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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wolfie and the Elevator

What can you do with a dog that is slightly fearful of other dogs and you live in a building and have to use the elevator?

Let me tell you one thing for sure.  You don't want to force Wolfie into a situation where he is placed in a fight or flight situation in a confined environment (like an elevator).  You don't want to let the other dog in the elevator and do something like move to the corner of the elevator and hold him on a very tight leash or pick him up and firmly hold him.  When you are doing these things, you are placing Wolfie in an unsafe situation. 

As the "Alpha Leader", you never want to put your pack or any members of your pack in an unsafe situation.  You are now "telling" Wolfie that you are a bad leader and don't have the ability to keep him safe.  This means that Wolfie will step up to be the leader and will take a more aggressive stance in the elevator (bad!).

We must understand that as the Alpha Leader, it is our biggest responsibility to keep Wolfie safe.  Sometimes, the best way to maintain safety is to avoid unsafe situations.  This is not "running away", it is simply good pack management.  With this in mind, here are my suggestions for the elevator situation.
  • If you are in the elevator and someone with a dog starts to enter, politely mention that your dog is a little fearful of other dogs when in the elevator.  Since you don't want an incident in such a closed space, could they please wait for the next elevator.  If they agree, thank them.  If they still step into the elevator, excuse yourself and get out of the elevator.  If there are other people in the elevator, they will see that you are a responsible dog owner, no matter which outcome occurred.  You will also show Wolfie that you are keeping him safe.
  • If you are about to enter the elevator and you see that there is another dog in the elevator, do not enter.  Mention that Wolfie is a little fearful of dogs in the elevator and you want to wait for the next one.  This, again will show that you are a responsible dog owner to your neighbors and that you are the strong alpha leader to Wolfie.
Yes, I know that it might take you a few more minutes to go up and down the elevator, but the extra few minutes will do wonders in building your relationship with Wolfie and your neighbors.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wolfie and Me in the Pool

I would love to have Wolfie in the pool with me, but I don't want it to be a crazy time...

So, how do we get Wolfie to play with us in the pool while not driving us nuts, jumping on us, and all those bad things?  Well, in fact, we actually have two dogs that play with us in the pool.  Wolfie, who I have always talked about, and Fang, our Poodle.  Here is my secret:

We had to first pick an activity that we would associate with "pool time".  When we are in the pool, this is what Wolfie and Fang will always do.  We found that both dogs have a very strong "fetch" drive.  This is great because it is a "high energy" activity and it drives them away from being on top of us.  We started playing fetch with them while we were all outside the pool.  This allowed us to practice the exercise and to focus on how they would deliver the fetch toy back to us.  It is very important that you make them drop the toy at your feet and to then step back, waiting for you to throw the toy again.  The purpose of this exercise is to create a great "play activity" and to have them calm as they return to you.

Now that we have mastered the fetch game and they are calm when they bring the toys to us, we are ready for the pool!

Start by standing on the steps in the shallow end and play fetch with them.  Have them bring you the fetch toys and drop them by the side of the pool.  Slowly move down the steps into the water, continuing to play fetch.  Get all the way in the pool and throw the toys for them.  If the toys float, throw the toys in the other end of the pool every once in a while.  This just breaks up the game and allows them to cool off.  (Be sure that they understand where the steps are located so that they can easily exit the pool and bring the toy back to you.)

Wolfie and Fang are now playing with you in the pool and they are not always on top of you.  Because of the nature of the game, you have control of where they will be playing (or not playing).  This assures that if you have friends or guests who don't want to interact with them, they will have a good time too.

Give it a shot!  It has worked for us and has given us countless hours of fun pool time with family, friends, and Wolfie

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

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wolfie Going Nuts When We Are In The Pool

Whenever anyone gets in the pool, Wolfie goes nuts and wants to jump right in the middle of it.  We found this fun when he was small and it was just the family, but we don't want him to "belly flop" on my pool guests!  Any hope?

Oops!  You did the classic "it is so cute when he was small and it isn't any fun now that he is big" mistake.  This problem is just exacerbated because a lot of people splashing, jumping, and yelling in the pool is a really big distraction.  Since most dogs are very social animals, they want to get into the fun too.  This issue really has to be nipped in the bud when Wolfie is still young and the bad habit has not been mistakenly taught to him by you.

Here are some thoughts:
  • Everything here must be started when Wolfie is still young.
  • Have Wolfie (under supervision on leash) outside, near the pool with you.  You swim around the pool, but don't make a lot of "crazy pool sounds".  As soon as Wolfie starts to react to you, have the person supervising Wolfie redirect him in the opposite direction.  Direct him to a toy and have him focus on that.  Repeat the process until Wolfie understands that there are other things to do in the back yard besides focusing on you when you are in the pool.

    As Wolfie gets better at a farther distance, move him closer to the pool and add people in the pool.  As this improves, have people enter and leave the pool.  Finally, have people leave the pool, interact with Wolfie, and then get back into the pool.

    This process teaches Wolfie that he doesn't have to be in the pool to have fun with you while you are all outside in the pool area.
  • Have Wolfie in the house (under supervision with leash) while you are swimming in the pool.  If Wolfie starts to bark and run towards the door, have his handler redirect him towards a toy and social interaction. 

    Continue to ramp up the process with more activity in the pool and with more activity in the pool.  As Wolfie is improving, remove the handler, first to the other side of the room, next to an adjacent room, and finally outside.
The focus of our entire exercise is to socialize Wolfie with the notion that he is fine where ever he is while there is activity in the pool.

NOTE: If you want Wolfie to be a social dog in the pool with you, you will have to invite him in the pool, and on your terms.  This will be a topic of a future blog.

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

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Two REAL Tips on Potty Training

OK, OK!  I know that I spend a lot of time on potty training!  80% of all my clients' puppy issues deal with potty training, so that is always my focus!

Today, I am going to give away one of my secrets.  It really is not a secret, because I teach it in my Potty Training lesson, but most people forget...

Pay attention, because this is going to be quick.  There are normally two reasons why potty training your new little puppy isn't going well.  Are you ready?  Here they come:

  • Water:  You leave the water down too long.  Always pick the water up after the meal is complete (with the food).  If you leave the water down all day long, you have no idea how much Wolfie has consumed and when he drank it.  This destroys you ability to build a schedule based on planned events.
  • Visibility:  ALWAYS keep Wolfie in sight during your potty training process.  If you don't keep him in sight, you will never see when and possibly where he made an accident.  It is critical that you have this information because it will allow you to analyze what you did wrong to allow it to happen.  You can then create a plan to address this issue in the future.
I spend between one to two hours discussing potty training with my clients, but when the "rubber hits the road", here is where they fail.  I hope that you can use this information to help you with your potty training issues. 

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