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Friday, August 31, 2012

Taking Wolfie to a Restaurant

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 something for Wolfie so that you can be in charge of his focus.  Repeat this process until Wolfie becomes completely comfortable with the environment.

Next, continue this process but enlist the help of a friend.  Have your friend slowly talk up to your table, talk with you for a moment or two and walk away.  Have your friend come again with something in his hands that he will place on the table.  Correct Wolfie if he starts to give your friend too much focus or he starts to get up.  Repeat this process until Wolfie could completely care less when people approach your table and you.  (We have now completed the "waiter test".)

We are now ready to add more people, noise, and smells to the training experience.  Come to the restaurant during a slow period, but when there still are other patrons and employees.  Be sure that you are still sitting away from a main passageway.  You should inform your waiter when you enter the restaurant that you are training Wolfie to be a good canine patron so he might see you correcting him while he is taking your order and bringing you your food.  

Have your meal and correct Wolfie if he starts to have too much focus on other patrons, waiters, etc.  Continue this process with Wolfie until you see that he is calm with the sights and sounds of the restaurant at that level of activity.  If you believe that Wolfie is becoming pensive or nervous, cut that day's training session short (ask for a doggie bag) and come at a slightly quieter time for your next training visit.

Repeat the above process, slowly coming at more active times until you are coming at your normal time.  Please be aware that the really loud, crazy restaurants might just be too much for Wolfie at specific times.  In that case, you will have to adjust your schedule for Wolfie.  Also, be sure that the restaurant allows dogs.  If it doesn't, you will have to find a new restaurant.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How To Help Wolfie's Fear of Storms

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 of his safety in a manner consistent by a strong, canine Alpha Leader.

Here is what you do in order to reassure Wolfie of his safety in a manner he requires:

When Wolfie comes to you, stand up, face him, and ask him to sit or lie down.   Give him a "good boy" when he does.  Continue with your work.  If he starts to whine again, stand up, face him, and give him a firm, low toned "No".  Ask him to sit again, praise him, and go on with your work.  

If Wolfie starts to whine again (what a persistent little guy!), take your leash, hook it on his collar, and briskly walk him around the room or the house.  Return to where you started, have him sit, and return to your work.  What you are doing is to correct and redirect Wolfie away from his perceived fear and to have him focus on you.

You are the boss and your appropriate presence should be all the reassurance he needs to maintain his safety.  As you are communicating with Wolfie, you are standing and facing him.  In the canine world, this is a sign of assertion and leadership.  

Give this a try and see how it works for you.  I have used this technique with our dogs for years and it works like a charm!  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wolfie Is Nuts...

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 these activities and, because of it, they are having issues with their doggies.  General canine obedience or behavioral exercises are not enough to get Wolfie back in line and for him to become a happy member of the family.

What we tell our clients is that they must first build a strong, consistent, and calm environment within their human family.  It is only at this point that they will provide Wolfie with the perspective that he is part of a pack that will keep him safe.  It is only at this point that he will provide the respect and focus that is necessary to be a good dog.

So, now let's get back to the picture of Marge, Homer, Bark, and Lisa.  If your family looks like that, your ability to instruct Wolfie in being a good dog is just about nonexistent.

You must be happy, calm, respectful, and consistent among each other in order to have Wolfie understand that it is time to learn.   For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

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

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 difficult to always pay attention to your furry friends.  We had do think of something different so that we weren't loosing our "cleaning deposit" at every place we stopped.  Here is what we came up with:

We went back to the basics.  We established a schedule based on our activities for the day.  Whenever possible, we tried to get them out every three hours, even if we had been playing with them earlier.  Also, we kept them in their crates when we left the cabin.  Since they really didn't want to go in their crates, it helped to strengthen the encouragement when we took them out.

Guess what?  It worked perfectly.  As soon as we put this in place we had zero accidents.  All we did was to go back to the basics of potty training.  We put them on a schedule, tried to observe them as much as possible, and crated them when we couldn't watch them.

Even though this is simple advice, it will surely help you keep your cleaning deposit the next time you travel with your pooches!  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Let's Get Serious about Getting Wolfie to Come

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.
  • When he reaches you, praise him for doing the right thing.
Guess what just happened!  You said "come" and Wolfie came to you.  If Wolfie didn't come to you, you gave him a little tug on the leash and he came to you.  A sound (command) resulted in a unique and consistent action.  That is how Wolfie learns and that is the method you used to teach him.

Until Wolfie will come to you every time you give the come command without your need to guide him with a gentle tug, do not say "come" if you don't have the leash.  This opens up the possibility that he won't come to you and you will no longer be consistent.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.