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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.

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.

Removing Items From Your Dogs Mouth

Removing an item such as a ball, toy or something a dog should not have in their mouth. It is always a good idea to learn to take things out of your dog’s mouth safely. I suggest teaching your puppy or dog this skill as soon as possible it will make life a lot easier on you when you have to remove something from your dog’s mouth. Read More

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Crate Training for Puppies

Puppies bring a lot of joy into our homes and hearts and at the same time they can be a lot of work. When a puppy enters in your life and home it is suggested that a crate is purchased.

You can purchase a crate through many wholesale pet supply stores as well as many retail stores and catalogs. In the correct size crate a puppy should be able to stand up and turn around comfortably. 

You may want to purchase another crate as your dog grows or use something to block the area available to your puppy in the crate should you choose to purchase a large crate from the beginning. The reasons for this will be discussed as we learn about crate training. Read More

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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.

REVIEW: Read More

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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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Puppies Mouthing a Look at Dog Behavior

When a puppy mouths, he is constantly putting his mouth on your hand, your arm, leg or anything that belongs to you, including shoes, socks, clothes, etc.

Reasons Puppies Mouth:

  •  Teething. The first set of teeth comes in 3-4 weeks after birth. Permanent set of teeth start coming in at 6 weeks and this process can last until the dog is 6 months of age. During this time a dog’s mouth can become very sore, inflamed or bled. Mouthing is a way a dog can relieve some of this pain.

Solutions: Read More

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Teaching Your Dog to Come Off Leash

Come Game:

 In home practice with a treat can filled with the best dogs treats and make sure when you shake the can it will make a noise easily heard.

  •  Shake the can and say your dogs name followed with come example “Tank, Come”
  •  The minute your dog starts to acknowledge you and the command start saying, “Good Dog” Read More
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Working with Dogs that Become Distracted

Imagine walking in your neighborhood and it is a beautiful day the wind is blowing slightly. A car goes by the noise distracts you. You walk a little farther, you smell beef barbecuing and it makes your mouth water. You hear children in the distance laughing and calling to one another. All of these noises, smells, sights and touches are distractions. The same is true for our dogs or puppies. They are distracted by smells, sights, sounds or the touch sensations. The reactions are not much different then ours. Dogs may sniff at the different smells. Bark at something they may want to warn you about, or turn to look at something. The only time this may seem to bother us is if they pull us by the leash, bark too loudly, or cause us to become impatient. How do you work with a distraction that may be causing your dog to over react? One of the rules is to go the opposite direction of the distraction but this can ruin your walk if you are constantly going the opposite direction. Here is a list of dog training suggestions we at “Angel Dogs” put together to help you learn how to work with distractions.

How to Diminish Puppy or Dog Distractions: Read More

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