Dog Behavior: What Not To Do With An Anxious Dog

When dogs are anxious, many people innocently begin to try to calm or soothe them by petting their dog. Although this may seem the proper reaction,for an anxious dog,  it actually enforces the anxiety. Your words, voice and attention actually make the dog feel that being anxious is okay. So, how do you avoid this, and help your dog become a relaxed, happy dog? The best solution is to reward your dog for being relaxed. When he is relaxed and you reward him with a treat, or perhaps a favorite toy, the more they will begin to be more and more relaxed in general. This requires help from the entire family if you really want to help your dog overcome his anxiousness. It will also benefit your dog, in general, if you teach him basic commands such as “sit” and “stay”. This way, when he performs a command well he will be rewarded – but ONLY when he performs.

By having your anxious dog perform these commands often, then rewarding with treats and attention when he shows a relaxed appearance, this will instill even more calmness in him, so that he can become less anxious. You can also do a routine of these commands during an anxious time for your dog to have his mind concentrate on a non-threatening stimulus. As time goes on, your dog will begin to relax quickly when he performs a “sit”. When you can see that this is happening, it will be easy for you to command this behavior as soon as you notice he is becoming nervous. Practice having him do a “sit” or “stay” before he gets anything he really enjoys such as food, treats, grooming, walks, or playing with favorite toys. When he gets to where you have no problem with him obeying, you can feel comfortable knowing that in situations that cause him to feel anxious, a simple “sit” will relax him.

You can also practice what’s called the jolly routine. When your dog becomes anxious engage your dog in an activity he enjoys and have a happy tone in your voice. What this does is take the dog’s mind off the stressor, places his attention on you and the fun thing you are doing. It is difficult to not give your dog attention when he is feeling anxious, but it really does more harm than good. By talking in a sweet voice, doting and trying to calm him, you are only further instilling anxiousness because you are now appearing as less of a leader to him. In other words, you are letting him know that it is okay to be anxious.

Teach him, using the tips above, and you will soon have a very relaxed, happy dog! Remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

Is Your Dog Chewing You Out of House and Home?

Maybe you have a new puppy who chews or gnaws on everything in site? Typical right? Yes, but it’s also not necessary. Or maybe you have a grown dog that still chews everything. This can get rather expensive.

Puppies chew initially because of teething but very rapidly they chew because they’ve LEARNED to chew your stuff. Adult dogs will chew because they’re bored and also because they too have LEARNED to chew your stuff.

The best way to not have a dog that chews is to teach an alternative behavior from the very beginning of your dog’s life with you.

  • As a puppy you must teach your dog to differentiate between his stuff and your stuff. When your puppy grabs something of yours and begins to chew, do, a simple, non-emotional, no yelling, NO, OFF, remove the object and replace your object with something that is ok for the puppy to chew. But I’ve done that you’re saying and it doesn’t work. The secret is to not make a big fuss over the puppy or dog chewing the wrong thing, but make a big fuss over the puppy or dog chewing the RIGHT thing. Never, never hit a dog for chewing an inappropriate item. The more emotion and interest you put on the wrong item, the more interesting it is to the puppy or dog.
  • Set your dog or puppy up to succeed, not fail. Puppy and dog proof your house until they learn not to chew your stuff. If you leave shoes, tv remotes, kid’s toys all over the place before the puppy or dog understands not to touch, then you are continually setting the dog up to fail and you are consistently promoting learned behavior you do not want.
  • Look at how you are managing your dog’s energy. If you don’t walk your dog and the only way the dog gets rid of it’s energy is by playing in the back yard or being rowdy in the house then you get out of control behavior. If your dog uses up energy outside with no one out there to supervise behavior, the dog does not know that the outside behavior is not okay inside. Walking is important to dogs, a great way to constructively manage the dog’s energy AND if you do your walk correctly, a great way to practice your leadership role with your dog.
  • Leadership role is crucial in having a well balanced dog. Lack of leadership can cause anxiety in your dog and anxiety is handled by your dog in chewing, barking etc.. Chewing takes their mind off their anxiety.
  • Also what your dog or puppy is allowed to chew on must be interesting, fun and taste good. Not a dry bone, a rubber toy without any type of treat stuffing or interactivity that intrigues the dog.

Dogs are very much like children, they have to learn to behave appropriately. Good leadership, patience and setting your dog or puppy up to be successful takes work, but in the long run a lot less work and aggravation than not teaching your dog.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, Opportunity Barks!


House Breaking A Puppy – The 3 Things You Don’t Know

One reason people find it difficult to train and house break a puppy is that the puppy has absolutely no idea what the owner is trying to teach. And, many times, the owner’s expectation of the puppy is beyond what the puppy is capable of at that certain age. This communication gap is never more painfully obvious than in house breaking a puppy. It can be a very frustrating process. It doesn’t have to be, but sometimes there are those puppies that are difficult to house break. Many people will say, “I’m doing all the right things” or, “I’ve read a whole stack of books” and the bottom line we keep getting back to with some puppies is, “House breaking this puppy” is difficult – or at least so it seems – but in reality, they’re generally overlooking some very simple “tricks of the trade” to house break a puppy. There are many factors that impact house breaking a puppy. None of them can be viewed separately as they all work together. One component most puppy owners do not consider is the impact that nutrition has on house breaking a puppy. What kind of food, how much and how it’s prepared can heavily impact how quickly you can house break a puppy.

1. Step one is to feed a high premium, nutritionally balanced diet to your new puppy.

Tip: Inexpensive dog food is chocked full of artificial preservatives, dyes, bad fat and low grade carbohydrates used as fillers. You can not purchase high quality dog or puppy food in a grocery store or a big box store. They don’t carry high quality foods. Tip: Keep your new puppy on the breeder’s food for at least 4 days once home. Any change in diet should be done gradually to prevent digestive problems and any related house training issues. Tip: When you are ready to begin switching to your high quality food, begin using this formula: day one – 3/4 old food, 1/4 new food; day 2 – 1/2 old food, 1/2 new food; day three – 1/4 old food, 3/4 new food and finally on day four – all new high quality food. If at any point your puppy develops a soft stool, simply go back to the previous day’s formula until you get a firm stool.

2. How much you feed is important. Many people over feed their puppies and in fact, leave the food bowl down all the time so that the puppy can free feed.

Tip: The quantity they tell you to feed on the bag of food is not set in stone. Be flexible and adjust to your puppy’s appetite and weight. Too much food and you will have a puppy with loose stools. Tip: Puppies have a very difficult time or simply can not control loose stools resulting in accidents for which they should not be blamed.

3. Developing a regular and consistent feeding schedule is important.

Tip: Keeping your puppy’s feeding schedule consistent on weekends as you do on week days is critical. Once you have the diet correct, there are other components you will need to put into your house breaking routine. These include:

  • How to be proactive in teaching your puppy to be house broken instead of being reactive.
  • Understanding the importance of the crate in house breaking your puppy.
  • Teaching your new puppy where not to go is the final part that completes the process.
  • Remember that throughout this process avoid any and all punishment of your new puppy

Again, always set your dog up to be successful. Give your dog what he needs and he will give you back years of wonderful companionship and love.

Need help now???  Check out our puppy training course.  You’ll think I’ve moved in with you 🙂

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

Dealing With Dog Aggression When Walking on a Leash

Over the years many clients have initially come to me because of dog aggression when walking on a leash. Interestingly, many of these dogs were not, in fact, aggressive – their behavior was simply a result of the dog perceiving the owner’s anxiety. The first step in curbing any negative behavior in dogs is dog training, and lots of it. I cannot overemphasize the critical nature of training in order to establish yourself as the pack leader, and subsequently teach your dog to respond to basic obedience commands. Only after you have mastered these two phases, can you expect your dog to respond to you (and trust you) in potentially fearful or unknown situations. After basic training, aggression when walking on a leash can be evaluated properly by the owner and effectively addressed.

Assuming your dog has successfully completed basic obedience training, the first step is to have confidence in your handling skills, leave your anxiety at the door and understand that as long as your dog is on a leash the situation is controllable. IF your dog is well-trained, some ideas to curb dog aggression when walking on a leash include:

  • Ask the other dog owner if their dog is friendly and if so, let them interact. A good way to do this is to allow your dog to approach the other dog from behind for a little backside, get-to-know-you sniff. This is the best non-aggressive hello in dog-language.
  • Alternatively, keep on walking and pass the dog by, or put your dog in an obedience command of sit and stay (at a safe distance) while the other dog passes. Both of these communicate to your dog that you are in control of the situation, and they need not worry. This also helps with familiarity, so that passing another dog on a leash becomes a regular occurrence.
  • Take the opportunity to train your dog with other dogs around (when the environment is safe), and begin to reward your dog for neutral or positive behavior around other dogs. Anything short of good behavior requires a stern OFF, then call your dog to you, get a sit, and then send your dog to interact once more.

With the above suggestions, repetition is key, especially around other dogs/distractions. If you are not having success in consistency, and/or if your pet continues to struggle with aggression while walking on a leash, I recommend that you see a positive reinforcement trainer in your area, being sure to work on distraction training.
Again, always set your dog up to be successful. Give your dog what he needs and he will give you back years of wonderful companionship and love.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”