View this blog on your Mobile Device. Click here.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wolfie and Your New Baby

Wow!  I thought I had made this clear to all my clients in the past, but I stand corrected!

A client recently told me that they have a newborn baby that they put down next to their two dogs and the baby pulls their ears and pokes them in their eyes.  "Nothing bad seems to happen", so that must be OK. 

No, it is not OK.  A newborn baby is small, low to the ground, makes quick, forward motions with their hands, and squeals in a high pitch.  These are all actions that aggravate the normal dog into a point of "don't bother me".  When this occurs, the dog will first give off a low growl indicating that they are done with the interaction.

Guess what?  The newborn baby doesn't "speak dog"!  They will continue to poke and squeal and approach.  Now comes the "bad part".  When your dog sees that their verbal communication has not been successfully received, they will ramp it up to a snap.  In your dog's mind, a snap is still a passive action designed to passively, yet forcefully explain their position of "leave me alone".

What I have seen too many times is that the snap comes into contact with the baby.  This results in a bruise at the minimum and several stitches at the maximum.  The point of this discussion is that this does not have to happen.

PARENTS!  Manage your baby and your dog!
  • Do not leave your baby and dog alone.  Ever!
  • When you are together, have your dog on a leash and always be between both of them.
  • If you feel it is time to let them meet, two adults must be present.  One adult has the dog on the leash, ready to remove him from the area.  The other holds the baby.  Allow the dog to approach and manage the baby so that they don't employ quick, forward movements.
    If any form of aggression takes place, separate the two instantly.
The takeaway from this discussion is to keep a safe environment in your home.  You have all the time in the world to have your baby and dogie meet.  Let's do it when everyone is happy and the environment is safe.

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

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Summer Heat and Wolfie

I know that we have talked about playing in the pool to beat the summer heat, but what if I don't have a pool?  Wolfie wants to get outside, but what guidelines should I use?

I have already talked about pools, proper hydration, and several other topics as Wolfie and I deal with the summer heat.  The problem is that Wolfie really needs some good exercise, but in the heat, what is safe?

Wolfie needs exercise and this summer seems to be one of the hottest in recent memory.  These are two inescapable facts.  The solution is to deal with these facts in a safe way.  What I have suggested to many of my clients is to manage the times you get your dog outside.

Down here in South Florida, it is already over 80 degrees by 10AM and can get way over 90 degrees by the afternoon.  Many times, it doesn't get down to the 80's again until 6PM and doesn't drop into the 70's until 10 in the evening.  I provide the following "Play Outside" schedule for my clients:
  • In the Morning until 10AM:  Play outside for no more than 15 minutes at a time.
  • From 10AM until 5PM: Play outside for no more than 10 minutes at a time.
  • From 5PM until 9PM: Play outside for no more than 15 minutes at a time.
  • After 9PM: Play outside for up to 30 minutes at a time.
I also suggest that the activities in the middle of the day are not as "active" as the other times.  You can throw the Frisbee, but not for the entire time.  Activities like rolling a ball for Wolfie to fetch or a brisk walk (on leash if necessary), or simply wandering around the back yard together would be appropriate in the middle of the day.  And, I can not state this enough, always plenty of water when play time is over.

One last thing...  If your pooch is on medication which might cause rapid dehydration or is getting on in years, I might cut these times down by as much as 50%.  If you see your dog begin to become lethargic in any way, bring him inside at once.  If he continues to be lethargic for one to two hours after you have brought him inside, call your vet.

We can play outside in the heat, but we must be safe about it.

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

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Wee-Wee Pad (Ramp it Up)

I am trying to train my puppy to go on the wee-wee pad, but he just doesn't pay attention to it!  What gives?

The wee-wee pad was originally designed around the notion that "if it smells like a toilet, it must be a toilet".  The wee-wee pad manufacturer would put a chemical on the paper so that the pad had a slight scent of urine.  We, of course, couldn't smell it, but Wolfie could.  Sometimes, when your pup is not paying attention to the pad it is because the scent given off by the pad is not strong enough to gain his attention.

This doesn't mean that you just put down more pads.  What you need to do is to enhance the smell or "super-size the odor".  Here are three suggestions:
  • Many pet stores sell "urine odor enhancer sprays".  Get a bottle and spray it generously in the exact middle of Wolfie's wee-wee pad.
  • There is an old wife's tale that the smell of beer enhances Wolfie's potty drive.  Pour a little bit of beer (careful, don't waste the whole bottle!) in the middle of Wolfie's wee-wee pad.
  • (Now, this may be a little gross, but hear me out on this one!)  If Wolfie has gone Number One on a hard surface (tile, wood, etc.), put on some dish washing gloves, get a sponge (that you are about to throw away), and soak up the urine into the sponge.  Take the sponge and squeeze it over the middle of Wolfie's wee-wee pad.  (Be sure to throw the sponge away!)
These are three simple ways to enhance the productivity of the wee-wee pad.  Please understand that this is only a single piece in the potty training process.  There are many other matters that you must understand and consider.  Check out other articles in this training blog for additional information.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Keeping the Start of Your Walk Nice and Quiet

Every time Wolfie and I go out for a walk, he pulls me through the front door and down the street.  This needs to stop!  What can I do?

Many times we answer our own questions without even knowing it.  Our dogs get all excited about the walkies because we have built up the moment with distracted anticipation.  Of course they are going to go nuts when we open the door and, of course, they are going to run out the door and pull us down the streets! 

What we must do is to manage the situation before it takes place.  We must do two things to regain control of the walkies:

Break the association of "leash means walkies".
Dogs learn by "A = B".  Whenever Wolfie sees the leash, it means "walkies".  Oh boy! Oh boy!  He gets all excited and runs all around the house in celebration.  We, of course, chase him, yelling and screaming, until we catch him and get the leash on.  Can you say "adrenaline rush for Wolfie"?

We must break the "A = B".  Start putting the leash on Wolfie at different times during day (while you are home and can keep an eye on him) and simply walk away.  Have it on him at different times so that he can not make an association of a related action with clicking on or off the leash.  This will take the "leash means walkies" association away.  It will transpose Wolfie's reaction to the leash from excitement to lack of attention.

You now have the ability to prepare for the walk with minimum adrenaline and maximum focus on you.

Make sure you go through the front door first.
Starting a walk is not the begin of a race.  Wolfie should allow you to calmly step through the front door while he politely waits for your permission to come with you.  Here is what you do:
  • Approach the front door and put Wolfie in a "Sit". 
  • Open the door and tell Wolfie to "Wait".
  • Calmly step through the front door to the outside while Wolfie remains inside.
  • Give Wolfie the "Release" command to allow him to calmly walk outside.
  • Have Wolfie "Sit" outside the front door.  When you are ready, calmly start your walk.
Of course, there are many other aspects to walking Wolfie and this blog contains many other training tips on the subject.  The problem is if you don't start your walk off on the right paw, it will be overly difficult to maintain control over Wolfie.

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