Dog Behavior and Training Methods

Behavior

When a dog is born, he is generally born with at least 1 or two other litter mates to grow up with. The first 3 weeks are there just for them to exist really. To feed off mom, and what not. They haven’t even opened their eyes just yet. The fourth week is when their world starts to open up as their eyes and ears start to really perk up to the world around them. They knew they had siblings, but they didn’t know what they looked like or anything like that. As they move to the 5th week, depending on the dog, this is usually when the starts of what’s called the “Imprinting” stage starts.

An “Imprinting Stage” as its called, is when the puppy’s mind is most open to learning and can absorb everything that it can into it’s life. This is a very crucial time of it’s life to learn how to play with their siblings, what the mother dog will be teaching them, if the owner of the mother is going to start any sort of training, etc. They learn crucial social skills during this early of developement as to what proper play is, what are limits, how to react to how other dogs react, etc.

Now, This stage, depending on the breed again, can last anywhere from 5-10 weeks, or 5-16 weeks. Then they go into what’s called a “Brave Stage”, where they take everything that they just learned and apply it to life with vigor and is usually when they are bold in trying new things. After this stage is over, most dogs go back into the “Fear Stage” or “Imprinting Stage”. Everything becomes like new again, and depending on the dog, can revert to thinking something that they were just around is now the scariest thing in the world, or everything just new to them is scary and need help getting through.

Dogs will go through these stages between 2-4 times before they hit adult hood. During the “Imprinting stages”, this is the crucial time that during these times, that they receive socialization to help bring them into adulthood smoothly. Now Socialization doesn’t just mean meeting people and other dogs, it’s places, things, smells, touch, sight, experiences, boundaries, limits, etc. Everything. If a dog has not received any structure during these times, this can all attribute to any behaviors that occur during the dog’s adult stage of life. Once these stages close, it’s a little more difficult depending on the dog to help gain the skill and confidence they need in order to know how to cope through a situation.
During these stages, a dog should have learned what Avoidance Behavior is, how to read it and how to use it himself, along with self calming behaviors. Avoidance Behaviors (Or “Back Off Signals”) are how a dog communicates to other dogs or people that they are uncomfortable and would like it if you backed off. These range from slow eye blinks, lip licking, head turns, body turns or blocks, leg lift, stiffening of the body (or retreating), whale eye, lip lifting, hard stare, barking, low growl, loud growl to snarl, air snap, lunging, warning bite, to an actual bite/fight, depending on the situation the dog has to use to communicate with the other thing that they are uncomfortable. This is the usual “step up” behaviors you see from start to finish from a well socialized dog or a dog who understands how to use “Back Off Signals”. They will only “Step Up” the behavior to the next step if the other dog or person has not retreated from the previous warning that they gave out.
Calming Signals (aka. Appeasement Signals) are what dogs used to either calm themselves in a situation when they are stressed, or to help another dog or person calm down when they are angry/upset. These usually include the slow eye blinks, averting eye contact, lip licking, licking the dog or person to try to calm them down or to tell them they are uncomfortable, low body language, tail lowered, ears back, head turns, body turns, basically anything that would try to defuse the situation.
A dog who is well socialized should be able to perform these behaviors as a natural part of their language to get their point across or to communicate. This is dog language and how they speak to each other. If say, both dogs are well versed in their own language like this, fights can be easily avoided as dogs naturally would rather defuse the situation than fight each other. (Who would want to fight anyways?)

Say a dog who has not gone through the proper socialization skills, or maybe was born with a genetic downfall from either mom or dad that is causing him to be overly cautious, we now have an adult dog that reacts to stimuli. A stimulus is anything that the dog reacts to. Could be People (Adults, gender based, children, etc), items, dogs, noises, or surroundings, etc. In this case, let’s say the dog is dog aggressive.
Before I get into the scenario, I want to explain a little more of what Aggression really is. When a dog has not been socialized, or abused, or what have you, they learn how to cope in ways that are different with each dog. Some don’t learn how to cope, but I will explain that a little more on that in a bit.
There are dogs who when presented with a stimulus that frightens them, they run, they hide, make themselves as small as possible, don’t make a peep. Essentially, they are trying to convey that they are not here and they are not a threat. Now, most dogs and people who recognize this as a fearful reaction, tend to leave this dog alone (usually, however, there are exceptions to every situation). This is on the other end of the “Aggression Spectrum” as I call it. They are too scared to do anything about their situation for fear it will get worse.
However, there are people or dogs who will push these dogs into one of two categories. Either Learned Helplessness (Where a dog has learned that everything that he has tried as failed and has assumed his time is upon him), or outward reactions (as we know Aggression)(where the dog starts communicating to the stimuli a little bit “louder” than how they were previously.) Now, not all dogs start with the fearful run away reaction before they do the outward reactions, as this is different with all dogs. When a dog that had previously tried backing off so much to try to disappear and the other dog still continues to bug them, they will start going up the latter of avoidance signals until they get their point across.
Since dogs learn by association (things that happens to them in occurence of the situation), they learn what’s best for them in order to get the reaction that they are wanting. In this case, the dog wants the other dog to leave them alone. He steps up the ladder with a growl, didn’t work. A Snarl, kinda worked, but the dog is back in a short time. Try the Snarl again, this time didn’t work, Air Snap, he backed off, but is still interested, a warning quick release bite and the dog disappeared.
The dog telling the other dog off just made a mental note at where they had to reach in order to make the other dog leave him alone: a warning quick release bite. The next encounter, the same dog comes back an hour later to try to engage with the scared dog again, but this time, the scared dog skipped the growl and the snarl, as this had no effect, and started with an air snap. The dog didn’t back off as quickly as last time to this, so the dog goes to the warning quick release bite and it gets the dog to go away again for a while. A pattern starts to rise as the scared dog realizes the only way to get the dog to leave him be is to bite him. Now each and every time the other dog comes back, he’s going to skip all those other steps that didn’t work and go straight for the warning bite. At least until that doesn’t work anymore.
Dogs learn what works for them and each one is different. And each encounter can be different as well depending on the dog and the scenario. But if the dog realizes this is the quickest reaction to getting the scary things away (Other dogs) is just to go to the warning bite, most likely, that is what the dog is going to do with every encounter, just to make sure that they make themselves feel safe. A dog looks out for themselves and their survival, if the threat to their lives (Albiet, sometimes is confusing to us as to why that vacuum is life threatening) is present, they will do whatever it takes to up their chances of survival.

With almost every case, Outward Reactions (Aka. Aggression) is all fear based that a dog has started to display in order to convey that they are fearful and want something to stay away. There are some cases where it’s genetic (passed from parents), but luckily, those are far and few in-between. These outward or inward reactions that a dog will display (or lack of), I call them Symptoms. The reason is, all of these reactions/behaviors that are being displayed, are only being displayed because of an underlying condition: the emotion Fear. Take away the cancer, your symptoms disappear.
So how do we go about helping this dog overcome his fear? Well, the first step is to realize what he is feeling. Once we’ve done that, we can start taking notes at what he reacts to. Is it just big dogs? Small dogs? Black Dogs? Brindle dogs? or All Dogs? Now we take a look at the reactions they give us. Is his behaviors (aka symptoms) the same with every dog? Or is it different with each dog? The next step is management. Management is making sure that you don’t put him in the situation if you can help it to help keep him calm (or under threshold). Muzzle training is also a great management tool for in case you have to go into these situations and something might happen. It’s to keep you, your dog, and the other dog/person safe while you are working with the dog. Next is to realize that the reactions your dog is displaying are Normal. Yes, outward reactions (Aggression) is normal. Albiet, embarrassing and scary, but to the dog, this is normal for him to get across what he is saying.

Aversive Training
Aversive training, Dominance Training, Corrective Training, Balance Training, etc can all be classified under “Aversive Training”. There are tools that are usually used under these types of training and are usually Shock Collars, Noise Collars, Spray Collars, Choke Chains, Prong Collars, etc. Anything can be an aversion to the dog. It can be anything from a stern look, to a noise, to a sight, to a leash jerk, anything. What we may not find avesive to ourselves, doesn’t mean the dog will feel the same way. Each dog is different.
With this type of training, the main focus is to make the dog comply to you and react the way they should, according to either the way you think the dog needs to be or your trainer. Instead of helping the dog overcome their fears on an emotional level, techniques that are used within this type of training are usually only used to stop the outlying behaviors (ex. Barking, mounting, biting, lunging, snarling, body stiffening, whatever the trainer or owner does not want to see the dog doing.
The problem with using aversives (again, it depends on how the dog responds to them, but generally the end result is all the same) is that like I said earlier, it doesn’t generally help the dog feel any better to the stimulus. Each correction that the handler does, makes the dog feel more and more out of control with itself and need to not do anything, which includes communicating exactly what is making the fearful. Let’s go back to the ladder of step up behaviors.
Say my dog was growling at another dog over a piece of food that fell onto the floor. If I were an Aversive Trainer, I would make a really loud and sharp EH, grab my dog, turn his face towards me to force eye contact with me and tell him “NO” really loudly, maybe a swat on the nose and then remove the object and the dog and put him in his crate. (This is just one example of what some owners and trainers advise to do)
What was is that I just did? I just stopped all communication between these two dogs over the food that was dropped. What would have happened if I let the situation continue? That would depend on the dog and the history and severity of the food aggression that would depend on what I would have normally done.
What did the dog learn in this situation? He either learned that displaying any sort of outward reaction communication around me is not safe or he’s learned that that level of communication is not the right one to get what he needs fast enough (Remember, dogs are opportunistic scavengers by nature) he might skip to a more severe outward reaction in order to ensure that he gets what he wants quicker before my reaction or the dog’s reaction time, thus making the situation worse, or both. If I repeat my reaction over and over again with my dog that I don’t want him reacting that way, he will start to resort to either doing these reactions in private (not around me) or he will learn what’s called Shut Down.
Shut Down is when the dog has learned that all communication is not “ok” to do at all and will learn that it’s better to let something happen to him or avoid the situation at all cost than it is to communicate to the other dog what is bothering him. This is typically what the trainer that teaches students want to work for, however, this isn’t how they explain this type of behavior. They will most likely explain the behavior that they were displaying before as “Acting Out” and that they need to be taught that that behavior is “Not acceptable” and that when they stop all behaviors that seem to be what’s called “Acting Out” disappears, they are deemed “better”, however, this does NOT help what’s actually happening behind the reactions. This is called Suppressing of behaviors.
Once the behaviors are “gone”, usually what’s left is a dog that feels helpless that can’t communicate in fear of being punished (remember, it depends on the dog on what is punishing to them), and some dogs within this group, once they’ve had enough feeling helpless, they start to react again, but harder this time. This is the reason most aversive trainers have a free or cheaper secondary class to followup after the initial class to take care of any problems that has risen since the last class. So, this means that they know that the dog has a high chance at a later reaction and is letting the owners know that they can come back for a “refresher course” to further train the dog.
Now, after this type of training, the way the dog behaves/looks differs from dog to dog. There are dogs that look perfectly fine. There are dogs that look stressed all the time, and there are dogs who look absolutely miserable. Even the dogs who look perfectly fine can still have anxiety lurking beneath the surface and equally can have the chance at reverting when the stimulus is strong enough to elicit the reaction from the dog and it’s usually much more intense.
This type of training has way too much fallout for the desired ending behavior that people look for. Too much riding on “if my dog reverts” and how intense it will be, which the training will have to be much more intense to counter act the new reactions.

There are very little dogs who actually have little to actual no problems after this, that the success rate of the behaviors NEVER returning is too little to call this type of training a reliable way of training. In the beginning, it seems like we are helping our dogs, they aren’t reacting, they seem like they are bettering themselves, but all we are doing with this type of training is suppressing behaviors into what could be a ticking time bomb of a dog. This type of training tells a dog that communicating that they are uncomfortable is not ok and they should never react.

Positive Reinforcement Training
Positive Reinforcement is used to help increase desired behavior, where as the Aversive Training is used to decrease undesirable behavior. Training tools are usually harnesses, clickers, treats, toys, environment, etc
This type of training does not focus on what the dog is displaying so much as to the underlying behavior.
When Positive Reinforcement trainers come across a dog who is displaying any sort of behaviors out of the ordinary, they look at the big picture: What’s happening in the immediate area, what step on the ladder of behaviors are they at, what type of body language are they displaying and what to, what type of management could we implement to help the dog keep safe and what tools can we use to keep the whole party safe, how do we keep the dog under threshold, etc. Is the dog feeling Fear, frustration, overstimulation, improper socialization skills, etc They look at the big picture.
Positive Reinforcement Trainers also understand that dogs can only be one of two things at one time. Either Thinking or Reacting. One part of the brain shuts off while the other remains active. A dog who is reacting will either have a very hard time thinking or cannot think at all. They are too worried about themselves and their safety to think through a situation. A dog who is focused on thinking and focusing on a task that their owner/trainer has implemented to help them through a situation will continue to think instead of react towards the stimulus.
Though to keep in mind, to keep a dog in the thinking state, you must be under threshold, and/or have a high enough reward that the dog wants to work for.
A dog that has been taught a serious of alternative behaviors (sit, down, look away, walk away, focus, etc, anything the owner likes), has a MUCH higher chance of keeping their focus on you or ignoring the stimulus than a dog who was trained with aversive methods, who has alternatively learned that reactions get punishment rather than guidance, has a much harder time either figuring out what to do in the situation, or they just shut down and take whatever might happen next.
A Positive Reinforcement trainer will look at a reaction as an indicator that they are going fast for the dog to handle and thus has to apply management skills to help bring the dog back down below threshold in order to continue to work. They will also know when it’s too much for the dog to continue to be around the stimulus. The trainer’s first and foremost objective is to make the dog feel confident in himself, learn how to cope, learn how to deal with his emotions correctly, and how to communicate correctly to convey what they need in a calm matter, and most of all, to make the dog feel like you are listening to them and that they are safe.
After the trainer starts to implement a course of action with the dog, it takes calculated times and situations to help the dog learn all of these skills at the pace the dog can handle over a course of time. depending on the dog, counter conditioning might take a while, however, the result is a much happier dog that has the coping skills to resolve a matter in the right way instead of reacting right away and have no left over anxiety about the stimulus.

Key Words
Avoidance Behaviors (aka back off behaviors): These are behaviors that tell another dog/person that they are not comfortable and would like them to back off
Calming Signals: Signals that a dog uses to calm themselves down or to help calm the other dog or person down to defuse the situation
Threshold: This is the breaking point where a dog starts to react. Typically, we would like to see dogs that stay under threshold
Stimulus: Anything the dog reacts to
Aggression: Aka Outward Reactions. These are just louder, clearer messages to other dogs/people that they are uncomfortable
Inward Reactions: Where a dog tries to make themselves smaller and disappear from the presence of the stimulus
Suppression: To get rid of behaviors by adding punishment or aversive techniques to make the behaviors disappear
Counter Conditioning: A training protocol to help the dog understand it’s feelings, to help get over their underlying emotions by changing their emotional response to the stimuli
Imprinting Stage: Aka Fear Stage. A stage where the minds of a dog is like a sponge and takes in anything negative or positive and it sticks with them the rest of their lives. Happens between the ages 5 week-16 weeks, 7 months-11 months, 13 months-24 months typically. This differs dog to dog and how frequent they are. These stages are crucial developmental times.
Brave Stages: Stages where the dog takes what they’ve learned and acts like a normal and confident dog typically. Very bold in trying new things.
Association: Dogs learn by association. When something happens, this occurs. Dogs do not have the closure skills like we do to know -why- something has occurred and why they feel the way they do, they just know that a certain situation, thing, place, stimuli is what caused them discomfort, and that’s all they remember. They also don’t know the correlation between being punished for something in presence of the stimuli (ex. Dog is reacting, apply shock, while dog is looking at the stimuli thinks “Ouch! That think made me feel worse!”)

Dog Parks! Behaviorally and Structurally!

I get a lot of people asking me what I think about dog parks. Whether or not it’s good, if it’s good for their dog(s), and if it’s a must, etc. I also get questions about when they are already there and there are issues such as Dogs are picking on my dog, my dog focuses on a dog, my dog picks fights, my dog doesn’t play etc.

Everything you need to know about dog parks, etiquette and behaviors will be covered as well as what to do if any situation arises!

First things first: What I think about dog parks.

I personally love the idea of a dog park. Fenced or not. The reason is, it’s a fantastic place to let your dog run and be a dog, as well as run off all of that excess energy, as well as do some good quality socialization!

 

Do I think that dog parks would be good for your dog?

Well, it depends! Some dogs absolutely adore the dog park! The smells, the socialization with dogs and people, the quality play time they get there, and training, some dogs love it! There are dogs however, are more reserved. This is where dog parks are not for every dog. Dogs have personalities, just like us. Are they human? No, but they do have preferences as well! If you take your pup there, and it looks like they are not having fun, then either that park is not for them, or dog parks in general are not his forte.

However, that being said, if it’s just socialization that’s the issue, I would definitely start off in a very small group of dogs, maybe 1:1 at the beginning, until they are confident in that area. Play with different breeds of dogs, as they all play differently. By playing 1:1, you will be able to determine your dog’s play style, and what style they play best around! This is also a good time to teach your pup proper play and how to leave play without getting over stimulated.
If they are doing great, start upping the amount of dogs until you feel confident they would do good in a public setting. A great place to test this, is a local pet store that offers play dates! The PetCos in my area all offer a 1 hour play session every Sunday, so definitely check them out!

If you find that even 1:1 play is too overwhelming for your dog (or showing aggression/fear), then it’s time for some counter conditioning. I would contact your nearest positive reinforcement trainer/behaviorist to help with this issue in person. (Blog about fear coming up in the near future)

 

Are dog parks a must?

Dog parks are not a must. There are many other ways that you can exercise your dogs mentally and physically such as walks, hikes, runs, dog walker, doggy daycare, training, mental stimulation toys, etc. If your dog doesn’t seem to enjoy himself there, then it’s not the place for your pup. Dog Parks are just another great outlet for dogs that love that type of environment!

My dog focuses on one dog at the park and seems like he’s picking on them!

This is a confidence issue. Your dog is lacking confidence and thus, picking on another dog that lacks even more confidence. This is equivalent to a bully on the play ground. What I would do, is when you see this behavior first start, remove him from the park and go home. You don’t need to be intimidating about it, just call your dog over, or go to him and clip the leash on and go home. Your dog isn’t ready for the dog park and needs to build more confidence in himself before coming back to the park. By removing him like this, you are also inadvertently telling him that you don’t like the behavior you saw and he doesn’t continue to stay in the environment until he’s better. Once you’ve worked on socialization, you can come back and repeat this if necessary until he plays very well in the park!
My dog runs away from other dogs and doesn’t seem to have fun

This is the same as above, your pup is not ready to be at the park until he’s gain more confidence and learn to play with other dogs. Set up training socialization scenarios, play dates, and if the reaction is too bad, find a positive reinforcement trainer in your area.

 

My dog is mounting another dog, or my dog is being mounted!

This is a typical behavior I see at the dog park. Owners, however, allow this to happen. What is actually happening is that your dog or the other dog is insecure/stressed or over stimulated and it’s expressing it to each other. However, not a lot of dogs will stand by and let another dog mount them, and that’s where a lot of fights come from. If you see this happening, remove your dog, tell the other owner it happened, and leave the park. The park is either too stressful or overstimulating for your dog at this time and would advise to pick another time where that dog, or less dogs don’t frequent at.

 

Behaviors you should be seeing at the park when playing:
*Proper play (Play that is not over stimulated, i.e. over growling, bite and holds, pinning, mounting, etc)

*Sharing toys great

*Running around

*No resource guarding

*And when dogs tell another dog off, they don’t pester the dog until they are calmed down

 

Behaviors to avoid and if seen, leave and pick another time or another park for play:

*Mounting

*Fighting
*Resource guarding people, space, dogs, etc
*Dogs overly focusing on specific dogs aggressively

 

Dogs learn from each other very quickly and dogs learn what works. This is called Social Learning. By removing dogs from certain situations and then teaching them outside the problematic environment what to do, and then take them back in and teach them, they will learn much quicker about what is proper behavior and what isn’t. Dogs do teach each other, however, having two insecure dogs try and teach each other is not the best idea because they already don’t know what to do, and all they end up doing is frustrating themselves. If you have a dog that is confident and knows the ins and outs of proper play, they can then teach the insecure one that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

How to pick a good Dog Park

First I would go there by myself and observe the dogs there at different times of the day for a week to a month. What I would be looking for is dogs that play well together, dogs that don’t get into fights and the pet parents are actively interacting with their dogs. If you see these things, you will know that that time or park is great. You will also go off of what your dog likes. Does he like a lot of dogs? Does he play well with certain breeds, sizes, etc? Factor in everything when you are looking and even talk with the parents that are there about the a park, if they’ve noticed anything negative, how their dogs are etc. This ensures the best time for your pup!

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Why Must They Chew Everything!

Chewing is a big one for most dog owners. Dogs will stick with chewing their items and toys, but some dogs just can’t help themselves when it comes to our clothes, children toys, themselves, our house etc.

First, let’s look at the different reasons why they might be chewing.

*Stress
*Feels good

*Playing

*Anxiety

*Self-Reinforcing

*Boredom/pent up energy

*teething

Now we look at the context of which the chewing is coming from.

*You leave them alone

*New environments/New things/situations in the house

*Lack of exercise

*Wanting to get your attention

Separation Anxiety can definitely pull out the teeth on your items. Chewing is a great stress reliever for all dogs. It works the muscles and makes them feel good. The chewing can vary by how intense their separation anxiety is. It can be just the simple chewed book, to your window and crate being demolished. If it’s the latter, please find a Positive Dog Trainer that specializes in Canine Learning Theory and Counter Conditioning to help with that issue.

When you leave your pup alone and they have a chewing problem when you leave, you have 2 options you can do: Crate him or Block and area off for him to be in (or pen). When you do either of these, you should always do Separation Work to help build confidence in your dog that you are coming back, and when you leave, leave chew toys, kongs filled with yummy treats and various other items that they enjoy. You can even leave paper products for him to purposefully destroy to relieve stress!

Sometimes new things will stress out a puppy. The reason they chew here is the same reason why they chew when being left alone. If you’re going to have company over and that stresses them out, remove them from the room to a quiet area and give them something to do that will mentally stimulate them.

Here’s a video going over how to start to prepare your dog to be left alone:

 

Anytime the chewing happens between the ages 7 weeks to about 8/9 months is most likely going to be related to teething. This stage, dogs are going to be looking for something to help relieve themselves of teething pains. Each dog has a personal preference as to what helps, but in general, a rope toy, a rubber toy with grooves, and a bone will certainly help with teething! If they don’t like rope toys, you can soak it in chicken or beef broth to entice him to chew.

Some dogs do chew for attention and self reinforcing behaviors. With this, you will have to have supervision on him to ensure he doesn’t get into anything you don’t want him to get. Have Bully Sticks and Kongs full of peanut butter or cream cheese to entice him to chew on those. Maybe a rope toy soaked in chicken or beef broth! Some dogs will take items from certain rooms because they have found that gets them attention! Whether it’s good or bad, dogs do what works and if it works for them, they do it again! If it’s a certain item like clothing with a scent (Maybe they seem to target someone in particular), try filling an old socks with fabric or other old socks and tie the end together and that will make a good re-directional toy for your dog to enjoy! Maybe there’s an old shoe that you don’t wear anymore, that can make a great chew as well! (If you teach them, you can teach them the difference between the items you want them to chew on and items you don’t, even if it’s the same type of item)

 

One good overall thing you can do to help reduce the chances of them chewing on something you don’t want is to exercise your pup. Dogs need at least 2 hours of physical and mental exercise each day (more for certain breeds). This will bring down anxiety and stress in dogs, and relieve pent up energy and curb boredom that causes chewing.

 

These are Not the reason why they are chewing:

*To have revenge

*Because they are mad.

*Just to prove a point/to purposefully do it

 

Dogs do not have complex feelings that humans have. People will sometimes put human reasoning on dogs to explain certain behaviors they see, especially chewing after an event. Most of the time, the result of the event is going to be one of the reasons listen above.

 

The type of toys you give to your dog should be a wide variety of sizes, thickness, and textures. Dogs can get bored of one type of toy just as easily as us humans do with certain things, so bringing in a variety of toys should also help curb their chewing habit as well!

You can also teach a wonderful alternate response by teaching them a very reliable drop cue! That way, even if they go to grab the item, you say the command, and they drop the item! Check out the video here:

Happy positive training!

 

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It’s Too Cold and Wet Outside!

We’ve all encountered it when we are raising our puppies. Potty training is going great! Except when it’s cold and rainy. Drat, we’ve hit a standstill and she’s going inside! ARGH!

 

Does this mean that your puppy has forgotten about what it was that we were teaching? Not necessarily.  It typically means that she does not find the rain and cold enjoyable and would rather be inside than outside, especially going potty. 

 

How do I correct this?

 

Well, when it’s raining, get a hole bunch of tasty treats, her favorite toy and get to playing! Out in the rain and cold! That’s right! She doesn’t have a very high opinion of the rain and once she starts to realize that being outside in the cold and rain with her favorite person with her favorite things, she will start to associate great things with the cold and rain!

 

If she is still giving the “you’re crazy mom” look, maybe it’s time to invest in a rain jacket, a sweater, and/or booties to help keep her warm and dry! It may sound silly, but it can make a world of difference for your pup!

 

Some dogs are naturally susceptible to the cold and naturally just don’t like and can’t deal with it. Chihuahuas, Mexican Hairless, Dachshunds, Greyhounds, etc generally cannot deal with colder weather. Help them out with sweaters and jackets and see how that goes!

Once you’ve got your dog comfortable, and out playing in the rain and cold, and they potty, make it so exciting that you can’t take it! They will go “Oh my gosh! This is so exciting going outside to potty in the rain!” And will start to have a positive association in the cold and rain. I would also suggest going on a stricter schedule and restrict their spaces around the house until going outside in the rain is all but old news to the pup!

Check out my potty training blog on how to start potty training basics during this time!

https://hikarufan1.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/look-at-this-mess-potty-training-tips/

 

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Going Behind My Back!

What does your dog do behind your back that just irks you?

 

Is it pottying down the hallway? Is it taking something from the trash and running to chew it?

 

Can you remember the very first time they did the behavior in front of you and what your reaction was? Depending on the first initial reaction you gave to the puppy, is most likely the reason why they are hiding from you to do the act.

Let’s go back to basics!

Dogs learn by association and what works.  There’s an action, a reaction, and a consequence (whether it’s good or bad).  The dog peed (action), Parent Scolded them (reaction), Learned that relieving in from of person is not a good idea ( negative consequence). The puppy just learned that relieving himself in front of you is not a good idea. But, what happens after that? The puppy goes into another room, pees (action), feels awesome/alone (reaction), no owner that scolds them when they relieve them-self (positive consequence).

Which one do you think the puppy is going to repeat? Each time they relieve themselves in the other room, or do the behavior you dislike, the puppy is self reinforcing himself each and every time he does it. An additional reason why he may be going in another room is because he either doesn’t know, or doesn’t find going outside reinforcing, or inconsistency with the training happened.  Self reinforcing behaviors are highly habit forming!

How do I stop this?

If your puppy or dog has a habit of leaving the room to relieve himself or something else, it’s time to have supervision at all times! Yep! We are going back to basics!

Potty training Blog Here: https://hikarufan1.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/look-at-this-mess-potty-training-tips/
Use baby gates or barriers to block off any areas that you don’t want your pup to go into. Close the doors as well.  Make sure that they are within your sight at all times, especially if you’re potty training. Being able to see signs that your puppy needs to go is going to help him learn what gets him to go outside plus gets wonderful things. Being consistent with this is going to make a world of difference!

If it’s a chewing problem, supplement him with bully sticks or kongs, or any toy that he is allowed to chew on! Exercise him more, as chewing is sometimes a result of built up energy and boredom (teething as well depending on the age)

 

When you see your puppy in the act of something you don’t like, try to interrupt him with a positive interrupter and redirect him to what you do want instead and reinforce that. Because dogs learn from association, he will start to realize that great things happen with the behaviors you do like and realize nothing is coming from the behaviors you don’t like.

 

Age can also play a factor in this. If they are under 6 months old, think of them like a child 1 year and less. Asking for full attention, or even full potty training by this age is like asking the 1 year old child to be completely potty training and follow all your commands. Try to be understanding within this time period as well, as this is in the time frame of the imprinting stage. Meaning, anything that happens positively or negatively, they will remember it for the rest of their life. At 6 months and older, you will face a hormonal teen that will be overly stimulated by anything and everything (Think of a teenage boy or an angsty teenage girl!) This stage takes a lot of patience and guidance to help them through this confusing time! After adulthood (around 2 years), they should be calming down and anything that hasn’t been reinforced, or had been self reinforced, will most likely be a habit by now, so you will need to start from the very beginning to teach him good habits. Good news is, the older the dog, the easier the training will be as they are not going through puppy hood!

Here’s how you can teach your dog a positive interrupter!

Positive Interrupters:

 

Good luck!

 

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First Time Greeters Do’s and Don’ts

So you’re wanting a new puppy/dog, but don’t know how your kiddo is going to react? Or maybe you are going to be dog sitting for a friend?

Whatever the reason for gaining this dog, there are Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to greeting two dogs who have never met each other.

These are the “Do’s” part:

Ideally you want to meet outside of the dog’s territory on neutral ground so they can build a mutual trust. When you introduce a new dog into a home prior to any greetings, the dog that lives there is most likely going to react to the new dog coming in because it’s their territory. On rare occasions do they get along right away.

When you go to have a dog come into the home, when meeting on neutral ground, this step should be about one to two weeks before they even see the house. In the mean time, having some of the new dog’s toys, things, smells should start appearing throughout the house for your current dog to get accustom with.

The next step is greeting outside of the home, just outside of the current dog’s territory. This lets the current dog learn to accept that this dog is going to be coming over and possibly go into the house. If it becomes a problem at this step, this is either where you try and find another dog that your current dog will accept (Assuming he accepts certain breeds) or you can work with a trainer at this step to gain the current dog’s confidence and gain a positive association of new dogs coming into the house.

Once you are past this part, you want to let the new dog roam the house and yard for a good long while before your current dog even knows that the new dog is in the house. This allows the new dog to put their scent over things and hang out and be comfortable without the stress of getting to know the current dog just yet. Gaining confidence in the new dog is also good, because a stressed dog is a potential dangerous dog. The current dog being at a dog park or out running errands with someone or out for a good long walk.

The next part is greeting in the back yard (assuming you have a back yard) What I like to do is have the new dog roam the back yard while the current dog is inside looking out. This allows him to watch this new dog sniff and interact with it’s new environment and allows the current dog to assess the dog from a distance. Then you are going to switch roles and have the current dog go outside while the new dog is looking outside. This allows the current dog to investigate what the new dog did and allows the new dog to assess the new dog.

Next step is leash greeting in the back yard (assuming the dogs are leash aggressive/reactive). They both get to be in the back yard together supervised, on leash and get to watch each other from a distance. Training at this time would be a good thing for both of them to learn that their presence in the same area is a positive thing, not something that needs to be take care of.  When they are fine, that’s when you can release them off their leash and do some refereeing.

When introducing them inside, by this point, they should be comfortable with each other enough to get along. But there are certain spots in the house that could be the current dog’s favorite spots. Before this step, have designated spots in the house where each dog can have their space. During the new dog’s stay in the house while the current dog is out of the house is a good time to associate a certain spot for the new comer. You’re going to do the same thing as in the back yard with leash greeting and training.

At this point, they should be fine. Of course you have dogs that take a bit longer to accept a new place. Having a puppy and letting different people and animals come into it’s space from an early age is best so it generalizes and learns that it doesn’t need to be so territorial over it’s space later in life.

 

Don’ts:

If you have ANY doubts that your dog will not accept this dog, do not get him. Unless you are going to be working with him with a behaviorist. Having one dog with dog aggression is bad enough. Having two dogs with dog aggression that do not get along is even worse.

If you don’t have time to do proper socialization steps like mention above, I highly recommend NOT to bring in another dog whether a new dog or babysitting. I know sometimes it just happens (which I am going through right now) and you just have to work around it.

NEVER let your dogs greet all at once if they’ve never met each other.  Just today, I have Sugar, a wolf dog, Claire, a GSD Mix, and Kilo, an American Eskimo for our normal dogs, and then Kira, Sugar’s sister (Who we are babysitting) and Pandora (Sugar and Kira’s Sibling) come over today. Kira came Friday night and is staying with us until Tuesday or Wednesday. I wanted to see if Pandora and Kira would recognize each other, because they were siblings, so because of my excitement of getting the three together, My dog trainer brain went out the door and “Oh this will be awesome” entered the brain. Within two minutes, Kira and Pandora were at each others face and Sugar tried to break them up by getting in on the fight. I got them to stop, and that got me into dog trainer mode and grabbed leashes and did what I was SUPPOSED to do in the first place. Pandora had a nip on her nose, but it wasn’t too deep and she didn’t seem to shaken up by it.  By the end of the short session, Pandora and Kira were able to stand on the deck without reacting at each other. They were a bit indifferent to each other, but it’s a step forward!  With Kilo, he is a bit territorial, so I have to keep him separated unless I am there to watch it and it’s only short sessions. They both went up to each other and Kilo still learning how to react to new dogs and Kira not so keen with Small dogs too terribly, I try and separate them from  each other before it gets to that point. I would love it if it got to the point where they all got along together so they can all be out at the same time, but that will be a lot more practice that just this short little week.

 

So there you have it. My own personal fumble and proper Do’s and Don’ts on how to actually prevent what I should have done in the first place, but accidents happen and we learn from it.  So don’t feel bad if you did what I did. Even people who’ve been doing dog training for years sometimes have accidents like this and we just have to step back and think on how we could have prevent it and how to properly go about it the next time so it doesn’t happen again.

Look At this Mess! Potty Training Tips!

So, you’ve got a puppy! Or maybe an older dog who isn’t house-broken just yet. Either way, these training tips with help with your journey!

Now, as many of you know by now, I don’t do traditional training methods. So I don’t rub their noses in their messes, nor is there a smack on the behind when such things occur. And here’s why:

Dogs are creatures who crave Attention. Whether it’s good or bad. So, when you are getting on your pup or older dog  for peeing on your favorite rug, it’s still attention and you are rewarding that behavior, even though you don’t want to. The only thing with using Traditional methods, not only are they gaining that attention they are wanting, they are also learning that you do not like it when they go potty in front of you, so they will try to go in other rooms.

So what do I do then?

Whenever Fido does go in the house, Ignore it. Yep, you read right. The reason is what I stated above. They are attention seeking animals, they crave it. So by not rewarding the behavior with any sort of attention, they are going to wonder how they can get the attention they so desire.

When you take Fido outside for potty time, make sure to have at least three tasty treats with you. When he finally goes to the bathroom, Mark the behavior and when he’s finished Treat and praise like it’s the best thing he has ever done in his life. Pretty soon, he’s going to figure out really fast that nothing happens inside and all the fun happens outside. Once he’s made that association, he is going to be ten times more likely to let you know that he has to go and go outside. Also, always reward him for letting you know by telling him good boy and/or giving him a treat. He’s going to let you know more often as you reward the behavior.

Scheduling when he needs to go out is another part of the training process. Dogs already do wonderful when they know what’s going to happen next. They are as habitual as we humans are. Get a piece of paper and put it up next to the door that you take your dog out.  Every time you take your dog out, write down the time that you did and when you come back in, write if he’s gone number one and number two. If he hadn’t gone, try going out for a walk or a bit of play time to get him moving, as movement helps pass stool.

If he doesn’t go after all of that, either keep a leash on him and with you at all times until he goes or have him be in the same room as you with your eyes on him like a hawk. Dogs show body language when they need to go. When they need to urinate, they tend to keep their noses to the ground and walk around like they are searching for something. When they need to defecate, they tend to sniff the ground and waddle around in a circle. If male, they tend to go and lift their legs on items, so watch out for that.
If he’s gone inside without you knowing, try and determine the time that he had gone. For instance, if there wasn’t a mess at 12pm, but at 1 pm, there was, write down on that piece of paper when you think it happened. If you see your dog going inside, call his name or make a noise to distract him and redirect him outside, or if small enough, pick him up and carry him outside and praise for finishing.

The times you need to take your dog out is after kenneling, about 10 minutes after eating and drinking, play time and naps. Try and take them out every 2 hours, unless they can hold it for longer or they can’t hold it that long. Try and go off of what your dog can or can’t do just yet.

Kenneling will definitely help with the training process by teaching them how to hold it. Be careful with doing this however, making them hold it for too long can up the chances of them contracting a Urinary Tract Infection or UTI, which is nasty and painful to have. The most time a puppy or dog should stay in a kennel at one time is 5 hours max. Any longer than that without potty breaks run the risk of getting a UTI.

“What do I clean up the messes with? It stinks and he keeps going back to that spot no matter what I do”

There are enzyme cleaners out there that are designed to clean up the messes, get rid of the smell and the bacteria that gets them to come back to that spot over and over again. The bacteria that is in Urine and Feces is hard to get rid of, even bleach doesn’t get rid of it entirely. The enzymes eat up the bacteria and thus cleaning the area fully. My favorite is Nature’s Miracle. It works on virtually every fabric and wood floor. The one type of fabric I have found changing it’s color was Wool carpeting and other items made of wool. They even have this brand designed in different formulas for different surfaces, so check it out next time you are on the web or in a pet store. One of the best brands out there to date.

So there you have it! The ins and outs of potty training to a T. I have helped so many people with this method and every single one of them has come back to me and said how much this has worked and I hope this works out for you too!