Thursday, April 15, 2010

Playing Builds Confidence

Today Faye had fun playing in a 8 ft long Tunnel. This was her first time and she had blast. When puppies are young we want to expose them to a wide variety of new experiences like climbing stairs, walking over differnt surfaces, strange noises and playing in confined spaces like a tunnel. When you pair the new experiences with yummy treats and lots of encouragement and praise your puppy learns that the world is a fun place. The first 18 weeks of your puppies life are the time when critical first impressions are made. If your puppy has a positive experience he will remember it always, unfortunately the same can be true for negative experiences. We do, however, want to use caution with our young puppy, so as not to overwhelm them in our attempt to “Socialize” them. The key to success is working at a pace that allows your puppy to feel safe and comfortable. You never want to force your puppy into a situation that makes him feel anxious or fearful. If your puppy seems fearful or apprehensive, back off and try again another day. The socialization process is a Marathon not a Sprint, so pace yourself and enjoy wathcing your puppy explore their ever changing world!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Puppy Nipping and Biting, OUCH!!!! THAT HURTS!!!

Anyone that has raised a puppy knows how horrible the nipping and biting can be, it's down right painful. There are however things you can do to survive the process but it's important to first understand why puppies bite.

When puppies play with each other, they use their mouths. Therefore, puppies usually want to bite or “mouth” hands during play or when being petted. This behavior is rarely aggressive and, therefore, not intended to cause harm. Because puppies are highly motivated to exhibit this type of behavior, attempts to suppress it or stop it are unlikely to be successful unless you give your puppy an alternative behavior.
The goals of working with this normal puppy behavior are to redirect your puppy's desire to put something in her mouth, such as an acceptable chew toy, and to teach her that putting her teeth on skin is never acceptable. Encourage Acceptable Behavior
Redirect your puppy’s chewing toward acceptable objects by offering her a small rawhide chew bone or other type of chew toy whenever you pet her. This technique can be especially effective when children want to pet her. As you or the child reach out to scratch her with one hand, offer the chew bone with the other. This will not only help your puppy learn that people and petting are wonderful, but will also keep
her mouth busy while she’s being petted. Alternate which hand does the petting and which one has the chew bone. At first, you may need to pet or scratch your puppy for short periods of time since the longer she’s petted, the more likely she is to get excited and start to nip.

Discourage UnacceptDable Behavior
You must also teach your puppy that putting her teeth on skin is unacceptable and that nipping results in unpleasant consequences for her. Teach your puppy that nipping “turns off” all attention and social interaction with you. As soon as you feel her teeth on your skin, yelp, “OUCH” in a high-pitched voice, then ignore her for a few minutes. (In order to ignore her, you may need to leave the room, or alternatively, have her tethered by a leash while you play, so when you leave she can’t follow.) Then, try the chew toy and petting method again. It may take MANY repetitions for your puppy to understand what’s expected.
NOTE: Never leave your puppy unattended while she is tethered as she may get tangled in her leash and injure herself.

Provide A Variety of "Legal" Chewing Opportunities
The nipping and bitting phase is a normal developmental stage for all puppies and is at it's worst between 12 and 15 weeks of age. During this time try to provide your puppy with a variety of chewing outlets such as frozen stuffed Kongs, bully sticks, hard rubber toys, etc. Chewing relieves the pain of teething, stress and boredom so we don't want to deprive our puppy of opportunities to chew.

Dog-To-Dog Play
Provide your puppy with opportunties to play with well socialized adult dogs to learn bite inhibition. A young puppy can learn alot about how to properly use their mouth by playing with other well socialized dogs. It's best to keep the group size small 2-3 dogs, and NEVER allow your puppy to play with a dog that has a history of aggression or poor socoialzation.

What Doesn't Work

Contrary to what helpful friends, neighbors or even some people on TV might say, using physical force does not stop biting. There is much scientific eveidence to prove that it escalates the problem and promotes fear and aggression. You should refrain from nose bops, scruff shakes, alpha rolls, etc. These are outdated tactics that cause puppies to become anxious, fearful and therefore they feel the need to 'fight back'. There is no shortcut to the teething process, just be patient and consistent and it will pass.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chewing-Keeping It Healthy

With a new puppy in our home we are constantly looking for appropriate chew items for Faye to sink her teeth into. With so many choices at the Pet Store it can be overwhelming. My priority is always to find healthy chewys for my dogs. Young puppies need to chew ALOT, it relieves the pain of teething, relieves stress and boredom and it's just plain relaxing. If you don't provide your puppy or dog with appropriate chew objects they will likely sinks their choppers into something of yours. Teaching appropriate chew habbits needs to start from the day they arrive in your home, don't wait for bad chewing habbits to develop or you could spend a lifetime trying to break them. Not to mention the damage a chewing dog can cause or the potential danger that can arise from 'illegal' chewing.

An all time favorite for our dogs has always been carrots and apples. You can core the apples because they can't eat the seeds, freeze the apple and it's good for a few hours of chewing. It's healthy and can help clean their teeth, an added benefit. The same is true for carrots, give them straight out of the fridge or freeze them first. Either way, it's a healthy chew toy and economical too!

If you want to get really creative make an ice mold. You can include pieces of fruit or vegetable, small doggie treats or pieces of their dry kibble. This is a big hit on a warm summer day.

There are of course foods that your dog can not eat such as raisins, grapes, chocolate and onion. For a complete listing check with your Veterinarian.

So the next time your puppy gets the urge to chew open of your fridge and pull out something healthy!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Change Your Perspective And Train Your Dog

As a dog trainer there are two questions I get more than any others:

“How do I get my dog to stop doing (insert annoying, yet often natural, behavior here)?”
“How do I punish my dog when he’s just being bad?”

There are also a few statements I get more than any others:

“She knows better!”
“She’s just being stubborn.”
“He doesn’t respect (me, my wife, my children).

Anyone see a pattern here? I’ll give you a second…

It’s all so adversarial and puts the entire responsibility on the dog. A dog! Blaming the dog for lack of communication skills or not understanding human language or desires is scape-goating and also gives a supposedly lesser creature (according to that whole “he doesn’t respect” me malarkey) a heck of a lot of power and responsibility. It’s also quite egotistical of us humans to think that a dog should respect us simply because we’re human. Even if dogs are capable of feeling the human notion that is respect, it’s something that is earned, not just inherently awarded.

Looking at, and dealing with, your dog from an adversarial perspective sets both of you up for failure. From this perspective every perceived transgression is an insult. When your dog doesn’t come when called it’s a slap in the face! “How dare Rover ignore me when I’ve demanded his presence!

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. Presumably you got a dog because you wanted a companion, a sidekick. Presumably you live with a dog because you like dogs. Your dog is your friend, the two of you have so many great moments of fun and affection every day, yet you don’t even give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his perceived transgressions.

Ever consider that your dog isn’t listening to you because she doesn’t know what the heck you are saying, let alone understand what is expected of her in a given situation?

Most dogs don’t comply to your requests, commands, or more accurately, cues, because they haven’t been sufficiently trained to do so – by you.

Newsflash: Dogs are not born with a reverence for, or submission to, humans. Nor do they inherently “know” what we want them to do, how to behave in the presence or home of another species, or the meaning of human language. They also aren’t born with a penchant for world-domination.

Dogs are, however, born with a unique ability to “read” humans really well, better than any other species, and a desire to survive: be safe, fed, comfortable, socially accepted.

They’re pretty easy to manipulate, especially by more intelligent beings with bigger brains, greater access to all resources (including good dog training information), and opposable thumbs. (Hey, that’s us!)

When it comes to dog behavior there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that dogs often have a very different idea about what acceptable behavior is any given situation. The good news is that dogs are generally very malleable and willing to learn our strange human ways if given the opportunity via clear instruction and rewards.

So next time your dog doesn’t come when called at the park, or jumps up to greet someone think about whether she’s had sufficient instruction and repetition of recalls or if she’s ever been taught what a polite greeting looks like from the human perspective. Has she been taught what is “right” versus merely been told what is “wrong”? Has she been given an acceptable alternative to her natural doggy behavior and has it been heavily practiced and reinforced? Because behavior doesn’t lie, and it’s likely if your dog is doing something you don’t like it’s probably your fault and it’s definitely your job to teach her what to do.

So if you find yourself getting grumpy, or frustrated with Fido, first change your perspective, and then get to work training your dog!

**Written by Kelly Gorman Dunbar for Dogstar Daily**

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Faye Learns To Play With The Brick

Faye had fun learning to find hidden treats in the Interactive Toy called the Brick. This is one of many wonderful Interactive Toys developed by Nina Ottoson. These toys allow your dog to use their natural scenting abilities. They also provide mental stimulation with is a big plus. To find the treats the dog must use their nose, paws, mouth, to move the sliding piece to reveal hidden treats. Faye is 11 weeks old and already enjoys playing with this game.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Benefits Of An Educated Dog

When you feel frustrated with your dog’s behavior, remember that someone must teach a dog what is acceptable behavior and what is not. A dog that has not been given any instructions, training or boundaries can’t possibly know what you expect of him. By teaching your dog how you want him to behave, you will not only have a saner household, but a healthier and happier dog as well.

An Educated Dog:
• Allows you to handle every part of his body, to check for injury or illness and to give him medication.

• Has good manners, so he can spend most of his time indoors with his people, which means more supervision, less boredom and fewer opportunities for mischief. The more time you spend with your dog, the more likely you will be to notice when something is wrong with him, such as a limp, a cough, a sensitive area or loss of appetite. By recognizing such irregularities early, you
can seek medical attention immediately and, hopefully, prevent more serious problems.

• Wants to stay near you, listening for instructions (and praise). This means he will have less opportunity to get into trouble.

• Will walk or run beside you on a leash without pulling, dragging or strangling, so you and your dog can get more exercise and spend more time together.

• Knows that “drop it” and “leave it alone” are phrases that mean business, so he will have fewer opportunities to swallow dangerous objects. He also can be taught what things and places are out of bounds, like hot stoves, heaters or anxious cats. However, you will still need to limit his access to dangerous places when you cannot supervise or instruct him.

• Will “sit” immediately, simply because you say so. No matter what danger may be imminent, a dog that is suddenly still is suddenly safe. And a dog that will “stay” in that position is even safer.

• Understands his boundaries, knows what’s expected of him and has few anxieties. Less stress means a healthier dog. By training your dog, you can help prevent tragedy and develop a better relationship with him. Keep in mind, however, that even an educated dog needs supervision, instruction and boundaries –sometimes even physical boundaries. Allowing your dog, no matter how educated he may be, to walk, run or roam outside of a fenced area or off of a leash, is putting him in danger.

Selecting a Class K9 Home Schooling offers adult dog and puppy training classes several times a week throughout the year. Our behavior consultant is also available for assistance with dog behavior problems. Contact us to help you select an obedience class or training program that’s right for you.