July 14, 2012
If your dog is behaving nervously or fearful of noise caused by fireworks, lightning (thunder), or other?. OR some object, person or event is causing your dog to be frightened or frustrated? there are a few things you must do, or stop doing, to help cure them of their condition.
1. First, don’t ever pet or try to “comfort” them when they are nervous or showing fear. In a “dogs world” there is no such thing as comforting. Comforting only makes their phobia or fear stronger. When you pat a dog, you’re reinforcing “more” what they’re feelings, vs., giving treats (during training) reinforces more of their actions. Although you don’t “comfort” them, you wouldn’t walk away or ignore them either. Read on…
2. Use desensitization techniques, by exposing them to the negative noise, person or object in very small increments, i.e. the noise should be barely audible, and object should be far away. To help control noise, find pre-recorded noises i.e., thunder, fireworks on the Internet or YouTube. For objects, positioning yourself just outside of your dogs threshold, where there is little or no reaction to what triggers the fear.
3. Redirect (distract) “their thoughts” at the first sign of the problem, to something challenging and Fun, like playing with a ball, practising obedience or any other game they like to play. If you are having trouble getting them to focus on you, maybe the noise or thing is too loud (close)?. The objective is to have your dog concentrate or focus on what you’re doing and not on what they’re afraid of. As your dog becomes less reactive (desensitized) to the noise, the noise can becomes louder or thing can be closer to you.
4. Use what I call, “redirection tease play” or just “tease play”, mimicking what another dog would do during play, this will naturally redirect and relax them, because they recognize what you’re doing as “play” and not “praise” or reinforcement of their feeling (emotions). Here is a link to my “redirection tease play” blog. Redirection tease play
5. Obedience Training is an “indirect” but effective way to help cure phobias and other behavioral problems. Your dog should understand at least 5 basic and 3 advanced commands. Your dog should be able to execute these commands in and around distractions from at least 5 feet from you. (When done correctly) obedience training greatly builds their confidence, builds a better -trusting- relationship, and helps to accelerate their understanding to all the things you’re trying to teach. Having your dog execute behaviors at the first sign of fear, along with the other things mentioned will greatly reduce or eliminate the phobia.
Another great article on Phobias, fears and anxieties in dogs… DOUGLAS ISLAND VETERINARY SCHOOL
Do you have a dog with a noise phobia? Let me know what you think of this post in the comment form below. THANKS
January 3, 2012
Your dog may look like they’re having fun, but after just a few times exposed to this game, they can develop an obsessive-compulsive disorder with lifelong consequences. You don’t want your dog in every waking moment, staring constantly at the ground or wall, drooling and waiting for some flicker of light, reflection or shadow to appear. I’ve seen dogs like this and it’s very sad.
Some dogs are more susceptible to develop this disorder than others, but I wouldn’t want to test my dog to find out. Dogs need to periodically ”get paid” when they chase things, physically touching something with their body or mouth. If they don’t, they can become hypersensitive or obsessed over it. There is no physical touch to light, along with a dogs natural prey drive to chase moving things, this is why this game is so damaging. Having the light come across some food treats is not a good idea either because you’re still encouraging them to chase the light, which can turn into an obsession.
If you have a dog with this serious problem, they can be cured of it, consult a Dog-Friendly dog trainer, who uses reward/science based methods.
December 4, 2011
Chewing is a normal dog behavior, and as you’ll see from this list, chewing is driven by many things. It’s important to understand why your dog chews. You may or may not know, you have a huge influence of what a dog chews on and how long the chewing lasts. You can keep destructive chewing to a minimum with proper exercise, training and redirection techniques.
1. Testing: What else are the items around your home for anyway? it’s a table to you, but to your dog, it’s wood. Throughout your dog’s life they may test items by chewing them to see if something good comes of it.
2. Teething: Around 2 months old when their milk (puppy) teeth are coming in, and between 4-6 months (start of the destructive stage) as the milk teeth fall out and are replaced by the adult teeth. Puppies must instinctively chew to help their teeth go through this process. It also helps relieve tenderness of the teeth and gums.
3. Keeps gums & teeth, clean & strong: Humans brush, dogs chew.
4. Responsibility: As your puppy goes through the teenage months, approximately 6 months to a year, they must chew because instinct tell them they may need to go hunt for food, protect family members or themselves.
5. Exercises jaw muscles: We go to the gym, dogs chew. Around 7-8 months old is the height of the “destructive stage” for chewing. Chewing can last for months, even years, if modification or redirection techniques aren’t used.
6. Anxiety, tension or comfort: Chewing helps relieve a dog of tension or anxiety. Some dogs carry items in their mouth to help comfort them.
7. Boredom: A lonely or bored dog will be more destructive and chew for longer periods of time.
8. Practice: Instinct tells them to practice. OR practice with you; if you get them fixated on their toys using play or praise, this will increase the chewing on the items you want them to chew
9. Smells good, tastes good, feels good, or they may just be hungry and want to chew on something.
10. An obsession: Dogs can develop obsessive chewing disorders .
If you wanted to add something, leave a comment below.
July 7, 2011
Top Ten regrets for dog owners. There are certain behaviors or tricks that you think are cute, and you’d like your puppy to do, but once you allow your puppy to do that behaviour, you may soon have regrets.
12. Teaching / encouraging your dog to be ball crazy.Yes I know it’s important for dogs to have toys to play with; toys satisfy the many needs dogs have. The problem is, if there is too much ball playing, these ball-obsessed dogs start to develop poor social skills with other dogs – becoming anti-social, even aggressive if another dog gets near their toy or ball. Not to mention the lack of control you’ll have when all they want is the ball. —It’s a lose-lose situation for many dogs, especially the breeds that are practically born with a ball in their mouth, meaning it takes no effort -on your part- to teach them to bring back whatever it is you throw. So while you’re throwing the ball over and over, these dogs are missing out on proper dog-to-dog interaction and are most susceptible of becoming anti-social. —If from an early age your dog shows a natural desire to chase balls, this is not what you should do all the time, you should spend most of your time encouraging them to play with other dogs; you (and your dog) will be much happier you did.
1. Teaching a puppy to shake paws at an early age. This is a VERY simple behavior to teach, but once you start encouraging the behavior, it will be difficult to stop. When the puppy is 8 – 10 months (or older) – is a better time to teach this. The rule is, if you don’t ask for their paw, you should never take hold of it. If you do, be prepared to get your leg, arm or even face scratched. I’m never impressed if a dog gives their paw; but I am impressed if they don’t.
2. Jumping on you….Same thing here, easy to teach- hard to stop once it’s ingrained. If you have a new puppy, teach them “Sit” for attention, or turn them sideways or face them away from you before picking them up. As they get older, you can teach them when they can jump, and who or what they can jump on.
3. Giving your dog food from the dinner table, or giving too many treats without asking them to do something for you. If you give a dog food from the dining table, your dog will start expecting food from you or others at the table. Ask your dog to respond to a command before giving them treats, and try to make it challenging, a “sit” near the kitchen area, is nothing to be impressed by (sorry), try it when a guest comes by or another dog walks by, now I’m impressed. It’s also a good idea not to give strange dogs food without the dog owners permission.
4. Allowing a dog to sleep with you in bed. Yes, dogs are highly social creatures, but the reality is you’re not always going to be available 24/7 as your dog would like. Letting them sleep in bed in the first year of their life is a false sense of attachment, this can lead to separation, control or aggressive issues. They should have their own sleeping spot, preferably next to your bed. When they’re older puppies, You can give them permission to jump up for cuddles. Don’t forget to teach them to jump “Off” the bed.
5. Allowing or encouraging the dog to bark. Dogs are little warning machines, they love to alert you when something is outside. As your dog goes from puppy to adult, that natural instinct to warn you of intruders increases. It’s advisable to teach the command “quiet” from the start using redirection techniques. In some cases teaching a dog to “bark” (or speak) on command also teaches them not to bark. I would consult a professional for this one. Fact: dogs actually thinks they’re the ones that caused the postman to go away?
6. Letting a puppy lick your face excessively. Kinda like giving you their paw… It might be cute but if you encourage it -too much- it can become an obsession problem. Your puppy will want to lick every hand and face of every person you know, and every person you don’t know.
7. Letting a puppy play with your old clothing or other household items. Your dog can’t distinguish between old and new, your child’s stuffed animal, kitchen utensils, old shoes or slippers etc. To be clear to your puppy, they should only have “dog toys” to play with.
8. Just before a walk, getting your dog all excited and saying, “You wanna go for a walk?” Over-time your dog will become too excited and hard to control. Doing this can also cause other behavioral issues.
9. Allowing them to jump in the pool without being asked. It is important to teach a dog where the steps are, so if they fall or jump in, they’ll know how to get out. It’s always a good idea to teach good pool side manners from the start.
10. Teasing them with a lazer pointer, flashlight or garden hose; read my story Warning About Laser Pointers. I also don’t recommend using the garden hose as a spray gamey toy, this can turn into a obsessive problem and can lead to sprinkler destroying.
11. Letting them pull you towards other dogs: Yes you need to socialize them with other dogs at a young age, but if you allow them to pull you towards dogs while on lead, you’re just teaching them to pull you!. There is a proper leash walking and dog greeting formula to follow.
If this blog has been helpful to you? please let me know, in the COMMENT form below
September 15, 2010
My job brings me up close and personal with many different dogs, and some very aggressive ones. You might think I would occasionally get bit, right? Well, I really don’t. In the past 30-years, my clients dogs have only claimed two, what I call, small bites and a few nips that have barely broken the skin. Even when I trained police dogs, I never got bit. There are a few reasons I don’t get bit, one is I don’t like getting bit (imagine that); I’m able to read a dogs intention’s; I do the obvious thing and avoid putting a dog into an aggressive state, and besides I thought the name of the game was not to get bit, if I did get bit -a lot- wouldn’t I be in the wrong profession?
A few trainers like seeing the dog being aggressive, or they deliberately put the dog into an aggressive state. Maybe they do this because they think seeing the behavior will change the advice they give, or maybe they do it because it makes for good television? Well, I got news for them, in the majority of aggressive cases, they don’t need to see the aggression. Just a few questions to the owner will usually tell a behaviorist what classification of aggression it is. There are several: fear, redirected, resource, territorial, dog, barrier, restrictive, dominance and a few others.
I’ll believe an owner when they tell me their dog has bitten a couple of people, I don’t need them to show me, but some dog owners must think that’s what I want to see. I recall one client, who let their 95-pound German Shepherd in from the backyard, before I could yell, “Don’t let the dog in!” actually I did yell to the owner- but she couldn’t hear me over her dog charging, growling at full speed down the hardwood floor hallway, the dog then lunged up at me with an open mouth. So, I stuck my note binder (which I always carry) into the dogs mouth and luckily the owner was able to grab him and put him outside. Thank goodness for my experience being an agitator and catching police dogs on the wrap (arm protection).
I then said to the owner, “Yep, he’s aggressive.”
If I’m going to rehabilitate an aggressive dog, It’s important to have the dog trust me and listen to me. Once I can do that, I can get them to trust and like other people. So after speaking with the owner for about 30 minutes at the dining room table, I asked her to let the dog back in, and this time he didn’t try to bite me, because I changed his perception of who I was. I also didn’t get in his face, which doesn’t seem fair to do anyway. Even though the dog didn’t bite people after that, there is still a trust issue for dogs that have a history of biting. The owners must be very aware of any changes in their dog’s behavior for the rest of it’s life, especially when it gets older and crankier. I can’t blame the German Shepherd coming after me, to him, he was protecting the family from a stranger, although it’s not appropriate for them to behave that way, and behaving that way could get a dog put down. The owner needs to take responsibility, letting her -known- aggressive dog, a German Shepherd inside the house right after a stranger enters (not good). Owners need to educate themselves before getting certain breeds, and make sure the puppy has *specific exposure and socialization to adults, children and and other dogs.
By using my experience, body language and creative thinking, I give dogs less of a reason to bit me. In many cases, dogs won’t display the bad behaviors the owner wants us to see anyway. However, all the proper body language in the world doesn’t translate too well with really aggressive dogs, like the German Shepherd example above, but thankfully the note binder was there to make the translation perfectly clear.
If you have a dog that is showing signs of any type of aggression, it is a good idea to call a dog friendly dog trainer, sooner than later.
*Specific exposure and socialization to adults, children and other dogs; With certain breeds, dogs with certain behavioral traits or dogs that are showing signs of fears or phobias. Proper socialization is not just letting people pet your dog or taking the dog to the dog park. These things can actually be counter productive or create other problems. You don’t want to wait till you see the aggression to take action. You need to follow a detailed “Early Socialization Formula”, If you want to avoid hearing me or other trainers say, “Yep, he’s aggressive.”
July 10, 2010
Step one: without turning on the engine place the puppy in the car for a few seconds, then place them on the ground for a few seconds. Repeat this – extending the time they are in the car but keep the time on the ground the same. Once you’re having them in the car for more than 20 seconds, start using the tease play method ( http://www.malibudogtraining.com/2009/12/26/redirection-tease-play/ ) only when the puppy is in the car. The puppy will experience with you, fun, treats and play in the car and Boring! when they’re on the ground. Practice this step for 1-3 minute sessions, 2-3 times a day, for 1-2 days. Puppies adapt quickly but it’s still a good thing to be patient. (click on link to learn more about redirection tease play method, then watch the video on my YouTube channel)
NOTE: Inside the car, never praise or pat them in a nurturing, “oh everything is alright, don’t be scared” kinda way.
Step 2: When you notice the dog is getting more comfortable in the car, you can tell by how much they play with the toy you’re using, and/or the treats you’re having them earn, then start the engine and continue the tease play and going in and out of the car a few times.
Step 3: Once you notice your puppy playing and listening to get treats, drive the car just a few meters while continuing the tease play method. Continue to increase the time they’re in the car, but still stop the car to put the dog on the ground (for a short time). BABY STEPS
Step 4: Go on short car rides, having the dog ride in another seat and not on your lap. do these short trip as often as possible. If you ever have problems always go back to the level the puppy wasn’t getting sick and practice at that level a few times
April 18, 2010
Tug of war, now just called Tug or the tug game is one of those misinterpreted dog/human games that doesn’t get experienced by many dogs because of the aggressive perception of the game. Many animal professionals tell you not to play tug of war because it’s just easier to tell you not to play, rather than teaching you how to teach your dog to play right. Plus they still believe in the “old theories” of dog behavior, the theories about you must be pack leader , always being the dominant one. Under those “Pack” rules, you are in competition with your dog for everything and you must not allow them to “win” because they will think you’re weak, and then assume the position of “Pack leader”.
These teachings couldn’t be farther from the truth.
It’s probably one of the best games you can play with a dog. Your dog is your team-mate and not your competitor, you are working together for a common goal. Your dog instinctively knows to practice as much as possible play fighting and tugging on things, so that when the real thing happens, like taking down prey, they’re prepared. We go to the gym- dogs play fight. When tugging on the same piece of meat from a killed prey, they are tugging to tear the meat apart, so they both can swallow smaller pieces, and not so much a battle of who gets the food or biggest piece. Dogs see it as both of you against the toy and not against each other. Talk about lost in translation; they must really be confused when they’re corrected (or deprived) of things, when they are really just trying to play, practice and work together.
Benefits of tug games:
1. Helps satisfy their predatory needs i.e. seek, chase grab, tear etc.
2. It re-directs their biting behavior from your body and clothes to the tug toy.
3. Helps you build better communication skills with them.
4. Excellent energy outlet for them both mentally and physically.
5. Another great way to spend quality training and play time with them.
6. Gives you another reward source when they perform tasks.
7. Helps keep their teeth and gums in good health.
However, every game has a set of rules that must be followed, not because of dominance- but because you don’t want a dog making the rules. During my lessons, I teach people how to teach their dog to properly and safely play tug games, even if their dog doesn’t show an interest in toys. If you play the tug game properly, you’ll keep them from getting the wrong idea and developing control/ behavioral problems.
In their world it’s perfectly natural and FUN for them to jump on each other, bite, even pull the skin from each others body, etc. They also would play many more hours in the day, if they could. These things are unrealistic for us, so if they want to play this game, they must follow our rules:
1) First, teach your dog to do some basic commands, sit, stay, down etc. Obedience training is the best doorway of communication to every activity you do with your dog.
2) Make sure your dog has a really good fetch, bringing their toys consistently back to you.
3) Ask them to get the toy or have them do a task to earn it.
4) Teach them they must wait until their toy is dropped, tossed or presented to them.
5) Correctly teach a “release” command, such as: “Out”,” Give”, “Drop” “Ta” etc.
6) The consequences for unacceptable behavior, i.e. jumping at you, biting you, not releasing when asked, is the game stops, or they are given a “time out”.
7) It’s ok for them to “win” sometimes, just remember you’re in control how the game is played. Try to start and end the game when you want. Not because we want our dogs knowing who’s “Top Dog” , we just don’t want to get hurt by their sharp teeth and we don’t want them waking us up at 3 in the morning wanting to play.
It bothers me that trainers, even today equate everything a dog does as dominance or submissive reason, when it’s really just a dog that was never taught the “rules” or an owner who doesn’t know how to teach them.
Where the tug game gets negative attention is if the dog has the toy and the owner tries to take it, and the dog growls or snaps. That behavior wasn’t or isn’t caused by tug games, it’s caused by the predatory nature of dogs to guard precious resources aka: “Resource Guarding” or ”Possession Aggression”. These dogs value the item too much once they get it and they want to keep it for themselves. Somewhere in the past, the owners encouraged or allowed this bad behavior to go on without modifying it. Don’t worry, the problem can be fixed with the right knowledge, just call your local dog friendly trainer, or visit my “Programs Available” page to find out how I can help you.
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December 26, 2009
…is one of the techniques I’ve developed, to help rehabilitate dogs with confidence problems and other noise, dog or people phobias. This method allows me to directly interact with them in a language they understand, at the same time, desensitize them from their fears. In the dog world, there is no such thing as comforting, it actually…
If you would like the rest of the blog, along with a link to a video showing you how to use “Redirection Tease Play” on your dog. Use the comment form below and tell me a little about your dog and their behavior situation.
November 28, 2009
Emotional “Hello’s and Goodbye’s” are when you greet your dog or say goodbye to your dog in an excited way.
If you have a new puppy, a dog that jumps on guests, doesn’t listen to you, has behavioral issues, and you believe you’re a true dog person- putting your dogs needs- ahead of your own, you may want to…
If you would like the rest of the blog, use the comment form below and tell me a little about your dog and some of their behavioral issues.
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November 25, 2009
Many years ago, I was contacted by a company to test a new correction collar that didn’t involve a shock but used citronella spray as a correction. I was sent both a bark spray collar and a remote spray collar. I quickly realized these were much better than the shock collars that were being used at that time. People bought shock collars because they thought it was a “quick fix” solution to behavioral and obedience problems, and for many reasons they were more trouble than they were worth. You can read more of my thoughts about shock collars here>: SHOCK COLLARS
Back to my story. I tested the spray collars and thought they were great! The spray doesn’t just directly affect one of a dog’s senses (like the shock does) but four of them, which is why they are more effective than the shock collars. When sprayed, they can see it (it’s a mist) the can feel it (under the chin) they can hear it (pssst!) and they can smell it (citronella). The remote collar set-up worked great for stopping the more difficult behaviors, like digging, chewing, jumping on the other side of the door (to name a few).
There are 3 buttons on the hand-held remote, and when you press the first button, it emits a double beep sound on the collar. The second button emits a short duration of spray (1 second). The third button emits a longer duration of spray (2 seconds).
I thought this is great; you can vary your correction or re-direction by warning them first with the beep sound and because many dogs are sensitive to sound, the beep was the correction, so you didn’t need to spray. If the dog didn’t respond to the beep, the short and longer spray could be used. Those dogs quickly learn the beep was a warning to the more startling spray correction, then after a few beep and spray experiences, the “beep” became the correction. The collars are only part of the behavior modification process, I also incorporated a re-direction reward after the beep or spray marker. I also made sure the dogs had plenty of time to be dogs and get exercised and understand at least five obedience commands, because a tired dog is less likely to display behavioral problems and a smart dog learns not only what to do, but what they’re not supposed to do.
After my evaluation input, the company (Premier Pet Products) wrote in the instruction book to use the beep as a positive sound, letting the dog know that when they hear the beep it’s a good thing. There was also no mention of the redirection follow through reward, which to me is the most important part. When I read that in the instruction manual, I knew the testing from other trainers who gave input was not done properly nor did they read or take my input seriously. Too bad, because many dogs get sprayed when there is no need, and what a waste of the proper use for the beep sound. I haven’t read their instruction booklet in several years, I wonder if changes were made?
Today, I rarely use these collars but it’s nice to have them on hand when I run into the more difficult cases. I can see however, where a few people can benefit from using them, as long as they understand the right way and take all the other steps needed. If you ever purchase a remote spray collar, I don’t recommend using the beep as a reward marker as per instructions. That’s what a “Clicker” or the word “Good” is for.
September 8, 2009
As an animal behaviorist, I understand that there are direct and indirect “causes” of behavioral problems. I also understand that there are direct and indirect “cures” for behavioral problems.
Direct and indirect causes of most behavioral issues:
1. Emotional hello’s and goodbye’s: This one practice by the owner is a direct and indirect cause for many of a dog’s behavioral issues. I’ve posted a teaser blog; If you’d like the whole post, you’ll need to contact me.
2. Having no obedience on your dog: Without you or your dog having the knowledge to execute basic commands or solve problems, you are much more likely to have a dog with behavioral issues.
3. Allowing a young dog to sleep in your bed: This can in-directly cause behavioral issues like excessive chewing, digging, barking, etc. For the first year or 2 puppies or young dogs should have their own sleeping spot next to the bed. If after that, they dont have any behavioral issues, you can let sleep in the bed with you. Or not.
4. Bad timing: With dog training or behavior modification, timing is everything. By having -bad timing- can cause a dog to be confused and develop behavioral issues.
5. Using the wrong training methods or training equipment can indirectly cause behavioral issues.
Direct and indirect cures for behavioral issues:
1. Practicing no emotional hello’s and goodbye’s: Waiting 3-5 minutes before saying “Hi” to your dog is an effective way to help cure your dog’s behavioral issues. Not saying “hi” may sound mean but after you read my blog “Emotional hellos and goodbyes”, you may think differently. I will be posting that one soon.
2. Obedience training: Training has both a direct and indirect effect on curing a dogs behavioral issues. There’s nothing more to say. Every dog should understand at least 5 basic and 3 advanced commands, on and off leash, around distractions, with or without treats. If done correctly obedience training not only teaches a dog what to do, but it also teaches them and helps them learn what not to do.
3. Sometimes doing the above won’t stop a dog’s behavior problem as some dogs need a more direct approach. With any behavioral issue the trick is to anticipate the behavior to happen or to re-create/ set-up the dog to repeat the bad behavior, BUT the trick is to counter-condition the behavior before it happens.
4. Timing is everything when changing a dog’s behavior. If you know how dogs think and learn, if you are quick to “mark” good behavior, ignore unwanted behavior, you can reverse behavior problems.
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August 16, 2009