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Barking – July 26, 2011

Dogs bark for a variety of reasons and there are many different ways to deal with this. First and foremost, never punish your dog if he barking out of fear. There are effective ways to modify this behavior and you should consult a qualified trainer to help you.

Request or Demand Barking
This bark is your dog’s way of saying “I want”. Decide if you want him to ask this way, and respond appropriately. If you want him to bark as a way of asking to come in from the yard, reward him for barking with door opening service. If you do not want him to bark at you during dinner as a way of asking for food, then do not reward that behaviour with table scraps; ignore the request or consequence it with a swift time-out. Another effective method is when your dog barks at you for attention, say Bye! and leave the room. He will learn that barking makes you go away, which is not what he wants. Also, make sure that your dog gets praise, attention or other rewards for being quiet, otherwise he may learn that barking is the only way to get the things he wants.

Spook Barking
This bark is your dog’s way of saying “I’m not too sure about you so back off!” We socialize puppies extensively to minimize this type of barking. If your dog is spook barking then you need to identify exactly what it is that spooks him, and very gradually get him used to the spooky thing(s). This can be accomplished by exposing him to much less intense versions of the spooky thing, followed by his favorite games and treats. For example, if your dog spook barks at busses, the first step will be to feed him supper next to a parked bus, then play tug and toss him treats when he sees a moving bus from a distance, and finally offer him his favorite snacks and lots of encouragement as busses pass close by him. If he gets scared along the way, you need to go back to an earlier step in your training.

Boredom Barking
Barking is one of the things dogs will do if bored or lonely. Make sure your dog is well exercised, gets plenty of attention, regular mental stimulation (training exercises and games) and has plenty of safe and tasty stuffed chew toys when left alone. Barking when alone can be a sign of separation anxiety. If you think your dog suffers from separation anxiety, consult a qualified trainer, behaviorist, or your veterinarian. Overcoming separation anxiety often requires a combination of special training and medication.

Alarm Barking
This is how your dog announces the presence of an intruder. An alarm bark lets the household know that there is an intruder present, and lets the intruder know that they have been noticed. This is the bark that even friendly dogs let out when the doorbell rings, or if a stranger runs through the yard. This barking is normal, but can be annoying if it is excessive. To reduce excessive alarm barking teach your dog the commands “Bark” and “Quiet” using the following training sequence:
1. Say “Bark” and then give a hand signal (like the way you would make a puppet talk).
2. Have a helper ring the doorbell.
3. Wait for your dog to bark.
4. Praise your dog for barking (he will look quite surprised!).
5. Say “Quiet” or “Shush” and then give a hand signal (finger over your lips).
6. Show him a treat.
7. Wait until he has been quiet for 5 seconds – let him sniff the treat, if needed, to get him to be quiet (dogs cannot sniff and bark at the same time).
8. Let him eat the treat.
9. Repeat, eventually extending the Quiet to at least 2 minutes.
How will you know when he has learned the commands for Bark and Quiet? He knows the command “Bark” when he barks on command before your helper rings the doorbell. He knows the command “Quiet” when he stops barking on command without the help of a treat. Once he knows the commands you will only give him a treat as a reward, after at least 2 minutes of Quiet. If he barks before two minutes have passed then say “Ah-ah” and start the clock over. Once Bark and Quiet are reliable in practice settings, you can start using Quiet in real life settings. Be prepared to help coach him with a treat under his nose for the first few “real situations” because it is harder for him to be quiet after he decides to bark than after you ask him to bark! If it seems like too many things set off his alarm too easily, then he may need more exercise, or more exposure to the sorts of things that are setting off his alarm.

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On Your Mat – July 20, 2011

Teaching your dog to ‘go to his bed’ or mat or crate is a great behavior to way for your dog to relax when you are having company, cooking dinner or just busy in general. You can work up to having him go to his mat when the doorbell rings. First start with no distractions and get the basic behavior trained with the steps below:

Step 1: Plant a treat on his mat when he is not looking. Position yourself about 10 feet away from the mat, say “On your mat”, and then point to his mat. Lead him to his mat if needed.

Step 2: Do not plant a treat anymore. Give verbal command and wait. Continue to guide him to his mat as needed. When he arrives on his mat click or say “Yes” and give him a treat.

Step 3: Once your dog arrives on his mat for the command “On your mat”, ask him for a Down, then say ”Yes”, and reward him. Work up to 1 minute of Down-Stay on the mat. Give him a food reward after he arrives on the mat and Downs on command, verbally praise him while he holds the stay position for one minute, then give him a treat and release.

Continue to practice Settle on the mat. You can encourage him to settle on his mat by making it a “magic mat” – put stuffed chew toys on it when he goes there on his own.

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On Leash Greetings – July 13, 2011

ON LEASH GREETINGS

1. Many otherwise social dogs will behave aggressively toward other dogs while on leash with their owners.
2. Many dogs are less social than your own.
3. If your dog is straining at the leash as he approaches another dog, the other dog may perceive your dog’s body language as confrontational or intimidating, and vice versa.
4. A tight leash may telegraph stress to your dog, and cause him to be more on guard.
5. Safe and successful introductions between adult dogs are most likely when the following conditions are met:
a. Both dogs are regularly socialized and have no history of aggression
b. Both owners have voice control (at minimum) over their dogs in stimulating situations (i.e. there is a balance between stimulation and control)
c. Both owners know their dogs well and are able to read canine signals
d. Both dogs are able to approach on slack leashes with relaxed body language
e. Both owners are relaxed and confident
f. Owners have good communication with one another
g. Neither dog is wearing any training equipment that might cause unintended corrections or inhibit natural body language
h. Neither dog is on a taught leash or a retractable leash
i. Both dogs have the freedom to walk away
j. Owners have good communication with one another

6. Allowing unwelcome or uncontrolled introductions may undermine your leadership with your dog, who may trust your judgment less after being subjected to an introduction that goes badly.
7. If you are not certain your dog (or the other dog) is adequately prepared for a successful greeting, try walking in parallel with the other dog and owner at a safe distance, to see if both dogs relax a bit, to give them each an opportunity to take in the other dog’s body language, and to gauge your control over your dog (and the other owner’s control over his) in each other’s presence.

Holding the leash can cause the following issues:
• inhibits body language of the dog
• feed off of human emotions because of tension in the leash
• resource guarding of owner
• fearful dogs can’t escape
• frustrates playful dogs who may redirect on owner
• leashes tangle causing potential injury dogs/humans

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Adolescent Changes in Your Puppy – July 9, 2011

A dog’s adolescence is the time when everything starts to fall apart, unless you make a concerted effort to see it through to the stability of adulthood. Your dog’s adolescence is a critical time. If you ignore your dog’s education now, you will soon find yourself living with an ill-mannered, under-socialized, hyperactive animal. Here are some things to watch for.

Household etiquette may deteriorate over time, especially if you start taking your dog’s housetraining and other good behavior for granted. But if you taught your pup well in his earlier months, the drift in household etiquette will be slow until your dog reaches his sunset years, when housetraining especially tends to suffer.

Basic manners may take a sharp dive when puppy collides with adolescence. Lure/reward training your puppy was easy: you taught your pup to eagerly come, follow, sit, lie down, stand still, roll over, and look up to you with unwavering attention and respect because you were your pup’s sun, moon, and stars. But now your dog is developing adult doggy interests, such as investigating other dogs’ rear ends, sniffing urine and feces on the grass, rolling in unidentifiable smelly stuff, and chasing squirrels. Your dog’s interests may quickly become distractions to training, so that your dog will continue sniffing another dog’s rear end rather than come running when called. (What a scary thought, that your dog would prefer another dog’s rear end to you!) All of a sudden he won’t come, won’t sit, won’t settle down and stay, but instead jumps up, pulls on-leash, and becomes hyperactive.

Bite inhibition tends to drift as your dog gets older and develops more powerful jaws. Giving your dog ample opportunity to wrestle with other dogs, regularly handfeeding kibble and treats, and periodically examining and cleaning your dog’s teeth are the best exercises to ensure that your adolescent dog maintains his soft mouth.

Socialization often heads downhill during adolescence, sometimes surprisingly precipitously. As they get older, dogs have fewer opportunities to meet unfamiliar people and dogs. Puppy classes and parties are often a thing of the past and most owners have established a set routine by the time their dog is five or six months old. At home, the dog interacts with the same familiar friends and family, and is walked, if at all, on the same route to the same dog park, where they encounter the same old people and the same old dogs. Consequently, many adolescent dogs become progressively de-socialized toward unfamiliar people and dogs until eventually they become intolerant of all but a small inner circle of friends.

If your adolescent dog does not get out and about regularly and few unfamiliar people come to the house, his d-socialization may be alarmingly rapid. At five months your dog was a social butterfly with nothing but wiggles and wags when greeting people, but by eight months of age he has become defensive and lacking in confidence: he barks and backs off, or he snaps and lunges with hackles raised. A previously friendly adolescent dog might suddenly and without much warning be spooked by a household guest.

Puppy socialization was a prelude to your safe and enjoyable continued socialization of your adolescent dog. However, your adolescent dog must continue meeting unfamiliar people regularly, otherwise he will progressively de-socialize. Similarly, successful adolescent socialization makes it possible for you to safely and enjoyably continue to socialize your adult dog. Socialization is an on ongoing process.

Dog-Dog Socialization also deteriorates during adolescence, often at an alarming rate, especially for very small and very large dogs. First, teaching a dog to get along with every other dog is difficult. Second, it is unrealistic to expect a dog to be best friends with every dog. Much like people, dogs have special friends, casual acquaintances, and individuals they don’t particularly like. Third, it is quite natural for dogs (especially males) to squabble. In fact, it is a rare male dog that has never been involved in some physical altercation. Everything was fine with young pups playing in class and in parks, but with adolescent dogs, the scraps, the arguments, and even the play-fighting seem all too real.

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Helping Your Puppy Love His Crate – July 6, 2011

1. Teaching your puppy to love his crate is an important part of preventing him from doing the wrong thing when you can’t watch him. It also provides a place for your puppy to be safe and get enough sleep. You want a puppy that loves his crate.

2. Start by tossing some treats and toys into his crate and then praising him when he goes in. Keep the door open and let him go in and out. Continue to do this when your puppy is alert and active. Start closing the crate door and praise him while he’s in the crate and opening the door before he starts to whine or try to get out on his own. Repeat this throughout the day, closing the door longer each time. It’s important to teach your puppy that being quiet gets him out of the crate, not whining or barking or pawing at the door. Do not let him out of his crate when he whines unless he has to potty. Err on the side of caution here.

3. Be sure to put him in his crate for all naps so he’s comfortable being there. If you let your puppy cuddle with you for naps, he’ll have a harder time being left alone. Put toys in the crate and feed him there. Give him a stuffed Kong to enjoy when he is in his crate. Leave the room when he’s in there napping or when he is just lying there. Get him used to being in his crate with everyone out of the room – so practice when you’re home, not just when you have to leave.

4. Continue to leave the room for short periods of time when he’s in the crate. Come back and praise for quiet, calm behavior. Leave for longer periods of time – then vary the times – so he’ll get used to being alone in the crate first while you are home as well as when you leave the house.

5. Play games with the crate – Without alerting your puppy, drop a small dog biscuit in there. Then call your puppy and say to him, Where’s the biscuit? And then direct him to his crate. When he discovers the treat, praise him. Your pup should be free to leave his crate during this game. You can also tease your puppy with a toy and then toss it into the crate and close the door so your puppy can’t get it – then open the door and let him run in and praise him.

6. Don’t leave your puppy in his crate for too long so that he is ever forced to eliminate in there –otherwise you will be creating housetraining problems. Assess how long your puppy can stay in his crate without having to pee. The general rule of thumb is one hour for every month old he is but longer at night. If you have to be gone for more than a few hours at a time, create an alternate long –term confinement area for your puppy. Xpen – with crate, pee papers, etc.

7. At night, place crate where you can hear your puppy if he starts to whine and take him out to eliminate. Puppies will soon be able to last through the night but initially you may have to wake up to let him out once or twice.

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