Understanding Your Anxious Dog

Anxiety in dogs seems to be more and more common these days. That likely has something to do with the increased pace of our lives (meaning less exercise/interaction for your canine) and the increase in rules & confinement (often creating more mental frustration & a lack of social interaction). The world is also busier than ever meaning that dogs need to learn to acclimate to A LOT! Some dogs can do this easily, while others struggle greatly.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to help your anxious dog, and the first of those things is truly understanding them. Anxiety creates many behavior problems, so understanding where the behaviors are coming from and how to alleviate that anxiety will help your canine not only feel better but behave better too!

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Lucky Paws Board & Train dog Finnegan. Finn struggled with anxiety related behavior problems, but she is now in a much better place due to behavior modification, training, management and the help of behavioral medicine.

What is anxiety?

If you were to pull out a dictionary, it would read something like…

Anxiety: distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune OR a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, often with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.

This means that an anxious dog suffers from an uneasy mind. They are often excessively worried about what might happen and often have reactions to things that frighten them that are not proportionate to the stimuli (similar to a panic attack). Most anxious dogs have increased sensitivity to environmental stimuli, an exaggerated startle response, hyper-vigilance, and long recovery after arousing events.

The difference between a “normal” dog and an anxious dog:

When a “normal” dog is confronted by something it doesn’t understand (hasn’t seen before, considers it may be threatening), you may see a small amount of wariness in the body language (moving slowly, lowering head, moving away slowly), but after a few moments of evaluating the situation, curiosity typically kicks in and the dog begins using his senses to investigate (assuming the thing it didn’t understand was not actually something threatening).

When an anxious dog is confronted with the same situation, there is an exaggerated startle response. The dog may physically jump back or run away, bark at the trigger and generally exaggerate the level of threat. Many anxious dogs will either take much longer to get to the point of evaluating the situation, or skip it entirely and just run away to avoid the situation. Anxious dogs generally take quite some time to fully recover from a stressful event, sometimes taking several hours (and even occasionally days) after a stressful event.

Similarly, anxious dogs are often on edge. They are hyper-vigilant, constantly scanning their environment on the lookout for something scary. The world is a continuous stream of unknowns, so when outside of their safe zone (their crate, your home etc), they are constantly scanning the horizon for the next scary thing. This makes things like walks, and field trips to the park scary events. Some dogs may decide they no longer enjoy walks or trips to the park, but many are conflicted because they enjoy being at the park or they enjoy sniffing things on the walk, so they get excited to go on the walk, even though it tends to be a fairly stressful experience for them.

Anxious dogs tend to learn at a normal level in quiet environments but really struggle to learn and comply with commands they know in busier environments, or environments with a lot of stimuli.

To an anxious dog, the world is often at least a little overwhelming (sometimes incredibly overwhelming). To an anxious dog, a quiet yard can resemble a busy amusement park but instead of everything looking fun and exciting, it’s quite overwhelming and often scary. Remember that dogs have much better hearing and smelling abilities than people, so where we may see or hear nothing, they see and hear a lot!

Helping Your Anxious Dog

Once you understand your anxious
dog and how they see the world, helping them becomes easier. We can control how we expose them to the frightening stimuli so that they can learn not only to feel more at ease in their world, but also to trust our judgement which makes them feel safer.

Use Counter Conditioning

Counter conditioning involves pairing the scary stimuli with something the dog loves (play, affection, high value food rewards etc). When you come across something that frightens your dog, begin praising your dog and even stop to feed him a few treats or play. We want him to think that great things happen when the scary thing happens. Over time, he will begin to like the scary thing because it brings great things! That means, it will no longer be a scary thing!

What to do when your dog has a strong reaction to a trigger (barking, running away etc.)

First you need to stop the reaction as quickly as possible to avoid a huge spike in stress hormones which makes it more difficult to come back down from the fear. Immediately moving the dog away from the trigger to a place where he can actually think and evaluate the situation is helpful. Once you find the location where the dog can function, try to regain the dog’s attention and use food, praise and play (counter conditioning) to get the dog in a better state of mind. Getting your dog into a better state of mind is important. We need to give your dog’s brain the ability to slow down enough to evaluate the situation instead of just immediately reacting to something he doesn’t understand.

Here are a few Dos & Don’ts for helping your anxious dog.

Refrain from harsh discipline: This doesn’t mean you never correct your dog, it only means that you control the level of the correction, especially in the presence of scary stimuli. Any time your dog is around something that makes him uncomfortable, you want to be positive. Fear and anxiety are emotions your dog doesn’t have much control over. Harsh punishment can actually increase anxiety and damage your relationship with your dog.

Change the way you console your dog: Instead of trying to soothe your dog’s anxiety by picking them up, petting them and saying “Your ok…” in a quiet manner, try to change his state of mind by making things fun. Condition him to feel happy in the presence of things that produce anxiety by pairing scary stimuli with fun. This of course needs to happen at a distance that is not too overwhelming for your dog.

Avoid the fearful stimulus when you aren’t able to work on counter conditioning: This doesn’t mean avoid it entirely. If you do, your dog will never learn to feel more comfortable when confronted by things he is fearful of. Only avoid when you are unable to work on counter conditioning. We don’t want to ingrain the fear any more than it already is.

Take the time to learn your dog’s body language: Being able to read your dog and recognize anxiety quickly is a very important part of the rehabilitation process.

Be a good leader your dog can trust: Take the time to counter condition your dog. Teach him that he can trust you to evaluate the situation and get him to a place where he can feel comfortable every time. When he learns to trust you, he will have more confidence to try
situations he may have otherwise not been comfortable with because he trusts you are there to help him through it.

Check your behavior and emotions: Dogs are very good at picking up on human emotions and can sense any stress or anxiety you may be feeling. Not surprisingly, many anxious dogs have anxious owners. Tackling your own stress and anxiety and being confident for your dog makes a world of difference. Anxious dogs are more likely to be able to feel comfortable in their world if they are confident that if anything does come up that is scary, you will handle it. You need to teach your dog they can trust you by immediately taking action when something frightens them, first getting them feeling safe, then following that by helping them adapt and learn about the thing that made them fearful. Soon they will begin to want to investigate things they don’t understand instead of feeling fear and anxiety.

Provide your dog with a routine life: Anxious dogs function best with a routine. They like to know as much as possible what is going to happen next.

Provide lots of physical and mental exercise: Physical and mental exercise boost serotonin levels naturally. Serotonin is a feel good chemical that is depleted when stressful events happen. The less serotonin there is in your dog’s system, the weaker his ability to cope with stress.

Teach your dog that paying attention to you is great: If you have your dog’s attention, they are more likely to be able to listen to commands in stressful environments. Keeping their attention is the key to success. This means that anxious dogs often rely on rewards in stimuli rich environments for much longer than your average dog.

Additional Helpful Tools:

Natural Calming Remedies: Pet stores sell many herbal supplements for anxiety. This is a great place to start before resorting to prescription medication (which can be a great option for some dogs). Be sure to consult your vet before choosing a remedy, especially if your dog is on any medication.

Comfort Zone Plug-In: This releases something that mimics a mother’s natural pheromones which helps to relax your dog. This can be great in conjunction with other calming remedies.

Pheromone Collar: Similar to the plug-in, this is a collar that helps relax your dog. This is great for dogs who are anxious outside of the house.

Thundershirt: Anxiety wraps use pressure to calm your dog.


Need Training Help?

Need some help with teaching your dog to cope better with their anxiety? We can help! Give us a call (612-388-9656) or send us an email (heather@luckypawsmn.com) anytime!

www.LuckyPawsMN.com


 

Preventing Resource Guarding

No one ever wants to think their sweet puppy may someday growl or snarl when you try to take away his bone or walk past his food bowl, but this is actually a pretty common occurrence.

Does your puppy…

  • Eat REALLY fast!brown-labrador-12
  • Become very still when you approach his food or bone
  • Play keep away with his possessions

Did you know that these can all be subtle signs of resource guarding? Guarding dogs tend to eat quickly to prevent the need to guard. They also appear to freeze when approached, maybe even look at you out of the corner of their eye in this position and sometimes they just quickly run away when you approach. These can all be warning signs that more severe guarding may begin over the next few months with your puppy. It’s important to take action now to prevent this from getting any worse. Here are a few steps you can take to be sure your puppy is happy to have you around his prize possessions.

Practice Trading Your Puppy

Always practice trades for valuable objects. If you are just constantly taking things away, your pup won’t think you are very much fun to play with. Play fetch with two balls, as your puppy drops the first you can throw the second. When your puppy has a bone, you may need to provide a highly tempting treat such as hot dog or cheese to convince him to give up the bone. After bone time is over, consider doing something else with your dog so the fun doesn’t just suddenly come to an end.

Create a Positive Association

Walk by your dog while they are eating or chewing a bone and simply toss them a few treats while they are eating. You may also drop a spoonful of wet food into their bowl. This will make them see your approach as a very positive thing.

Ask for Help

If you see any type of behavioral issue developing in your puppy, don’t wait months or years to address it! Behaviors can be changed much more easily when your dog hasn’t practiced them for a long period of time and gotten good at them. If your dog is already freezing, growling or snarling, it may be time to consult a trainer for help. You should also look for help if your dog is guarding from other dogs as this is a more complex behavior. Contact us and we can help you solve these issues and keep your family safe.

Acclimating your dog to grooming (Bath, Nails etc)

For some dogs, grooming only requires an occasional bath & nail trim. For others, every 6 weeks or so they get a full body trim, ears plucked (ouch!) and face trimmed. Most of us humans enjoy the idea of a cut/color/blow out, but your pup did not choose to have a high-maintenance coat & long nails. He has no idea who you’ve just dumped him with or that it’s better to get bathed, combed and clipped now to avoid mats later. Rather than just dropping him at the grooming shop (or plopping him into the tub), spend some time acclimating your dog to grooming to help him have a good experience and avoid unnecessary trauma.

Here are a few tips to help your dog learn that grooming isn’t so scary after all:

Bathing:

Allow your dog to acclimate to the idea of getting a bath slowly and make it fun! Turn getting into the tub into a game! You can do this at home in your own tub, or you can go to a self service dog wash to avoid hair down your drain. Some dogs may wiz through these steps in one or two training sessions while for others it may take dozens of training sessions. Be patient with your dog and remember, doing the work now will pay off for your dogs entire life.

  1. Start by bringing your dog into the bathroom and feeding him some treats. Allow him to acclimate just to being in the room. If he already seems a bit nervous, leave the room, and come back later and repeat several times each day for several days until your dog feels comfortable in the bathroom.
  2. Next, try tossing some treats into the bathtub (or my favorite: smearing peanut butter on side of the tub where your dog has to jump in to get it). If your dog can’t physically jump in on their own, once you see they are interested in where the treats went, you may help them into the tub. Allow them to jump out as they please, but if they stay in, keep tossing treats in there for them (or re-supplying some peanut butter). If your dog seems a bit nervous, again leave and come back later repeating several times each day for a few days until your dog feels comfortable being in the tub.
  3. Next, while your dog is eating the treats, turn the water on, keeping it away from your dog. This may spook your dog and they may want to jump out. Encourage them to stay in the tub by continuing to feed treats and being playful & affectionate with your dog. If they jump out, start back at step 2 then try again. It may take a dozen attempts to get your dog to stay in the tub when the water comes on, but stick with it and be patient.
  4. Hopefully by this point your dog is really excited to get into the tub. Now we start the actual getting wet part. Most dogs don’t like this part, even dogs that like to swim, so take your time doing a little at a time and feeding (or having them lick the peanut butter) while you wet them down. The first time, just wet them down a bit, then dry them off and let them be done (hopefully they will want to stay and eat treats, but they may not). As your dog gets more comfortable, you can actually begin to give a full bath. Congrats, you’ve just made bath time less stressful for you and your dog!

Tip: If you prefer to send your dog to the groomer, you can do this at home to prepare your dog for their grooming session. It is also advisable to find a groomer who will help you keep your dog enjoying baths by giving him/her some treats while at their appointment, so be sure to send some special treats with your pup to the groomer.

Your dog may never love being bathed (unless they are a Labrador), but will learn to tolerate it easily in exchange for a tasty treat.

Nail Trims:

Trimming a dogs nails can be difficult if your dog is uncomfortable with it. Check out this video below for some tips on making your dog feel more comfortable with having their nails trimmed. Be sure to use some high value treats such as chicken or cheese to make the process move along more quickly. The higher value reward makes the dog more motivated to tolerate handling.

If you aren’t comfortable actually trimming your dogs nails yourself, you can still work with him at home to become more comfortable with handling his feet, and touching his nails with something metal (like a spoon or metal tool) before sending him off to the groomer.

If your dog is showing aggression during nail trims, it is advisable to acclimate your dog to wearing a muzzle. Click here for a how to video.

Hair Cut/Trimming:

Most dog owners don’t do a full groom at home, but you may want to do simple things like trimming feet or your dogs tail. It’s a great idea to acclimate your dog to the idea of trimming even if it won’t be you doing it.

  1. Start by finding some hair cutting scissors and either a trimmer of some kind or something that sounds like one (electric toothbrush). Allow your dog to inspect these items before beginning.
  2. Next, allow the dog to acclimate to the noise the tools make by holding the tool near to the dog while feeding treats.
  3. Now begin lifting feet and ears and handling your dogs muzzle with the tools in hand making noise nearby (continue to feed treats & praise your dog).
  4. If your dog can handle the noise of the tools in conjunction with handling, you can now begin some actual trimming. Take your time and stop to feed treats intermittently to keep your pooch happy.

If your taking your dog to a groomer:

  1. Make sure your dog is comfortable being crated.
  2. Find a groomer who understands your dog may need a little extra TLC to help them have a good experience and is willing to spend the extra few minutes to feed your dog treats and comfort him.
  3. Allow your dog to acclimate to the grooming salon slowly, over a few visits. Start by going in, greeting everyone and having them give him some treats. Come back another day, and this time hang out for 5 minutes so your dog can see what goes on in the salon. The groomer may even give the dog a few strokes with a brush. Next time leave your dog with the groomer for a quick nail trim (maybe even just a toe or two if your dog is anxious) before finally leaving your pup there for a full groom. Now the groomers won’t be strangers and the salon will be familiar which will greatly reduce your dogs level of stress. For highly anxious dogs, you may need to take things much slower than this, but it’s a good starting point.

A good groomer should be completely on board with your plan for gradual introductions. Let the groomer know that if your dog seems too stressed, they don’t need to complete the groom and risk frightening or hurting your dog. You can always come back another day to have it finished.

Dog Park Do’s and Don’ts

Dog parks can be a fabulous place for you to exercise your dog and for your dog to socialize, but they can also be a scary place for a fearful dog, or an unsafe place if there are owners who bring dogs who really should not be there. One negative experience with a dog can forever scar your dog and create both fear and aggression (the best defense is a good offense). Dog’s may also learn bullying play styles that can lead to other problems.

I have put together a bit of information for you so that you and your dog can have plenty of pleasant dog park experiences and avoid any potentially negative experiences.

Do: Learn how to read dog body language and learn what is appropriate vs. inappropriate play. Learning to read your dogs social signals is very important for so many reasons, but really is invaluable when it comes to interactions with other dogs at the dog park. The more educated you are, the better you can keep your dog safe. See additional videos & other resources at the end of this post.

Don’t: Try to bring your dog to the dog park to work on socialization issues. Work with a trainer or behaviorist in a controlled environment with well known dogs in order to address any fearful, reactive or aggressive behavior.

Do: Determine whether or not your dog is a good fit for a dog park. Not every dog is a good fit for a dog park, and that’s ok. Fearful or shy dogs may not be a good fit for a dog park during peak hours when there are a lot of dogs there. Young puppies are also not a good fit for dog parks. Not only should your puppy be fully vaccinated before going to a dog park, but they should also be confident enough to stick up for themselves (typically 5-6 mo. or older). If you puppy rolls over and squeals easily during interactions with other dogs, they may not be ready for the dog park.

Don’t: Listen to other attendees in the park who may not understand their or your dog’s needs or understand canine play and body language. Instead, educate yourself from dog professionals and be sure to stand up for your dogs emotional and physical well being. He shouldn’t have to put up with a rude dog just because “He’s just playing.”

Do: Teach your dog to come when called reliably. It is vital that you can call your dog out of play that may be inappropriate. Also, if a fight breaks out, you want to be able to call your dog away so they don’t become involved.

Don’t: Believe that dogs can “work it out” if you just let them do so. If your dog is growling, snarling or air snapping at another dog and that other dog is not listening, protect your pooch and get them out of there before they feel the need to take things further. Young puppies often do not listen to reprimands well. If the other dog respects the warning, that is great, but don’t allow it to go any further.

Do: Check out the entrance before entering to make sure there aren’t dogs congregating there. It can be very stressful for a single dog to come into a pack of dogs right as they enter. Some dogs may also become territorial of the park which can cause fights at the gate.

Don’t: Congregate with other dog owners and chat. Many fights happen when there are large groups of dogs and humans just standing around due to the fact that they don’t have enough personal space and owners are often not paying enough attention to their dogs.

Do: Keep moving. Even if you go to a small park (bigger is better), continue walking the perimeter and encourage your dog to follow you. You may stop for short play sessions with other dogs, but your best bet is to keep moving to avoid altercations.

Do: Remove your dog if it is bullying others or if it appears afraid.

Don’t: Force your pup to play with a dog he doesn’t naturally want to play with. Size is less important than play style, but it’s not safe to bring a very small dog (under 10lbs) into a park with unknown large dogs. Here is a good example of dogs of different sizes playing appropriately.

Do: Leave special toys at home to avoid resource guarding. Even if your dog doesn’t guard the toy, another dog might guard your dogs toy from him/her.

Don’t: Let all the dogs in the park know that you have treats. If you are working on training, only feed treats when no other dogs are near you, bring non smelly treats and keep them in a high pocket. Also, keep your distance from large groups of dogs.

Do: Encourage your dog to walk away from a dog who may be growling, snarling or snapping at him. These are communication signals that your dog should learn to prevent by not bothering dogs who give more subtle cues such as freezing & staring.

Don’t: Assume that a dog is aggressive when he is only trying to communicate it’s discomfort. Growling, snarling and snapping are a dogs way of saying “Please go away!.” That dog has a right to have space and not have to put up with puppy antics or rowdy play.

Overall, the most important aspect is to educate yourself so that you know what to look for when you are trying to spot problems in play. This is the best way to keep your dog safe! For more information, refer to the posts below and check out some of the Youtube videos below.

Additional Resources:

  • Language of Dogs (DVD) – Sarah Kalnajs
  • Body Language of Canine Play (DVD) – Terry Ryan
  • Dog Play (Book) – Patricia McConnell
  • Canine Body Language (Book) – Brenda Aloff

These books and DVD’s can be found on either Amazon.com or Dogwise.com

Some good examples of good dog play:

 

Need help reforming your dogs dog park behavior? Click here to tell us about how we can help you.

www.luckypawsmn.com

Understanding Leash Reactivity

It’s not uncommon for dogs to bark, snarl & lunge at other dogs or people while on-leash. We call this leash reactivity. Generally this problem develops over time either due to fear or discomfort around other dogs or people, a bad experience, because they weren’t socialized as a puppy, or simply because they are frustrated with not being able to greet the dog or person. Some leash reactive dogs are perfectly friendly off leash, while others may have social issues and struggle to get along in general.

Dealing with a leash reactive dog can be very frustrating and down right embarrassing. You may find yourself walking your dog less or at odd hours to avoid dog traffic. Unfortunately, isolating your dog will often make the behavior worse as your dog will be lacking in exercise and social experiences. Creating alternate forms of exercise and doing controlled set up training scenarios with a qualified trainer is the best way to address this issue.

The On-Leash Greeting
I recommend that even non-reactive dogs avoid on-leash dog greetings all together for the simple fact that dogs can often not display proper body language while being restricted on leash, which can cause some miscommunication. Not only that, but you never know if the dog is indeed friendly on leash, even if the owner claims it is! Unrestrained social dogs typically approach one another in an arc, coming together gradually and from an angle, then proceed to circle & sniff and decide whether they want to play or move along. This type of greeting ritual is very difficult to do successfully on leash. Typically as the dogs are approaching they are head on (such as on a walking path) and likely making direct eye contact (which isthreatening in dog language). The dogs are likely pulling toward each other with tight leashes and the strangling sensation of the tightening collars adds to the frustration and tension. If the people walking the dogs become apprehensive of the greeting, they may jerk the leash, again adding to tension and frustration. They are accidentally sending the dog a signal that this situation may indeed be something threatening.

Can this be fixed?
This question is generally answered on a case by case basis. In most situations, yes this behavior can be greatly decreased or go away completely. There may however be some cases where the reactivity is caused by genetics or the dogs physical health. In those cases, the physical health needs to be addressed first, and we need to understand what limits we may face due to genetics. Success with this type of training is highly variable depending on several factors:

  • Genetics – Genetics play a large role in behavior and could potentially limit the amount of progress we can make. A reactive puppy from a long line of reactive dogs is likely to be more challenging to work with than a reactive puppy from solid parents.
  • Level of Fear – If fear is involved, we will need to proceed slowly and at the dogs pace. Rushing things will not help anyone. If you have a fearful dog, it is especially important to our progress that you never push your dog over threshold. Pushing too far could result in significant setbacks in our training plan.
  • How long the behavior has been practiced and reinforced? – Every time your dog barks, lunges, or growls at another dog and they get what they want out of the situation, (typically more space) they are being environmentally reinforced, even if you are not praising, treating or even if you are punishing. The longer the dog has been practicing the behavior, the better he/she is going to be at it.
  • The amount of work you put into training as well as the use of techniques is very important. This means you must main consistency with the techniques used and work at your dogs level to be sure to not push them over threshold and into a reaction.

So how do we fix it?

I wish this was an easy answer as many dog owners deal with this sort of behavior. The truth is, it will take a serious commitment from you to learn how to rehabilitateBelle your reactive dog. You will need to learn a few things yourself such as reading you dogs body language, what are your dogs strongest triggers, at what distance can your dog handle the trigger? You will also need to manage your dogs reactive behavior by preventing it and only work on it in controlled training scenarios.

What do we do in the controlled training scenarios?

The techniques we use for training involve desensitization and counterconditioning. We will not be using punishment. We use desensitization by exposing your dog to their trigger at a distance they can handle without reacting. We use counter conditioning to teach your dog that another dogs presence (or a strangers) makes great things happen! We will be working to change the dogs emotional response from one of anxiety, fear or frustration to one of happiness. This process involves a lot of repetition in order to re-condition the feelings they already have about another dogs presence. We will also work on focus related behaviors, polite leash walking and more.

A note about punishment:

Punishing reactive behavior is often ineffective and doing more harm than good. Your dog is trying to communicate their discomfort with the situation by growling, barking and lunging. If you punish those communications, you are left with a highly unpredictable dog that instead of giving warnings, he tolerates as much as he can, then goes straight to the bite, skipping all warning signs. This makes for a dangerous dog. We are not looking to suppress the behavior, we are looking to change the dogs emotional response to people.

Below are a few additional resources to continue learning. If you are ready to get help with your dogs reactivity, contact us to schedule some Private Training.

  • Help For Your Fearful Dog – Nicole Wilde
  • Scaredy Dog! – Ali Brown
  • Feisty Fido – Patricia McConnell and Karen London

 

www.luckypawsmn.com

Submissive & Excitement Urination

This subject is one close to home. My dog Ryder’s nick name is “Mr. Pee Body.” Some dogs will urinate submissively or because of excitement. This often happens upon first meeting a person, but can also happen each time you or a guest greets your dog. This can certainly become problematic when tryinImageg to keep your home clean.

Why does this happen? Some dogs are more prone to this type of urination than others. Confident dogs are less likely to do submissive urination, and dogs who are not exciteable are also less likely. It often has a lot to do with genetics, with lack of muscular control of the bladder and/or behaviorally (mom or dad was submissive or a submissive peeing dog). Ryder’s seems to be due to a lack of muscular control as he exhibits it submissively, excitedly, and sometimes seems to just loose control randomly. I would say I most often have seen Cocker Spaniels and Golden Doodles in private training for his behavior. No matter the reason, punishing a dog for this behavior will make it worse, not better.

What do you do? There are several things I like to do to change this behavior. First, I like to start off with teaching the dog how to greet people calmly. This often involves teaching them to go to a place and stay there for the first few minutes a guest (or the owner) is there, as well as removing the dog immedately from a person when over excited greeting begins.

The second thing I like to do is take the dogs mind off of the social pressure they may be feeling when greeting someone. This can be accomplished by giving the dog a treat, bone, or toy as a greeting rather than immediately petting and sharing affection. The petting can be saved for a time when the person is seated or when the greeting is happening in a much calmer way.

The training also involves teaching guests how to greet the dog calmly, without direct eye contact, speaking calmly (not excitedly), and generally maintaining a calm and somewhat aloof attitude until the dog is completely comfortable. All of these things combined can significantly reduce it not eliminate this type of urination.

As with any training, the sooner you address the problem, the more likely you will be able to fix it and the process will be much faster. Contact a trainer for help if needed and keep in mind that urinary tract infections & kidney issues can often cause urination issues as well, so don’t be afraid to see your vet if this is a problem.

Fear in Dogs

Many of our dogs experience fear of particular things. This can be anything from a strange object, new places, people or other dogs. These are the typical reasons why:

  • Negative Experiences – Negative in their eyes, not yours. The experience may have seemed quite normal to you, but could have been very scary for your dog.
  • Lack of early socialization – Dog’s who don’t experience a variety of new things, places, people and animals as a young puppy tend to struggle much more with learning about new things as an adult dog. They are like us, becoming set in their ways and new things can be stressful and uncomfortable.
  • Genetics – Dog’s with parents who display fearful behaviors are more likely to be fearful themselves, so always ask to meet BOTH of your puppy’s parents and ask about any fearful behaviors or tendencies.

Working with fearful dogs is one of my favorite cases. It is so rewarding to see the dogs learn and grow. When working with a fearful dog it is extremely important to create an extremely positive association with whatever it is that your dog fears, and take things at a snails pace. Imagine something you are truly afraid of and consider what it might take for you to actually be ok with or enjoy that thing. Pushing your dog on something can very often make their fears much worse, so take things slowly, encourage your dog with plenty of praise, fun, food and excitement and don’t feel sorry for your dog, because they feel that energy. Be confident and fun, and they will begin to follow in your footsteps with the proper training.