Archive for the ‘Dog Behavior’ Category

 

“How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat!!”

You might be wondering what a line from a song made famous by Pink Floyd has to do with training your dog.. but bear with me and let me explain.

You probably remember your Mother or Grandmother saying something like this as you were growing up..

“You can’t watch t.v. until you get your homework done.”.. or, “You can’t go play with your friends until you clean up your room.”

These are examples of the Premak Principle.. simply put this principle states that “If more desirable behaviors are made contingent upon less desirable behaviors, then the less desirable behaviors are more likely to occur.”

Learning to use this powerful principle in dog training will be very beneficial in teaching your dog to do things they may not necessarily find desirable.. like coming when called… especially if they are sniffing other dogs butts.. chasing a squirrel..

Here’s one way you can put this principle into practice to increase the likely hood of your dog coming when called no matter what the distraction..

Get a nice big piece of whatever your dog finds tasty.. like a chunk of cooked chicken, or a big slab of stinky cheese..

Put your dog on a long line of about 20 feet.. let your dog see the prize..and toss it just outside the 20 foot line.. then let your dog go.. he will run out in haste to get the food..but stop him just short of his goal.. now call him to come.. he might not listen to you as he tries to get to the food.. so just give a firm tug on the line and move quickly backward.. once your dog gets to you.. grab his collar and praise him for coming.. then let him go to get the food..

See how that works? That’s the Premak Principle in action..

You can find other areas of your daily life to practice this principle and give your dog training a power boost.. for example,..

If you are at the dog park and your dog is playing and having a ball.. call him to come to you often.. grab his collar ..give him a tasty food reward and let him go back to play.. he will quickly learn that while coming to you puts a stop to what he was doing.. it is going to be in his best interest because you always have something he really likes..and.. he gets to go back and play.. so for him.. and you.. it’s a win win situation.. and the likely hood that he will come whenever you call regardless of what’s going on will increase.. which is what you want right?

At first your dog will need to be convinced to come to you and thus the use of the lead..but with time your dog will begin to trust you and in time the lead will no longer be needed..

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11188397_818078361580910_7762837488932187458_nIf your dog is barking on leash and it’s ruining your walks,.. then I have three tips that will help you get control over your vocal dog..

There are many reasons your dog will bark while out for a walk..but the main reason is because he or she hasn’t been taught otherwise.. so here are the tips that will get you back in the driving seat and on the path to enjoying your walks again with your fuzzy faced friend.

#1. You want to interrupt your dog while he is thinking about barking..not after he has started..and then redirect your dog to a more appropriate behavior..timing is everything.

#2. The closer you are to what makes your dog bark the harder it will be for you to get him or her to focus on you and your high value food rewards..so the second your dog thinks about barking..move away from what is attracting your dogs attention and work your eye contact and get a sit..

#3. Use high value food rewards like cooked chicken or cut up pieces of hot dog.. anything that your dog loves but don’t usually get..if your rewards are valuable enough to your dog it will be easier for you to get their attention and work them around the distraction…first at a distance where your dog does not react and then move slowly closer to the thing that makes your dog bark.. You want to set your dog up to succeed ..not to fail…

That’s it for today..I hope you are all enjoying this nice weather and I’ll talk to ya soon.

All the best,

Harley

aggressive-rottweiler-rGood morning and Happy St.Patties Day,

“May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows your dead.”

Yesterday I posted to Face Book the question, ” What do you do when a strange dog charges you and your dog and you have no opportunity for retreat?”

There was a lot of great discussion about this and I want to thank everyone who took the time to leave a comment.

Now let me start by saying that it is important for people to know that in 9 out of 10 cases the dogs doing the charging are not killers.. simply soft nerved,.fearful dogs, that lack any kind of meaningful training,, and have learned that showing aggression will cause the person or dog to take off and leave them alone..

You only have a few seconds to decide if this is one of those dogs who are just weak-willed and nervous or high drive and confident.. and you have to take action immediately.. I can size a dog up pretty quickly because I have a lot of experience dealing with dogs of all temperaments, the information is in their eyes..and body posture..

Dogs who are just trying to drive you off will have the hair standing up on their backs and will look like they are either about to run or about to bite you..

If you hold your ground, look directly at them, and in a loud commanding voice yell..”Go Home!!” stomp the ground and take a step toward them..they may just do that..

Carry some chicken chunks or liver treats and toss them at the dog.. they may very well forget about you and begin searching out the treats.. and this is your cue to back away slowly keeping your eye on the dog always..

The ones that don’t immediately take off will circle you ..trying to find an opportunity to pinch ya..and if you turn with them,.. keeping your dog behind you at all times.. shorten your grip on the leash so your dog has no chance of getting around you.. you don’t want your dog getting into a fight.. it is your job as leader to protect your dog at all cost..

In most cases the offending dog will not come too close.. but might keep circling, barking and acting tough for quite some time.. in this case you should slowly and I mean slowly back out of their territory..the one thing you don’t want to do is run.. you can’t out run a dog and running will only kick in their prey drive and increase the chances of you getting bitten.. even though you may be scared..don’t show this to the dog..they can sense strength and confidence so make and hold direct eye contact.. and defensive body posture.. you can break down later.

Now what about that one time out of ten when the strange dog that is charging you is a confident, high drive dog with nerves of steel that is not afraid to attack humans..

Let me begin by saying that no amount of yelling, treat throwing.. or stomping the ground is going to stop this dog.. you have only one choice.. you have to go to battle with this dog.. and losing is not an option.. there are many dogs quite capable of killing you and your dog.. Rottweilers, Pit bulls, Dobermans..German Shepherds among others come to mind..

Now unlike the first category of charging dog, this dog will not be barking or have any hair raised up.. they will be laser targeted on you or your dog.. and you must ready yourself for what’s about to happen.. I always carry a 4 foot hardwood walking stick with me.. a two foot tire thumper is good too..but always have it out..

I always have a couple of steel carabiners attached to my belt so I can clip my dog to me ..and have the use of both hands.. you want to prevent your dog from running away..

Ready yourself in your best fighting stance..and when the dog is about 15 feet from you wave your arm out to the side ..this will cause the dogs prey drive to target your arm.. and at the last possible moment when the dog has left the ground and is flying to bite your arm.. step to the side and use your stick to whack the dog hard in the ribs or on top of the head.. this will not in all likely hood cause the dog to retreat.. but it sends the message that you are not going down without a fight.. then you don’t wait.. you attack the dog with all you got.. repeated blows to the top of the head right between the eyes… the ribs..the groin.. usually the dog will give up if it hasn’t bitten you after 3 or 4 attempts..

If the dog gets to you and grabs you by the leg.. wrap your arms around the dog’s neck and choke it to death.. not until it passes out..because a dog that is hell-bent on killing you or your dog will go right back to fighting as soon as it wakes up.. and usually the dog will wake up quickly.. so you might not have time to get away…

If it gets hold of your arm then whack it hard on the head right between the eyes.. usually the dog will give up after about 3 or 4 good knocks on the head..

If you have lost your footing and are in a bad way.. curl up in the fetal position and cover the back of your neck and throat.. with your hands and arms.. keep yelling for help.. you will most likely be badly bitten ..but you may very well survive..

Remember.. don’t run…it will be hard to keep from doing this ..but your life could very well depend on it..

If the dog attacks your dog, the same applies.. continue to whack the dog until it quits and runs off or the owner comes to control the dog.. one thing you should never do is pick your dog up.. this will hamper your ability to fight..and makes your face a target for the charging dog.. keep your dog behind you if possible.. I always attach a couple of steel carabiers to my belt.. and clip my dogs leash to it so I can have the use of both hands..

Pepper spray can work well.. but dogs don’t respond to it like humans .. so be warned it may not stop a high drive determined dog..but a full can of spray to the face will make them think twice about what’s going on..

Regardless of the outcome .. if possible talk to the dogs owner.. be kind..the dog may have gotten away from them by accident.. while it is still his responsibility,. try to work it out..

If the owner is just as hostile as his dog..then call the cops.. and let the chips fall where they may..

A word of caution for those of you who would like to think you would shoot the dog.. let me say this..

I was raised with a rifle in one hand and a dog in the other.. and I can tell you it is not as easy as you might think to shoot any animal that is charging straight at you.. your adrenalin is high, and even if you are a crack shot.. you only have a few seconds to react.. and there is a high probability that you will miss.. and a stray bullet or ricochet bullet in an urban setting can kill or injure by standers.. the risk to others is too high.. so please leave your side arms at home.

Again thank you all for taking the time to comment on this serious issue.. and if you have questions let me know in the comments below..

All the best,

Harley

images (5)Good morning and Happy Monday morning to everyone..

I hope you have a wonderful day in spite of he dreaded time change!!

How many of you can relate to this..

You’re out on the street with your dog and he or she suddenly begins to act out..jumping around, biting the leash, pulling,lunging,barking at everyone who passes by..people are staring.. and the more you try to get control of your loving pooch..the worse he seems to behave.

Sometimes it’s your attempts to bring him under control that is exacerbating the problem..your dog thinks you want to play.. If this is you,.. and your dog just won’t look or listen to you..I have a couple of tips that will help you begin to turn you “wild child” around.


You can’t have a well-mannered and polite dog on the street if you don’t have a well-mannered dog at home..there are exceptions to this rule..

I know there are some dogs that are angels at home and go berserk outside..at any rate these tips will work to help any dog with any control problem…

#1. Train your dog at home for 2 minutes 4 times a day..basic obedience commands.,come, sit, down,,and stay..with and without distractions..

#2. Exercise your dog twice a day and be sure to engage their prey drive, ie, play tug of war and let them win.. this will relieve stress both in your dog and you..

#3. Set a higher expectation for your dogs behavior..have them sit for everything they get..food, play, social interaction both with dogs and people.. when you put this kind of structured routine in your dog’s life they will soon be looking at you more and paying attention when it really counts..

If you have questions or just want to comment on this or any post you read.. I would love to hear from ya.

All the best,

Harley

social cuesGood morning ,

I hope you are all doing well .. it’s Friday and some of you will be heading out with your dogs to take part in various weekend activities,. so I wanted to chat with you for a minute about your dogs before you head out..

I am often asked to help people train their dogs to be more social with dogs they meet on the street and in the dog parks instead of being a loner and avoiding play..

This is what I think about that..

It is unfair to ask our dogs to like and play with every dog they meet..

Take a minute and think about how we go about our day..

We may pass hundreds of people during the course of a day..but we only interact with a few of them.. we say hi to a couple of friends at the local coffee shop..and say thank you to the check out clerk..

But if we are being honest,..

Many of them really freak us out..

We are social with everyone,..we nod and smile,..and hopefully we don’t attack anyone.. lol

We behave in a socially exceptable manner.. but we don’t care to chat or get involved with everyone..

Dogs are much the same..some dogs they like..others they don’t ..and to try to force them into interactions with strange dogs is a recipe for disaster..

I expect my dogs to be social ..and not attack any dogs..but I don’t expect them to immediately like and go play with strange dogs..

It’s for this reason that I don’t go to the dog park..there are too many strange dogs..that may or may not have any social training..

I prefer to get to know any dog that is going to interact with my dogs..and their owners as well..that way I can be reasonably sure my dogs are going to have a happy and fun-filled romp with their new buddies..

If you have questions about this or any post, please write me in the comments and I would love to chat with you more..

Have a great weekend..and try not to attack anyone 🙂

All the best,

Harley

10698556_709404422448305_6222598759717460874_nAfter all these years of working with people and their dogs..the one thing that still gets me every time ..and quite frankly the one reason I continue to do what I do.. is the feeling of joy I get when the dogs owner has that “light bulb” moment..

That moment when they realize what they were doing was the cause of their dogs behavior.

Today I want to speak to the dog owners who are having trouble with their dogs showing aggression to other dogs or people.. often these dogs will not want to leave your side or will hide between your legs..

get between you and other dogs or people who you interact with..

bark, lunge, and even attack and bite..

these dogs are insecure ..

they don’t believe that their owners can keep them safe so they feel they have to protect their owner who is not demonstrating calm leadership.

You can begin to turn this around by simply claiming your space.. when you are at home and your dog just walks up to you..stay calm..don’t say anything,..don’t pet them or talk to them..send them away.. move into their space and have them back up at least a couple of feet then walk away.. when they are sitting or lying calmly..then call them to you,.. have them sit and then pat them or love on them for just a few seconds..then send them away again to lie or sit outside your personal space..

This will begin to show your dog that you are a true leader worthy of their attention and they will begin to feel protected by you.. never reward excited or insecure states of mind this will only erode your dogs confidence and they will feel like they have to take control of the situation.

Only reward your dog when they are in a calm state of mind.

When you are out walking your dog and someone with a dog approaches you .. slow down…get your self calm and in charge and just move past the dogs with the authority of a leader.. if you make nothing of it neither will your dog.. if you get fearful or anxious so will your dog and he or she will feel like they need to protect you and themselves.. if your dog starts to react.. give them a command to sit.. and then follow through until they are sitting and calm .. then move forward again..

I hope this has given you somethings to consider..practice at home and remember to always guide your dog with strong leadership and a calm emotional state of mind.

If you have questions or need my help, just leave a comment, I am always happy to help.

All the best,

Harley

download (1)Good morning, I hope you are all well and having a great day with your pups.. today I wanted to chat with you for a bit about the dog park.. just a few things I feel is important for you to know in order to have the best possible experience for both you and your dogs, and while I am not a fan of the dog park, I know a lot of people are,. so if you are determined to take your dog or pup to the park there are a few things you should be aware of.

When you enter the dog park with your dog..the first thing that happens is your dogs stress levels go up.. the stress hormone cortisol begins to flood your dogs system ..

and depending on your dogs temperament.. stress can be a good thing or a bad thing..

In well-balanced dogs, stress can help them to learn new things in an excited environment.. in fearful or shy dogs stress can lead to aggression..and if someone doesn’t step in on behalf of the fearful/shy dog..he or she will do a number of things to ward off the dog that is causing the stress..

The first thing a fearful/shy dog will do is to crouch/lie down ..in an attempt to stop the interaction..if this is unsuccessful, they will then snap, bark, and lunge at the dog.. and as always as a last resort they become defensively aggressive and may attack the offending dog.

If you see a dog displaying these signs and your dog is engaging with them.. immediately call your dog to you.. if it is your dog that is showing signs of unhealthy stress..perhaps the dog park is not the best place for you to bring your fearful/shy dog.

I will leave you with a few of my top tips for having a safe and fun-filled romp in the dog park..

1. Before you consider heading out to an off leash park..make sure you have a solid and reliable recall with your dog..if you don’t,.. then the dog park is not going to be a safe place for you or your dog.

2. The idea that dogs should work things out among themselves is a recipe for disaster.. and for this reason you should always be watching your dog and know where they are and what they are doing at all times, leave your cell phone, i-pads and pods in the car..

and finally..

If you do have a solid recall with your dog ..be sure to not sabotage it by calling your dog to come and then clipping the leash on them and going home..your dog will see this as punishment and your reliable recall will suffer.. if you call your dog to come to you often during play,,have them sit..and give them a tasty reward.. then release them to go and play.. you will ensure your dog will always want to come to you when you call ..not matter what they are doing at the time..

Remember ..a dog will not just snap and attack another dog..there are many subtle signs and warnings a dog will give before they resort to defensive aggression.. so observe not only your dog,.. but all the dogs at the park..so you can recognize these signs and get out ahead of any problems at the park.

All the best

Harley

022
Many people think the best way to communicate with their dogs is to bark out commands..

Come!,

Sit!..ect..

They have a harsh Alpha mentality that is based in myth..

My understanding of dogs is rooted in the fact that they are predators.. and as such are in conflict with us at times..

Because we too are predators.. so quite often they resist our efforts to communicate with them..

I have found that when we stop talking and use body language to communicate with our dogs,.. we can take advantage of this predator/ prey dynamic,..

For example, if you want your dog to come to you it is better to crouch down and move away from your dog as you call them to come.. and in doing so you become more like prey to your dog and therefore they will be more attracted to you and come without reservation..

In contrast, if you stand tall and move forward as you call them to come in a demanding tone of voice,.. in their eyes you are now more predator and chances are they will resist you and move away..

When I work with my dogs there are times that I want to be the predator, for example when I want my dog to move away from the trash can.. I am the predator.. and times when I want to be the prey..like when I want them to follow me onto a slippery surface..

Try this with your dog and let me know how it goes.. and if you have questions let me know.

Harley

11248156_826294950759251_7636655337472935208_n
Some one asked me yesterday, what is the best way to train your dog to come when called..so I thought I would share that with you today.

The easiest way I know of is to play hide and seek with your new puppy or dog.

There are many benefits to this method..

It engages your dogs prey drive and enhances your dogs attraction to you and other family members..which is important if you want your dog to come when called no matter what is going on to distract them..

It will help make you the most attractive thing in your dogs world..

Dogs love this game because they get to do what dogs love to do most..hunt, and in this game they will be hunting you.

This is the way I play this game with my dogs..

Now you can play inside or out.. I prefer outside if possible because dogs come alive outside.. and it helps to keep the inside of your home as a place for rest and relaxation..outside is where the action and high energy activities are done.

Find a spot on a trail where there are bushes to hide in..

have your dog on a long line ..approx 50 feet would suffice..

Have one of your kids or a friend take a tasty treat like a hot dog and while you hold the dog your kid or friend lets the dogs smell the treat and then run off down the trail..skipping running and calling with kissy sounds..

Then they jump off the trail at some point and hide.. don’t make it too hard at first..

Then they call the dog to come.. say the dog’s name loudly and call.. “Rover..Come!”.. then be quiet and still..

You then release the dog and he will take off down the trail..he will find the person..so don’t worry about that..when he does..give him the treat maybe two..and..praise him.. maybe tug a bit on a tug toy..but let him win..that is important when playing tug of war with your dog..

Repeat this game as much as possible over the next few weeks..and in no time your dog will come reliably when he hears his name ..

You will want to fade out the food rewards and replace them with your praise, or a good game of tug. Don’t forget to do this ..you don’t want your dog to become reliant on food.

If by chance your dog gets lost finding you..call his name again loudly he will soon sniff you out..

The person holding the leash should not get involved.. just follow the dog and keep the long line in reach so you can grab it if necessary..

End the game when your dog still wants to play..this will build enthusiasm for the next time he plays.. playing this game really gets to the core of your dogs nature..his prey drive.. now go have some fun with your dog.

If you have questions or just want to chat be sure to get in touch with me.. I would love hearing from you..

Harley

two dogs meeting for the first time
I have been asked to talk a bit about the best way to introduce two dogs without having conflict..

Having rescued many dogs over the years this is how I manage those first meetings and begin to foster relaxation in times of great emotional intensity.. it would be the same if someone were to come visit with a dog that has no history with mine..

I always take the dogs on at least a 30 minute walk..

with both dogs on leash and someone walking the new dog..

but I don’t walk them side by side..

I walk them in single file..that way there is less stress about being close to a strange dog..

By being in single file the trailing dog gets to sniff the behind of the front dog.. to check him out..which is what dogs do right?

Then at some point I switch and let the front dog trail behind and sniff the others butt.. I would do this several times during the walk..

What is most important here is to keep moving.. if you stop and stand still too much.. tension and stress can trigger aggression…

If one dog pees or poops let the other dog check it out..

Dogs who get the opportunity to do this are more likely to want to sync up and continue walking forward.. which is what they would do in a hunting situation.. once each dog has had opportunities to check the other out.. then I would move both dogs to a side by side position.. not next to one another..not yet..

I would place myself between the dogs.. but side by side moving in the same direction..sometimes one dog will play bow and you might be tempted to let them go play..

I think it is too soon …and you will be running the risk of something going wrong..

Also I don’t try to correct barking or other behaviors.. because the dog is just communicating his feelings about being highly charged in the presence of this new dog..they are just letting off steam so to speak..

Remember to keep moving..two dogs that are standing still and face to face will have a hard time dealing with the intensity of the situation..my job is to help the dogs stay calm and moving..

Playing is not so important as being able to exist in each others company without conflict.. when you get home ..they should be relaxed and able to handle being inside together.. remember to keep the dogs relaxed and calm when inside.

Thanks for reading my post..and like always if you have any questions just let me know.. Happy New Year !

Harley