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FORGET ABOUT CORRECTIONS, LET’S TEACH OUR DOGS MANNERS

If a dog is properly taught from the beginning corrections will seldom be necessary.

TEACH YOUR DOG MANNERS THE RIGHT WAY

We bring our dogs into our lives for many reasons; for companionship, for protection, for a specific job like herding, protecting live stock, for competition in agility, fly ball, etc., for medical assistance, therapy dog work – the list could go on and on. Whatever their purpose is, it’s our job to help them adjust to our world, our home and what’s expected of them. They don’t know our rules or what we want from them. They are like a baby or small child that needs to be taught what’s okay and what’s not. For some odd reason we think they should come into our homes knowing what’s expected of them and what they can and can’t do. There are many approaches to training and lots of varied opinions about the right way of doing things. We need to TEACH our dogs the proper manners we expect in our homes. Most dogs are getting corrected either verbally or physically in many different forms. They’re getting corrected for things they were never TAUGHT were off limits. So forget about corrections, let’s teach our dogs manners. In my opinion the best way to train your dog not to do certain things is to teach them a word that means “stop whatever it is that you’re doing”. It’s a simple process to teach a dog basic obedience..

If your puppy or young dog is chewing things up, is digging holes in your yard, pooping or peeing in the house etc., YOUR DOG HAS TOO MUCH FREEDOM! Would you leave a crawling baby or a toddler to wander around without supervision? Of course not. Your puppy or new dog needs to be treated the same way. You want to choose a word or a phrase that will ALWAYS mean “stop what you’re doing”. Some suggestions: leave it, enough, uh uh, let it be; I caution you against using No, most dogs have heard it so many times they tune it right out. Once you’ve chosen your word remember that your dog doesn’t know what that means yet. You need to be with your pup at all times so when you see her doing something you don’t approve of don’t yell “ENOUGH”. Go over to her and as you gently, pull her away from what she was doing you CALMLY, say “enough” redirect her to something else and praise her. Yes, you heard me, praise her. You label the action of stopping with “enough” then you praise her for stopping. You’ll need to this many times before she gets it but remember it’s a learning process…BE PATIENT!

Kermit at the Miyuki Dog Park

If you want to properly introduce two dogs, whether you’re bringing a new dog into your home or wanting to introduce your dog to a neighbor dog, the initial interaction can make or break the chances of an amicable meeting. Here are some tips;

  • First rule of thumb is to TAKE IT SLOW.

Bringing two unfamiliar dogs directly together can create, anxiety, defensiveness and possibly aggression. It’s like a first date; let’s get to know each other a little more before we hold hands (or sniff butts).

  • Meet at a neutral location

Your dogs are territorial and meeting on one or the other’s “turf” before getting to know each other can cause problems. If a complete stranger just walked in your front door or backyard unannounced, your defense mechanisms (your gun, baseball bat, phone to call 911) work instinctively. Same things will happen with your dog.

  • Go for a walk

A great way for two dogs to gradually become accustomed to each other is to go on a walk together. You may want to start off across the street from each other then based on body language, slowly come closer together. The distractions, the excitement of a walk and all the great smells will take some of their attention away from the other dog. It can also provide a positive, fun experience with the presence of the other dog.

  • Going home

If things are going well and the dogs are happy to be walking together and you feel it’s now okay to bring them into one or the other’s home, do a little preventative prep work first. Pick up any possible triggers that the resident dog might deem valuable. Toys, bones, food dishes, favorite dog bed, are all examples of potential triggers. Sometimes even your attention can cause some “my mommy” syndrome.

  • Get professional assistance

If you’re unsure about your dog and/or the other dog as far as aggression, it’s always a good idea to have a professional assist you in the process. Through a lot of experience we can see things that may not be noticed or may not seem to mean anything that could be a potential problem.

Photo credit: donjd2 / Foter / CC BY

Working dogs and burn out

 

WORKING DOGS AND BURN OUT

Do you have a working dog or a competition or show dog? Dogs perform such varied wonderful things to make our lives easier and in many cases more fun. Medical alert dogs save lives. Other service dogs make life easier for people with disabilities. Scent dogs can be trained to smell out cancer or other ailments in our bodies. Military or police dogs keep us safe. Personal protection dogs guard our families. Therapy dogs bring joy to people in nursing homes, hospitals, orphanages, etc. Competition dogs in agility, confirmation, fly ball, dock diving, etc. bring us fun ways to interact with our dogs. But dogs, just like people, can get burned out. Your dog can’t tell you he’s stressed or over-worked through words but he can tell you in may other ways. Just recently I have helped a handful of dogs and their people all in different situations identify the stress in their dogs and ways to alleviate that stress.

  • One of the top dogs for Gabriels Angels. a wonderful therapy dog organization in Phoenix, Arizona, starting showing depression symptoms and lack of enthusiasm to go and visit the children that he works with. After discussing what was going on I recommended to give Micah some time off and his mom Mary concurred and gave Micah 2 months off. He came back refreshed.
  • Another good client with a nine-year old Golden Retriever, “Harvard”, noticed that he wasn’t enjoying his work like he used to so he was thrown a big retirement party and retired from his job as well.
  • Another client owns a successful water store and her yellow lab, Daisy, would joyfully go to work every day. Then she started to resist getting into the car when it was time to go to work. When mom would load her up in the car and take her to work she would sulk and not engage with people like she used to. Mom got the message and Daisy is happy staying at home while mom goes to work.

Pay attention to your working dog and be their advocate and recognize when they may need a break or need to retire.

Photo credit: Marvin Kuo / Foter / CC BY

How does your dog learn?

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There are as many approaches and philosophies on how to teach dogs as there are trainers to teach them. We can usually learn something from almost all methods, even if it’s what we don’t want to do. I do not believe that forceful, intimidating, painful or humiliating techniques are necessary to teach a dog proper manners. Our dogs learn through a process of trial and error, otherwise known as “cause and effect”. Since our puppies come to us not understanding our verbal language and not having been given our “dog rules” they are in need of our guidance to help them learn. It’s our job to teach them what we would like them to know. They don’t know that they can’t pee or poop wherever and whenever, or that the furniture, the carpet, the walls, your clothing, your shoes, the electrical cords, or your flesh are not chew toys. We need patience with our puppies and need to learn to communicate to them in a way that they understand. You are raising a four legged child that needs your help; not your corrections for things that he doesn’t know are wrong. Whether you’re teaching a puppy or teaching an older dog basic manners like sit, down, etc, it’s still the same form of communication. How does your dog learn? Allow your dog the privilege of using his brain and his innate problem-solving ability and trust in his ability to figure it out.

Photo credit: edanley / Foter / CC BY

BRINGING A BABY INTO A HOME WITH A DOG

Bringing a baby into a home with a dog can be a concern. The best time to start preparing not only your home but especially your dog for an imminent new resident baby, is long before the baby arrives. We want to begin to desensitize your dog to not just the baby but all of the other changes that will come when the baby arrives.

START THE PROCESS EARLY

As you start setting your baby room up let your dog be a part of it and see what’s going on. Once the room is set up, it’s a good idea to get a baby doll; one that’s as realistic as possible and one that will make baby sounds if possible. You want to begin to act as if the baby is already here by starting to get your dog into the new routine before the baby actually arrives. We want to avoid the shock factor of one day everything is normal and the next day everything dramatically changes. Begin talking to the baby, putting the baby in the crib, even sitting in the rocking chair with the baby doll and a bottle. Sit in other ares of the house with the baby doll allowing your dog to look, maybe sniff a little while hearing soft praises from you. Get out the stroller and let your dog get used to the sight of it and then start moving it around slowly, always praising your dog if he’s acting appropriately. Put the baby doll in there and push it around. If your dog knows his basic manners start having him do down stays by your side in the baby room or next to the couch or chair you will be using. Set the high chair up and start teaching your dog that it’s not a buffet table. Basically act as if the baby is there a few months before she gets there.

ALLOW THE DOG TO BE PART OF BRINGING THE BABY HOME

When you bring the baby home allow your dog to be part of the experience. Your dog will be very curious of this new thing and will want to examine her. Let your dog get used to the scent and sound of your baby for a while and depending upon your dogs age, breed, and temperament you decide when to introduce them. If you have a very mild mannered older dog that has been around kids or babies you might make the introduction more quickly than if your dog is a 6 month old very excited retriever. Knowing your dog and how your dog reacts to new things, people, other animals, children etc. will help you know when to introduce the dog. I highly recommend hiring a professional to assess your dog if you have any question as to how your dog may react and respond. Try and spend some special time with your dog each day, as many dogs feel abandoned when a baby takes up all of everyone’s attention and can begin to start acting out.

Whether we’re talking about babies or small children; NEVER leave a dog and a baby or a child unattended. You will need to protect your dog’s space from a crawling baby or toddler which in essence will protect your child.