Compassion for Fearful Dogs

My clients usually make up 2 select groups of dogs – the first group is the untrained, rowdy and often young dogs who have poor manners and drive their owners crazy with “naughty” behaviour and the second group is usually made up of fearful dogs who bite, bark, chase, hide and generally seem aggressive or anti-social.

I love helping fearful dogs. It’s my passion and I am so impressed by how these dogs can blossom into exceptional family members. The main problem I run into when working with fearful dogs is helping the human side of the leash understand why their dog is acting the way they do and how to build confidence in their dog.

Some of the behaviour problems families will describe include:

  • Barking and lunging on leash at other dogs or people
  • Growling and snarling when dogs or new people approach
  • Growling and snapping at children
  • Hiding and refusing to leave the home or yard
  • Avoidance of dogs, people, new objects, etc.

A confident dog doesn’t treat every other dog, person and object as a possible threat however a fearful dog sees the world through a very different lens.

When I adopted Heidi my Miniature Schnauzer 11 years ago she was a class fearful dog. She snapped at my Irish Terrier when she met him even though he was perfectly appropriate in his greeting with her. She would bark at anything that moved when on a walk. She was reluctant to have her harness or leash put on. She would urinate when men would look at her. She would hide to go the bathroom (which made house training tricky!) and would often shake uncontrollably for seemingly no reason at all. She broke my heart and I knew we had to change things or her quality of life would be terrible.

Fast forward 11 years and Heidi has not only trained in agility but completed in it! She has earned her Canine Good Neighbour certificate. She is friendly and safe around children. She shares her home with 4 other dogs and has a history of living with many others. She’s well behaved enough to take anywhere. And it’s her transformation that inspires me the most!

Steps I took to turn Heidi into a pretty great family pet that my relatives are happy to welcome into their home and even petsit:

  1. Create a bond through positive reinforcement obedience training
  2. Build confidence by taking some dog sport classes for fun including Agility training
  3. Socialize her slowly and regularly with things she’s nervous of including children, strangers and other dogs
  4. Inspire her to work independently by using interactive toys and hide the food games
  5. Teach her tricks so she can show off and get a positive reaction from other people and family members
  6. Take her on hikes so she can discover the world and smell new things
  7. Give her down time so she can rest peacefully every day and be ready to be her best self when we try something new
  8. Work closely with my Veterinarian to discover Heidi’s health issues and their impact on her behaviour (Heidi has a history of vision issues, kidney and bladder stones as well as liver issues that directly affect behaviour)
  9. Create a specialized diet for Heidi so that she can feel well and lessen her symptoms from her health issues
  10. Love Heidi unconditionally and understand that she didn’t get the best start in life and build expectations that are realistic for her

If you live with a fearful dog that presents as aggressive or extremely nervous I would love to help you achieve the success that I’ve found with not only Heidi but the hundreds of fearful dogs that I’ve worked with. You can improve their quality of life as well as your own. heidi3

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My dog ate my homework…

One of the oldest excuses students have given their teachers over the decades have been “my dog ate my homework”. Dogs do sometimes have destructive tendencies which is why even though uncommon this excuse is plausible.

Dogs engage in destructive behaviour for a number of reasons including anxiety, stress, frustration, teething and most commonly boredom. Keeping a dog happy and stress free is a lot of work for owners! And destructive behaviour can run the gambit of  ripping apart a dog toy to chewing large holes in the dry wall.

NaughtyDogClub

Ari and Story’s way of telling me they are sick of the rain and need more exercise!

Happily there’s hope for destructive behaviour! But before you can go about fixing it you need to know WHY your dog is destroying things. Separation anxiety and boredom can not be treated the same way.

How to assess the why:

  1. How old is your dog? Age can play a big factor in destructive behaviour. Puppies don’t understand why something is or is not a toy so they chew everything. This is normal puppy behaviour and they need to be kept in a safe space when you’re not around to supervise them. Puppy age range for this stage is commonly newborn to 6 months old however I don’t recommend leaving an adolescent dog (6 months-2 years) roaming free in the home either.
  2. Does your dog struggle when you leave? Barking, pacing, salivating, house soiling, etc. Well then you’re more likely looking at a case of separation anxiety and you should begin working with an experienced trainer immediately.
  3. Do you own an active breed or younger dog that isn’t necessarily being exercised and exposed to enough mental stimulation? Well this one is most likely boredom.
  4. If you’re unsure why your dog is destructive then it’s time to consult a professional.

Simple fixes for boredom include:

  • Interactive Feeding
  • Daily training sessions with your dog
  • Daily exercise with your dog that isn’t high arousal based
  • Participation in a dog sport class
  • Scent work like Tracking
  • Doggy playdates if your dog is social

Remember dogs aren’t destructive to ruin your life or out of spite. There’s always a reason and it’s important to analyze the situation from a canine not human point of view and take action to ensure your dog’s quality of life is good. Don’t leave a stressed out pet home, don’t leave a young dog unsupervised with important items and don’t let your pup come up with their own ideas on how to entertain themselves.

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There’s Harm in Waiting

Canine behaviour issues rarely appear out of nowhere. In the unlikely case that a behaviour issue does happen suddenly it’s generally related to a medical issue. The majority of behaviour problems have taken weeks, months and in some cases years to develop.

Here’s an example:

A family with a young puppy are struggling with over excitement issues that present as mouthing kids, barking with frustration in the kennel and lunging on leash. At a first glance these are normal puppy behaviours but without training and intervention they can become worse instead of better.

The same family now has an one year old, large dog who jumps on people knocking them over, can’t safely be walked on leash and “nips” at the family’s arms and legs when they come home. Again intervention at this stage will take longer now but with obedience work can be turned around.

The same family with a now three year old dog are in seriously trouble – they haven’t walked their dog in months as they’re scared to. The dog barks, growls, lunges and even turns around biting at them when they encounter other dogs on walks. They no longer invite guests over to their home because they fear the dog will knock them over and potentially injure them. They’ve even experienced serious bites from the dog when the dog becomes too excited. The dog is bored and routinely destroys property in the home and digs large holes in the yard.

At what point do they get help? Well from a training perspective it’s best to see them as soon as possible but families often delay professional help thinking they can fix it on their own or the dog will grow out of it.

In most cases minor behaviour issues do escalate when training isn’t received.

  1. Barking becomes fence fighting, redirected aggression or even guarding behaviour that results in a bite
  2. Pulling on leash becomes reactivity, dog aggression, stranger aggression and redirected aggression against the owner
  3. Growling while with the food bowl becomes a bite to family members
  4. A puppy pestering an adult dog becomes a dog fight where the two dogs in the home routinely injure one another

These are all issues that need to be treated right away. So please if you’re frustrated with your dog and you want to address the issues don’t wait. Seek out a professional with a positive reinforcement training style and starting solving these concerns before they become major problems. It’s cheaper and easier to deal with the issues immediately.

InHome2

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Don’t Rub Their Face In It

TheCrew

Sometimes in the world of dog training I come across advice that is old, out dated and just plain ridiculous. I wonder how this ever became a “thing” to do. The issue on my plate today is why would someone rub their dog’s face in urine or stool? Because this is something people still use as a training technique.

First off – please don’t rub their face in anything! It’s gross and it doesn’t communicate the point you’re trying to make to your dog. All that happens here is that your dog may become scared of you, may associate your presence around urine or stool as a negative (which makes house training even harder) and/or encourage your dog to consume stool.

House training can be tough! I understand that 100%. I’ve had rescue dogs who had their start in a puppy mill and felt that standing in their own urine or stool was acceptable. It takes time, patience and a good deal of supervision to train a dog.

The main thing to remember is that dogs go to the bathroom because they need to and doing so feels good – just like humans! For them it doesn’t matter whether it’s inside, outside, etc. They just need to go so they do. Depending on where they started in life they may have even been encouraged to go inside with the use of pee pads or paper.

Dogs may also engage in marking behaviour. This often presents in anxious or intact dogs. Both females but more commonly we see males doing this. Once again it can be trained away but takes time and patience.

Basic rules for house training:

  1. Reward your dog for going where you want them to go – so there’s a reason for them to go there. They aren’t mind readers and they can’t speak english. They need reinforcement to go in a special area.
  2. Supervise your dog ALL the time. When you can’t use a crate. If your dog acts like they are about to go (sniffing, tucking around to a place where they have accidents, etc.) Immediately take your dog outside and wait. If they don’t go within 10-15 minutes then put them in their crate for a few minutes and try again. Develop a schedule that you keep a record of so you can begin to anticipate your dog’s needs.
  3. If your dog has an accident and you’ve missed it – oh well! Clean it up and reprimand yourself for not supervising. Dogs do NOT house soil out of anger towards you. They house soil because they need to go to the bathroom and they don’t see a difference between outside and inside. Do not rub their face in it.
  4. If you catch your dog in the act try to interrupt the behaviour without scaring them and take them outside. Many people feel like the dog should have a consequence in order to learn however research has shown that focusing on the positive will result in faster training. Take your dog immediately outside and reward if they finish outside. Do not punish them. Training a dog who is fearful to eliminate in front of an owner is tedious! It took me over two years to fix this issue in one of my rescue dogs as she had clearly been punished for eliminating in front of people.
  5. If you’re struggling with house training then a trip to the vet to rule out a urinary tract infection or other medical condition is crucial.

An experience professional can help get you off to the right start or help solve an ongoing house training issue. Reach out for help if you need it. Some dogs are extremely hard to house train for a variety of reasons but it is possible.

I offer both in person and Skype consultations for house training. If you need help please contact Where’s Your Sit.

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My Dogs Fight – What Now?

I’ve spent a lot of time discussing dog reactivity and issues with strangers or other dogs that we see on walks. Sometimes however dogs have aggression at home with the other dogs they live with. This issue can be heart breaking for so many reasons and often families are left confused and unsure about what to do.

Dog fights happen at home for so many reasons. It’s important to pinpoint the reason why. People often say that it starts out of no where but there are reasons for aggression in the home; it’s not random. Consider the following:

  • Rule out any health concerns including soreness. Dogs may suddenly appear aggressive when they are struggling with pain or an illness. Dogs are also very good at hiding when they are unwell which is why it’s important to seek out a full check up including blood work with your Veterinarian. I also recommend working with a Veterinary Chiropractor or Osteopath as they may be able to pinpoint subtle lameness that a general practitioner may miss. Health issues that can trigger aggression can be anything from a cruciate tear to Epilepsy to Hypothyroidism.
  • Resource Guarding. Dogs will fight over toys, people, spaces, food, treats, etc. If your dog has a resource guarding issue there’s a lot you can do to solve the issue. I’d recommend reading Mine by Jean Donaldson and consult with a professional to help resolve the issue immediately.
  • Redirection onto to your other dog(s) due to barrier reactivity. When a dog is reactive through a window, fence or on leash they can sometimes target the dog closest to them when they are frustrated and over aroused. Incidentally, a non-reactive dog will sometimes go after a reactive one for acting unstable and causing them to be fearful or agitated. Avoid walking a reactive dog with others.
  • Bullying behaviour amongst your dogs. It’s important to not let dogs harass each other. One dog may be acting aggressive because another is guarding spaces, people, etc. The issue doesn’t always start with the dog with aggression. Sometimes it can be as simple as one dog is tired of being mounted by another that will trigger a dog fight.
  • Health concerns in your other dogs. Sometimes if a dog develops a health issue another dog in the home will target them. This is extremely hard on the family as they struggle to care for their sick dog. In cases like this the dogs should be separated immediately. The relationship may be repairable when the other dog is well again however sometimes the damage is long lasting.
  • Sibling Syndrome. This can affect dogs that are siblings from the same litter or even two dogs that are of similar age. As the dogs grow older the issue gets worse and worse. It tends to be worse when the dogs are the same gender but male/female pairs can fight as well. Avoid getting littermates at all costs as well as dogs of the same gender/age. There are exceptions to this however most cases of intra-household aggression are between dogs of similar ages and genders particularly littermates.
  • Anxiety. When one dog in the home has anxiety it can present as aggression (along with other behaviour issues). It’s really important to seek help for your dog if they are anxious. Living in a constant state of alertness affects their quality of life and there are lots of options to help treat canine anxiety. Anxiety can present as disobedience and avoidance behaviour so sometimes dogs labelled “disobedient” are really anxious.
Marco1

Marco has some health concerns and likes a quiet, peaceful resting area where he can relaxed.

One you’ve been able to pinpoint the reason(s) why your dogs may have aggression issues at home you can come up with your plan on how to manage the behaviour. There are times when it is no longer safe to keep two dogs in a home together and this should be considered. Dogs can kill each other or severely injure one another and that shouldn’t be overlooked. If your dogs are fighting and injuring one another then you have a serious situation on your hand and you should immediately separate the dogs and consult a professional. There are many situations where it would be appropriate to re-home one of the dogs (of course with full disclosure to the new family and a home without small children or other dogs). Families should not be made to feel bad when they need to re-home a dog to keep another safe in the home. Decisions need to be made for the best interest of all of the dogs.

Potential solutions:

  • Work one on one with each of the dogs on a daily basis to build confidence, ensure they are getting their needs met and encourage obedience.
  • Encourage arousal decreasing activities including scentwork, trick training, interactive feeding and massage.
  • Seek out a Veterinarian who can advise on appropriate medications for anxiety, over arousal and/or any underlying medical concerns.
  • Seek out an experience positive reinforcement trainer who specializes in dog to dog aggression and can work with your Veterinarian.
  • Provide each dog with their own private space and give them a quiet area to relax, eat and sleep without being around one another.
  • Keep all activities with the dogs calm and avoid getting them amped up.
  • If redirection isn’t an issue take them on long, quiet walks together to increase the bond.
  • Remove any items that would trigger a dog fight from common areas including toys, chews, food, etc. Some dogs will fight over water dishes so make sure you have more than one in different locations. I’m a big fan of providing a personal water dish in each dog’s sleeping area.
  • If necessary have only one dog out at a time. Many people refer to this as rotation and it’s not a great long term solution but may be necessary to keep the dogs safe while you come up with a training plan or re-home one of the dogs.
  • Consider teaching one or both dogs to comfortably wear a muzzle in order to keep interactions safe while training.

Things to remember:

  • Intra-household dog aggression isn’t necessarily your fault. Great owners sometimes have this issue. You shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed. Dogs are animals and not everything they do makes sense in the human world.
  • Some dogs do need to be re-homed in this situation and it be the best solution for all the animals involved. Allowing aggression to escalate in a home is abusive to the dog being injured and will make it harder to find a new home for the aggressor.
  • It’s also possible to work through these issues if you have the resources, time and patience available. Each situation should be evaluated independently.
  • Seek out assistance immediately, the more fights that occur the worse the relationship is damaged.
AriStory1

Ari and Story practice impulse control exercises with each other to keep everyone calm during periods of excitement.

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Living (Happily) with a Reactive Dog

I have a dog that is just amazing – he’s sweet, loyal, well trained and extremely dedicated to his human family. He’s also not good with other dogs especially if there’s a barrier like a fence or a leash involved. This is an extremely common behaviour issue for many families and can be exhausting to live with.

Dogs develop reactivity for many, many reasons. My own dog became reactive because of traumatic experiences where he was attacked by other dogs. This increased his fear and he presents as reactive (he wants to create a threat display so they leave him alone).

Reactivity can also look different depending on your dog – some bark, lunge, growl while others are really stiff, quiet growling and wanting to move away. The one thing they have in common – they aren’t comfortable and their threat displays can often cause owners to be embarrassed and stressed.

Happily there’s a lot we can do to help our reactive and anxious dogs to relax and enjoy being dogs again.

Step 1 

Give your dog a quiet space to settle down each night and for breaks during the day. This is extremely important if you have other dogs or a busy house hold. Dogs need to sleep A LOT. They also like to rest for naps and then get up and about again. It’s important they have a quiet room where they can have a real nap without being worried that something might get them (a person stepping on them or feel competition with another dog in the home).

The quiet space should be away from main windows in the home where the dog can see or hear traffic. The last thing you want is your reactive dog practising the behaviour from your living each time a person or dog goes by.

sleepypup

Sleepy Pup – enjoying her own dog bed in a quiet spot.

Step 2

Engage your dog in interactive feeding – where they work for their food! There are many ways to do this and they all tire out your dog’s brain and/or enhance their bond with you.

Interactive feeding can include:

  • Feeding their kibble or raw food stuffed in a rubber Kong toy. Ensure you have an appropriate size for the weight of your dog and use as many Kongs as needed. For example my Pointer gets 2 cups each meal and that takes 3 Kongs. So each time he eats with Kongs he actually gets 3 of them to work on.
  • Use puzzle toys – try to find breed appropriate. Some small to mid size dogs love find it puzzles while larger bully breeds may appreciate a hardy Buster Cube. Pet stores are carrying more and more of these because dogs and owners love them. A new hit toy is the snuffle mat where you can easily make your own DYI style.
  • Use your dog’s food to work on impulse control training exercises in a quiet space. For example you could take your dog’s breakfast and use it for practice on leave it, stay, position changes and heeling all right in your living room or kitchen.
  • Create a find it game with meals by hiding food throughout your yard or a room in your home for your dog to search out (remember to keep dogs separate for this activity).

Step 3

Reduce high arousal activities like fetch and off leash play. This doesn’t mean you have to eliminate them but change how often and for how long. One of my favourite things to do is play disc with my dog. I’ll give him a few throws and we take a break to work on a trick like weave through my legs and then we may do a few more throws. This decreases the intensity of the game because we only do it for short periods of time and throw in a lot of “thinking” activity where he has to stop and learn.

staysonrock

The boys practicing stays on top of a big rock in a quiet hiking area. Great way to practice and reinforce impulse control!

Step 4

Consider using a calming supplement or medication if the situation requires. There’s plenty of options available to pet owners these days including Rescue Remedy, Colmicalm, and ADAPTIL. Using a supplement or medication along with training can greatly increase the quality of your dog’s life. Dogs who live in a state of reactivity often feel stressed even when they are resting. Their adrenaline from an episode lasts for days and many reactive dogs don’t even get days off in between of episodes which means they never actually come down.

Step 5

Reconsider what exercise is essential to your dog. Often pet owners have it in their head that their dog needs to go for a run every day for “x” amount of time. However the quality of the walk outweighs the quantity (this means more how often and the duration of the walk itself). It’s far better to take your reactive dog out for a walk every few days at non-peak times to smell and relax than it is to do a daily walk through a neighbourhood loaded with triggers. Consider driving out of town for a “smelling” walk where your canine can explore new scents and be away from other dogs or strangers.

Walk at non-peak times whenever possible including late at night and early mornings. These walks can be super short – the most important part is that your dog isn’t being bombarded and can actually just relax.

Even consider giving your dog a doggie vacation and take a week or two off walks all together. Focus on brain games, learning new tricks and relaxation. I know this may sound really difficult if you live with a “hyper” dog but I tried it out with my own young Pointer who is one of the most high energy dogs I’ve ever met and it did work well!

smellingdogs

More smelling – went to a new spot in the woods so Ari could use his nose!

Step 6

Remember you’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of dogs struggle with this issue – that’s why there’s so many classes for Reactive Rover now! Keep your chin up, understand that your dog is trying their best and take a minute to just relax and breath again.

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Exercise & Dog Reactivity

The ISCP has released new research from graduate Linda Cooper on the impact of exercise on reactive dogs (view study here). The study is fairly interesting in that it recommends reducing walks and arousal increasing activities such as fetch.

The dogs in the study were sent on a “doggie” vacation where exercise was significantly reduced. The owners of the dogs were nervous of this at first given that many of the dogs that participated were also described as hyper dogs that required great amounts of exercise.

What was found instead was that with reduced physical exercise (off leash running, long walks, playtime with other dogs, ball and disc play, etc.) and increased soothing touch and mental games the dogs improved significantly in only 6 days! The study goes on to cite work that includes giving dogs a drastic change for a month to see truly improved results in reactivity.

This is important for owners of dogs with arousal and reactivity issues on many fronts as simply tiring the dog out physically isn’t going to get you the results you want.

Here’s a great list of activities you can do with your own dog when reducing high impact or lengthy activity in order to decrease stress in your dog:

  • Sniff games inside and outside
  • Tracking (this is a great sport that Where’s Your Sit offers classes for and is suitable for reactive dogs as we don’t expose the dogs to one another)
  • Trick training
  • Shaping games with a clicker (can also result in your dog knowing even more tricks!)
  • Soothing massage and touch
  • Short on leash walks well away from other dogs, recommended 15-20 min per day and allowing your dog to do a significant amount of sniffing on these outings
  • Interactive feeding and puzzle games
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Rena and her dog Rupert following a scent trail in Tracking class

Reactivity and overall stress and anxiety are closely linked. It’s important that your dog is allowed to calm down and “reset” after an incident where they reacted or were startled or injured by another dog.

These same calming activities can also be used with over excited or hyper dogs that don’t struggle with reactivity.

 

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My Neighbourhood: A Recipe for Dog Disaster!

Every day I take my German Shorthaired Pointer out for a private one on one walk. He enjoys the obedience work we do and it gives him a chance for some private time with me. He also has a few bugs we’re trying to work out with confidence.

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However, I often find myself in the same predicament each time – there’s off leash dogs everywhere! And if they’re not off leash they lunging and barking at us from behind a fence. This is stressful for myself, my dog and the dogs we’re passing.

It’s also a perfect recipe for disaster.

I live in a very urban area with traffic so that alone poses an issue for dogs being off leash. Owners need to be aware that even though their dog may be extremely well trained we cannot predict the behaviour of a dog in all circumstances. It’s all too often that I see a post about someone’s dog who has been hit by a car. Let’s just prevent this all together and use a leash!

It also causes other dog walks or pedestrians to feel worried. We don’t know if your dog is friendly. Or maybe your dog is so friendly you don’t think about the fact that mine doesn’t like being approached while on leash. If your dog runs up to mine he’s going to be greeted with a growl and I’d hate for that to turn into a fight as you’d be setting back my dog significantly on the year of practice we’ve been doing on appropriate greetings since he was attacked by an off leash dog in an on leash, urban area.

Another issue is the dogs lunging and barking behind fences. You might think this is a great way to keep out burglars and you may be right! But your setting your dog to develop all sorts of frustration issues including reactivity and aggression. Rather than allowing your dog to lunge and bark at the fence, practice your recall and call your dog away then reward. Dogs should never be left unattended outdoors to bark and lunge at every person and dog that goes by. You are setting yourself up for trouble and stressing out the neighbours.

So taking a walk around my neighbourhood can feel like navigating a mine field. Here’s a few things I do to help my dog relax and enjoy the walk that you could try too:

  1. I use a Freedom Harness as well as a Gentle Leader. My dog is a big boy at 72lbs and I want to ensure that I’m not engaging his opposition reflect by using a collar around his neck and that I can have two points of contact to allow him to relax instead of pulling into his equipment. Having a good fitting harness or head halter or both can set your dog up for success.
  2. Some tasty treats to distract him in case we run into a stressful situation. One of the first things I do is to keep my dog’s focus on me – even when changing directions or crossing the street to avoid a problem. I’ll put out a tasty treat and get him to remain calm and trusting that I am handling the situation so that he doesn’t have to (aka escalate himself into barking and lunging fit too).
  3. Ensure my dog has enough space from the distraction to be successful. I will cross a street or change course completely. If another person is walking their dog and that dog is lunging and barking then we are 100% going another way. Same goes for dogs guarding yards. I don’t need to put my dog in that situation or yours. We will always make space. As a courtesy I make a curved U pattern past pedestrians too. I don’t assume people will just be comfortable passing my dog and I don’t put my dog in a position where he could be grabbed unexpectedly by someone meaning well.
  4. I am aware of my neighbourhood and where the problem areas lie. We plan our route so that we can have enough space or avoid those problematic yards with guarding dogs especially when the fences are in need of repair or low in height.
  5. I stay up beat and talk pleasantly to my dog on our walks. I tell him what a good boy he is and try to have a good, happy energy. The nice thing is that it usually improves my own mood even if I start off a little stressed or grumpy that day. And by the end of the walk we’re both feeling great!

 

arime

 

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Training Doggy Play Skills

Since getting my new puppy I’ve spent a great deal of time on training her to have great skills with other dogs. A lot of families think this means to take their new puppy to puppy socials, daycare or play sessions. In all honesty this is something I don’t recommend!

The evolution of puppy socialization has been a good thing overall however having large groups of puppies all rough housing together isn’t necessary the skills we want to be teaching them. Puppies can easily learn to bully, be bullied or even hurt one another. What happens during their crucial learning time will carry through life so it’s important they learn how to play respectfully.

storyandfriends

Story is playing with new friends on a fully fenced acreage. All the other dogs are adults, friendly and happy to play. Check out all the space in between the dogs as they run. Everyone is being respectful.

Here’s what I do recommend:

  1. Regular play sessions with easy going but assertive adult dogs. This would be adult dogs that do in fact like puppies and playing however also like to take breaks, not play too rough and will teach the young puppy how to be a good friend instead of a maniac.
  2. Mixing play time with training. So rather than just letting the puppies bounce all over each other you’d mix in some name attention, recall, position commands with short bursts of play. This teaches the puppies how to disengage with one another and return to focus on the handler.
  3. Meeting as many types of dogs as possible in a safe and controlled environment. Skip the dog park! But find friends or other dog lovers with vaccinated, friendly adult dogs to introduce your pup to.
  4. Be involved in your puppy’s playtime. Avoid daycares where they will just put your pup in with a large group of dogs for the day. Play times should be short, closely supervised and have a small group of dogs – if not only two at a time!
  5. Intervene if one or more dogs aren’t having a good time or they are getting too excited. Remember you are looking for calm, balanced play as that’s what will get your puppy ahead in life not out of control maniacs. Don’t ever leave it to the dogs to sort each other out. Over excitement can easily turn into a dog fight.

Puppies need a chance to meet and play with a large variety of dogs. Ensure your puppy gets the best chance to develop their play skills by working closely with a trainer who has access to calm, friendly adult dogs for socialization.

Check out the Where’s Your Sit Facebook page for videos on appropriate play as well as other dog training videos.

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Here’s Story meeting Splinter, a very small Chihuahua. Story is learning how to be gentle with dogs of all sizes! She is learning to be calm, not jump all over or scare the small guy.

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Story is meeting Treble here – a 1 year old Border Collie. Story was a bit nervous at first but Treble made it clear she wanted to play without actually having physical contact with Story. Once they were both comfortable they were able to chase and wrestle a bit. Both dogs took regular breaks and never got over excited.

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Having a Merry Christmas with Dogs!

Christmas can be a very busy time of year and it’s easy to overlook keeping your pets safe in all the excitement. It is important to note though that these busy holiday times are when we are more likely to see a bite to a guest, a sick pet due to ingesting something dangerous (or benign that got stuck) or a lost pet that snuck out an open door with visitors coming through.

At Where’s Your Sit we want everyone to enjoy a safe and happy holiday season! Here’s some tips to make life a little bit easier.

  1. Teach your dog to go to a bed or their kennel when guests come to the door. This will keep your dog safely out of the way and therefore preventing over excitement and a possible bite at the door and keep your pet securely in your home.
  2. Avoid bringing home unsafe holiday decorations like Poinsettia plants or tinsel on the tree.
  3. Place foods and candies safely out of a pet’s reach – including counter tops!
  4. When many guests are visiting place your pup in a comfortable room with a good bone or stuffed kong to chew. This will keep your pet in a quiet relaxed state and away from all the partying that can often be overwhelming even for the most social pup.
  5. Ensure your dog is still getting regular exercise. It’s easy to miss that walk when you have a long list of to do’s however a well exercised dog will find it easier to relax and behave.
  6. Include your pet in family activities like walks to check out Christmas lights, snuggling up watching a holiday classic and fun, short little games with toys inside or out.

And a bit of an update from us! We took all 5 dogs to visit Santa at Bosley’s last weekend. The photos were in support of Spirit’s Mission (find our more about this fantastic organization here). Bet you can’t tell where I’m standing! My girls definitely know how to focus!

santaphoto

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