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What Your Dog Is Thinking Can Hurt You

What Your Dog Is Thinking Can Hurt You

You may not realize that what your dog is thinking can hurt you.

As often happens, your nurturing instincts kick in as you begin to do the things that you think your dog needs and also satisfy your needs in the relationship.

You were going to obedience train your dog but you got a little lazy in your relationship with him.

What Your Dog Is Thinking Can Hurt You

If you have a particularly bossy dog, he may be thinking he can manipulate the relationship by getting free affection and getting into your personal space anytime he wants without asking.

Before you know it, what your dog is thinking can hurt you.

Then one day it happens

One day your dog decides to growl at you when you come close to his food bowl at mealtime. If you are startled and jump back, then you have just reinforced growling because in your dog’s mind growling kept you at a distance from his bowl. It worked for him.

Growling, snapping or biting is not necessarily limited to controlling food. Your dog, as you may have already found out, can also guard space (beds, couches, chairs or space on the floor – especially space that leads to the bedroom.

It’s important to know that your dog’s intentions to guard things can be subtle at first.

Here’s an example.

If your dog steals something of yours and you reach down to take it away, he may raise his lips and growl saying, “Back off, it’s mine!”

It’s important to note that it may not stop at a growl. It could escalate to snapping or biting.

With these frequent demonstrations, your dog is reinforcing his leadership while denouncing your leadership.  He’s thinking he can make these decisions.

What your dog is thinking can hurt you if you don’t take steps to change this thinking.

What dogs need and want

Dogs need and want to be told what to do. They need to be told what to do everyday consistently so that their stress is minimized. Otherwise, they do what their instincts tell them to do.

It’s not complicated, a simple sit will do

If you don’t tell your dog to sit before giving him affection, then his instincts tell him he controls the relationship as he nudges your hand demanding attention.

If you don’t tell your dog to sit before coming up onto the couch, then his instincts tell him that you cannot control your resources (personal space is a resource.)

If you give your dog a command and he looks away (avoidance) his instincts tell him, as he is telling you with his head turn, he’s controlling the relationship. He chooses what to do or not to do on his terms.

Ask yourself this question: Who’s really in charge?

Your dog’s subtle and not so subtle ways of communicating one consistent message to you every day is telling you who is really in charge. And at this point, what your dog is thinking can hurt you.

It’s time for a change in your favor

Avoid these costly dog behavior problems by beginning  a program of change by using tactics that are non-physical and non-confrontational as you begin to develop a solid working relationship with your dog so that he respects your consistent daily leadership.

Put structure in his life by requiring sits for everything
Obedience train your dog to get him to respond to rapid-fire commands of sits and downs immediately
Exercise your dog with structured walks twice daily.
Control your personal space by requiring your dog to ask permission to come into your personal space
Require your dog to move rather than walk around him. Use a leash if necessary to accomplish this.

Doing these things will allow you to gradually take back your leadership relieving a lot of stress and tension in your dog’s life once more, or for the first time.

Remember, you have your work, your entertainment, and your friends. Your dog only has you and the relationship you create. He deserves equal time.

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

 

“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.

House Training: Stress in Older Puppy Causes Potty Training Failure

In their house training efforts dog owners think they are doing everything correctly, but often times other factors not even thought about, can complicate an otherwise good house training plan.

My clients purchased a 7 pound, pure bred female spaniel puppy at 6 months of age and called me 2 months later because they just couldn’t seem to make any headway in their house training efforts.

They reported that their puppy is peeing and pooping all over the house – even after they take it out and— it’s getting worse. You might say, “They’re at their wits end!”

Now at first blush, you would think that by 8 months of age, things would have been running smoothly. Not so with this couple.

Here’s what I discovered on the first visit:

  • Their puppy is being fed a little over a cup of dog food daily.  It only weighs 7 pounds.
  • They have an older small male dog, 10 years old that is getting beat up by the puppy (rough dominant puppy play only) so the owners keep the puppy in an exercise pen away from the older dog – to protect the older dog.
  • This is stressing the puppy out to the max by not allowing access to older dog to play and socialize.
  • They carry the dog around and hold it in their laps a lot.
  • Their puppy doesn’t earn anything.

My recommendations:

  • Reduce their puppy’s daily intake of food.  What goes in must come out!
  • Make sure the puppy gets out frequently. They are doing four potty breaks daily plus walks. Praise/treat for going potty in the right place.
  • Work on obedience training sits and downs 3 times daily for 2 minutes each plus earn everything.
  • Minimize lap time for a while. Give it back later if earned by doing sits and downs.
  • Engage both dogs in the daily training ritual of sits and downs with young pup on a 6’ leash to control her bully tactics with older brother. Praise/treat for neutral or positive behavior around older brother.

One month later:

No more potty accidents in the house.  Puppy is much happier with no stress to be seen as she can now perform sits and downs next to her brother without trying to steal his treats or bully him around. Can be called off when getting too rough with brother.

Now knows how to ring the bell to go outside.

We are now stretching time out of crate and more liberal access to limited parts of the house with owner supervision – and with a great deal of success.

While the puppy was being over fed, much of her stress/anxiety (and probably added to the house training problems) stemmed from not being allowed to play and interact with her brother.   Once I taught the owners how to referee the play activity, the puppy’s stress/anxiety went way down. She was clearly a very different and much happier puppy on my last visit.

This was clearly a win-win for everyone!

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

6 Easy Steps To Getting Your Dog To Stop Begging For Food

Stop Your Dog’s Begging for Food – 6 Easy Steps


 

Don’t feed your dog from the table in the first place if you don’t want begging

But if you’re reading this, you already have the problem of a begging dog.

 

Your dog begs at the table.  So many dog owners initially think it’s cute or just want their dogs to have “just a taste.”

Before you know it, you’ve created a monster — right there at your dinner table.

First – Here are 6 Quick Stop-Gap Steps To Break Your Dog’s Habit of Pressuring You for Food at the Table

  1. Avoid paying attention to or looking at your dog when you are eating. Paying attention to your dog will encourage the begging. You are setting him up to expect something.
  2. Tell every member of your family to quit giving your dog food from the table, food from the couch, food from the chair, food from the desk etc. He should only be eating food from his bowl.
  3. When you are eating, place your dog in a sit/stay or down/stay and have him remain there until your meal is finished.
  4. If your dog will not hold a sit or down stay and you want him in the room with you, then tether him to something unmovable so he can’t come over to the table. Of course, this means your dog is on leash and the leash is hooked onto something.
  5. Place your dog in his crate or if you have taught him to ‘go place” have him go to his place and stay there.
  6. Should your dog break his sit/stay, down/stay or place, calmly get up, return him to the stay position, repeat “stay” and walk away.

 

You Need to Understand the WHY So You Will DO the What

The process of fixing any dog problem should always begin with asking yourself a question like, “What would I prefer my dog to do instead of begging at the table?”

Let’s take a look at 3 different approaches to fix your dog’s habit of begging at the table

  1. The mechanical approach – detailed above
  2. Next is  the training approach
  3. My favorite is the behavioral approach

The mechanical approach to  begging

  1. Crate your dog away from the table. Give him a stuffed Kong toy (or other food dispensing toy). He can’t get to the table to beg
  2. Tether your dog away from the table  Again – Give him a stuffed Kong toy (or other food dispensing toy) He will focus on this instead of begging at the table.

The training approach to stop the behavior

  1. Train your dog to down/stay away from the table. This teaches him a stationary command so he doesn’t come over to the table to beg in the first place
  2. Train your dog to go to his place away from the table. Trains your dog to leave the area of the table and go lay on his bed so again, he won’t beg.

Feeding your dog appropriate people-food leftovers is perfectly fine. As long as the leftovers are placed in the dog’s bowl and the bowl is placed in his usual feeding spot AND he has to give you a sit before he gets anything.

The key here is to be consistent and patient. Food is of high value to a dog and if you’re trying to break behavior YOU created don’t blame the dog if it takes a while. You and your dog can break this bad habit together.

The Easiest and Best Approach to Consistently, Reliably Get Good Manners

This approach lets your dog figure things out on his own.

This is the best and most long lasting— BUT it does requires patience and commitment from both you and your dog to stop the begging from the table.

  1. Prepare your family’s meal and your dog’s meal at the same time. Leave your dog’s food bowl on the kitchen counter and eat your meal. The next step is critical at every meal.
  2. Ignore your dog and he will eventually stop begging because it no longer works
    1. Here’s what “ignoring your dog” means: all family members must not look at, talk to or touch the dog during mealtime
  3. Understand that his behavior may get worse before it gets better as you ignore your dog. This is where your patience is tested. If he is barking, he may decide to jump or do other annoying behaviors – Just ignore – no laughing, just eat and stick it out and it will eventually stop.
  4. Once you’ve finished your meal, put any table scraps you want your dog to have in his food bowl, get him to sit, then feed your dog.
  5. Be very consistent with this process every meal
    1. Some dogs figure out begging doesn’t work anymore and just wander off and lay down on their own.
    2. Others may choose to wait by their food bowl – the new best location to receive any table scraps if that was your option!
  6. Once he has stopped begging you then decide:
    1. If just laying quietly on the floor at the table is fine or,
    2. If you prefer him to settle down away from the table. It will be much, much easier to train going to place or down stay away from the table if you first stop the begging.

There you have it.  6 ways to get your dog to behave at  meal times. 

It’s always best to be pro-active rather than re-active when training your dog which is why I always teach you how to get the best behavior from your dog.  When your dog understands what he is to do and when he is to do it, – bad behavior is greatly decreased or eliminated.  You have a great dog who listens to you and enjoys doing the training.  It’s a win-win.

The key here is to be consistent and patient. Food is of high value to a dog and if you’re trying to break behavior YOU created don’t blame the dog if it takes a while. You and your dog can break this bad habit together.

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

(C) Jim Burwell

 

Your Dog Training Questions: Do I Have To Use Dog Treats Forever?

Jim,
How long do I have to use treats for training? I’ve been using treats since I started training my dog, but now I’m worried about my dog gaining weight.
– James, via e-mail

My Answer:

I have good news for you. You do not need to train with treats forever. here’s my take on using treats in dog training.

Many dog trainers say that using food treats (also known as inducement dog training) is not good because you always have to carry around food treats to get your dog to perform.  But what they don’t tell you is what they don’t know!

The truth is, treat dog training is a process of teaching with food at first, then weaning the dog off food treats so that he is performing for you without the treats!

The the “weaning off” part of treat training is what many owners overlook and they get stuck with a dog that will only work for food. Don’t let this happen to you. Start your dog on variable treating now. Here’s how.

Once your dog is successfully performing a sit, start treating only every other time, then every third time and begin to get 4 and 5 sits in a row and only treat after the second, third, fourth of fifth time – then off food treats completely.  This is called variable treating.

The key is to not have food treats in your hand.  Dogs burn an image or picture in their mind that the activity of “sits” or “downs” is something they do with you when you have a food treat in your hand.  Believe me, dogs can also learn the same concept with you without a food treat in your hand. Help them with this by leaving the treats in your treat bag, zip lock bag or on the counter until you are ready to treat.

Watch this video of me practicing “go to your place” with a dog. Notice that I am using variable treating and the dog still performs.

In summary:

  1. Reward with treats each time you shape a new behavior.
  2. Once you can anticipate the behavior, introduce a verbal command and hand signal and
  3. Begin variable treating with no food treats in your hand.

Keep up and the good work and good luck! Remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

(C) Jim Burwell 2011

Your Dog Training Questions: Should I Feed My Dog Once A Day?

Jim,

Should I feed my new dog once or twice a day?

My Answer:

As you know, the way you feed your dog is critical to dog behavior. This is especially true for puppies.

While some dogs do well with one meal a day, others do not. The difference is their metabolism rate which is affected by age, size, medical history and breed.  Also the amount of exercise he gets and even the temperature outside can affect his appetite.

Any sudden change in appetite can be serious, however. It’s best to talk to your vet if you notice a sudden or inexplicable change. My advice only concerns healthy dogs.

Something I have noticed with many puppy owners is a shift to once-a-day feeding as their puppy grows. This likely happens because dogs in the 6 to 18 month age range may no longer need growth nutrients like they did as puppies. At this maintenance stage of life, they require only half of the nutrients they used to.

As dogs enter this stage, owners can experience the dog turning up it’s nose at the morning or evening meal. Puzzled, the owner begins to think the dog only needs one meal a day when what it really needs is just half as much food.

One thing to keep in mind if you are feeding once a day, you may be inadvertently causing behavior problems in your dog. Why? If the dog is only fed once a day, he is left with an empty stomach for most of his waking hours. This could cause hunger tension which in turn can cause chewing, stealing food, begging at the table or pica (eating non-edible, non-nutritional things).

I recommend feeding twice a day, with your dog performing a “sit” or “down” at your command to earn each meal.

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

(C) Jim Burwell 2011

Dog Food: How You Feed Your Puppy Can Influence Calm, Good Behavior

When you are beginning to set boundaries for your new puppy, food and the controlled ritual of the feast can have a very significant impact on your puppy’s attitude and perception of his sense of place in the pack. Even if your puppy is a picky eater, the fact that you offered your puppy his food after you have eaten yours, can, along with working for food,(sit, down etc) help to have a calming effect, because it reinforces a confidence in consistent and repetitive structure (the same thing happens the same way). In addition to providing structure and expectations with the activity of eating, following are some good reasons to frequent feed (twice a day meals) instead of free feeding your puppy.

Frequent feeding is better. This is very helpful in house training a new puppy. Frequent feeding allows you to monitor intake and better house train your puppy. Knowing when and how much he ate can more easily be achieved with frequent feeding. Always feed a measured amount of food. With continuous feeding you never know when your pup has eaten and it’s harder to know when he has to go potty.

Easier to monitor if he is not feeling well. One possible red flag that your pup may not be feeling well is if he stops eating. With free feeding you cannot monitor his food intake.

Keep food guarding to a minimum. Picking up his bowl after each meal helps to eliminate the possibilities of food guarding. Continuous feeding allows your puppy to develop guarding instincts of his food bowl and the surrounding space. Don’t forget to pick up the bowl after 15 minutes.

Feeding time = training time. Take the opportunity to work on his earn-to-learn program by having him do sits and downs for his food. Puppies used to work for their food so keep up the ritual. With puppies, rituals endow security and, security builds confidence.

Kibbles as training treats. Use his food for training treats. Training him before he eats when his motivation is at its highest is best. He will begin to know you are important in his life because all good things are made available to him by you.

Reinforce your leadership. Take twice a day feeding schedules to show strong leadership. Eat first then feed your puppy. This is further reinforced by requiring your puppy to earn its food. By the way, an added benefit is that puppies that used to act frantically at mealtime begin to settle down and wait patiently for their food.

Here is another helpful tip for feeding puppies: Dry kibble can stay in your puppies system for up to 16 hours. Soaking the food for up to 10 – 15 minutes in hot tap water breaks down the binders softening the food. You puppies’ digestive track won’t have to work nearly as hard to digest the food to absorb more nutrients for better growth. It is very important for your puppy to get as much nutrients out of the food as possible. Another bonus is you will have less output to clean up. This soaked kibble will pass through his system in 5-6 hours improving your house training efforts.

Use mealtimes as an opportunity to work on leadership, training and appropriate behavior at a time that can be fraught with excitement, arousal and stress. Do not release him to eat until he is calm. Take advantage of this, be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as your are the teacher of your children- and remember . . . . “Opportunity Barks!”

Jim’s  Nose to Tail Puppy Training is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your puppy understands what you expect of him because you know how to teach him.  You empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.  The result – one awesome puppy and one happy family. 

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

Your Dog Training Questions: What High-Quality Dog Food Do You Recommend?

One of my dog training secrets is to watch what you feed your dog. Many dog foods have cheap, low-quality ingredients and “fillers.” It’s easy to understand how this could have a negative effect on your dog’s health, but many people don’t realize this can impact your dog’s behavior as well. That’s why I recommend only high-quality foods to all of my clients. I have blogged about dog food and behavior before, and one reader had a question that I’m sure was on many readers’ minds.

Your Question:

Jim,

Good advice as usual! Can you suggest a high quality food that doesn’t cost a fortune?? Would appreciate it! — Domino2

My Answer:

Domino,

The easiest place to find high-quality dog food is at PETCO — look for Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance, also Merrick dog foods and Prairie dog foods. Go to a Natural Pawz store, they have a great selection of high quality dog foods and they have great information. We just switched our lab to a grain free food to deal with his skin allergies. It’s called Instinct and it’s rabbit based for the protein and grain free. His itching stopped in less than a week and he LOVES it!

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

What’s YOUR dog training question?
Use the comments below to ask me.

Dog Behavior: Does Your Dog Beg For Food at the Table?

The very best way to stop your dog from begging at the table for scraps is – don’t encourage it in the first place. Simple right.You would think so. But so many dog owners initially think it’s cute or just want their dogs to have “just a taste”. Before you know it, you’ve created a monster—right there at your dinner table.

 

Feeding your dog leftovers (that are appropriate to feed ) is perfectly fine. As long as the leftovers are placed in the dog’s bowl and the bowl is placed in his usual feeding spot AND he has to give you a sit before he gets anything.

But if you’re reading this article, you already have the problem of the begging dog. So, here are a few tips to correct the behavior.

  1. Avoid paying attention to or looking at your dog when you are eating. Those soft brown eyes are hard to resist and looking at and paying attention to your dog will encourage the begging. You are setting him up to expect something.
  2. Tell every member of your family to quit giving your dog food from the table, food from the couch, food from the chair, food from the desk etc. He should only be eating food from his bowl.
  3. When you are eating, place your dog in a sit/stay or down/stay and have him remain there until your meal is finished.
  4. If your dog will not hold a sit or down stay and you want him in the room with you, then tether him to something unmovable so he can’t come over to the table. Of course, this means your dog is on leash and the leash is hooked onto something.
  5. Place your dog in his crate or if you have taught him to ‘go place” have him go to his place and stay there.

Should your dog break his sit/stay, down/stay or place, calmly get up, return him to the stay position, repeat stay and walk away.

Be consistent and patient with this. Food is of high value to a dog and if you’re trying to break behavior YOU started don’t blame the dog if it takes a while.

The best thing you can do of course is not begin to feed your dog from the table at all. Once again, practice setting your dog up to succeed, not fail.

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

 

How You Feed Your Dog is a Critical Element in Dog Behavior

Feeding time for your dog is a very high priority to your dog. Think about all the puppies and dogs out there, and how most of them spend their day. They’re just hanging out waiting for you to come home. A dog’s time at home provides few highlights. They wake up in the morning to pee and poop, eat their breakfast, see their owners off to work, bark at the mailman and potential intruders as well as other distractions.

Then in the evening, they greet their owners and the dog is fed again. When they are alone during the day, their boredom can be a growing source of tension which can cause them to be fraught with excitement, arousal and stress at the evening feed time.

Providing structure, incorporating leadership and training in all aspects of your life with your dog – especially when you feed your dog, can have a calming affect on your dog. Other benefits to be gained with feeding your dog on the twice a day feeding schedule are noted as follows:

  • With a frequent feeding schedule you better know when your new puppy has eaten thereby allowing you to better know when he needs to go potty.
  • Feed your dog a measured amount and don’t always go by the dog food company’s recommendation on how much to feed (they want to sell dog food).
  • Do not leave the dog food bowl down indefinitely with food in it. You don’t know how much he’s eaten or when he has to go.
  • It’s easier to monitor and know when he’s not feeling well. This is much harder to do if you free feed as you won’t know how much or when he last ate.
  • If you leave the dog food bowl down indefinitely, you are inviting your dog to decide to guard his food and/or food area.
  • Frequent feeding of your dog allows you to pick up the bowl shortly after you’ve put it down(5-10minutes) and there is less chance that your puppy or dog will develop resource guarding issues.
  • Frequent feeding provides two opportunities to work on food control, leadership and dog training. Require at least a sit before releasing him to go eat.
  • Prepare your dog’s food, leave it on the counter and sit down and have your meal. This strengthens your leadership by requiring your dog to wait until you have eaten. Follow this by having your dog do sits and downs for his food.
  • Soaking your dog’s food in hot tap water for 5-10 minutes prior to giving it to him can greatly enhance the digestive process allowing your dog to absorb more nutrients. Softer food takes less time (4-6 hours) to process. The can be a great benefit to your house training process.

Also, just as the saying goes “we are what we eat”, the same thing applies to your dog. Buy a high quality, nutrient rich dog food that has good protein sources. You can not find this type of food in a regular grocery store. The first ingredient should not be corn. Do your homework and learn about quality dogs foods. It not only is beneficial to the health of your dog, but the more junk carbohydrates you put in your dog, the more likely the dog is to have behavioral issues. Junk carbohydrates turn to sugar, just like in kids.

You should be as selective about the trainer of your dog as your are about the teacher of your children. Our specialty is behavior modification in dogs only using positive reinforcement. Please learn more about training at our website and remember Opportunity Barks!

 

Feeding A Dog – The Feeding Ritual

Feeding Your Dog

Feeding Your Dog

How you feed your dog – the feeding ritual is important.  Whether you are just beginning to set boundaries for a new puppy, or a recently adopted shelter dog OR are just now setting boundaries to improve behavior in your older dog, how you feed your dog  can have a significant impact on your dog’s attitude.  It can also impact his perception of his place in the pack.  In addition to providing structure and expectations with the activity of eating, following are some good reasons to frequent feed (twice a day) instead of free feeding your dog:

  • Frequent feeding is better.  This is very helpful in house training a new puppy.  Frequent feeding allows you to monitor intake and better house train your puppy.  Knowing when and how much he ate can more easily be achieved with frequent feeding. Always feed a measured amount of food.  With continuous feeding, you never know when your pup has eaten and it’s harder to know when he has to go potty.
  • Easier to monitor whether he feels well.  You’ll know the instant he goes off his food as a possible indicator that he is not feeling well.  Impossible to do with free feeding.
  • Food guarding opportunities kept to a minimum.  Picking up his bowl after each meal helps to eliminate the possibilities of food guarding.  Continuous feeding allows your dog to develop guarding instincts of his food bowl and the surrounding space.  Don’t forget to pick up the bowl after 15 minutes.
  • Feeding time = training time.  Take the opportunity to work on the earn-to-learn program by doing sits and downs for his food.  Dogs used to work for their food before domestication – so keep up the ritual.
  • Kibbles as training treats.  Use his food for training treats.  Training him before he eats when his motivation is at its highest is best.  He will begin to know you are important in his life because all good things are made available to him by you.
  • Reinforce your leadership.  Take twice a day feeding schedules to show strong leadership.  Eat first, then feed your dog.  This is further reinforced by requiring your dog to earn its food.  By the way, an added benefit is that dogs who used to act frantically at mealtime, begin to settle down and wait patiently for their food.

Use mealtimes as an opportunity to work on leadership, training and appropriate behavior at a time that can be fraught with excitement, arousal and stress.  Do not release him to eat until he is calm.  Take advantage of this and remember…..”Opportunity Barks!”

Jim Burwell, founder Jim Burwell’s Petiquette