Showing posts from 2013

When Your Holiday Guests Leave

All of our out of town Holiday guests left several days ago and our home is now returning back to normal.  The one thing that has not turned back to normal is Wolfie, our dog.  Although he has been perfectly house broken for several years, he is not going into the guest bedroom and going to the bathroom.  What gives?

Remember when we were little and our parents would drop us off at Uncle Bob’s and Aunt Lizzie’s for the weekend?  Uncle Bob would take us to the movies, the local amusement park, and the ice cream parlor.  Aunt Lizzie would make us our favorite goodies and we could stay up late watching all the TV our parents never let us watch. 
The funny thing is that when we got home, everything we had smelled like Aunt Lizzie’s rose peddle perfume.  Mom had to wash our clothes several times until we finally got that smell out.  Until then, we refused to wear those clothes.  They smelled “icky”.
The same thing happens when our house guests leave our home after the Holidays.  They leave …

Last Minute Tips Keeping My Dog Safe for Christmas

By now I have been given multiple tips to keep everything great for my doggie and guests during the Holidays.  I have had a few people over up to now.  The main event is about to occur.  Is there anything else I should think about now that we are finishing the tree and taking all the presents out of our closets and putting them around the tree?  EVERYONE is coming over on Christmas day, so it will be very busy and crazy.  What are my last tips?

The Holiday Season has been going on for the last few weeks, but for many of us, it is now “show time”.  Without trying to overwhelm you with an entire list of every possible thing you might experience, we would like to focus on just a few items.  These are the items that you and your dog are about to experience within the next two days.  So let’s get going: Your Christmas Tree:Decorations…Now is the time that you are finishing decorating your tree with balls and tinsel.If your dog is “ball crazy”, you could be encouraging him to “go after” your …

Stop Your Dog Nipping at Your Heals

Every time I walk past my dog, he lets me pass and then nips my heals or pant legs after I have walked by.  This is annoying and putting holes in my pants legs.  I don’t think it is right to kick him.  What should I do?

When a dog is overly playful or demanding of attention, he will try to do whatever he can to have you pay attention.  Nipping at your heals gets your attention.  You now stop doing what you were doing (walking down the hall) and turn to address his “request”.  You have now responded to your dog’s demand for attention and have submitted to his authority.
You cannot yell, hit, or scream in response to your dog’s nip.  These actions will often escalate the situation to where your dog will start to jump, bark, or even bite.  You must deescalate the situation and address the issue before it actually occurs.  You must show leadership to your dog in a consistent and repetitive manner.  Here is what you must do to correct the situation: As you approach your dog in preparation of …

Dog Safety at Home with Workmen

I am pretty sure that my dogs will be fine when friends come over, but sometimes I am not too sure that they are “happy” when we have a plumber or electrician come to fix something.  Should I keep them out so that they can “get used” to the contractor or should I put them away? You must remember the one thing that our dogs want more than anything else in the world.They want to feel safe.As their leader; their teacher; their boss; it is my top priority to make sure that they always feel safe in any situation.
Let’s first look at the situation when we have some family friends or neighbors over. These are people that I know and I have a pretty good idea how they are going to react with my dogs.  If they have been over in the past, I also have a pretty good idea how my dogs will react to them.  Are they good friends or “Oh, it’s you again”?  When I am answering the door, I am greeting them with a relaxed, safe body language.  My dogs can read this interaction and understand that I am in cha…

Make Time for Doggie!

With the Holidays upon us and all the extra things taking up my time, I just don’t have as much time to spend with Wolfie.  Is this going to cause a problem or can I just make it up by getting him a bunch of great gifts?

First thing, you can’t bribe dogs like you can bribe your kids.  Just getting Wolfie a bunch of great gifts is not going to make up for the time you are neglecting him.  Dogs are social animals and need companionship to maintain the bond between you and him that is so critical in your relationship.
When you don’t give him the time needed to maintain your relationship, your dog will start to test you to see “what he can get away with”.  Let’s say that you have taught him that it is not OK to jump on people.  He will challenge you by taking a few “test jumps” to see what will happen.  If you are distracted with guests or out of town family members, you probably won’t react to his “breaking of your rules”.  You have now shown your dog that he can start to do whatever he wa…

Hints on How to Correct Your Dog

I have heard all sorts of ideas and suggestions on how to correct my dog and get him to listen.  Frankly, they are all over the spectrum and doing all of them would just be nuts.  Is there anything that I can do to at least start the process?

The big hurdle that any dog owner has when their dog is misbehaving is to get their attention.  Once you have your dog’s attention, you have the ability to move forward with their training.  There are multiple methods and schools of thought regarding how to properly train your dog.  We are canine behavioral trainers.  This means that we focus on how the dog naturally responds to stimuli from the canine perspective.  There are also trainers who use positive only reward systems and trainers who use more physical methods such as e-collars in their training programs.  With this in mind, let me give you some simple hints that will help in correcting (teaching) your dog.
I think that all dog trainers using any method will agree that dogs can’t communicat…

To the Woods for the Holidays with your Dog

It is really great to get away from it all and enjoy the Holidays in a warm cabin in the hills.  The air is brisk, the snow is fun, and you have more than enough time to enjoy all the stuff in the forest.  But what about your dog?  This is something new for him.  What do you do to make sure that he will be happy and safe?

If you live in a warm climate like South Florida, you will understand that it never really gets cold down here.  Because of that, our dogs don’t really experience what “cold really is”.  If you are planning a trip to a “winter cabin in the hills”, you should properly prepare for your dog’s well being in the woods.  Here are some ideas: Don’t have your dog’s hair cut before you go.The long hair will help keep him warm in the cold air.If you are in snow, make sure that you dry him off when you come back inside.You don’t want him to stay wet and possibly become sick.(Even though I normally don’t recommend this), get doggie sweaters, especially for your little dog.Warmth i…

Potty Training When You Are Away For A Long Time

I am in the middle of potty training my four month old puppy and things are going relatively well when I am home.  When I go to work, I can’t always get home at lunch to take him out.  What can I do to make sure that I don’t mess up the training when I have to be gone a long time?

We have a good number of clients who get new puppies and then have to leave them while they go to work.  The mistake that most of them make is to either leave them in their crate or give them the run of the house.  The problem is that their little puppy physically can’t hold it for the time they are left alone.
Let’s first talk about what you are doing wrong and then discuss what you should correctly do…
Leaving your puppy in the crate for an extended period of time is wrong.  Dogs naturally don’t want to go to the bathroom in their crate.  They see the crate as their den and they don’t want to leave their scent there because it might “draw in their enemies”.  They also don’t want to go to the bathroom on thems…

Getting a Second Dog

My little dog seems so lonely.  I just hate leaving him home alone when I go do work.  I am thinking about getting a “little friend” for him.  Is this a good thing or a bad thing? 

As Dog Trainers, we are asked this question from time to time.  Our clients have to leave their dog home alone while they are at work or their dog seems to show signs of separation anxiety or they think that a second dog will be a good “play buddy” for their current dog.  These are some of the thoughts that go through our clients’ heads and there are a lot more, for sure. The honest answer is that you never completely know what will happen when you bring an additional dog into your family.
My Dog is Lonely: The idea that a dog is naturally “lonely” when he is left by himself all day is not correct.  Most dogs sleep most of the day while you are at work.  Why do you think they are fully adrenalized and ready to “rock and roll” when you open the door at night?  You have just woken them up and they are now ready …

Teaching My Dog to Come When Called

I am really frustrated with my dog.  Just as soon as I think I have trained him go come to me when I ask, he ignores me completely or I have to say it over and over again.  I must be missing something.  What am I doing wrong?

This is a common complaint that we hear many times when we visit our clients for the first time.  They think that their dog understands “come” if he comes to them a few times.  Now, when the dog is at the dog park or in the back yard, he completely ignores them.  The client normally gets mad and yells at the dog.
It is obvious that this method does not work.  In order to understand what will work, we have to understand how our dogs learn.  Dogs learn through repetition and consistency.  We could compare this to the same way we learned our times tables.  Every time we “flipped the card”, the same answer would be on the other side.  Eventually, we didn’t have to flip the card because we knew what was on the other side. 
To relate this to our dog’s training, we have to…

Managing Your Puppy’s Play with Other Puppies

We have had our very first puppy for about a month now and I am starting to let him play with neighbor puppies and other dogs.  Sometimes it looks like they are really trying to hurt each other.  How do I know they are just playing or if something bad is happening?

Socialization is a very important part of your puppy’s life experience.  Your puppy’s play with other dogs and puppies allows him to reinforce and establish his communication skills, canine interaction, and physical well being. 
The one thing that you have to understand is that your puppy lives in a “canine world” of absolutes and clear social roles.  There is the leader and there are the followers.  There are things you can do and things you can’t do.  Everything is absolute and unambiguous.  These are the types of games that puppies play in order to build experience and understand their social experience.
Puppies play games such as: “Follow the Leader” where the leader is chased by the rest of the puppies (the pack).Eventual…

What You Need to Know Before Starting to Train Your Dog

I am trying to teach my dog commands and to be a good dog, but nothing seems to be working.  He isn’t staying when I tell him to stay and it will be a cold day in “you know where” when he would ever come to me when I ask.  I am just totally at a standstill!  What is going wrong?

As dog trainers, we have heard this complaint from dog owners time and time again.  It is normally an issue with first time dog owners.  Before you can even get to the point of training your dog, you need to understand a few, basic concepts. Dogs need consistency.  They do not understand complicated or logical situations.  Every time they hear a specific sound (like SIT), they will put their rear on the ground.  They know they can never jump on people.  When things begin to get complicated, like you allow them to jump on you but not your guests, they have no idea how to respond.  So make sure that when you give them commands or expect specific behavior, the result will always be the same. You must understand wha…

Walking a Very Strong, Big Dog

I have a very big, head strong German Sheppard who pulls and lunges like crazy when I walk him.  I have tried all the tricks of walking on a short leash, using a Holt and Gentle Leader, walking at different times; he still pulls and lunges.  What can I try next?

I had this exact situation with a client and his Sheppard on a training visit earlier this week.  He said that walking was next to impossible with the dog.  With that said, I asked him to take the dog out on a short leash and walk down the street.  (By the way, the street was nice and quiet… no cars, people, kids, squirrels, etc.)  The walking was a disaster.  It was a constant tug of war between the client and the dog.  It was a stalemate where nobody was winning and nothing was being taught.
This is where I introduced a slightly different method that is not for everybody.  I asked for the leash and simply held the leash by the handle.  There was six feet of loose leash between me and this 90 lb., 2 year old, rambunctious Shepp…

My Dog and His Dog House

I just bought a really great dog house for my doggie, but he wants nothing to do with it.  The people at the Pet Store said that all I had to do was put it in the back yard, and like “Field of Dreams”, “he will come”.  It’s not working and I am afraid it will just become filled with spiders and squirrels.  What can I do to get the Welcome Wagon out and have Wolfie happy with his new place?

We always think that just because we get something called a “dog house”, that our dog will naturally want to go there and hang out.  The question that you must ask yourself is “Why should he?”  Did you make it a place that was fun and comforting for him?  Did you make it his special retreat where he could retire and relax?  Did you even tell him that it was his?
The big thing you must do is to socialize your dog with his new abode, letting him know that it is a fun and safe place that you, as the leader of the pack, have provided for him.  Here are some ideas: Place the dog house in the family room whe…

How to Stop My Dog Stealing From the Table

The one thing that really makes meal time stressful is trying to keep my dog from begging and stealing food from the table.  I know that other people with dogs don’t have this problem, but I do.  What can I do?

There is one important thing that we must understand about dogs stealing food from the table.  They don’t place an implicit ownership on food.  If they see food left unattended, it is just like their finding a dead animal in the wild.  If they are hungry, they will naturally eat the food.  So, as humans, we need to understand that if we leave food unattended with our dog nearby, it might be gone when we return.
With this said, we must also understand when it is not acceptable for our dog to steal from the table.  If we are providing our dog leadership while building a bond, establishing trust, and delivering companionship; our dog will see us as their caregiver and leader.  From our dog’s perspective, it is not acceptable to take food from the leader until allowed.
When our dog at…