dOgBEDIENCE - K9 Training
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Paying Attention at the Dog Park
Why carrying your dog is a deal breaker
Is it okay for my dog to sleep with me in my bed?
Heeling our dog when we walk
Puppy mouthing

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blOgBEDIENCE

Paying Attention at the Dog Park

How many times have you seen dog owners not paying attention while the dog is getting into trouble? Too many times is the answer. This is one reason I encourage my clients to accompany me to the dog park with their dog. This way I can demonstrate how important it is to maintain good position or purview of our dog. If she's being dominated by another dog or if our dog is dominating one, we can act upon it, but only if (1) we observe it (2) we are in a position to respond. These requirements rule out owners sitting at one end of the park on a bench or constantly looking at their smartphone (who does that?

Why carrying your dog is a deal breaker

I see it all too often. Person picks their dog up and carries them around. The problem is that when we do this, we are sending a message to our dog that they are entitled or on our level. This can lead to dog behavior problems. To establish Dominant (Leader) and Submissive (follower) it is one of the behavioral messages we don't want to send. I often see owners at the dog park picking up their dogs at the "first sign" of trouble. Instead of monitoring it to teach the dog to use it's behavioral signals (communication) to deal with the problem, or allow for another dog to correct the dominating one. In addition, raising the dog doesn't allow it's owner to correct the other dog verbally or hands on if necessary. Unfortunately picking up our dog teaches them to wait for "their rescue" which doesn't allow them to learn to resolve conflict nor learn impulse control. Also, when a dog is brought to that higher level, some dogs take "offense" to the exalted position and then work to correct the raised dog. The owner then responds with hysterics and the entire situation escalates into hysteria. Likewise, if you decide to invite your dog onto your lap it's on your terms. It is a directive. It should be followed. Yet if dog just jumps onto our lap and we continue to reinforce it by, first allowing it, and second petting her, we create an expectation that spirals into a repetitive, conditioned behavior. Remember this simple rule: Four on the floor and you will have a better behaved dog that better understands its expectations.

Is it okay for my dog to sleep with me in my bed?

Often enough I'm asked the perennial question, "You're not going to tell me my dog can't sleep with me, are you?" Just the way owners ask this tells you there's a problem with this behavior. If it's so expected, why do people ask? The answer is because they know it's not a good idea but need verification. I explain to owners that allowing our dogs to sleep with us on the same level and in such close quarters can lead to other problems. In building Leadership or sound "dog parent" skills, allowing dogs to control space at this level in sleeping quarters, instinctively provides the dog to feel entitled to be of equal hierarchy in our domesticated dog pack mentality.

Heeling our dog when we walk

Ask yourself, "Do I often or always heel my dog while walking in my neighborhood?" If you answered yes, that's a problem. I say this because so many of my clients have defensive or protective dogs who are reactive. I consider heeling a focus exercise for our pup. By making or compelling her to stay by my side is keeping her close. The lead becomes shorter and we tend to maintain a tighter grip. Even if your hands are relaxed that shorter lead is maintaining the closeness. This positions makes the dog focus on you rather than relaxing by sniffing the ground.

Puppy mouthing

It isn't surprising that so many dog owners complain that there new puppy is always putting their mouth on them. This can be in the form of nipping or licking. I like to think of it anytime my dog is paying too much attention with their mouth. So what is causing this? Besides dogs between the ages of 4 to 6 months, who are teething and are in need of ways to soothe their gums, it is most often caused by us! Yes, once again we are showing our cute, little friend too much attention. Think about it.

How do I stop my dog from pulling?

Like it or not, you may be teaching your dog to pull. Sounds strange, doesn't it? Ask yourself some questions: Am I rushing out the front door? Am I stepping off the stoop immediately heading down the driveway or walkway? Do I tug on his lead when he's sniffing the ground? Do I tug correct her when she pulls? It's critical to stop inside the doorway before you leave and claim the space. Then you need to step out first and claim the stoop. It's here where you must wait for the dog to relax before you step off to begin your walk. If you decide to tug him back when he pulls, you'll only reinforce the tug-of-war game, causing more of the same pulling! When she stops to sniff the ground don't pull her off the sniff to get going because you're correcting her scenting operation and you will teach her not to sniff. When dogs scent or sniff, they relax and in-turn, enjoy their time. It's instinctual for dogs to take in information from urine and defacation spots. They can learn the breed and gender, among other characteristics, of their cohorts. Give them time to mark and put down their information as well. A relaxed dog, and not a rushed one, is an easier dog to walk. To learn a specific technique that only reinforces the dog to walk on a relaxed collar, contact me for dog training in Great Falls, Va and surrounding areas of Fairfax County.

Dog pulling on the leash (lead)

So your dog pulls you down the street? There are a few prerequisites that must be met first and foremost. #1 Does your dog's clip collar fit snugly, and I mean two flat fingers fit under it? #2 Do you have a strong leather lead for strong dogs as it applies to you. Nylon will only work if it's the smallest of dogs? #3 Is your lead at least an inch wide and NOT retractable? #4 Are you claiming the door first as you leave with your clown following behind? #5 Are you pausing and waiting for Lucky to relax just outside the door e.

Retractable dog leash is a high wire act!

Retractable leashes reward bad dog behavior (leash pulling) (dog jumping)I see too many dog owners using retractable leashes. I call them circus leads, and when you are using one, you are the ring master! The problem with these apparatuses is that it gives the handler no control. Because of the elasticity of the material, there is no leverage. So why do so many people choose to walk their dogs with retractable leashes? The answer is for convenience. Or so it seems. How convenient is it when you have poor control over the actions of your dog while on leash? Dogs' poor behavior is consistently rewarded (reinforced) when they are able to continue to run around constantly pulling i.e. tug-of-war. Furthermore, if your dog has any semblance of strength, you will be hard pressed to maneuver Tonka with this circus wire! It's critical that we as dog owners communicate properly to our dogs what it is we want them to do. Yet, every time you make even a minimal correction with a retractable leash and by the time that information reaches your dog, it's too late. Bandit has already acted up some more-practicing poor behavior. Remember, the more your dog practices bad behavior, the better Psycho becomes at mastering it.

My dog rushes the door annoying guests! What to do??

Rushing the door in excitement to greet guests is all too common. Unfortunately, owners and their guests alike have actually reinforced this gregarious ritual unknowingly. When we allow it to continue or we consistently bark at our dog to stop, either is attention. Isn't attention a goal of every dog? Visitor's help us out with further reinforcement of this inappropriate behavior if they receive the dog with open arms. If a guest stands just inside the door, bends over happily staring and talking to Happy or Lucky, they couldn't do a better job of ensuring she will come racing back for more, again and again!

Why it's good to obedience train a dog?

This may seem like a silly question. I'm amazed at how many dogs have little to no obedience training. Even if we are to do it ourselves rather than having professional guidance. When dogs learn obedience skills from their owner it's beginning a positive Leader/follower relationship. Every time we tell our dog to do something and follow through to ensure they do it, we are providing the information they need to know they are pleasing us. You see Ruffy & Fluffy are here for one reason only- to please us. Sounds cold? Not really. What's cold is when owners don't communicate properly what it is that pleases us. All owners consistently reward their dogs for unearned attention. This means when Girly waddles up to you and gives you her googly stare, you respond by talking to her or petting her every single time. Over time this becomes very reinforcing and before you know it, she is owning (controlling) you! Obedience training your dog helps to ensure your dog is following its leader and breeds confidence in your relationship and your dog too. When your dog knows what is expected of him, he will offer more appropriate behaviors which will be deemed pleasing to the two of you. This synchronization is the harmony we are after. Structure and boundaries are key. Obedience helps to bring this necessary element in your relationship with your dog.
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