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dog behavior

Dogs Invading Your Space

Do you have a dog who is constantly invading your space? They seem to be in your way, under your feet, blocking your path, nudging their nose under your hand while you are reading or typing, pressing up against you on your sofa or too close to you while you are on a walk. These dogs are often sweet attention-loving snugglers and it can be hard to discourage the behaviors because you may consider it cute or loving but at the same time it can become annoying.

Despite what you have heard, space invaders are not motivated by dominance. Your dog is not taking your space in a pre-emptive strike to take over your world. Usually dogs are simply seeking your attention, and have discovered the best ways to get it and that involves being in your space.

Although it can be annoying, at times it can be endearing and the dog gets reinforced for it. I am guilty as the next dog owner; I often pet Ziva when she nudges my hand or when Tank squeezes himself as closely to me on my sofa.

Since the behaviors sometimes get reinforced – behavior geeks call this an “intermittent schedule of reinforcement” – it’s really hard to stop them, because your dog knows that sooner or later the behaviors will, indeed, succeed in gaining your attention. When it’s hard to make a behavior go away, behavior geeks call this “resistant to extinction”. So the dog keeps trying until it finally works.

The great news is that you don’t have to make the behaviors go away. Instead, just teach your dog to respond to “incompatible behaviors” on cue – that is, behaviors she/he can’t do at the same time when she or he is hogging space. Your goal is to teach your dog several incompatible behaviors, and you will get along just fine: I can indulge in giving my dog attention when I feel like it, and ask her/him to do something else when I don’t.

Incompatible Behaviors

I have listed several behaviors you can teach your dog when they are invading your space.

  • Back Up: This cue is useful for space-hog dogs who like to park themselves directly in your path. You can “capture” the behavior with clicker training, the use of a lure or toy to entice the dog into backing up. To lure, hold a treat at your dog’s breastbone. As the dog leans or steps backward to follow it, click and treat. Let the dog back up on their own and add “Back” cue. Gradually, reduce the amount of luring, giving the dog time to figure out what you asked for with your cue, until the dog will back up on cue alone.
  • Touch: Teaching your dog to target their nose to your hand is to position your dog without having to physically move them.
  • Off: If the dog is on the furniture and you want them to get off this is a helpful exercise to get your dog to vacate your space.
  • Go to Your rug or dog bed: By teaching your dog a cue that means to go lie down on your bed you can get your dog to move to a specific location.
  • Wait, Stop or Stay: Are other training exercises to can help you with providing space between you and your dog.

When teaching your dog an exercise remember to set the exercise in a pattern, practice every day and be persistent in accomplishing your goals. Make the training fun and rewarding and in no time you will be well on your way to getting your dog to understand that space is good.

If you have a dog who is a space invader and you need help with training please don’t hesitate and contact me at Angel Dogs.

Dogs and Fireworks

The 4th of July is just around the corner and it is a time where dog owners can even loose their beloved pet. Some dogs react severely to firework noise and some could care less. Below I have listed a few suggestions to help a dog owner keep their reactive dog safe during the 4th of July.

  • Bring your dog indoors and make sure they cannot escape out of the house.
  • Crate your dog in the quietest room and check up on them periodically during the evening.
  • Darken the room and provide peaceful music.
  • If needed medicate your dog with the advise of your veterinarian.
  • During the day exercise your dog so they will be tired during the time when fireworks are used.
  • If you do not own a crate leash your dog and keep them with you.
  • Do not leave a dog unattended in a room by themselves they can get destructive and hurt themselves.
  • If you are going to a 4th of July party make sure someone is watching your dog.
  • Provide plenty of water for your dog he or she may pant a lot when stressed.
  • Do not use loud fireworks at your home use ones that do not make noise.

Even the day after the 4th some people will continue to set off fireworks just be aware and continue to provide safety for your dog. Enjoy the 4th of July and Happy Independence Day.

Dog Safety in the Summer Months

Dog safety during the summer is very important for several reasons but mostly your pet can die if in the heat too long. What can you do to insure that your pet is safe during the hottest summer months:

  • Never leave your dog in your car they can die within minutes.
  • Do not walk your dog during the hottest part of the day.
  • If you need to walk your dog keep the walk under 30 minutes and go during very early morning or late at night.
  • Bring water for your dog during the walk.
  • Test the ground if you cannot keep your hand on the sidewalk over 3 seconds than provide dog protective footwear such as dog booties.
  • Wet your dog down before the walk or provide a cool vest.
  • When outside provide plenty of cool fresh water and shade.
  • Keep an eye out on your dog when they go outside you do not want them outside very long especially during the hottest part of the day.
  • Provide a play pool with clean cool water if your dog needs to stay outside.
  • Provide misters and fans on the patio.
  • Some breeds like Pugs or French Bulldogs cannot tolerate heat so let them outside only to go potty.
  • If your dog does get heat stroke place them in room temperature water and immediately call your vet for instructions.
  • If your dog has high energy and needs to exercise consider a treadmill. If unsure how to train on a treadmill give me a call or contact a local trainer.

Hard of Hearing Dogs

I have a dog that went deaf around 8 years of age and now is totally deaf. I found out that Tank was going deaf by his response to noise. For instance, clapping behind him he seemed confused by where the noise was coming from and eventually didn’t respond at all. I took Tank to a specialist and my thoughts were confirmed Tank was at that time 80% deaf. Fortunately, I trained Tank with hand signals and that has been a tremendous help but the biggest issue is having Tank come to me if he was not facing me. That can be scary because if Tank should take off he could not hear things that could hurt him or even end his life. My world changed on how I handle and protect Tank and, now I want to share this information with other owners who are is facing the same issues as I.

In a class I teach students:

  1. How to teach your dog to focus or look at you with a touch and hand signal. Treats are a must in all of these exercises and a training collar. One exercise I like is the look at me game. Practice in a quiet area, have a treat bag attached to you, leash your dog and put the leash on the ground stepping on it so your dog cannot move away, and have the training collar on a low setting. Put the treat under the dog’s nose so they can smell it than quickly move the treat to your nose as the dog looks at you smile and tap your nose. When using the training collar as you put the treat under the dogs nose tap the control button to get the dogs attention, quickly move the treat to your nose so the dog make eye contact. The goal is to teach your dog to look at you whenever you touch their nose.
  2. The benefits of basic obedience and how to teach your dog the meaning of each hand signal. Since, your dog cannot hear they may be slower than the average dog because of visual and smell distractions so rule of thumb is be patient and give your dog extra time to learn the exercises. When teaching your dog a hand signal for instance, sit. Have your dog on leash and in an area that is not visually stimulating. Tab your dog’s nose as your dog looks at you give a clear precise hand signal, give your dog at least 3 seconds to respond to the command. If your dog does not respond there is 2 ways to have them sit either using a treat method of putting the treat very close to the dogs nose and slowly go back between the eyes and ears the dog will follow the treat and sit. The second method is touch put your hand on your dog’s shoulders than slowly go towards their tail area give a little pressure and your dog will sit. Have your dog look at you afterwards and give them a signal for being a good dog.
  3. Learn how to operate a dog training collar that has pulsating nick stimulation. Training collars are very important for how are you going to get your dog’s attention if they are running away and not looking at you. When using a training collar pick out the best for you need one that will operate properly and last for years. Some collars have tracking devices so if you lose your dog you will be able to find them quickly. Teaching a dog to respond with a training device; have plenty of treats, have your dog on leash, tap the control panel and give your dog a treat, repeat several times till your dog looks at you when you tap the control. This may take one day or more be patient. When your dog starts to understand that when they receive a signal from the collar they are to look at you. This is the time when you start to change your body position for instance, stand behind your dog signal them they should turn and look at you immediately give your dog a treat. As the weeks pass put more distance use a long led if you are working outside. By the second month you should be able to go into a different rooms in your home signal your dog and he or she should try to find you. The goal is whenever you signal your dog to come he or she should seek you out.

Dogs and Heat Stroke

On summer days if you are feeling hot your dog may be feeling hotter. Dogs don’t sweat like we do, so they have to rely on panting, which is not as effective at cooling them down. Heat stroke can happen fast and its effects can be devastating for your pet. That’s why prevention is very important.

 Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs:

 Rapid panting, sweaty feet, drooling

  • Excessive grooming
  • Rapid pulse and breathing
  • Redness of the tongue and mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Stumbling, staggering gait
  • Pacing

If your pet is just starting to show sign of distress from the heat, or if you think your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke, take a few step to start the cooling process. Most important, don’t let efforts to help your pet delay you more than a few moments from getting to the vet, as time is critical for animals suffering heat stroke.

What to do if Your Pet Is Suffering From Heat Stroke:

 Move your pet/dog to a cool area

  • Offer lots of water to drink
  • Wet down the skin with cool water
  • Avoid freezing water or ice-these can cause blood vessels to constrict, slowing the cooling process and ice can damage the skin
  • Take your dog to the veterinarian immediately

 

 

Understanding How to Have Harmony with Our Dogs

When working with people and dogs throughout the years I have had heard many times a statement that would always make me wonder why my clients were not achieving the end result that I was able to do with their dog. The statement is, “My dog behaves so much better when you are working him/her.” It started me thinking on how I could communicate to my clients what was the key ingredient that could give them the same results I was achieving. As a dog trainer my goals are many but one of the most important beside a well trained happy dog was an owner who was impressed with my services and time I spent with them. When working with a dog I like to help them mentally, physically and spiritually everyday. Mentally is challenging a dog to learn. I always start with basic obedience: heel, sit, stay, come, and down. I also add in some fun games that helps a dog understand what is needed from them. Challenging a dog mentally makes a smarter and happier animal. If you don’t challenge a dog mentally they can get bored and become destructive for instance, chewing up sprinkler head, digging big holes, tearing up carpet or ruining furniture just to name a few ways a dog can act out. They can become assertive and challenge you or family members by jumping on people, barking, growling, snapping, or even biting someone. When you work your dog in basic obedience and follow through with the commands correctly you will establish a hierarchy with your dog which is one of the key ingredients when living in a dog’s world. Remember we have to enter into their world which means understanding pack mentality. You need to establish a hierarchy in your family and the dogs are under all the humans in the family. Than you have to understand the hierarchy between your dogs if you have more than one. This is one of the key elements in bringing in harmony between humans and dog families.
When working with your dog physically that means challenging their bodies with physical exercise. When choosing an exercise program make sure your dog is physically fit. In today’s world a dog can have joint problems such as hip dysphasia, elbow dysphasia, or heart murmurs, seizures to name a few. Make sure your vet has given your dog a physical before starting any strenuous exercise program. Some exercises you can do with your dog are jogging, walking, swimming, hiking, agility, or fly ball. Also when exercising a puppy make sure it is not an exercise that stresses their joints at such an early age. If you have a high energy dog challenge them physically before you work them mentally. By harnessing their energy level it will help them be calmer when working them mentally.
When working with a dog’s spirit to me that includes loving your dog, feeding them the best of foods, providing clean water, grooming, providing a good home (shelter), and making sure they are in the best of health. It also includes the mental and physical aspect of their lives.
When owning a dog I believe the best way to achieve harmony with your dog is to daily exercise them, mentally challenge them, make sure their health is good and love them for their unique character.
Dogs bring so much enjoyment into our lives make sure their daily life is complete and you will have a companion for life.

The Dogs Early Learning Development

The concept of “critical periods” in the emotional development of the dog is a well documented one. Dogs that are denied human contact until they are over 12 weeks of age seldom make good companions. Somewhere in that time span is the “critical period” during which dogs can be socialized to another species, us. Research into critical periods in the development of the dog’s mind has been carried out since the early 1960’s. In 1961, the magazine Science published the results of the most elaborate and definitive experiment that had been carried out to that date, a report that concluded that socialization in dogs, the ability to learn to live compatibly with dogs and with us ends at 12 weeks of age and that the most critical period was 6 to 8 weeks of age.
Later on, in 1967, Science published again on the subject. The magazine reported Scott and Fuller’s work which showed that pups raised in completed isolation to 7 weeks of age could still recover completely and become socially normal. They also reported that outside contacts as infrequent as twice a week and for only twenty minutes each time were enough to ensure normal development as long as these outside contacts occurred in the critical period between 4 and 12 weeks.
Out of this and other research came the concept of the first critical period, this lasts from birth to 12 weeks of age, in the development of the dog’s mind. It was divided up this way:
1. Neonatal period:                              0 to 2 weeks
2. Transitional period:                        2 to 4 weeks
3. Socialization period :- to dogs        4 to 6 weeks
                                        – to humans   4 to 12 weeks Read More

Canine Safety/A Look at Dog Behavior

In October 2008 a city worker was mauled, and nearly killed by two dogs while he was walking in a neighborhood during his lunch hour. The dogs attacked this man for nearly one hour; he was hospitalized for a month and had several surgeries to repair the damages done to his body.
The City of Phoenix decided to have an educational course to help educate the workers on the streets on canine safety. They never wanted to see another worker go through this horrible experience. I was asked to conduct these seminars, and our goal was to outreach 700 workers in two months.
During this time I began to realize that everyone could benefit from this knowledge because dog attacks are not uncommon and it would empower people to know their options.

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Puppy Basic Obedience Starts at 8 Weeks

You can start training your puppy at 8 weeks of age

The sooner you start training the sooner your puppy will begin to learn good behaviors. Because they are just puppies their attention span is much shorter than the normal 20 minutes allowed for adolescent or adult dogs. The ideal training schedule is to work your puppy on leash for 10 minutes in the a.m. and 10 minutes in the p.m. for at least 5 to7 days a week. During the week the puppy owner can have mini sessions in the house working on other basic obedience skills practicing 5 minutes at a time. During this time the puppy will begin to take on good house manners.
Example: Have your puppy sit before you give him his meal. You can also practice the come command in this manner as well by calling your puppy’s name each time you feed him. Young puppies like your attention and will usually come when called. Creating good habits now will allow obedience training to go much more smoothly later on.

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Seeding Game a Look at Dog Behavior

Often I hear my puppy is chewing up my shoes, my sprinklers, my hands, and my credit cards, etc. How to stop this destruction? One of the golden rules is never leave a puppy unattended when at home and restrain the puppy or dog when you can’t watch him. This way bad behavior won’t be developing when you are not watching your puppy. Crates, kennels, x-pens, and leashes are some of the tools used to restrain a puppy. In the meantime, you can start teaching your puppy through the seeding game which toys are his/hers and which items are not.

How to teach your puppy or dog not to touch something: Read More

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