Posts Tagged with 'Training '

Not all dogs maybe as social as yours

As a trainer in the desert I work with all types of problems. One of the biggest problems is aggression. This can be due to lack of socialization or rescue dogs that have been isolated from the world and or abused. There are many different reasons for socialization problems. This article is not so much to focus on why the dogs are aggressive towards people or animals, but for the people who may encounter these animals while out and about.

When working with these animals I give the owners homework that requires them to take their dogs out for walks and to different social settings. My request to the people that have a well socialized dog is to not assume all dogs are like yours. My biggest complaint from clients is when they are working with their dog other people with social dogs try to approach them and carry on a conversation while letting their dogs approach into the less social dog’s space.

That is our focus today, Space.

We all like our personal space and as a society we do pretty well at respecting each others , however when it comes to our animals we don’t think about their personal space. Animals, like people, enjoy their personal space. Animals with social issues need their personal space because it’s about trust. If you went somewhere and people did not respect your personal space you would consider those people rude. You may even become angry or afraid in an over stimulating situation. Dogs that have these trust issues become reactive in situations. If a dog is already fearful and another dog or human approaches, it can automatically react in an aggressive way. This could be snapping, barking, or growling to let the offender know they have come to close. While working with an aggressive dog the other day we encountered some people and they asked about the dog. One person tried to approach with their hand extended out to the dog for it to smell. Even though the dog was muzzled and the person was told it was aggressive they still wanted to approach the dog. This hurts our efforts to teach the dog to trust.

The best way to approach an animal is to just stand there ignore it and let it decide when it wants to engage with you, not the other way around. We have been taught for years to introduce ourselves to a dog you extend your hand for the dog to smell, this is a great way to get your hand bitten. If a dog is social you will see that it is excited to see you and there is no reason to extend your hand, if it is not, that is when people usually extend their hand to help the dog feel more comfortable but in reality you are encroaching on their personal space and this can lead to an act of aggression. If a dog tries to move away from the situation and the person moves toward the dog, still having their hand extended, this gives a dog no other option then to respond in an aggressive manner.

Another problem out there is retractable leashes. Even social dogs have limits. Some dogs don’t like other dogs jumping up into their face and they will snap at the other dog to get them to stop. The owners may get mad at that dog because it stated what it wanted, his space. That’s not fair to the dog whose space is being encroached upon and we are not teaching the other dog appropriate social manners. This mainly happens with the retractable leashes. Retractable leashes are good for country walking, not city walking. They are a great tool to teach “come”; no longer do we have to pull in 30 feet of line. But when you are walking in a neighborhood, on a trail, side walk, parks or anywhere there are people and dogs, you should have your dog on a 4 to 6 foot leash so you have control at all times.

When you pass other people or dogs you should pull the leash in and have your dog walk by your side so it does not jump on them or another dog. When we walk in a group and pass people we are polite and move into a single or double file so others may pass easily. We need to apply the same rules for our dogs. So next time you are out for a walk with or without your dog remember your social etiquette with dogs so you can help people that are helping their dogs to deal with their socialization problems and become a well balance animal in the future.

Valerie Masi
Best Paw Forward

The Do’s And Don’ts of Teaching Your Dogs to Swim

During the hot summer months having your dog swim is a great form of exercise and can be a lot of fun for you and your dog. This article is intended to teach you the proper way to introduce your dog to the pool and to make you aware of things that can cause your dog to become fearful of the pool.

Imagine walking along this body of water on a warm sunny day and all of the sudden someone grabs you and throws you in the water. Having never experienced the pool, this would put you in a panic and fearful state. It is not any different for your dog. The best way to introduce the pool is in steps this process may take some time with some dogs or you may move through these steps quickly, it all depends on your dog. Remember this is a process of building trust and confidence.

Step 1- While on leash, walk your dog around the pool moving closer to the edge with each passing.

Step 2- When the dog is comfortably walking close to the edge sit down at the edge of the pool with your feet in the water and lightly splash water on the dog’s feet, making sure not to splash the face. If the dog is still nervous, give it some of his favorite treats and a lot of praise while splashing the water on the feet. If your dog is still a little nervous then you need to practice step 1&2 a few more times until the dog is comfortable sitting at the edge.

Step 3 – if you have steps in your pool lure your dog with treats to the first step and let them stand there until he is calm. Depending on the pool, you may have to put the dogs front paws on the second step, dogs have a problem with depth perception so they need to feel where that next step is. Once the front feet are on second step, reward with treat and praise. Put the back feet on the step and reward and praise. Let the dog out of the pool and repeat until the dog comfortably goes on the first & second step. If you have, a tanning bed or a beach entrance pool, lure the dog into the area, treat and praise. When the dog is comfortable, walk the dog around the area on leash, praising as you go. When dog is relaxed, step out of the pool and repeat the step until dog goes in without a lure just praise.

Step 4 – Now it’s time to put the dog in the pool. If you have a bulldog breed or a short muzzled dog it’s a good idea to have your dog wear a life jacket while teaching them to swim. Let the dog wear the life jacket at different times before using it to swim to get the dog accustom to it, introducing something new and teaching to swim at the same time could make the dog very uncomfortable. (The next move for all breeds), while introducing the dog to swimming, is to cradle the dog first like you would a child. Put one arm around the front of your dog’s chest and the other under the chest closer to the abdomen so the legs are free to paddle. Hold the dog close to your body, be aware with large breeds, as they are kicking they may scratch you, wearing a shirt in the pool is always a good idea. Then glide around the pool keeping the dog’s head above water at all times. When the dog is relaxed take them a couple feet from the steps and let them swim to steps helping them keep their hind end up. Stop them from getting out of the pool, keep them on the step or in the tanning bed end give them lots of praise and a couple treats. When dog is relaxed again repeat the step letting the dog swim farther and farther away from the step. This does not have to be done in one session. Never let the dog go while in a panicking state.

Step 5 – Now you will put all the steps together having the dog walk into the pool and swim. You will want to put the leash on the dog so you can glide it through all the steps and into the water. You will need to praise and encourage the dog a lot to motivate because during this process you will not give a treat until the dog returns to the step and again do not let the dog out of the pool until it is relaxed, then repeat.

Always be upbeat to keep dog motivated! Remember; never, ever throw your dog into a pool cold turkey! Don’t be cross with the dog or nervous. Never force the dog in the pool, take your time and work the steps. Never end a session on a bad note. Always let the dog finish the session successfully. This way the last memory of the pool is positive. Don’t skip steps or rush through steps, go at the dogs pace.

If you have a dog that has had a bad experience with the pool or you are having difficulties teaching these steps, call a professional dog trainer to help you. When giving your dog treats make sure they are very small pieces, do not use milk bones for treats they are too large and you will cause the dog to be too full for treats to motivate. We also want to watch calories. It helps to play or walk with the dog for a few minutes prior to the lessons to relieve anxiety. The pool will be more refreshing to a hot dog and a hot you! So relax, and take a dip, together!

Valerie Masi
Best Paw Forward

What Dog Training and Diets Have In Common

As a Dog trainer, listening to clients ask “what’s the magic word” I often use the comparison to diets in that it seems we all desire a magic pill. Unfortunately there is no magic pill or words. It basically takes the same thing to achieve a good dog as it does to achieve a good weight. Work! People tend to go from trainer to trainer in search of the magic pill. Now, even though there are different types of training strategies out there, you should still stick to the program your trainer has set up for you. If it’s not working for you and your dog, tell your trainer so they can adjust the training program. If you are not getting desired results after a true commitment then you can look around for a trainer that has a different style or experience of training. The biggest problem for owners and trainers is when people don’t stick to the program long enough or they change the program their trainer set up because a friend or family member, even strangers disagreed with what your trainer told you. Usually the owner stops doing what their trainer told them and starts doing what their friend or family member told them to do. Now you have a confused dog and owner. The same thing applies to the internet and books. There are so many techniques and theories out there, however every dog is an individual and that means you don’t generalize training. That’s why you hire a professional to guide you through all the confusion, like you would with a nutritionist and personal trainer for your diet program. When you look for a trainer you want someone you will be comfortable with as well as trust, after all this is a family member. Ask questions like what style of training do they use and why? Are they certified and if so where did they get their certification from. (There are a lot of online certification programs out there where the student has very little hands on experience with the dogs). How long have they been working as a trainer? Do they have references? Ask if you can sit in on a class so you can see them working with the dogs and people, ask the people how they like the class and trainer. If you have a serious problem, like aggression, you want to find a trainer that has a lot of experience working with difficult behavior problems like aggression and has had a lot of success, again ask for references. A trainer with little experience dealing with aggression can actually make the problem worse. In short the magic pill is consistency, patience and knowing what to do. Like with diets you will grow tired or frustrated with a slow success but if you stick to your program, you will eventually meet your goal. If you trip up get right back to it the next day. All we can do is our best every day. Stay positive, focused and committed.

Valerie Masi
Best Paw Forward