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Showing posts from 2012

When Wolfie is Sick

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Every once in a while, Wolfie gets an upset stomach and throws up his food.  Do I need to always rush to the Vet?

If you are a new dog owner or if Wolfie is a small puppy, I would at least call your Vet, explain the situation, and ask for their advise.  If you believe that they have come in contact with anything poisonous (click here for more details), wash their mouth out and take them to the Vet.  If Wolfie isn't a puppy and you have had dogs before, I would use my common sense and experience to decide what to do. 
The big thing is observation.  After they have thrown up, are they still active?  Do they still have an apatite?  Are they hydrated?  (You can tell this by pinching their fur and see if it bounces back or stays in that "pinch".  If it bounces back, they are hydrated, if it doesn't, they are dehydrated and need to go to the Vet.)
If they are still active, have an apatite, and are hydrated, it might be a good idea to continue watching them.  This "upset …

Getting Wolfie to Stop Chewing and Teething

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Wolfie likes to chew and teeth a lot.  I have tried all the normal ideas like Bitter Apple, Bitter Yuch, Tabasco Sauce, and the like.  It seems that these things make Wolfie want to chew the item even more!  Ideas!  Help!



This training blog is going to be rather short, because I believe I have found the Holy Grail of dogs chewing and teething.

I was at a client about two months ago and our discussion turned to their dog's obsession with chewing on wicker and hands.  Besides the normal corrections that we always teach, I wanted to provide them with a "Plan B".  I knew that the mainstream suggestions of the "Don't Chew on Me" items from the pet stores never worked, so I turned to my favorite suggestion of Hot Sauce.

They said they had some Hot Sauce and went to get it from the kitchen.  Being from Southern California, I assumed it would be a Mexican Hot Sauce.  I was wrong.  My clients were originally from China so they brought out some great Mandarin Chinese Ho…

Five Great Things a Good Dog Owner Should Do for Their Dog

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I really want to be a great dog owner for Wolfie and there are so many opinions and suggestions of what I should do!  Are there some general things that I really need to focus on?



There are bookstores and bookstores full of dog books.  We could spend the rest of our lives just reading about what we should do with our dogs.  Since we probably don't have time for that, let me cut to the chase and give you the five "you really shoulds" for your dog:

First, good dog owners walk and exercise their dogs. Most dogs love to run and play. It is both a physical and mental release and helps keep them physically strong and emotionally happy. Yearly check-ups. Ensuring that your dog has yearly check-ups to help identify any medical problems before they become problems is a very good habit. During the yearly exam, your veterinarian will also determine if your dog requires any vaccines, flea control or heart worm preventative medications. These measures will help to keep your dog healthy…

Getting Wolfie to Stay

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No matter what I do, I can't get Wolfie to stay.  I think he just wants to drive me nuts.  I think he is going to stay, but as soon as I walk away, he is up and following me...




What you have done is to try and teach Wolfie too many things too quickly...  Remember that we all learned that 1 + 1 = 2 before we started to work with calculus.  That is the problem we are having with Wolfie.

Let's break to the chase and let me explain exactly what you need to do to start getting your dog to stay:

Make sure that you have your dog on a leash and that you are in a quiet place with no audible or visual distractions.Put your dog in a sit.  If he does not do this the first time and does not stay in a sit position with focus on you, stop the "stay exercise" and simply work on the sit.Once your dog is sitting and focused on you, stand in front of him, hold your hand up like a traffic cop, and tell him to "stay".He needs to remain in his sitting position while focused on you …

How Do I Get My Dog From Running Out The Door?

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Every time I try to leave through the door to the garage, Wolfie is always at my feet trying to get out ahead of me.  Many times I have to get to work and sometimes I am late because I have to try and catch him and put him in another room so I can leave.  There must be a better way!



Dogs running out an open door is a very common and really annoying problem that many dog owners face every day.  It is a big problem because is gets us mad (and we don't need that in today's world), hampers our relationship with "our best friend", and poses a safety risk for Wolfie.  So, what is going on here?

As a trainer, I always tell my clients to check out the world through Wolfie's eyes.  Wolfie watches our body language to constantly try and get clues as to what we are saying and what we are allowing him to do.  A large part of body language is posture and one of the key factors of that is whether we are facing Wolfie or if we have our back to Wolfie.

When we face Wolfie, we are i…

The ONE THING You Don't Want To Do With Your Puppy

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When I get a new puppy, what is the one thing I really should remember to never do?  There are so many things to remember and I know that I will probably get things wrong for a bit.  But, what is that "drop dead thing" I should remember from the very start?



Excuse me if today's training blog seems more like a sermon than training advise, but this is the one thing that Robin and I see from time to time that is almost impossible to fix.  The terrible thing about it is that it is not the dog's fault.

The picture at the top of this article shows a little boy pulling a puppy's tail.  The puppy normally gives a little "yip" and squirms a bit.  The little boy thinks that is funny and does it over and over, day after day.  That activity might turn into throwing things at the puppy, hitting him with a toy, hiding him in a dark closet while banging the door, or poking him with a stick.  

When the puppy is small, it isn't a big deal if he barks or lunges at you, …

What To Do When Doggie Sitting a Friend's Doggie

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I know that I am a "push-over", but I just agreed to doggie sit my friend's dog while he is away over Thanksgiving.  How can I make sure that Wolfie isn't going to go "Cujo" on the dog?



The good news is if Wolfie doesn't have a history of being unsociable with other dogs, you have a fighting chance of making this work.  With that said, you can't just throw them in the same room and hope for the best.  What you must do is to initially socialize the dogs and then establish boundaries (Hey!  Don't use my toothbrush!).  Here is what you do:

Before your friend's dog comes over to stay, have his dog and Wolfie meet several times in a neutral territory.  Have them both on leashes and allow them to sniff and exchange doggie pleasantries.  Take them for walks and even play catch with them.  This builds up  a social understanding between the two dogs regarding their individual levels of assertion and respect.  This is important when you bring them into …

Wolfie Seems Afraid of Me... What Can I Do?

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I am not sure what it is, but Wolfie seems afraid of me.  He'll always stay away from me and never comes!  What can I do that won't make the situation worse?



Unfortunately, we see this more times that we would like.  All doggie owners try to be good doggie owners, but sometimes we just blow our stacks.  We get mad, yell & scream, and sometimes whack our "best friend".  Bad experiences can leave very strong impressions with dogs and can last a long time.

So we messed up.  What can we do to make it right with Wolfie?  

One way is to practice an exercise called "V Feeding".  This is a process where we use small treats or kibble to entice Wolfie to come to us, feel safe, and then allow him to move away.  The entire point of this exercise is that we are allowing Wolfie to feel safe the entire time.  Here is what you do:

Get some small treats (Zukes Doggie Treats are perfect) or Wolfie's kibble.Have Wolfie about eight feet away from you.  Throw a goodie to th…

Why Fluffy Goes Nuts at People in the Car

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My dog, Fluffy, is the greatest dog in the world until she gets in the car.  Bark, Bark, Bark,Bark,Bark!  She barks at everyone as I drive down the street.  What gives?



I have seen this time and time again.  Here is Fluffy in her car seat.  The owner is doing the right thing by constraining her so that she won't go flying around if they had to put on the breaks.  So far so good.  So Fluffy constantly barks and drives you crazy.  That is bad.  What is the problem and how can you fix it?

...The answer is simpler than you think and the explanation is just as simple.

Dogs are always very aware of dominance and their role in the pack.  Who is the dominant one?  Who is in charge?  Look at this picture of Fluffy.  She is in her car seat that is raised off the normal seating which puts her in a raised position.  In the canine world, height is dominance.  Guess what?  We are sitting lower in your driver's seat while Fluffy is sitting high and mighty in her "dominance seat".  On …

How to Safely Deter Wolfie from Chewing, Nipping, Mouthing, etc.

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Wolfie just had some surgery and the Vet told me that he isn't allowed to lick or chew at his stitches.  I tried that funny "cone collar thing", but it just drives him nuts.  What else can I do that I can keep on him, protect the stitches, and not drive him nuts? 



We recommend the Italian Basket Muzzle.  "Muzzle!  Muzzle! Are you nuts?!  I would never muzzle my dog!"  I can hear some of you saying that right now.  That is because most people are only familiar with the standard nylon dog muzzle.  This muzzle covers the dog's nose like a straight jacket.  The dog can barely pant, bark, drink water, etc.  If left on too long in a warm environment, it can cause the dog to overheat, dehydrate, and possibly die.

The only thing in common between the nylon dog muzzle and Italian Basket Muzzle is that they both have the word "muzzle" in their names.  The Italian Basket Muzzle does not constrain the dog's nose in any way.  He can still pant, bark, drink w…

Quick Tips on Doggie Allergies

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Wolfie was scratching and chewing himself and I knew it wasn't fleas.  A friend of ours  mentioned that he might have some skin allergies and suggested to feed him grain-free food.  I gave it a shot and he is still scratching.  What next?



I first want to make it quite clear that I am not as qualified as my Veterinarian to diagnose solutions for skin allergies and the like.  I simply want to pass on some information that my Vet told me to "try first".  

The "quick and dirty" and inexpensive solution for canine skin allergies is to switch to a grain-free food.  Many times this will solve the problem and won't incur large medical expenses.  The one thing we forget when we switch to a grain-free food is the "hidden grain" that might still remain.  A local natural dog food supplier recently provided us with an epiphany that makes perfect sense.  

When you switch to a grain-free dog food, make sure that chicken is not the meat in the food.  For most chicke…

Wolfie is Eating His Doggie Bed

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I think that my dog, Wolfie, has probably eaten his weight in doggie beds!  He never does it in front of me, but he just chomps on it at night or when I am away.  I don't want to take his bed away from him.  What would he sleep on?



In my early days of dog training, I wrestled with this question time and time again.  I came up with some interesting answers and scenarios I asked my clients to try.  The results were hit and miss...

Several years ago, I had one of those "Oh my gosh" moments about dogs eating their dog beds when we weren't around to let them know it was wrong.  The first thing to remember is that dogs don't need a nice fluffy bed to lie on to fall asleep.  Look outside.  Wolfie is sleeping on the cement patio or on the rocks under the tree.  They love to sleep on the cool tile during the hot days of summer.  So, our first "truism"  is that we don't need to give Wolfie a bed.

Next, we have to understand that dogs build behaviors through repe…

The "Mad Dash" at the Start of the Walkies

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I know that I am probably doing something wrong, but when I take Wolfie out for a walk, he is already crazy because all my other dogs are barking and jumping.  It takes all I can to hold him to get the front door open.  Then he bolts out and the rest of the walk is nuts!




I was out at a client a few weeks ago that I hadn't seen for over a year.  She told me that the reason she hadn't called me for so long was that everything with the training had been great, but that her dog recently started to go nuts anytime he would go for a walk.  This started to happen when they added a new dog to the pack (they now have 5 dogs!).  The new dog had a tendency to get the other dogs crazy and it always happened when a "walkies" was involved.

The problem was really quite simple.  Her dog was at full adrenaline as soon as the door was open and she couldn't regain focus of her dog to maintain the control needed for the walk.  We had to set up a new "exit strategy" that allo…

I Want Wolfie to Stop Jumping on My Friends

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I just don't get it.  Wolfie seems to be such a good dog, but I can't keep him from jumping on my guests every time they come in the front door.  It was cute when he was a puppy, but now he is over 100 lbs.  What gives?



This is a classic "annoying problem" that, unfortunately, we bring on ourselves.  It is so great when you get your little puppy.  They are so full of life and just wanting affection all day long.  We have them jump on us and we give them hugs, chase them around the room, play with them when they bring us toys, pet them when they nudge our hands, and a whole lot of other "puppy things".

The problem is that we are now socializing them to particular behaviors.  We are teaching them how to jump, chase, and demand attention.  The problem is that Wolfie learns in a very black and white method.  If we teach him to jump, it is OK to jump on everybody all the time.  If we teach him to demand attention, he can demand attention from everybody all the tim…

When I Get Home at Night, Wolfie Always Wants All My Attention...

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When I get home at night, Wolfie is right there at the front door (like I assume most dogs are).  I give him a big pet and hug, but after that he won't leave me alone.  How do I tell him "enough"?



After a long day at work where we were probably yelled at by our boss or had a customer cancel an order, or just had a hectic day, it is always great to come home to someone who is really excited to see you.  So, what do we do?  We immediately respond to Wolfie's request for attention.  We pet him or hug him and then "try" to walk in the house to put down our stuff or change our clothes.  

The problem is that Wolfie doesn't want to stop asking us for "hugs and kisses".  It finally gets to the point of being annoying to us or the rest of the family and we get mad at Wolfie.   ...And we really didn't want to get mad at him.  Wolfie is our best friend and he wasn't trying to make us mad.  

The problem is that we forgot that Wolfie is a dog and need…

Should I Let Wolfie Walk Without A Leash?

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I see other people walking their dogs on the street with no leash.  I am thinking about walking Wolfie without a leash.  How do you do that and is that a good idea?


You might get an idea of my answer by looking at the picture above.  The reason that I am on this subject today is because of a consultation I had with one of our clients this morning.  She told me that she would often let her dog off leash in the front yard.  Things were normally fine, but this morning her dog suddenly took off down the street chasing a truck.  Luckily there wasn't any other traffic at the time and she finally could get her dog back about a block away with the help of a neighbor.  

"This kind of thing has never happened before", she told me.  "He plays next door with the neighbor dog and I can play fetch with him at the park across the street and he always walks right back into the house after me when we are done.  He has seen trucks before and he has never gone after them in the past.&qu…

Should Wolfie Like His Crate?

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So many people tell me so many things!  Don't put your dog in a crate, it is mean and he feels he is being punished!  Always use a crate because your dog loves it!  These are pretty different views and there doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground on it.  So, what should it be?  To crate or not to crate?



Look at the picture and you can probably guess the direction this blog posting will take.  As a canine behavioral trainer, I love the crate.  The reason is simple.  Dogs (canines) naturally see the world at three distinct levels of safety.  The first, and most important, is their den.  This is the place that, if they feel threatened or "simply want to leave the party", they can retreat to and be assured that they are 100% safe from anything.  This is their den, their safe place.  The lions, tigers, and bears can NEVER get them in there.  (I will discuss the other levels in another posting.  That information is not pertinent regarding this discussion.) 

Some dogs natu…

Taking Wolfie to a Restaurant

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I would love to take Wolfie to my favorite restaurant, but I am afraid he would just go nuts with all the people, sights, and smells.  Is there any way I can "teach" Wolfie to be good at restaurants?



The good news is that it can be pretty easy to get Wolfie, or just about any dog, to be well behaved at your favorite restaurant.  First, you have to understand that if you like to hang out at a popular sports bar, it will take longer than if you like to sit outside at Panera Bread.  In any event, the process is the same for either place.  Here is what you do:

The intent of this training process is to slowly ease Wolfie into the new environment of the restaurant while you maintain your alpha leadership role and Wolfie continues to look to you for guidance and safety.

First, you and Wolfie go to the restaurant when there is nobody there or the restaurant is closed.  Sit off in a corner with Wolfie.  Have some food with you so that you can simulate having a meal.  Also, have somethin…

How To Help Wolfie's Fear of Storms

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I thought that Wolfie was fine with our summer storms, but he is whining, panting, pacing, and just driving me crazy!  I try and comfort him, but it just seems to get worse!



Remember that I am always saying that we should not treat our dogs like humans?  Remember that I am always saying that we should treat our dogs like dogs?  Guess what!  You are treating him like a human, again.  
We have to understand that the sights, sounds, and even the drop in barometric pressure could be very strong negative stimuli on Wolfie.  This will cause him to become unsure and scared of what he thought was his safe environment.  Naturally, he comes to us to reassure his safety.  Here is where the problem begins.
When Wolfie comes to us, whining and getting under our feet, we instinctively go down and pet him and talk to him in a high, "baby voice" tone trying to sooth and console him.  If Wolfie would be our young son or daughter, that might work.  But Wolfie is a dog and he needs to reassured o…

Wolfie Is Nuts...

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I read all the books, watch all the dog training shows, ask for advice from all my friends, and Wolfie is still nuts.  What gives?



I bet you are wondering what the picture of Marge, Homer, Bart, and Lisa has to do with doggie issues.  Surprisingly, it depicts one of the most important issues you need to take into consideration when Wolfie isn't listening to you; or Wolfie is crazy; or Wolfie is nipping you; etc.

We all must remember that Wolfie is a member of our family, or in his eyes, a member of the pack.  If the pack is weak, inconsistent, or always fighting, it is not the pack that Wolfie can trust and respect.  Because of this, he will not listen or pay attention to anything you ask of him.  Some examples of families who show this inappropriate tenancies are:

Kids always bullying parents.Parents going through a divorce.Strong difference of opinion of how to deal with Wolfie.General "insanity" within the household...Unfortunately, some of our clients are experiencing t…

Wolfie's Potty Problems While On The Road at Our Cabin

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I just don't get it.  Wolfie has been potty trained for years, but when we are on a trip, he makes accidents!  What gives?




Well, our family, along with our four dogs, was on a vacation trip recently and we ran into this exact problem.  Our dogs that never made accidents for years began to have accidents in our rented cabin.  We quickly realized that we had to remember our initial potty training with each dog and the environment/schedule that we finally set up for our "pack".  It then became quite obvious that what we had established as the "norm" in their life was now drastically changed.

We went out hiking in the morning, ate at strange hours, were in and out all the time, had them in and out on our schedule, and just didn't give them the focus that we normally did when we were at home.  We broke the main rule of potty training, we were not "listening" to them telling us to let them out.

Well, when you are on a traveling vacation, it is sometimes di…

Let's Get Serious about Getting Wolfie to Come

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Why is it the more I try and work with Wolfie to come, it seems that he only comes when he feels like it?  It feel like every time I really, really want him to come, he doesn't feel like it...


I have talked about this before, but because so many of my clients seem to need "refreshing" on this subject, I wanted to talk about it again.

Dogs learn through consistent, repetitive association. They learn that A always equals B.  When I hear this sound or see that hand action, I always do something.  "Always" does not mean sometimes.  When you tell Wolfie to come, he must always come.  If you don't provide this type of learning environment, it won't work, or take a really, really, really long time.

Here is what you do:

Put a leash on Wolfie.  See Wolfie above?  Guess what, he has a leash on!Hold the leash, step back to the end of the leash, and go to your knees.Now, say Come.  If he doesn't come, give a little tug on the leash to guide him in your direction.Wh…

Ideas to get Wolfie to Eat His Food

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I just don't get it.  I spend more money on Wolfie's "holistic/good for you food" than I spend on myself.  I put the food down and he toys with it, eats a few bites, and then walks away.  I don't want to feed him junk food.  But, what do I do to get him to eat the "it's good for you" food?


Let's think about our childhood and our mom serving us green beans.  There was no way that we were going to eat them.  But when we mixed them with mashed potatoes and maybe a little butter... Yum...yum...yum.  Now, I am not advocating giving Wolfie mashed potatoes and butter with his food, but I do have some ideas on adding some healthy goodies to make his food a little more interesting.  Here is what Robin, my wife, adds to our dogs' food and they just love:

LOW SODIUM CHICKEN BROTH.  Chicken is a healthy meat and the low sodium minimizes any additional salt added to their diet.  The moisture gives a pleasing smell to the dry food that our dogs love.PUMPKIN…

Teaching Wolfie Fetch

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I thought all dogs loved to play fetch.  I throw the ball or a Frisbee for Wolfie and he just looks at me like I have two heads.  I yell "Wolfie fetch!  Wolfie fetch!" and he just lays at my feet.  Do I have a stupid dog?


No, Wolfie isn't stupid.  What you have to understand is that "Fetch" is a learned behavior just like Sit, Stay, Come, etc.  You also must understand that some dogs just might not like to play "Fetch".

Let's assume that Wolfie would like to play fetch.  Just like teaching our kids to play baseball or basketball, we have to teach Wolfie how to play "Fetch".  You first have to understand that there are two pieces to "Fetch".  The first piece is for Wolfie to run and pick up an object that you throw and the second piece is for Wolfie to return it to you.  Let's first work on these two actions and see how Wolfie does.

Get the Object:
Take some object or toy that Wolfie likes.  Pick it up and wave it around in fron…