Category - Advice

Helping a Dog That is Afraid of Thunder or Fireworks

Dogs can be very afraid of loud sounds. For some owners, this is a MAJOR PROBLEM. For the dog, it can be extremely traumatic.

Most owners don’t know what to do. What usually happens is this:

1. The dog will be shaking from fear.

2. The owner will pet the dog in order to calm it down.

This rarely works. In fact, I have never seen this work! What usually happens is that the petting has the opposite effect.

While petting the dog, the owner is unwittingly nurturing insecurity in the dog. This can make him think that shaking and being scared is pleasurable to you.

There are many ways to desensitize a dog to loud sounds. In this article, I will discuss 2 simple methods. For the 1st method, you’ll need a recording of thunder and/or fireworks.

Play the recording at the lowest level possible while the dog is eating or playing with you. Every few days or a week, raise the volume one notch.

The idea is to gradually associate thunder with eating, playing and good times. If the dog starts shaking at a certain volume, do not raise the volume any higher. If this happens, continue to work with the dog at that volume or lower.

Once the dog has success with a certain volume, then it is time to move up. This method will not work on all dogs. There is no “one size fits all” solution for all dogs. Every dog is different.

Looking for a simpler approach? What if electromagnetism was causing your dog to fear thunderstorms?

Every heard of the “Storm Defender” for dogs? It’s like a cape that can help them cope. In my experience, it’s more effective than the thunder shirt. Here is a link for the Storm Defender cape for dogs.

One Way to Reduce Dog Fights in Dog Parks

Dog fights in dog parks are very common. I have seen many personally. On rare occasions, dogs have even been killed in dog parks.

There are many ways to prevent or lessen the odds of a dog fight. Today, I’ll outline one of the simplest ways.

What I am going to write will sound counter intuitive to many dog owners. Yet, it is a simple trick that has been shown to work.

Let me start out by saying that many people bring their dogs to the dog park for the wrong reason. They bring their dogs to the dog park for exercise. This is a bad idea.

Dog parks should be used for socialization not exercise. For example, many people will throw a ball in the dog park. They do this so that there dog will run after the ball and get exercise.

I never bring toys into the dog park. I don’t even go in if I see someone with a toy. Fighting over toys is one of the most common issues in any dog park.

However, avoiding toys is not what this article is about. This article is about exercising your dog before they enter the dog park.

As I stated earlier, this will sound counter intuitive to many dog owners. I wouldn’t have believe it myself if someone had told me this a few years ago.

However, my experience has taught me a new way to look at things. I have personally seen and broke up dozens of dog fights.

Dog fights are very dangerous. Often, many dogs will get involved and sometimes humans get bit too.

A tired dog is generally a good dog. A common scenario goes like this. A person works all day while their dog is home alone.

When the owner comes back, they feel bad and take the dog to the dog park. There is nothing wrong with that but they should go for a long walk first.

The average dog needs a 1 hour walk before entering a dog park. A high energy dog may need a 45 jog before entering the dog park.

Bringing a high energy dog that has not been exercised first can cause a bring problem. That dog may be the aggressor. Or, that dog might agitate another dog.

Imagine if every owner brought their dogs in tired. I don’t mean that every dog should go into a dog park in order to take a nap. That would be silly.

Tired does not me exhausted. They still need enough energy to play and socialize. However, they shouldn’t have too much energy. This is what often leads to dog fights.

There are other reasons for dog fights. It can not solely be blamed on not exercising the dog. But, exercising the dog first will reduce the chances of a dog fight.

It allows them to sniff, play in a less rough manner and generally be less anxious.

Don’t believe me. I don’t want you to believe me. I want you to experience this yourself.

Jog with your dog for about 30 minutes before going into the dog park. Experience the difference in you own dog’s behavior.

Keep in mind, dog’s are often meeting new dogs in the dog park. They don’t know each other. Bringing them in calm is a safe way to introduce them to each other.

I’m not saying that this will prevent all dog fights. There are many factors that can lead to dog fights. With that being said, exercising them first is one way to reduce the chances of a dog fight from happening.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the dog park!

How You Feed Your Dog Can Affect Training

Did you know that how you feed our dog can actually affect their training? A dog’s feeding routine is one of the first questions I’ve always asked my clients about, and so many hadn’t been aware of the impact that food, and how it’s served can have on behavior and the training process. Sometimes, implementing a small change during that first visit makes a big difference very quickly. Most dogs are fed one of two ways. “Free-feeding”, or leaving a bowl of food out at all times or for several hours at a time for the dog to eat whenever they want, is one. The other is serving food at regular mealtimes. Food is offered at somewhat regular times and either eaten right away, or taken up after a certain amount of time if not eaten. For example, you feed your dog in the morning while you get ready for work, but pick it up before you leave, eaten or not. I have always recommended to my clients to feed their dogs meals, if possible, rather than free-feeding. This has several benefits.

A HUGE HELP IN HOUSE-TRAINING

Feeding habits should always considered in  the house training strategy. Free feeding can sabotage your new pet. Feeding regular meals will help establish a generally regular poop schedule. For puppies, that means you will have a good idea of when a big potty time is coming, before an accident happens – and setting your puppy up to succeed is the most important part of house training.

MOTIVATE YOUR DOG TO LEARN

Training your dog requires motivation on your dog’s part, and it’s up to you to find out what your dog will work best for. Something your dog really, really wants, AND that you can use to your advantage. It can be anything from a bite of a treat to a tennis ball or tug toy. Whatever gets your dog excited that you can also control. Food, naturally, is a very popular motivator used for training because it’s readily available and goes over very, very well with many dogs.

But what if your dog is hard to train because she doesn’t seem to care about anything you can offer? She ignores treats and is not ball-obsessed. It seems that if you don’t leave food out, she’ll starve.  But actually, not having constant access to food should improve and encourage the development of a healthy appetite. This can really help with “only dogs”, who don’t have another dog around to “compete” with over food or toys.

When your dog looks forward to their dinner (and breakfast or lunch), mealtime becomes a fun and highly anticipated event, and you are the focus for what your dog needs and wants. Instead of the always-full “magic food bowl”, it’s YOU who brings the deliciousness. You have control of that resource and that gives you your dog’s attention. And that means more respect – and better learning!

OTHER BENEFITS

Controlling meals also lets you easily keep an eye on how much is being consumed. If you’re trying to manage weight, portions are easier to control. If there is any change in appetite, you’ll pick up on it right away, and that can give you an early warning that your dog may be sick. And administering medication may be easier because it’s more likely to be eaten with a relished meal.

Depending on your dog’s age and specific needs, you may serve your dog as often as several times a day (puppies need more frequent meals) or as little as just once a day. Almost all dogs can benefit from meals rather than free feeding; but there are exceptions. Some dogs with medical issues and certain breeds are much more likely to experience conditions like hypoglycemia. If there is any question, ask your vet! But if your dog is okay to do so, consider feeding meals instead of free-feeding for awhile, and see what a difference it can make for you and your dog. Let me know what changes you notice!

How You Feed Your Dog Can Affect Your Training

Q&A: How to get my dog to sleep through the night?

I have a 9-week old jack Russell x foxy and I’m having issues getting him to sleep through the night. Currently he is in a small room downstairs (can’t be upstairs with us as its all carpet) and we leave him with a puppy Kong bone, loads of toys an old shirt of my husbands and his bed plus pee pads. He has no issue going to bed he doesn’t whine when we walk upstairs however he does get upset at 3am I go down and let him out for the toilet (99% of the time he does a poo) but then when I put him back to bed he cries. We live in a townhouse and after 25mins of him howling and barking I have to go down it’s not fair on the neighbors so I end up sleeping on the lounge with him (he will sleep through until 7).

I’m not sure what to do I know you’re not meant to give in after a toilet break but I feel so bad for our neighbors at that hour. He had a set bedtime 10pm and we play with him until his very tired (usually he falls asleep around 9:45 or at least lays down not interested in play) and we feed him his dinner at 6:30.  Kate

Hello Kate and thanks for reaching out,

Your puppy is doing quite well if he only wakes up once in the night at this age! I can hear you about the whining and barking especially if you live in a close-knit neighborhood! Here’s likely what is going on. Your puppy falls asleep well at night time because you tire him out and drain his energy. Then, he wakes up in the middle of the night because he needs to go outside. This is reasonable and perfect as you want that. Then, he goes from being in your company to being alone again, and this time he’s no longer tired as before. The house is dark again, the home is silent and he wants you to come back. So he starts whining/howling/barking behavior, and since his bladder and bowels are empty, he is doing it clearly because he wants companionship. Normally, as you know, this type of barking/whining should be totally ignored. Instead, by going downstairs, you reinforce it. Who can blame you though, you are just trying to not bother the neighbors! Sounds like you need some type of compromise here. Here are some options:

Get a crate and keep him in a crate upstairs with you. With the crate he should be unlikely to have an accident as puppies normally do not like to soil where they sleep so they’ll whine and whine to get your attention so they can be taken out. After his 3AM outing, since you are nearby, he’ll likely relax and fall asleep again as he does when you sleep downstairs.

At 3AM after going outside to eliminate, you can try to play with him again and see if you can get that energy drained again as you do prior to bedtime. This can be a pain, but better 25 minutes of play time than 25 minutes of whining/barking. If you go this route, expect to do this though every single night as it becomes a deeply ingrained habit and your pup may whine at 3am even once he has better bladder/bowel control just to get to play!

At 3AM after going outside, try to leave him with a stuffed Kong that will keep him busy enough for some time until he gets tired and hopefully falls asleep.

Personally, I think the best option is the crate. Introduce the crate, make it a rewarding place to be and start using it so that you can speed up the house training process while providing him your reassuring presence. At this age, most puppies want to be around their family and they get distressed if they’re left alone. Then, as your puppy grows, you can gradually move the crate farther and farther away from your bedroom.

Or even better, since it sounds like your bedroom is on the second floor, let him stay downstairs so access to the outside is faster. When you’re on a second floor, by the time you walk downstairs, your puppy may have an accident so staying downstairs is better for easy access to the yard. Then, once your puppy has an empty bladder/bowel, take him upstairs and let him stay in the crate until 7AM. A win-win situation for all!

 

Q&A: How to get my dog to stop being aggressive towards people and other dogs?

I have an elderly dog (around 11 years), and she’s always been the kind of dog to do what she wants no matter what I say. I have tried everything I can think of. If I walk her she is constantly pulling on the leash, jumping towards people and either attacking or overwhelmingly jumping up on other dogs. I have tried making her lie down every time a dog passes with a stern “stay” or “no”. I should clarify that she is one of the few dogs that responds to “no” decently. Anyways, even when I’m holding her down, she continues to wiggle and try to get to the person/dog. I know I’m doing something wrong, because a dog really can’t be that bad.. So I was hoping you’d be able to help me out with ideas? ~Brooke

Greetings, and thank you for reaching out,

The most common problems owners face in training dogs are lack of consistency and giving up when things are starting to get better, even if it doesn’t look that way.. When this happens, this causes the bad behavior to resurface even stronger than before. It often starts like this: one day you decide to not let your dog pull on the leash, so you may make the leash shorter and perhaps even give a correction under the form of a leash pop every time your dogs pulls. (I am not an advocate for delivering leash pops, just making an example) You do this several times, then you notice that it’s not working because your dog is trying to pull more than before, so you give up or you may try something different. This is the most common scenario I encounter when people consult me and tell me that they have tried almost everything. There are two main problems occurring when this happens:

1) inconsistency makes behavior problems worse. So if 2 out of 10 attempts to pull, your dog gets to meet a dog, your dog will take advantage of that because trying to pull yields results. It’s sort of like playing the lottery, if you win every now and then, you’ll soon become addicted to playing.

2) the extinction burst phenomenon. It’s often easy to give up when something seems like it’s not working, when in reality it’s really starting to work , but it doesn’t look that way. To better understand this phenomenon, you must learn about extinction bursts. So let’s say your dog is pulling, you decide to stop your dog from pulling, but then your dog pulls more than before, why does this happen? It happens because your dog has pulled pretty much all her life, so after you start making a change, your dog will pull more than before because she has always been used to you allowing her to pull. It’s as if your dog was thinking “this is really odd, usually when I pull, my owners just follows and I get to meet another dogs, maybe I should try pulling even stronger than before.” For sake of a comparison, think of a child who cries at the store to get candy. Mom gives candy always to keep the child quiet.

The day mom doesn’t buy candy, what happens? The child starts screaming, throwing a fit. If mom stays strong and doesn’t give in, chances are eventually the child will learn to stop crying and asking candy. If mom gives in though, mom will have more problems than before and you’ll bet the candy-asking behavior will never stop and only get worse and worse. In dogs, the same thing happens. So keep in mind that behaviors with a history of reinforcement tend to get worse before they get better.

So the ultimate secret is to not give up when the behaviors worsens. If your dog has pretty much always done what she wants for all her life, and now you would try to make a change in that, consider that you will encounter resistance. Lots of it. But if you ignore the extinction burst and keep up with the rules, you will see results. Gradually, you will see less pulling mixed with some pulling still, but you will notice a difference. Keep it up and your training will yield results.

Here are a few tips I want to share with you on how to deal with this situation:

1) Invest in a no-pull harness that has a leash that attaches to a ring in the front.

2) Arm yourself with the tastiest treats

3) Start walking your dog in a quiet road first.

4) Stick to the rule that every time your dog pulls, you will stop in your tracks.

5) Call your dog back to your side, reward and resume walking.

6) Repeat over and over and over, until your dog gets the idea that pulling makes you stop and staying next to you makes you walk. To make it clear: a tense leash is your brake, a loose leash is your accelerator.

7) Only after your dog has attained enough improvement, may you introduce distractions such as other people or dogs.

8) I suggest that you look into “LAT, look at that training”, where every time your dog sees a person or dog she is fed tasty treats. There are some videos on You Tube depicting the exercise. Also is handy to teach your dog to do attention heeling as you walk by distractions.

9) Also look into keeping a “dog under threshold.” That means not exposing your dog to overwhelming situations where your dog cannot control herself. When you say you put your dog in a down, it sounds like your dog is too overwhelmed to be able to listen. You need to work at farther distances where the exercise is much easier.

10) Also, not sure what breed your dog is, but at 11 years old you may start seeing a bit of cognitive decline some dogs. Yes, you can train a dog new tricks and many elderly dogs can be trained, but consider that at this age, some dogs may be a bit slower to follow commands and they may have a harder time coping with certain situation, so the golden rule to be a splitter and not a lumper comes particularly handy here. Don’t ask too much at once, split your goals into smaller attainable steps and reward for compliance. I hope this helps!

Q&A: How to make my dog comfortable in his crate?

We have a 3mo old lab that every time I put into his crate he started rapidly breathing and salivating while he screams and howls, chews on the door of the crate and continues until he wears himself out. He calms down long enough to catch his breath and starts again. I have fed him when I place him in the crate and he doesn’t eat, he just spills the food and proceeds to salivate to and cry. We have been at this for 3 weeks. I have to be able to crate him. I would welcome and suggestions and appreciate any help you might offer. Thank you.

Thanks, Pam

Hello Pam, and thank you for reaching out.

You are describing a pup who is breathing fast and salivating when you close him in the crate. If these symptoms occur only when your dog is closed in the crate, they are highly suggestive of anxiety associated with confinement. Salivation, rapid breathing, screaming and howling are your dog’s ways to let you know he is very uncomfortable. Additionally, the fact that your dog refuses to eat is also suggestive of anxiety as a dog who is highly stressed won’t eat.

Why is your dog stressed when closed in the crate? There may be various reasons. The anxiety may be caused from the fear of being closed up in the crate or from the fear of being separated from you, and sometimes both, which is often seen in dogs who start associating being closed up in a crate with the owner leaving. This is often seen when the dog starts noticing a pattern where being closed up becomes a pre-departure cue suggesting that the owner is leaving.

It’s important at this point determining what’s exactly causing the behavior. There are several ways to determine this. Here are some pointers: Does your dog act this way even when he is not closed in the crate and you must leave the house? To find out, the best way is leaving your dog in a puppy-proofed room with plenty of toys and recording his behavior during a brief absence. If your recording reveals that your dog is breathing rapidly, drooling, vocalizing and trying to get out of the room, there are chances you might be really dealing with a case of separation anxiety. Showing your recording to a behavior professional can help you further determine this.

Does your dog act this way when he is crated and you are around? To find out, you would have to crate your puppy and stick closely nearby without leaving for some time. Do this at a time you never leave the house, for example, in the evening. Read a book or watch TV and determine if your presence is helping to calm him down.

If you have determined your dog still gets upset even when he’s not crated and you are out and about, most likely you are dealing with a case of separation anxiety. Your dog is a bit young to show signs of separation anxiety as usually it affects puppies around 4 to 6 months in age, but it’s not unheard of it affecting some puppies earlier. This is something that will take some time to address, but with an early age of onset you have better chances at success if it’s caught early and nipped in the bud. In this case, I would highly suggest consulting with a dog behavior professional for a step-by-step behavior modification plan where your puppy will be gradually desensitized to better tolerate your departures. A good read would be Nicole Wilde’s book: “Don’t Leave Me” which offers an insight on what to do.

If your puppy instead shows signs of distress regardless if he is left alone in the crate or in your presence, most likely you are dealing with a severe case of fear of confinement or barrier frustration. Barrier frustration causes stress and “tantrums” when dogs are confined and affected dogs experience severe distress along with destructive attempts to escape the crate. In this case, treatment would involve teaching the puppy to tolerate confinement instead of teaching him to tolerate being separated from you. Following are some tips on how to teach a dog to better tolerate crate confinement.

• If your dog has a hard time tolerating the crate and you must leave your puppy for quite some time, you can try confining him in what Ian Dunbar calls a long-term confinement area. This is a puppy-proofed area with tiles (kitchen, bathroom or exercise pen) where your dog has more room to romp and access to a crate that is left open so your dog can go in and out at will. You will also add a water bowl, plenty of safe chew toys and a doggy toilet in the farthest corner away from the bed, crate and water. This may be the fastest solution as many dogs feel less nervous once they have access to more space and the ability to engage in different activities, (chew, sleep, drink, walk around, eliminate)

• If you absolutely must crate, then you must dedicate several days to make the crate a more pleasant place. This may take some time to accomplish. Start on a weekend when you are home. Keep the crate open and place a high value treat or favorite toy in there. When your dog goes inside to eat the treat or get the toy, praise you pup and place more inside to replace them. You want your dog to develop positive associations with the crate. Never close your puppy inside at this stage!

• Continue adding goodies to the crate, but this time add longer lasting ones. A Kong stuffed with goodies, a bone (make sure it’s suitable for puppies under 6 months) or his meal scattered inside are some ideas. Your goal is to have your pup enjoy these goodies inside the crate and spend some more time in there. Don’t close your puppy inside yet!

• As time goes by, your puppy will start investigating more and more the crate. From a scary place of confinement, it’s starting to become a treasure cove! Now, start placing goodies inside the crate (the smellier, the better) and close the crate with your puppy outside the crate. The goal is getting your puppy to be really eager to go inside. You want to catch him pawing at the crate, whining to get in. Open the crate and let your puppy inside and allow him to eat the goodies. Repeat several times.

• Finally, after some time, you can start letting your puppy in the crate to get the goodies, close him briefly—(the time your puppy has to eat them) and open him as soon as he is done, before your puppy has even time to whine or ask to get out. This will help him understand that good things happen in the crate and good things end out of the crate.

• As time goes by, start giving your dog longer lasting treats that will allow your puppy to be closed for longer periods of time. You can freeze a Kong with some goodies inside which take some time to finish up.

• Consider that crating a tired puppy ups your chances for success for him to nap. Play with your puppy for some time, go on a walk and provide loads of mental stimulation before crating him. Then, let him find a long-lasting goody in the crate. After managing to eat the long-lasting goody, he may feel more compelled to nap.

• Make it a rule to reward only calm behavior. If at some point your puppy is more accepting of the crate (doesn’t show signs of anxiety anymore) and you catch him whining and pawing to ask to be let out, ignore these attempts to get your attention and let him out only once he’s quiet. Stay nearby so you can promptly open when you notice a pause in his whining or pawing at the crate behavior. Do this as well with other behaviors your puppy displays. For instance, put the leash on only when your puppy seems calmer, feed his food only when he’s quiet, toss a ball only after your puppy sits or calmly waits. You want to reward only calm behaviors.

• Make sure the crate isn’t in an area where your pup is exposed to scary noises or where the crate gets too warm or cold. Never use a crate for punishment. It should always be a great place to be.

If you are not seeing much progress or do not have the time, consider that a long-term confinement area may be a better choice for your puppy. Not all puppies do well in crates. I hope this helps! Best wishes and kind regards!

Have your dog training questions answered

Here at Dog Training Basics we work hard to ensure that our readers have their dog training handled so that they can get onto the fun part – living harmoniously with their healthy, happy, well-behaved hound.

Avoid this!

But sometimes, our readers find that their particular dog does something that doesn’t fall within our handy training guide. Or their dog just suddenly forgets all the time and labor intensive hours that have gone into their training and just will not come when called. For times like these we have a very special Q&A section where you can direct questions to our panel of dog training professionals, free of charge, here.

You can also browse through the questions that have already been asked here – Q&A.

You might be surprised by how many people have asked the same questions as you!

Did you find these answers useful? Let us know below!

The DTB Team

 

Stop – read this before you feed your dog

Thanks to that Oreo’s advert, we all know that chocolate isn’t good for dogs, but did you know that onions are bad for dogs, too?

So bad, in fact, that they can lead to anemia in dogs. But onions aren’t the only thing to look out for – Garlic and corn on the cob can be just as dangerous.

You can find out what else your dog should not eat in this handy guide we’ve put together before you take that delicious dinner out to your pup.

Is there anything your dog cannot eat? Anything s/he loves to eat? Let us know about your pooches dietary delights in the comments below.

Consistency | Dog Training

 

There are a few things that you need to know before you start training your dog, but this may just be one of the most important –

What was the most important part of your dog training?

The Best Dog Training Advice

Last week we asked our readers to share the best dog training advice they’d ever received.

Image via here

First to share with us was Helen Nicks:

“The best dog training advice I ever received was to use a ‘Halti’ type collar to stop pulling on the lead. Worked wonders!”

Have you been given any great advice? Share it with us below!