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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Can I Give Wolfie Too Much Affection?

I am always petting Wolfie, picking him up, giving him hugs & kisses, talking to him in a high, baby voice...  Is that ok?



As dog trainers, we are asked this question a lot.  Sometimes we aren't asked this question and have to instruct our clients on the errors of their ways.  Simply put, it is possible to give your dog too much love and affection.  The problem comes down to the differences between humans and their canine companions.

As people, we love affection.  We love it when people say good things about us, we are always in need of a hug.  We comfort our small children when we are leaving with a high pitched "Oh, don't worry, daddy will be right back".  In some countries, it is custom to give kisses on the the cheeks when greeting.  Since Wolfie is so cute and cuddly, we naturally pour the hugs and kisses on him.

This is absolutely the wrong thing to do.  When we give Wolfie too much hugs and kisses, we are sending him a signal that we may not be the strong leader that will keep him safe. Remember, the very top thing that Wolfie wants in life is to feel safe.  If properly trained, he looks to us as his leader who will provide him with that safety.  As strong leaders, we are resolute, firm, calm, and consistent. Wolfie should be providing us focus, intent on receiving the proper leadership to stay safe.

If we are constantly giving Wolfie our focus with all that "hugs & kisses" stuff, we are sending him the signal that he is the boss.  If we are picking him up to cuddle, we are giving him dominance and surrendering our leadership.  We are telling Wolfie he must be the Alpha Canine Leader of the pack.  Many times this will result in bad behavior such as jumping  barking, nipping, and separation anxiety.

So the bottom line is that you can give Wolfie affection, just don't go overboard with it.  If Wolfie is a small dog, don't pick him up all the time.  He has four feet, he can walk.  For more information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Is It OK For Wolfie To Be In Bed With Me?

I hear all these different things about having Wolfie on the bed with me or it is bad having him on the bed with me.  I would really like him to sleep with me, but would that be sending some sort of bad message?


As dog trainers, we hear this kind of question all the time with all sorts of home grown explanations regarding pro's and con's to your dog being on the bed.  The bottom line is it is up to you.  If you don't want him on the bed, you will have a standing rule that Wolfie is not allowed on the bed.  Every time he attempts to get on the bed, you will correct him and guide him off.  

If you would like to have Wolfie on the bed with you, you should take the following items into consideration:
  • If Wolfie is currently showing signs of aggression or heightened dominance, you should not allow him on the bed until he has been properly trained to minimize or eliminate these traits.
  • If Wolfie is still undergoing potty training, he should not be allowed on the bed.  Even if he has been "holding it all night" while he has been in his crate, you shouldn't  allow him on the bed.  When Wolfie is in his crate, he becomes and remains calmer with a reduced metabolism.  This will allow him to hold it longer.  When he is on the bed with you, his excitement will naturally be greater along with his metabolism.  This will decrease his length between potty times and could possibly cause an accident on your sheets.  (Not good!)
  • If Wolfie nips or growls when you ask him to move or get off the bed, his bed privileges are revoked.  You can train this "out of him" by:
    • Put a leash on him when he is in bed.
    • When you want him off the bed, you must stand up and get out of bed.
    • Grab the end of the leash and give him the command "Off".
    • If he doesn't jump off, tug the leash slightly until he gets off.
    • Tell him "Good Puppy" for obeying you.
  • Never play rough with Wolfie while you and he are in bed.   This will simply cause him to believe he can play rough with you on the bed at any time. 
  • Never eat in the bed with Wolfie.  Since you and he are at the same level, this could send the wrong message to him that the food is for both of you.
  • Check Wolfie for fleas and ticks every few days.  You don't need these in your bed.
  • Bathe Wolfie more often than usual.  You don't want your bed to get a "doggie smell".
Again, it is up to you if you want to invite Wolfie on your bed with you.  We have four dogs and three of them sleep on the bed with us.  Our fourth dog is too old to get on the bed, so he sleeps on the floor by my side.

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



Saturday, April 13, 2013

What Happens When Wolfie Won't Come to Me in The Back Yard?

It always happens that when ever I need to get Wolfie in from the back yard, he never comes.  I really think it is a game to see how long he can stay away from me and he finally goes in the house when he is fully amused...




See Wolfie way back there?  There is no way that I am getting him in the house any time soon...

The best solution to this is to teach Wolfie to "come".  The only problem is that is going to take you about five weeks to get him to come to you every time you tell him.  We need something now to get him in while he is in "come school".  

Let's first understand what is really happening with you and Wolfie and then find a temporary solution.  You walk outside and yell "come" to Wolfie.  He doesn't understand what that means, but you have gained his attention.  You yell "come" again and become more animated.  He still stares at you, finding you an amusing distraction.  You now become agitated and approach him quickly.  Now Wolfie sees that we are in a game of "follow the leader".  Since you are approaching him, he will take off and engage in the role of the leader.  The whole point of the game is to have you chase him while he avoids you.  The faster you go, the faster he avoids.  Even if you stop and walk back towards the house, he will come after you and turn away at the last second to try and reengage the game.

As you can see, this is a loosing battle that you just can't win.  So what do you need to do to get him in the house if he doesn't understand "come"?  You must find a way where you will remain calm, disengaging, and not directly approaching Wolfie.  If you do this, you will not be "telling" Wolfie that you want to play.

Here is what you do:  (I really love this little trick!)

  • Put a 10 foot leash on Wolfie when he is outside.  Let him run around with it so that it becomes uninteresting to him.  Eventually, he won't even know that it is there.
  • When you want to get Wolfie in the house, be very calm and slowly approach the handle end of the leash (10 feet away from Wolfie).  
  • You are not directly approaching him so you are not sending the "play" signal to him.
  • If Wolfie begins to move or run, do not speed up or become animated.  Watch the end of the leash and slowly move towards it.
  • If you need to, pause for a minute.  Many times Wolfie will come towards you, bringing the leash with him.
  • Once you are at the handle end of the leash, simply put your foot on it.  Now you have him.
  • Pick up the leash (keeping your foot on the leash until you have the handle firmly in your hand).
  • Give Wolfie the "come" command and give the leash a little tug until he is at your side.
  • Give him the "walkies" command and calmly walk him back to the house.
I have "captured" crazy Goldens in 1/2 acre back yards using this exact method.  Give it a try and I am sure you will love it.  For more information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

How Do I Get Wolfie to Stop Nipping My Pants?

It is always so annoying to be walking down a hallway and all of s sudden have Wolfie pulling on your pants or nipping your shoes.  Just shaking him off only seems to make him want to do it more!  I don't want to kick him.  What can I do?



We need to understand why Wolfie is doing this and what we must do to let him know that it is wrong.  

Wolfie is always trying to understand what we want from him and what the rules for the group are.  The main way that he accomplishes this is through body language.  Wolfie does not have words and sentences, so his main form of communication are the nuances of stance and movement from body language.  With this in mind, let's see what we are telling Wolfie when we pass him and walk down the hall.

As we approach Wolfie, we are facing him.  Facing another animal is a natural act of dominance.  We are telling Wolfie "I am the boss.  I am in charge.  Obey me."  This is all fine and dandy until we pass him.  

Now we are walking away and Wolfie sees our back.  The back is always the submissive or weak side.  (When wolves attack other animals, they always try and come at them from behind.)  We have now changed our language from "I am the boss" to "I don't care, everything is fine with me, do what ever you want".  This now puts Wolfie in charge and he just might want to play "tag" with us.  We all know what happens next.

So, what can we do about this?  The answer is that we must use our body language in the appropriate way to send a clear signal to Wolfie that he can not take charge and play tag with us.  Here is what you do:

  • As you approach Wolfie, give him a low, stern "No" just before you pass him.  
  • As you pass, turn so that you continue to face him and repeat your low, stern "No" several more times.
  • Continue to walk backwards so that you continue to face him.
  • If Wolfie ever starts to get up and move towards you, repeat the low, stern "No".
  • As you move away, you become less of a "playful" distraction and Wolfie should quickly loose focus.
  • You can now turn around and keep walking, always looking back slightly to make sure that Wolfie has not reengaged.
You will need to repeat this every time you pass Wolfie for the next few days.  Through your consistent and repeated acts of clearly explaining to Wolfie (through body language) that you won't accept his nipping, he will learn that it is not right and will stop.  For more information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.