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Dog Behavior: One Simple Trick to Improve Your Dog’s Behavior

If you’re like most other dog owners with dog behavior problems, you’re looking for a quick and easy trick that will improve your dog’s behavior.

What I’m about to share with you has to do with habits because we are all creatures of habit. We do things subconsciously. It happened to Leila the other day.

She was laughing at herself one day when I called in to the office to and found out that the power company was putting in new telephone poles and had cut off the power to do the work.

Leila was laughing because as she had been going from room to room, she automatically (subconsciously) turned on the light switches in every room she entered. It was just automatic. It was a habit.

That got me to thinking about habits we get into with our dogs about which we don’t even think. That automatic habit is petting your dog. Now think about it for a minute.

What Habits do you have with your dog

You’re sitting on the couch and your dog jumps up and gets in your lap and you begin to pet your dog. It’s just automatic. It’s a habit.

This is how many dogs get over protective like I wrote about in my past article and creates other problems as well.

On Facebook I recently mentioned that “The dog that misses it’s owner too much when they are away (usually because of too much doting) produces the widest range of problem behaviors; barking, destructive chewing, separation anxiety, house soiling — just to name a few.”

So here’s the one simple trick


Love your dog in moderation. Let me repeat that. Love your dog in moderation.


Loving your dog to excess creates problems that can sometimes be difficult to fix, not always but many times. It’s like eating ice cream. It’s good but should be eaten in moderation. Wine is great but should be enjoyed in moderation.

In fact anything done to an extreme or taken in excess for extended periods of time will eventually lead to problems. If you really think about it moderation is the key to lasting enjoyment with anything – including loving your dog.


Other Recommendations


I would have to say that there should be a few more rules that support that one simple trick. Let’s take a look at what also helps.

• Pet your dog on your terms, not on your dog’s terms and not every time he asks

• Ask for a simple sit before you pet your dog and then briefly pet your dog (in moderation) 

• Require a sit before getting on the couch begin to require as much time off the couch as he is on the couch (in moderation)

• Keep your dog on the couch seat not on your lap all the time (moderation)


If your habit of heavy petting seems like a good habit, look a little closer and see if your dog is developing a dog behavior problem because of the habit you’ve been doing (be honest with yourself).

Modify your habit as you think about doing it in “moderation” and remember this: You control all the elements in your dog’s environment that produce these problems. What does that tell you? You have the power to change everything as well! It all starts with you.

When you change, your dog will change.


So, come tell me on Facebook
what you think? I truly hope you found answers and hope for helping your dog. Did you think the fix would be this easy?


“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.

 

Dogs and the Importance of Rituals

Dogs and the Importance of Rituals

Do you have little routines or habits you do with your dogs? You know, how you greet them every time you arrive home or maybe after dinner you give your dog a special treat? You could call these rituals you have established with your dog. Things you don’t even think about much, but things that your dog counts on every day.

Each morning Leila and I take our dogs on their morning walk. It has become a ritual, so much so, that we see Sophie “circling the wagons” if we’re not grabbing tennis shoes and socks (a precursor to walking) by a certain time. She just knows when we walk and she has come to expect that it will happen, rain or shine.

One of Sammy’s rituals is to meet me at the front door each evening with an empty Kong toy hanging off his K-9 tooth. His tail is wagging in hopes that I will stuff it for him and Sophie and Cooper. And I always do. It’s a ritual. They always know I have left over treats in my fanny pack.

Dogs and the Importance of Rituals

Included in that ritual, however, is the game to earn the stuffed Kong toys. First Sammy has to find a rope toy that I hide somewhere in the house and while he’s doing that, I stuff Kongs. It’s a ritual.

Dogs put a lot of stock in rituals. Knowing what activities happen at a particular time helps them to stay stress-free. Less stress = less behavior problems. Dogs also ritualize eating and generally respect order, like “who eats first.”

Dogs ritualize their leader-follower relationships, every day and many times during the course of a day. They do this with displays of behavior like invading another dog’s personal space or keeping a toy or ball away from another dog. Dogs generally prefer these methods instead of engaging in fights to prove social control.

Whether one dog or many, I have found over the years that rituals can be used to your advantage to greatly assist in fixing or even avoiding behavior problems in dogs. Rituals provide structure for your dogs, promote order and calm during times of stress and excitement like during eating.

If you use rituals correctly and consistently, rituals can greatly assist in teaching tolerance and patience, especially when incorporating obedience in all of your rituals like “sit for their food.” Your dog now begins to understand your rules and expectations.

Besides the feeding ritual, there are other activities you can ritualize that will greatly assist in helping you to shape a better dog. But first, let’s better understand the definition of a ritual.

A ritual is a set of actions performed for their symbolic value as prescribed by the traditions of a community. Or in this case “a set of actions/activities prescribed by the traditions of the pack leader.” As pack leader you get to set pack traditions.

The following sets of actions or activities you do with your dog like walking, sleeping, playing, training could be ritualized if traditionally done as best you can at the same time every day.  In fact, there may be rituals you already do with your dog, things you don’t even think about that your dog counts on every day. Some of these could be: how you greet when you come home, special treats after every meal, lap or couch time for love and affection and the list can go on.

All of these predictable activities lessen stress and anxiety. Rituals can eventually endow a secure feeling in your dog and in time build an enduring confidence in his relationship with you thereby providing your dog with a stress-free life.

The key is to do these activities with your dog every day so that he begins to count on them, kind of like your pay-check. It comes regularly on the 15th and 30th. You count on that happening as much as your dog counts on that ritualized walk in the evening. If on the next pay day your check doesn’t show up, you suddenly become stressed and anxious.

Hopefully now you can see what your dog goes through waiting on you to come home from work because that’s when activities with you begin to happen.

Consistently ritualize all or as many activities you do with your dog. You’re his big pay-check. Show up, he’s counting on you. It keeps his stress down and you have fewer dog behavior problems. It’s really very simple. You just have to decide to do it and then do it consistently.

I’m honored that you stopped by and let me share my dog training knowledge with you. I truly hope you found answers and hope for helping your dog. Don’t be a stranger. I’d love to hear what you think. Please come over to my Facebook page to let me know how this article impacted you and the way you think about training. Are you looking at it a little differently? Remember:

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

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ 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 the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

Be sure to come visit me on these sites also:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jimburwell.dogtrainer

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PetiquetteDog

 

 

Everyone Thinks Our Dogs are Perfect

Most everyone automatically thinks that because I am a dog trainer, our dogs are perfect. While that is mostly true, it’s not entirely accurate with one specific dog. The dog I’m talking about is our 8 year old black lab, Sammy.

Sammy is fearful of people he does not know. We still work with Sammy’s fear issues today as he meets new people hoping to include them in his special circle of friends. His circle widens each year.

It’s been an ongoing and sometimes arduous task to constantly work with Sammy in generalizing his acceptance of people that he has met over the years during his very short time on this earth. But it wasn’t always that way.

As a puppy Sammy loved everyone and went to work with Leila and me every day and, all-in-all, was well socialized with people and dogs from the early age of 8 weeks.

You know that every rescue dog has a story, well that includes Sammy.

Sammy was a foundling. He was a young puppy that was discarded at 8 weeks of age, on a used car lot.

As he got to be 6 to 8 months of age we began to notice that he walked kind of funny and took our concerns to our vet who, after an exam and x-rays diagnosed Sammy with hip dysplasia and referred us to a specialist. The specialist confirmed the dysplasia and issues with his elbows as well.  Sammy was a mess.

 

Everyone thinks our dogs are perfect

 

The ugly head of fear

After the first surgery to correct issues with his hips, he had to go back to the specialist for work on his elbows. Once all the surgeries and physical therapy were completed, Sammy was finally home for good and lots of loving.

We first noticed that Sammy no longer allowed anyone to touch his feet – we had always trimmed his nails easily but now that made him extremely anxious.

It was about that same time when we began to notice fear issues developing with people he had not met. Sammy had become a fearful dog.

As a dog trainer I know that there are three root causes of fear:

  • One is genetic which Sammy didn’t have.
  • Second is a lack early socialization. But Sammy had had a solid dose of socialization so it wasn’t that either.
  • Then there was the third root cause of fear in dogs – learned fear.

Dogs can develop a fearful association towards people if pain is felt at the same time. Sammy experienced the trauma of the surgeries before he had reached his first birthday.

While surgery was critical to Sammy’s health and well-being, it was a lot for a pup to have to go through at such a young age and not expect some repercussions. Some dogs are not fazed by major surgery but then some like Sammy are affected.

Now that we had handled Sammy’s physical rehabilitation, we now had to focus on rehabilitating Sammy mentally.

Leila will be the first to admit how much she doted on our dogs – Sammy especially. The over abundant love and affection Sammy received throughout his rehabilitation and beyond, caused even more issues with people coming over. Sammy became very territorial as well.

She will be the first to tell you, as she tells most of our clients,  that she and I had a long talk about establishing and using my ground rules with Sammy.  It was hard for her, as a born nurturer, to realize that the nurturing was creating a huge problem for Sammy.  Because she loves him dearly, she listened and chose to do and give to Sammy, what Sammy needs – rules, boundaries and consistency.

If you’re reading this article and see your own dog’s problem, please know that “we know where you’re coming from.” This is not just text book jargon. We speak from very personal experience with our own dog Sammy.

Both Leila and I have been down your same road so it’s okay to say, “I have a dog problem.” We share in your concerns.

If you make the commitment to training your dog, you can also be where we are now — “aware” but no longer on edge, because we’ve developed a system for meeting new people. Leila and I have been consistently desensitizing Sammy to everyone new using his favorite treats. Now we all have happy expectations about most new people!

Sammy’s rehabilitation

It can take anywhere from weeks to years to rehabilitate a fearful dog. It takes a healthy dose of patience and commitment as well. I did not expect things to improve over night – in fact I knew it was going to take a while – years even – and it has.

As we have consistently worked with Sammy over the years on dog obedience training as well as better behavior towards new friends, we’ve worked primarily in two areas: people and friends that come to the house and his day camp environment.

At home we developed a plan early on to introduce Sammy to new folks and it has worked brilliantly. We leave a bag of Sammy’s favorite treats on the front patio.

To this day Sammy is amazed at how many new people know what his favorite treat is and better yet, show up on our front porch with a bag full of his treats! It just doesn’t get any better than that! His maturity has greatly assisted his getting used to our program.

At day camp Sammy is approved for playtime which he goes to once a week and gets along with all the two-legged folks there.

Each time there is a new person at day camp we take the time to desensitize him to the new employee and in no time at all, he’s got a new best friend.

Everyone loves Sammy at day camp and vice versa. A good time is expected each week when he shows up and that has not disappointed Sammy yet.

If you have a dog problem like we had with Sammy, don’t be embarrassed. Just acknowledge it and most importantly, start work on fixing the problem today.

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.

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.

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

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ 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 the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

Dog Whining: Understand It Then Stop it

Dog Whining: Understand It Then Stop it

Understand  Your Dog’s Whining 

Dog whining is a very common complaint. Barring any medical issues with your dog, whining is usually something that is brought on by stress. If you are one of the dog owners that would simply want to treat the symptom and not the cause, you may get more than you bargained for. What do I mean by that?

Treating the Symptoms and Not The Cause of Whining

Think about this. If your dog is whining and you’ve just “had enough,” many dog owners would simply put a bark collar on their dog and call it a day – not even thinking what they are doing. If whining/barking is your dog’s way of handling a deeper issue (whining/barking relieves anxiety and tension,) it becomes a release for this stress caused by the real problem.

Dog Whining: Understand It Then Stop it
By putting a bark collar on your dog you have just cut off your dog’s natural way of relieving his stress. Now he will look for another way to relieve his stress. Some dogs with leader type personalities may do overt “alternative” behaviors like chewing or digging. Softer dogs may chew on themselves or become depressed.

Regardless of how your dog chooses to release his tensions and frustrations, one thing is certain, you have not addressed the root cause of his whining or barking. And, it is equally important to look at how you attend to your dog’s needs when he is whining because how you address his needs could be making your dog’s behavior worse. Let’s take a look at three likely categories’ and see if you can see the one that fits you the best.

When it comes to responding to your dogs whining/barking do you categorize yourself as uncaring, caring or over-caring? If you aren’t sure exactly what where you fit, maybe a better definition of each category will help.

The Uncaring Dog Owner and their Whining Dog

The uncaring dog owner totally ignores their dogs whining and doesn’t attend to it at all when their dog may be hungry or needs his water bowl filled. When owners totally ignore their dogs, the dog learns whining doesn’t work and no longer whines. On the surface, this would seem to fix the whining problem; however, these dogs don’t bond well with their owners and can become overly needy.

The Caring Dog Owner and their Whining Dog

The caring dog owner will check on their dog to make sure everything is okay taking care of what is necessary. These owners make sure their dog’s needs are taken care of but not to the point that the dog is running the show or training his owner. Adding obedience training (requiring sits to earn things) teaches the dog to work for the owner rather than the owner following the dog’s lead. Providing structure with an earn-to-learn program creates better balance in the owner/dog relationship.

The Over-Caring Dog Owner and their Whining Dog

The over-caring dog owner sets no rules or expectations for their dog and caters to its every whim. Dogs with over-caring owners are over-nurtured to a fault. They often become spoiled, pushy dogs. They have figured out that whining gets them everything they want. If that doesn’t work, they whine more or bark.

As you can see, taking the middle ground as a caring dog owner creates a balanced dog with the best relationship and avoids the pit-falls of most dog problems. The other two extremes don’t work well with most dogs.

Stop the whining

Prevention really is the best medicine. If, from the get-go, you meet all of your dog’s needs everyday and provide him with the guidelines by which to live, you will have prevented most all dog problems – whining included. No stress = no problems.

If on the other hand, you’re admitting to a more relaxed start, thinking you will have an ideal relationship with not much effort – and you now discover you don’t – you’ve got a whiner, it’s not too late. It will take time and consistency but you can achieve normalcy. Here are some general tips:

Try and discover the root cause of your dog’s problem. Don’t be tempted to just address the symptom. Here’s an example. If your dog is barking in the back yard because you’ve put him there (maybe he’s been peeing in the house), resolve the house soiling issue and bring your dog back inside. Barking problem solved. Your dog is now reunited with the family so he’s less stressed.

Click/praise and treat the quiet behavior you prefer and ignore the whining/barking. Most owners don’t think of recognizing good “quiet time” and bringing it to your dog’s attention by clicking/praising and treating.

Exercise your dog, feed a well-balanced diet and regularly train your dog. Training 3 times a day for 2 minutes a session will give him a sense of working for you rather than you following his lead. Surely you have 6 minutes daily for training.

Remember this, if you let a dog age with no purpose – no structure – no reason for being except for your own personal needs, dog behavior problems will develop that you won’t like. He will resent being asked to go to work and have a purpose.

Now you must do what’s best for your dog, not for you.

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, so tell me below in the comments section.

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

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ 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 the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

Do You Make Excuses for Your Dog?

Do you make excuses for your dog?  Think about it. Making excuses for your dog’s behavior may not only be the wrong solution but it could be an unsafe solution. Let me explain with an example.

A young lady who we will call Susan has a small Jack Russell named Bell. She wrote to me about an incident regarding her dog and by the tone – and length – of her email I could tell she was deeply troubled.

Apparently Susan has a cleaning lady come daily to her home on week days. The cleaning lady enters through the front door each day and Bell greets her on the front porch when she opens the front door.

Bell’s issue according to Susan

This has always been the typical greeting after Susan and Bell have returned from their walk. However, on the day of the incident Susan got a late start for her walk and had just leashed up Bell to go when her cleaning lady came into the foyer. The cleaning lady bent down to greet the leashed pup and got bit on the hand.

Susan was not only devastated but embarrassed with Bell’s behavior and immediately put her away to see to the cleaning lady’s wound.

Susan wrote to me for advice.

What had caused Bell to snap and try to bite someone with whom she has always had a pleasant experience? Susan was desperate for answers.

Not having nearly enough information about Bell’s history, I wrote Susan with questions of my own in hopes to help Susan understand Bell’s dilemma.

Susan’s excuse

The next day and before I got answers to my questions I received another email from Susan saying everything was alright now. Bell and her cleaning lady had a happy encounter and greeting and things were all okay.

 

Here is her excuse:

“It was at that moment I realized that the day of the incident we had not yet had our walk. Bell was displeased about this and had acted out on our cleaning lady. Today I made sure to walk Bell as usual – before our cleaning lady arrived and Bell is all better now!”

So let me ask you, is Susan’s  dog’s behavior acceptable?  Or should she seek the advice of a professional and consider a dog training program to work on a viable solution?

Has Susan’s excuse masked a more serious problem that would surface again later and cause more pain and problems?

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.  Do you make excuses for your dog? Please comment and let me know what you think.

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.

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

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ 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 the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

Is Your Dog Possessed?

Dog Behavior: Its Like My Dog is Possessed!

“Its like my dog is possessed!” Have you ever thought this? There is so much written about dealing with and training puppies but so little on managing the next stage of mischief, canine adolescence. It’s almost as if sometimes you don’t know why your dog does what he does.  He should know better!

 

Is Your Dog Possessed?

 

Get a leash – get a grip

Problems associated with adolescent dog behavior can develop in your dog very quickly if you do not take the time to train. At the very least, teach your dog to respond to “No,” “Sit,” “Come” and “Settle.” Not getting a grip on your dog’s behavior with obedience training and ultimately your dog’s adolescent behavior is setting your dog and you up for years of problems down the road. My recommendation: Get a leash – get a grip.

What’s a leash got to do with it? Well, I’ve said this for years in all my writings about dog behavior, but most don’t think of, or just flat won’t put a leash on their dog in the house to start controlling their dog. It’s too inconvenient. They will put up with the behavior before stopping the behavior – which is what you can do with a leash.

A dog off leash gets to make its own decisions about what to do. When a dog is on leash he is simply more compliant and responsible because he now knows you can reinforce the behavior for which you’ve asked.

Instead of allowing your “possessed dog” free rein to jump on you, put a leash on your dog and require him to settle down by your foot. A foot on the leash will go a long way to settling down a rambunctious dog. Practice this a few times a night for just a couple of minutes each night—just for a couple of weeks. Increase the amount of time you require your dog to settle. You will have a changed dog.

I also get many complaints about adolescent dogs going absolutely crazy when you get the leash out to go for a walk. Some have claimed it takes 5 – 10 minutes or longer just to get the leash on – and then it’s a struggle when you try to exit the door for your walk. These goofy juveniles want to charge out the door – over you, through you, around you but definitely not after you!

Yet another area people often perceive as “bad” behavior with their dog, when in actuality it is usually just normal dog behavior is time to go walkies.
It is true that many dogs get extremely excited about going for a walk! Finally we get to do something other than sit around. “Okay, let’s go!” Somehow your dog thinks that by acting half crazed running around and jumping and biting at the leash, the walk will start sooner. What’s the solution?

 Preparing for the walk – the fakeout

This quick fix worked for one dog owner. She was the proud owner of three dogs – Labrador retrievers – and all their leashes and gear hung on a vertical coat rack by the front door. The trigger for their crazed insanity was her approaching the coat rack full of leashes and gear.

This is the solution we came up with. She approached the coat rack a dozen or more times each evening removing one or two leashes and jingling the collars and then immediately hung them back up and returned to her seat.

After many repetitions each night for a week, the dogs didn’t even began bother to get up, they just laid there and yawned, because she never completed the loop of putting the leash and collar on any dog. They began to get desensitized to her going to the coat rack and so they stayed calm.

Once she achieved the calm she wanted, she leashed up her dogs and went walking. The dogs learned that by being quiet, they got their walk. Being loud and crazy goMom leaving the gear on the rack.

Train your dogs to give you the behavior you want – whether it’s a simple sit or a settle. The trade off is they get their needs satisfied. Pretty soon they will be offering you the good dog behavior all the time.

I’m really interested to hear if you have this problem.  Do you?  – I’m here to help.

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

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ 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 the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

Dog Aggressive on Leash

Dog Aggression: Aggressive on Leash but a Great Dog off Leash

Dog aggression on leash can be pretty scary. In fact, dog aggression on leash can not only be scary but it can be embarrassing to you, and intimidating to others in your neighborhood.

You don’t want to develop the reputation of having the “neighborhood menace.” Many people who get into this situation just quit walking their dog all together. This is like sweeping the problem under the rug. It’s not good for you or your dog. But what do you do?

How it starts

See if this sounds familiar to you. A very concerned or even distraught dog owner called and said, “We’ve had our 5 y/o, 75lb hound mix since she was 4 months. Within the last year, she has demonstrated aggression when on a leash toward other dogs. She is not aggressive toward dogs when off leash.
I need suggestions on how to walk my dog as I don’t walk the dog much anymore. See, I am afraid of what the Hound will do as she can pull me. More than a few times she got really close to the other dog and it was very unnerving.”

Dog Aggressive on Leash

The frustration builds

Frustration gets worse because of all the “different advice” folks get. Folks have said to me “well my previous dog trainer told me that I wasn’t correcting my dog hard enough so he wasn’t getting the message. But then, things only got worse.”

What’s the problem?

The problem can complicated – everything from old style training techniques that require too harsh leash corrections (not my recommendation) to “owner follow through” (lack of) and commitment to working their dog every day.

A trainer, with no relationship with the dog, could probably get a dog to stop aggressing with harder leash corrections but then the expectation would be that the owner would apply the same corrections on their dog when at home and around the neighborhood.

Things get sticky

In my mind, this is where things get sticky. Here’s why:

  • The owner – that’s had a loving relationship with their dog –may not be able to give harsh corrections to their loving dog (again not a fan of harsh corrections). The owner may not have the best timing on corrections either.
  • With dog aggression on leash there are other complications also. For instance, using a choke collar on your dog that is out of control, will simply add pain to the mix. Here’s an examples:
  • You’re walking down the street with your dog on a choke chain. He sees another dog and immediately starts barking and lunging on his choke chain. All of a sudden the offending dog goes away. What this says to your dog is: Hey, it works! I bark and lunge and the dog disappears” 
  • You might find it’s very difficult to do training exercises with your own aggressive dog. How will you be perceived by your neighbors? Are they going to let you use their dog for “bait”? What will your dog think about your harsh corrections? Consequently your dog never really gets better.

What’s the solution?

A good desensitization program works well. Gradually desensitize your leash aggressive dog to other dogs, at a distance at first, then move closer as you get successful behavior.

But here’s the key: It takes time and consistent repetition to eventually reach your goal.

If your dog only knows to use aggression to make another dog go away, then help your dog realize that there are choices, other than aggression, that can achieve the same results. Again this takes time and consistent repetition to achieve your goals.

For example, if your dog could figure out that turning its head (looking away) could achieve the same results (the dog goes away) – and eventually be rewarded for that, your dog figures it out all by himself without any coercion/corrections by humans. Think positive when training your dog.

Your work on behavior modification should be supported by a strong foundation of rules and expectations for your dog, exercise, daily obedience training and your dog having a healthy respect for your personal space. You’ll be surprised how many other dog behavior problems might go away.

“Sharing Time”    Let us know your thoughts on today’s issue by commenting below.

 

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

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8t00+ 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 the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that when your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

Dog Bites Reporter

Dog Bites Reporter. Who’s at Fault?

I caught a minute of the news mid-week and learned of a terrible accident involving a Colorado news anchor that was bitten in the face by an 85 lb. Argentine Mastiff. It happened during an interview with the dog’s owner and the firefighter who rescued the dog from an ice pond. If you have not seen the news spot, click here.

 

Dog Bites Reporter

 

Last week, when this happened, I posted it on my Facebook page and asked folks what they thought the reporter did that put this dog in a no-win situation.  Lots of folks gave pretty good answers on what the reporter did, but not many were able to tell me what signals the dog gave that were a clear message to the reporter to back off.

It is disheartening to see that even today, so many people – adults and kids alike – assume that all dogs want to be hugged, petted, kissed and are okay with this kind of behavior by humans. If there was one extremely clear message to the contrary, this unfortunate accident in Colorado spelled it out with no if’s, and’s or but’s.

Let’s take a quick look at what happened to create this terrible incident. Are you aware of what mistakes did the news anchor lady make with the Argentine Mastiff resulting in a bite to her face?

 

 Here’s a short list that I noticed just with the short clip aired by that station

  1. She didn’t know the dog
  2. She didn’t read the dog’s body language signals – warning signs that he was stressed
  3. She got on her Knees with the dog cornering him between her and his owner
  4. She made constant direct eye contact up close – almost face to face
  5. She constantly petted him overhead and then under his chin with the other hand
  6. And I think I saw another video with her kissing him on top of the head

A dog’s body language signs can give you a lot of information and save you or someone a lot of pain and heartache.

Let’s take a look at the “distance increasing signals” the dog was giving that expressed his concern about this stressful situation – but no one tuned in to the dog:

Here’s what the dog did to try and tell her he was uncomfortable and for her to back off.

  1. His ears were flat against his head
  2. He was licking his lips
  3. There was tension in his face
  4. His lips were drawn back looking long and showing teeth – incisors, canines and molars.
  5. Ridges of muscle evident at the corner of his lips and near his jaw
  6. Wide-eye look with fleeting glances away from her – then back to her

When a dog gets stressed, anxious and concerned about his environment and potential threats, some dogs will put distance between themselves and the threat by leaving. If leaving is not an option, biting becomes their only other option to create the distance by “making the threat go away.”

Now, let’s take a look at other contributing factors that “kicked that dog into defense drive” resulting in this terrible accident:

  1. The dog was in a new and strange environment
  2. His owner had a tight grip on his dog’s collar – eliminating the dog’s flight option
  3. The dog was pinned or cornered between the owner and the news anchor on her knees and on the other side of the dog further eliminating all flight options
  4. Any stress/anxiety the dog experienced in the last 24-48 hours can sometimes carry over and impact the current stressful situation pushing the dog to his bite threshold.

This dog was set up to fail. Pushed to his bite threshold with all other options eliminated, he simply bit.  Many people and children hug dogs or puppies too tightly and expect tolerance but instead get growled at, snapped at or worse – bitten. Dog gets the blame.

 Is there a lesson here? What good can come of this horrible accident?

Educate your self and your children about dogs. Learn about how they think and relate to this human world around them – which is like a dog. We bring them into our homes and expect them to be “Lassie.”  Not every dog is Lassie. The responsibility falls on you to:

  • Socialize your puppy or dog.
  • Desensitize your dog to people and other dogs to avoid dog behavior problems
  • Train your dog – enroll in a dog obedience training class
  • Educate yourself about dog body language and how to read any dog.
  • Teach your children how best to interact with your puppy or dog.
  • If you don’t know hire a positive reinforcement trainer
  • Set rules to follow and boundaries to respect in your home and elsewhere

No person or dog should be put in a situation that causes injury or harm to either.  If it does happen, it’s probably the fault of the human but the dog will get the blame.

What Do You Think?  Let us know your thoughts about what went wrong here by commenting below and remember “Sharing is Caring.

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

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, 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.

Good Dog Behavior: How to Help Your Fearful Dog

I received an email about a fearful dog from the owner who needed help with her fearful dog. She wrote, “How can I train or work with my dog to not fear certain people? He barks and is afraid of men. It’s pretty tough on walks at times.” 

It can be very frustrating not to be able to enjoy walking your dog if you anxiously anticipate greeting the occasional male friend or even have family or friends over – some of whom are male.  If you are like me, knowing that your dog is having as much fun as you in the company of friends and family is well, very comforting. Anything less than that – like having to crate them or gate them – tends to add stress to the situation because we are always thinking about our dogs. Are they okay?  

 

Obedience training helps your dog to focus on something else

Training your dog to perform obedience commands like come, sit, down or place is a good way to help him focus on something else other than being afraid of men passing by on walks or visiting male friends.  It does take time to practice your obedience training. Not only do you want an immediate response to commands, you need an immediate response to your commands around men who are scary to your dog. 

Our dog Sammy is fearful of new people coming over. He knows his obedience training commands and we use them to keep him focused and “on task” (go to place) when new people come over. We practiced a lot with Sammy on his commands – first without visitors – then with visitors. We kept Sammy at a comfortable distance at first on place or his doggie bed as he got more comfortable with each new visitor. 

Once Sammy’s obedience training was good to go, we gave each new visitor a doggie bag of Sammy’s high value dog treats. Since we typically train with lamb loaf, we used grilled chicken only for visitors. With our visitor approaches preplanned, it went like this: 

Our first step

  •  Visitor arrives at scheduled time and picks up zip lock bag of grilled chicken treats
  •  Visitor rings doorbell and steps back, waiting for me and Sammy to come out to the front porch.
  •  Once out on the porch, our visitor is at a comfortable distance from Sammy and turned sideways to present a less threatening situation to Sammy.
  •  I put Sammy in a sit (lots of previous practice helped here) and when I clicked, the visitor tossed Sammy a piece of grilled chicken. There were 8-10 pieces in the   bag and in no time we were done. 

Our second step

  • I brought Sammy inside and as our visitor followed, I put Sammy on his place next to my chair with my foot on the leash.
  • Our visitor then picked up treat bag #2 on the end table next to the couch and tossed Sammy a treat each time I clicked. There were 4-6 treats in this bag.
  • Once we were done with bag #2, I gave Sammy a Kong toy stuffed with big chunks of grilled chicken. 

Our third step

  • We repeated the process – doorbell ring and all 2-3 more times with our friend. 

It’s very difficult for dogs to generalize things. For example, getting used to this friend, at least for Sammy, doesn’t mean all friends are okay. So we are gradually widening Sammy’s circle of friends – one at a time.  We also are aware that Sammy, like all dogs, may not warm up to all of our friends. That’s where we know that our dog obedience training will be our good back up. 

By the way, each time a visitor comes over, Sammy is associating positive things, treats and stuffed Kongs – with visitors. As Sammy gets more comfortable with each visitor, we will begin to get him comfortable with being closer to our friend and with our friend’s movement in the house.  Although some dogs warm up more quickly, dogs like Sammy take a little longer. It’s worth it for us. We keep him sharp on his commands so that we can count on them.

In summary:

Practice what you want your dog to do; i.e., sit, down, place, etc.

Practice what you want your dog to do around visitors

Keep your dog on leash

Keep your dog at a comfortable distance allowing you to get successful sits, downs or place.

Associate positive things – food treats, stuffed Kongs – with visitors

Practice, practice, practice 

If your dog seems stressed or uncomfortable, stop the training and pick it up again later. Keep your training positive and upbeat.

 

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

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Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients.  Jim’s easy to follow, common sense, and positive methods have made him the “dog trainer of choice” for 30 years.  One of his clients says it best: There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant.  Jane Wagner

(c)Jim Burwell Inc.

Dog Training at the Holidays

Dogs and Puppies: Holiday Training That Works

A client asked me, “What’s the best thing to do with our dog when we have holiday visitors over for drinks or dinner? Do we board him or crate him at home?”  I thought to myself, “Now that’s a great question but read on, the answer is even better!”

I would keep your dog at home. 

He will be a lot less stressed staying in a familiar place like home. There are a couple of options for you to consider at home:

Crate your dog or puppy for the evening while entertaining OR train, then crate your dog for the evening. 

Let’s take a look at these two home-options.

If you are by yourself and simply cannot deal with your dog or puppy under foot just before and during your entertaining evening, then simply crate or gate your dog – or puppy.   

Before you secure your dog, there are some things to do that will make your dog’s crate time more manageable. Let’s take a look at some practical tips: 

  • Plan time for a long walk with your dog.  He needs lots of sights sounds and experiences on the walk to process during his down time.  Remember, a tired dog is a good dog. 2-5 minutes of obedience training prior to crating will create mental fatigue as well.
  • Make sure he gets fed as close to the same time you always feed him. Remember, he predicts getting fed at the same time each and every day – consistently.
  • Make sure he has plenty of chewies and a stuffed Kong to occupy his time in the crate.

Now I’ll put on my trainer hat as we look at the other option

Dog Training at the Holidays

If any of you out there have had me in your home to help train your dog, for this very typical dog problem of good manners around house guests, the biggest problem yo  have said to me is:  “Jim, we have a hard time finding enough people to come over, knock on our door and assist with set ups to help work on our dog problem.” 

Here’s YOUR golden opportunity to use holiday visitors to train your dog.  I know what you’re thinking, -Managing your dog or puppy while entertaining house guests will be too stressful! 

But it doesn’t have to be. 

With forethought and planning you could work in a little “meet-and-greet” dog training once everyone has arrived and before you serve their drinks and snacks. Save the meet-and-greet training around food for another day. Unless your dog is very well trained, he might just go into sensory overload!                                                                            

There are right and wrong ways to working your dog around house guests so here’s my easy to follow practical tips: 

  • Potty your dog before beginning this training exercise – especially if you have a young dog or puppy
  • I’d have your dog on a leash attached to another family member or have your dog in his crate
  • Have a bowl of his favorite treats for your house guests – for them to give to your dog of course!
  • Tell your guests what you are going to do, which is to have him greet each guest without jumping.
  • Tell everyone to be very calm as too much excitement can cause him to want to jump even more
  • Take him to the first person on leash – careful not to allow him to jump (putting your foot on the leash will help here) – and have the person take a food treat from the bowl, hold it over his head as he says, “Sit!” then praise and treat your dog and pass the bowl to the next person until everyone has greeted your dog in this manner.
  • Return your dog to his secure area, go back and enjoy the party. Make sure you take him to potty before you secure him. 

If you have an extra family member on hand, have them keep your dog settled down on the floor next to their feet by stepping on the leash.  This will give your dog a little more time getting desensitized to these “people distractions” while you enjoy your guests.  If he seems a little restless, provide him with a chewie or a stuffed Kong while he is settled down.  

When you finish your training (10 – 15 minutes), crate him as previously mentioned. If you have a puppy, make sure you don’t subject your puppy to the noise and frolic all night long. You can get a lot of mileage out of just 10-15 minutes of dog or puppy training. 

When your dog is in his crate 

Now, training is over and it’s time to crate your dog or puppy. How well he manages his time alone will depend on how much crate training you’ve done with him.  If you have a puppy that spends most of his time with you out of the crate because “you feel guilty,” you might want to consider revisiting crate training. 

When a puppy (or dog) thinks being out all the time is “normal,” he may not be okay in the crate when you are home with visitors. For more information on crate training read my article, “Crate Training: Love It or Hate It”