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Monday, October 29, 2012

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

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 water, etc.  The only thing he can't do is to use his mouth to nip or bite.  The only places the muzzle actually touches the dog is at the crown of his nose where a soft leather strip positions the muzzle on the nose and at the back of the neck where a fitted strap holds the muzzle in place.  Most Canine Professionals actively acknowledge the Italian Basket Muzzle as the most humane way to teach and deter a dog from nipping, chewing, and biting.

So, how do you use it?  

  • First make sure that it fits properly and that your dog can't easily "paw it off".  It should be snug without your dog's nose touching the end of the muzzle.
  • Now, start to socialize your dog with the muzzle.  Put it on for short periods of time while you also have him attached to a leash.  As soon as he starts to go for the muzzle, give a slight tug on the leash and tell him no.
  • You can also put a little goodie inside the muzzle to redirect his attention as it is going on.
  • Do not make a big deal about the muzzle.  Your dog should become aware that it is just another part of life.
  • Extend the time your dog wears the muzzle until he becomes used to it.  This is the same way that us "glasses wearers" got used to wearing our first pair of glasses so long ago.
Bingo!  You now have solved your "stitches problem".  As you can see, this tool is also valuable with any issue where you have a nipping, biting, or chewing issue.  The great thing about the Italian Basket Muzzle is that it allows your dog to do everything he wants, except to nip, bite, or chew.

Please understand that this is a tool only.  Some biting, chewing, or nipping issues will also require the assistance of a qualified training professional to ultimately resolve the issue.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Quick Tips on Doggie Allergies

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 chickens, their main food is corn.  So when you have chicken in your dog food, you are also adding corn.  Pick another meat such as lamb, duck, salmon, etc. as the main meat ingredient and you will eliminate that "hidden source of grain".

As always, talk to your Vet concerning any health issues with your dog.  This is the advise given to us by our Vet and natural dog food supplier.   For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Wolfie is Eating His Doggie Bed

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 repetition and direction.  If we are allowing them do destroy their fluffy beds because we can't catch them, we are instilling the behavior of "let's tear up fluffy things" with our dogs.  The next thing we know, it isn't the $35 dog bed that we find torn up, it is the $400 upholstered and fluffy family room chair that now has stuffing all over the carpet.

So, what do we do?  The answer is really simple.  I know that we "humans" don't like simple answers, but here goes...

Take the dog bed away and let Wolfie sleep on the ground.  We know that he is fine with the ground, so we are not going to give him back aches.  Also, we have removed that repetitive destructive behavior.  This will keep him from escalating that unwanted behavior to destroying more expensive things. Wolfie is still fine and we have saved a ton of money.  Win win for all!  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The "Mad Dash" at the Start of the Walkies

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 allowed for a calm and focused start of the walk.  What we did was quite simple.

We placed the leash on the dog and everyone went nuts.  That was OK because we then took the dog into the garage (with the garage door closed) by way of the laundry room.  The rest of the "crazy dogs" were left in the house with a family member keeping them busy.  We had the dog sit and stay for the client.  We walked the dog in a circle once or twice and then had him sit again.  He was calm and still and the client had complete control and focus.

Next, while the client firmly held the leash, we opened the garage door.  The dog began to loose focus on the client in favor of "everything outside".  We redirected the dog's focus back to the client with some simple obedience exercises until we again observed that the client had complete control and focus.

Now, we slowly walked the dog to the driveway.  We had him sit and observed his focus.  It was still on the client.  We now began the walk slowly and calmly.  The dog was perfect.

The client exclaimed "Wow!  This is a different dog!".  I explained that he wasn't a different dog, we simply provided the appropriate environment to allow him to give us focus and respect.  We became the leader and he became the follower.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I Want Wolfie to Stop Jumping on My Friends

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 time.

As we interact with our puppies or dogs, we must understand that whatever we ask them to do, from their perspective, they can do with anyone all the time.  "Wolfie can jump on me, but not my guests" is something that we might be able to understand, but Wolfie will not understand.  All Wolfie can understand is "I can jump".  So if Wolfie is performing any action that you would not allow him to perform anytime with anybody, you must teach him that is not what you want him to do.

The bottom line is to think of your rules, or what you want Wolfie to do through his eyes. Examples of what your rules might be are:

  • No jumping.
  • Off the furniture.
  • Not in baby's room.
  • No counter surfing...
When things are simple and straightforward, Wolfie gets it.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.