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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?

No.

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.
  • MAKE SURE YOU PERFORM ALL THESE STEPS IN A CALM ENVIRONMENT! NO SCREAMING KIDS (OR ADULTS) IN OR AROUND THE POOL!
  • 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.