Author - Junior Watson

Using The Leash For Control & Leadership

leash-training-cesarMany people dislike leashes for their dogs.

“My dog pulls too much”.
“My dog stays right by me”.
“My dog wants the freedom to sniff and mark trees”.
“It’s not fair to confine a dog with a leash”.

“So, WHY should I leash my dog?”

Safety Requires Control

Once you teach your dog that walking on a leash does NOT mean pulling (please attend a local dog obedience class – they will teach you how!), leashes are a wonderful control tool. Proper use will be most symbolic to your dog – you are the leader and YOU decide where both of you will go. Leashes set boundaries for dogs. A dog that runs loose and “thinks for himself” has no reason to respect another. A dog that runs free can, in a split second, decide to dash into the street, chase another person, dog, car, cat, or just plain take off

“My dog stays right with by me”. Trust like that can be a dangerous thing!

If your dog walks with you without a leash, they are free to do anything you may – or may not – want them to do! Other loose dogs, strays, or wild animals may tangle with your dog. You have no control. On leash, you still may not have control over the other animal, but on-leash control (along with a good “LEAVE IT” command) could help prevent the encounter in the first place. Dogs are very instinctive and reactive. If a running squirrel, cat, rabbit, or deer crosses your path, the dog’s chase instinct (prey drive) clicks in. No amount of voice control will stop the chase! Many dogs have been lost chasing deer. A strange noise or movement can instantly change your dog into a non-thinking, reactive beast. Off they dash, brains out of control, leaving you definitely out of control.

Effective Training Requires Respect

Training, in general, involves well timed and consistent praise and correction. You cannot control a dog, let alone train a dog, without leash and collar control. Leashes help keep your dog close by you so you can use well timed corrections and praise.

One of the most important things to teach a dog is the recall (“COME”) command. Many dog owners find this one if the most difficult excercises to teach and reinforce. Because people often view the command as easy to understand, they quickly move to off leash recalls. The fact is, consistent and repetitive training ON LEASH is the ONLY WAY to achieve a recall that happens every time (watch for more about recalls in upcoming articles). Without a leash, your dog has choices: that neat tree with all the smells, that squirrel, or you. Hmmm…I suspect you will be number three on that list of choices! You need to remove the choices so that there is ONLY ONE CHOICE – YOU. By removing the wrong choices, you can avoid all the negative (and nagging) attention your dog may get from incorrect choices.

“I said COME. COME SPOT. COME. COME HERE NOW!! RIGHT NOW!!!!

Sound familiar?

By quickly showing the dog the correct choice – with leash and collar attached – you can quickly praise for that correct choice, even if you had to make the dog obey. This will help to show that your, as leader, have everything under control and your dog has nothing to worry about.

You can build a trusting relationship on your confident leadership – by using a leash!

How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Its Poop!

How to stop dog from eating its own poopOne of the most frequent questions I get, aside from the more destructive behaviors, is about dogs eating poop!

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

A couple of my dogs especially like the frozen variety (“poopsicles”), and will eat more stool in the wintertime. I have also talked with people whose dogs like to eat fresh stool.

I don’t really think anyone has the definitive answer for this, but here are a few theories:

  • With foods higher in nutrients, dogs actually will eliminate some food that is still “usable”. (I really don’t think this is so)
  • Dogs are looking for vitamins, minerals & nutrients that they may be lacking. (again, with all the high quality food being produced, I doubt it)
  • I do know that baby horses (foals) NEED to eat their mother’s stool to get the right bacteria into their gastrointestinal tract. Perhaps there is some truth here for dogs…

How To Stop Dogs Eating Their Poop

I don’t think there is any one way to get dogs to leave stool alone. Below are a few suggestions. You can try any or all of the below!

The best help to curb poop eaters is to keep the stool as cleaned up as possible. I will always joke with people and tell them to teach their dog to poop in a shovel! There is a product available through your veterinarian called “For-Bid”. It is an additive for the dog’s food that supposedly will make the stool less desirable for them (as if it already isn’t!). Some people have success with mixing meat tenderizer like Adolf’s into the dog’s food each meal. It is supposed to have the same effect as For-Bid. Solid Gold now makes a product additive called S.E.P. (Stop Eating Poop) that can be tried, as well.

Accompany your dog outside each and every time, and teach and use a command such as “Leave It!” to get him to avoid stool. Your neighbors will wonder what you are doing with this one: go outside and sprinkle an ample quantity of Tabasco-type sauce on each and every stool. The sauce has to be very hot, because some dogs enjoy the more mild hot sauces.

Spray a bitter apple, bitter orange or similar deterrent on each stool.

For dogs who will turn around and eat their own stool as soon as they are finished, or for those who eat others’ stool as they are pooping, the best way unfortunately is to have your dog on leash and use the “leave it” command.

What About Cat Poop?

Most dogs find cat “cookies” irresistible. It is very hard to deter a dog from eating cat poop, because, like eating any poop, it is self-rewarding behavior (the behavior itself is its reward). Cat litter boxes cannot be sprayed with bitter orange or anything like that, or the CAT will be discouraged from using it! In my household, I just position the cat boxes in places the dogs cannot reach. I use a covered litter pan in one area, which is a great deterrent for bigger dogs. In another area, I have the litter box blocked by a baby gate leaning against the doorway so only the cats can fit through (I have taught my dogs to respect the baby gates). A cat door to the basement can be used. Or a door can be kept open only a little, using some means to both keep it open and keep it closed enough so the dog can’t get through.

One word of caution about dogs and cat stool. The new clumping litter can pose a health threat to dogs if they eat it. Think of what the litter does when urine is deposited in it. Similar things can happen in a dog’s stomach if he eats enough of it.

With enough diligence, stool eating can often be eliminated. Unfortunately, many people would rather not spend the time thAsk Your Dog Training Questionsat is needed.

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Why You (Always) Need To Use A Dog Leash

I’ll explain this this by means of a story:

We were up north at my family’s cottage for the Christmas holidays when Bailey, my Golden Retriever, was just a year old. Back then, we had two dogs: Bailey and Betsy, a seasoned Shepherd Mix. One cold but bright and snowy day, we ventured to the Ocqueoc State Park trails for a walk and a romp in the wonderful northern Michigan snow.

Both dogs were off leash and having a grand time running ahead of us and back, never venturing far – our voice commands kept them close. We had fun exploring the frozen waterfalls and river, and walked down the ungroomed cross-country ski trails until we became tired and cold.

Dog Leash

Our walk back towards the parking area started uneventfully, until a cross-country skier loomed up behind us and rushed past – never saying a word; not “excuse me”, “coming through”, nothing. To my Golden puppy, he was an ALIEN! She saw him coming and turned and ran down the trail ahead of him. Both dog and skier were quickly out of sight, with us yelling for Bailey after them. The skier NEVER stopped! We ran through the 4-6″ of snow as fast as we could, hoping to find Bailey off in the woods.

We came to a fork in the trail and one of us went one way, one the other, both calling Bailey’s name constantly. Betsy chose to stay with the person I was with, and they made it back to the parking lot before me. Breathless, she asked the people there if they had seen a dog run through. They said they had, and that she had continued OUT of the lot! Quickly she got into the truck and drove in the direction she thought Bailey had taken.

As luck would have it, she found fresh tracks in the snow on the road and followed them to where they turned down another road. This road led directly to the main highway! Turning down the road, she finally caught sight of her, STILL RUNNING. She quickly drove closer and called out of the truck after her. Bailey turned her head and kept running. Stopping the truck, she sent Betsy off after her, and that is what got Bailey to stop, look and come back to her.

I am telling you this story so you can learn from my experience. There are several morals to this story:

  1. If your dog is not leashed, you have NO control.
  2. No matter how trained you feel your dog is, when an unfamiliar situation occurs training leaves and instinct takes over.
  3. Not all people have sense or manners concerning dogs. (If I were the skier, I would have stopped!)

The lesson is simple – always keep your dog on a leash, unless you are in a completely secure, safe environment. If you have trouble handling your dog on a leash, read our leash training guide.

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Food Bowl Control – What You Need To Know

Leaving the dogs food out

“But he never finishes all of his food, so I just leave it out so he can eat whenever he wants.” There are many reasons why I don’t agree with free-feeding:

  1. If my dog ever has a health problem, I cannot accurately say what kind of eating history he has had recently.
  2. If you have more than one dog (or even cats, for that matter – I have seen cats eat dog food) you cannot regulate who is eating what.
  3. For puppies, good potty training cannot happen with a pup who eats whatever/whenever s/he wants.
  4. Dogs who have free feed never realize where their food comes from.

The first three reasons are fairly self-explanatory. It is reason number 4 we will discuss here.

Resource Control

Part of good leadership and respect habits branch from the control of resources: food, water, rest areas, and access to outside. A good leader provides an adequate amount of each; not too much, and definately not too little. Leaders in the canine pack let the others know when they can eat, drink and sleep. We, as human leaders of dogs, don’t need to be so strict, but letting dogs know where the food comes from does help with leadership symbolism. As you will discover through reading these leadership articles (yes, there are more to come) a lot of what dogs know and understand is through many symbolic actions.

By starting to feed a puppy 3 times daily for a specific time period (usually 20 minutes or so) and then removing the food, we are setting a pattern for both:

  1. You need to eat when it is offered to you and
  2. You cannot have any more until next time.

Soon, the puppy will understand the concept of mealtimes and look to you at feeding time.

Dogs Don’t Need A Set Mealtime

Contrary to what you may think, dogs do NOT need a set mealtime. This may actually be a blessing to those busy owners with erratic schedules. Dogs do appreciate routine, so feeding within a certain block of time is best (in other words, although you don’t need to feed your dog precisely at 5pm, s/he should be fed somewhere between 4 and 8pm). NOT feeding at a specific time will benefit owners of “pushy” dogs – those who insist by pacing, getting underfoot, nudging, or perhaps barking to you that “It is time to EAT! FEED ME NOW!”. You, as the benevolent leader, stop the pushy pattern of pacing, etc. by telling Spot to go to his place and “chill out” (all dogs should have a place they can go to – more on that later). You can offer Spot a chew, or better yet, teach him to find it for himself – “Where’s your bone?! Go find your bone!”

Many trainers feel owners should eat FIRST (remember, leaders get to do everything first) before the dog(s) are fed. This is a good time to work with “no begging”. Dogs are opportunists, and pushy dogs will insist you feed them from the table.

“Spot, NO – go lie down!” – or crate him during your meal.

Since you, as leader, now control the food resource, you also control the food bowl itself. The food bowl is on loan to your dog. This means you can set down or pick up the bowl whenever you want – without a quarrel from your dog. In some instances, this may be easier said than done. Some puppies and dogs are naturally very protective around their food and will guard it from other dogs, animals and humans. This can be a potentially BIG problem. If you, a child, or another dog invade this dog’s “personal space” around the food bowl (perhaps, just by walking by) the dog may attack. Some people believe a dog should be fed by itself in a separate room. This is fine, unless the routine is broken (“I forgot! I was supposed to fast the dog before surgery tomorrow!”) and someone attempts to take away the bowl.

The biggest rule in my house is; a dog is NEVER allowed to growl at me, let alone snap or bite – under ANY circumstances! I don’t care if I am standing with all my weight on his foot – NEVER allowed to bite!

How do you achieve this with the food bowl?

Start with an empty bowl in your lap, or on the floor by you. (If your dog won’t tolerate even that without a growl or a snap, then STOP reading this and get your dog to a behaviorist FAST!) Have the dog food in another container that only you can reach. If the dog is pushy or unruly, then have another person enforce a “SIT”, so the dog isn’t jumping on you. Dribble a few kibbles into the bowl, remove your hand, and let him eat. If he growls or stares hard during this stage, please stop and see a behaviorist. Dribble a few more kibbles into the bowl and let the dog eat. Then add more, until he has eaten his whole meal – provided by you. Do this for the next several days, or up to a week or more, before moving to the next step. With the next step, you let your hand linger in the bowl a little longer after putting in the food, then longer still after a few days, until your hand is in the bowl while the dog is eating. You can even modify your approach by feeding the kibble from you hand – near, in or over the bowl – until you are feeding kibble from the bowl. At any time during these excercises, if the dogs growls or snaps, take a step backward in the feeding process and work on it for several more days before moving forward again.

The above training is BEST done while the dog is still a puppy! Older dogs can be MUCH more protective and have a lot less inhibition about protecting what they feel is theirs. CAUTION ALWAYS is key when working an excercise like this with an older dog. You may even need help in starting. If so, a professional trainer can guide you through the process.

2 Tips To Ensuring Your Dog’s Safety

Since my “other” job in life is as a Licensed Veterinary Technician, I have an opportunity to see many pets in a clinic situation. Two NON-veterinary things can EASILY be done by pet (especially dog) owners to save your pet from VERY preventable emergencies.

dog-safety

1. Have Sufficient Identification For Your Pet

Too often, I see dogs, puppies and cats walk through our door wearing a very cool collar with NO TAGS! All it takes is an INSTANT of fear on your pet’s part (or the perception of fun, even – “I think I want to chase that squirrel.” for example). People laugh at me with all the “jewelry” my dogs have on their collars: home ID, cottage ID, clinic ID, Home Again ID Chip ID, Therapy Dog ID, and License. No matter where I am, if my dogs gets away from me, I want whoever finds them to have the easiest way to contact me. I put ALL information on the tags: dog’s name, phone number, and address (I once returned a dog to an owner who was right around the block from where I was, which saved me taking the dog 10 miles away to my home and calling). Some people avoid putting the dog’s name on their tags – however, sometimes that may be the key to that stranger even getting their hands on the dog as opposed to watching the dog run into the street. If you must, you may want to put something like “REWARD” on the tag. I also make sure the tags are easy to read – especially from a distance. Some dogs become very frightened and unapproachable when they are lost. A bright plastic readable tag means that the dog just needs to be seen, not caught, for someone to call. Plastic tags can be broken or chewed (I’ve also seen chewed metal…), so I just do regular tag maintenance and replace any damaged ones. Remember, licenses alone don’t count as ID. Don’t rely on cities to keep adequate records and remember, lost dogs are usually found on weekends or after 5PM – when the city hall is closed.

You may have noticed that I mentioned a “Home Again” tag. I have ID chipped each of my dogs because it is PERMANENT information as well as POSITIVE ID that the dog is mine. A small chip the size of a grain of rice is implanted by your vet and can be scanned if the dog is found. In addition, an ID tag with a toll free number allows the person who found your pet a quick and easy way to locate the owner. Tattoos are OK, but I, for one, wouldn’t have the slightest idea where to call if I found a dog with only a tattoo! Ask your veterinarian about permanent ID options.

2. Always Have Sufficient Control

With cats, this means a carrier – period!! The clinic where I work is on a quiet side street, yet once a very mild-mannered cat clawed up her owner’s shoulder and ran away because a large, noisy truck rumbled down our street at just the right time.

Whatever you train your dog in, is what he should ALWAYS leave the house in. The same people I have taught in obedience class, clip their leash to their dog (some have no leash at all – and their dog “won’t listen”) on their buckle ID collar and the dog drags them all over the clinic. THIS IS ONE REASON TO TRAIN YOUR DOG – to behave in strange, scary, or different situations! If you train in a slip (“choke”) collar, or a head collar, or a pinch collar, or a no-pull harness then THAT IS WHAT YOU HAVE ON YOUR DOG EVERY TIME YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE! First, you have the control you trained with, and second (and MOST important!) the collar /harness you use then also becomes symbolic to your dog. Because of this meaning to your dog, you may not even have to USE it – your voice control may be all you need – but the collar is there to reinforce. This is what training is all about – so the reinforcement becomes much less, and all they need are reminders.

There you have it. Two very simple – yet potentially life-saving – tips to protect your pet.

How Long Does It Take To Train A Dog

When will my dog be TRAINED?
“I can’t wait till my dog is TRAINED!” — as if that is an END?!
..and when will TRAINED be?

When he sits?
When he lies down?
When he always comes?
When he doesn’t jump on people?
When he doesn’t get into the trash?

When he can heel off leash?
When he can do a directed retrieve?
When he can track a missing person?
When he can herd sheep into a pen?

You must decide what TRAINED means to you and your dog. To me, TRAINED, is NOT an end – it is a lifelong journey. Kind of like my own education – I learn new things daily. TRAINED is not magical – it won’t happen without outside influence.

How long to train a dog

If YOU are NOT that outside influence, other things WILL be (i.e.; the dog won’t wait for you to train him!):

  • You put old bread out on the ground for the birds – your dog finds it and eats all of it. He has just been trained to eat the bread – food is a strong reward for behavior.
  • One of his toys is partially under a bush in the garden. He uses his paws to get to it and digs a hole in the process. He gets his toy and the garden gets a hole. He was just trained how to get a hard to reach object he wants. The object itself (the toy) was his reward.
  • A delivery person comes to the door with a package while you aren’t home. Your dog, who is learning to alert when strangers come to the door, jumps at the picture window, barking and banging on the window. The delivery person leaves the package and walks away. Your dog has just learned that the barking and lunging “chased” the stranger in uniform away.
  • LACK of training on your part is STILL TRAINING!!

Your dog shows fear of thunderstorms, fireworks and gunshots.

During a nasty thunderstorm, his eyes bug, ears go back – he paces and pants with his mouth wide open. You go to him and stroke him calmly, murmuring, “It’s OK, it’s ok.” The next thunderstorm happens a few weeks later, and he acts worse. He tries to dig under the dresser or hides in the tub. You go to him, hug him and pet him and again tell him “It’s OK, you’re alright.”. You wonder why his fear reaction has increased when you are working so hard to calm him. He IS learning – and you ARE teaching him! You are teaching him to be afraid of storms. Petting, stroking, hugging, soothing talk – all are ways to PRAISE your dog (more about this in an upcoming article). In this example, the dog is being inadvertently praised for his fearful behavior.

“He acts JUST FINE at home. I don’t know WHY he gets so crazy here at dog school.

I’ll tell you why. When you do your training sessions at home, you chase the kids outside, turn off the radio and TV (because it distracts you), go to a quiet room or basement and just train. Then, when the dog encounters all the external stimulation at dog school, he can’t handle it because he wasn’t TRAINED with it. In order to have a TRAINED dog, he must be taught to behave correctly in ANY situation he will encounter: crowds, groups of dogs, vet clinic, groomer, front of your house, down the street, in your backyard, at the park during a ball game, when it is sunny, rainy, snowing, blowing, cold, hot, with birds, cats or squirrels around – ANY situation or place you can think of.

TRAINED is what you accept, promote and control.

  • “If I leave him outside for a while, what can he get into?”
  • “If he isn’t be crated when I’m not home, what can happen that I cannot control?”
  • “I know if I leave food on the counter, he will eat it when I’m not looking. How can I work to change this?”
  • “If that loose dog runs up to us in the park, how can I handle the situation?”
  • “I see a squirrel/cat ahead on our walk and I know my dog will want to chase. How do I control his actions BEFORE he gets out of control?”

TRAINING means working and thinking one step ahead of your dog.

Your dog loves to fetch. Balls, toys, anything will work. He always tries to get you to participate by jumping on your lap and depositing a toy. This time, you are reading the paper and your dog jumps up with his toy and crumples the paper. “NO!, I don’t WANT to play!”, you say as you toss the toy away. Your dog retrieves the toy and comes back (he thinks “that throw was OK, but let’s try for a better one!”) This time, he doesn’t jump on your lap, but nudges under the paper at your hand. You push him away several times, telling him “NO!”, until finally you get angry, take the toy and throw it and tell him to go away. Your dog has just learned that patience is a virtue. If he pesters you long enough, he’ll get to play!

You meet up with a friend on your walk with your dog, and you stop to chat for a while. Your dog is impatient, and starts to pace and prance. You are busy talking, but want him to sit quietly at your side. Telling him firmly to SIT, you go back to your conversation and don’t realize he never sat. Your dog has just learned that he can ignore your commands. Seeing later that he didn’t SIT, you tell him again. Again he ignores your command. Finally, you break away from your conversation and angrily command him to SIT. Well, he has learned he can ignore your commands UNLESS you have a hissy and get mad!

Eating dinner, or even snacks, causes your dog to sit at your feet, drool and stare.

You wish he wouldn’t be such a beggar. After several minutes of enduring the stares and getting no response to your commands to “go and lie down”, you give in and hand him some food from your dish. Dogs learn very well to be patient (and persistent) to get what they want.

TRAINING means consistency and meaning what you convey both verbally and non-verbally.

TRAINING means following through with your commands.

When your dogs does what you want, when you want – LET HIM KNOW!
You certainly let him know when he is bad – you need to concentrate on when he is GOOD, so he will know and learn.
TRAINING means praise when something is correctly done.

There is a law in dog training that says: YOU HAVE THE DOG YOU WANT

…Think about it…

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At What Age Should You Start Training Your Puppy

Formal obedience training – puppy training in a class situation – can start anywhere from 9 to 12 weeks of age. Most schools like to see the pup receive a series of 2 vaccinations given before starting in a class – for the pup’s protection, as well as the protection of all other pups in the class. A Bordatella (a type of kennel cough) vaccination and negative stool sample also need to be done beforehand.

when to start puppy training

TRAINING of your puppy – the stuff you teach them at home – should start the DAY you bring your puppy home! This does not mean training needs to be intensive right away. Training at this stage should be done in many little lessons, in short spans of time (5-10 minutes per session). Then it goes on from there!

Puppies and dogs learn from the instant they are born. At first their world is small and their learning comes from their mother, other littermates, and the whelping box (their environment). By the time they are weaned and sent on their way to new homes, they have learned a vast amount of things – all from their mom, their littermates, and from any environmental influences they had. Hopefully, if the pup comes from a reputable breeder (or from a mixed-breed home with understanding about raising puppies), they have had a good foundation set for future learning. This is one of the biggest reasons to purchase a pup from a knowledgeable and reputable breeder.

Learning Comprises Many Factors:

  • Socialization – positive exposure to many different people, animals, environments, surfaces, situations, sounds, etc, and teaching the pup how to best react to new things
  • Innate personality – there is a set type of personality all animals and people are born with.
  • Environment – an enriched environment will provide positive experiences and socialization.
  • In-home work with potty training, crate training, leash & collar training, teaching appropriate stuff to chew on, your household routine, words, basic home manners.
  • Training classes outside the home – where you teach your puppy the essentials of obedience commands, manners, and ability to do everything with the distraction of other people and dogs.
  • Serendipity – what the up learns on his own – a huge part of early learning!

As you are reading this article, YOU are learning, but so is your dog! What is your dog doing righ this moment? One big thing pups learn is that when your are busy or distracted, they are free to make their own decisions, good OR bad!

At what age should training start? The answer is “RIGHT AWAY!”

Checklist For A Well-Behaved Dog

Think you’ve got your hound well-trained? Measure up again our 17-point checklist for well-behaved dogs and let us know how you scored in the comments section below 🙂

  1. Good dog checklistAble to walk on a loose leash without pulling
  2. Able to greet friends and strangers without jumping or shying away
  3. Able to walk without chasing bicycles, children, cars, squirrels, rabbits, balls, other dogs, etc
  4. Can quiet barking on command
  5. Understands nipping and mouthing is not allowed
  6. Able to be left alone at home without destruction, barking or anxiety
  7. Able to play, chew and relax without constant interaction with owner
  8. Able to relinquish food, toys or inappropriate objects at owner’s bidding
  9. Can be groomed or handled without complaint
  10. Is reliable with housebreaking
  11. Veterinarian or groomer can handle dog without a problem
  12. Does not rush through doorways ahead of owner
  13. Interacts appropriately with children
  14. Able to tolerate accidental nudging or grabbing (even when asleep) without snapping
  15. Will move location – even if on furniture or bed – when directed without growling or snapping
  16. Respects leadership of owner
  17. Tolerates at least, and my play or interact appropriately with other dogs

How did you score? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

 

How To Soothe A Carsick Dog

Most dogs and puppies are hesitant or reluctant when introduced to new situations and new places. This is a normal reaction – part of their survival instinct! Our job as their owner is to teach them that new places can be fun, or at least tolerable.

Carsick dog

The first place an owner should visit after bringing the puppy home is a veterinarian of their choice. The overall good health of the puppy needs to be determined at this time. This is also a good time to start a POSITIVE relationship with the veterinarian, his/her staff, AND the office overall. Find a small, easy to chew treat that doesn’t upset puppy’s stomach (SMALL hot dog bits, Bil Jack treats, Pounce cat treats, some other treat that is small & chewy). These treats will ONLY be available to puppy when encountering a “scary” situation. Give a couple treats to the veterinarian to give to the puppy. Give a couple treats to the technician to give to the puppy and likewise any other staff or people he encounters. He gets the treats when he approaches the person, but NOT when he hides, and NOT as a lure to get him out of hiding. As puppy realizes treats come from all the people at the vet’s, he will become happy and eager to return.

If your dog continues to be fearful and suspicious in subsequent visits, continue bringing treats and have ONLY the staff give them ( NONE from you!). Make extra visits to the vet when you do NOT have an appointment (call ahead to make sure they aren’t too busy!) to have people give treats and cheerful encouragement. Never, EVER stroke your dog and pet him and use what you feel is a reassuring voice to tell him: “It’s OK, Rover! They’re trying to be nice to you! It’s alright!” When you do that, you are reinforcing his fear: you are giving him all the praise signals that tell him his behavior is EXACTLY what you want!! (soft voice, quiet petting, etc.). Instead, with a fearful dog, he will only get a treat OR petting OR both, when he acts less fearful and approaches. Sometimes a favorite toy will get the puppy to forget his fear a little and “loosen up” a bit. Fearful puppies may also try to climb on or claw at their owner in seeming desperation of the situation. This should not be allowed or praised! Inadvertant praise for this can be something as simple as using your hands to gently remove him from your body. Instead us his leash and don’t touch him at all, or turn away, or stand up.

ANY time your dog goes to a new and potentially “scary” place, BE PREPARED!! These places can include: veterinarian, groomer, boarding kennel, pet store, friend’s house, park with other dogs, etc. ALWAYS have your dog ON LEASH – no leash = NO control! Have your “special” treats always handy, and give them to people to give to your dog appropriately.

If your dog is not used to or does not tolerate car rides, then he is already worked up even BEFORE he arrives at his new destination. EARLY and frequent exposure to car rides can make the transportation aspect a WHOLE lot easier. Dogs (and cats!) quickly learn to HATE car rides if they only go to the vet or to the groomer.

The SAFEST way to travel with your dog is in a crate or with a seatbelt. I like to use the plastic enclosed crates (Vari-Kennel or Furrari, for example), because they contain the hair, dirt, drool, and any accidents that might happen. Seat belts allow a little more freedom, but don’t allow the dog to run all over the car. Dog seat belts are sized to fit, and can be found at most pet stores (RC Steele catalog also carries them). Both will protect your dog should you have to stop fast or (God forbid) get into an accident.

A Remedy For Carsick Dogs

Dogs travelling, especially those who tend to get carsick should not eat 6 to 12 hours prior to travel.

Below is a desensitization program to help your dog get over his carsickness:

  • Put dog in car, parked in driveway. Have a desirable to or tennis ball for him to play a little with. Leave car after a couple of minutes. Do this several times a day for several days to a week, depending on how successful the dog is at not getting sick. Increase the time in the car each day (as long as he doesn’t get sick).
  • Put dog in car, car parked with engine running. Repeat for several days to a week, length of time in car increasing again from a short time to longer, as long as dog doesn’t get sick.
  • Put dog in car, idling in driveway, move car down and back up the driveway. This stage may best be done with two people: one to drive, and one to handle dog. Do this stage several days to a week. Perhaps you can end up driving the car up and down the driveway several times before moving to the next stage. (Your neighbors will wonder WHAT you are doing!!)
  • Take the car around the block ONCE – QUIT. Do this several days in a row, then try to go around TWICE.
  • NOTE: ALWAYS back up to the step before if you get any sickness or drooling (sign of nausea!) at all, and work in smaller increments toward the next step, and take a longer time getting there. The object her is to do as MUCH as you can with NO sickness!
  • Take the car to a close convenience store or dry cleaners or such. Leave him in the car (with your helper, especially if he has any tendency toward panic or destruction), come back, drive home.

I think you have the idea, now. This process can take a week or 2 months, depending on the dog! Some dogs may never get over carsickness.

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Keeping Your Dog Off The Beloved Furniture

Dogs want to be in our faces. They know communication happens from our faces. The only problem for them is our faces are out of reach! So, in order to get there, they jump up on us. For non-dog people, this is disrespectful and annoying. For most dog owners it is, too.

How to keep the dogs off the sofa

As in teaching any new behavior, a command needs to be attached to the action. “OFF” is my choice, because “no” is already said TOO often. Many people choose “down”, but that command usually is already used for putting the dog in a prone position. If given the choice, they may make the wrong decision.

Teaching The “Off” Command

When Bailey my Golden Retriever was young, I thought I could use “down” for lying on the floor, as well as getting “off” people, as well as getting off furniture or beds. One day, my mischievous adolescent jumped onto the bed and was using it as a trampoline. I demanded “DOWN!”, and she laid down on the bed! Now, she did NOT disobey me, she just made the wrong choice for the meaning of the word! As the light went off in MY head, I had a REALLY good laugh!

OFF can be used to remove paws from bodies, counters, or furniture; it will mean the same to the dog. Before any OFF training begins, the SIT command must be trained and understood (see related article). Sit is the foundation for control and leadership. Sit will then be the choice for the dog to make instead of jumping, or after OFF.

There are several ways to teach “OFF” — some are more confrontational than others.

The least confrontational way to deal with OFF is to turn and/or back away from the dog when he jumps on you, using the OFF command, then SIT. Always PRAISE when the dog makes the correct choice.
Most jumping dogs can be seen before they make contact. Try raising a knee in the air BEFORE the dog connects with you, and use the OFF command. Jumping on you will be difficult and uncomfortable because your knee will be in the way, and some of the more exuberant dogs will hit your knee and find it unpleasant. If you raise your knee AS the dog jumps on you, your timing will be off, and your dog may be hurt. I don’t recommend this method because it may be too forceful for some dogs and may cause injury, it puts you off balance and is not a nice gesture for other people (especially kids) to see.

My favorite method to teach “OFF” is to have a training collar on the dog and put him in a sit in front of you with his leash attached to the collar. Let the leash dangle onto the floor, and firmly step on the leash where it angles onto the floor. “Set up” the training by making the jumping inviting (talking cute, “eating” a treat, etc). When the dog tries to jump, he will self correct WHILE you are telling him “OFF! SIT!”. Do this several times in a row, and most dogs will start to get the idea after the 2nd or 3rd try. Some of the more exuberant dogs will seem to be dense about it, and have to be reminded a little firmer. This method needs to be done a couple times a day, for several days or more. Each time you practice, the dog will remember quicker. After you think the dog understands what “OFF” means, you can then do the same thing with the leash, but actually act like you are inviting him to jump: tap on your chest with both hands, talking cute – “Do you want to come up?” and then reinforce with “NO, OFF, SIT!”. Be careful you don’t praise so enthusiastically that you inadvertently encourage your dog to jump up again.

The Method

Two people are needed for this method: one to handle the leash and dog, and one to “encourage” the dog to jump. The dog needs to have on his training collar and leash. The Handler and dog approach the helper, and the helper encourages the dog to jump. The Handler MUST have good timing, and needs to give a quick “pop” on the leash and collar with the command “OFF!” (the tug should be in a downward fashion, in the opposite direction of the helper). NO PULLING the leash – the handler must TUG & RELEASE (“pop”) the leash and collar. If done correctly, the dog’s paws NEVER touch the helper! SIT should come after OFF, and the praise comes from the Handler, NOT the helper. This should be done 5 to 6 times a session, depending on the dog.

The last method is the person the dog jumps on takes each forepaw in each hand when the dog jumps, holds them, and walks INTO the dog, repeating “OFF, OFF!”, and the dog will roll into a sit or walk clumsily backwards. If necessary (ONLY IF), the paws can be squeezed and/or the rear toes can be lightly stepped on.

Dogs on the sofa

“But what about when someone comes to the door?”, you say. Have a leash and training collar readily accessible by each entry door. Call out the door: “Just a minute! I’m training my dog not to jump!” I’m sure the people on the other side of the door will be more than happy to wait! Then use the moment as a training opportunity! Or, if you don’t have time, crate the dog. But remember no teaching happens to a crated dog!

Never use your hands to push the dog off of you, because dogs will misunderstand the touch as petting or praise. If the training method you are using doesn’t require the use of your hands for leash control or grabbing paws, then your arms should be folded away from the dog.

A few last words about OFF:

After your dog understands the commands SIT and OFF, your command to the dog, if your timing is right, will be “SIT!”, and no paws will touch your body. If your timing is not good, then the command will be “OFF! SIT!”. Also, once the dog understands what OFF means, then the word can be used as a reminder BEFORE he jumps up. Remember – dogs DO NOT understand “sometimes” or “maybe”. If you don’t want your dog to jump, he should never be allowed to jump!

Dogs also don’t understand when you are in your work clothes (therefore “no jumping”) as opposed to your weekend clothes (OK to jump)!! Once OFF, always OFF, or you have a jumping dog and you deal with it!
I myself have dogs who jump because I have allowed it, but they also understand the “OFF” word. I also have a word to invite them to jump up. I tap my chest and say “UP!” As always, consistency and praise for appropriate behavior is the answer.