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Sunday, October 30, 2011

What To Do When A Dog Charges You

I was walking down the street this weekend and a dog came out of nowhere and ran at me with his teeth showing, baking like a crazy animal.  I got away just in time and darted into a neighbor's back yard.  Is there any thing I can do to avoid this?
We have all experienced the barking and running dog at one time or another.  The important thing to remember is to how to present an uninteresting target to the dog.  The barking and running dog does not come around the corner and go after the tree or the stop sign.  They are uninteresting.  You, on the other hand, present a very interesting "target".  Let's look at some ideas to make you more uninteresting.
  • Dogs need to recognize who you are in order to make a decision about how they are going to act.  Many times dogs have a hard time recognizing men wearing dark glasses and hats.  If you see a dog approaching and they seem the slightest bit pensive, take off your sun glasses and your hat.  This will help the dog to recognize that you are just another animal he knows and not some new, weird beast.
  • Do not scream and run away if a dog charges. You are only showing your weak side (rear end) and are encouraging him to chase you.  You probably can not outrun him and he will eventually jump, knock you down, and maybe even bite (nip) you.  Stand upright, face the dog (do not stare), and make no sudden movements.
  • Allow the dog to approach you and sniff you.  If the dog starts to go around to your rear, slowly turn so that you are always facing him.
  • Cover up your private parts.  (You can never be too safe!)
  • You are presenting an "uninteresting target" to the dog.  Keep it up and he will move off to more interesting targets to explore. 
  • Slowly back up, still facing the dog.  Once you are a safe distance from the dog (a block or so), continue your walk.  
For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How to Help Wolfie When He is Scared and Growling

Wolfie seems a little scared all the time. He growls at people and when I try and tell him to stop, it just gets worse! What gives?

This sounds like Wolfie is timid and is manifesting that with aggressive behavior. He has figured out that if he snarls and growls at people, they will stay away.

One thing that you must understand is that your normal response of using a strong correction (yelling “NO”, etc.) to address the snarling and growling does not work. All this is doing is showing Wolfie that he has lost his only ally in the house. What you must do is to build a new foundation based on a relationship of trust and respect between you and Wolfie. This, and only this, will earn you the right to have a relationship where Wolfie respects and obeys you.

Start to correct Wolfie in a very matter fact way. To do this, have a leash on Wolfie when people are over. As soon as Wolfie starts his growling and other bad behaviors, pick up the leash and briskly walk in the opposite direction of the person Wolfie is engaging. Then, have him do simple obedience exercises where he has to give you complete attention. Simple exercises like sit, come, walkies, and stay would be perfect for this.

When Wolfie is calm and has obeyed you in performing the obedience exercises, praise him and return to your guests. You have taken control of the situation and have shown Wolfie that he can be calm and safe while other people are in the house. If you are keeping him safe, you are the leader.

Also remember the rule of classical conditioning. You MUST do this every time Wolfie starts to go nuts with people in the house. Consistency and repetition of your correction are necessary for Wolfie to finally get it.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wolfie Has Too Much Energy

I put in long hours at work and when I get home, Wolfie is always all over me.  I am tired and I can't get him outside to play a lot.  What can I do?

I see this a lot with our clients.  They work all day and just don't have the time to have a good, hard "play" with their dog when they get home from their ten hour day.  Dogs need to have that time to drain their adrenaline and you and Wolfie need the time to build the Bond, Trust, and Respect that your relationship requires.

We still suggest that you get outside as much as possible, throw the Frisbee, toss the ball, hide goodies and them help him find it, or perform some agility games.  What we now want to suggest is one more thing that will help take up the slack of the time you can't spend with him.

The answer is simple and it has worked wonders for many of our clients who have found themselves in this predicament. Take Wolfie to Doggie Daycare once or twice a week while you are at work.  He will be well cared for and be around dogs of his own temperament being supervised by professionals.  This will not only build his social skills, but it will drain that extra adrenaline so that he will be more prepared to obey you when you are home.  You are also placing him in an environment where he feels safe.  Since you have provided him with this environment, it will build your leadership role in Wolfie's eyes.

Most Doggie Daycares charge between $25 and $50 for a day session.  Many places offer discounts if you buy a "pack of sessions" or if you are on a monthly or quarterly program.   Interview two or three establishments in your area and ask neighbors if they take their dogs to a Daycare.  Start out going just once a week and then add days, if you feel it is needed.

Again, this has already done the job for many of our clients.  Give it a shot!  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Monday, October 10, 2011

When Your Dog Doesn't Seem to "Get it"

I am working with Wolfie every day, but he just doesn't seem to get it.  What is the problem here?

Like people, dogs need to learn at a particular speed and at a particular level.  Unlike us, they can't "jump ahead" or skip steps in the learning process.  It must be slow, methodical, repetitive, and consistent.

When Wolfie "isn't getting it", it normally means that we are trying to teach him a command at a level or complexity above his current ability to process.  When this happens, we must back up to find a place where Wolfie can succeed in the exercise and then slowly proceed from that point.  For Wolfie, there is no shame in going back a few grades to find a place where he can obey and please us.

Let me give you an example of this process:

Say, for example, I am working with Wolfie on the "Come" exercise.  I had him in the house and was using a six foot leash to have him come to me every time I said "come".  Once in a while, I had to give a little flick of the leash to get his attention and to guide him to me, but it was working pretty well.  This seemed great so I took Wolfie into the back yard without the leash and walked to the other side of the yard from Wolfie.  I called "come" and Wolfie didn't come.  I tried this over and over again, day after day with the same results.

It isn't that Wolfie is stupid or ignoring me, it is that I jumped too far ahead in the training process of "come" for Wolfie to methodically advance.

I would now go back into the house and reinforce the level of knowledge that I knew Wolfie understood. ("Come" from six feet using the leash.)  Next, I would get a longer leash and practice from ten feet, then fifteen feet, and then twenty feet.  If that goes well, I would go out in the back yard, with the leash, and repeat the process.

Keep it slow and you will get results.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wolfie Always Runs Thru The Door Ahead of Me!

Wolfie always runs through the door ahead of me!  Even if I am just walking from the family room to the living room, he always has to be the first one in...  It just bugs me!

Guess what!  In the dog's world, the alpha leader must always be out front to check out that everything is safe for the rest of the pack to follow.  As you go from room to room, that is a new place and a new opportunity for Wolfie to do his job and make sure everything is safe for you.  Wolfie thinks he is the leader.  I am not going to delve into readjusting the pack to allow Wolfie to understand that you are the leader today.  What I am going to do is to provide you with the training instructions to allow you to go through first.

Here is what you do:
  • Put Wolfie on a leash and slowly approach the door.
  • Stop when you are about two feet from the door and command Wolfie to Sit and Wait.
  • Slowly open the door, always making sure that Wolfie is not getting ready to move.  If you see Wolfie getting ready to move or if Wolfie has already moved out of his Sit/Wait position, correct him and have him return to the Sit/Wait position.
  • Continue to open the door until you have the ability to step through to the other side.
  • Step through to the other side and have both feet on the other side of the door.
  • Make sure that Wolfie has not moved for three to five seconds.  Now invite him through the door to be with you.
  • Put Wolfie in a sit position next to you for three to five seconds.  Give him some praise for doing a great job.
  • You are now done.  You can release Wolfie if you don't require anything else, walk with him, etc.
You will be amazed on how this will turn a normally crazy time into a quiet and respectful moment!  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.