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Sunday, September 29, 2013

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?

Dog House Training Tips

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 where everyone convenes and shares happy times.  This allows Wolfie to see that “this new thing” is just another object in his natural play area.
  • Put your dog's toys in it.  Put goodies in the dog house and even feed him there.  Play with him around the dog house so that it becomes just another fun place.
  • After a week or so, move the dog house out into the back yard. 
    • Put it someplace where your dog already naturally likes to hang out.  
    • Make sure that you put it where the dog house will not get too hot or be “rained upon” by the lawn sprinklers.  
    • Don’t put it near a spot where there is a lot of street or neighbor noise.  
    • Also, don’t put it “in the farthest reach” of the yard.  This might be construed by Wolfie as being ostracized by the family.  
  • Repeat what you were doing in the family room.  Feed your dog in his new house.  Make sure that his toys are around the house.  If your dog likes to dig, build a digging pit next to it.
  • Make sure that the dog house stays clean and “free of vermin”.  Take a broom and sweep for cobwebs on a weekly basis.  Clean it with a non-toxic cleanser and make sure that it stays dry.
  • Make the dog house part of your outside “play routine”.  As you are playing fetch, get the ball or Frisbee inside his house.  If you like to play “find it”, hide the goodie in his house.  This helps to include the dog house as part of the bonding between you and your dog.
  • If the weather starts to become inclement, bring your dog inside.  Since dog houses are “hard environments”, the noise from thunder can be multiplied and the dog house could even vibrate from the “clapping”.  This could be a terrorizing experience that we don’t want our dogs to deal with. 

Follow these simple steps and we are sure that you can create a great “home away from home” for your dog in the back yard.  It will become a retreat where he can hang out and call his own.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

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 attempts to take food from the table while we are at the table, he is breaking that natural rule and we must, as the leader, let him know that he is doing something wrong.  In order to do this, we must set the scene to allow him to either try and steal the food or respect us and not encroach.  Here is a little exercise for you:
  • Establish a perimeter around your table where you don’t want your dog to cross when you are eating.
  • Make sure you have toys, goodies, or even your dog’s dinner placed outside the perimeter.
  • Place a leash on your dog.
  • Create one or two plates of “smelly food” like cheese, cold cuts, hamburger meat, etc. and place them on the table.
  • Everyone with a plate needs to sit down at the table and keep their chairs placed far enough away from the table so that they can easily stand up.  Everyone must sit “side saddled” (like our Mom always scolded us for doing).
  • Make “yummy sounds” and nibble on the food while you watch your dog out of the corner of your eye.
  • If your dog begins to approach your boundary, quickly stand up, face your dog, and loudly say “No” in an authoritative, guttural tone.  If you need to, gently pick up the leash and guide him away to his toys, goodies, or dinner.
  • Praise your dog with a high pitched “Good boy” for doing the right thing.  (You might have had to show him what was right, but that is OK.  He is learning.)
  • Return to your chair, always facing your dog.
  • Slowly sit down and repeat the process until your dog looses interest and does not approach you.
  • Repeat this every day until you no longer have to actively keep him away from the table.

Having to deal with a “nosy dog” while at the table can be a big pain for your family and friends.  Practice this exercise regularly and we are sure you will soon have an enjoyable time at the dinner table.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Friday, September 13, 2013

When Your Dog Comes Inside and Potties on the Carpet

My dog is normally pretty good about pottying, but sometimes he doesn't potty outside and as soon as we come inside, he will potty.  This is just weird.  What can I do to fix this and keep my carpet from being an over-glorified wee-wee pad?

This is a frequent question posed by many of our clients.  Their dog normally doesn't potty in the house, there are just some timing issues that need to be addressed.  If this is truly the case, we have some simple suggestions to help you out:
  • When you take your dog outside to potty, actively engage him in high energy play.  Throw the ball for him.  Hide a few toys around the yard and encourage him to actively find them.  Play fetch.  Whatever you do, make sure it is high energy so that you are speeding up your dog’s metabolism.  This encourages “potty”.
  • Stop your active play and simply stand back.  Let your dog calm down and begin to focus on the smells of the yard.  This encourages the potty process.  You will normally see him still romp around for a bit and then begin to intensely sniff an area.  This is a sign that he is ready to potty.
  • Once he performs his #1 and #2, do not bring him in right away.  Let him “hang out” for a few more minutes.  Sometimes dogs need to potty more than once.  If we bring him in too soon, we have moved the bathroom inside.
  • If your dog didn’t potty after fifteen or twenty minutes, take him inside but keep him on a leash and next to you.  Wait five minutes and take him out again.  If coming inside somehow stimulates his need to potty, as stated in our original issue, we have started the process.  The difference is that we will only be inside for a few minutes and we will constantly be with our dog.  Note:  Dogs normally don’t want to go to the bathroom right next to you.

Having your dog outside for potty and then bringing them in only to mess on your carpet is annoying and smelly.  We hope that these suggestions will help you eliminate that problem.  As always, please contact us if you have any questions at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Your Children and the Family Dog Playing Together

My kids like to play with our dog, but he gets a little too aggressive and the kids get scared.  What can I do?

We all want our kids to have a great experience with the family dog.  That is one of the “great family experiences” that follow all of us from being kids ourselves to being parents.  The trick is to balance the freedom and exuberance with safety and well-being.  We don’t want to completely hinder the play.  We also don’t want to have the kids scared whenever they see the dog.  Here are some tips that you should consider:
  • If your kids are under the age of eight, there should always be an adult supervising the play activity or any activity between the kids and your family dog.
  • Never “play rough” in the house.  Kids playing rough with the dog is never a good idea and we don’t want to introduce rough play and crazy canine excitement as the norm inside the house.
  • Have your dog on a leash when he is playing with the kids.  This allows you to easily separate them if you feel anything is getting out of hand.
  • Teach your kids not to push and poke the dog as a part of playtime.  This quickly heightens adrenaline and emulates a “tag, you’re it” environment.  Your dog will respond by nipping and jumping.  This is normally a frightening experience for the kids.
  • Never play “tug-of-war”.  Your kids’ hands will get too close to your dog’s mouth.  As your dog tries to reacquire the “tug-of-war”, he might mistakenly bit your kid.  Again, this is not a good experience for your child.
  • Play games like “chase the ball”.  Get four or five tennis balls and have your kids throw one out for your dog.  As he gets the first ball, throw the second and have your dog chase after the second.  Continue this process while you are picking up the discarded tennis balls and throw them.
  • Hide toys and goodies around the yard and then have the kids encourage your dog (by pointing and calling him) to find them.  Praise him when he does.
  • Practice obedience commands with your dog.  Have the kids call him to them with the “come” command.  Walk him on a leash in a circle around the yard.  Teach him to sit.

Tell your kids that if they ever feel afraid while playing with your family dog, stop what they are doing immediately and slowly stand up.  Stand still for about 30 seconds.  You can tell them that you want them to play like they are pretending to be a statue.  After that, slowly back up until they are away from your dog. 

During this time, you should also intervene, if you feel that it is necessary.  If your child can complete this by themselves, it will help build their confidence around dogs and minimize any potential of “fear of dogs” in the future. 

Our goal is to have a great time as a family and to instill a love of dogs in our kids.  Try some of these techniques and I am sure that you will experience some great results.  As always, please contact us if you have any questions at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.