Ask the Dogfather: Hudson has issues

Photo courtesy of Bobby Deitch

A question for the Dogfather:

Hudson obviously has abandonment issues, and fights his way out of the door when we want to go out without him. We gave him the command “Down! Stay!” with a treat, but he still muscles his way out of the door. Suggestions? Other then that, he is a big doll!

Dear Dee,

So, Hudson’s a big doll except when you have the audacity to go to the movies or out to dinner without him. When I teach a dog to “stay,” with success building on success, I slowly increase the length of time, distance, and intensity of distraction through which he must stay.

Dee, what you’re dealing with is “intensity of distraction,” and the door, the entrance to and exit from his den, is at the top of the list of distractions. When you can get Hudson to stay when he’s at Tradewinds, he’s off leash, and a skunk is strolling by 25 feet away, he’ll be a piece of cake to train at your front door. Try the “Down, Stay!” with success building on success, piecemeal. Have him stay with you opening and closing the door, but not leaving. Then graduate to stepping halfway out, and right back in. Next: all the way out and back in, without closing the door, then closing the door. If the only time he gets any people food is when you’re leaving, he’s more likely to be cooperative. Hollow marrow bones stuffed with bologna or filet mignon from the Square Rigger might get him to look forward to your departure. Important: Remove the spiced-up bones when you get home, or they will lose their specialness.

I do “hunting” with my 5½-pound MacDuff, who’s totally blind, by tossing a half-dozen treats onto the living room floor when I’m about to leave. It probably takes him a half-hour to find them. He can’t wait till we leave the house! Try any combination of these suggestions, and Hudson might come to rely on your leaving as just another part of his good day.

Best of luck,

The Dogfather