Posts will be brought to you by Maxine Revoir (left) and Bethany Wilson (right) Hopefully you will find them to be a combination of entertaining, heartfelt and filled with valuable information that we will put our time and energy into providing.
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The INCREDIBLE abilities of a dog's NOSE and some insight into why your pup's nose may drag you around town!
I have always been fascinated by a mammal’s senses from an orca whale to an elephant and a dog’s nose is an amazing thing worth examining. Unlike our noses, a dog really knows how to tap into their abilities and utilize them. We’ve been able to really hone in on that natural ability to accomplish some incredible things with dogs! This should also give you a great amount of insight to why certain things might be surprisingly difficult when training your dog. For instance keeping your dog from marking their territory over another smell, or calling them to you off of a strong prey smell.
I get a little picture crazy on this blog so bare with me and enjoy all the cute noses!
Puppy Training Time!
You got a new puppy over the holidays, you're headed back to work and now struggling?
Here are some specific steps to help!
Puppies need confidence, structure and repetition of obedience commands to have that balance of fun mixed with setting them up to succeed.
Let’s tackle obedience commands first and things you can do to build a bond with your puppy.
By puppies, I am referring to dogs less than 20 weeks old.
The Deep Connection
How to matter to your dog... be relevant... find that deep connection with dogs we see and hear about in the movies and books. So many owners feel that their dog, even if they behave well, don't ever listen!!
Let me try NOT to get into the weeds by talking about initial genetics of a dog, certain behavioral limitations and just give some awesome foundational generalizations you can use with your pooch at home.
I'll start with human examples and then relate it to dogs. I know, I know, we shouldn't humanize dogs, which is incredibly TRUE, but in some ways we should (breaking the rules!)
Yard Laziness Syndrome
What is it, how to prevent it and how I still fall short of my goals, but what I have learned has allowed me to be able to see certain things with my dogs that really help guide what they need from me. This is not just for dogs that need serious training...even your sweet family dog could suffer from this.
When you have a yard it is easy to fall into the trap of letting your dog run outside when they want, sneak in chasing a squirrel, barking the neighbor dog, etc. with no instruction.
You take more liberties by not walking your dog for constructive exercise because you are tired or have other things you need to do so you give your dog a bone, ‘free-time’ in the yard, encourage zoomies (running fun and frantic circles around the yard) or just play extra fetch.
You can’t hide it...from your dog.
You think you are hiding it from your friends, colleagues, even family, but you aren’t from your dog.
You aren’t first challenged by your work, family or obligations. Your first challenge is how you treat yourself and how you talk to yourself and then handle yourself in those work, family and other obligations. In a world with big obligations, big goals, big expectations and a fast paced lifestyle, many of us feel we are falling short or drowning in this sea of expectations and potential.
A BIG reason behind that is because of how we talk to ourselves. It is causing a great deal of depression in our society that manifests in many ways.
The Future of Rescue looks bright!
The potential new wave of adopting dogs from rescues with training is upon us! Let me clarify training. I don’t just mean sit, down, stay, place and come (although very valuable). Most of the dogs that I work with know all of their basic obedience, just not when it matters. They don’t know what sit means when that neighborhood dog walks by and barks or when a squirrel taunts them from a tree. That stay goes out the window in a hurry when company comes or the mail carrier rings the doorbell to have you sign for a package.
Are you sheltering your dog?
I was recently reading an article in psychology today on over-parenting. That can be a hot button issue in and of itself, but stay with me here. The woman used several examples of kids being sheltered and things done for them, resulting in them being resentful or spoiled to the point they cannot take care of themselves or cope with the most basic of challenges in life. You are probably wondering what this has to do with dogs…quite a bit actually.
As a dog trainer and educator, I am seeing this trend in dogs more and more. Owners with good intentions want their dog to just be ‘happy’. As a result, anything that makes their dog uncomfortable, seemingly sad or stressed is avoided as much as possible.
Training Shelter and Rescue dogs
Boy could I go in a million different directions, but let’s start with something simple. Who am I? Well, my name is Bethany and I started training dogs in basic obedience when I was very little in 4-H and for dog shows. This definitely did not prepare me to work with behavioral issues or dogs from ‘the system’ as I like to call it. When I moved out at 19 I headed to the big city and got a difficult pup of my own. That truly was my first introduction to animal shelters and rescue dogs.
I know it’s hard to imagine, but there was no social media or smart phones. Just me, growing up on a farm and playing ‘Oregon trail’ on the computer. I never knew anything about them and now I’m surrounded by people that need my help with dogs with “difficult pasts”. I wasn’t ready and started to do some serious research, studying with other trainers, books and eventually the world wide web became everyone’s go-to. I became very skilled using different methods and approaches to different dogs and issues. Over the years I realized something incredible. People who raise dogs from puppies have the same issues as the shelter dogs with “difficult pasts”. How can that be? All of these abandoned animals are much more difficult and require more love to feel like they fit in, right?
Creating Calmer Dogs
You get what you pet…
Reward calm behavior…
Reward the mindset you want with praise in the form of food or pets.
These are things we say often, including myself, and they are true and important, but what can get lost is the context of affection when training. For the dogs we see with behavioral issues, they need less affection in general, especially when their dog is calm.
Haven’t we all heard that you should only reward a calm dog if a calm dog is what you want? That alone is difficult for most owners, but it isn’t even the whole truth and if taken literally without context, it can actually make things much worse.
Reflection: The Good and the Bad
When is it a good time to reflect on things?
Your past decisions, your current job, the life you have made with your kids and spouse, down to the history you and your dog have together. I don’t reflect a lot. I find that my friends and family do enough of that for me and honestly I’m too busy. For me reflection happens in two ways…an unhealthy way and a healthy way.
Correcting a Dog
Today, I wanted to discuss with you guys the different types of corrections that all trainers use. I know, this can be a little controversial. Yes, ALL trainers use corrections, even the positive-only trainers. The nice thing about being a balanced trainer is that you can say both yes and no to your dog, depending on whether we choose to encourage or discourage a behavior. Keep in mind, that to your dog, if you don’t say no, that’s an automatic yes. The true art of dog leadership is pretty subtle, to the point where the dog and most people don’t even realize it. Maybe the first few times your dog has come and nudged your hand, you obliged him by giving him lots of pets an ear scratches, inadvertently rewarding the behavior while you were otherwise distracted while watching tv. Soon, you have a dog that is annoying you with how persistent they are about getting you to pet them or pay attention to them! Can’t you just watch your TV show without being pestered?! Yes, even I have felt this way, even with my own cats! I mean...just look at this loveable black mass sprawled out on my lap! We’ve had to set up some serious boundaries when it comes to lap time. So let’s get started here, and dive right into the thick of it.
Leash Aggression: Understand it and start to get control
Today I wanted to address an issue that we hear about a lot here at Ruff Beginnings Rehab; Leash Reactivity. Several clients have talked about how their dogs are fabulous with other dogs off-leash, such as at the dog park, but on-leash the behavior leaves much to be desired. From simple issues like pulling and barking, to what may seem like full-on leash aggression. There are quick ways to work with your dog on this, based on the tools used and your comfort level as the owner of your pooch. But first, let’s take a look at what Leash Reactivity is in the mind of your dog.