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Petting gets Wetting: Submissive Urination in Dogs

Petting gets Wetting: Submissive Urination in Dogs

Submissive urination in dogs can become a constant source of frustration and embarrassment to many dog owners who have a dog with this dog behavior problem.

That’s what prompted one frustrated dog owner to give me a call.  She thought her dog was doing it on purpose.  My first step was in helping her to understand what was going on with her dog; then teach her the steps to fix it.

Petting gets Wetting: Submissive Urination in DogsI thought this would also help a lot of you out there who have a dog with submissive urination.

Let’s Define Submissive Urination

Submissive urination is a dog’s uncontrollable urge to urinate when approached by another dog or human. It is totally different from a puppy’s urge to urinate out of excitement when greeted. Puppies usually always outgrow this behavior problem on their own.

Dogs that submissively urinate when approached are not doing so on purpose. They are merely submitting to what they view as a more powerful dog or in their eyes, an intimidating person.

Submissive urination in dogs is a behavior problem that needs to be corrected using positive steps and with positive reinforcement training.

First things first – fact-finding

If you have a dog that consistently wets with pets, look back at past occurrences and ask yourself the following questions:

•    Does it happen when you get home from being away?
•    Does it happen when you or someone else is facing your dog?
•    Does it happen when you or someone else leans over your dog?
•    Does it happen when you raise your voice or punish your dog?
•    Does it happen when you get excited?

Your mind set, energy and emotions

Preparing yourself to tackle a problem like submissive urination can be challenging.

You must understand how your dog interprets your energy and actions.

Your internal energy, whether good or bad, impacts your body language and actions.  Your body language and energy feeds information in a non verbal way allowing your dog to sense your intentions.
 
Outwardly expressing calm energy to your dog brings him a sense of safety, peace and comfort.

Without worrying about your intentions, he then becomes more receptive to your training. By you staying in a calm state of mind, whether you are training or not, tends to set the stage for your dog’s success.

If you can identify the cause of the submissive urination, the problem can usually be cleared up in about 6 weeks depending on the severity of the problem and your skill in handing the program.

Remove any and all threatening signs

Remove any and all threatening signs that would cause your dog to submissively urinate. These would include:

•    Direct eye contact
•    Hand over head
•    Excitement at homecomings, etc.

Correcting the problem – first find a starting point

The objective here is to know where your dog’s trigger point is on submissively peeing.

In other words, at what point does he pee:

•    at some point when he is approached,
•    not until you bend over him or just as you begin to pet him.

What You Must Do

If your dog pees when you or anyone approaches, do not approach your dog. Instead, let your dog come to you.

If your dog comes to you and he seems under control, pet him lightly under the chin briefly but do not talk to him. If he pees, withhold petting for about 4 more days and don’t look at, talk to or touch your dog during this time. This is critical in keeping him successful.

Now begin to click/praise/treat for each successful and closer approach to you without submissively peeing. If you praise, do not praise to the point of excitement, keep it low-key.

You should not be petting at this point. Treat after you click/praise.

Condition your dog to understand that your click or praise means “exercise over,” “you did it!” and follow that with a treat.

Begin extending the length of time he stays before clicking/praising so that you build on the length of time he stays upon approach without peeing but still without petting.

Gradually add petting briefly without talking. Then eventually add a calm, brief “Hello” to the brief pet.

Once you have been successful with just you for a week, begin to add visitors but require them to go through the same process with your dog.

If at any point your dog makes a mistake, do not punish. Instead go back to a step in the process where he can succeed and stay there until his confidence and success builds. Then slowly move forward.

Throughout this program remain calm, patient and understanding. Your dog will sense your mood, become relaxed and things will progress more quickly.

Once your dog can successfully approach you without submissively urinating, begin a program of obedience training your dog to come, sit and down 3 times daily just for two minutes as a way of building confidence and following your lead.

All dogs need to understand rules, personal space boundaries and what their owners expect from them. Your submissive dog is no different. Setting Ground Rules for your dog will lower his stress and reinforcing you as a strong role model. With your dog problem fixed it becomes a win-win for you both.
I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.  Do you deal with this situation in your house?  Let’s talk about it.

“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.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog.  Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.

Loving Your Dog Too Much --Truth and Consequences

Loving Your Dog Too Much –Truth and Consequences

Loving Your Dog TOO Much?

 

Truth be told, loving your dog is one of the best things you can give to your dog.

However, there can be dire consequences for loving your dog too much. Have you ever gorged on too much ice cream and regretted it later? That’s dire consequences! In other words, a little goes a long way.
Loving Your Dog Too Much --Truth and ConsequencesWhen it comes to your dog though, the concept of “a little love goes a long way” is difficult at best to put into use. Loving your dog too much can bring dog behavior problems to your relationship. You may not see it today or tomorrow but I see it every day as it begins to show its ugly face in many homes throughout the city.

Loving Your Dog Is Important – But Can Cause Dog Behavior Prolems

I think the number one reason people get dogs is for companionship. And typically, you’re thinking immediately of what you want. You want a dog to love – to be your constant companion and devoted listener. And you want what all dogs have to give us – unconditional love.

Dogs help us to de-stress from a long, tense day at work. Less tension is better, right? As you rock along getting all that relief from your dog by satisfying your own personal needs, behavior problems are developing with your dog. Dog behavior problems surface and instead of your tension lessening, our tension begins to accelerate to the breaking point.
 
With no structure or leadership your dog defaults to his natural instincts which surface as symptoms (dog behavior problems.)

Here are some behavior problems that could happen or, may already be happening with your dog

  • Separation anxiety brings on destructive chewing
  • House soiling in older dogs
  • Resource guarding everything from food, to space, to you— with aggression
  • Not coming when called
  • Attention-seeking behaviors like barking when you are on the phone

If you could rewind the events leading up to the dog behavior problems that have now surfaced, what could you do differently to prevent the behavior?

The bad news is there is no time capsule. You can’t go back in time and do things differently to prevent the behavior.

The good news is “it’s not too late to change it now.”

The price you pay will be in the difficulty of the change.

If you catch it sooner than later, positive changes can happen more quickly. If you don’t catch it until much later, it may take a little more time but you can fix your dog behavior problem.

The key is in understanding what you did to cause the behavior in the first place. Addressing the cause (not the symptom) will prevent the problem from reoccurring.

Addressing the cause of the Dog Behavior

Let’s say you fix your house soiling problem by following the guidelines of a training program designed just for that problem. Your house soiling may reoccur unless you understand the cause of the problem.

The cause is usually (barring no medical issues) insecurities acquired by not providing enough structure and giving your dog too much love and affection at the wrong time. Unless you eliminate the cause, your house soiling problem will resurface.

Remember, it’s not giving up love and affection; it’s just getting and giving the love and affection differently. How so? Let’s see.

Structure for your dog

Another way to give love and affection is to provide your dog with an opportunity to train with you. This not only begins to provide structure but gives him a job to do for you.

Implement a “Sit for everything” program for your dog in your home. Believe me when I say, “He will absolutely love it!” Why? Done repetitively and consistently it creates a genuine desire to want to interact with you as he does his dog obedience command.

At the wrong time

Always give your dog love and affection when they have done something to earn it, not when they ask for it.

A different kind of love and affection

Many parents give their children iPhones, iPods, iPads and even cars as a token of their love.  

What does your dog love?  Your dog loves to walk and explore with its nose. Give your dog frequent walks in different locations. Knowing that you can make trips to the beach, park or city hiking trails happen, will excite your dog and go a long way to changing his perception of your relationship.

Remember too that changes like these should be lifetime changes, a real commitment to a different and better life with your dog. Learn to love the truth about a better relationship and avoid the consequences of an unstable relationship.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you.   Don’t be a stranger.  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.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog.  Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.

Dog Behavior: Stop my Dog from Begging

Dog Behavior: Stop my Dog from Begging

This particular dog behavior problem is more common than you might think.

I usually get a call from someone with an ultimatum like, “You gotta stop my dog from begging today, I’ve got company coming this weekend!” Suddenly it’s a crisis!

Dog Behavior: Stop my Dog from Begging
Out of control!

In most cases this particular dog behavior involves one dog that does this nuisance begging. In this case however, it was a husband and wife with six dogs. Count them, six dogs.

To make matters worse, this behavior had been going on for years. How many years? Nine years to be exact.  Who’s the guilty party? The wife points the guilty finger at the husband and of course he says she’s just as guilty of contributing to their dog’s begging addiction.

I stay out of the middle of that for sure. In conversation I also find out that there are other “entitlements” all the dogs have claimed as well.

It’s the usual laundry list of behaviors like charging me at the front door for example. It’s not like they are big dogs that will knock you down. They are little dogs, 12 – 15 pounders. But boy do these dogs bark at the door. What a racket!

Another big entitlement for their dogs is free access to all the furniture. Now before you get your hackles up, being on the furniture is okay at our home but it’s done with rules.

In this home there is no respect for personal space at all. The second the owner sits down, it’s like that’s the dogs cue to jump in their lap.

The reason I bring these additional behaviors up is that every issue these folks have in other areas begin to foster the bad begging behavior at the kitchen table. It just kept fueling the fire and keeping it hot. It became routine and habit for the dogs.

It’s like painting your house

It’s like painting your house. You can’t just paint one room. To really have well-behaved dogs you really should be consistent and look at all the issues and set proper and consistent personal space boundaries, rules and expectations.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen

I could tell that they were really overwhelmed with the thought of “where to start.” It seemed like such a daunting task. I suppose it could be unless you clearly understood a basic fundamental concept that is very easy to implement. The most difficult task is to be consistent. But consistent in doing what?

Nothing

I told them I didn’t want them to do anything at all. See, they thought this was going to be very difficult until I said, “Nothing.”

The plan

I explained the fundamental concept of getting rid of their dog’s bad begging behavior step by step. I laid it out in three simple steps.

    Stop feeding your dogs from the table. Period. Stop it. All you do is eat your meal.

    Do not look at, talk to or touch your dogs while at the table. Just eat your meal.

    Do this for 6-8 weeks

Here’s the thing. If you ignore the behavior, it goes away. But it’s a process and I’ve found over the years that if someone knows the process and what to expect, they are not as stressed about doing it. So I explained it to them like this:

    Ignore the begging and it will go away – especially if it no longer works for the dogs.

    Be prepared to ignore the begging a long time – like 6-8 weeks. Remember, they have been doing this for 9 years!

    Be prepared to see other behaviors crop up, like barking or pawing your leg for the attention and food they used to get. Ignore it and it will go away, eventually.

    Once you make the begging go away, don’t be surprised if it raises its ugly head again some where down the line. Ignore it and it will finally go away.

So see, if you do nothing, you fix your begging problem. The hardest part is not looking at, talking to or touching your dogs. Period.

A bonus for the dogs

Here’s something this couple did that I thought was clever. All the food they used to give their dogs from the table was put onto an empty plate located on the table between the couple. At the end of the meal, the dogs got the “begging scraps” in their bowls (after a proper sit of course) once the table was cleared. Now, everyone’s happy!

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you.   Don’t be a stranger.  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.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog.  Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.

Is Your Runaway Dog an Unhappy Dog

Is Your Runaway Dog an Unhappy Dog

I can’t understand why my dog has become a runaway dog!

Typically there are a couple of reasons why your dog is trying to escape and runaway:

• He either wants to get somewhere or
• Get away from something.

And chances are, he’s done it before if he’s still trying to escape

Is Your Runaway Dog an Unhappy Dog

Many dogs try and escape the sounds of ultrasonic bark gadgets or the boredom of constant isolation. Others may just have a strong urge to roam free if they don’t get proper walks and exercise to hunt and explore with their owners. Then you get your runaway dog.

Male dogs might have picked up the scent of a female dog in heat and have been lured down that path! And sometimes it is just the excitement of neighbors and dogs passing by.

First things first

You must prevent your dog from running away while you are working on the problem. This could mean keeping your dog indoors and only allow your dog to go outside on leash with you.

Checking your fence line and gate to make sure there are no known holes, weak boards or other ways out is critical as well.

If you typically have left your dog in the back yard while at work because you don’t have the time to come home during lunch to walk your dog, then you may have to hire a dog walker in the interim so that you can keep him safe inside.

What’s next?

There are a number of things you now must do. Let’s take a look.

1. Finding and getting rid of the cause of him being a runaway dog is next, and that’s the key.

2. Re-think your dog’s environment

3. Reshape your dog’s behavior indirectly

Find and get rid of the cause

Now I’ll have to clarify this as sometimes it is impossible to remove the cause. Here’s an example.

I had a client with a small escape artist I will call Eddie. I’m changing the names to protect the innocent. Eddie got out of the back yard at least once a week for a couple of weeks. We found out later that Eddie, even at his small size, was a climber and had been scaling the 3’ chain link fence. He left the neighborhood, crossed a busy esplanade (6 lanes of traffic) and always wound up inside a Walgreen’s Drug Store of all places!

Fortunately little Eddie had his collar on and the manager would call his Mom and she would take him home and crate him for the duration of the day. Now she didn’t ask what store isle he favored, she was just glad he was safe. 

Re-thinking Eddie’s environment

In Eddie’s case, there was a 10’ section of 3’ chain link fencing he was climbing over. So we got some clear Plexiglas and cut it to fit just under the top rail of the 3’ fence and completed the installation by securing the Plexiglas to the fence with some turkey ties (used to group tie wiring together). Now Eddie couldn’t get a grip to climb.

The next thing we did was to see how we could enrich Eddie’s environment by rotating things for him to do when Mom was away at work. Here’s a list of some of the different things we did for Eddie:

1. Created his own sand box to dig in ($9 plastic pool from Wal-Mart) and rotated different things for him to dig up and find.

2. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we decided to lay scent trails with dove/pheasant scent we purchased at Cabelas on-line.

3. On Wednesdays and Fridays we shot-gunned the yard with slices of carrots/diced apple.

Reshaping Eddie’s behavior indirectly

This probably had the biggest impact on Eddie because it required his Mom to focus on “their” relationship. Here’s what I had her do.

1. She put more structure (rules/expectations) in Eddie’s life by requiring sits/downs for everything like food, access to the couch, love and affection

2. She began reinforcing her personal space boundaries. She changed from her comfy couch to a single arm chair and blocked Eddie from jumping and begging for attention. She began to only call him over and up into her lap on her terms.

3. Eddie’s Mom began a twice-a-day walking regimen for a brisk 30-45 minutes each time which provided Eddie with sufficient exercise outside his back yard. This was his proof the grass was not always greener and,

4. She put Eddie on an ongoing dog obedience training program of sits and downs in the house 3 times daily for 2 minutes and worked him on the come command outside in front around the area from which he was escaping.

The last thing we did was to install a doggie door to give Eddie access to his new, secure back yard.

With more focus on their partnership, especially nights and weekends, Eddie was less inclined to run (since he couldn’t) and more interested in his new back yard environment.

Eddie also stayed challenged with new stuff inside like doggie food dispensing toys that he had to work at to earn his food because that’s the way he got his meals now.

Just when he got one figured out, she rotated the toy keeping him challenged. Eddie now shows no signs of stress or dog behavior problems.

At last report Eddie was enjoying “the life” and a new and different relationship with his Mom. Things, “they are a changing!”

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. I’m here to help.

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.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog. Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.

 

Neighbor Dogs are Training My Dogs to Bark

Neighbor Dogs are Training My Dogs to Bark

“It has become extremely frustrating to see that my neighbor’s dogs are training my dogs to bark!” This came from a follower on Facebook asking me what to do.

To make matters worse, he had just moved into the neighborhood and has dogs living on both sides of him. One dog on the left is quiet and never barks but on the other side, not quite the same. Backyard chaos reigns when he lets his dogs out to play.

Neighbor Dogs are Training My Dogs to Bark

His neighbor’s dogs immediately charge the fence with uncontrolled barking which triggers a wild and uncontrolled chain reaction of dueling dogs. He’s concerned that someone is going to start complaining sooner or later asking him to do something about training his dogs unless something is done quickly.

Assuming no help from the neighbor on this barking problem, there are things to consider and much training to do.

Things to consider

Your dog’s instinct to bark can be controlled by mechanical devices (bark collars) or training. But your dog’s instincts cannot be modified.

As I’ve said before, addressing the symptom (in this case barking) is not the solution. If you put a bark collar on your dog, you may have stopped the barking but you have not relieved your dog’s stress (the reason he’s barking in the first place.)

Not being able to bark to relieve his stress causes him to be even more stressed and he will find other ways to relieve his stress, like digging or destructive chewing.

Finding the root cause of the problem and seeking other acceptable solutions is the better route to go.

Other alternatives

Since we know that your dogs bark to relieve stress and anxiety, what would be the root cause of the barking?

You’re right, the dogs on the other side of the fence. Your dogs are probably stressed and frustrated not being able to get to them to play.

Here’s the question: How can we use these dogs to stop our dogs from barking?

Playtime as an alternative

If the owner of the neighbor dogs were agreeable, you could introduce the dogs on neutral territory (one dog at a time) to check play compatibility. If all get along, then begin exchanging play dates in each other’s back yard.

Frequent play dates might lessen their barking if everything else with your dogs is in order: leadership, listening to obedience commands around distractions and adequate exercise “with you” to buffer and stave off stress.

Training as an option

Assuming you have established a respectful training relationship with your dogs, training could be used to control your dog’s barking. In this case the basic idea is that the barking dogs come to be your dog’s cue to come in the house.

During the training period, you should prevent them from being able to charge the fence and bark. Walks out front on leash for exercise and potty breaks would be the new routine.

Work each dog individually on a leash or long line at the back door at first. Make sure they have a reliable “on-leash” recall at a distance from the fence without barking dogs. If they are weak on the come command, practice individually with each dog somewhere else to perfect this command.

Once this is achieved, work when the neighbor dogs are out, again close to the back door and a good distance from the fence. Pair your recall (come command) within a second of hearing the barking dogs. In other words, the barking is your dog’s cue to come. Praise your dogs and give them a high value food treat.

It worked for Sammy

We used this same technique with our lab Sammy who had begun to charge the front door when the doorbell rang. So we taught Sammy that the doorbell was his cue to go to his place. Better behavior in your dog is always worth the training time.

No dog obedience training program however good it might be, will ever work unless you have the correct working relationship with your dog.

Your relationship should be based on trust and understanding. Your dogs should show respect by listening in other training situations – then finally in the back yard around barking dog distractions.

If you do not have a strong working relationship with your dogs, then that is where you start. Begin by establishing rules, expectations and setting personal boundaries for your dog to live by and respect.

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”

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.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog. Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.

Your Worst Nightmare: Dog Will Not Come

If your dog will not come, do you ever consider that could turn into your worst nightmare?

What if your dog does not obey your come command at that critical, life-saving moment? Talk about frightening!

Your Worst Nightmare: Dog will not come

Not coming when called can also produce some embarrassing moments when your dog gets out the front door and digs in your neighbors flower bed. There you are out in the front yard yelling your head off and your dog will not come. Next comes the chase or keep-away game.

Because of these and many more reasons, every dog owner wants to have a dog that will stop on a dime, turn and come when called every time, even around high distractions.

That would make you proud and feel safe, right?

But on some level you know “this is gonna take a lot of work.” You also know that even though you might have taken a “big box” pet store group obedience class to learn the come command, you are reluctant to give it a whirl off-leash because everything was in the store and on leash.

And, maybe somewhere deep inside you know you really haven’t practiced that much.

So, what does it take to have a great come command?

There are a number of things that make up a great come command. Here’s a list of some of the important elements to having a great come command. Let’s take a look:

1. Having a proper working relationship with your dog: One of respect and trust.

2. Obedience training the come command

3. Practice, practice and more practice

4. Breed of dog can play a role too

Let’s break down each element and see what it’s about.

Having a proper relationship

If you want your dog to be a better listener, especially around distractions, having the respect and trust of your dog is priceless.

What’s this mean?

• This means that you have set a solid foundation in your dog’s mind about what your rules and expectations are in your home and elsewhere.

• You’ve created a partnership with your dog that is mutually beneficial. He knows what you want and he gives it to you.

• You know what he wants, and needs and he gets it because he knows your rules and always gives before he receives anything from you.

 Obedience training the come command

In addition to properly teaching the come command, there are other factors that will influence your dog’s ability to “get it” quickly.

This is important: Never call your dog to you for something he considers a “negative” like giving him a correction or crating him or giving him a bath if he doesn’t like that experience.

Building a fast start is critical. You want to train your dog so that when you say, “Fluffy here!” he stops immediately, turns and makes good eye contact.

The follow up to a fast start is building speed in the recall or come command. The faster your dog is running to you, the less distracted he will be with distractions in the environment.

A good finish is making sure you train your dog to sit when he gets to you. The sit can be followed by a release like “okay!” This is important because some dogs will come to you but as you go to grab their collar to leash them up, they will dodge your hand grab and dart off playing that keep-away game.

Sometimes it’s good to add a collar-touch at the end as well. When your dog has been taught to come and sit, then touch his collar before praising and treating him.

Regular daily obedience training with your dog is critical. The repetitive work on daily sits and downs will eventually foster better discipline in the come command.

Practice, practice, practice

This is where dog training begins to break down for many dog owners. They simply don’t get in enough practical practice, especially around distractions that are important to them.

You’ve heard that old real estate saying: “Location, location, location.” You could really apply that to your dog training as well.

Here’s an example

Let’s say you have an 8 month old Golden retriever and a lake house in the hill country. Your goal is to be able to give your dog a great off-leash experience when you go to your lake house. Who wants to be bothered with keeping your dog on leash, right?

You begin your practice in town so that when you get to your weekend lake house you can turn your dog loose. Now let’s say that day comes and you turn your dog loose at the lake house. You are a little nervous but he seems to be having fun.

Then the unexpected happens. He crosses a fence line onto someone’s property so you try to call your dog. He’s having no part of it. In fact, he’s having too much fun rolling in a newly found cow patty! I see a bath in his future!

What’s wrong with this picture? You haven’t practiced in that location and you haven’t practiced in that location on a long line.

Learning to come at home doesn’t mean your dog will necessarily come at your lake house.

You must practice in as many different locations as possible. Location, location, location! You should also include relevant distractions.

Someone once asked me: “How do I know my dog knows the come command?” I told them that if their dog will come to them 5 times in a row around distractions in 5 different locations on a long line, then there is a solid chance their dog knows the come command on a long line.

Those locations should be places where you frequent with your dog and you expect him to always come when called. Consistency and repetition breed habit in dogs.

Breed of dog can play a role too

Some breeds are just easier to train. And, the traits for which dogs were originally bred may influence the ease or difficulty of your dog training process.

What I mean is that how readily the obedience training will generalize (be understood in different locations and around different distractions) can be influenced by your dog’s breed.

For example, it may be easier to teach your Golden retriever to come when called in comparison to a scent hound, like a Bassett, whose natural trait is to keep his nose to the ground and possibly get distracted halfway back to you. That could be very frustrating.

Just remember that the ease of training your dog on some commands will be largely determined by the extent to which the task is in harmony with his natural born instincts.

Closing thoughts

Also remember that it takes about 6 weeks of daily training in locations relevant to you, like your lake house, for the command to finally become permanent. Age, lack of maturity and temperament of your dog can influence your training as well.

So, have patience, don’t loose your cool and above all have fun.

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. I’m here to help.

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.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog. Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.

Dog Behavior: Back Yard Barkers

Of all the annoying dog behavior I’ve worked with, back yard barkers can create serious complaints and issues with your neighbors.  Almost  rivaling family feuds like the infamous Hatfields & McCoys!

Is this sounding all too familiar?

When neighbors complain about your barking dog it’s usually the barking that happens when you are not home.

Now you’ve got two noises bothering you: your barking dog and your barking (complaining) neighbor. To resolve your dog behavior problem and fix your back yard barker, you’ve got to figure out why he’s barking. You need a plan of action.

Dog Behavior: Back Yard Barkers

The short list plan

Here’s the short list of what to do to start your plan of action:

  1. Curtail your dog’s barking in the short run
  2. Get rid of the cause of the barking
  3. Fix any other issue with your dog that needs corrected

Curtail your dog’s barking

Sometimes putting the yard dog barker inside your home can be the easy fix. Done deal.

Problem solved. “But wait!” you say. You leave your dog outside for a reason.

You have probably left your dog outside because of one of two reasons:

  • Your dog is not housetrained or
  • Your dog is destructive in your house.

In order to fix a back yard barking problem you always start by keeping your dog from doing exactly what it is you are trying to fix i.e. the barking. For the time being you’ll have to crate him, gate him or contain him in some fashion until the issue is resolved.

This may mean hiring a pet sitter to walk your dog.

Get rid of the cause of the barking

Here’s where the work begins.

If your dog is outside because your adult dog is house soiling and there is no medical issue like a UTI, then you must address the reasons for your dog’s house soiling. He’s soiling to relieve stress.

Find the cause of the stress and anxiety and eliminate it. Keep him on a re-house training program for 4-6 weeks.

If your dog is outside because your dog is destructive, he’s being destructive to relieve some stress and tension created by his environment or relationship with you. Maybe too much time is being spent with you evenings and weekends and he misses you when you’re gone.

Assuming no extreme separation anxiety issues, find the cause and eliminate the cause of his stress. Once that’s eliminated, his destructive behavior usually goes away.

No matter whether it is house-soiling or destructive chewing there are usually other things lacking in your dog’s life. This would fall under our last item on the short list.

Fix any other issue with your dog that needs corrected

Think about your dog’s life and things that might be missing. I’ll give you a hint where to look and what to look for. Here’s another check list of things that may need correcting:

  • Structure: Immediately implement a program of sits and downs to earn everything your dog could want: food, access to your space on the couch, toys and affection.
  • Training: Get back on a training regimen of 3 dog obedience training sessions 3 times daily for only 2 minutes. This is only a 6 minute daily commitment.
  • Exercise: Start an exercise program with your dog of 2 brisk 30-45 minute walks each day.
  • Day Trips: Take your dog on weekend field trips. Go to the beach or park for the day so that he can experience different environments and look at you in a totally different way.
  • Environmental enrichment: Boredom can wreak havoc on your dog. Google search doggie food dispensing toys as busy toys in your absence.

I have found that in nearly all dog behavior problem cases one or all of the above are missing from the dog’s life. Fixing your barking dog problem could change your relationship with your dog forever for the better!

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

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you.   Don’t be a stranger.  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.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog.  Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.

Dog Training: My Other Dog Didn’t Do This!

Dog Training: My Other Dog Didn’t Do This!

When helping folks with dog training for their new or current dog, I am frequently met with the same comment: “But my other dog didn’t do this!”  

Some how it always turns out that the previous dog was an angel when compared to the new dog’s frustrating antics and behavior.

Dog Training: My Other Dog Didn’t Do This!

You’ve no doubt had an angel dog before, right? So you know what I’m talking about.

You probably also thought your angel dog never needed dog training and was probably allowed extra privileges as well. You know what I’m talking about: on the couch, in your lap and sleeping with you, correct?

You became so comfortable in your relationship with your angel dog you couldn’t imagine how life could get any better.

Just so you know, I’ve had dogs like that too. In fact, my dog’s name was Angel. She never barked, never jumped, never ate my stuff and always came when called.

Angels set future standard of high expectations

Life goes on with your angel dog and time passes quickly. And before you know it a lifetime has passed with your dog.

Your angel dog has lulled you into a false sense of appreciation for how dogs really are. All dogs are different.

And subconsciously, your angel dog begins to set the standard of expectations when you begin to long for another companion dog.

Maybe it’s a law of the universe that if you had an angel dog, your next dog must be a challenge – nature’s way of balancing things. Maybe its nature’s way of making you appreciate your angel dog more (not that you didn’t) or maybe nature is teaching you a life lesson.  

Life lessons

So what’s just happened here? What’s the life lesson? Angel dog just set your new dog up to fail because “new dog’s” not living up to the high expectations previously set by your great dog.

You might even say that you did do training with your angel dog but that was 10-14 years ago and as time passes, memories of exactly how much training you did or was needed to get your dog to angel status – fade.

In your memory he was a great dog. That’s why you’re now saying: “My other dog never did this!”

So, here we are

So here we are with new dog challenges and to be 100% fair to your new dog, don’t compare him to your angel dog.  He deserves a chance to be an angel in your eyes too even if it will take time.

Your new dog needs more than love from you. He needs reassurance and trust that is gained through structure, rules and expectations and more importantly your dog needs you to know where he’s coming from.  He’s not your previous dog, he is who he is.

On the other hand, he needs to know where you are coming from.

A fair and balanced relationship

Given a dog’s history of working hard for his food, your dog will apply his cunning and instinct in your home by using his stealth counter-surfing strategy and begging tactics (cuteness) simply because they work for him.

Your job is to begin immediately teaching your dog to simply give before he receives. Anything in life can be his (at your discretion) if he first gives you a “Sit” and/or a “Down” to earn what you choose to give him. Consistency and repetition is the rule.

Another really good rule for both you and your dog is that for every dog behavior problem or inappropriate thing your dog does, simply make a list of what you would prefer him to do instead. Then train him to do it!

Yes, it is that simple. The hard part is the repetitive work. How much repetition? That depends on whether you have an Angel dog, devil dog or a dog somewhere in between.

The more bossy and dominant (devil) your dog, the more repetitive work you will need to do.  

Give him a break

He deserves a real chance with you to make his Angel dog status. Remember, you got to slack off for the life of your previous dog. Now it’s time to wake up and get to work. Time moves on whether your dog training does or not.  Remember, he’s counting on you!

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you.   Don’t be a stranger.  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.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog.  Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.

© 2013 Jim Burwell Inc.

You=Your Dog Behavior. Sound Intriguing?

You = Your Dog Behavior. Sound Intriguing?

The dog behavior of rowdy, bossy adolescent and young adult dogs certainly provides a weekly challenge for me, but it also provides an everyday, embarrassment and nuisance for the owner.  

As Leila’s call sheets fill up each week at the office, you can bet that there are at least 3 to 4 troubled dog owners with a list of dog behavior problems that have created a nuisance in their home. In the profession of dog training, there is nothing new with these very common dog behavior problems.

You=Your Dog Behavior. Sound Intriguing?
You know the ones: jumping, counter surfing, begging at the table and the list goes on. In fact, you may have had some of these nuisance dog behaviors with your dog in the past. At the very least you’ve read about them in one of my blogs.

What I’m leading up to is this…

When Leila finally gets to ask her leading question, “What would you prefer your dog to do?” she is met with dead silence from the caller.

They have spent so much time and energy focusing on the nuisance behavior and trying to correct their dog, they have absolutely no idea what they would prefer their dog do except, not act up. But dogs will be dogs, that is, until they are taught differently.

Bossy dogs get stressed with no structure or job to do. Start thinking about what you want your dog to do in specific situations where he causes a nuisance.

Train your dog on leash to sit to greet visitors. Give him a stuffed Kong toy until he can hold a good down/stay or place command and not jump.

What does this mean for you?

Knowing what to do and when to do it keeps your dog’s stress down.

If he’s not stressed then you’re not stressed.

And the bonus is your house guests will finally enjoy visiting with you AND your dog!

When you think about it, after the first 5 to 10 minutes most dogs calm down, especially with a stuffed Kong as a good re-direct.

The way I look at it

Some people get their dog knowing full well what dog behaviors they will eventually have to work on. There are others that get a dog and don’t have a clue what to expect “behavior-wise” from their dog.

Most dog owners take a 6 week basic, on-leash, obedience course at the local big box pet store and try to pick up how to teach sits and downs.

Here’s the big problem with that:  they usually don’t know how to put obedience training they learned into practical use fixing problems in their home environment.

Puppies and small to medium sized dogs are allowed to jump because it is cute. The bigger dogs jump because, well they just can. Owners pay the price later with nuisance behaviors.

If they had insisted on better behavior early on and followed through, their dogs would be much better behaved.

I’m sure you’ll agree

It’s far easier to train the behavior you want before the bad behavior gets started than to have to correct the nuisance behavior your dog has gotten away with over the months or years.

It is never too late to train these bossy adolescents and young adult dogs. But the responsibility still gets back to you.

Think in terms of what you would prefer your dog to do in those frustrating situations:

  • sit to greet visitors
  • lay on dog bed when you are cooking in kitchen or eating at your table.

Remember, you already know what you don’t like your dog to do. Now decide what you would prefer your dog to do and train him on leash to do exactly that.

It really is easy to do. You just have to commit to starting today!

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.  I’m here to help.

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.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog.  Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.

Dog Behavior: The Lip-Licking Lhasa

Maggie’s dog behavior was quite perplexing for Sue. Maggie, her 4 year old female Lhasa Apso compulsively licked her lips. Being an avid reader, Maggie’s noisy lip-licking began to grate on Sue’s nerves as she tried to read with Maggie sitting by her.

Have you ever noticed when its real quiet, how a constant, soft sound can become a reverberating annoyance?   Like a dripping faucet, it just wears on your nerves, doesn’t it?

The numbing sound would continue as Sue tried to fall asleep while Maggie licked her lips at night in bed. But licking isn’t the only noticeable dog behavior problem.

Dog Behavior : The Lip-Licking Lhasa

 Sue noticed other behavior problems as well

She also noticed that all Maggie seems to care about, other than her occasional cat chasing hobby, is lying around in Sue’s lap. Except for the occasional quick potty breaks during the evening, she was just content lying in Sue’s lap.

Maggie has also started barking and whining when Sue leaves the house for work or short trips out of the house.

Vet check-up first

The first thing I always do is to make sure medical issues are ruled out before we delve into behavioral issues. Sue had Maggie checked out by her vet for dental problems and anything else the vet could rule out.

When I first visited with Sue and Maggie, I discovered how isolated their existence was and suggested that Maggie wasn’t getting enough stimulation.

Insufficient stimulation can often cause or exacerbate a number of behavior problems including obsessive licking and other compulsive disorders.

Sue said that when she first got Maggie, she was excited to walk her and take her places but that as time went on she did less and less with Maggie. Sue also mentioned that she just loved Maggie’s company and companionship.

I suggested that perhaps she was focusing too much on her own needs and not enough on Maggie’s needs. That brought up the question of: “What else could Maggie want?”

What your dog needs

Your dog needs to walk and explore and do fun things with you. It helps to stimulate your dog’s mind. In fact, your dog needs both physical and mental stimulation.

If you notice that your dog has developed some compulsive dog problems, think about the following suggestions that I gave to Sue for Maggie:

  1. Two good brisk 30 minute walks a day ( it will do you both a world of good).
  2. Three, 2 minute dog obedience training sessions daily to include sit, down and come.
  3. Put your dog’s food or half their meal in a Buster Cube or Roll-A-Treat ball so that your dog has to work for some or all of his food.
  4. Switch out the treat dispensing toys a couple of times a week to keep things interesting.
  5. Take your dog on weekend outings to the beach, lake or a great hiking venture outside the neighborhood.  Going to the local park for a walk can be a welcomed change for your dog.

Sue noticed that after 4-5 weeks of consistent physical and mental exercise, Maggie’s lip-licking greatly subsided and she is a much happier dog. With new treat dispensing toys and doggie puzzles, Maggie’s environment was richer.

Do you often find that you tend to get hung up satisfying your own needs? And do you think: “What more could my dog possibly want out of life other than my love and affection, food and a warm bed at night?”

You might just find that if you follow Sue’s lead, you could take your relationship with your dog to a fresh new exciting level. Try it. You’ve got nothing to loose and everything to gain!

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.  I’m here to help.

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.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog.  Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.