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my dog licks

My Dog Licks and It’s Driving Me Nuts!

My dog licks constantly is one of many, frequent complaints from clients.  By the time I get the call or email, the owner’s tolerance threshold has been reached.  They are literally going nuts with their dog licking.

my dog licksIs it medical?

If you have an incessant licker the very first thing to do is to have your dog checked out by your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues such as allergies.

Once your dog is cleared of any medical issues, we have to look else where. A dog that constantly licks itself is stressed or anxious about something.

The problem may have started because of some frustration in the environment.  That means you doing your homework.  Do some soul-searching if you will, on what your dog is stressing about.

You don’t want the licking to develop into an obsessive compulsive disorder that will be more difficult to treat.

If you do your homework, you should be able to finish the sentence: My dog licks because he is stressed about (you fill in the blank).  Read on for a better understanding.

Stress in the environment

I’ve listed some of the most common environmental stressors you should consider. Think hard on this.   Can you honestly say, my dog licks because of:

Not enough exercise
Not enough mental stimulation
No structure in your dog’s life
Loud noises like sirens
Other noises like kids screaming and playing loudly
You frequently argue loudly, yell or scream

What’s the best way to get started?

Your corrective program should start from the ground up building a strong foundation of leadership for your dog by requiring him to earn everything. Make a list of all the things your dog can earn – even going outside to potty. Being consistent is the key.

Exercise your dog with walks every day. It’s a good buffer for stress. If he hasn’t gotten enough exercise by spending time outside on walks to explore and be a dog, this can be stressful for him. You owe it to your dog to satisfy his needs.

Mentally stimulate your dog with puzzles and games and have him earn part of his meals from a doggie food dispensing toys like a Bob-A-Lot from Amazon.com.

You can also create mental fatigue with rapid-fire sits and downs for 2 minutes then stop. Do this 3 times daily or more if you want. He will love you for it!

Family check

Do an honest check on family emotions to see if your energy or other family member’s energy is frequently off the charts. Do your best to acknowledge this as a possible contributing factor to your dog’s stress or anxiety. Licking is his way of internalizing his stress, instead of releasing that stress by being destructive in your home.

Do this – not that

Understand the value of redirecting his licking if he starts in your presence. Have acceptable chew toys readily available to which you can redirect his licking. You can also interrupt his licking with obedience training; that is, rapid fire sits and downs for 30 seconds to a minute.

The most important part of any corrective program is to locate his stressors sooner than later and be committed to putting structure and exercise (both mental and physical) into place consistently every day.

It may take as long as 6 weeks or more before you can say “my dog licks less” or has stopped, but my guess is you will begin to see improvement sooner.

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.  Do you deal with this situation with your dog?  Comment below with your frustration with this.

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

Jim Burwell, is Houston’s most respected dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 10,000 clients.  Jim takes the science of dog training and makes it work in your home with your family and dog.  He gives you the ability to get the same great behavior from your dog.

Bad Dog Behavior

Bad Dog Behavior Fix

Does bad dog behavior have you so beat down most days it seems you have totally lost control of your dog?

Bad Dog Behavior

Usually the culprit is an out-of-control bossy type dog or young dog with no boundaries, taking control of your whole house and everything in it.

Where Did It All Go Wrong

Before you find yourself thinking you need to join some kind of 12-step program that always starts off with:   “Hello, my name is John and I’m an owner of a really bad dog”, don’t throw in that towel just yet!

How about a short 3-step program in the privacy of your own home?

You won’t have to join anything or say your name.

It might take some soul searching and self-commitment to a slightly different way of life with your dog, but I think you’ll find it worth it when you take and use these steps to help change your dog.

Step 1: Start with the golden rule

Your dog has been controlling the system far too long and from your perspective, the system is broken. The system needs to be fixed.

The first step in fixing the system is to begin teaching your dog the golden rule, “You must give before you receive.”

That’s done by simply teaching your dog to sit for everything. Once you know he can sit, begin to extend the sit to 5, 10 and 15 seconds.

I know what you are going to say, “He knows how to sit but he won’t hold a sit! He’s always jumping back up looking for the treat!” Hold on, I’m going to tell you how to fix that too.

Step 2: Retraining the sit command

You just need to retrain the sit. Remember your goal. You want a sit and he wants a treat or a happy “good boy”!

The big difference is letting him know when he’s done what you ask.

How do you do that?
 
Simple!  You say, “Good!” right when his butt hits the ground. Then he gets his treat. Right now I don’t care if he gets back up after you say, “Good!”

Now here’s what makes the difference

Once you get a sit, slowly begin to pause two seconds before you say, “Good!” Then 4-5 seconds. Eventually wait 10 – 15 seconds before you say, “Good!”

Always praise and treat after random lengths of time for which he has been required to hold a sit.

By varying how long you wait to say, “Good!” you are conditioning him to understand that the sit isn’t over until he hears, “Good!” Bell rang, school is out!

Now you are teaching patience and tolerance. That’s the beginning of control.

To help you speed up your training, put your dog on a leash and step on the leash, just enough to keep him from jumping up.

You’ll discover that your dog will be more controlled and focused which allows you to more quickly achieve your goal.

Later you worry about other commands. For now we keep it simple – just a sit. Stretching it out to a longer sit is the key.

Step 3: Control everything in your dog’s life

Be stingy. Don’t give things out easily or too much at a time. Tough love you think? Dogs respect tough love. You are building a strong working relationship with your dog.

Bonus for you and your dog- Important

Most of these bossy dogs haven’t been out to new places with you because quite honestly, they are out of control and it’s embarrassing for you. It’s just not fun.

When he begins to listen to you, now you can show him you are in control in a different way. You’re in control of great new places to explore.

Frequent weekend day trips to the beach, parks or hiking trails will keep him challenged.

New settings will open his mind to wanting to learn over and over again with you. Don’t forget, make him sit to get out of the car – and back in of course.

He will soon want to be a good pack member to earn the right to go with you again.

Remember, you want a new dog and a new life.

So go and show off your new well behaved dog.  You both deserve that happy ending. It’s easier than you think!

When you’re ready to go further my Ground Rules for Great Dogs will take you step by step to a truly well – mannered dog.

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 10,000 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.

Dog Owners Have No Time

Dog Owners Have No Time

You dog owners have no time on your hands and are probably looking sheepishly at your dog knowing you should train.  No, you need to train your dog not to jump, bark or not do whatever unacceptable thing he’s been doing since you got him.

Plus you made the choice to get your dog, you made a commitment to “do the right thing” and teach him acceptable dog behavior. You just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  Sound familiar?

Well, the time has come

Even though at the end of the day you think, like many dog owners, you really don’t have time to obedience train your dog, you actually do have the time.

The funny thing is, the time has been there all along. It’s that snake! You just need to get organized to maximize what little time you have to easily train your dog.

Dog Owners Have No Time

It’s mind-blowing easy and I’ll prove it

“Easy is” simply writing down all the opportunities you have to sit your dog. I’ll get you started on your list.

Sit for food
Sit to go outside in the back yard to potty
Sit to come back in the house
Sit for love and affection
Sit for toys
Sit to get up on the couch
Sit to get his leash on for a walk

Now you can take my free list (the easy way) or you can make up your own.

“Easy is:” remembering to ask your dog to sit in each of these situations. Okay, I may be stretching it a bit but I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. I mean, we’re just getting started here!

“Easy is:” training while you sit in your recliner during a television commercial. Ask your dog to “Sit!” then “Take it!” as you play tug with your dog during commercial. Next, tell him to “Sit!” then “Drop it!” and hold on to the toy until the next commercial. Break a sweat yet?

Now don’t get up out of that chair because that would be hard. I want to prove to you that dog training is so easy it’s mind-blowing.

There’s one other aspect to your dog’s training that is “arm chair” easy as well. That’s what I call feed training. Simply take part of your dog’s evening meal ration, put it in a Zip-Lock bag and ask for sits and downs from your arm chair.

Additionally, as you see your dog doing something you like, reward him with a few kibble from the bag. The rest of it he’ll get in his bowl for his regular meal. You’ll actually have to get up to feed him his meal. Sorry about that.

Now, how easy was all of that? I told you it would be so easy it would blow your mind. You just have to write (the list) and remember (to sit your dog.) Be consistent as well. That is, do this every day and watch those bad dog behaviors disappear.  

Remember, you are the most important part of your dog’s training. Well, what are you waiting for, sit down and train!

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

Comment below with your frustration with this.

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

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 10,000 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.

Walking Your Dog

Walking Your Dog: Like Candy to a Kid

Walking your dog can be mutually beneficial for you and your dog and immensely improve his quality of life.

Everyone knows the benefits of exercise especially walking, is great. But do you really know why walking your dog at least twice daily is important? Walking Your Dog

Quality of life

I once read that a dog’s quality of life should encompass more than just providing his basic needs and absence of suffering. It should include the quality of his relationship with his environment and how he lives his life.

Your dog doesn’t have a choice in what he gets to do. He relies on you to take him for walks and provide him with opportunities to enjoy his life doing things he loves to do. His self-expression through his natural instincts.

Examples of this would include a hound dog’s natural instinct to track scent or a retriever honing his abilities to fetch and retrieve a ball, Frisbee or bird.

Dogs are working, thinking animals that need a job – a purpose other than sitting or sleeping all day long.

If you don’t have a hound or retriever, that’s not a problem. Obedience training works as a great way to say “good job” for your dog. Rapid fire sits and downs for two minutes is not only great exercise, it creates mental fatigue.

Remember, it’s not a substitute for outside walking. You still need to provide outside opportunities for your dog.

His world

So take him for a walk in his world. Provide your dog with boundless opportunities to do these things and more. Take that first step.

That first step means understanding more about his breed characteristics and instincts. In other words, know where he’s coming from and meet him there – in his world.

Your world

Also take your dog for a walk in your world – where he also lives. Include opportunities to have fun with you doing the things you do whenever possible. These would include (where appropriate) interacting socially around other people, children and dogs in all kinds of settings.

If you desensitize your dog to noise, traffic and public places like dog friendly restaurants, this will not only improve his quality of life, but also his chances of going more places with you.

Change is much more enjoyable

Walking your dog is better when you change the route and change the location. Reversing your regular route or even changing your route gives your dog a whole new perspective.

Remember, he’s not viewing the route as much with his eyes as he is with his nose.

Change locations by walking your dog at the beach or in a State Park near you. This is something that you might do on weekends as time permits. Not enough time to go to the beach or State Park? Most cities have hiking trails around the city. Weather permitting he would appreciate getting out with you in your world.

We know regular walking can lengthen and improve the quality of life for your dog. Having a walking buddy gives you a great reason to get out yourself and stay fit.

Who knows, if more dog owners took the time to walk their dog, they might not only loose weight but have Jay Leno changing his monologue about lazy, overweight Americans!

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 you have problems with your dog misbehaving and being a bit of a brat, check out my Ground Rules for Great Dogs.  

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.

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

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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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

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.