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Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Resolutions for You and Wolfie

You know all those New Years Resolutions that you make every year and never keep?  A great way to make sure you keep them is to have a friend help or to help a friend.  Why not engage Wolfie in the process?


"I am going to exercise and loose those five extra pounds this year!  This is a great idea, let's do it with Wolfie.  Start taking long walks with him.  Get out in the back yard and throw the Frisbee or just throw tennis balls.  If your Vet approves, go on bike rides with him (no, he does not have his own bike!) or roller blade with him.  This builds your bond and gets you both into shape!

The new year is a great time to start respecting what we put into our bodies, as well as Wolfie's.  Get rid of the chips and the cookies.  Stop making the fast food drive through your restaurant of choice. 

On the same thought, look at the ingredients in Wolfie's dog food.  I want to see a meat as the very first ingredient and I don't want to see "by product" following the meat.  Next, I don't want to find corn in the list of ingredients.  If Wolfie's food fails these two tests, it is like our fast food.  We all know what that means.  If you aren't sure what kind of food might be best for Wolfie or where to get that food, please contact us and we will be happy to provide you with some suggestions.

Let's starting to get out to see some of our favorite movies, get to that play that we always wanted to see, cheer for our favorite sports team.  Let's do anything that gets us out of the house and into the "real world".  What a wonderful thing to start for our lives in 2011!

This is a great thing, but (again) let's make sure that Wolfie has the opportunity to enjoy the same quality of life.  Let's make sure that we start to socialize Wolfie with going to Panera Bread or your local outside Bistro. Let's take Wolfie to the local Doggie Day Care for a morning or afternoon of socialization.  I bet that Wolfie would love to go with us to pick up our kids or to get the laundry.  All these things are entertainment diversions that we can share with our favorite pet.  Let's make sure that we put them in motion and enhance Wolfie's lifetime experience!

These are some great ideas to get both you and your best friend into shape!  Start working them and you and your pup will be the better for it!

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wolfie Jr. Has Arrived! Our New Christmas Puppy is Now Home!

Oh Boy!  We just got a new puppy and he was so much fun to play with at the Pet Store!  He is now home and things should be just fine...  Really?

Many times, especially for first time puppy owners, we don't understand the responsibilities and challenges owning a new puppy entails.  He was great at the pet store, we see other people with puppies having a great time, and they are always fun on TV shows.  These are all the fun times.  We have to understand that we now have the responsibility to manage them and teach them how to act in our family.

Here are some tips that you should start today:
  • Make sure that you are feeding your puppy a high quality dog food.  The rule of thumb is that anything you buy at a super market is not high quality.  Read the side of the dog food bag to determine the appropriate amount to feed and do not over feed.  Put the food and water down for the meal and then pick both up at the end of the meal.
  • Be sure that he has a good food and water bowl, a well made collar (no choke chains or prong collars), and a strong leash (no extension leashes).
  • He should have a few toys such as Kong Toys, plush toys, or fetch toys.  Do not give him tug of war toys or toys that make that high pitched squeak.  This will only encourage bad behavior.
  • Begin crate training him as soon as possible.  We humans think that crates are cruel.  This is completely wrong.  Crates, when properly introduced, become their place of safety and refuge.  They are always happy and relaxed in their crates and it is also a place that they don't want to soil.  This means that the use of a crate will deter the possibility of their pottying in the house.
  • Puppies need lots of play time.  Make sure that you get him out often for a lot of interactive play.  All puppies are different and they will tell you when they are tired and ready to come back inside.  Do not jog or run with him until your Vet has told you that he has developed sufficiently for those types of activities.
  • Puppies are very curious and their mouth is one way of exploring.  If your puppy is biting your nipping you, try spraying Bitter Apple on what he is biting.  This unpleasant, yet completely safe, taste can deter such activities.  Be sure to have an appropriate toy to offer him in place of his nipping.
  • NEVER HIT YOUR PUPPY WHEN HE IS MISBEHAVING.  This could easily lead to aggression and mistrust as your puppy grows older.  Instead, you must teach your dog the appropriate behavior through proper guidance and feedback.  In this way, you are building a bond of respect and leadership with him.
(And now a plug for ourselves!)  Being a new puppy owner with a new puppy, the best thing you can do for both of you is to receive the appropriate, professional training.  Right now you have the opportunity to do everything right and experience a lifetime of happiness with your new puppy.  A professional dog trainer can assure your success.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What to Give and not Give Wolfie this Christmas

Oh boy, it's Christmas time and all my friends will give my Wolfie presents!  (Watch out!)

Presents are always a good thing, but there are some presents that are better than others.  Let's first talk about the "good presents":
  • Any toy that stimulates Wolfie's brain and keeps him engaged is a good toy.  An example of this is a Classic Kong toy.  Kongs are designed for dogs by their weight.  Find the right weight range on the Kong and you have found the right size for Wolfie.  Now, get some peanut butter and fill the little hole on the bottom with peanut butter.  Now freeze it and then give it to Wolfie.  It will keep him entertained for up to an hour!
  • I have found that Doggie Plush Toys are also great for them.  The big thing that you have to watch out for is that the Plush Toy is not the same color or looks like the pillows on your sofa or other furniture.  If you are allowing Wolfie to chew on the Plush Toy, he might become confused and think that your sofa pillow is another Plush Toy that you have given him.  There is no need for Wolfie to start eating the furniture.
  • Things that they can chew are great for them. If Wolfie is a chewer, let's direct that action to something that will maintain our rules and that we actually instigate.  A rubber bone is an example of a toy that will fulfill this requirement.
  • A Water Bottle.  Believe it or not, dogs love to play with the empty water bottles that we recycle every day.  Just make sure that you take off the paper, remove the top, and clip off the plastic ring around the bottle's neck.  Now, give it to Wolfie.  He will have a blast with this.  He might paw it around the ground, throw it in the air, chew on it, or even use it as a floaty in the pool. 

Now, let's talk about some "bad presents":
  • Tug-of-war toys are not good if you are going to use them for tug-of-war. Long story short, we almost always loose the tug-of-war, even with the little doggies.  This is not good because when we loose the game, we are increasing Wolfie's position in the pack.  Since we want to be the pack leaders, this is not good.  If someone does give Wolfie a tug-of-war toy this Christmas, you can use it for a fetch toy instead.
  • Squeaky Toys are not good for Wolfie.  The "squeak" makes the same sound as a dying or wounded animal.  When you give Wolfie toys that make this sound, you run the risk of increasing his aggression and general excitement.  Although this is not always the case, I always recommend eliminating these toys or only allowing one or two Squeaky Toys in Wolfie's toy basket.  If you can remove the squeak device from these toys, they are fine for Wolfie.
Of course there are many other suggestions that one can give for Christmas presents for Wolfie.  These are only a few.  If you use common sense, you will probably do fine and Wolfie will have a great Christmas!

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Surviving the Trip Home for the Holiday's with Wolfie

How many of us look forward to the trip home for the Holidays?  Before you answer that, think of a car full of kids, presents, suitcases, McDonalds bags, and Wolfie for a 22 hour drive.  After that, think of Wolfie going nuts in Uncle Al's house and then the 22 hour drive home...  Change your mind?

Put the phone down!  You don't have to call Uncle Al and make up an excuse why you won't make it up there this year.  With some planning and common sense, it will all be just fine.  Here are some points to remember:

  • Plan out what you are going to need in the car ahead of time and pre-pack.  (You don't need to pack the suitcases, they can be empty.)  The point here is to see if there is enough room for everyone (including Wolfie). 
  • Put everyone in the car and drive around the neighborhood for a few times.  Maybe go and get some gas or drive through McDonalds.  This is to make Wolfie calm with the situation he is about to undertake.
  • Make sure that you have included some of Wolfie's toys and a water bowl.  Also, make sure that you have brought enough food for Wolfie to last the entire trip up and back.  You might not be able to find his same food on the road or at Uncle Al's.
  • If you are going to a cold weather destination, make sure that Wolfie has what is needed to keep him warm.
  • If you are going to stay overnight on the trip, make sure you find a dog friendly hotel and call ahead to confirm that Wolfie will be a welcome guest.
  • On the morning of your trip up, feed Wolfie several hours earlier and make sure he gets out to go to the bathroom before you leave.
  • Stop regularly on the road to let Wolfie out to go to the bathroom and to get some exercise.
  • If you stop for the night, get Wolfie out immediately to go to the bathroom.  Feed him as soon as you arrive so that he will go to the bathroom again before bed time.  Try to have someone with him in the room at all times.  This is a strange environment and we don't want Wolfie to display any destructive or annoying behaviors that might have the hotel ask you to move on.
  • When you arrive at Uncle Al's, have everyone come out to meet Wolfie.  We want to get all of his "stored adrenaline" drained outside before we all to in.
  • Make sure that Wolfie is with someone at all times.  We don't want him wandering off and doing something destructive out of boredom.
  • Be acutely aware of who is in the house and their temperament towards dogs (and Wolfie).  If we have a family member who is afraid of dogs, we want to make sure that they remain separated.  If we have a family member who likes to play roughly with Wolfie, we don't want that to happen.
  • Maintain the same rules with Wolfie at Uncle Al's as you had at home.  You must maintain your consistency to portray your leadership to Wolfie.  Remember, you are in a strange place and Wolfie is looking towards you for leadership and safety.
  • Set aside plenty of time to interact with Wolfie and get him outside to run and jump.  This will keep him calm while in the house and minimize any issues you might have that would be caused through boredom.
  • Wolfie will still have to go to the bathroom at Uncle Al's.  Make sure that you have the potty pads near him or take him outside using the same schedule you used at home.
  • DO NOT FEED OR ALLOW FAMILY MEMBERS TO FEED WOLFIE HOLIDAY FOOD AND GOODIES.  The same food that makes the Holidays special to us could be poisonous or very upsetting to Wolfie's stomach.
  • If Uncle Al is throwing a Holiday Party, keep Wolfie away from the general area until most of the guests have arrived.  By then, things should have calmed down.  Bring Wolfie out on a leash and guide him around the room.  Do not allow him to jump or bark.  After you see that Wolfie is calm, you can then let him join the festivities.
If you follow these simple steps, the Holidays will be great for you and Wolfie.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Quick Idea On a "Calm Wolfie" this Holiday Season

The Family and your of town friends just left after being here all Thanksgiving weekend and Wolfie is going nuts!  What is going on?  He was fine before!

Let's say that you have been working with Wolfie so the he knows you are the great leader, you are consistent, practice with him regularly, and are building the trust, bond, and relationship that epitomizes an appropriate dog/owner relationship.  Life is great!

Now come the Holidays.  You have had the extended family with their extended friends over for the last few days and everything went great.  Wolfie was having a great time by having everyone play with him, giving him goodies, and bringing him presents.  Wolfie always had something to do and someone to do it with.  Now everyone packs up their stuff and heads out to their own respective homes.  Life is quiet again and you can take a big sigh of relief.

But something has changed with Wolfie.  He used to obey and listen.  Now he is always pushing toys in your laps, barking at you, nipping, and pulling pillows off the sofa.  He never did this before.  What happened?

Up until the hoard of people descended on your home, you were consistent with Wolfie in what you expected of him.  Whenever he did something that "broke the house rules", you were right there to correct and show him the right way.  Wolfie expects this from you each and every day.  For the last few days this wasn't happening.  You didn't have time to work with Wolfie and correct him when he would break your rules.  Everyone else would do whatever Wolfie wanted and he saw that he could get away with anything.  In Wolfie's eyes, you had become bad leaders and it was reinforced that he could do whatever he liked.

Don't worry, this is easy to fix.  The first thing I would suggest is to drain some of that "play with me" adrenaline that Wolfie has built up.  Take him to a doggie day care a few times a week.  Let him drain his "I want to play! I want to play!" with other doggies.  When he comes home, he won't be demanding the play from you.  Once this occurs, you should jump back into performing obedience and behavioral exercises with him on a daily basis. 

Also, remember your rules and as soon as Wolfie tries to test you and break your rule, correct him so that you can show him what is right.  You must do this every time Wolfie tests.

In a very short period of time, you will re-establish your leadership and Wolfie will understand that his role is to obey you and be a great and non-demanding member of your family.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Going to Your Relatives with Fluffy

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and some of us have found a way to get a free dinner at the relatives'.  Of course, we will bring Fluffy along too.  It is always fun at Uncle Al's, I am sure that Fluffy thinks so too!  Really?

Remember, Fluffy is a dog.  Things that stimulate and entertain Fluffy are not necessarily the same things that stimulate and entertain us.  Things that give Fluffy a sence of safety and security while we are away from our house can be very different than how we percieve safety and security.  So, what does Fluffy really think of Uncle Al's house (full of strange people and possibly other dogs)?

First, let's think of what we are walking Fluffy into.  Here is a new house "strange territory" filled with all sorts of unfamiliar people, smells, sounds, and other dogs.  We normally think "Oh, let's put all the dogs in the back where they can play".  Several things have just occurred here. 
  • First, we have abandoned Fluffy in a strange area with other dogs of divergent personality types.
  • Since we have established ourselves as the Alpha in our pack, it is our job to keep Fluffy safe by being in his sight or in his sight on a regular basis.  This isn't happening (we are inside with Uncle Al checking out his new High Definition 52" TV)!
  • Dogs always attract kids.  Now the kids are out with the other dogs and Fluffy.  They might be pulling his tail, chasing him, screaming, and all the other wonderful things that little kids like to do with dogs.  This puts him in a very stressful situation!
Bottom line:  Fluffy is not having a good time at Uncle Al's.  So what can we do?
  • First of all, we need to transition being with Fluffy and not being with Fluffy.  Stay outside with him for ten to fifteen minutes playing with him and the other dogs.  Observe which dogs might be aggressive towards Fluffy and how he reacts to their body language.
  • Check on Fluffy regularly.  "Hey Guy, how are you doing?"  This goes a long way in allowing Fluffy to understand that even though you aren't right there, you are always close at hand.  This goes a long way in his understanding that he is safe because you are always there (although sometimes night in direct sight).
  • Every once in a while, bring Fluffy inside (on a leash) to see the rest of the party.  This assures that he has not been ostrisized to the outside and is still a part of the "party".  It helps to build his self importance while keeping focus on you as the leader providing his safety.
  • Be sure that you are providing him with the water and food he needs.
  • If the kids start to go outside to play with the dogs, think of going out to supervise.  Kids can do things that cause dogs to "nip" and many parents call a "nip" a "bite".  We don't need this to happen.
  • When you are leaving Uncle Al's (stomach full of free food), praise Fluffy for doing such a great job.
If you follow these steps, you might even be asked back to Uncle Al's next time for more free food! 

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Let's Not Play Tag in the Living Room

"Don't play tag in the living room!"  Well, that makes perfect sense to us, but what about Fluffy?

The answer is, it depends.  (Don't you just hate when I do that?  But let me explain why...)

Playing with Fluffy is always a lot of fun.  The exercising, the bonding, the good times... are all reasons why we decided to become dog owners.  The important thing is to let Fluffy understand where he can play.

As humans, we have the ability to understand that when we are home, by ourselves, it might be OK to rough house inside.  When we have a dinner party with guests wearing nice clothes, we understand that it is not a good idea to go "nuts".  We can understand "We can go nuts except when we have guests over". 

Now we come to Fluffy.  Fluffy can understand "We can play rough inside".  Fluffy can understand "We can not play rough inside".  Fluffy can not make the distinction of "We can play rough inside except...".  No matter how much we love Fluffy, we have to remember that he is a dog and does not have the ability for higher lever cognitive thought.

So we get down to the decision of allowing Fluffy to go nuts in the house when guests are here or not.  I think that it would be best to say "not".  Besides just being annoying, he can jump and ruin nice clothes or jump/push/nip small children and possibly make them afraid of dogs the rest of their lives.

Here's what you do.  Let's take all the rough housing outside in the back yard.  Isn't that where you would play football anyway?  I don't think that you would play football in your living room!  Play Frisbee, let Fluffy chase you, even set up a small agility course and run him through that.  Build that bond outside where you have the ability to go nuts.  When you come inside, do more of the gentle petting and correct him if he starts to ramp up.

Do this and you will have a great dog that understands your rules and will be great around your guests.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Traveling with Fluffy

Over hill and dale, off to Grandmother's house we go (with Fluffy)...

It is getting to be the holiday season and many of us will be traveling to family festivities with our dogs.  How do we make this a good experience for everyone in the car?  Here are some pointers:

First, let's talk about Fluffy's "happy time" in the car.  If Fluffy doesn't like to be in the car, "hill and dale" can be an eternity.  Here are some training tips:
  • Start walking Fluffy by taking him out to the car in the driveway.  Have him sit for a few minutes, have some toys and other distractions there, and then walk him back in the house. Repeat this for several days.
  • Next, open the car door.  Have fluffy walk to the car and jump in the back seat.  You might need to have some toys or other enticements in the back seat to have this happen.  As soon as he jumps in, praise him.  Wait a minute or two and have him come out and go back in the house.  Repeat this for several days.
  • Repeate the above step, but close the door.  Repeat this for one or two days.
  • Now, have Fluffy get in the car, start the engine, and back to the end of the driveway.  Then pull back, praise him, and bring him inside. Repeat this for several days.
  • Put Fluffy in the car and drive around the block.  Repeat this for several days.
  • Now, go on a little trip of ten to twenty minutes.  Do this a few times. 
Fluffy is now ready for "hill and dale".

Next, let's talk about safety,,,

Remember that I asked that Fluffy be put in the back seat.  This should eliminate the passenger side air bag deploying in Fluffy's face if you (I hope it never happens) get into a car crash.  I would also include that you either keep Fluffy in a crate that is stable or a restraining device that would keep him safe in the event of an accident.  A crate or restraining device is Fluffy's "seat belt" that will help him survive a crash.

I have heard of so many horriffic accidents with unrequired fatalities because of unrestrained dogs.  If you restrain your dog on a car trip, everything will be great.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How Dogs Learn

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?  Or, is it that you can only teach a new dog old tricks?

The answer is that it doesn't matter the age of the dog or really what you are trying to teach him.  Dogs learn in a very specific way and if you are willing and able to follow the process, you will have a trained dog.

First, dogs learn through consistency.  Whatever you are trying to teach Rover, you must perform it in the exact manner every time.  For example, if you are teaching Rover to walk, always walk him on the same side of you.  Make sure that everyone else in the family who is walking Rover is walking him on the same side.  This simplifies and streamlines the learning process by removing unneeded variables in the training.

Next, dogs learn through repetition.  You must practice with Rover between fifteen and thirty minutes every day to reinforce the action you are trying to teach.  Think of when we were learning our "times tables".  We would practice every day with our flip cards until we always knew that "eight times eight is sixty-four".

Finally, you have to understand that Rover is ready and willing to learn, just not at lightning speed.  We humans like to rush things, jump ahead, and fill in the blanks later.  If we teach Rover slowly and patiently, we will succeed in our training.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Quick Halloween Tip

Let's not make our dogs nuts this Halloween!

If you haven't already checked out our regular Halloween Safety Tips, please visit Bark Busters of South Florida Halloween Safety Tips.  After that, I want to add one more for your review.

Here is what we do on Halloween to minimize the Halloween stress on our three dogs...

We take a table and chairs and set up a "Halloween Booth" at the end of our driveway.  We have all our candy and goodies ready for the kids along with all our regular skulls, pumpkins, ghosts, etc.  Being out by the sidewalk is a great way to see everybody and also to keep an eye on the "trick" side of trick or treat.  When we are out there, our neighbors tend to spend more time chatting than when we had everybody come and ring the doorbell.

This is also a great thing for our dogs.  Instead of having the doorbell ring over and over again, it is nice and quiet in the house.  Instead of having strange ghosts, pirates, monsters, etc. enter our home, it is again nice and quiet in our house.  All of the stress of this holiday is removed from their environment and kept outside. 

We have now kept our dogs safe and that is what they really want.  Have a great Halloween!  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Do I Walk My Dog on the Left or Right?

I was always told to walk my dog on the left side of me.  Is that right?

(I love this answer...) It depends. 

Unless you have a dog that you are going to enter into dog shows, it doesn't matter.  In a dog show, you always walk your dog counter clock-wise around the judge.  Because of this, it is best to teach your dog to walk on your left side.  This will keep your dog on the side of you where the judge can observe and grade.

If you don't plan to have your dog entered into dog shows, it doesn't matter what side of you your dog walks.  With that said, let me give you some pointers regarding walking:
  • Pick a side that you want to walk your dog.  Left or right, it doesn't make a difference.  The important thing is that he is always walked on that side.  This helps to build his perception of "where he should be" on a walk.
  • If you have a "big dog", pick the side where you and the rest of the "walkers" have the most strength.  If you need to correct him, it is important that you do it from your strong side.  (i.e. Are your left handed or right handed?)
  • Everyone must walk him on the side that all of you have picked.  If you don't do this, it will add to his confusion and extension of the learning process.
  • Make sure that he walks next to you and not in front of you.
  • (My pet complaint!)  Use a regular six foot leash when walking.  NO EXTENSION LEASHES!
Follow these simple suggestions and your "walkies" with your dog will be a great experience!  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Who Started What?

Is it really important to think about who started something or who said "Let's do this"?  I don't really care...

I know for a fact that the personal/animal that made the above statement was a human and not my dog, Fluffy.  In a family, anyone can say "Let's go to the movies", "Let's go to the mall", "How about getting a bite to eat".  We (humans) don't care who's idea it was.  If it is a good idea, we do it. 

Remember that Fluffy is a dog and not a human.  Different behaviors, different instincts are going on inside Fluffy's canine brain.  In the dog world, the animal that says "Let's do this", is the Leader of the Pack.  The Alpha Leader is the one in charge and the one who says "Let's go".

So why is all this so important?

What we don't want to do is to constantly be telling Fluffy that he is the leader of the pack.  This means that we are telling him that it is his job to be our protector and that he can do whatever he wants.  "Whatever he wants" can include jumping, running out the door, biting, nipping, incessant barking, and all those other things that drive us nuts.

Is Fluffy wrong in doing this?  Not if we are constantly telling him that it is his job to do those things!  But, how do we stop it?

Here is the bottom line...

Whenever you are interfacing with Fluffy, make sure that everything is your idea and not his.  This will maintain your role in the interaction as the leader and Fluffy's role in the interaction as a happy member of the family.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Calm and Still

When Fluffy is running, jumping, and barking all around me, how can I stay calm and still?

Our initial training visits with our clients normally last three hours or more.  We cover a lot of information and demonstrate a great deal of techniques to get Fluffy to be a great dog.  I have often thought that if I only had a moment to give a dog owner some useful and productive training advise, what would it be. 

I keep coming back to the simple credo of "Calm & Still".

Eighty percent of the communication between Fluffy and myself is body language.  The most important part of body language, in my opinion, is the ability to portray a sense of confidence.  Everything is OK, I am in control, I will take care of you...  This is done by remaining calm and still while engaging the situation at hand.

Humans are emotional animals and we get so mad at Fluffy when he is going nuts.  We raise the level of adrenalin through our screaming and running when we are trying to calm Fluffy down.  It just doesn't work, and why should it?  Craziness breeds craziness.  

By staying calm and still when you are addressing Fluffy, he will naturally feel your confidence and will have a far better sense that you are the leader, provider, and safe keeper.  Staying calm also allows you to more effectively evaluate the situation and determine the best course of action to get Fluffy back to being a "good dog".

If you are a fan of old TV shows...
  • Did Mr. Spock go nuts when the Klingons were attacking the Enterprise?
  • Did Sheriff Andy Taylor ever get scared, yell, and scream when he was capturing escaped criminals?

No.  That's my point!

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Do We Train Guard Dogs...

We are often asked "Do you train guard dogs?"  The answer is "It depends".

And what do we mean by that?  Most people think of a guard dog as that big German Sheppard with the spike collar that is always barking and trying to bite you if you jump the fence onto someone else's property.  They stay outside all day and their only purpose in life is to go after anyone that enters that yard, store, lot, etc.  Well, we don't do that, we don't train dogs to be overly aggressive.

A better question would be "Would the dogs you train protect their family if a dangerous situation arises?"  We would then answer "yes".

When Fluffy and your family, are properly trained, everyone knows their appropriate position in the family.  They know their roles and responsibilities as well as everyone else's roles and responsibilities.  Fluffy understands that it is not his responsibility to be the protector of the family.  That is the responsibility of Mommy and Daddy.  On a normal basis, they will make the appropriate safety decisions that will impact him and the children.  When a guest comes in the house, the mailman comes to the door, etc., Mommy or Daddy will take charge and make the safety decision.  That is why Fluffy does not bark incessantly, growl, and jump in the guest or mailman.  It is not his role at that time.

But if someone jumps the back fense and Mommy or Daddy aren't there, someone breaks into the house and Fluffy feels tension or fear from the rest of the family, something different will happen.  It is not Fluffy's role to be the protector of the family, but it is his responsibility to engage when the family becomes threatened.  In the canine world, this is a natural pack behavior.  In this case, Fluffy will guard, confrount, and possibly attack.

So, to answer the question...

We do not train guard dogs, but the dogs we train will guard and protect.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How Do You Know You Are a Responsible Dog Owner?

I think I am a responsible dog owner... How can I tell?

First of all, let's remember that we aren't talking if you are the "leader of your pack" in this discussion.  We are discussing if you are a responsible dog owner.  Let's go over some simple ideas that I feel are important:
  • Get your dog spayed or neutered.  They live longer and have healthier lives.
  • Provide proper identification.  If Fluffy gets out, you have a far better chance in getting him back if he has a dog or electronic tag.
  • Get training for you and your dog.  This will help build the bond, trust, and respect between you and Fluffy.  Both of you will be better for it.
  • Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian.  Catching issues early will provide Fluffy with a far better life and will cost you far less in the long run.
  • Make time for Fluffy.  Schedule play dates and include him in your regular family activities.  Fluffy is a part of your family.  Make him feel as such.
  • Give Fluffy regular exercise.  Exercise is one of the four major functions that Fluffy needs to function.  Fetch, walkies, or any interactive exercise will keep Fluffy healthy and build your bond.
  • Provide Fluffy with shelter.  Fluffy should have his place where he can simply go and "hang out".  The best shelter is a dog crate.  This is the place where only Fluffy can go and where he will always feel safe.
  • Make sure you travel safely.  Always have Fluffy in a harness that is properly secure when driving.  Don't have him in your lap or the passenger seat!
It is your job to be a responsible owner for your dog.  Please follow the above guidelines to accomplish that.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Adding a Little Zip to Rover's Meal

What if you only could eat corn flakes, toast (no butter), or crackers?  Pretty boring, right?  Well, how do you think Rover feels when you put that bowl of dry kibble in front of him?

The answer to "zip up Rover's meal" is really very simple.  First of all, we always suggest that you feed Rover a high quality dog food.  Now, take a spoonful or two of regular cottage cheese and mix that with the food.  Cottage cheese is natural, provides calcium, and dogs love it. 

Thoroughly mix the curds of cottage cheese with the kibble and then provide Rover with his new dinner.  Wow!  He will love it.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Dog is Marking in Our House!

What can you do when your Fluffy is constantly picking up his leg in your home?  Move?  No, I have a better idea!

What we first have to ask is why Fluffy is marking in your home.  The answer goes back to the idea that Fluffy thinks he is part of a pack of animals and your home is part of their territory.  What Fluffy is doing is making sure that the territory smells like him.  In essence, he is leaving his calling card.  The bad news is that this natural instinct can be very strong in some dogs and that this behavior will naturally occur and continue to occur.  The good news is that there is a very simple way for us to take control of the situation and "manage" the smell.

Remember that Fluffy wants the territory (your home) to smell like him.  All we have to do is to make sure that the smell is something pleasant to us and natural to him.  What we are going to do is to use a lavender smell in the home and to have Fluffy gain a very slight smell of lavender.  Now your home and Fluffy smell the same.  Fluffy is happy that his territory smells like him so there is no need for him to lift his leg.  You are happy because your home doesn't smell like a kennel.

So, how do you do this?
  • Get some lavender Glade plug-ins and place them around your house.
  • Get some of the bamboo-lavender oil holders and place them on some tables.
  • Start cleaning with Lavender Fabuloso.
  • Get some lavender carpet dust and use it when you are vacuuming.
Now, the house will have a very slight smell of lavender.  You might not even notice the smell, but Fluffy will definitely notice the new smell.

  • Go out to the Dollar Store and get a small vile of lavender oil.
  • Place a few drops of the lavender oil on a terrycloth hand towel.
  • Lightly pass the towel over Fluffy's fur.  You want to have the lavender come in contact with the top of his fur and never his skin.
Now, Fluffy has a very, very slight sent of lavender oil.  Fluffy and his territory smell the same.  No more marking!

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Keeping Your Doggie Happy When You Go Back to School

School has just started and my dog had gone nuts!  What happened?

After a long summer of playing and being with the entire family, school starts and Fluffy's world is thrown for a loop.  Dogs don't like sudden changes and the dramatic schedule change that school brings can place a great deal of anxiety on Fluffy.  Let's talk about some things you can do to minimize this.

The biggest thing you can do to assist in this matter is to minimize Fluffy's separation anxiety.  This can lead to destructive behavior and endless barking.
  • Pay less attention to Fluffy - A week before school starts, ignore him for increasing amounts of time each day so he gets used to not being the center of attention.
  • Start early - Several weeks before school begins, get Fluffy comfortable with being alone by separating him from the family.  If you often take him with you to run errands, leave him at home.
  • Practice leafing the house - Gather your gear, exit the door, but then come right back in again.  Fluffy will cease associating the routine of leaving with your departure and will be more relaxed when you actually leave.
  • Be calm and assured - When leaving the house, you inadvertently confuse your dog if you say sweetly "It's okay, Fluffy - we'll be home soon".  If he is feeling concerned about your leaving, your happy, high-pitched voice tone can make him think it's okay to feel anxious.  As pack animals, dogs expect their leaders to be strong when they leave the pack.  Therefore, ignore Fluffy for about ten minutes before you leave.
  • Toys - Make sure that Fluffy has his favorite toys with him as you leave.  This helps redirect his focus on your departure.
Do this and you will be a long way in making the first few days of school a great experience for everyone.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When Your Dog Pulls on the Walk

It is really amazing how many of our clients' dogs pull them down the street... Even the little five pounders! 

I would like to provide you with a quick and easy thing to try when your dog is pulling your down the street.  Simply turn around 180 degrees, walk in the opposite direction for about 10 feet, and turn around again 180 degrees.  Just keep walking like nothing happened.

One of the things that is going on when your dog is pulling you down the street is that he thinks that he is in charge of the walk.  He is in charge, he sets the pace, direction, etc.  Well, he is not in charge, you are!  (I hope you are.)  To let your dog understand that you are in charge, you need to make drastic course corrections that will require your dog's immediate response.  Turning around is a simple and very effective course correction.

After doing this a few times, your dog will understand that you are the one in charge of the walk and will start to provide you with more focus and attention.   He now understands that he is with you and he needs to focus on you to know what to do.

Although this is not the only reason why a dog might be pulling on a walk, this technique is easy and has helped hundreds of our clients with their dog walking issues.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Some Quick Pool Safety Tips

Can you teach my dog to swim?


Some dogs are Olympic swimmers and some can just do the "dog paddle". That is up to them. What we can do, as good pet owners, is to assure their safety in the pool. Here are some tips.
  • Don't assume that your dog "wants to swim". Some water dogs hate the water and others can't wait to jump in. If you force your dog into the water, you will create a negative, physical experience that could harm your dog as well as his trust and respect for you.
  • Have your dog on a leash and slowly coax him into the water.
  • Hold him next to you and keep him calm.
  • Slowly guide him around the pool and back to the steps.
  • Repeat the above process several times.
  • Now, when you are in the water with him, gently let him go so that he can swim under his own power.
  • Passively guide him back to the steps to get out.
  • Repeat this process several times.
  • Practice this for several days until he naturally goes to the steps without your guidance.
  • Once he has accomplished this, have him jump in the pool (away from the steps).
  • If he does not go back to the steps, guide him back.
  • Repeat this process until he can jump in the pool and go back without guidance.
  • Keep it slow!
Once you have successfully accomplished the above steps, your dog should be safe around the pool. As always, we never encourage leaving your dog unattended around the pool.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Here are some "Real Life" Doggie Traveling Tips

Right now we are in the middle of a two week trip with our three dogs. While we are "living this experience", I thought it might be worthwhile to review some "doggie travel tips" we are living right now...

Traveling with your "best friends" is not hard. The biggest thing that we forget is to prepare and observe. We must prepare what our dogs will need for the trip and observe their needs and their environment while we are traveling. Here are some quick tips:
  • Be sure that your dogs will have secure locations in the car. This can be a crate, leash/safety belt, or any other location where they will not "be propelled" in sudden stops "lane changes".
  • Do a "practice pack" of the car ahead of time. This will assure that your dogs will actually have the space they need. Get your dogs into their "places" to make sure that they are comfortable with them.
  • If your dogs aren't comfortable with car rides in general, start taking them on short rides to positively reinforce the experience.
  • If you will be leaving your dogs at day cares along the way during your trip, be sure that their medical records are up to date. Be sure that you have up to date copies of their medical histories.
  • Make sure that your dogs have collars that fit snugly and they have dog tags. If possible, make sure they are chipped and that the chip is working and up to date.
  • Make sure that you exercise your dogs an hour or two before you start your trip so that they are ready for a good sleep. Feed them early enough so that they have already gone to the bathroom before the trip begins.
  • Be sure that you have food, toys, leashes, training leads, goodies, etc. packed and easily accessible as your trip begins.
  • Now that you are on the trip, stop every two or three hours to let them out to go to the bathroom and stretch their legs. Also, be sure to properly hydrate them during your daily drive.
  • Call ahead to make sure that your hotel accepts dogs and try to get a first floor room. When you reach your hotel, take them out as quickly as possible to allow them exercise and the ability to go to the bathroom. Feed them early so that they have time to go to the bathroom before you turn in for the night.
  • When you are not in the room, keep your dogs in their crate. This assures that they can't open the hotel door and "hit the town". It also assures if a hotel employee enters the room, there will be no issues. (Some crate socialization may be needed before this can take place. Your Bark Buster Trainer can help you with this issue.)
  • Plan your "away from the room time" so that you aren't gone longer than they can "hold their potty". You might have to stagger your "away from the room time" by coming back to the room for a short period of time to handle their needs.
  • Be sure to spend as much "non-car" time as possible with your dogs while you are on your trip. This will help to socialize your dogs with unique situations and help build the bond between you and them. While on our "college looking trip", our dogs joined several college tours. They loved the new sights and sounds and the college students loved to meet them.
If you are still planning a late summer trip, I hope this helps. Our dogs are great. Many times it takes some proactive planning to help them stay great.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Friday, July 23, 2010

When Your Dog is Really Bugging You -- Here's an Idea

The other day a client asked me a question about their dog constantly "bugging them" to play with a toy. There are a lot of "official Bark Buster" replies, but I decided to give them an idea that worked with me. Shush! Don't tell our Home Office, but let me share this with you...

When I was out in the back yard, my dog, Millie, would bring Frisbees to me all the time and bug the heck out of me to throw it for him. I would practice the passive dominance with him (ignore the behavior) and he would push and push and push. The "human side of me" became annoyed and angry at him and he picked up on this. He would simply continue and step up his campaign on "throw the Frisbee".

I then came up with an idea of taking charge and eliminating the initial request ("I am the Alpha") from Millie. The next time he brought the Frisbee to me and began to bug me to throw it, I ignored him, picked up the Frisbee, and put it in the barbecue (off, of course). Millie couldn't get it and I went back to what I was doing.

If Millie brought me another toy or goodie, I would repeat the process. He quickly understood that this was a "loose-loose" situation for him because of the passive dominance process and redirection methods used.

This method has worked wonders for me and I am waiting to hear back from my client regarding his success. I hope that this helps you.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Keeping Summer Safe - Rules of the Road

It drives me crazy when I see dog owners transporting their dogs in an unsafe manner. This could cause a bad situation, even death. It doesn't have to be that way!

An unrestrained dog in a vehicle is dangerous to everyone in the car, including the dog himself. Secure your dog in the back seat with a safety harness or in a per carrier fastened to a seat belt. Another option is to install a pet barrier to keep the dog in the back area of your vehicle. Dogs riding in the front can be seriously hurt if the airbags deploy.

Here are some other important hints:
  • If you must transport your dog in the bed of a pickup, be sure he is restrained, preferably in a crate or carrier secured to the truck.
  • Avoid allowing your dog to hang his head out the car window - he could suffer eye injury from flying debris.
  • When stopping the car along the way, attach a leash to the dog's collar before opening the door so he can't escape. Use a leash to walk your dog.
  • It is hot! Never leave your dog unattended in the car in this heat. Within a very short time, your dog can suffer from heat exhaustion and could possibly die.
Let's keep it safe out there this summer. Follow these rules of the road and you are on your way!

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Keep it Slow and Easy

Isn't it always good advise to keep it slow and easy? In that way, things will probably work out better?

Just to let you know, the answer is "yes". We humans hate that answer because we love to get things done fast. I will text you, drive through the teller window at the bank, take the express way, fast forward, etc., etc, etc. (see, I didn't even write out the entire word "etcetera")....

Let me give you a hint. That doesn't work for dogs. One of the biggest training problems that we run into is when our clients try to push too fast with the training process. They try and teach their dog something too quickly, not paying attention that the dog has no idea what they are asking. The dog doesn't respond, the owner becomes frustrated, and the entire situation becomes a non-learning event, inconsistent event.

Here is what you do:
  • Stop thinking like a human! There, I said it. Now let's continue.
  • Dogs learn in a consistent and repetitive manner. We must teach using the same process.
  • Whatever you want to teach your dog, determine what they currently can accomplish and what they can't accomplish.
  • Begin asking them to demonstrate what they can accomplish.
  • Slowly add complexities and distractions to the point where they begin to fail.
  • STOP! This is the learning horizon where the most productive instruction will take place.
  • Work at this point, slowly, until your dog can make small, but observable improvements.
  • Continue the process. If at any time, you observe that your dog is consistently failing your requests, back it off. You have gone too far too fast. Back it up until your dog is succeeding again. Now proceed.
When we think like a dog, it works. When we think like a human, it fails...

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What to do on the 4th of July

My dog goes crazy on the 4th and I have no idea what to do! Don't worry, here is the scoop...

Here are some ideas to keep your dog safe and happy on the 4th of July:
  • If you are going to a fireworks display, leave your dog at home where he will be the most safe and comfortable.
  • If you go to a holiday event, never leave your dog in the car. A partially opened window does not supply sufficient fresh air, and it creates an opportunity for your pet to be stolen.
  • Always keep the proper identification securely fastened to your dog's collar in case he gets out. Talk to your veterinarian about implanting a universal microchip in your pet, and make sure that your veterinary clinic and animal shelter have your correct contact information in their databases.
  • Don't leave your dog outside. If you cannot bring him inside, cover his dog house with a blanket to protect him from the bursts of bright lights and loud bangs. A dog's sense of hearing is acute --- about four times more sensitive than humans'.
  • Create a special den-like area in your home where your dog feels safe. A properly introduced crate or kennel can be a calming refuge for him.
  • Some dogs become destructive when frightened. If you don't use a create, remove any items in the room which your dog could destroy or which could hurt him if he chewed them.
  • Keep your dog away from the front and back doors. Your dog may be under significant stress, which could result in unnecessary injury to others or cause him to dart out the door.
  • Keep windows and curtains closed to reduce noise and bright flashes.
  • Turn on a TV or radio at normal volume to distract your dog from loud noises and help him to relax.
  • If possible, stay with your pet during the majority of the fireworks. A dog often reacts more intensely top loud sounds and flashes of lights when you are not with him.
  • Consider hiring a pet sitter to stay with your dog while you are away from home.
Follow these simple steps and you and your pooch will have a great 4th of July!

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Preparing Your Doggie for the Veterinarian

Visiting your veterinarian is essential to keeping your dog healthy and happy, and it is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. However, a routine checkup can sometimes be distressing to our canine companions. It doesn't have to be that way...

When you consider what a vet visit entails, you can begin to appreciate why your dog may become so overwhelmed and (sometimes) hard to control. Not only will he encounter dozens of new smells, but he may also hear barking dogs, meowing cats, and strange voices. He may be handled by vet staff in unfamiliar ways that could add to his apprehension.

Help your dog feel more relaxed and even enjoy his vet visits by following these tips:
  • Take the dog to the vet clinic for brief visits prior to your appointment. Introduce him to the clinic when it is quiet to get him used to the smells and sounds of the new environment so it won't be entirely strange to him when you actually go for the exam. Let him meet the wonderful people who work there; have the staff give him a treat and place him on a scale, and allow him to sniff the exam room. A few visits like this will help him associate the vet clinic with a positive experience.
  • At home, during quiet times, you can help your dog become comfortable with being handled for a medical examination. Gently pat him on different areas of his body while he is in a relaxed state. Mimic how the vet will examine your dog -- touch around his eyes and ears, gently hold his feet and toes (which also helps alleviate his fear of nail clipping), lift his lips and touch his teeth, gently move his legs, etc. Take your time with this kind of touch, and do it ofter so that it becomes an agreeable experience for your dog both at home and at the vet.
  • Some dogs never go anywhere in the car except to the vet. Thus, a dog may begin to associate a car ride with visiting the vet and may begin to worry the moment you put him in the car. To prevent this anxiety, do some practice drives. Take him somewhere fun, so he learns that a ride in the car can end in a pleasurable destination.
  • Exercise your dog before a visit. A tired dog is more relaxed and easier to manage.
  • Throughout the visit, stay relaxed and unconcerned. Your dog can sense your feelings, and you need to remain calm so he can feel calm. Remember, your dog looks to you for his safety and security.
  • Keep your pet on a short leash while in the waiting area, and maintain control of him throughout your visit to avoid any stress, injury or altercations with other pets. If he shows any signs of aggression towards dogs or humans, be sure to have him muzzled for every one's safety.
  • If you have a small dog, take him into the clinic in his carrier. He'll feel more comfortable being in a familiar space, with his blanket, toys, etc.
  • After the vet visit, take your dog somewhere fun to play and to reward him.
Your veterinarian and clinic staff will also appreciate you taking the time to ensure your dog is calm and comfortable during his visit.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Proper Exercise in the Summer Heat

Wow! It is really getting hot out there and it is only the middle of June!

We always have this old idea that when it gets to summer, we all get outside and have fun. Well, that is the case if is doesn't feel like 100 degrees at 10AM in the morning. Because of the heat, we are spending more and more time inside. The same goes with our dogs. We don't walk them as much, we don't throw the Frisbee as much, we don't "roll in the grass" as much.

Exercise and entertainment are required activities to maintain a healthy and well behaved dog. I have recently experienced several clients who are keeping their dogs inside, without the needed "play time" and "exercise time". They start to misbehave and become "bored-destructive". The answer to this is simple. You must proactively manage a consistent "play time". Here are some ideas:
  • Get up early and take your dog for a walk in the cool of the morning. The sun is low and there are a plethora of great "morning smells" for your doggie to enjoy.
  • Plan pool time. Depending on the shades around your pool, jump in the water with your pooch for fifteen to twenty minutes. Have some floaty-catch toys that you can toss. Watch him carefully for any signs of exhaustion of fatigue. When you get out, go to your covered porch, dry him off, and then give him some water.
  • If you don't have a fenced area that you can use as a play yard, get a strong rope, put some hooks on the ends, and find an open area with a tree. Attach one end of the rope to the tree and the other to your dog's collar. Throw the Frisbee or ball. Just sit out there with him. Even if he isn't going crazy, the pure event of being out with you is something all dogs love. Do this, of course, in the cool of the morning or evening. And be sure to provide plenty of water.
  • NEVER leave your dog outside in the summer heat unattended. Like all dumb humans, we will forget they are out there. Hours could go by with them in the sun, heat, and possibly without water.
The big thing that I want to stress is that we shouldn't decrease our play time with our dogs simply because of the heat. Entertainment is one of the key factors our dogs require. We simply need to manage and plan our play time to take the summer heat into consideration.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why Extension Leashes are Bad

I hate extension leashes!!! ...And let me tell you why...

We Americans love things with buttons and gizmos, widgets, etc. An extension leash has a handle with a button. Button! Wow! I have to have that! No you don't. Bad, Bad dog owner.

When we are walking our dogs down the street, in the mall, at the park, etc., it is our job as dog owners to keep them safe. Our dogs need to understand that. They need to keep their focus on us so that if we change the direction of our walk, they will too. If we speed up or slow down, they will too. If we stop, well, you get the point.

In order to maintain this focus, our dog must always have an eye on us and we must have an eye on them. The only way we can accomplish this is if they are by our side. If they start to stray from our side, we must be able to appropriately guide them back to their proper position. When this takes place, we are providing the proper consistency and repetition of our actions to communicate to our dog "don't worry, you are with me."

Now we come to the dreaded extension leash. The only thing this leash does is to give your dog the ability to do whatever they want. Your dog is ten of fifteen feet out in front of you or beside you, or even behind you. Is he giving you focus to make sure that you are protecting him or is he sniffing the bush or barking at the squirrel? They are doing what they want. When this occurs in the canine world, and you allow it to occur, you are placing the "Boss Hat" on your dog. He gets to do whatever he wants because you are letting him.

When another dog or person starts to approach you, your dog will bark and jump at them. He is simply taking the leadership/protective role in the situation. You now get mad at your dog for his actions, but you were the one telling him he is the leader and has to protect you. That is that the extension leash does for you.

With the good old fashioned leash, you can keep your dog right next to you and naturally provide the leadership your dog requires. You will have a great "walkies" and a dog that will be well behaved on and off the leash.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Tip on Good Doggie Food

I feed my doggie Beneful because it looks so good on the TV Ad.... He always seems to be wacko!!!
I have never tried to pretend to be a nutritionist, but I would like to share some "rules of thumb" guidelines when looking for your dog's food.
  • Feeding your dog a good quality food can definitely help to extend their life. Just as we are encouraged to eat healthy, so should our dogs.
  • Feed your dog a dry food. Unless you are prepared to brush their teeth on a regular basis, wet food can lead to accelerated tooth decay.
  • When you are looking at the dog food ingredients, make sure that the meat is the very first ingredient. You do not want to see the word "by-product" following the meat. This means that it is a part of the animal that is normally thrown away. This is not healthy.
  • When reading the ingredients, you don't want to see corn, corn meal, maize, or any other corn derivative in the list. Corn can not be digested and simply passes right through your dog, providing no nutrition. The only thing that corn does for the dog food is add to it's weight.
  • Don't feed your dog Beneful. It simply makes them hyper and more likely to misbehave and not listen to your commands.
If you have any questions about your dog's diet, please ask your Veterinarian. They are the ones who clearly understand your dog's particular health concerns and can help direct you towards the products that will provide your dog with a happy, healthy, and long life.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bark Busters Offers Tips for Guests at the Door

Bark Bark Bark.... Jump Jump Jump.... Crazy Crazy Crazy!!!! After our guests ring the door bell, this is what we hear next. I don't think this is part of your door bell chime!
Most dogs are always excited when new people are coming into the house. We really don't want to eliminate this behavior because it can also act as a defensive/protective mechanism. What we do want to do (at least I do) is to not be embarrassed when anyone enters our house because they are constantly attacked by my doggies. The best way to accomplish this is to nip it at the bud. Here are some tips:
  • If you know that you will be having guests, put your dog(s) on a leash. As their arrival time approaches, make sure that they are fully engaged with toys or other distractions.
  • If you are in a community where you receive a phone call before your guest's arrival, grab your dog's leash a few moments after you have "beeped your guest in".
  • If you are in a community where your guests need no security check. Be sure that you are near your dog(s) around the time of your guests arrival. You can also keep them in the room with you until you hear the door bell. As soon as the door bell rings, take your dogs by the leash.
  • Now, your guest is at the front door. Calmly walk to the door with your dogs. Have them sit before you open the door.
  • Open the door and greet your guest. If your dogs start to jump or move, correct them and have them sit again.
  • If your dogs become too hyper, walk them ten or fifteen feet away and then return to your guest and have them sit.
  • Have a short conversation with your guest ("How was the traffic?, Did you have any problem finding the place?", etc.)
  • Now, walk with your dogs and your guest to where you will be spending your time. If the dogs seem to be calm (minimized adrenaline), drop the leashes.
  • If your dogs begin to jump, bark, or just go crazy, pick up the leashes and walk them around until they become calm. Then, simply drop the leashes.
What you are teaching your dogs is to be calm when you are meeting guests. The leash serves as a simple, non-physical training aid to for you to direct your dogs to make the right decision. It also allows you to be consistent in your direction of them.
As your dogs become "more polite" around arriving guests, still keep the leashes on them, but don't hold the leashes. This gives you a "backup option" if they start to get out of control. It also takes you to the next step of observing them to see if "they really got it".
What you have just done is to use body language and canine training techniques to easily direct your dogs in a way that they understand.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.