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.
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December 14, 2009
Nobody wants to face reality or they’re being too politically correct. Quite often I hear people making excuses as to “Why” their child (I mean dog) doesn’t behave or listen to them like they should. I hear things like: They’re too tired, too distracted, not in the mood, I didn’t exercise them enough, etc. When the real reason is, a) They never took the time to teach them b) They don’t know exactly how to teach them or how dogs learn c) They keep doing the wrong things without seeking professional help d) They treat them like a human baby e) They’re afraid of scaring them emotionally by challenging them and their intelligence.
Excuses I hear from dog owners:
They only listen when I have a treat.
They’re a rescue dog; they’ve had a tough life.
They didn’t get their exercise today.
I guess they don’t feel like it.
They must smell something
My dog is too young or too old (set in their ways)
He’s mad at me?
He’s trying to be Pack Leader or dominating me? This is my favorite, from the perspective of an animal behaviorist, this is equivalent to: Say you’re helping your child study for a test and you ask your child a question and they don’t know the answer; they must be dominating you.
Do I hear more excuses down here in Australia vs. in the States? Well, I’ve only been here a year and I do hear excuses but in the States is where I’ve heard most of them. This blog was kind of directed at the people of Australia because almost all dogs in this area are being walked on harnesses and of course pulling the owners everywhere. I believe the owners don’t realize the true potential or intelligence of dogs and just make yet another excuse that dog’s pull on leash because they’re dogs. To me, it’s a waste of a dogs mind, talent and well-being.
November 10, 2009
I’ve posted over 1800 tweets on twitter and have over 5000 followers. The 10 tweets listed below are ones that other people have either responded to or re-tweeted to their followers.
1. NEVER use laser pointers as a chase game for dogs! It may be entertaining 2 U, but it literally drives dogs crazy! Really!..Warning About Laser Pointers
2. If you’re wondering if you should get a dog or not? I say, Don’t Get A Dog ….(DON\’T GET A DOG)
3. You’re saying “goodbye, be a good doggy”, they hear nah nah I’m leaving you all alone, all by… (NO EMOTIONAL HELLO’S)
4. Pointing only gets them to look at your finger, it’s not until they’re trained do they know what your pointing at.
5. Around 5 MILLION dogs and cats (in U.S.) are euthanized each year. Leave breeding 2 professionals. Spay /neuter your pet!
6. Dogs are unaware of the dangers and social expectations within the human world. It’s your job to educate them
7. It’s just a tennis ball to us, to them it’s NIRVANA!
8. Your dog’s mind is a terrible thing to waste, educate, don’t dominate
9. For many years I’ve questioned the veterinarian immunization schedule for dogs because I believe immunizations can…(SHORTNING A DOGS LIFE)
10. Why the pack leader mentality 4 training and living with your dog is out of date and inappropriate. The dog training…(Old vs. New)
A few of my favorites:
Little dogs don’t know they’re little but owners keep trying to convince them they are.
A dogs “G” spot is behind the ears, the chest or tummy and right b 4 the tail on their back.
A dog living in the backyard will only learn things that will keep them there.
Follow me @ MalibuDogTrainr
July 18, 2009
Tip #2 Dogs need to “Learn to earn”. Dog are always being rewarded for their actions anyway, why not reward them for listening, instead of rewarding them for just standing there looking at you, jumping on you, getting all excited and plowing into your leg? You have something a dog wants and needs: treats, toys, praise, exercise etc. You need to teach a dog to “earn it” in order to get it. Have them use their brain to offer you behaviors that get them what they want. i.e. sit, stay, walk,fetch a ball or come on command etc.
Tip #3. Never ask a dog to do something unless you’re going to back it up. If a dog doesn’t listen, you need to follow through, if a dog listens, you need to follow through. If you don’t follow through, a dog will start to ignore you!
Tip #4 Teach Basic Obedience commands. People don’t give this one the credit it deserves. As humans we start out learning the basics, from there we can achieve greatness. Dogs need to understand at least 5 basic commands and 3 advanced ones (shaking paws doesn’t count as one). Don’t be so impressed that your dog sits at a curb, thats really setting the bar low. I’m also not talking about the dog in the kitchen with you holding a treat in front of their nose, luring them into position. I’m talking about control from a distance, around distractions with or without treats. If done correctly obedience training not only teaches them what to do, but also teaches them what not to do.
Tip #5 Don’t use one word that has different meanings. If you want your dog to get off you, don’t say “Down!”, say “off!” if you want your dog to sit, don’t say “Sit Down”, say “sit!” if you want your dog to jump off of the couch, don’t say “Get Down” because they will be very confused if you then want them to “Lay Down”. At first your dog will not learn the position that you are rewarding them for, they’re learning how they got there, so try to think of using a word or words per body movement.
If you have a bad habit of saying “down”, use “Drop” “flat” “Lie” or “banana” for down
Tip #6 Teach a dog to ” Check in”. Dogs are not aware of the dangers in the world and for their own safety you need to teach them to “check in” or wait until you give permission to do the things they want. Things like jumping in or out of the car, running to play with another dog, greeting someone, jumping up on the sofa or on you – all these may sound innocent but there can be dangers associated with them. To condition them to “Check in” you need to teach them a good “STAY” and more importantly, a “Release” command, “OKAY”, “FREE” or “BREAK
Tip # 7 Actions have consequences: Dogs learn by trial and error. When conditioning them, we can help speed things along by giving rewards for behaviors we like and using redirection techniques, or “soft corrections” for behaviors we don’t like. Using only positive consequences doesnt work, I’ve been there done that. Although it can work if you have lots of time, training talent, a border collie (or other smart dogs) or a bait bag glued to your hip, a young puppy or a dog with no bad habits. We wouldn’t have to teach them that their actions also have negative consequences. Like when a child does something wrong and is given a “time-out”, they to learn by trial and error. Yes, dogs are that smart. It’s not a correction using pain but mostly startling them- using touch, sound, smell, even time-outs. The goal is to mark the moment of their actions, both good and bad, so they realize their actions have consequences.
Tip # 8 Hand, body and facial cues are what your dog learns first – before learning the tone of the word or words, then finally learning the word. Only after all that, the words can be said in a different tone, then they can be said with or without any body cues. Think of a deaf person who has specific cue to correspond with a specific meaning. Use specific body gestures when teaching and using in real life examples.
I will be posting new “Think like a trainer” tips, please keep checking back. If you subscribe with just your email, you will be notified when I post something new
July 10, 2009
Some of the more-trainable breeds were tested to determine which breeds might be smarter. The tests judged how quickly they learned obedience commands and how quickly they solved problems. Regardless of who’s #1 a lot of our dogs potential depends on us, the more active we are with them, the more knowledge we have, the more training we do, our dogs will become smarter. So keep reading from blog sites like mine and your dog will be competing for a spot in the top ten. However, don’t get your hopes too high as I think the breed in the #1 spot has nothing to worry about.
10. Australian cattle dog
6. Shetland Sheepdog
4. Golden Retriever
3. German Shepherd
1. Border Collie