Category Archives: Training

Guest Blog: how to resolve K9 separation anxiety!

Image by Cherie Marquez

Anxiety can develop in canines at any age. Separation anxiety can lead to negative and even destructive behaviors and will only worsen with time. So it’s important to address any separation anxiety early whether it’s a puppy or a newly rescued adult dog.

Start with a dedicated space for your dog. It could be:
~ A crate or playpen.
~ A small, confined room in the house.

If you rescued a dog with separation anxiety, it will take some time and patience, but the problem can be solved. Please be patient!!

Never see confinement as a negative thing (your dog will pick up on this energy). Dogs are like wolves and see their “den” (i.e., a confined space) as their “safe place” when introduced slowly and properly.

Never use a crate, or any other space, as “punishment.” A crate also offers you peace of mind when you can’t be there that your dog cannot destroy your home. I have seen some horrible home destruction done by a dog.

Resolving K9 Separation Anxiety: Steps One and Two

Photo by Julissa Helmuth from Pexels

FIRST, put the crate in an area of the house where the dog cannot see you getting ready or leaving the house. You might also want to use a plastic-covered crate, so the dog does not hurt themselves trying to get out.

Slowly introduce and acclimate your dog to their crate over an extended period of time before leaving them on their own for several hours or all day. The more time you spend on this training phase, the better the results will be for your dog.

In the beginning, let your dog explore the crate on his own leaving the door wide open. Once he is comfortable, put him in the crate with a deer antler or empty marrow bone with a little bit of (xylitol-free) peanut butter in the middle to create a happy and pleasurable association for your dog. Your goal is to get your dog’s attention on the bone instead of the fact you’re leaving him alone. Quietly close the door.

SECOND, go outside for 3–5 minutes (and increasingly longer) then come back in and quietly let them out of the crate. DO NOT say anything, just let the dog out, so they realize that they can be comfortable and happy in the crate. Every dog is different so be patient and work on your dog’s timetable and never force them to accept being confined.

Resolving K9 Separation Anxiety: After Training

Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

Remember, dogs are very perceptive and quickly learn our daily routines. So, before you start getting ready to leave, put your dog in their crate (where they cannot see you) to avoid leaving your dog in a very high state of anxiety from knowing you’re leaving. Many owners misinterpret any accidents as being done on purpose; this is not true. With all the pent-up anxiety and fear, your stressed canine can no longer control its bodily functions. It’s just like a person with a nervous stomach, who cannot help but throw up or have a bowel movement.

If you are a stay-at-home parent or work from home, DO NOT have your dog with you at all times. Encourage your dog to be able to be on their own even if you are home. This is a good thing, no need to feel guilty! If you have the chance to leave the house for a little bit, even if it is for 15 minutes, please do, so your dog will get used to you leaving and coming home. When you do leave and come home, do not make a big deal because that will raise your dog’s anxiety.

K9 Separation Anxiety Begins Early!

I’d like to address something that’s been really bothering me lately. It’s also been a very big problem this year especially with all the new COVID puppies. Many breeders are selling puppies too young. There is no reason why puppies should leave their mom and littermates at less than 8 weeks old. They learn so much from their mother and littermates and this is negatively diminished when they are sold too young.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Not only are many breeders selling puppies too young, but then many are put into a crate and travel long distances in an overwhelming airplane cargo area. This causes major crate anxiety and fear from the loud noises and unknown smells. Then, when they finally land, these poor puppies are typically handled by people who are not gentle or even knowledgeable about these impressionable little creatures. Imagine being traumatized like this at less than 2 months old along with the fact that these puppies are usually covered in pee and feces!

Once traumatized, it is very difficult to fix crate anxiety and separation anxiety because these puppies typically pee and defecate from overwhelming anxiety as soon as they are put in a crate. This is because the confinement now represents a bad and even terrifying experience. Even if you switch to a playpen, which gives them more space, it can still cause major anxiety from what they’ve been through. This early trauma causes issues like:
~ Hurting themselves from trying to bite the cage or dig their way out at the bottom.
~ Unwanted and extreme barking, whining and crying.
~ Extreme shyness and fear making even a simple walk impossible once they hear loud noises.
~ Constant attempts to slip out of their collars from their natural response to flee when afraid.

So when is the ideal age to adopt a new puppy? Between 10-13 weeks.

K9 Separation Anxiety: Obedience Training is Priceless

Image by Katrin B. from Pixabay 

Obedience training is so important for creating – and maintaining – routines along with daily peace and balance in your household. It establishes you as your dog’s leader and also helps tire out your dog from the mental stimulation of regular dog training sessions.

The best part is that training does not take long when done daily. Even if you work with your dog for just 10-15 minutes before you leave, that’s perfect! Also, take your dog out before you leave and remember to give them a bone in the crate and quietly walk out without making a big deal!


Remember, A Tired Dog is a Happy Dog!



K9 Separation Anxiety: Severe Cases

For severe separation anxiety cases, a Bootcamp program is the only effective training because the dog is separated from the family and stays at a training facility for several weeks. While the dog is being re-trained, the family is also learning how to change some of their own habits before the dog comes home. Remember, K9 anxiety and separation anxiety does not resolve on their own, so reach out for expert help, as soon as possible, for your dog’s overall happiness and well-being!


Meet Our Guest Blogger: Cherie Marquez

Image by Cherie Marquez

Cherie Marquez is The Dog Mystic and gratefully living her dream!

Cherie’s motto is Happy Dogs = Happy Owners and it’s her mission is to keep dogs in their forever home.

The Dog Mystic instructs dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds, and does not discriminate against any K9 breed. Cherie works on problem-solving, commands, and exercises to strengthen your bond with your dog(s) on the soul level, so they will always be family.

You can learn more about Cherie Marquez here: TheDogMystic.com.


K9 Etiquette in Public: 101


Dog ownership is a popular way of life in the United States. With an estimated 89.7 million dogs owned (as of 2017 according to American Pet Products Association (APPA)), chances are you have seen plenty of dogs out with their owners in public. Some of them are well-behaved and unfortunately, some are not. If you enjoy bringing your pooch to dog-friendly public places and businesses, make sure they earn a good reputation! Below are a few ideas on how to practice good doggie etiquette.

Know Local Regulations 

In many places, keeping your dog on a leash while you’re in public isn’t just good manners – it’s the law. A good leash (including retractable ones) should be long enough to allow your dog some freedom while you walk, but not so much that you lose control. Leashes also help let others know you are in control – many people will become uncomfortable if an unleashed dog is running toward them.

Safety

As you walk your dog, keep safety at the forefront of your mind. Use sidewalks if they are available; if not, always walk on the left side of road, facing traffic. If you are walking around daybreak or dusk, bring a flashlight and/or wear reflective clothing so you stay easily visible. Remember, darkness can fall quickly in the winter months so be prepared. Also make sure your dog is wearing identification tags so you can get him back in case he gets away from you.

Personal Space and Training

Make sure your dog maintains a respectful distance from other people when you are in public. Many people are afraid of dogs and others don’t want to be bothered or licked. It’s also important to realize that not all dogs you meet in public are friendly and letting your dog run up to them can cause negative reactions and possibly even a fight.

A leash is the best way to control your dog’s behavior coupled with training some basic voice commands. The basic commands should include:

  • sit;
  • stay;
  • heel;
  • leave it; and
  • come.

It’s fairly easy to teach these basic commands using your dog’s favorite treats. For example, to train your dog to sit, hold a treat by his nose and slowly raise your hand up, which will cause his head to come up and his bottom to go down. Once he is in a sitting position (and holding it for a few seconds), say “sit” and give him the treat, along with some affection. Repeat until he can do it on command consistently (each dog learns differently, so be patient). You can follow the same basic procedure for other commands as well. If you want some help with training these basic commands, research training methods, attend an obedience class or hire a dog trainer for one-on-one training.

Waste Patrol

This is pretty simple – always scoop your dog’s poop. It’s a good idea to bring extra plastic baggies every time you go out to make sure you have enough. Letting your dog urinate in public is fine, but don’t let them go on anything a human might touch – flower beds, mailboxes, trash cans, etc. Your neighbors will appreciate it if you keep your dog from peeing on their lawns as well.

Be Aware

No matter what happens when you’re out with your dog, be aware of others around you. Know when your dog might do something inappropriate and always be ready to head him off. If you can’t stop him, at least acknowledge the issues and explain that you will take care of the problem. Sometimes, a simple apology or acknowledgement goes a long way toward defusing a potentially difficult situation.

If you are like many dog owners, you want to have your dog out in public with you as much as possible. Remember that good pet etiquette starts with owners (that’s you), so make sure you are committed to keeping your dog’s behavior within the bounds of acceptable social behavior. Follow the tips above and you’ll be able to enjoy years of socialization and fun with your dog.

 


Meet our Guest Blogger:

Jessica Brody is an avid dog lover and passionate advocate for rescue pets. She created OurBestFriends.pet to offer an online place for animal lovers to share their favorite pet photos and stories about their furry pals. Jessica believes dogs are the best creatures on earth and enjoys writing about and sharing photos of dogs (and other pets!) on her website.


 

Fido, I Love You; but STOP Jumping on People!

For a passionate dog lover, there’s nothing better than coming home after a rough day and being greeted by a happy and jumping Fido. This display of unconditional love makes all the woes melt away.

But, what if someone else is coming through your door? Perhaps your young child’s friend? Maybe your boss? Or worse, an elderly person?

Do you really want your dog to jump on people in your home or anywhere else for that matter?

Not everyone loves dogs (I know it’s shocking, but those people do exist!). Even other dog lovers may not appreciate dog paw prints (especially dirty ones) on their clothes or dripping slobber on their face. The truth is that “hugging,” “kissing” or any unwanted jumping is not polite, acceptable dog behavior.

Why Commands May Not Work

FACT: Our dogs want our attention more than (almost) anything else in the world! If they get any reaction when they jump on you – or someone else – they will certainly do it again.

What’s often tough for humans to understand is that our dogs don’t understand any other language but “dog.” So, even when you tell your dog to “get down,” “no jump” or even “you should know better than to jump on people,” your dog simply understands that his behavior got you to notice him … in other words, to pay attention to him! One of the things they want most!

So, even if you’re trying to get the dog to stop jumping by giving him a command such as “off” or “down,” pushing the dog down with your hand(s), or trying to hold the dog back by his collar, he is still getting attention for the behavior. It doesn’t matter to him that the attention is negative; it still counts as attention (much like young kids who will do just about anything to get your attention, positive or negative).

When guests enter your home, you want to show them you are in control of your dog, so you are even more apt to talk, touch or restrain him during these times. Here’s the problem – the more you do this, the more the dog realizes (especially when new people enter) he will get lots of attention for jumping. Score one for Fido (zero for the human).

But you can’t just do nothing right?! So, what should you do?

Patience, Consistency and Calmness are Key

First, practice all training in the privacy of your home where your dog will be less distracted. In the beginning, limit the training to just you and the members of the household. Consistently practice the acceptable behavior with every single person (adults and children), every single time anyone walks in. Remember, it takes 100% consistency for a dog to learn something new, so be patient and stick with it. If you give up, he will quickly go back to his old habits and be even more confused about what you really want.

Second (and this one is a bit harder), as much as you love those “hugs” when you come home, by allowing Fido to continue this behavior with you, he will think it’s acceptable to hug everyone. How does he know that it is acceptable for him to hug you, but not other people? Stay consistent and clear in what you do want from your dog.

It takes time to break a habit (just like for us humans), so remain patient and calm. Getting angry, anxious or annoyed will only confuse your dog and make the training process longer and harder. If you find yourself running out of patience, end the training session on a positive note and try again later.

Begin with this basic exercise each time you (and others) come home. When Fido jumps on you, turn around so that you no longer face him (effectively removing the attention he seeks). He may jump on your back. Stand perfectly still and stay calm. If he comes around to your front, turn around again, so that you face away from him. He may jump on you several times, but if you completely ignore him (no eye contact, touch or talk), he will eventually get bored and try to figure out a new way to get your attention.

At first, your dog may try to get your attention in another negative way, such as by mouthing your hand, barking at you or tugging your pant leg. Remember, ignore these behaviors completely. You are teaching him that these behaviors will no longer get your attention (the thing he wants most).

If you completely ignore him for a few minutes (each dog learns at his own pace; so again, be patient), he will eventually walk away, grab a toy, sit down, or even lie down. THIS is the time to pour on the affection! You want to show him that calm behavior – with all four paws on the ground – will earn him your attention.

At first, he may get so excited by your attention that he may jump up again. As soon as he does, immediately turn your back again to remind him that jumping will not earn him attention. You may go through the process of him jumping or barking again, but eventually he will choose the right behavior again. When he does, be sure to reward him with praise and affection. Repeat this process again and again until he can handle the affection without jumping up for more.

Always end each session on a positive note. Don’t walk away frustrated. Be patient. He has never done this before. What has worked in the past is no longer working for him. You need to be patient and consistent. Give him the chance to succeed. You will be so proud of him (and yourself) when he learns what it is you really want from him!

Now Practice with Someone New

Once Fido has stopped jumping on everyone in your own household, bring in a friend to help.

Inform your friend ahead of time not to talk to him or pay any attention to him if he jumps. Have the guest turn around if Fido jumps. As hard as it will be, you will need to refrain from talking to Fido, pulling him or addressing him at all. He (again) needs to figure out how to properly earn attention on his own. Ok, so jumping doesn’t work with my family, but when I sit down, they give me love. Maybe if I stop jumping on this person and sit down, she will pay attention to me too. 

When Fido gives her the desired behavior, have your friend reward with either verbal praise or enthusiastic petting. Remind her, however, that if he jumps, she will need to repeat the process. Then start inviting more and more people to come over and practice. Soon enough, with practice, consistency and patience, Fido will stop jumping on guests!

The most important part of this exercise is to remember to reward Fido when he is calm with all four paws on the ground. Many people remember to ignore when he jumps, but then they forget to give affection for the desired behavior. This defeats the training purpose. Fido needs to learn what he should do to get attention. Remember, he just wants to please you and get you to pay attention to him. So show him how to politely get your affection and give him those “hugs” when he is on the ground.

Trust me; your bad day will still get better when you come home, especially when you see him so well-behaved and calm!

 


Meet our Guest Blogger:

Shannon Sumner, MA, CPDT, is a dog behaviorist and owner of Polite Paws, LLC in Downingtown, PA. You can find her at www.PolitePawsDogTraining.com and also at www.facebook.com/Polite-Paws-Puppy-and-Dog-Training-LLC-129384990402/.