Posts Tagged ‘dog behavior’

Who’s a Good Dog? Positive Reinforcement Training

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

Dog training is today’s hot topic! Whether you’re working with a puppy or teaching your older dog new tricks, positive reinforcement is key in any successful program. Positive reinforcement is a method that focuses on rewarding the behavior you want instead of only pointing out what they’re doing wrong (because who really succeeds in that environment!?). Like humans, dogs love being praised and getting special treats. When you do an especially great job at work, you may be rewarded with a pat on the back, a bonus or even a promotion. This makes you feel accomplished, appreciated, and ready to take on new challenges. The same is true for your dog when he’s learning basic obedience, agility or fun tricks. The more you consistently praise and reward your dog, the more excited he will be to learn!

Positive reinforcement training should always include one of your dog’s favorite things…treats! When selecting the best training treats for your pooch, there are several things to consider. First and foremost, avoid anything with ingredients your dog may be sensitive or allergic to. Second, go for small treats – you will be doling a lot of them out during your training sessions!  You can try using peas, small pieces of carrots, or blueberries as training treats for a healthier option or for dogs who will eat anything (we’re talking to you Labradors!). The most important thing to consider is palatability; you want to pick a high value treat that your dog goes bonkers for to encourage him to do his best.

During training, a dog’s attention span averages about 10-15 minutes, so it’s important you keep sessions short and sweet. We recommend using a mark to help communicate with your pet quickly and clearly.  A mark can be a clicker, a verbal cue such as “Yes!” or a hand signal. Right after you mark the behavior, verbally praise your dog and give him a treat. If the behavior was an especially tough one to learn, throw your pup a “mini party” by rewarding him with several treats, pets, and tons of praise. When first starting to train your pet, it’s best to work on the same command throughout each training session. As your dog gets more experienced with the process, you can add other desired behaviors or tricks in as well.

Patience is key to positive reinforcement training. Your best friend genuinely wants to make you happy and of course get a treat! There will be times when more challenging commands may take longer for Fido to get the hang of. Never shame, scold, or punish your dog for not understanding right away. The best part of positive reinforcement is that it strengthens our relationship with our dogs by fostering mutual trust, affection, and encouraging cooperation. With time, consistency patience and treats, your dog will impress your friends and family with all his new skills!

Fido Fun: Dog Park Events for Apartment Communities

Friday, May 11th, 2018

Fido fun! It’s true – apartment communities have gone to the dogs. As the trend towards pet friendly housing continues to grow, property management companies are going out of their way to feature both dog friendly amenities and housing offers to attract families with pets. Here are some great dog park event and “pawty” ideas that your four-legged and two-legged residents are sure to love.

Yappy Hour: People are busy, and sometimes it’s not easy for residents to meet each other. Yappy Hours are a fun way to get human and dog residents mixing and mingling. Dogs are the perfect conversation ice breaker, which helps even shy residents come out of their shell. Hosting is fun and easy, and best of all, this event will have a ton of interest. Hold your Yappy Hour at your bark park (or community room if you don’t have a bark park). Offer wine and other traditional happy hour beverages along with appetizers for the humans, and dog treats and water for the pups. You may even want to partner with a local pet store who would attend and serve their own dog treats for free! Pet stores would love to spread brand awareness to potential customers at your community. Yappy Hours give a lot of bang for the buck when it comes to forming lasting friendships among your human and K9 residents.

Doggy Olympics:  If your apartment has dog agility equipment, you know how much fun pooches have playing on it. Why not host an agility contest to see who’s top dog? Give your residents enough time to practice with their dogs and then set a date to show off their skills. You can even rearrange your agility course with our portable Eco Dog products. Judging the agility contest doesn’t have to super serious – consider having medals for “Most Enthusiastic”, “Most Creative”, and “Most Distracted”.  And if you really wanted to have fun with it, you could have a very special medal for the pooch who just can’t hold it…like this champ!

Puppy Pool Party: If your apartment community has a pool, there is most likely a “NO DOGS ALLOWED” sign nearby. But that could change for one, glorious day of the year. Many municipal pools allow dogs right before they’re drained for winter closures or regular maintenance. Apartment communities can do the same thing! If your community has a seasonal pool, invite your doggy residents for a dip the day before closing. It will be an event pet parents will look forward to all year! Make sure to supply lots of water resistant dog toys and balls for an extra good time. It’s good idea to advise pet owners to bathe their dog after swimming in chlorinated water to ensure healthy skin and if you might need a pet wash station to prevent bathing in bathtubs or sinks, we’ve got you covered!

Classes: Healthy pets make happy pets, which is why dog CPR and first aid are so important for pet owners to be familiar with. Many guardians have never had the opportunity to learn animal CPR from a professional and would be thrilled to attend one held in their apartment complex. Use your community room as ground zero for these classes; dogs don’t need be in the class but will benefit greatly from their human companions attending. You can find dog first aid and CPR professionals in your area by searching on Pet Tech.

Another wonderful class to hold in your bark park is basic obedience. An apartment community that is populated by dogs with good manners will make life easier for everyone. Residents will be so happy to attend with their dogs, teach them new tricks, and achieve better puppy manners. You can find certified trainers in your area who would love to come and share their knowledge through The Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

Need more ideas?  Check out our Pinterest page.

Featured Office Dog: Rory

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Lumina copy

Meet office dog Rory!  She joined the Dog-ON-It-Parks team in June of 2011.  Her humans, Sales/Marketing Manager Nora and husband Ben, saw her profile on Petfinder and being a sucker for puppy dog eyes couldn’t resist. Because Rory came from AARF, one of Seattle’s fantastic rescue organizations, there was a lengthy application process (other folks wanted her too!) as well as a home inspection, and playdate with Gus and Quincy, her Labrador doggy siblings to be.

three musketeers

It was thought she was a Mastiff/Malamute mix, and as it turned out thanks to the Wisdom Panel doggy DNA test, she is GSD/Malamute/Am Staff with a dash of gremlin. Not an official dog breed we know, but this girl is a big fan of mischief.  Rory gets complimented all the time on her unique looks especially when she’s feeling spunky and confident in her octopus costume and goes by Superhero/Code name: Octopitty.

Octopitty

Now a little about Rory; she and her littermates were all rescued at about four months old.  Her foster family did a wonderful job with her after she made it here to the Pacific NW.  However, she did miss a lot of the early socialization that makes all the difference for a stable, confident dog.  She was afraid of just about everything; shiny things like her food bowl, hardwood floors, new people – especially if they’re tall, loud noises, etc.  Her humans worked with her to help boost her confidence by taking her to training classes designed specifically for shy/fearful dogs, as well as private agility classes – the group classes ended up being too loud and stressful for her.

little red

She’s still a sensitive little gal, but all of the additional work and positive reinforcement has helped tremendously.  She lets her people know when she feels overwhelmed or needs some alone time by putting herself to bed in a quiet room (which she does a lot during football season.  Go Hawks!). Sensitive dogs like Rory can often benefit from a Thundershirt to help them feel more comforted and secure.  We discovered that Rory’s octopus costume also does the trick!

Rory loves napping in the sunshine, chasing squirrels, going for walks where she can meet new people (high value treats are helpful here!), playing with her best friend Hamlet and particularly going for rides in the car.

Thanks for reading about Rory and when possible, support your local rescue organizations by adopting or donating.  Woof!

Sunbathing

Time to Be Positive: Dog Training Tips & Tricks

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Pawsitive Reinforcement:

When it comes to dog training, there are many options and opinions as to the best method, however we believe that positivity breeds more positivity! Positive-reinforcement training techniques use non-confrontational methods to engage your dog’s brain. This is done by rewarding positive behavior, and establishing rituals and training actions that are incompatible with negative behavior. Essentially, you reward the positive and either ignore the negative, or direct them to a behavior you do want.  Easy, right?  Doing this can help to lessen your dog’s frustration with the learning process, while still allowing the dog to feel good. There should be no forceful actions as this can damage your pup’s trust. Think about you it…how fast would you sit down for a cookie, some praise or a nice pat on the back? To a dog, those actions are not only treasured but an important part of their lives. Here are some tips on how to incorporate positivity in your dog’s training.

Treat Generously: 

First of all, when using positive reinforcement timing is key; the reward must be given within seconds or your pet might not connect the dots.  An example is when you give your dog a treat for sitting down at your command. You don’t give them the cookie after they’ve sat back up and their attention is on something else, you reward them when all of their attention is focused on you and what they are doing. There are several types of positive reinforcement, it can encompass treats, praise, petting, or even a favorite game. Although most dogs (including our office crew!) are highly food-motivated, and this type of reinforcement can often yield the best results.

Sit. Stay. Play: 

You also want to pay attention to the type of commands you are using with your pet. Keep them short! Use simple one-word commands which are easier for your dog to understand. Some examples are: Come, Sit, Stay, Down, Heel, Off, etc… You might also want to inform your family or those you live with of these to help avoid confusion for your dog later – consistency is key! Your training sessions should also be short and fun, and the goal is to have your dog associate good things while training.

More How To’s:

As time goes on and your pet becomes more skilled (and hopefully better behaved!), it is a good idea to gradually back off the treats and use them only on occasion. Eventually, the treats should no longer be necessary, however you should always reward Fido with verbal praise and a pet. It is important that you continue to use these techniques to maintain the behaviors you want from your dog.

Reward-based dog training helps create a range of desirable behaviors, which builds mutual feelings of trust and confidence, and a bond that will last for years to come. If you’d like more info on positive reinforcement and dog training, we highly recommend Victoria Stilwell’s website.  It’s a wonderful resource for all things dog. Good luck and woof woof!

Hound Heroes: Strays Who Saved the Day

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Hero Dogs

We all know dogs are loyal companions, they perform acts of selflessness, courage and even stray dogs can have a sense of duty and protection. Here are several stories of hound heroes who not only saved the day, but saved lives. Dogs truly are man’s best friend!

Firefighting dog

 “Firefighting Fido”

In 1935, a stray dog came to the rescue of a family whose house had caught on fire in San Mateo, California. The family was unaware of the fire and had it not been for the dog barking and alerting them to get out of the house, they might have perished. Dogs have an incredibly strong sense of smell and can detect smells much better than people. Whereas humans use sight as their strongest sense, for canines it’s their nose and they use them for everything, from wet nose wake up calls in the morning and saving strangers from house fires!

nanny

“Nanny Dog”

In 2005, near the Ngong Forests in Nairobi, Kenya a caring canine came across an abandoned newborn baby. The child was wrapped in tattered clothes and a plastic bag. The dog carried the child across a busy road, through barbed wire and into a shed where she was keeping her puppies. A man who owned the shed discovered the baby and alerted the local authorities. A dog’s maternal instincts are something to be admired. They are loyal, loving, caring, and protective creatures.  Did you know Pit Bulls used to be referred to as Nanny Dogs? They earned this nickname in the 1900’s and were considered to be the strongest, most protective, loyal, and loving animals towards children.

aussie

“Aussie Hero”

During 2009, in Maningrida Australia, a stray dog intervened in a domestic fight.  A man had beat his partner in front of family members, and then dragged her outside where our Aussie Hero Dog came to the rescue.  The dog stopped the violent assault by biting the attacker and saved the woman from further harm so authorities were able to capture him. Dogs have been protective of their owners since the beginning of time, but what provokes a dog into helping a stranger? Studies have shown dogs have a sixth sense about people’s intentions. One breed that is particularly protective is the German Shepherd who are characterized as dogs who listen well, learn quickly and are obedient – all of these characteristics are also why these heroic dogs are used so often by police departments and the military. They’re also pretty cute! sheps

So the next time you see a stray dog, remember these stories of our hound heroes! Help prevent animal abuse by helping a dog in need.  If you come across a dog who may be lost, check Fido for any tags with guardian information.  If he doesn’t have one, please take him to a local vet clinic or humane society where they can scan for a microchip and provide a safe haven. They would do the same for you!

Dog Park Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

As dog park enthusiasts, we know that running and playing off-leash improves the quality of life for our furry friends. Here are some etiquette tips to help ensure a fun, safe, and happy visit.

  • Take for instance your first act upon arrival to the park…you unclip the leash and pull out your cell phone or even a favorite book.  Stop right there.  Put your phone away!  Dog parks not only provide healthy exercise for your pup, but can also help us humans make better decisions by choosing to embrace the outdoors, time with our pets and being present.

 

  • Keep a close eye on Fido! One moment of playfulness can turn sour pretty quickly, especially near the entrance as new dogs come in and others are leaving. It’s especially important for your furry friends to have manners with other dogs, so if you notice rude behavior such as humping, body slamming, stalking etc, it may be time for a break.

rude-dog-012

  • Barking excessively is also something to be aware of. It can be stressful for the other dogs, which can also lead to aggression.  And let’s be honest, even the most avid dog lover may get a little fed up with the one dog who insists on “shouting” the whole time. Take Barking Buster home!

barking_in_dogs_1

  • While some dogs greet their fellow canines quite nicely, they may still need some help saying hello to people. Certain behavior while intended to be friendly, can be perceived as uncouth to the person on the receiving end. Jumping and enthusiastic sniffing of nether regions are both common (but rude!) greetings that can potentially make someone else’s dog park visit less enjoyable. Working with your dog on impulse control can be a huge help!

ID

  • Avoid clusters of both people and dogs; a concentrated area of too many pups in too small a space can lead to a pack mentality. Much like cliques in school, one person (or dog in this matter) can end up being picked on.

 

  • Utilize the entire dog park, it gives you a chance to get some exercise along with your dog and they’ll also enjoy all of the new smells. Many dog parks offer fantastic walking trails as well as agility equipment, so each visit can have some variety.

6401 - Greenwood Urban Wetland Park

  • Remember to scoop your poop! To make the setting clean and enjoyable for everyone please clean up after your dog. Stepping in poop is a sure fire way to make your outing way less enjoyable. If you want to go the extra mile, you could pick up poop that has been left behind by other dog owners. You score some doggy karma points and the park is a little cleaner for everyone else.  Win win!

Most importantly, do a little research before you go to the park. Does your dog need to be spayed or neutered?  Are kids welcome? Are there breed restrictions or any fees or license requirements?  Make sure you know the rules beforehand, so combined with your new etiquette knowledge, you and Fido can make the most out of your time together.

Newtown

Thank you for reading! If you have any more questions about dog park etiquette, please don’t hesitate to ask. Woof woof!

Fact: Dog People Make Better Dog Park Equipment

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Let’s just start off by saying we’re dog people. You know, the kind of folks who have dogs running around the office (see Exhibit A below), make their own dog treats, cross the street just to say hello to another dog, go to 4-H/agility/drafting events on the weekends, belong to a raw food co-op…the list goes on and on.

Quincy

When it comes to designing dog parks and dog park equipment, we think this makes all the difference in the world. Why, you might ask?

Would a restaurant hire a chef who didn’t actually enjoy eating? Because you can surely “cook” something, but it makes a huge difference when made by someone who truly loves food and has the knowledge to make something amazing. Would you trust hopping into an airplane if the engineer didn’t have a basic knowledge (and more would be better here, right?) of physics and how to get a giant piece of metal with wings to fly at 30,000 feet?

dog pilot

We believe the same school of thought applies to dog park equipment. Our office and design team have collectively 30+ years of experience in dog agility, metal fabrication, playground design and dog behavior.

What that means for our customers is that they get the best everything. All of our dog agility components are tested for safety and durability with our office pups who range in size from 15 pounds (Hello Sprocket!) up to our large breed mob of Bernese Mountain Dogs and Labradors, so we know what works for the little guys, the big dogs and every size in between.
6405 with dogs

Design questions? Yep, we got you covered. As the first company in the US to specialize exclusively in dog parks and dog park amenities, our customer service can’t be beat. We can guide you through surfacing options, whether it’s feasible to include a pet fountain or water feature, irrigation considerations, fencing and best of all, respect your budget.

So when you’re looking for a company to help you with your dog park, consider the following points:
1. Do they offer a lifetime warranty against rust on the agility equipment? Hint: We’re the only company in the US that does and believe us, you want this. Between environmental factors such as rain, mud, salt air and male dogs who, ahem, like to water everything in sight, rust is a huge problem in dog parks.

2. How long have they been in business? Dog parks, and dog park businesses are a hot commodity nowadays which means a lot of new companies have dipped their toes into the water. Sure, it gives people more options but they’re not experts like we are. So make sure you’re working with someone who knows what they’re doing and isn’t trying to sell you more equipment than your park has the space for or equipment that is potentially unsafe.

3. Customization: Does the company offer color and text customization? We know that some customers want bright, playful colors and others prefer more muted, natural options. That’s why we offer agility components in two color palettes and have the option for many other colors including blue, gray, black, yellow and more. Also, nothing screams “This is our dog park!” like custom benches and equipment with the park name. We offer that too!

Tire Jump

So whether you’re just getting started and are looking for a turnkey dog park or have an existing park that could use some perking up, make sure you’re getting the best advice. From us, of course!


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