Chains and Prongs and Electronic Collars Oh-My.

When it comes to finding training tools to help with the training process, there really is a right and wrong tool to use.  So which tools are the best to use? First, before using any sort of training tool whether you saw it at a pet store, or your trainer has given you the go on using such items, they are just that; Tools. They are aids to help you get to your goal of what you are working towards and are not a permanent item to keep on your dogs.

Another thing you have to keep in mind is that these tools can be used against you. Dogs can become reliable on just using those tools to be able to perform the behavior you want. But as soon as you take the tool off, all training goes out the door. So when you are using a tool, be sure you have a goal of removing that tool for good by doing the training your trainer has told you to do. If your trainer says that you will need these items for the remainder of the dog’s life, seek another trainer’s guidance.

 

Now, down to the tools that are used for Anti-Pulling training. There are Martingale collars, Choke Chains, Pronged Collars, Electronic Collars,  Head Halties, and Haltie Harnesses. I am going to go over each of these individually and you can see where they sit on the dog’s body and what it does.

 

Warning: There are pictures depicted below that are graphic in nature. If you cannot handle it, please do not go any farther.

 

 

The Martingale Collar: This is designed to tighten around a dog’s neck as soon as he pulls, and release when he doesn’t. Worn right under the chin on the highest part of the neck, dogs who wear this the dog’s owner is looking for a quick release choke collar without the chain. Although designed to be more comfortable around the neck than a chain, it does the same exact thing as a choke chain. Typically, a dog to respond to this type of collar needs to be really sensitive around the neck area and can grasp the concept of the tighten, release idea when pulling. The down sides of this type of collar is that the material can most definitely wear the fur off of the area of the neck that this is place. If the dog pulls constantly and he doesn’t get what you are asking of him, there can be internal damage as well from using these collars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choke Chains are another type of training tools that are out there. This is designed for the same use as the martingale collar. There is a right and a wrong way of wearing this collar. When you are putting a collar like this on, It needs to look like the letter P from your point of view like the upper left hand corner. This allows the collar to release when the dog pulls back from pulling. The upper right corner is the wrong way to put a collar on and is very dangerous as this does not allow release even if the dog pulls back, so it is still blocking the airways. If you are using this collar in reverse or know of someone that is using a collar like this reverse, please turn it around. In addition there are so many things that can happen when using this collar. If you leave the collar on without supervision there can be accidents that could be detrimental. It could get caught on something and he cannot get away. When put on the right way, he may have a better chance with the release factor, but if the collar is on wrong, the tighter he pulls, the more he can’t breathe. The images below are what can happen to your dog if always left with this collar on, or it is too small or is constantly used (He doesn’t understand the use of the collar)

 

 

If you are using one of these collars and you cannot give more than 2 inches of release for the god to fall back on, then you need a bigger collar or get a regular collar and harness.

 

Pronged Collars are typically the go to tool for those tougher pullers out there. Designed to cause discomfort when pulling and designed for release when the dog pulls back. They are worn high on the neck like the martingales and the choke chains to hit the sensitive part of the neck. There are dangers when using these types of collars especially with dogs who pull too hard. Some dogs don’t register what is happening with their neck until a puncture happens. If left alone with these types of collars on can result in them pulling too hard for these punctures to happen as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The picture to the left is after a surgery to repair an injury in the neck after using a choke chain. The picture above is puncture wounds caused by a pronged collar. Although these are not wounds around the front of the neck, it can still happen. In this case, the pronged collar was way too small for this dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now there are electronic collars that are used as tools in training. Whether it be pulling, parking or just in general obedience training. Every time the dog does a behavior the owner doesn’t like, the dog receives an electric shock as the behavior is being done.  The thing about using shock collars, spray collars, and ultrasonic collars is that it suppresses behaviors instead of actually solving and training the behaviors that are undesirable, which in turns, makes the behavior even worse in the long run. They also become Collar trained, which means they will only perform the behaviors you are happy with with the collar on. There are so many dangers that come along with using such devices and if you are using one, I highly advise that you rethink the use of them.

 

 
The picture is of an electronic (shock) collar burn. This is what happens when you use a shock collar excessively or put on too high of a setting. A lot of times dogs will become used to the level of shock that you are using and so you have to go higher and higher in the setting. But what happens is that even though the dog is used to the setting, the skin is not.

 

 

 

 

 
Above is a diagram of the inside of the dog’s neck. They’ve got the vocal cords, trachea, larynx, esophagus, and the thyroid (Not pictured) all in the sensitive part of their neck. Dog’s skin isn’t all that different to ours, the only reason someone would say that dogs have thicker skin is because the dog doesn’t tend to show any reactions to any pain until enough force or trauma is inflicted to show any signs. Cats do the same thing. If you don’t believe that the dog’s skin is similar to ours, at least look at all of the important parts in the neck that is being damaged in the process of using all devices above in the name of training.  There has been so many cases where the dog has to go to the vet for damages from using tools such as this.

When using any of the products above, they cause intimidation in your dog. The process of “If I do this, This happens” and what the dog is actually learning with this process is just what to avoid. They aren’t really learning anything but self preservation. Dogs that learn to use these products and never is taught otherwise for all it’s life, if you take the product off, most likely, they are going to pull because they’ve become collar trained instead of learning how to walk beside you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tools that you see now are what you call Anti-Pull Harness and Head Halters. These are the more humane way of training because the way this type of tool works is that it doesn’t cause any sort of physical discomfort, it makes them turn around and slightly confuses them as to why they are now facing you. The head halters are designed to pull the head downward when they pull like how horse halters work.

 

When working with anti-pulling, always work with a trainer that will help you teach the dog how to walk beside you instead of inflicting intimidation as to what would happen if he doesn’t walk next to you. Remember, dogs aren’t born into the world knowing what to do, it’s our job to teach them the behaviors that you want!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All pictures I got out of Google Images.

Dominance 101

This is a continuation of my last blog about dominance called “Who’s Dominating Who?”. I would read that first before continuing this post.

 

With Traditional training, the concept of “Dominance” is used very often. In fact, every normal puppy or dog behavior you see is typically classified as the dog trying to one up you to be the leader.  What Dominance Training doesn’t do is teach you what the underlying problem of the behavior you are seeing it.

When you look at wolves in the wild, you do see ranks. There’s an Alpha Male and an Alpha Female. They are a mating pair and they are the “Pack Leaders”. The other wolves are lower than them. When another wolf goes up to them Alpha wolves, they typically have their heads lowered, lip licking, tails lowered and sometimes they will do a “Submissive Roll” to show that they are not a threat.

There’s a PDF online called “Dominance Final” (PDF linked at the bottom) and there is an excerpt that I want to share from it.

“Status is regularly displayed through ritualized
greeting in which subordinates routinely approach the
alpha wolves in a submissive manner, crouching with their
tails low, licking their lips, and rolling over and exposing

their bellies to the higher-ranked individual (submissive
roll). The alpha wolves stand with their heads high and
tails raised. However, in multi-dog households, even when
a dominant–subordinate relationship clearly exists as
shown by ritualized displays over valued resources, lower ranking
dogs do not routinely greet higher-ranking dogs
in a manner that displays rank. In addition, the postures
that dogs can show vary by breed. More paedo-morphic
breeds (those resembling the juvenile stages of wolf development),
such as the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, have a
smaller communicative repertoire than breeds that physically
resemble adult wolves”
As you see in the picture the relationship between these two wolves are very clear. The one rolled on it’s side has shown that he is submissive to the other wolf, while the other wolf has the dominant position. The roll is an offered position to the other wolf to show that he is in no way a threat to him or his rank and brings peace. The other wolf shows direct eye contact and his body is leaning forward. This is showing the other wolf that he has established himself as the dominant one and if the other wolf decided to be dominant, there would have been a fight. How wolves form their ranks do it as peacefully as possible. There are the natural leaders and the natural followers. The Natural leaders are the ones that are going to want to see who can lead the pack better and then a fight may happen, but typically it’s done naturally like the picture above.
When relating this to the Human to Dog relationship, this just doesn’t work. Both Humans and Dogs have been domesticated too much to really go back to that primal age to do that. For us to try and use Dominance as a way of training and behavioral modification is like trying to force someone to face their most feared phobia and punish them for not doing what you were expected of them. It just doesn’t work like that and in most cases, makes the problem worse because this type of training does not tackle what caused the problem and help them cope and understand and deal.
The picture above is what a dog looks like when it’s being “Dominant” and/or Aggressive. Although, Dominance and Aggression are two different things. Dominance between dogs are very subtle and hardly, do we typically see the magic of it happening. Yes, there are dogs that mount other dogs, that pull them around their necks, etc. That is what you call a dog who is a bully, or a dog that has not learned to play correctly. Two dogs who have learned how to play correctly will not show such “Dominant Traits” and you will see that they are playing peacefully and harmoniously because they’ve already established “Who’s the top dog” without us even noticing.
Dogs with aggression are dogs who have either never been socialized properly when growing up or something negative happened when associating with another dog (Either dog attack or owner overly corrected a behavior around another dog). These dogs need help gaining confidence through Counter Conditioning through a Positive Reinforcement Trainer to help with their journey.
This picture shows a dog that is Fearful, Submissive and/or Worried. Dogs who show this type of behavior are dogs who come from homes/areas that did treat them right or they didn’t get proper socialization. Dogs who are also Bullies will also elicit this reaction as well. When you see a dog and he does this reaction, I advice you not to pet this dog. They could be fearful and sometimes will lash out in hopes that you will back off. Sometimes this stance is an appeasement stance and tells you and other dogs that they are not a threat. Watch all aspects of the body language and gauge appropriately.
Dogs Jumping from the Traditional way of training is often depicted as a dog trying to dominate the person. There are many reasons why a dog jumps up on a person: whether it’s for greeting (Dogs greet nose to nose, so they will try to greet your nose), they’re excited, want attention, and/or it’s been previously rewarded for it. The old method of trying to stop dogs from doing this undesired behavior was a knee to the chest, but studies have shown damage to the dog as well as the person when doing these types of training. A lot of the times it doesn’t work because physical contact is some times rewarding to a dog. The proper way of dealing with jumping is simply ignoring the jumping and rewarding the behavior you want from the dog (Sit or four feet on the floor). Once your dog has learned an alternative behavior that gets attention, they tend to do the behavior that gets the attention.
A dog pulling you down the street has also been depicted being dominant over the owner in attempts to show the human to where he wants to go and not where the owner wants to go. This is also far from the truth as well. Dogs who pull don’t know any differently or just has been allowed to do so, so it’s self rewarding. To walk by our sides is not a natural thing for a dog to do. Dogs are not born with that ingrained in their genetic make up. You have to teach them that that is what is expected of them, not dragging us down the street. There are so many distracting and interesting things out there, it’s so hard not to try to get to them to check them out. Teaching a dog to walk by your side also helps with their impulse control and helps them learn that they only get what they want when the owner decides that they can go check out that smelly bush.  Anti pull harnesses are a great tool for helping with this process.
So when you see people telling other people that their dog is dominating them and is trying to take over the leadership role, remind them that maybe they should take a step back and look at why their dog is behaving like that, instead of just jumping to the old conclusion that their dog is out to de-thrown them. Dogs are just trying to cope with living in a human world, not try and take over it. It’s our job to show them how to through humane and positive training.
Below are more pictures of dog dominance and submission.

Preparing for a Big Move?

Moving for us can be exciting, or frustrating, depending on how you feel about moving and the situation on why you are moving. For us, this is normal feelings and we can express them and vent them out in safe ways.

Our pets, especially our dogs, do not have the ability to comprehend the “Big Move”. The house that they have been probably from when they were puppies suddenly look different. Big brown box-shaped things towered around the house, the humans running around, placing random past chew objects from puppy hood into those strange brown things, giant car outside. What could this mean?

When we are under stress, we also exude hormones such as cortisol, the stress hormone, whether we are excited or not. This comes off as strange to our dogs and so they come under stress for not understanding what’s going on. So they act out, or hide, depending on the personality of your .
When you are planning a big move, the best thing to do is take your dog over to the new house and neighborhood and take some walks around there. This is to familiarize with the smells and sounds of the new place. Do this for about two weeks until he is comfortable. If he marks, let him mark. This will help him cope a little better if he can smell himself around the area when the big move happens. If you can even go inside the new house, that would be even better. Show him each room, backyard if you have one and let him get accustomed to it before anything is in there. Maybe bring some of his favorite toys and treats to associate great things with this place.

After you move a few boxes in, take a small break by taking your dog over to the house again when nothing is happening and let him sniff again. If you can move a little bit of his toys that he doesn’t really play with to leave there, that would be better. This way he can associate this place slowly as a new area of his territory. Keep repeating this step until you are down to your last load of things to move over. On the last load, when the house is empty, walk around your old house with your dog and let him see that it’s empty. This will help bring closer for him and move on and help him realize that this will no longer be his territory.

During the unpacking stage, have someone either take your kiddo to a dog park, or see if everyone will be ok with unpacking without you, so that the stress levels of your dog stays down. Unpacking can be very stressful for people and for dogs, so try to keep them away from the area as much as possible, taking breaks to re-introduce your dog to the house as is unpacked.

Put his toys in an area you know that you want him to be (Like, his kennel, or where his bed is going to be) and introduce him to that area over and over again. Then when you start unpacking again, let him out back or take him back to the park for fun times.

Do this until you are completely unpacked and then relax! Your dog will have had a stress free move, and hopefully you would have been too!

Who’s Dominating Who?

 

Have you ever heard when a dog walks in front of you, he’s trying to dominate you? Have you heard if he jumps on you, pulls you down the street, barks at you or growls or being stubborn, he’s trying to dominate you? Yes?

 

All of these are false. Why? The reason is puppies aren’t born to know everything they are supposed to know. They are born with the basic instincts. They don’t know what’s going to happen after they are old enough to leave mom. Though, staying with mom is the first step of the learning process for about 8-12 weeks. They get basic socialization skills, they learn bite inhibitions, and learn proper play with the other puppies.

As you get a new puppy, they are going to have behaviors that you aren’t going to like. Jumping, pottying in the house, chewing, barking, etc. It’s all a part of puppies growing up. The old concept of training tells you that your puppy is trying to be the top dog if he does all of these behaviors. That he wants to be the leader and not you. However, when you just sit down and think about it, what other creature do you see this type of behaviors from? That’s right, human babies! They potty in their diaper because they aren’t either old enough to be toilet trained just yet or they haven’t been taught yet. They chew because they are teething, they cry because they want something, it’s just like a puppy!

When you think back to Dominance training, you think Wolves, right? There’s a pack leader, there’s ranks among them, they work harmoniously with each other and a few times out of a year or so, another pack mate fights for the right to be the leader. The only difference between Wolves and Dogs is that; yes, even though dogs derive from wolves, they have been domesticated over centuries, that basic instincts of domination has been suppressed enough that you can barely see that it’s there unless it’s between dogs.

In fact, the only time you would see “Wolf Pack Mentality” between dogs is if there are a number of them roaming as strays and they would have to find their own resources. They need a leader to help find food, water, shelter, all of which we already provide for our dogs. The “Dominance” you see in dogs today are so subtle, you can barely tell that it’s there unless a dog has learned to bully. But that’s a whole other blog 🙂

 

So going back to the behaviors that were being perceived as Domination, if you sit down and teach your young (or older) pup what to do instead of what you don’t want, they are more likely going to do what you taught them instead. They are just trying to learn how to be in a world of humans. It’s our jobs to teach them how to be instead of thinking they are trying to dominate us. They are just confused and need some simple guidance, and with that guidance, it goes a long way.

In my next blog I will break down the difference between dominance between dogs, body language, and what it all means. I will even provide some pictures as well! Stay tuned!

Am I Ready for that Puppy??

 

This is the number 1 question you should ask yourself before you start looking. The reason you want to start with this question is because a lot of people buy puppies on the spot without putting much thought into it, then realizing what they got into later.

So, then how do you know you are ready for this puppy?

Well, The first thing you have to ask yourself about this puppy is, Will I be able to provide a forever home for this dog?

Depending on the breed of dog you get, their lifespan is from 7 years to 17 years old. The bigger the dog, the lower lifespan he has, visa versa.

Should I get any breed of puppy? Or Do some research first?

Look at your life. Do you have a family? How active are you? Will you be hiking? Or lounging around the house. Each dog has different needs depending on the breed.

An Australian shepherd is going to need to have someone who is willing to spend a lot of time with him training, running, hiking, and maybe even some agility to keep up with the speed of his mind and body.

A Chihuahua is going to be more of a companion dog wanting to stay by your side with some training, but mostly companionship.

So do your research, that’s the best way to come up with the best breed.

So what about those medical bills, toys, training, nutrition?

Getting a puppy is by all means not cheap. By the time the puppy is 8 weeks old, he is going to need is first set of shots and his first worming. Maybe you will want to enroll him into some classes. That right there including the shots and classes is about $200 alone, By the time he is 12-16 weeks, he is going to need his second round of shots. About another $45. Then his neuter or her spay, $80-$400 depending where you go and how you want the procedure done. Rabies shot about $30, then licensing $35, last set of shots, checkups. Maybe more classes, depending on how far you want to go with him.
High quality food will run between $20-$70 depending on the size of bag each month.

You’re already looking probably into the $2000 by the time he is 1 year old. If you’re lucky to have it that low. That is not counting toys that he has probably destroyed numerous times.

 

So, the same question applies: Am I ready for that puppy?

If you can say yes after reading above, then you are.

 

Here is a wonderful video that explains it all very briefly but goes over every point:

Early Neurogical Stimulation in Your Newborn Puppies

 

This is a wonderful article by Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia about the military research they’ve done in the early stimulation in dogs. They talk about how dogs will reach sexual maturity early, as well as lead a less stressful life, being able to handle stress better than dogs who weren’t exposed to light stresses early in life. Here are four different stimulation exercises:

 

“1. Tactile stimulation – holding the pup in one hand, the handler gently stimulates (tickles) the pup between the toes on any one foot using a Q-tip. It is not necessary to see that the pup is feeling the tickle. Time of stimulation 3 – 5 seconds.
2. Head held erect – using both hands, the pup is held perpendicular to the ground, (straight up), so that its head is directly above its tail. This is an upwards position. Time of stimulation 3 – 5 seconds.
3. Head pointed down – holding the pup firmly with both hands the head is reversed and is pointed downward so that it is pointing towards the ground. Time of stimulation 3 – 5 seconds.
4. Supine position – hold the pup so that its back is resting in the palm of both hands with its muzzle facing the ceiling. The pup while on its back is allowed to sleep. Time of stimulation 3-5 seconds.”

 

Here is the link for the rest of the information that I am sure you’re craving for! A definite must read for any dogs who are having puppies!

 

http://breedingbetterdogs.com/pdfFiles/articles/early_neurological_stimulation_en.pdf

 

 

“The Greatness of a Nation and it’s Moral Progress can by Judged by the way it’s Animals are Treated”
-Gandhi

This is such a true quote. You can tell how much passion a person has just by the way they treat their animals. Animals love unconditionally, especially dogs. They don’t know how to judge, they don’t know racism, they don’t know the troubles that you are going through, and they still accept you for who you are because of one sheer thing: Love. If love from an animal is the only way to achieve happiness, then I am glad to go that route.

“The Greatness of a Nat…