berries, or sneak out the from under the fence. But before we delve into the rabbit hole, here are some preliminary recommendations for the initial set up of any overhead system:

  • Use a harness. A training collar, choke collar, head halter, or prong collar puts too much pressure on the neck whether the dog is tied, tethered, or on a track.
  • Never place it too closely to a fence if your dog is a good jumper. They could end up dangling over the other side like a bad prison break; doubly dangerous if you overlooked the first tip.
  • Always place the Sky Track in a visible location to keep an eye on pooch. They're like full grown toddlers with four legs and the curiosity of suicidal cat.
  • The Track is not a substitute for exercising and training your dog properly. We could all use a little fresh air.
  • Most dogs are inside dogs by nature, being social pack members. Using the Track for extended isolation measures translates as punishment.
  • Make sure there is plenty of shade and water. Place a tip-proof bowl on each side, especially if your your dog enjoys pawing water out of the bowl.

SPACE MANAGEMENT

An aerial dog run allows your dog maximum roaming space while also being humanely secured to minimize dangers. Make sure they have as much room to roam as possible within appropriate safety constraints. Give them plenty of toys to play with but be mindful that balls or other such toys will invariably roll away just out of reach. Be mindful of the amount of time your dog is on the track and supervise them as often as possible. Dogs are social animals and thrive on interaction with humans and other pack members. Isolation may lead to depression, or worse, aggressive traits.

However, an aerial system is suitable for many situations when you need to temporarily restrict your pet’s mobility, like dinner parties, acclimating to the new family bunny, or traveling to Granny's cat-invested house. Permanent setups may be suitable for runaway dogs and fence-less backyards so your hound can enjoy some outdoor stimulation and a trot, but any system is no substitute for supervision or a good run.

TRAINING

Use the track as one of many tools instead of a means to put off the harder work of training your pet. It’s easy to get lazy and just use the track as a substitute for training but this only defers unwanted behavior. With the right techniques, it may assist you deterring unruly behavior such as:

  • Territorialism, aggression, and socialization issues
  • Begging, chewing, and rough playing
  • Incessant barking
  • Housetraining
  • Barking
  • Digging

Acclimating to the world: Meeting a new dog can be overwhelming and we are not aware of just how many factors there are that a dog considers… from scent to body language. An aerial track gives the new dog a safe place to be and the time to adjust. Territorial issues can materialize in marking behavior, mounting, or growling so a track gives a new dog the time and space to adjust slowly. Setting up a system in the front yard while gardening, reading the paper (ok, ok, texting...), working on your '69 Chevy, etc. exposes him to people, noises, scents, and other dogs, thus making the dog more compatible with real life situations for when you go camping, traveling, or visitations to the vet, family, or friends’ houses.

Time outs: If indeed they are on a time-out for unruly behavior, restrict the movement of the pulley by adjusting the bumpers to within a couple of feet to encourage them to lie down in a specified area where you have placed the dog bed, blanket, or towels with familiar scents. Make sure to take the opportunity to point out the behavior first and train them appropriately before putting then on a track. Time restrained should be kept to short periods for rough play, begging, and chewing:

Rough Play: To a dog, toys are power. However, a sense of empowerment may cause your dog to be more assertive in play. First, check to make sure that someone else (have kids?) isn't already teaching them that rough play is ok. Second, take ownership over all of the toys and only give them a few at a time from an inaccessible location. Keep in mind that losing to tug-o-war diminishes your rank so be prepared that your commands may not mean as much. If discipline and excersize don't help, try keeping them confined to the “den” end of the line where you have blankets, toys, water dish, treats, bed, etc. to give them some space and time to calm down.

Begging: The ultimate in positive reinforcement for an unwanted behavior is feeding the dog from the dinner area. Begging is a form of attention seeking so be sure not to engage with your pet in any way, including petting, speaking to, or even making eye contact. They don't change overnight so give it patience. If their doey eyes are just too much for you to handle, feed them in a separate room out of view or keep them confined to the track where you have place the food dish until you finish eating.

Chewing: Teething is instinctive during the painful process of growing and replacing teeth for puppies under 6 months of age. Provided that you have done your best to puppy-proof the house (i.e. picked up anything interesting, hide electrical cords, etc), discipline and immediately replace the object with an appropriate toy. Be aware that nutritional deficiencies and gastrointestinal problems that cause nausea can also trigger chewing as a coping mechanism. But if your dog is healthy and still chewing shoes past 6 months, the Track may help by catching him in the act. Place an appropriate toy on one end of the line near the den and the inappropriate object (shoe, garbage, etc) on the other side of the track. When they engage with the toy, give them praise; when they choose the shoe, discipline them. Spray deterrents like bitter apple on furniture legs and wood trim that has already been investigated by his tiny teeth.

Barking: It’s important to ignore incessant barking if you can but then also give praise for calm behavior. Sometimes they are just trying to tell you something like you forgot to leave a water bowl out or just checking in to make sure you’re ok.

Potty-training: Designate one side of the far end of the track as the potty spot and put the dog bed or den area on the other side. Shorten the bumpers to just a few feet apart so that the dog is restricted to just the potty side. Once the puppy does his business in the designated spot, reward him with praise and a few more feet of room each time until he’s fully trained.

Digging: Your dog may be digging to cool off, especially if they end up lying in the hole they just dug up, so be aware of the weather, cold or hot, and always provide protection such as shade, a dog bed, and plenty of water. But what do you do when it ends up being just a form of entertainment, instinct, or hunting behavior as The Humane Society suggests? Dogs often dig for the following reasons:

  • They're left alone in the yard for extended periods without playmates or toys.
  • They're a puppy and don't have other outlets for their energy.
  • They're a terrier or other breed that was bred to dig.
  • They're an active breed like a Shepard who needs a job to be happy.
  • They're recently seen you gardening or working in the yard.
  • They can hear, smell, or otherwise detect burrowing animals or insects who live in your yard.

Once you know why your dog is digging, you can begin to rectify the behavior. They often just need to be exercised more often, given interesting toys, or just more love and attention.

AERIAL SYSTEMS VS. TETHERING (the long and short of it)

Socialization is essential to maintain a healthy dog. Any dog should not be place on a track or tied up for extended periods of time without supervision. But if you must leave for short periods, overhead systems are the better option. The Humane Society agrees that a pulley run system like the Rover Roamer Sky Track is preferable to outdoor tethering. Tie downs are not recommended for aggressive dogs due to possibly aggravating further their sense of survival or crises. An aerial track is uniquely suitable for aggressive breeds or dogs by isolating them humanely while also allowing plenty of roaming space.

Benefits of an aerial track system include:

  • The Track line doesn’t make contact with feces, minimizing the spread of bacteria or disease. Tethers and tie outs spread feces all over the yard making it difficult to clean up after the pet and increases the chance that the pet will step in and track it elsewhere.
  • The Track minimizes the possibility of your dog getting wrapped up around trees, tables, chairs, etc. Tether cables, however, can cause leg strains.
  • The Track reduces unwanted contact between the dog and children or adults, who can gauge the dog’s access area more easily since the track is above ground and visible.
  • The Track allows for multiple dogs on one line.
  • The Track acts like an invisible fence, minimizing the sense of being tied up or restrained. Tethers are not as free-moving as pulley systems and thus may engender instinctive aggressive behaviors in dogs.
  • The Track system is best for dogs that like to immediately chew their leashes off. Because the leash on a track is overhead and somewhat invisible to the dog, he is much less prone to chewing off his leash. However, during life and death emergencies, it is not escape-proof. In contrast, tethers are often made of cable or chain and thus are escape-proof. That might seem like a good idea at first, but you want your dog to be able to escape in times of crises (local prey, fires, smoke, etc) when you’re not there. Rope tethers may seem more humane but are too easily chewed through. A track strikes a good balance between restrained freedom and escapability.

Short tethering:

This is an indoor training technique that utilizes a very short lead anchored to a wall plate or solid structure in a social area of the house for supervision and calming purposes. An aerial track is usually incompatible with most indoor environments. It’s rare to find a suitable place indoors that doesn’t require wall plates. If you happen to have appropriate indoor anchors such as columns or pillars, you can set up a track system indoors and restrict pulley movement by pushing the bumpers together. However, a track is not meant to take the place of or compete with short training tethers placed inside the house so set those up separately.

Conclusion

An aerial dog run like the Sky Track can function as a mobility management and training tool if you also invest time and knowledge into adequate training. The track system easily incorporates other training techniques and should not be used independently of them. More importantly, an track or tie-out solution is no substitute for properly exercising, socializing, and playing with your pet. As a social creature, your pet craves attention and community so use it only for short periods. For longer periods, we recommend frequent supervision.

The Sky Track excels for use in public areas with leash laws, such as camping, parks, and outdoor events. Check out our article on 50 Tips for Camping with Dogs when home away from home is a tent!

If you have any comments, suggestions or training tips that can be used on a track system, email us at [email protected].

Resources:

http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/chaining_tethering/facts/chaining_tethering_facts.html

https://www.cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/destructive-chewing/5-steps-to-correct-inappropriate-dog-chewing