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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wolfie Eats Too Fast

Wolfie is like a vacuum cleaner when it comes to his food.  Nothing I try can slow him down and I am afraid it is going to hurt his stomach...

There are a lot of things out there you could try to curb a dog's "speed eating".  The most popular are the special doggie bowls that have bumps and sections in them to make it harder to get the "big bites" into Wolfie's mouth.  We think we have a better way.

We would like to suggest a way to slow Wolfie's "speed eating" while adding a bit of entertainment to the process.  The other good thing about this is that you don't have to buy a thing to implement it today.

Dogs, like many animals, are foragers.  They are always looking for things on the ground, on tables, chairs, etc.  We suggest combining their hunger with their natural foraging instinct.  We implement this through a process we call "scatter feeding".  When it is time to feed Wolfie, measure his food and put it in his bowl.  Instead of putting the bowl down, give him a command such as "meal time, food, eaties", etc. and then toss some of the food on the ground.

Wolfie will now go after the kibble that is now scattered on the floor.  As he is finishing up the last bit, repeat your meal time command and toss some more food on the ground.  If he is eating the food too fast, scatter the kibble in a larger area and make the portions slightly smaller.

This is an instinctive way that Wolfie naturally eats and a process that he can easily understand.  You have taken charge by managing how fast the food is presented to him and Wolfie is having a great time foraging for his food on the ground.

Give this a try and I am sure you will get some great results.

One note of caution.  If you have multiple dogs in your household and food aggression is displayed, you must make sure that the other dog(s) are separated before you begin to scatter feed with Wolfie.

For more information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Stupid Things We Humans Do When Walking Wolfie

I just don't know... Sometimes when I walk Wolfie, everything is fine and we have a great walk.  Other times, the walk is just a nightmare. Is there something I am missing?

Many of us think that walking our dog is just throwing a collar and leash on him and then "away we go".  This is not the case.  As dog owners, our dogs need to look up to us as the ones that are keeping them safe and caring for their needs.  We have responsibilities and tasks in order to accomplish this.

When we walk Wolfie, he must feel safe and understand that, whatever happens, we are in charge and he will be fine.  Wolfie must be focused on us to provide him the proper signals and we must be aware of the changing environment of the walk in order to provide Wolfie with the security he needs.

I would like to give you a scenario of a walk and what you should be doing in order to have a successful and productive experience...

  • No Extension Leashes.  I have commented on this over and over again.  The extension leash only allows Wolfie to be away from you without providing you focus and you providing him direction.  Get a regular, six foot leash!
  • Leashie, Leashie, Walkie, Walkie, Crazy, Crazy.  If Wolfie goes crazy every time you pull out the leash for a walk, you already have a nutty dog before you begin.  Put the leash on at different times during the day while you are home.  Just drop it on the ground and let him walk around with it.  Wolfie will very quickly learn that the leash doesn't always mean he is going on a walk.  He will no longer react to the leash in a crazy manner and you will have an easier time getting it on him and starting your walk.
  • No Running Out The Front Door.  The beginning of the walk is not the start of a race.  If it were, we would call it a "race" and not a "walk".  Go to the front door and have Wolfie sit.  Open the door and step out first.  Once you are outside, invite Wolfie out and tell him to sit again.  Once he is calm and sitting, you can start your walk.
  • Wolfie Watches You.  Have Wolfie on a slightly loose leash walking by your side.  If he is walking by your side, you only have to give him about a foot of leash to allow it to be loose.  We want him to be in position to have you in his peripheral vision so that he always knows you are there to keep him safe.
  • Be the AWAC.  Always be scanning the neighborhood ahead of you and behind you for potential diversions that might make Wolfie feel unsafe or spike his adrenaline.  Squirrels, neighbors with their dogs, bicycles, large trucks, and gardeners with leaf blowers are a few examples of potential issues. Direct Wolfie away from them and capture his focus as they pass.  If needed, go in a different direction or make a large circle around them.  You want to allow Wolfie to experience them from a distance or stance where he feels safe.  It is your job to make that happen.
  • Sniffie, Potty, Play Time.    A walk is more than going around the block until you get back home.  It is a time to bond with Wolfie.  The important fact is that you are in charge of Wolfie's actions.  Stop and have Wolfie sit.  Then give him a command like "Free" or "Go Potties" indicating that you are allowing him to engage in an action he wishes.  Remember, you are allowing him to do what he wants.  You are still in charge.  When the "free time" is over, have him come to you and sit.  When you are ready, give him the command to walk and continue your trek.
  • Oh, Can I Pet Your Dog?  If Wolfie is a cute dog, other people will always want to pet him.  Remember, you are in charge and must keep Wolfie safe.  
    • If the other person is overly animated, they can't pet Wolfie. 
    • If you get the "heebie jeebies"  from the other person, they can't pet Wolfie.
    • If you see Wolfie back up or put his tail between his legs, they can't pet Wolfie.  
    • If the person seems fine to you, you can invite Wolfie to approach them.  If Wolfie doesn't easily walk to them on a loose leash, no petting.  
    • Have the person put the back of his hand down low and allow Wolfie to smell him.  If Wolfie is still calm, ask the person to take his hand around Wolfie's chest and slowly stroke the back of his neck.  
    • Never let the person move his hand directly over Wolfie's face or lean over Wolfie.  
    • When you are done, have the person stand still and allow Wolfie to move away.
  • Arriving Home.  When you get back home, it is not the end of a race.  Have Wolfie sit at the front door.  Open the door and step through.  Call Wolfie to come inside and sit.  Close the door and release Wolfie from the sit.
Your walk is now done.  See, there are a lot of things you have to remember and do on a walk.  When it comes to walking with our dogs, it is far more involved than just a "let's go".  For more information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wolfie Walking With Me Through The House

Sometimes Puppy Wolfie and I might be in the kitchen and I want him to come with me into the family room or my back office.  I don't want to go and get a leash or use treats.  How can I just get him to come with me?

What you are really trying to do is to have Puppy Wolfie  "stick with you" when you go somewhere else in the house.  In some respects, it could be equated to "walking off leash", but I still want him contained in the house.  You can think of it as "walking off leash  light".  Again, this is best taught when Wolfie is a puppy.  Here is what you do:

You first want to teach Wolfie "come".  I have reviewed this before, but let me give you a quick review:

  • Put a leash and collar on Puppy Wolfie.  
  • Step to the end of the leash, stoop low, and say "come".  (Only say "come" once.)
  • If he doesn't come, give a slight tug on the leash and guide him to you.
  • Praise him with a high tone when he gets to you.
  • Repeat this process until you don't need to give him any tug (guidance) to go to your side.
  • Get a longer lead (15 feet) and repeat the above process, first at 10 feet and then at 15 feet.
  • Now you will drop the leash, walk 10 feet away from Puppy Wolfie, turn, stoop low, and say "come".  If he doesn't come to you, use the leash at 10 feet and 15 feet again (you have progressed to quickly).  Repeat this process until he is going to your side on a regular basis.
  • You have now created a unique command (come) with a consistent and repetitive result (get by your side).
It is now time to ramp it up and have him be with you as you walk through the house.  What we really are doing is to create a "come while I am moving" action.
  • Start with Puppy Wolfie by your side.  Start to walk.
  • Bend over slightly, say "come on", tap your pant leg, and be animated.
  • Puppy Wolfie should now follow you based on what you had previously taught him.
Don't move too fast.  If Puppy Wolfie is a little hesitant about walking with you, stop every few feet, stoop, say "come on", pat your let, and get animated when he approaches you.

Again, all we have done is to create a "come while I am moving" exercise.  We have done it just after Puppy Wolfie has mastered the "come" command so the actions are fresh and only slightly different. If Puppy Wolfie can master this command while he is young, walking off leash outside will be far easier to teach as he gets a little older.  For more information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Potty Training - Away a Long Time

Sometimes my work requires long days and I have to leave Wolfie alone in the house for ten or twelve hours.  He is still a puppy and I am still working on Potty Training.  That's a long time to keep him inside!  What do I do?

We all know that "life happens" and we can't get home to let our little puppy out to go potty.  There is a rule of thumb that the number of hours a puppy can "hold it" is their age in months.  (After 8 months, that is where it stops...)  So what do I do with my four month old puppy when I am working twelve hours that day?

First of all, you don't want to leave him in his crate.  Part of crate training and potty training is enforcing your puppy not to potty in his crate.  As long as we stay within the limits of your puppy physical abilities, this is a pretty easy process.  If we surpass his physical limits to hold it, of course he will go in his crate.  This will undermine this part of the potty training process.

What you must do is to find an area that you can allow your puppy to potty.  It must be enclosed and away from your puppy's normal "roam of the house".  The best areas would be a bath room or washer/dryer room.  Pick up any rug and remove anything that your puppy "could get into" (toilet paper, boxes on the ground, etc.).  You might even put down a wee-wee pad just to see if he would use it.  I would also suggest that you get a doggie gate to enclose the area so it won't appear so confining.

When you have to be away from the house for extended periods of time longer than your puppy's "ability to hold it", you put him in that area.  If he potties, you have a small area to clean and you haven't damaged your crate training process.  

Be sure to clean the area well with an enzyme cleaner like Nature's Miracle and then a normal cleaner like Lavender Fabuloso.  Also, as I alluded to earlier, keep the door closed to this area to keep him out.  You only want him in here when you are away for a long time.  For more information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.