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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wolfie's Language

I talk to Wolfie and he just looks back at me with an empty stare.  He seems to communicate with the other dogs at the dog park.  What gives?  How does he do it?

The big thing that you must understand is that dogs and humans don't necessarily talk to each other in the same way.  To communicate with each other, dogs use body language and guttural sounds, such as barks and growls. When they first meet, dogs use their body language to assess where each ranks in the pack order. Signs of dominance and confidence are a stiff body, head and ears up, hackles up and tail up. Signs of submission and respect are a lowering of the body, the head, the ears and the tail.

Because dogs instinctively know and understand these body signals, it only makes sense that we humans would be able to communicate with them better if we can learn how to imitate the ways in which they communicate with each other.

For example, dogs do not instinctively know the words that come most naturally to us. If two dogs meet and neither shows respect to the other, they will issue warning growls. This again is a language that dogs already understand. They do not instinctively know “Spot, don’t come any closer.”

That’s why experts say behavioral training is so important—and that lasting training isn’t about treats and physical punishment. It’s about understanding the way your dog thinks and communicates in a way that establishes the owner as “top dog.” 

Dogs are pack animals. 
They have a specific way of interacting, which includes an instinctual manner of communication. Learning how to communicate effectively with your dog in a language he understands is the first step toward establishing leadership and control.

So, while Wolfie might learn the meaning of a few words, he will learn more quickly if you communicate using his language. Once you communicate clearly with him by using a language he already knows, then you can start to teach him some of your own language.

Learning canine is not hard. It takes practice, however, because it is not instinctive for you. If you watch Wolfie talk to his friends and then to strangers, you will begin to see certain patterns of communication. You learn how they meet each other, how they greet each other, and how they call one another to follow. You see how they let each other know when they are uncomfortable with someone getting into their space.

Using a dog’s own language to communicate with them is the quickest, most effective way of getting through to him. Thus, when we are trying to train our dogs, it just makes common sense to teach them in a language they already understand.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wolfie Thinks He is King!

I do all the obedience commands and I think I understand about that "dominance stuff", but Wolfie still thinks he is King of The House!  What am I missing?

I get this question almost every day from dog owners.  Being the boss, the king, the big cheese, top honcho, etc. is based on different perceptions within the canine environment and human environment.  There are a lot of things that we could discuss, but there is one, major issue, that if addressed, could solve most of your problems regarding "who is the boss".

I bet that Wolfie comes over to you all the time with a ball or toy and gives you a nudge or whimper asking you to play with him.  I am sure that, nine times out of ten, you take the toy and begin playing.  I bet that when you come home at night and sit down in the family room, Wolfie comes over to you, nudges your hand with his nose for a pet, and you pat him on the head and rub his belly.  I bet that you do this all the time and still wonder why Wolfie thinks he is king...

Here comes the rub.  We have just entered an area where the canine perspective and human perspective regarding dominance and leadership part ways.  In the human world, in a family, anyone can have a great idea and the rest of the family will willingly follow.  Going to the mall, turning in at a Wendy's for lunch, or taking a walk have no implication of individual dominance or leadership.  If one of the family members have a good idea, everyone else willingly follows.  No big deal!

Now, let's think about Wolfie and his canine perspective.  In the canine world, the only one who can tell the rest of the pack what to do is the Alpha Leader.  A pack member never directs or leads the pack.  It is always the Alpha Leader.

When Wolfie comes to us, asks us to do something, and we comply, we have initiated a scenario where Wolfie is the leader and we are the follower.  We unknowingly repeat this over and over again each day.  Every family member repeats this with Wolfie over and over again each day.  Everyone is (unknowingly) telling Wolfie that he is the king multiple times every day.  Of course, Wolfie will believe he is king and can do whatever he wants!


What can we do to stop and reverse this process?  Al we have to do is to make sure that everything is always our idea with Wolfie.  We must always initiate, begin, commence.  The way we accomplish this is through a method called Passive Assertion.

When Wolfie comes up to us with a ball, we ignore him.  As soon as he turns away, we call him back to us requesting the ball so that WE can play ball with HIM.  When Wolfie gives us the ball, we have initiated the scenario where it was OUR idea.  Since it is our idea and Wolfie complied, Wolfie understands that we are the leader and he is the follower.  This sounds like a stupid little game, but it is critical in our relationship with Wolfie to maintain our leadership, alpha role.

Try this the next time Wolfie comes over to you and wants you to do something.  Also, remember that everyone in the family must do this on a consistent manner.  Try this for a few days and you will start to see a remarkable change in Wolfie's demeanour.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Taking Wolfie to a Restaurant

I would love to take Wolfie to a restaurant, but I am not sure what he would do.  I don't want to be "banned" from some of my favorite places!  What should I do?

It is very important that you slowly socialize Wolfie with where ever you want to take him.  This holds true for your favorite restaurant. Here are the steps you need to take:
  •  Make sure that the restaurant will allow dogs.  Most places with outdoor seating will allow dogs, but you still have to ask.
  • Start to take Wolfie for more frequent rides in the car so that he gets used to traveling with you.  Be sure that he is properly restrained using a seat belt or crate (attached to car).
  • Take Wolfie to the restaurant when it is closed.  Be sure you sit outside at a table that is not in a busy area or on the main path to the restaurant's entrance.  Take some food or a drink for yourself and something for Wolfie.  Stay there for fifteen to thirty minutes and then head home.  Repeat this every other day for about a week.  Once Wolfie is providing you with the appropriate focus and respect from the time he gets into the car, while he is at the restaurant, and returns home with you, move on to the next step.
  • Take Wolfie to the restaurant when it is open, but there is a very light crowd.  Late morning or in the middle of the afternoon might be the perfect times for this exercise.  Make sure he has toys to play with and goodies to chew on.  Order something and observe Wolfie's behavior when your Server brings your food.  Quietly correct him as the Server approaches and if he starts to become too distracted by the Server.  Ask that other people do not approach Wolfie so that he will not have any possibility of feeling threatened or challenged.  Continue this for a week or so until Wolfie shows that he is the "perfect puppy".
  • Now, take Wolfie to your restaurant at the time you would normally be there.  Simply repeat everything you were doing earlier.  Make sure that you initially don't allow people to approach Wolfie.  This will make sure that he will not feel threatened in the enclosed environment.  After a while, you might ask people you and Wolfie know in the restaurant to engage him, always making sure that he does not feel threatened.
Now you have a great doggie at your favorite restaurant.  Wolfie is now not only great, but a great companion for you and your friends at the restaurant!  You never know, Wolfie might get his own picture on the restaurant's wall next to some famous football player!  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Monday, February 6, 2012

One Way to a Happy Doggie

Sometimes I just don't know about Wolfie.  I come home after work and give him tons of love, but he still goes nuts with my friends and guests.  He seems to be a geed dog, but he seems to always misbehave with anyone else.  I'm confused...
Some dogs just need more interaction than others.  This is not necessarily tied to a breed, sex, or age.  In our experience, we have seen multiple times where dogs who are well behaved with their owners and appear to be very well trained, go "nuts" when other people come over.

In these instances, we want to look at Wolfie's basic need of entertainment and the bonding portion of your relationship.  The bottom line is this:
  • Entertainment:  It is our responsibility to provide exercise, social interaction, and mind-stimulating experiences for Wolfie.  Just sitting around for most of the day will not necessarily provide these needed activities and environments.
  • Bonding:  This gets back to socialization.  This needs to be both with you and with other animals, people, and things.
All dogs are different and their needed requirements of these two items will vary.  The important thing to remember is that we must observe Wolfie to determine if we are providing these things.

What if we are not?  What can we do?

We suggest two alternatives that have worked great for many of our clients.  The first alternative is simple and can be enacted right now.  The second alternative requires a larger commitment on your part.
  • Doggie Day Care:  All of our clients who have taken their dogs to Doggie Day Care have commented on the great improvement in their dog's "crazyness" within a few visits.  We normally suggest taking your dog twice or three times a week.  Also, take him on the same day and at the same time so that he can build relationships with "the regulars".
  • Another Dog:  From observation and personal experience with our dogs, having a "doggie friend" can be a great way to provide the enhanced pack experience your dog needs.  All the pent up energy and excited focus can be aimed at the canine pack and not you and your friends.  You are still the leader because you have provided this great experience for them.  We have seen many "single dogs" who were reportedly crazy all their lives calm down within one day after being placed in a "multiple dog" environment.  We still think you should try Doggie Day Care first before you enter into this option.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.