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Calming Your Dog

Calming Your Dog

Calming your dog can refer to numerous situations: thunderstorms, fireworks, or just any time he shows extreme anxiety about something.

But today I want to talk about calming your excitable and out of control dog with better human-dog interaction because how You behave can have a profound effect on how Your dog behaves.Calming Your Dog

You interact with your dogs in 3 ways:

You look at your dog,
Talk to your dog and
Touch your dog.

How you use your body language, eye contact and tone of voice can make the   difference in a dog that is out of control – or a pleasure to live with.

Before I talk about specific human-dog interaction I wanted to make sure you knew that your dog is an “expert” at interpreting every subtle nuance and change in your body language and facial expressions – including eye contact as well as your tone of voice.

They have to be not only good at it, but expert at it, because their very survival depends on it – or at least their survival used to depend on it. Nonetheless your dog still has the instincts that drive how he responds to your interactions with him.

Body language speaks volumes to dogs. In fact, it often speaks louder than your spoken word. Your dog will get confused if your body language contradicts what you are saying.

When this happens, your dog will most likely default to interpreting what your body language says. Remember, your emotions drive your tone of voice and your actions. Your dog interprets your emotions and responds to your actions.

Now let’s talk about how you can use body language, eye contact and tone of voice to teach quiet while also calming your dog.

Create quiet calm if you want a calm dog

Dogs simply don’t do well with yelling, screaming, anger or excitement. It tends to create an unstable environment in which they try to exist. Cultivate a calm voice – both in volume and pitch.

Develop calm departures and calm arrivals – in fact, ignoring your dog for 5 minutes when you leave and return will help to level out your dog’s emotional highs at those times. That means do not look at, talk to or touch your dog for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, calmly call your dog to you, ask for a sit and briefly pet your dog.

In the words of William Campbell, “In the non-verbal world of dogs, silence means quiet, inaction begets stillness and movement stimulates action.” We should all learn from this.

How you move is critical

Dogs will mimic human behavior. Moving slowly — arm movement & walking — around your excitable dog will give you an opportunity to teach slower dog movement.

By moving more slowly you will give your dog an opportunity to obey a sit or down command rather than letting his instincts take over. Ah, progress!

Use common sense

 These few dos and don’ts bear repeating because of their importance and it just makes good common sense – especially if you have kids.
 
Don’t encourage predatory behavior. That simply means do not chase your dog and don’t run away or play keep-away from your dog. Instead, play fetch and tug-of-war – with rules.

Now you are burning predatory energy constructively as you stay in control of the article. Appropriate adult supervision is required with kids.

Don’t back your dog into a corner to take something back he has taken. This could trigger his defense drive causing him to possibly bite you or another family member.

If you have taught him to retrieve, call him to you, gently remove the object and praise your dog.

Don’t fight or wrestle with your dog. Excitable dogs need to s-l-o-w down instead of being amped up to a point where their instincts take over.

Train your dog

Train your dog to give you good dog behavior. Dogs can easily be taught to give you attention (eye contact) for engagement rather than the jumping you don’t like.

Also train your dog a dismissal cue which means “Go chill!” or “Relax.” Or, just leave you alone.

Train your dog not to get into your personal space or jump on you until he gives you a sit and is invited into your personal space.

It’s a wrap

Remember how dogs learn. Dogs learn by instinct, trial and error and training. They are very sensitive to your body language, eye contact and tone of voice. Use all three wisely as you are calming your dog!

If you need help with step by step how to achieve a calm dog, be sure to check out my Ground Rules for Great Dogs.  That’s your roadmap.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you.   Don’t be a stranger.  Feel free to comment below.  I’d love to hear what you think.   

Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

Great Dog Behavior Fast - 5 Embarrassingly Easy Steps

Great Dog Behavior Fast – 5 Embarrassingly Easy Steps

Great dog behavior fast? I’ve got to be kidding, right? And it’s embarrassingly easy.

There’s no arguing that getting great dog behavior is a lot easier if you start on day one and train correctly from the beginning. But the reality is, most dog owners don’t train correctly and consistently from day one to get the dog behavior they want.

Here are my time tested, successful methods and techniques. If you work them, your dog will become the great dog you’ve always wanted him to be and you’ll have that great dog behavior you’re looking for. Great Dog Behavior Fast - 5 Embarrassingly Easy Steps

Looking at the thousands of lessons I’ve had with clients over the years, I have consistently seen the same mistakes over and over again and I just can’t help but think,  

“If they had these 5 embarrassingly easy steps to begin with – and used them consistently from the start, they could have saved themselves a lot of headache and heartache.”

While these techniques may seem simple on the surface, if used consistently, they will provide you with remarkable fast results.  

I really want to inspire and encourage you to have the best dog possible, so here goes.

Simple But Plain Truth

Your dog’s behavior issues are directly related to your relationship with your dog and how you structure his life. If you’ve gone “off track” with your dog training, get back on track with these 5 easy steps.

Step #1: Manage your dog

Dogs attached to a leash that is also attached to you while they are in the house, are more compliant and responsible than if left off leash to make their own decisions – which usually aren’t what we want them to do.

Yes, that’s right! Leash training your dog is not only for outside walks and training but is very effective when used consistently inside the home as well. Be careful though, never leave your dog unattended when your leash is on your dog. When you cannot supervise your dog (eyes-on, hands-on), crate your dog – until he understands the rules of the house.

Here are just some of the great ways in which you will benefit immediately:

  • Leash on your dog prevents jumping on you and on houseguests.
  • Leash on your dog prevents playing keep-away from you with your stuff.
  • Leash on your dog while in training, keeps your dog off the furniture until invited up.
  • Leash on your dog significantly aids in house training your new dog during his free time out of the crate.

By simply having him on leash, you are better able to catch mistakes before they happen. Embarrassingly easy I know. But it works.

Step #2: Minimize Stress and Anxiety

New dogs coming into your home need structure, boundaries and expectations just like kids. If you’ve not provided your dog with structure, there’s no time like the present to get started.

Good parents don’t let their kids run the household – neither should you with your dog. Good parents are leaders to their children as you should be with your dog. They set rules and teach their children how to be well behaved. For example:

  • They need to ask for things with, “May I please have…..”
  • They need to earn their allowance by working or doing specific tasks and, bad behavior does not get rewarded.

Now, I know you must be thinking, “That’s great Jim but kids speak English. How do I do this with a dog?” Well, here’s how.

Provide your dog with similar structure but in a way he understands. Here are the things that are important in your dog’s life: Food, space, his toys and love and affection.

All of these things he would have to earn by doing a sit. That’s right. It’s now a rule. Sit for everything. Do this every day in every way with your dog and you’ll discover that it was so embarrassingly easy you can’t figure out why you didn’t do it before now!

A home where there is no structure – where chaos reigns, will result in a dog with behavior issues. But when your dog has a plan and routine provided by you, this eliminates the stress and anxiety that tends to develop into behavior problems.

Step #3: Exercise your dog

Constructively manage your dog’s energy with exercise. You should exercise your dog with two good brisk, 30 – 45 minute walks a day. Taking your dog for a brisk walk twice daily is a good stress buffer. When you can’t walk, fetch and tug burn energy too!

Step #4: Train your dog

Training is critical for you and your dog. Not only does he require physical exercise, he needs mental exercise as well. Mental fatigue is a good way to constructively manage your dog’s energy – especially when combined with your structured walks as described above.  Once he learns his commands, practice using them where he needs to be on his best manners. The more you work with your dog on the basics, the better he will listen and obey.

Doing 3, two minute dog obedience training sessions daily (just 6 minutes a day-but spaced at least an hour apart, will give your dog a sense of working for you, the leader, rather than feeling responsible for it himself. And from your dog’s point of view, working for you is a whole lot less stressful than you working for him – trust me on that one!

Step #5: Teach your dog the behavior you prefer

Create dog training exercises that help your dog to learn.

Finally, do training set ups (training exercises) – when it is convenient for you.

Simply make a list of all the bad behaviors your dog does, what causes them (triggers) and what you would prefer your dog to do instead.

Work on them one at a time until you have the behavior you want.

Well, are you embarrassed how easy this is? Don’t be. You can have your dog in – or back in shape fast, so grab your leash and start today!

If you need help with specific steps on how to do this, go grab my Ground Rules for Great Dogs. There’s your step by step plan delivered right to you.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you.   Don’t be a stranger.  Feel free to comment below.  I’d love to hear what you think.   

Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

Well Trained Puppy in 15 Minutes a Day

Well Trained Puppy in 15 Minutes a Day

Would you jump at the chance to have a well trained puppy in 15 minutes a day?

Do you realize that if you did the training work with your puppy, you’d most likely avoid dog behavior problems associated with a dog that grew up with no structure.

Doing at least 15 minutes a day of puppy training will keep you from wondering, “What could I have done differently with my dog when he was a puppy that could have made him a better dog?”

Well Trained Puppy in 15 Minutes a Day

Just simply take 15 minutes a day

Having a well trained puppy in 15 minutes a day isn’t difficult at all. Most seasoned dog trainers would agree that the earlier you begin your training with a puppy, the stronger the training foundation is that will provide you with that better mannered dog in their adult years.     

This now brings us to the question, “How soon can I start training with my new puppy to avoid potential dog problems?”

Puppies can be trained at any age – even 8 weeks. That’s when we started training Sammy, our black lab mix.

Good manners are his default behaviors.

Using reward-based training methods is a great way to start

It’s best to use a reward-based training method and, if you can condition your puppy to a clicker that’s even better. There are a number of benefits to “clicker training” for your puppy.

  • The clicker provides a consistent sound to your puppy no matter who uses it. Remember, consistency and repetition is needed in good puppy training.
  • Unlike your voice, the clicker is a sharp, crisp non emotional sound that provides your puppy with a special and unique way to identify behaviors he performs (like sits and downs) that produces a food treat. For example, when your puppy sits, click then treat.

Follow these basic rules to keep the fun in training your puppy:

  • Be consistent in your obedience training.  Obedience train on simple commands like:  come, sit and down three times daily for no longer than 2 minutes and do it the same way every single time.  
  • It doesn’t really take much time out of your schedule.  Setting aside 2 minutes three times daily is a great start.  Puppies have a short attention span and will tire and get bored quickly. That’s why we keep it short.
  • Never, ever punish your puppy in any way, shape or form.  If your puppy does not obey a command simply say wrong in a neutral tone of voice and start again. It’s really that simple.
  • Keep your expectations in line with reality. Do not expect a young, 8 week old puppy to be able to hold a sit or a down for more than a few seconds.  
  • Be consistent with your command each time.  Pick one word and stick to it.  Speaking in sentences or multiple words will not be as easy for your new puppy to learn. One behavior – one command word.
  • Begin to train around relevant distractions. For example, if you always have a house full of kids, begin training your puppy around kids once he’s learned to obey his commands only with you.
  • For those of you that do not want to use a clicker, simply use your voice by saying, “Yes!” or “Good!” followed by a food treat when your puppy performs a command.

There is a lot to learn in training a puppy

If done correctly, it can be a process filled with fun – and obedience. This begins to set that strong foundation you will need to rely on when your new puppy becomes an adult dog.

The one message to take away is “consistently” set aside time every single day as described above to work your puppy.

These are just some of the basics that will help you get started on the right foot with your puppy.  Puppies are very smart and learn quickly, especially when they are taught from an early age.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you.   Don’t be a stranger.  Feel free to comment below.  I’d love to hear what you think.   

Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

If you’re stuck with puppy problems like jumping, biting, nipping, house soiling then head on over to Nose to Tail Puppy Training for easy solutions to getting a well trained puppy.

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

Control Your Dog Behavior

Control Your Dog Behavior

Trying to control your dog behavior can drive many owners to the end of their rope!

On the one hand we really like these descriptive qualities in our dogs: playfulness, high energy, high spirits and full of life.

However, when your dog doesn’t slow down and you can’t find the “off-button,” it becomes a lot less enjoyable as you try to control your dog’s behavior.

Learn to be proactive instead of reactive

Control Your Dog Behavior
I think it is natural as dog owners to get in, and stay in, the mode of addressing dog behavior problems as they come up. We stay in a reactive mode instead of becoming proactive.

It takes much more energy, emotions and time constantly correcting your dog’s bad behavior (being reactive) than to simply train the behavior you prefer (being proactive.)

Not to worry

Let’s not get bent out of shape just yet. It is possible to harness these wonderful abilities with sensible management of your wild dog and rid yourself of dog behavior problems.

He’s telling you that he has needs that have to be met. So let’s figure out a way to meet these needs in an orderly way with predictable pack activities.

Here’s the key.

Dogs thrive on predictable routines and schedules. In fact, making sure that your dog can predict when certain pack activities happen lowers his stress and anxiety. What are pack activities?

These are activities you do at the same time or with your dog like:

  • eating
  • sleeping
  • walking
  • training
  • playing and yes even
  • resting

Knowing when he is going to eat twice daily – just like going to bed at the same time daily — takes a whole lot of stress off your dog.

That’s why feeding twice daily is better than feeding once daily. It keeps him from getting hunger tension. Hunger tension is caused by his internal fuel gauge running on empty half the day and can complicate other dog behavior problems.

Good rhythmic exercise on daily walks will allow you to constructively manage his energy. It will also fulfill his needs as a dog: getting out and exploring with his nose. Add to this the predictability of when it happens and he’s even less stressed.

Obedience training is the foundation, and cure, for most dog behavior problems. If your dog has a well-disciplined sit, you’ve solved your jumping problem.

I’ve always recommended 3, two minute training sessions of sit and down a day to create mental fatigue and give your dog a sense of working for you – a job to do.

If you expand on that, assuming you’ve taken my advice literally, you can begin to train 2 minute sits three times a day. If your dog gets up put him back in the sit.

This may be something that you will have to build on in 30 second increments of time until you can get a 2 minute sit but the results will be nothing short of incredible.

Don’t forget to eventually add distractions around which your dog will be expected to obey.

Dogs come in kits

Someone once wrote that “dogs come down from heaven in kits”.

This “kit” comes just as you’ve placed your order:

  1. male or female
  2. pure bred or mixed breed
  3. young or old

But if you don’t look closely you might miss the fine print that says “some assembly required.”

When you open your doggie kit you’ll quickly find that you may be required to assemble, or shape, your dog’s behavior so that it works well in your home with you.

Often the dogs capable of the best work are the ones that are capable of becoming a wild out of control dog. But the beauty here is that this same dog, the one that was once an out of control dog, could be your shining star.

If you work it right and harness that energy, it could lead to a greater life together.

My Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your solution to going from a bratty dog to a behaved dog.  Grab them now.

Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

Small Dogs Need Training and Exercise

Small Dogs Need Training and Exercise

Believe it or not small dogs need training and exercise as well.

Let me say it again: Small dogs need training and exercise for their mental and physical health and well-being.

Not providing your small dog with enough house rules, obedience training and exercise sets your dog and you up for dog behavior problems.

These dogs can develop dog behavior problems quickly –sometimes more quickly – than big dogs.

The small dog behavior problems I see frequently are separation anxiety, house soiling, dog aggression and barking. Have I touched on a sensitive point yet?
Small Dogs Need Training and Exercise

What excuses have you used not to train your small dog?

Here are a few of the excuses I’ve heard over and over again. Let’s take a look at them one by one and bust these “small dog myths!”

He was so small I didn’t think he needed training.

As your dog ages and begins to claim a sense of entitlement of who is running the show, he may start objecting to your corrections as he assumes the position at the front door to ward off intruders (your friends). His bark – and bite – can be as painfully annoying as a larger dog – not to mention an embarrassment to you and other family members.

I didn’t think he was smart enough to train.

Boy, there is nothing further from the truth than this! This is funny because the last dog owner that said that to me learned the truth about her small dog in a very short barrage of questions and answers that went kind of like this:

Question: “How does your dog let you know he wants up on the couch with you?”
Answer: “He scratches my leg and I pick him up.”
Question: “How does your dog let you know he needs to go outside to potty?”
Answer: “Why, he barks, of course!”
Question: “How does your dog let you know when it’s time for his supper?”
Answer: “He does a cute little circle dance at mealtime and barks.”
As the light bulb came on over her head, I said with a smile, “If he’s smart enough to have trained you, then he’s smart enough to be trained by you. I rest my case.”

I just wanted a small dog to love and cuddle

Here’s the problem with this myth. If you let a dog age with no structure, no purpose and no sense of being except for your own personal needs, behavior problems may develop that you won’t like.

Fixing those behavior problems is like asking your dog to come off welfare, go to work and have a purpose. He will resent having to go to work and have a purpose. Now it’s time to do what’s best for your dog, not for you. It may be a struggle but it’s never too late to start making things right.

Dong it right from the start

Not training your small dog gives him the wrong perception of life at your home and who’s in charge. When dog behavior problems develop no one is happy.  It is usually a struggle to get your dog back to a balanced life of “learn-to-earn” everything with a “Sit!”

Many small dog owners think that obedience training and rules ruins an otherwise “easy lifestyle” and that they will be limited on the amount of what they perceive as shared affection.  

The fact is you should limit the amount of shared affection with your dog as much as you should limit the amount of ice cream you eat every day. The “too much of a good thing” theory has been proven many times over. There can be happiness in moderation.

Happiness is setting the rules up right from the start. Your small dog should earn everything — especially love and affection. It will pay big dividends in the future in the form of no behavior problems. Now that’s money in the bank because now you don’t have to call me!

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.  Do you deal with this situation in your house?

Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your solution to going from a bratty dog to a behaved dog.  Grab them now.

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

Dogs and Fireworks

Dogs and Fireworks

Dogs and fireworks can be a scary and tragic combination. How will your dog cope with this coming July 4th?  Is he a trooper like a hunting dog and not affected by the sound of fireworks or gun shots?

Or does your dog crawl into your lap or hide in the farthest and darkest corner of your walk-in closet?

Having a dog that has been properly desensitized to the loud sound of fireworks is one thing; however, dogs and fireworks are not a good combination in many homes. I think for most dogs and especially puppies, fireworks can be a scary and tragic combination.

Dogs and FireworksThe tragedy is that many dogs and puppies are left outside when the fireworks begin.

This can result in dog behavior problems like dogs digging or destructive chewing in dogs.

Worse yet, the overwhelming loud and scary noise can trigger their flight instinct causing dogs to escape from their back yard.

Many escape without dog tags or even a collar and are tragically lost forever.

If your dog is afraid of fireworks like my first dog Charlie was, there are many ways to ease your dog’s stress during fireworks.

This July 4th take steps to insure your dog is as safe as possible by doing the following things I found worked for Charlie:

Identification

Make sure that identification tags are on your dog. It’s the safe and right thing to do. In the event your dog does get out, he will be easily identified. I’ve always put my name and phone number on the tag instead of my dog’s name – for safety.

Preparation

Having a safe, comfortable and familiar retreat prepared at home for your dog to go to during the fireworks is important especially if your dog is fearful, nervous or anxious.

If you know your dog doesn’t like fireworks and you are going to be away, make sure where ever he stays, with friends or relatives, is as far away from the sound of fireworks as possible.

In further preparation for the fireworks, exercising your dog before the fireworks begin is a good way to constructively manage his energy. The less pent up energy he has to displace, the better.

Creating a calm dog with exercise will help him set his own mood for the evening.

Distraction

Distracting your dog with fun games like doggie puzzles or food dispensing toys can help take their mind off fireworks.

If your dog loves interactive games with you, then alternate a good game of fetch or tug-of-war with puzzles. Doing obedience training is also a good diversion from the sound of fireworks.

I found that playing Charlie’s favorite game of fetch was a great diversion for him. And with Charlie, if he was fetching, he wasn’t thinking about the noise!

Even if your dog already knows his commands, re-introduce high value food treats for 2 minutes of rapid-fire sits, downs, high-fives and roll-overs or any other trick your dog already knows.

Remember to keep training fun and upbeat as you repeat the drills 3-4 times throughout the evening.

Drowning out the sound of fireworks with music specifically designed to calm dogs is also a great idea. The book, “Through a Dog’s Ear” comes with a CD with just such music. Start this music before the fireworks begin to set a calm mood for the evening.

Thunder Shirts or Anxiety Wraps are designed to calm dogs by providing a swaddling comfort for your dog.

Communication

How you feel during the fireworks creates your energy. Your dog interprets your energy. Communicating calm energy better ensures your dog will be calm.

And with the exercise mentioned above, a tired, calm dog will be more receptive to a positive interpretation of your calm energy.

Once the boom and the bang of the celebration is over, your dog will be grateful for you having made it as much of a stress-free evening as possible. I hope you and your dog have a pleasant and enjoyable 4th of July.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you.   Don’t be a stranger.  Feel free to comment below.  I’d love to hear what you think.  

Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim’s Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your solution to going from a bratty dog to a behaved dog.  Grab them now.

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

Help Your Dog Beat the Heat

Help Your Dog Beat the Heat

If you don’t help your dog beat the heat, you may have big problems later. That would be a tragedy.

Help Your Dog Beat the HeatWe walked our three dogs today — mid-day — for a very short potty break only because the electricians were working in the already brutally sunny back yard.

The asphalt street and the concrete sidewalks were cooking hot – so much that our dogs were “picking them up and putting them down” fast to get on the grass where it was at least 15 degrees cooler on their paws.

This got me to thinking about the heat from your dog’s perspective, especially those with heavy coats.

There are three areas of concern where you can help your dog beat the heat:

  1.   Running/exercising your dog outside
  2.   Back yard dogs braving the heat
  3.   Doing errands with your dog in the car in the heat

Running/exercising your dog outside

It’s always good to hear that so many people take their dogs on a run with them. Exercise and obedience training is good for your dog and aids in preventing dog behavior problems.

However, use common sense when taking your dog out on extremely hot days.

Here are some tips that can help your dog beat the heat. Remember, he can’t speak to let you know his discomfort so be sensitive and smart for his sake.

Don’t run or exercise your dog outside mid day. Schedule your time early or late when it is cooler.  

Shorter runs are better.  Don’t require your dog to run miles with you in the heat.

I see it all the time at Memorial Park, the dog is struggling to keep up with its owner on those hot trails with all those cars going by.  Pay attention.

Carry water on your run for your dog and take frequent breaks for his sake. He wants to keep up with you and not disappoint you— so notice if he is struggling to keep up.

Remember his pads may burn on hot surfaces. Try standing on your running surface in your bare feet as a test.

Dogs can sunburn. If your dog has a short coat, be concerned about how long he is out in the sun.

Back yard dogs braving the heat

Don’t leave your dogs in the back yard in the heat unless you absolutely have to.

If that is the case make sure they have plenty of shade to get out of the direct sun and plenty of fresh water to keep hydrated.  

Having a wading pool (Wal-Mart kiddie pool) with 3-4 inches of water in it to cool down your dog as needed would also be helpful.  Keep this in the shade.

Older dogs, younger dogs, dogs that are overweight need to be kept out of the heat for sure.

Snub-nosed breeds such as Bulldogs (English and the Frenchie), Pugs, Shih Tzu’s – just to name a few, need to stay inside. You know that if it is in the mid-90’s in Houston, the “feel-like” temperature is triple-digit.

Running errands with your dog in the heat

My four words of advice on this: Don’t even do it.

When you run errands, leave your dog at home. I suppose if you had someone that could ride with you and stay in the car with your dog – engine running with the a/c on – it would be okay.

But never leave your dog in a parked and locked car – even with the windows cracked.  You will cook your dog. Don’t do it – not even just for a second. It only takes seconds to severely injure or kill your dog.

In summary

Know your dog so that you can more easily recognize when something is wrong. Your dog’s normal temperature should be around 101 degrees. Consider anything over 103 an emergency and get your dog to the vet.

And speaking of the vet, would you be able to call and locate an emergency vet clinic in a panic?

Keep your emergency information (vet phone number or an emergency vet number) handy and with you at all times just for such an emergency.

Last but not least: Learn the signs of heat stroke in your dog.

These include:

  •    excessive panting
  •    drooling
  •    rapid pulse
  •    fever

Cool downs and rehydrating are critical. Cool your dog down with cold towels or ice packs wrapped in towels and get your dog to your vet immediately.

Avoiding all the pitfalls of summer heat can keep your dog safe for years to come.

We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from.  I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this. Comment below, I’m here to help.

Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

If your dog is a brat, Ground Rules for Great Dogs will help you get him from bratty to behaved.

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

Stress in Dogs

Stress in Dogs

There can be many reasons for stress in dogs these days which can then create dog behavior problems you never would have expected.

Stress in Dogs

Dogs are simple animals but, simple things you might not think about, can create stress in your dog.  Stress can be physical or emotional in character or it can be related to the environment.

Pent up anxiety and tension from being stressed always surfaces as a dog behavior problem such as peeing/pooping in the house, barking, destructive chewing, biting etc.

I guess in a sense, a stressed dog is very much like a child who becomes stressed and acts out in some way creating a behavior problem. Neither the dog nor the child can tell you why, so you’re left to figure it out on your own.

I know if I were your dog, I’d want you to figure it out sooner than later.

So let’s look at this together. Understanding the root cause of the stress in your dog can, at the very least, help you minimize it for your dog or maybe eliminate it altogether.

To give you a better idea of what to look for lets break it down.

Physical

Physical related stress can be created from a number of causes:

Medical issues like a urinary tract infection, back and joint issues including hip dysplasia, recovering from surgery or any other undiagnosed medical issues.

Physical restraint or being mishandled could put a dog into defense drive (flight or fight) and on edge – especially around kids. This would include constantly being picked up or hugged too much and humans getting into a dog’s personal space all the time.

Lack of exercise; i.e. no walks or not walking long enough prevents you from constructively managing your dog’s energy.   He may then begin to manage it in a destructive way. Remember, a tired dog is a good dog.

Emotional

Too much unearned love and affection when you are home can really cause your dog to miss all that attention when you are gone. Now this lack of constant social contact with you can create a lot of anxiety for your dog.

When your dog becomes emotionally insecure in his relationship with you, he becomes frustrated.

Your dog may become afraid when he senses anger or hears yelling and screaming. This kind of emotional energy creates an unstable environment for your dog – creating anxiety and tension.

Another area of concern is boredom or a lack of mental stimulation. If your dog doesn’t get enough stimulation, it can cause or make worse a number of behavior problems such as hyperactivity, destructive chewing, licking, attention-seeking behavior, compulsive disorders and some forms of aggression.

Environmental

There may be things you do subconsciously every day or things that happen in your life that creates stress in your dog. Let’s take a look.

A simple break in your routine can cause stress in your dog. Let’s face it; dogs like structure and routine. Breaks in predictable activities like arrival times, walking time, feeding times and just hanging with your dog time can cause stress.

Working overtime at the office takes your time away from your dog. Working late means you get home late and it also means your dog’s eating and walking schedules are delayed.   

Dating someone new also means taking time away from your dog. Your dog may become concerned about having to compete for your attention with the new person in your life.

Short-cutting or skipping your dog’s routine walk altogether because you are in a hurry to go out can create anxiety. Remember, your dog has been waiting alone all day to do fun things with you.

A change in pack dynamics can have a drastic affect on some dogs as well if you haven’t already built in structure in his life.

Here are just some of the pack dynamic changes that can create stress in your dog: New baby arrival, weekend visitors, divorce or loosing a spouse, kids off to college (gone for semesters at a time) extensive home renovation for months, moving and even being crated too long.

In summary

I think occasional stress is normal for dogs as it is for us. When it is prolonged it can become chronic, taking an emotional and physical toll on your dog. Once you determine the root cause of your dog’s stress, you can take steps to minimize it or eliminate it altogether.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you.   Don’t be a stranger.  Feel free to comment below.  I’d love to hear what you think.   

Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim’s Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your solution to going from having a bratty dog to having a behaved dog.  Grab them now.

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
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Dog Behavior Gets Worse with Back Yard Blues

Dog Behavior Gets Worse with Back Yard Blues

Bad dog behavior can sneak up on you and before you know it, you’ve got a dog that is out of control. Sometimes innocent thinking on your part can be the culprit and you are not even aware you did anything.
Dog Behavior Gets Worse with Back Yard BluesYou may be thinking dogs love to be outside and my dog is fortunate to have a big back yard in which to play. This is where dog behavior problems can develop if you are not careful.

What do I mean by this?

A fenced in back yard can be a great playground for your dog as he enjoys a game of fetch or tug or maybe a great dog obedience session with you in the back yard as you begin his distraction training.

But – on the other hand, especially if he is an excitable type of dog.
His back yard activities can wind up causing dog behavior problems as he develops the “Back Yard Blues” trying figure ways to fill his time alone.

I have found that most problem-prone dogs are the excitable type. As barrier frustration (fences and gates) builds in the dog, it creates stress. The dog then begins to react to stress with outward behavior like barking and lunging.

Here are just a couple of bad dog behaviors very likely to develop once your dog gets the back yard blues.

Territorial aggression in dogs

Many dog owners are unaware that without structure, rules and boundaries in and around the house, their dog can develop territorial aggression in the back yard.

Here’s what can happen:

Many ongoing opportunities are available to a dog left in the back yard to rehearse this territorial aggression every day – even if only left out for an hour each day.

Opportunity is created to run the fence line and bark at the dog on the other side of the fence.

Dogs outside the fence have also been known to dig into a dog’s back yard providing opportunity for the home dog to challenge the intruder. Now you have a dog fight.

Many dog owners have iron gates across their driveway providing additional opportunities for their dog to bark and lung at people and dogs walking by the house.

Many times this behavior can then be transferred inside to include doorbell rings; thus fueling their aggressive behavior in the house.

Fear of kids

As you know, kids (not yours of course) often lack understanding about how to treat dogs and without their parent’s supervision, they can poke fun at a dog inside the gate or fence

Sometimes the badgering can get worse. A dog can bite a child or a child can harm a dog.

Barrier frustration can build up in the dog leaving the dog no options to relieve the anxiety except for barking, growling and lunging at the gate. This can eventually lead to fear of kids.
 

What’s the solution?

The solution is not complicated but will take a little time and thought on your part. The solution is in structure, supervision, obedience training and environmental enrichment.

Put structure in your dog’s daily life by requiring him to earn everything with a simple sit – even to go out in the back yard!

Supervise your dog’s activity outside. A supervised dog allows you to control his encounters to avoid these bad behavior opportunities.

If kids are present outside the gate or on the other side of the fence, remove your dog from the yard.

Train a top notch recall to come away from the gate or fence to your back porch or door using high value food treats at first. You may have to use a long line at first to reinforce the command.

Also remember that the repetition of simple sits and downs in and around the house can create a better listener in your dog and will eventually improve his come command.

Enrich your dog’s back yard environment with his own approved sand box in which to dig.

Lay a scent trail with dove or quail scent for him to find and follow.

Want more ideas? Check out this link to my article on environmental enrichment for dogs.  These environmental enrichment ideas are great for preventing digging and chewing on your patio furniture or other inappropriate things.

Keep in mind these ideas are not a substitute for exercise.

Plan routine walks with your dog as well and don’t be afraid to branch out to parks, nature trails or the beach when you can on weekends.  

Remember, your dog is a pack animal. He really wants to socialize with you so don’t leave him alone for long periods of time in the back yard.

We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from.  I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this. Comment below, I’m here to help.

Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your solution to an out of control, bratty dog.  Grab them now.

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

Living with Your Dog - Easier Than You Think

Living with Your Dog – Easier Than You Think

Has living with your dog become intolerable? Are you frustrated with your dog’s unruly behavior?

You may not be in the boat alone. Let’s hear from a few folks with new dogs in their home. See if these comments hit a familiar note.

Living with Your Dog - Easier Than You Think

One fairly new dog owner said, “Once he got used to life with me and got his confidence up, he started acting like a maniac in the house and on the leash when we walked and would see other dogs.”

Another said, “My new dog is awfully cute but a little too excited all the time, does not follow commands and seems to have a mind of his own when I want him to pay attention to me. Often I just feel like yelling at him when I tell him to do the same thing over and over again. It doesn’t work.

Everything seems so complicated and overwhelming.”

There is message from your bratty dog here:  he needs some structure and leadership.

Let’s take a look at how life with your dog can be easier than you think – and happen sooner than you think.

First things first

In both situations just mentioned, the dogs were off leash in the house allowing them to “call the shots” and do exactly what they wanted:  like take your stuff to get your attention, bark when you are on the phone or jump on the kids. You’ve probably got your own long list of bad dog behavior problems with your dog.

My first big tip: Put your dog on leash

I have found out how amazingly more compliant and responsible dogs become on leash in comparison to being disconnected from you, the owner. Using the leash in your home (when your dog is supervised by you!) begins to send a positive message to your dog that you are in charge and you can reinforce what you’ve asked of your dog.

Having a leash on your dog in the house at key, important times in the evening and on weekends – arrival of house guests, etc. is critical to a well-behaved dog.

Stay with me on this – you’ll be amazed!

By using positive reinforcement methods on leash, you gain the willing cooperation of your dog. Preferred behaviors eventually become strong, automatic responses.

Have a plan

Having a plan is important. It’s also important to take one behavior problem at a time and conquer it before moving on to the next one. Here is how I would lay it out.

One behavior problem at a time

I would take one behavior at a time. I would outline my goals. I would list the issues, what causes them and then, most importantly, decide what I would prefer my dog to do instead. Here’s an example:

Inappropriate behavior:     Jumping on a house guest
What’s the cause:             House guest or friend coming over
What behavior do I want:  Sit to greet or just four on the floor or go to your place

List each behavior like this so that you have a clear picture of your goals. The key is to  take them one dog problem at a time and work on them.  Dogs need to learn in the setting in which the behavior happens – and around relevant distractions.

With your dog on leash, do repetitive dog training exercises with as many different visitors as possible until you achieve the results you want.  This is where most owners “fall off the wagon”.  They will do this once, maybe twice, then quit.

If you quit, then the ongoing bad behavior is not the dog’s fault.

Be consistent in your training

Training your dog means being consistent in what you are teaching him to do. It takes about 6 weeks to get a behavior in long term memory as a permanent behavior.

Doing the grunt work so to speak, is part of the price you pay for a well-mannered pooch.

The good news is it won’t seem like work if you are organized, handle one thing at a time and work it into your daily routine. Dogs thrive on routines.

If you are faced with a more complex dog behavior problem, it’s always best to consult a qualified dog behaviorist or dog trainer with solid behavior experience, rather than chance making matters worse.

Bottom line

You will spend less time and energy teaching your dog to do what you want when you want it than using the same energy correcting your dog for his infractions. You both will be much more relaxed with rules and expectations.

In summary, leash your dog, train every day and provide your dog with consistent positive feedback for a job well-done when he gives you the behaviors you prefer.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you.   Don’t be a stranger.  Feel free to comment below.  I’d love to hear what you think.

Remember:  “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your road map to well behaved dog. Grab them now