Polite Greetings

It is not uncommon to have a dog who jumps up on either its owners or on guests. This behavior is generally a behavior that is learned as a very young puppy, and as the dog grows, we no longer think its cute to jump and crawl all over us and lick our faces.cropped-100_6494.jpg

So what do we do?

First things first. We need to help our dogs understand that four paws on the floor or sitting is what earns attention. This means that you need to go out of your way to pay attention to your dog when s/he is behaving properly. Remember, it is easy to ignore a well behaved dog, much harder to ignore one jumping up on you. Don’t ignore your dog when they are polite! Go our of your way to reward them. If your dogs paws come off the floor, immediately turn and walk away from your dog (in some cases you may need to even walk into a different room and close the dog out of the room). We need to communicate effectively that jumping up will earn the exact opposite of what they want (they are looking for attention, we are taking our attention away). Help your dog by asking s/he for a sit before offering affection/attention.

 
Dogs do what works!

The idea is to send a very clear message to our dogs, that jumping up earns a loss of attention, while sitting politely earns tons of attention! Consistency is the key here. If you give your dog attention just once while his paws are off the floor, he will continue to try the behavior. Keep in mind that for dogs that have been jumping for a while, this behavior will generally get worse before it gets better. This is called an extinction burst. The dog previously was rewarded with attention for jumping, now all of a sudden it isn’t working any more, so the dog tries harder and harder, until he realizes it is no longer working.
Once your dog seems to understand that sitting or keeping four paws on the floor is most likely to earn attention, we can move on to working with our dogs around guests who come into our homes or people we meet while out walking.

 
In-Home: IMAG0681

The most effective strategy for curbing jumping on guests is the concept of using short time-outs as a consequence for jumping behavior (note: this concept can be used for other rude greeting behaviors as well, but it is suggested that you tackle one rude behavior at a time). I call these time-outs social isolation. The idea is that any time the dogs paws come off the floor to jump, we immediately say “Ah,Ah” (or some other no reward marker) and quickly bring them to a nearby time-out space such as a crate or bathroom, and leave them there for 15 seconds. The amount of time is just long enough for the dog to realize it’s a bit of a bummer, while not long enough to really stress them out. Placing the dog in the time out area is effectively taking away the reward (the guest) without having to tell your guest to walk away. It is easiest to have the dog on the leash for this exercise. If you are concerned about the dog not liking his crate after this exercise, use a different time out space. You may also provide your dog with time-outs for jumping on you as well, it doesn’t have to be for just guests. This also works quite well for the time when you first come home and the dog is very excited to see you. Remove the dog from the crate, if he s/she jumps, place back in the crate for 15 seconds, repeat.

 
Behind the Gate Technique:

Place your dog behind a baby gate (be sure s/he won’t jump it) and have your guest approach the dog when s/he has four paws on the floor. If the dog jumps, the person moves away, if the dog is polite, it receives attention.

 
PLEASE NOTE: If your dog is fearful of or reactive toward people, it is best to address the fear or reactivity before addressing any jumping behavior. These techniques will not work well for dogs who are fearful or aggressive toward people and may actually make matters worse. If you are dealing with a fearful or reactive dog, we can help. Give us a call at 612-388-9656 or email us at Heather@luckypawsmn.com

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Successful Holiday Gatherings with Dogs

Are you hosting a get together this holiday season? Make it the best one
yet with Lucky Paws top tips for having a wildly successful holiday gathering with your dog behaving like a gentleman (or lady).

A tired dog is a good dog

I know it may feel like you couchdogdon’t have time to exercise your dog before your guests arrive, but you will be happy you took the time to do so when you see how much it improves your dogs behavior. In the days leading up to your event, be sure your dog is getting LOTS of exercise. Trips to daycare or the dog park, lots of fetch games or play with a tail teaser. The day of the big event, exercise your dog that morning, then give him mental activities to do throughout the day such as puzzle toys or search games. Additionally, right before or right as the guests are arriving, set up a big search game so your dog is rooting around the house for treats you’ve hidden (ideally in areas that won’t interfere with guests).

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Make the crate great!

When hosting a officegathering, sometimes keeping an eye on your dog is difficult to say the least. When your not watching he may be stealing grandmas ham! When you are busy, keep your dog happy in his crate.

Everyday between now and the big day, at least 3 times per day put something SUPER yummy in your dogs crate, but don’t put your dog in. What?! Yes, I said don’t put your dog in. Instead let him sniff and paw at the crate trying to get in for several minutes before finally letting him in and allowing him to have the yummy item. Close him in the crate to eat it, then let him out before he is done with the yummy item. At this point pick up the yummy item and do the same thing with it again later. If your dog guards the yummy item, let him finish it in his crate before letting him out.

When the big day rolls around, your dog won’t mind spending time in the crate with a stuffed bone or kong. To help your dog feel even more content in the crate, make sure the crate is in a familiar location where your dog is used to being crated, and ideally in a room far enough from the hustle and bustle to allow your dog to settle. Turning on a radio, tv or fan can help drown out some of the noise he hears.

When you have some time to be able to focus on your dog’s behavior with your guests, you can go ahead and bring him out. This is a great time to work on any behaviors you’ve been wanting to address with guests present. If needed, put a leash on your dog (especially puppies) to help them be more successful!

Brush up on TrainingIMAG1281 - Copy

Take some time to remind your dog of the great skills he already knows! Leave It, Greeting Skills (not jumping up), Out (of the kitchen or other room), boundary training at the front door, and no counter surfing rules are all important when food & guests are around.

At the Door Greetings

If you haven’t had much time to work on your dog greeting behavior at the door, a few simple tips can go a long way.

  • When greeting a guest at the door, have your dog leashed and have several high value treats in your hand (think cheese or hot dogs) to help keep your dogs attention, and reward him for good behavior.
  • You can also stand on your dogs leash, giving him just enough room to stand comfortably. This will prevent him from jumping on your guests.

Do you have a reactive, fearful or anxious dog?

Sometimes holiday gatherings can be a real drag for dogs who struggle with fear, anxiety, and aggression. In these cases, if you don’t have a quiet place in your home your dog can feel at ease (such as a crate or bedroom with a kong or bone), sometimes it is better to have your dog sitter watch your dog, or even crate your dog at a friend, family members or neighbors house where things are quiet and where your dog already feels at ease.

Alternatively, if you are in the process of modifying your dogs fear or reactivity toward people, this could be a good opportunity to do some behavior modification, but consult with your trainer before doing so to help make sure it is a successful training experience.

Need Training Help?

Need some help with some manners training, or maybe you aren’t sure how to handle your fearful, reactive or anxious dogs when you have guests. We can help! Give us a call (612-388-9656) or send us an email (heather@luckypawsmn.com) anytime!

http://www.luckypawsmn.com

 

Winter Grooming: Important Tips

Many people decide to let their dog’s fur grow long in the colder months, and opt to not give baths because it is cold outside. But, imagine if you stopped showering and getting haircuts for the four, sometimes five months of our Minnesota winter. You probably wouldn’t feel too great, and your dog probably won’t either!

Dogs of all fur types still need a certain amount of grooming all winter. Wet fur SSPX5395from playing in the snow causes a greater risk of mats and walks in the dirty snow along streets and sometimes mud when the snow melts, will build up dirt in your dog’s coat. Regular brushing year-round helps to remove dead hair and skin, distribute natural oils that keep your dog’s coat healthy, and also acts as an opportunity to check over your dog for bumps, cuts, mats, fleas, and anything else that may cause a concern about your dog’s health. Regular baths year-round are also recommended to keep your dog’s coat in tip top shape, you just need to be sure your dog is completely dry before going outside. Simply let your dog out to potty right before a bath to avoid any conflicts of a wet dog that needs to pee. If your dog is otherwise clean, but is getting a little smelly, a good option to avoid a wet dog is to use a dry shampoo.

Dogs that normally get their hair cut every 6 weeks or so during the warm months like poodles and many breeds of terriers should still be properly groomed in the winter. You may choose to keep your dog’s coat longer to keep him warmer, but regular grooming is even more necessary with a long coat, so even if you skip the cut, you should still bring your dog in for a bath, brush and blow dry, or you may end up with a badly matted and uncomfortable dog come spring, and you may need to fully shave your adorably fluffy dog!

In addition to taking care of your dog’s coat, pay attention to their feet. To keep your dog’s pads from cracking in the cold weather, dry them off every time they come inside, and moisturize them regularly with a paw protection wax. Dog’s nails also need to be trimmed more often due to being inside more and not having as many opportunities to wear down their nails. Clipping the long hairs between your dog’s toes can help prevent matting, and also prevents ice balls from forming. Taking the extra time to groom your dog during the busy holiday season may feel like a burden. To make it feel less time-consuming, schedule a 5 minute grooming session at each meal, rather than taking a half-hour or hour each week. Avoiding cracked paws and matted coats—or worse, a shaved dog in the middle of winter—is worth the effort.

Written By: Jessi Weaver

Holiday Safety & Training Tips

Food and family are the best things about the upcoming holidays. Since our dogs are members of our family too, many will likely be included in these festivities, but the truth is an ill or ill-mannered dog can quickly turn a wonderful holiday into a stressful situation. If you don’t want your dog jumping all over your guests, or getting sick from consuming things they shouldn’t eat around the holidays, read on!

Good Eats!IMAG1938

It can be tempting to want to treat the furry, tail-wagging members of your family to some of your delicious concoctions. Before giving them goodies, it’s important that you know about some very toxic foods that could cause immense pain, neurological issues, and even death if enough of these foods are consumed by your dog.

Many people know that chocolate, raisins and alcohol are dangerous for dogs. But don’t forget about the onions and garlic that you may use to season your meal. Other potentially dangerous spices and foods include, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, macadamia nuts and walnuts. Over consumption of sugar from cakes, puddings, pies, and even cranberry sauce can cause pancreatitis. Even the turkey skin can be dangerous due to the high fat content (which can also cause pancreatitis). Also, cooked bones are much more likely to splinter than uncooked bones, and can not only cause stomach upset, but can also get stuck in your dog’s throat or digestive tract which can be very dangerous.

While all this may make us sound like party-poopers, there are some healthy snacks that you can give your dog as a special Thanksgiving treat. Raw or cooked carrots and green beans are healthy and low calorie treats.  Also, fresh or canned pumpkin is proven to help dog’s digestion. You can even treat your dog to a small amount turkey if it is skin-less and not heavily seasoned. Keep in mind that some dogs’ digestive systems are more sensitive than others, so even healthy treats can sometimes cause stomach upset.

Holiday Training Tips

Food isn’t the only thing to think about if you are hosting or attending a big family get together over the holidays with your dog. Common behavior problems that might put a damper on your dinner are jumping on or mouthing guests, counter surfing, and begging at the table.

Jumping and mouthing are attention seeking behaviors. This means that the best way to train your dog to not jump and mouth is to completely remove any possibility of attention by walking away and completely ignoring your dog.  Your dog behavior may get worse before it gets better (this is called an extinction burst), but dogs only do what works, and so over time, your dog will figure out that jumping and barking no longer work as a means of getting attention. Once your dog has learned to not jump on you, invite guests over to help with a training session so your dog can learn that the no-jumping rule applies to everyone, not just you. If your guests are unwilling or unable to ignore your dog’s attention seeking behaviors, it is important that you immediately remove your dog from the greeting to reinforce that jumping and mouthing never gets them attention. It also helps to reward calm behavior by giving treats and attention anytime you see your dog greeting with four paws on the floor, politely asking for attention by sitting and waiting in front of you, or laying down in the presence of guests.

Keeping food out on the counter or table can often prove to be too tempting for your otherwise polite pooch. To prevent counter surfing and begging, you can teach your dog to stay out of your kitchen and dining area, or even a “Place” or “Go Lay Down” command. It is equally as important to avoid feeding your dog from the counter or table, and instead feed any goodies in their dog bowl. If you catch your dog counter surfing or begging, immediately remove them from the area and encourage them to instead go to their “Place” or “Go Lay Down.”

Just imagine your dog showing your family what a polite and calm dog they can be. You CAN enjoy the holidays with your dog if you take the time to teach them the important skills needed to be that polite pooch!

Happy Holidays from all of us at Lucky Paws! 

Written By: Jessi Weaver

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.

Howl-o-ween

Halloween is a fun and exciting holiday for many people, and it makes perfect sense that you would want to let your dog join in on the celebrations! While Halloween may be a blast for us, certain Halloween traditions can prove dangerous and scary for our dogs. We at Lucky Paws want to give you some tips to ensure that your dog is safe and stress-free this Halloween.

Trick or Treaters

It can be difficult for our dogs to recognize that there is a person behind some costumes, especially those with masks. Even when they do recognize it as a human, the human often looks VERY different than they are used to. This can cause a fearful or even aggressive 101_7291response from your otherwise very friendly dog. If you want your dog to be comfortable around people wearing costumes, it’s a good idea to allow the dog to see  you or other people without the mask or costume first, then allow your dog to watch them put the mask on (maybe even let them sniff the mask beforehand too). We recognize that this may not be a very convenient way to introduce your dog to your guests, so if your dog is scared of people in costumes, and you don’t have time to condition him before Halloween this year, it is best to keep your dog in a separate room with a bone or stuffed Kong during the time when trick or treaters or Halloween guests are visiting.

If your dog is comfortable with people in costumes, the next step is to create a dog who can calmly watch as you open the door for trick or treaters. Teaching your dog to go to a bed or mat near the door and stay there while you deliver goodies is a great idea.

Costumes for Dogs

One of the cutest things in the world is to see a little Dachshund in a hot dog costume! But for dogs that have never worn any type of clothing before, being suddenly forced into a costume can be very stressful. Your dog may end up ripping the costume to shreds, or even lash out and bite you in fear. If you want your dog to wear a costume, be sure to take a few weeks before the big night to condition your dog to like wearing the costume. Take baby steps, first giving treats for looking at the costume, and then touching the costume, etc. If you don’t have enough time to get your dog ready this year, most dogs will tolerate a festive collar or bandana. Just be sure that whatever your dog wears, that it doesn’t have small dangly pieces to be chewed up and that it doesn’t prevent him from comfortably walking, sitting, or lying down.

Halloween Treat Dangers

Of course we can’t forget about the dangers of the candy bowl. Remember that chocolate is extremely poisonous to dogs as well as a common artificial sweetener called xylitol. Even simply too much sugar can cause pancreatitis, which is a very painful and potentially fatal inflammation of the pancreas. Also watch out for raisins – a common healthy alternative to candy on Halloween. Enough raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. Be very careful to keep all Halloween candy out of reach for your dog.

Some fun Halloween treats that you can give your dog include Kongs stuffed with canned pumpkin or dog biscuits made with pumpkin cut into fun Halloween shapes. You can find a simple 3-ingredient recipe on our Facebook page!

Make Halloween Great

Whether your dog is out marching in full costume, or hunkering down with a toy to avoid scary monsters, Halloween can and should be a fun and stress-free event.

Written By: Jessi Weaver

Don’t forget to submit your photo to our Costume Contest on Facebook!

Halloween Costume Contest

Crate Training: Why and How you Should Do It

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Board & Train dogs Nugget and Rosie relaxing calmly in their crates here at Lucky Paws.

Crate training your dog, even if your dog doesn’t NEED a crate, is a great idea. Here are my top 3 reasons to crate train your dog!

#1: The number one reason I recommend crate training your dog is for safety reasons. Traveling in a crate is the safest way you can transport your pet in the car, the crate keeps them out of potentially dangerous things they may find or destroy in your home.

#2: It will help to minimize stress when your dog needs to visit the vet or groomer for the day and spend time crated. It also helps with housetraining.

#3: The third reason I recommend it is that if training is done properly, your dog will LOVE it’s crate! It will be a safe, comfortable and fun place to be. Not only that, but it will make traveling with your pup much easier as well!

Choosing a Crate

For puppies, wire crates with dividers are a great idea. This gives you the ability to buy a large crate and make it much smaller for your young puppy. Puppies should only be given enough room to stand up and turn around comfortably. This will prevent them from pottying in their crate. You may choose to put bedding in the crate, however some dogs will destroy bedding so proceed with caution.

Weekend Crate Training Plan:

Preparation: Prepare lots of high value treats (cut up into pea size pieces or smaller for smaller dogs), make up a few stuffed kongs and freeze them and/or a few treat dispensing toys or bones. The higher value of the treat (chicken, cheese, hot dogs, freeze dried liver) the faster your dog will learn.

SATURDAY:

Step 1: Show your dog the yummy treat and toss it into the back of the crate while saying your command “go to your crate.” You may certainly use a different
command if you choose. When your dog goes in to get the treat, give it another treat while they are still in the crate, then say “Ok.” releasing the dog to come out of the crate. Do not reward for coming out of the crate. Good things should happen only while they are in the crate. Repeat 10 times, then take a few minutes for a break. Come back and do another 10 repetitions.

Step 2: A little while later, grab those high value treats again and walk over to the crate. Ask your dog to enter the crate without first tossing a treat in (you may need to warm up with step 1 a few times prior to starting this). When your dog enters the crate without tossing a treat in, praise and feed several treats while your dog stays in the treat. Say “Ok” to release them. Repeat 10 times, break for a few minutes, and repeat another 10 times. If your dog is nervous or cautious, go back to step 1 for a little while. Once your dog is rushing in doing step 1, you can move to step 2.

Step 3: Later that day, you will begin working on closing the door. Warm up with a few repetitions from step 2. Send your dog into the crate as in step 2 and gently close the door. Feed several treats through the door, then release “Ok” and open the door. Repeat 10 times, break, then move on to step 4.

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My dogs Ryder & Apollo resting in their crates (Sage in the dog bed).

Step 4: We will now begin slowly increasing duration. Follow directions in step 3 while beginning to increase the amount of time the door is closed. Randomize how long you leave the door shut. Ex. 3 seconds, 10 seconds, 7 seconds, 15 seconds. Do 1015 repetitions rewarding generously while your dog is in the crate, then break for at least 30 minutes. Practice throughout the evening working up to leaving your dog in the crate for 1 minute and begin adding distance from your dog as well. You can walk away and return to your dog to treat every few seconds, varying how often you return.

SUNDAY:

Step 1: Send your dog into their crate and give them a special bone or stuffed Kong hat will last them a while. Now occupy yourself with TV or a book in the same room. Leave your dog in the crate for 30 minutes. If they finish they special treat, periodically toss them treats as long as they remain quiet. After 30 minutes, say “Ok” and release your dog. Take away their special bone/chew, and do not give them treats or excited praise. The fun only happens in the crate.

Step 2: Exercise your dog, then repeat step 1, but instead leave the dog in a different room in the crate for 10 minutes. Take a break & repeat.

Step 3: Repeat step 2, but actually leave the house for 10 minutes. Take a break and repeat several times over the evening, gradually increasing the amount of time you are gone up to an hour or two. Continue to increase the amount of time your dog is in the crate. A general rule is 1 hour per month of age, so a 3 month old puppy would last 3 hours.

Additional Training Tips

  • If at any time your dog seems stressed, slow down and go back to the previous step for a bit to build confidence.
  • Older dogs, rescue dogs, and some puppies will need you to really take your time.
  • Feed your dog in their crate
  • When your dog is not looking, put something tasty in the treat for them to find the surprise later (can also lock the dog out with the treat inside).
  • If your dog complains (whining or barking) simply ignore them. Reward when quiet for 5-10 seconds.
  • Youtube: “Zelda Crate Games”