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One of the biggest concerns I hear from my clients is that their puppy or dog jumps on people. It can be scary and embarrassing when guests come over. Depending on the dog’s size, it can be quite painful and dangerous too.

This is a common problem in puppies and adolescent dogs. Dogs are social animals and seek your attention. Since we are taller than they are, jumping is only a natural way for them to get closer to us – similar to the way a toddler wants to be held. An adolescent dog is roughly between 6 months and 18 months of age. The breed and size of the dog also factor into this. Typically, the bigger the dog, the later the stage. It’s important that a dog starts learning manners early. Did you know that you can begin training with your puppy as soon as you bring him home?

If your dog is a “jumper”, you will want to give him an alternate behavior to perform. If you only tell your dog what NOT to do, he won’t know what you DO expect of him. If  he jumps on you, have him “Sit”. Pause to give him a chance to comply. If he doesn’t, tell him again to “Sit”. Continue pausing and giving “Sit” cue. The pause is very important. If you regurgitate, “Sit!Sit!Sit!Sit!” he’s probably not going to do as you ask. All he’ll hear is “Wahwahwahwah”. You may need to use a treat at first so make sure to keep plenty on hand! Try not to push him away since he’ll think you want to play! As soon as he sits, immediately give him a treat or a calm rub and tell him what a good boy he is. One thing to remember is to be calm. If you get excited, chances are your dog will jump up again. If he does, immediately remove your hands, stand up straight and tell him to sit again. Repeat as many times as needed.

The keys to success with this is CONSISTENCY AND PATIENCE. Every member of the family MUST do this EACH and EVERY time your dog jumps up. If you have guests over, ask them to do the same thing. This can take anywhere from a few day to a few weeks before you begin seeing results. The more consistent you are, the quicker it will happen. You’re dog will learn that in order to receive attention, he must sit. Before you know it, you’ll see a huge improvement! Extra tip! This also works for jumping on countertops!

Lately I’ve heard so many frustrated dog parents complain about destructive chewing and digging. I will admit that it is extremely frustrating. I’ve been through it with one of my dogs. When he was younger, he would dig up sprinkler lines and proudly sling it all over the yard. It’s not funny or cute when a sprinkler or piece of furniture is chewed and damaged and holes are dug in your yard. All of this damage really adds up and can get very expensive!

What are the common factors that these destructive behaving dogs have in common?

  1. They are adolescents – the human equivalent of teenagers. Depending on the size of your dog, adolescence can begin as early as 6 months and end as late as 2 years. That’s a long time!
  2. They are working dog breeds or a mix of working dogs. Many dogs are not sufficiently stimulated physically and mentally. This causes a tremendous amount of frustration for the dog. If the dog continues to lack in sufficient stimulation, many undesirable behaviors may manifest. Some of these behaviors include but are not limited to: chewing, continuous barking, tail chasing, digging, excessive licking, and reactivity/aggression due to fear and/or anxiety. A dog simply cannot be left to entertain and teach themselves. Just like a child, we cannot expect dogs to miraculously understand right from wrong nor can we expect them to come to us trained. That is our responsibility.
  3. The dog hasn’t had any training.

 

How can I make the destruction stop?

  1. Keep an eye on your dog. Never leave him unattended. When you catch him chewing, don’t yell at him. Give him a safe chew toy to chew on. Make it one he really likes. By giving him an alternative, you are showing him what is acceptable to chew. You must do this every time and be consistent. ALL household members must cooperate and be consistent as well.
  2. Do a little research and get creative. Although you may not know the breed of your dog, they all have one thing in common – their strong sense of smell. A dog has 220 million or more olfactory receptors (for smell) while a human has only about 5 million. For this reason, nose games are a very good way to satisfy one of their instinctual urges and satisfy their boredom. Easy DIY nose games can be found by doing a Google search.
  3. Train your dog in basic obedience. I always say, “If you don’t train ‘em, don’t blame ‘em.”’ Like I said before, you can’t expect your dog to automatically know what you want just because you say it.  Dogs love to work for you and please you. That’s what they were bred for! By teaching them what you want them to do, you are building communication and a strong bond between the two of you and building your dog’s self-confidence.

Spend time with your dog(s) daily. They deserve your attention just like one of your family members. Respect their needs and try to understand what they are trying to tell you. No dog means to be naughty. They just need guidance and a little of your time.

If you have any questions about Destructive Behavior or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708.

I’ve always been fascinated with dogs doing tricks. I could spend hours watching dog trick videos on YouTube. I finally decided that it would be fun to teach my dogs a few tricks. Little did I know I was in for a delightful surprise.

 

About a year ago, I began teaching Emmett a few tricks. He has always been a very sweet, affectionate dog, but with a huge amount of energy. He gets bored very easily. When I started trick training with him, I saw how excited he would get – not in the sense of a dog out of control with excitement but the “Oh Boy” kind of excitement. His ears would perk up. His focus was on me and nothing else. He was ready to learn some new skills. This was a new side of him I had never seen before. I realized that he really and truly enjoyed learning.

 

Now that we have Ellie (aka Chet – if you’ve never seen The Santa Claus 2, you should). She is literally all over the place. She’s all legs, extremely hyper, but all she wants to do is please. She also has a very bad instinctual jumping behavior. She can jump to eye level in a flash so we are always careful to read her expression in case she gets any crazy ideas.  Because of the luck I had with Emmett, I began teaching Ellie to jump. It wasn’t long before Ellie was jumping over a pole and jumping less without it.

 

So what am I saying? I’m saying that teaching your dog tricks has some great benefits. Here are 5 that I have observed.

1. Mental Stimulation

Your dog needs physical exercise but he also needs mental exercise. When you spend a lot of time at your computer, how do you feel? If you’re like me, I am exhausted. I usually yawn a lot and feel like curling up in my bed. For dogs, mental exercise is also proven to drain excess energy better than physical. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s a substitute for physical exercise but it’s a great supplement.

2. It’s Calming

You will find that your dog is calmer and more settled after a good trick training session. The only way I can describe it is that it’s like when you are so hungry you could eat just about anything. Once you consume a good meal, you are completely content.

3. It Redirects Unwanted Behavior

Just like with Ellie’s excessive jumping, teaching her when to jump curtails jumping at the wrong time. Teaching your dog to bark will help eliminate excessive barking. Teaching them the unwanted behaviors lets them fulfill their instinctual need for the behaviors but teaches them when they are allowed.

4. It Builds Self-Confidence

Dog’s thrive in an environment that has a steady routine and guidance system. Timid dogs gain self-confidence by learning the basic commands and by having a routine. Giving them an extra boost with trick training is a great way to help them grow into a fabulous dog.

5. It Builds the Bond Between a Dog and Their Human

Do you look forward to spending time with your dog? Did you know that having a variety of activities to do with you dog, increases your bond? You learn what your dog likes to do and doesn’t like. Then you choose the activities that you both enjoy and spend time doing them. So many dogs have found great joy in trick training. It is a sport that allows you to spend one on one time with your dog and enjoy the transformation as he grows and learns. You will actually find that your relationship will change over time into one that you never knew could exist.

 

*NOTE:  If your dog is unresponsive to these techniques or you don’t feel comfortable implementing them, contact a trainer who is familiar with behavior modification in dogs. Do NOT attempt to do anything that will jeopardize your safety.


 

If you have any questions about Trick Training or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Columbia County, GA area.

Many years ago when I got one of my dogs, someone suggested using a crate for potty training. I thought that was the most horrendous and cruel thing. Why would I want to confine my dog when he could be with me? He should be able to have the run of the house while I’m gone. I mean, why not?

Several years later I got married and my husband and I decided to get a puppy. We lived in an apartment at the time and we were very concerned with our new pup having accidents in our home while we were away at work. It was then that I did some research and found that crates weren’t that bad if used correctly. I proceeded to crate train our pup and the next two dogs we got after moving into our house. After successfully housebreaking them, we decided to remove their crates to see how they would do while we were away. We were astonished when we arrived home, to find each of them laying in the exact spot that their crates had been. They were perfect little angels. It was almost like they missed their crates!

After that experience I swear by crate training. It is important to first understand that crates should NEVER be used as punishment. They should not be used as a babysitter where your dog stays hours at a time. They should be a safe place that your dog loves to be in. I use crates for 2 main reasons:

2 Reasons for Using Crates

  1. Housebreaking/Potty Training
  2. A safe place if there will be many people in the house or if I’m leaving the house for more than an hour. I never crate for more than 3 hours at a time and usually it’s no more than a couple of hours.

Crate Training

Choosing the correct crate is just as important as the training itself. When selecting a crate, pick one that allows your dog to stand up completely, turn around, and be comfortable. If you are crate training a puppy, you can purchase a crate that has a divider. Use the divider while he is small and as he grows you can remove the divider to make a regular sized crate. If you give him too much room, he will eliminate in the crate if not potty trained.

Start by encouraging your dog to approach the crate. Use his favorite treat or toy and toss it in the crate allowing him to go in on his own. Never force your dog to go in the crate. This will create a negative experience from the beginning and your training will be unsuccessful.

Let him come back out of the crate and toss another treat or toy inside, again allowing him to go in on his own, leaving the door open.

After he has gone and in an out several times, continue tossing a treat or toy inside and begin closing the crate door and opening a little at a time. Allow your dog to come out if he chooses. You want your dog to know that he is free to come out.

As he gets more comfortable, close the door completely. Make sure to have a safe chew toy, some food and water inside of the crate.

Work your way up to longer periods very gradually beginning at 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes and so on. You will be able to tell what your dog can tolerate.

Potty Training

If you are potty training, work your way up to 30 minutes or so crate time, then take your dog outside immediately to eliminate. Give him play time when he comes back in, then have him go back in his crate for another 30 minutes to an hour. Repeat the process reducing the amount of crate time each time. Your goal is to eliminate the crate. The amount of time you leave your dog in the crate and the frequency you take your dog outside will vary depending on his age. For instance, young puppies don’t have complete control over elimination while older ones have more control. For this reason, it is important to have a lot of patience and be very consistent.

NEVER, EVER Punish Your Dog for Having an Accident in the House! I can assure you that your dog DOES NOT potty in the house out of revenge! If your dog is eliminating in the house, there is either a medical or behavioral problem such as anxiety or stress.

As with any training, consistency is the key. It won’t take long before your dog understands that the potty is outside and not in the house.

 

*NOTE:  If your dog is unresponsive to these techniques or you don’t feel comfortable implementing them, contact a trainer who is familiar with behavior modification in dogs. Do NOT attempt to do anything that will jeopardize your safety.


 

If you have any questions about Crate or Potty Training Your Dog or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Columbia County, GA area.

 

A solid foundation for your dog begins with the basics. Knowing Basic Skills has several advantages:

  • Your dog develops good manners through learning basic skills.
  • Your dog must learn the basic skills before learning more complex skills.
  • Basic skills can be used in a multitude of situations.
  • Taking your companion in public places will be more enjoyable.
  • Your trained dog will be happier. So will you.

The “Wait” Skill

Look, Sit, Stay, Come, and Heel are a great start, but there are other skills that I incorporate into training because of their flexibility in multiple situations. For instance, the “Wait” skill is used as a temporary stay. A few of examples of this skill are:

  • “Wait” when opening the car door and before jumping out
  • “Wait” before going outside when you open a door
  • “Wait” when crossing a street to make sure there are no cars coming.

The “Leave It” Skill

I also love the “Leave It” skill. This skill is usually taught with food or a toy first. Once learned, your dog quickly realizes that it means to leave something alone unless you tell her otherwise. Here are some examples:

  • When walking, use “leave it” to cue her to ignore a barking dog or another person.
  • Use “leave it” to keep her away from something harmful like a dead animal, toxic plant, or human food.

The Full List of Basic Skills

Here are the other “basic” skills that I recommend with brief explanations.

  • Look: Looks at you for direction. Gets her attention if distracted.
  • Sit: Sits where told
  • Down:  Lays down where told
  • Wait:  Waits in a spot (sitting, lying or standing) until released – Usually temporary
  • Stay: Waits in a spot (sitting, lying or standing) until released – Usually longer period of time
  • Come: Comes to you when called
  • Off: Get down from a person or object, such as furniture
  • Leave it: Leaves an object alone. This could be food that is harmful, a toy, etc.
  • Heel: Walks nicely beside you with a loose lead.

There are other recommended skills that will make your pup the perfect companion. These are found in the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program and available at Paws for Life, LLC.

If you have any questions about Training Your Dog or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Columbia County, GA area.

Earlier this week, our house was being shown so I had to leave with our pups for a couple of hours. Emmett, my assistant, has always had anxiety when riding in cars. When we first found him as a stray, just getting him in the car was almost impossible. It is obvious to me that someone dumped him from their vehicle. We work with him regularly to help him overcome his fear and anxiety and he has improved dramatically.

As always, I did my “flight of the bubblebee” act, cleaning like a mad woman on the day of the showing. For some reason, this cleaning episode was much more stressful than the others. I could almost feel stress oozing out of my pores. I knew that I had to keep it together around the dogs. Dogs are very good at sensing your stress and other emotions. Unfortunately, I didn’t do such a great job. I was rushing to get them harnessed and in the car. Because of my rushing, they became excited. I realized what I had done but at this point it was almost too late. I knew when I loaded them in the car, Emmett was going to be stressed. And he was. Fortunately, he calmed down after a few minutes. but all this could have been avoided if I had kept my own stress level to a minimum.

Like us, dogs have life experiences – some good, some not so good. The impact these experiences can have on them varies both in intensity and in behaviors. Although a dog may not remember exactly what happened, they do remember the good or bad feeling associate with a particular event. For example, a dog was spanked by her human. When you reach your hand out to pet her, she cowers away from you. She remembers that a hand is bad and anticipates something negative is about to happen to her. The good news is that these bad feelings can usually get better. There is no guarantee that they go away completely, but they can improve.

If you have a dog who is anxious riding in vehicles, here are 6 things you can do to turn the anxiety into calm.

1. Practice First & Be Fun

Practice loading in the car before you actually have somewhere to go. To get your anxious dog to agree to get in your car, you’re going to need to be happy and sound fun. You may even want to get her favorite treat or toy and have it in hand. In a happy voice, say “Load” and pat the seat or put the treat/toy in front of her and let her follow it into the vehicle. Be sure to praise. Say “Good” “Load” and give a quick pet.

If this method doesn’t work, you can try having someone hold the leash. Go to the other side of the car and call her through the back seat. Many times, seeing you on the other side will give her enough encouragement to jump on in. Don’t forget to praise and reward!

2. Prepare Ahead of Time

Where are you going? How long will you be gone? What will you need to take with you? Is there something you need to take for your companion – water, treats, food? Get everything together and in your vehicle ahead of time. Then, you only have to worry about getting your dog in the car.

3. Do a Self Check

Are you in the right frame of mind? Are you stressed, rushing, frustrated? If you are, you are showing your dog your emotions. Step away for a few minutes. Take a deep breath and regroup. Don’t try to handle your dog until you have calmed.

4. Be Patient

This may take several tries. You want her to make the decision to get in the car on her own. Don’t force her or her anxiety will become even worse. Don’t scold her. Only offer encouragement.

5. Play Some Relaxing Music

Any relaxing music will do, but I’ve got a Spotify playlist that I use and my dogs love. I’ve shared it with you below.

6. Go Somewhere Fun

Make your companion glad she got in the car. If you only take your dog to the vet when they load up in the car, they’ll never be enthusiastic about going. Change it up and take them to the pet store or a walk along the canal. You can also take her on an impromptu vet visit to get weighed and hang out for a few minutes. This will show her that going to the vet is not always bad.

If you have any questions about anxiety in your dog or would like to schedule a consultation, call or contact me today at 762-218-3708. We currently serve the Evans/Grovetown area.

 

*NOTE:  If your dog is unresponsive to these techniques or you don’t feel comfortable implementing them, contact a trainer who is familiar with behavior modification in dogs. Do NOT attempt to do anything that will jeopardize your safety.