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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fear of Other Dogs in the Elivator

I am down here in Pompano Beach for the winter from my farm in upstate New York.  We are renting a great condo in a high rise on the beach.  The problem is that my dog is scared to go in the elevator whenever there is another dog there.  This is a “very pet friendly” building.  I am not walking up and down twenty flights of stairs every time I need to take him out.  What can I do?

Let me tell you one thing for sure.  You don't want to force your dog into a situation where he is placed in a fight or flight mode in a confined environment (like an elevator). 

You don't want to let the other dog in the elevator and do something like move to the corner and hold him on a very tight leash or pick him up and firmly hold him.  When you are doing these things, you are placing your dog in an unsafe situation.

As the person who is responsible for your dog’s wellbeing, you never want to put him in a situation where he feels unsafe and feels that you don’t have the ability to provide him security.  You are now "telling" your dog that you are a bad leader and don't have the ability to keep him safe.  This means that he will step up to be the leader and will take a more aggressive stance in the elevator (bad!).

We must understand that as the protector (i.e. parent), it is our biggest responsibility to keep our dog safe.  Sometimes, the best way to maintain safety is to avoid unsafe situations.  This is not "running away", it is simply good management.  With this in mind, here are my suggestions for the elevator situation.
  • If you are about to enter the elevator and you see that there is another dog in the elevator, do not enter.  Mention that your is a little fearful of dogs in the elevator and you want to wait for the next one.  This, again will show that you are a responsible dog owner to your neighbors and that you are a good leader and care giver to your dog.
  • If you are in the elevator and someone with a dog starts to enter, politely mention that your dog is a little fearful of other dogs when in the elevator.  Since you don't want an incident in such a closed space, could they please wait for the next elevator.  If they agree, thank them.  If they still step into the elevator, excuse yourself and get out of the elevator.  If there are other people in the elevator, they will see that you are a responsible dog owner, no matter which outcome occurred.  You will also show Wolfie that you are keeping him safe.

Yes, I know that it might take you a few more minutes to go up and down the elevator, but the extra few minutes will do wonders in building your relationship with your dog and your neighbors.  If you have questions or need additional information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Friday, January 10, 2014

What to Do When Your Dog Constantly Destroys Their Fluffy Bed

Sometimes the best training tips aren't training tips at all!

Let’s think about this for just a moment.  Our dog loves to lie in the rocks by the pool or on the marble floor by the back door.  Is there any reason why we need to provide him with a fluffy bed in his crate or in his corner?

If you haven’t come to the same conclusion, the answer is “No”.  In most instances, your dog destroys their bed, in their crate or outside, because of boredom.  If you constantly replace the bed, you are reinforcing the destructive behavior that is growing in your dog.  If you continue this process, your dog will move on to destroying your couch and chair.  This is not a good thing.

Here comes the easy answer that took me several years of case studies to recognize. 

Remove the bed and allow your dog to sleep on the ground.  Don’t worry; he won’t hate you for this.  You have simply severed the association of “chew my bed, chew the furniture”.

If you have any questions about this, we are more than happy to respond.  Please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sometimes Dog Training Starts With The Family (And Not The Dog)

My dog is just crazy and doesn't listen.  I have taken him to dog classes and even sent him away for a week to a special “boot camp”.  He came back and was OK for a day and then went back to being crazy.  He doesn't listen, nips at people and won’t leave my kids alone.  What happened to “man’s best friend”?

As dog trainers, we hear this many times.  Yesterday I was at a new client and they asked me what is the hardest dog to train.  I told them that the answer is really quite simple.  It is almost never the dog, it is the owner or family.  Our dogs are often mirrors of us.  We must assure that we provide them with the correct image.  Here are some things that you should consider if you have a crazy dog:

What is the temperament of your family?  Are things always crazy and are people always running in and out?  This is providing too much stimulus to your dog and he is simply responding through dominance actions (barking/jumping) and heightened adrenaline.  If this is the case, place your dog in a quiet space if things are getting a little too crazy.  The back yard with some of his favorite toys is a perfect way to redirect his energy and focus away from you.

Make sure that your kids aren't always playing or bugging your dog.  They might think it is fun, but it is only teaching him that it is always OK to demand play from anyone.  Limit play time to specific times of the day and only have them play with your dog in the back yard.  This will help your dog to understand where and when “crazy time” happens.  It will start to reverse the crazy behavior in the house because it just doesn't happen in there.

Never let your dog tell you what he wants you to do.  If he rubs his nose in your palm, don’t pet him.  If he brings over the leash, don’t go for a walk.  If he steals a sock, don’t chase him.  The more you let him tell you what he wants to do, the more he will ignore your commands and only demand things from you.  When you don’t give him what he wants, he will ramp it up to barking, jumping, and (sometimes) nipping.  None of these activities are things you should allow in your house and with your family.

If you want to be on the right foot to having a great dog, be calm.  Don’t run after him and yell and scream.  Don’t do what he is asking you to do.  Make sure that everyone treats the dog in the same way.  If you don’t want him on the furniture, you can’t let him on the furniture with your kids. 

I know this doesn't sound hard, but you would be amazed at how many of our clients had crazy dogs just because of the situations I have mentioned above.  Once we were able to rectify these situational issues, resolving any misbehavior of the dog was a piece of cake.  If you have any further questions about this, please feel free to contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in SouthFlorida.