Destructive Chewing – Some Solutions – May 28, 2012

This is another great handout from Dr. Ian Dunbar that I wanted to share. www.dogstardaily.com is a great source of all kinds of information for you and your puppy.

Chewing is essential for maintaining the health of your dog’s teeth, jaws, and gums. Puppies especially have a strong need to chew to relieve the irritation and inflammation of teething. Dogs chew to relieve anxiety and boredom, as well as for entertainment. Your dog’s jaws are his tools for carrying objects and for investigating his surroundings. Essentially, a dog’s approach to all items in his environment is “Can I chew it?”

Chewing is Normal, Natural, and Necessary
Dogs generally sleep at night and in the middle of the day. However, chewing is your dog’s primary form of entertainment during his morning and late afternoon activity peaks. After all, there are only so many things your dog can do when left at home alone. He can hardly read a novel, telephone friends, or watch the soaps! Indeed, most chewing sprees stem from your dog’s relentless quest for some form of occupational therapy to pass the time of day when left at home alone.

Chewing is a perfectly normal, natural, and necessary canine behavior. Prevention and treatment of destructive chewing focus on management and education—to prevent your dog from chewing inappropriate items and to redirect your dog’s natural chewing-urge to appropriate, acceptable, and resilient chewtoys.

Prevent Destructive Chewing
When leaving home, confine your puppydog to a long-term confinement area, such as a single room—your puppydog’s playroom—with a comfortable bed, a bowl of water, a doggy toilet (if not yet housetrained), and nothing to chew but half a dozen freshly-stuffed chewtoys. Housetrained adult dogs may be confined (with their chewtoys) to a dog crate. When you return, instruct your dog to fetch his chewtoys so you can extricate the freeze-dried liver pieces and give them to your dog. Your dog will happily settle down and entertain himself with his chewtoys as soon as you leave in the morning, and he will be more inclined to search for chewtoys when he wakes up in anticipation of your afternoon return. This is important since most chewing activity occurs right after you leave home and right before you return.

When you are home, confine your puppy to her doggy den (crate) with nothing but a freshly-stuffed chewtoy for entertainment. Every hour on the hour (or at longer intervals with housetrained adult dogs), take your puppydog to her doggy toilet (see Housetraining blueprint), and if she goes, praise her and play some chewtoy games with her before putting her back in her crate with a freshly stuffed chewtoy. The purpose of confinement is to prevent your dog from chewing inappropriate items around the house and to maximize the likelihood your dog will develop a chewtoy habit.

Redirect Chewing to Chewtoys
The confinement schedule described above optimizes self-training; your dog will train herself to chew chewtoys. In fact your dog willsoon become a chewtoyaholic. With a good chewtoy habit, your puppy will no longer want to destroy carpets, curtains, couches, clothes, chair legs, computer disks, children’s toys, or electrical cords. Your dog will be less likely to develop into a recreational barker. And also, your dog will happily settle down calmly and quietly and will no longer be bored or anxious when left alone.

You must also actively train your dog to want to chew chewtoys. Offer praise and maybe a freeze-dried liver treat every time you notice your dog chewing chewtoys. Do not take chewtoy chewing for granted. Let your dog know that you strongly approve of her newly acquired, appropriate, and acceptable hobby. Play chewtoy games with your dog, such as fetch, search, and tug-of-war.

Chewtoys should be indestructible and nonconsumable. Consumption of non-food items is decidedly dangerous for your dog’s health. Also, destruction of chewtoys necessitates their regular replacement, which can be expensive. However, compared with the cost of reupholstering just one couch, $70 worth of chewtoys seems a pretty wise investment. Kongs, Biscuit Balls, Big Kahuna footballs, and sterilized long-bones are by far the best chewtoys. They are made of natural products, are hollow, and may be stuffed with food to entice your dog to chew them exclusively. To prevent your dog from porking out, ensure that you only stuff chewtoys with part of your dog’s daily diet (kibble or raw food). Firmly squish a piece of freeze-dried liver in the small hole in the Kong, fill the rest of the cavity with moistened kibble, and then put the Kongs in the freezer. Voila, Kongsicles! As the kibble thaws, some falls out easily to reinforce your dog as soon as she shows interest. Other bits of kibble come out only after your dog has worried at the Kong for several minutes, thus reinforcing your dog’s chewing over time. The liver is the best part. Your dog may smell the liver, see the liver, (and maybe even talk to the liver), but she cannot get it out. And so your dog will continue to gnaw contentedly at the Kong until she falls asleep.

Until your dog is fully chewtoy-trained, do not feed her from a bowl. Instead, feed all kibble, canned food, and raw diets from chewtoys, or handfeed meals as rewards when you notice your dog is chewing a chewtoy. If you would like better insight into your dog’s chewing psyche, read Chapter 3, “It’s All Chew Toys to Them,” in The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. If you require a more detailed description of chewtoy training, read our Chewing booklet and BEFORE You Get Your Puppy.

To chewtoy train your dog, you need a dog crate, a number of hollow chewtoys, and some freeze-dried liver treats. All of these products are available from your local pet store and all books are available on-line from www.dogwise.com.

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Teaching Your Puppy to Ring a Bell for Potty – May 23, 2012

Once your dog learns to associate the bell with getting to go outside, and outside with doing their business this becomes a great way to keep your doors scratch-free and carpets nice and dry. It is best to start teaching this to your dog when he is just starting to catch on to the housetraining idea.

First things first, you will need a sturdy dinner bell. Often there is a great selection at local thrift stores. A large jingle bell from the craft store also works great. Tie a string to the top of the bell and hang it near the potty exit door. You’ll want to hang it low enough for your dog to comfortably lift a paw or nudge it with his nose.

Now that you have the hardware you are ready for training. If you are at the beginning stages of housetraining you will want to look out for the signs that your dog gives your when he needs to relieve himself. Usually dogs will sniff and circle before they go, but different dogs have different signals. You will start to recognize your dog’s signals in no time. Every time you take your dog outside to relieve himself stop at the door, gently lift his paw to ring the bell give him a treat and say “Do you need to go outside?”, snap on the leash and head outside. A great technique is to hold a treat near the bell until you puppy gets close enough and eventually rings the bell with his snout, then give him lots of praise and head right outside. Now keep in mind this bell is strictly for business. Don’t let him dawdle, keep him on track with the mission. If you plan on taking Fido for a walk or car ride don’t have him ring the bell first. Eventually the dog will learn that ringing the bell results in going outside for a potty break. If you add additional praise when your dog does his business outside he will start to make the connection even quicker.

The final stage of the training process is maintenance and discipline. This is the most crucial step to ensure that your dog does not abuse the potty bell. When your dog realizes what the bell could do for him he may start ringing it a lot more than he should. He might ring it ten minutes after coming inside. He wants to go back outside for pleasure not business. When he rings the bell take him out, let him sniff around while repeating “Do you need to go potty?”. If he doesn’t relieve himself within 2 minutes he should go right back inside without praise. This lets them know that the bell is not to be used for play time.

If you stick to this routine your dog will be ringing the potty bell before you know it. Just like any training this does take patience. With any housetraining method it’s up to you to make it work, keep in mind that accidents do happen. It may take a few months for your dog to learn this.

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Dogs and Children – May 16, 2012

The following is presented by Dr. Ian Dunbar. You can find more information on his website, www.dogstardaily.com

Babies and children should never be left unsupervised with puppies or dogs. Learning to respect, understand, care for, and successfully control a dog gives a dramatic boost to any child’s self-esteem. But these benefits do not come by magic. Children and parents alike must realize that cartoon dogs are fantasy, and Lassie was several well-trained dogs. Both Lassie and Timmy were acting. In the domestic environment, both dogs and children must learn how to act around each other. All dogs must be taught how to act around children, and all children must be taught how to act around dogs.

Teaching Dogs How to Act Around Children
To improve children’s confidence and self-esteem, it is vital their puppy- and dog-training exploits succeed. Success depends upon adult planning, participation, and direction. First, adults must teach the puppy or dog how to act in a controlled manner, and second, adults must teach children how to control the now mannerly puppy or dog. Adults should use kibble to lure-reward train the puppy to come, sit, lie down, stand, and roll over. “Come,” “Sit,” and “Lie down” are the basic control commands, and “Stand” and “Roll over” are the best commands for examining the dog’s body. Additionally, adults should handfeed kibblewhile cuddling (restraining) the puppy and while stroking and fondling (examining) his muzzle, ears, paws, belly, and rear end. The puppy will soon learn to positively associate restraint and examination with food.

Provide children with tasty treats (in addition to kibble) and instruct them how to lure-reward train the now easily controlled puppy. The puppy will quickly learn that training is fun and being trained by children is especially fun. Families without children at home must invite children to meet, handfeed, and train the puppy during his first three months in his new home. Young puppies are impressionable, cute, and non-threatening. Invite family, friends, and neighbors with children, i.e. children the puppy is likely to meet as an adult.

Instruct the children how to use kibble and treats to lure-reward train the puppy or dog to come, sit, lie down and roll over. By approaching and sitting close, the dog voluntarily accepts and enjoys the child’s company. By sitting, lying down, and rolling over, the dog acknowledges and respects the child’s requests. In other words, the child asks and the dog agrees. Or we could say, the child commands and the dog willingly complies. Moreover, by rolling over on request, the dog shows voluntary and happy appeasement. Quite frankly, willing compliance and happy deference towards children is the only workable solution for pet dog training.

Additionally, as a major beneficial side effect of lure-reward training, the dog grows to like and respect his trainer: “Wow! Children are fun; they give lots of treats. Of course, you have to sit to receive them…but then that’s just common canine courtesy!” All owners should seek family puppy training classes, in which both puppies and children are allowed to interact off-leash.

New Baby
All dogs must be taught to thoroughly enjoy the presence and actions of babies. The solution is classical conditioning. From the outset, integrate your dog into all new baby moments and routines. When feeding the baby, sit down comfortably, and handfeed kibble to your dog at the same time. Pick up the baby whenever he cries and then call your dog and offer a treat as you cuddle and shush the baby. (You will find the baby calms down more quickly if you are slightly distracted by talking to the dog.) When changing the baby’s diapers, handfeed freeze-dried liver to the dog. (Keep a treat jar on the diaper-changing table.) In no time at all, your dog will form strong positive associations with the baby’s feeding, crying, cuddling, and diaper-changing. You may find your dog adopts her baby-minding role with great enthusiasm. Your dog may promptly alert you whenever your baby cries, or messes his diapers. Yes, you will have trained a Dirty Diaper Detection Dog.

Teaching Children How to Act Around Dogs
Learn how to teach your children how to teach a puppy or dog before you get a puppy or dog. Observe a puppy class so your children may learn training skills. Many class instructors will welcome children’s participation, since socializing puppies with unfamiliar children is a major reason for puppy classes. Additionally, observe an adolescent or adult dog class, so you can preview the predictable problems you are going to encounter (or better, prevent). And most important, make sure your children have ample opportunity to test-drive a variety of puppies and adult dogs. See if your local Humane Society has a volunteer program.

When selecting a puppy or dog, make sure all family members, especially including children, love the dog, feel completely at ease around the dog, and are able to easily control the dog before you decide to welcome him into your home. Teach children to train and control the dog using training techniques they can master—classical conditioning, lure-reward, and reward-training techniques. By using brain instead of brawn, even three- and four-year-olds can master these exercises.

Sit with your children, hold the pup’s bowl, and jointly handfeed her first few meals. Instruct your child to occasionally offer treats (tastier than the dog’s kibble). Your puppy will soon learn to love the presence and presents of children. Warn children never to approach any dog without supervision. Teach children how to train puppies to approach them. Instruct children to stand still, to always speak softly, and to keep one hand in their pocket while luring and rewarding the dog with the other hand. Any child who
cannot get a puppy to come, sit and lie down, should never be allowed to play with that pup unsupervised. A single child (or adult, for that matter) with no control can ruin a good puppy within minutes. Insist on training before playtime. And in no time, the child will be play-training the puppy.

Children feel great because they can control puppies with verbal commands and handsignals. Puppies are ecstatic because they have discovered that sitting is the secret command that trains children to stand still and deliver treats on cue. And adult owners feel relieved and deservedly proud to know that their soon-to-be adolescent dogs are congenial and compliant with children.

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Teaching Your Puppy to Come – May 10, 2012

When first teaching your puppy to come, it is important to get the behavior first, reward it, and then add the command. You want your puppy to associate the word Come with coming to you. You need to start at ‘kindergarten’ level – to make easy for your puppy to be successful and learn.

Sit on the floor with your puppy on leash so he doesn’t go too far. Toss a toy and then call him back to you. Use kissy noises, clap your hands and act happy to get him to come. Praise him and give him a treat. Make this a fun game. Don’t say COME yet. You don’t want to call your puppy to come until you are sure he will do it. Otherwise he won’t associate the word with the correct behavior.

Now stand up near your puppy. Get his attention and walk backwards. He should start moving toward you and if he does, praise and give him a treat. Just back up a few steps for now. This is a very important behavior to teach at kindergarten level before you ever try at college level (outside with you far away).

Now stand away from your puppy a few feet. Get his attention and start moving backwards as before. We are building up difficulty slowly with distance. Starting out next to your puppy makes it easier for him. Starting farther away from your puppy makes it harder.

You can start saying COME once your puppy is easily moving towards you. You want to say your puppy’s name and make sure he’s looked at you first before saying COME. If he doesn’t turn his head toward you, he’s not going to come so get closer. If it is difficult to him to turn to you when you say his name, go back to Chapter 4 and practice!

Practice this inside and start adding distance and working in different rooms. Play hide and seek – make it easy at first. Always make coming to you the most rewarding and fun thing your puppy could ever do. Start adding distractions. Put a toy on the floor or have someone else pet your puppy and call him away from those things.

• Always praise your puppy when he comes to you
• Teach your puppy that ‘Come’ means – run to me, there’s a party over here!
• Only call your puppy to come when you KNOW you have control over making it happen
• Always balance distance and distractions for level of difficulty – so work at a level where your puppy can be successful. If there are distractions, work at a short distance away. If there are no distractions, you can be a little further away
• Don’t call your puppy to ‘Come’ for anything she doesn’t like
• Never call your puppy in anger
• Call your puppy only once – and then make her come or walk away
• Always praise and reward your puppy for coming to you- make sure you reward and praise a lot!! (a full 20 seconds of petting for example)
• Never punish your puppy for coming to you – even if it takes awhile for him to get there.

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Puppy Biting and Nipping – May 3, 2012

Puppy biting is a normal puppy behavior and it is important that we give our puppies clear, consistent feedback to teach them that teeth on skin is not acceptable.

Puppies explore with their mouths just like babies explore with their hands. Puppies have sharp teeth and weak jaws – so this is the time to teach them to bite gently – and then not at all – before they develop the strong jaws of an adolescent dog. It is important to teach your puppy to reduce both the force and frequency of his biting.

To do this, play with your puppy. Sit on the floor and purposely put your hands near your puppy’s mouth. If you feel a hard bite, say Ouch! And stop playing. If your puppy stops biting, lure him into a sit and reward and start playing again. If your puppy ignores the ‘ouch’, and continues to bite, say OOOWWW and leave the room. Come back after a 20 second time out and do a little sit/down training before starting to play again.

An excellent way to practice this is to tether your puppy in an area where he can’t have any fun except with you. Sit on the floor and play with your puppy and when you feel hard bite, say Ouch! Then get up and leave the area for 20 seconds. Repeat this 10 times in a row twice a day. You should be able to play longer and longer between hard bites. Then start reacting to the softer bites as well. If you have children, each person should practice this exercise separately, starting with the adults.

Another way to teach your puppy to have a ‘gentle mouth’ is to hand feed him. Your puppy only gets the food when being gentle – and not grabby. If your puppy likes to bite and grab pant legs, stop moving immediately and interrupt him. Call his name and then ask him to do something else such as Sit.

Be aware that when your puppy is excited, he’ll be more mouthy and bitey. So first practice when he’s calm. When he is calm, you can do a lot of gentle petting and give him a nice belly rub. If he bites, then all petting stops for 20 seconds. Another consequence to biting is 30 second time out in his crate. Don’t do this in anger – it’s just a neutral consequence to his biting – “Oops – time out – in your crate.”

If you don’t see an improvement in reduced biting, consult a Certified Professional Dog Trainer in your area.

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