As you’re leading, you may need to sit down to talk on the phone, do homework, talk to the plumber, or whatever. If you let your dog free at such a point, he might create havoc in his constant vigil to get your attention. Jumping on the counter or chewing the drapes can be real eye catchers, even when your attention is elsewhere. Instead of these habits, I advise you to create a more civilized routine. I call it anchoring.
With your dog secured to your side, slide the end clip around to your tail bone and sit on the remaining slack of the leash. Leave enough room for your dog to lie comfortably behind your feet and offer him a favorite bone to keep him occupied. Pet and praise your dog when he settles down or chews his bone.
Stationing gives you the freedom to take your dog into each room of the house and show him how to behave there!
To station your dog or puppy, you’ll first need to select your areas. Go into each room you’d like your dog to behave in. Pick a good area for him to settle in—perhaps one near the couch in the TV room, but away from the table in the dining room. This will be his station. Eventually, he’ll go there automatically. Right now, you must secure him on a lead.
Note: Dogs like to have a special place. Think of it on human terms; when you go into your living room, don’t you have a favorite couch or chair.
Decorate each station with a comfy cushion or blanket and a favorite chew toy. This will help your dog identify his space. Ask your veterinarian for suggestions. Avoid rawhide bones with big knots—they can cause indigestion and other problems. Remove end fragments of hoofs or rawhide to discourage gulping.
Purchase and use a product like Bitter Apple® to discourage test-chewing of the surrounding furniture or rugs. You can find it at your local pet store.
Initially, tie your dog at his station until he learns his place. Wrap the Teaching Lead® around an immovable object and attach the top clip to the opposite end of the leash. Alternatively, you can screw an eye hook into the wall and clip the leash through it. When stationed, your dog should have no more than three feet of freedom; given too much room, he may piddle or pace.
Some dogs panic when initially stationed. If you’re concerned, determine whether your dog’s reaction is really a panic attack or simply a persuasive protest. Ignore the protest. If he is truly panicked, initially station him only when you can sit with him. Encourage bone chewing and begin to leave his side only when he’s sleeping. Pretty soon, he’ll get the hang of it.
If your dog chews on the leash, you can discourage him by rubbing Bitter Apple® Paste on the leash. It’s vile tasting, but harmless. If Bitter Apple® is not effective, you can try a home-cooked mixture: some red pepper juice with a little garlic or Tabasco sauce. If all else fails, get a chain lead and temporarily station him on that..
If you must leave your dog, tell him to “Wait.” Short departures are good because they get your dog used to being left alone and show him that you won’t desert him. Go calmly. If he’s excited when you return, ignore him. You don’t want to reinforce that. When he’s calm, give him attention.
When first practicing the stationing procedure, stay with your dog. Make him feel comfortable in the area and encourage him to chew his bone. Leave him only when he’s busy with a chew toy or resting.
Your dog wants to be with you or another family member whenever you’re around. The point of stationing is to teach him how to behave in social situations, so make sure you station him in a room with people.
Bravely ignore whining or barking, unless your dog’s communicating a need to go out. If he barks and you soothe him, you’re teaching a lesson with headache written all over it. You may try distracting your dog by using a fancy long-distance squirt gun. (I found the Super Soaker to be very effective—long range and accurate, too!) But you must be very sneaky; he can’t know where the water is coming from. Only release a dog from a station once he’s calm and quiet.
As you lead your dog to his station, give the command to “Settle down” and point to his spot.
WARNING TO PUPPY OWNERS: Puppies can’t handle being stationed too long. How long will depend on the age and mental state of your pup. A sleepyhead of any age can handle an hour or more. An older pup can handle more extended periods. The best gauge is your puppy; keep him stationed near you and be aware of his signals. If your pup has been napping at his station for an hour and suddenly gets up and starts acting restless, it’s probably time to go to his bathroom spot. If your puppy chews on a bone for 15 minutes and then start acting like a jumping bean, it’s probably an energy spurt and time for a little play.
Other guidelines for stationing pups and older dogs:
- Your puppy must be at least 12 weeks old before stationing.
- Make sure the station is away from stairs, electrical cords/outlets, or entanglements like posts.
- Be sure the object you attach the dog to is immovable and sturdy.
- When securing your dog, attach the clip to the buckle or tag collar, never a training collar.