Friday, February 17, 2017
, this is the term I use when I work with Clients. Often puppies have been labeled with undesirable behavior without really understanding what's motivating the behavior. Here is a helpful way to "' and assess your puppies behavior.
H is for Hungry: Is your puppy getting enough to eat? In our attempt to avoid overfeeding, which is a serious problem with some dogs, we tend to not feed our puppies the amount of food they need to keep up with their growing bodies. A hungry puppy will be more likely to scavenge, counter surf, eat non-food objects (PICA) and inhale their food. A puppies daily food ration should be based on their activity level not the chart on the dog food bag. It will also change from week to week as they grow so adjustments need to be made thru the first year of life.
A is for Anxious: Anxiety is often overlooked in puppies or misdiagnosed as being 'unruly' behavior. An anxious puppy can be timid, fearful of people/sounds/other animals, tremble, hide, reactive/aggressive, overly excited/aroused, mouthy, afraid of handling. Anxiety is often complex and needs to be assessed by a professional. There are many new supplements available to help decrease anxiety, L-Theanine, Composure, Adaptil, Solliquin. With the help of your Veterinarian and a qualified Behavior Consultant, you can help you're puppy overcome or cope with their anxiety.
L is for Lonely: Puppies are social animals, they do not thrive being isolated for long periods of time. They need mental stimulation every day, this can be training, playing, walks or just spending time with family. They don't need 24/7 attention, but leaving a puppy alone for extended periods of time is often stressful and can create a variety of behavior issues from excessive barking to separation anxiety.
T is for Tired: Puppies need on average, 18-20 hours of sleep per day. The belief that 'a tired puppy is a happy puppy' is not always true. How 'happy' are you when you've not had enough sleep?? A tired puppy will often exhibit behaviors such as excessive biting, barking, destructive behavior, rough play, humping, just to name a few. As the puppy fatigues their coping skills go right out the window and things tend to fall apart. *Refer to a previous post on the benefits of Crating*
Rarely do puppies solve their own behavior problems, they need our help. If you find yourself frustrated with your puppy........ .......and make sure their needs are being met
Sunday, January 17, 2016
In class we talk about 'distractions', these are things that dogs hear, see, feel and smell. For dogs distractions are a normal part of their day-to-day life and they're happening all the time. Some distractions are bigger than others, some are fun and exciting, some are scary and some make your dogs pause and/or begin to investigate.
Too often when working with dogs, people assume that their dog is ignoring them, when in fact, the dog is distracted by something else. Many frustrated pet parents assume that Fido is being disobedient when he won't come away from his squirrel watching to return to you. Why are we surprised that dogs can't concentrate on more than one thing at a time? And if the 'other thing' is super exciting..........you are going to have to take the time to train your dog how to handle distractions in a way that you find acceptable. Slapping labels on dogs such as alpha, disobedient, hard headed and vengeful fail to address the real issue and increase frustration for dogs and their humans.
Years ago a fellow trainer told me to make myself more interesting than whatever my dog is distracted by. I have always found this to be true and I would add to that, become an advocate for your dog when they are fearful or unsure, don't become one of the things they are afraid of.
What are some of the ways a dog can become distracted?
- They're in class, you would like them to pay attention to you but the dog next to them is 'inviting' them to play
- The doorbell rings and they can't seem to respond to simple cues
- They can't ignore other dogs on walks
- More than one person is asking them to do something at the same time
- They are training in a new environment............generalization has not happened
- Something in the environment is making them nervous or anxious
- Squirrels, leaves blowing, birds flying, kids on bikes, joggers, the list is endless
How do you redirect a distracted dog?
- teach them attention building skills, looking at you always results in a reward/reinforcement
- start with low level distractions and gradually increase the level of distraction
- train 'leave-it' or 'lets go'
- use behavior modification for situations when your dog is fearful
- don't label them train them
In class we work continuously on techniques for redirecting distracted dogs. We don't use force we use redirection, and reinforcement.
Saturday, September 19, 2015
In the Summer of 2005 I was looking for somewhere to visit with my Therapy Dog Leo. We wanted to volunteer in our hometown so I contacted Chelsea Hospital and was put in touch with Recreational Therapist Jan Shamraj. Together Jan and I worked with the staff of Chelsea Hospital to build this amazing program. It was no easy task, but the end result is a program like no other and I am honored to be a part of it.
Today there are 12 teams visiting various areas of the hospital and many wonderful dogs who have since retired.
The teams of Pawsitive Comfort are tested and registered with Allegiance of Therapy Dogs, a national Therapy Dog Program. We have the highest standards for our teams and provide ongoing training and support. We screen each team to ensure the 'goodness of fit' for our program.
As an ongoing support for our community, many of the Therapy Dogs of Pawsitive Comfort are members of Canine Comfort Crisis Response Therapy Dogs, a group I helped form in 2012. Canine Comfort offers support to local communities in times of crisis or a tragic event.
Here's to many more years!!!!
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Would you like to train your dog from the convenience of your own home? With K9 Home Schoolings On-Line Training, all you need is a broadband connection and a webcam. We're excited to be able to offer a variety of training services:
- Obedience Training
- Behavior Consultations
- Group Classes
- Therapy Dog Training
Our On-Line training is live, not recorded, so you can actively participate in a group class or workshop. We are regularly contacted by people who do not have access to quality training services. On-Line Training is great for people unable to attend in person, dogs who are not comfortable in a group setting, families with more than one dog or who have small children. For new puppy families this is a great way to start your training and we provide you with detailed homework to properly socialize your puppy outside of class.
For people needing private training or a behavior consultation, On-Line Training gives you the one-on-one support you need. Not all behavior consultations can be done via on-line training, if we determine that you need to work with someone in-person and we are not within your travel area, we will refer you to a professional near you.
To become a K9 Home Schooling Student, visit www.k9homeschooling.com and click on APPLY to complete a New Student Profile.
Friday, February 6, 2015
I recently read a great article called 'The Dog Aggression Epidemic' and it was spot on. Those of us who work with dogs are seeing a dramatic increase in aggression, specifically dog-to-dog aggression.
The sad thing about this is, for the most part it's preventable. How do we change things? We start with educating Vets, Breeders, Shelters, Owners and Trainers about the importance of early socialization!!
To address concerns regarding safety, here is the AVSAB's position on early socialization with regard to vaccinations and disease.
We know that waiting until a puppy is fully vaccinated, to allow them to play with other dogs, can put them at risk for fearful, anxious, aggressive behavior towards other dogs for a lifetime. While there are other factors that can influence behavior problems, lack of early socialization tops the list!!
What are the benefits for well socialized puppies?
If you've lived with a fearful, reactive or aggressive dog, you know all to well the heartache and livelong struggles. The risks to adult dogs, just to name a few:
- Losing their home
- Losing their LIFE
- Calm and relaxed
- Freedom to go more places
- Dog Friends
- Exercise and walks
- Quality of life
We work closely with families to help develop socialization and play programs for puppies that promote safe and positive play experiences.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Keeping 'four on the floor' is no small task when surrounded by all this cuteness. Learning to greet and interact calmly with people, especially children, does not come easily to all dogs. Here's how you can help.
Commit To Training
From the day a puppy or dog joins our family we work on 'polite greetings' and boundaries. This means, paws on the floor, no jumping on people, a little personal space please, keep your paws to yourself..............well you get the idea. There's no need to use punishment for jumping up, no need for shaker cans of pennies, spray bottles, muzzle flicks, none of that nasty stuff. To tame the wild beast, simply stop paying attention and wait for them to offer a more polite behavior before interacting with them. Use time-outs and settling exercises to help calm an overly excited pup. Most puppies and even untrained adult dogs are prone to jumping up and on people, especially if the humans are on the ground. Quite often we encourage goofy behavior by inviting rowdy play especially by participating in wrestling or chasing games. What seems like innocent fun in the beginning, is not funny when someone gets hurt.
Have Realistic Expectations
Does your puppy/dog know that jumping on you hurts? Do they understand that knocking you down could break a bone? Do they understand that even if kids are running and screaming 'come get me', they should not be participating? The answer is no, they don't. Dogs will gladly participate in activities you encourage so pick them wisely. If you encourage or allow wild, out of control behavior, that's what you'll get. If you expect your dog to instinctively know how to behave, you'll most likely be very disappointed and frustrated. It's our job to help our dogs be successful in the 'human' world. We tend to have expectations that far exceed their understanding or abilities.
Play For Keeps
Don't stop having fun with your dog just because they're a little rowdy. If your 'wild child' is ever going to learn to 'play nice', you have to take the time to teach them. There are great games you can play with your dog that are fun ,teach impulse control and encourage appropriate interaction with people. A fun game of 'Musical Mats' or the 'Statue Game' are always fun for kids and dogs. A great resource is the book, Play-Together-Stay-Together by Patricia McConnell.
Raising a puppy or dog with small children is not about picking the 'right breed' of dog, it's about understanding how kids and dogs can safely live and play together. Family Paws offers great online resources for families, follow the link below to their website.
The best approach is to be proactive, don't wait for problems to arise, start training the day your puppy or dog arrives.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Get Down To Basics
Take time to teach basic obedience skills, a solid "Stay", "Come" and "Leave It" are important foundation skills. Hurling commands at an over aroused untrained dog is pointless and frustrating for everyone involved. Resist the temptation to punish your dog and invest time in training alternate behaviors.
Use Crates, Gates and Barriers
During the introductions and training phase, use barriers to keep everyone separated and safe. Try to avoid having your dogs first exposure to the cat be one of them in high pursuit as the cat is racing for cover.
Capture Calm Behavior
Set up situations that allow your dog and cat to be in a neutral state, this could be having the dog in a crate and the cat freely moving around. Allow your dog time to adjust to seeing the cat moving calmly around the house, preferably on the opposite side of a barrier. With everyone calm and safe start working on training exercises:
- When your dog looks at the cat in a calm manner Click/Treat
- When your dog looks at the cat, cue 'Leave It' , when they look away from the cat and look at you, Click/Treat (This will require a trained and well practiced "Leave-It")
- Cue your dog to 'Stay' as the cat is moving around
- When you see your dog paying attention to the cat, cue them to 'Come' away from the cat and move towards you and Click/Treat, pet, praise, etc.
- Reward ALL calm behavior, absence of whining , barking, lunging
Work on Impulse Control
Use toys and distraction to practice impulse control.
Having your dog and cat coexist peacefully may take time, be patient and provide supervision and management.
Having your dog and cat coexist peacefully may take time, be patient and provide supervision and management.