Dogs & Kids

Today I am going to share with you some amazing free resources for learning about dogs and kids from some experts on the subject. Whether you are getting ready to prepare your dog for a new baby on the way or looking to create a more harmonious relationship between your dog and child, these resources will be a tremendous help.

DOG SAFETY – What To Teach Your Kids

The webinar below is all about what to teach your kids about dog safety. A few simple lessons now can save a lot of heartache later. Even if you have the most tolerant dog who puts up with anything from your child, it is important that your child know that he can not behave that way with just any dog (and probably shouldn’t with yours either). I’ve also included a link to a video made specifically for your kids!

dog safety

 

Building Dog-Child Bonds

This next webinar is all about building dog-child bonds. Not only is the dog mans best friend, but childs best friend too when the interactions are appropriate. This webinar will help you teach your kids how to create a great relationship with your dog.

dogchildbonds

 

Setting Dog & Baby Up For Success

Of course, it is also important to prepare your dog for a new baby too! Up until now, they have been your baby. Many changes take place when a baby comes home, but you can help ease the transition.

dogbabysuccess

 

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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

Our Board & Train Facility (aka our home)

Here is a look behind the scenes at our home & facility for our Board & Train program. All dogs in our program get to train, sleep, eat and play in our home as if they were one of our own dogs. You won’t find dogs in kennel runs all alone here. Instead our program dogs become a part of our family for their stay here and receive access to play with our dogs, lots of love from us and are subject to our house rules too (additional learning for many)! We have a formal training space in our pole barn, but spend much of our time working in our home and outside on our property for realistic training environments (not to mention going on field trips).

Meet Cooper the Mini Aussiedoodle! – Day Training Dog Boot Camp

Cooper is a 20lb Miniature Australian Shepherd x Poodle mix. He was adopted recently by his mom and the rescue thought he was some sort of terrier mix, but when his mom did a dna test, it turns out he is an Aussiedoodle! Knowing this helps us understand Coopers energy and drive as well as his trainability and intelligence. Cooper and I are currently starting the Off Leash Day Training program to work on recall training and working on impulse control around squirrels. Cooper completed the Basic Manners program learning all of the on leash basics plus bell training to go outside.

Everyone thinks they want a smart dog, but they pose different training challenges even with their increased intelligence. Cooper is very smart, and smart dogs learn patterns quickly, so if you are inconsistent, your dog will take advantage of that. Whatever you let them get away with, they will so you definately have to be on your training game. It’s natural for a dog to do what works, and if they find pulling on the leash works, even sometimes, they will continue to do it because they get to move faster or go where they want to go when they pull.

Cooper is pictured at the Edenbrook Conservation Area (2nd photo) where we worked on recall, loose leash walking and his chase instincts. In the second photo he is pictured showing his appreciation for my dog Sage, my canine assistant who helped Cooper learn his release command from his stay. Dogs are social learners, so using a well trained dog to assist with training can often be very helpful.

Update on Guy The Leader Dog

Back in May I wrote a post about a black lab puppy named Guy that I was doing one on one training with. He was preparing to be a Leader Dog for the Blind. Guy recently went back to Michigan to be evaluated and I have been told that he did extremely well on his intake scoring and has been in training for the last three weeks. I look forward to following his progress and hopefully he will be assigned to a blind companion this summer.

What’s even more exciting is that Guy’s raisers now have another puppy named Phoebe (pictured)! I happened to see Pheobe playing at daycare while I was doing training with Sweet Lucy, a hound mix puppy with the sweetest demeanor you can find. Phoebe is next in line for training and I am looking forward to working with her! PS. She is even more adorable than the picture! 🙂

It’s a New Year!

It’s a New Year and probably time for some new years training resolutions for your dog! This January I will be holding workshops for specific problem behaviors like jumping up on people, pulling on leash, and probably coming when called too at Pampered Pooch Playground. The first Jumping Workshop is already full so be sure to book your spot.

Jumping Workshop – Tuesday, January 25th from 7:00 – 8:30pm – Register Online

Leash Walking Workshop – Tuesday, January 18th from 7:00-8:00pm – Register Online

Photo Link