Posts Tagged ‘dog training’

Dog Behavior: The good ,the bad and the weird

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Even though dogs are our best friends, it’s time to recognize something. They are total weirdos. Dogs are infamous for some very strange behavior like sniffing butts, humping legs, chasing their tails, and eating poop. There’s no doubt that you’ll recognize some of the wacky traits listed below, so let’s figure out the logic behind some of our best friend’s more quirky dog behaviors.

Butt Sniffing

“Hello? Anyone home?”

Butt sniffing may seem crazy to us, but it’s a source of *very* valuable information for your pup. Unlike humans, a dogs’ primary sense is smell. Their little snouts are about 100,000 stronger than our human noses. They can even smell from each nostril separately! Think of butt sniffing as dogs exchanging business cards with each other; their anal glands excrete scents that hold key information that is instantly translated through scent. Just by a brief butt sniffing session, your dog can find out their new friends’ gender, health and reproductive status, temperament, and what foods they eat regularly.  So rather than be grossed out the next time you see your dog and another dog greet each other with some butt sniffing, be amazed at how much they’re learning about each other!

Dining on Doo Doo

Oh, the shame!

Poop eating is truly the most bizarre and yuck inducing behaviors a dog can exhibit. The worst part is that after they’ve indulged, they usually want to lick your face – ugh! Thanks, but no thanks! What on earth would compel your cute, beloved, snuggly friend to eat poop? The scientific name for this disgusting phenomenon is coprophagia. A recent study by veterinarian Benjamin Hart at the University of California discovered that 16% of dogs are habitual poop eaters, and 24% of dogs are rare to occasional poop eaters. Poop eating is normal in puppyhood, but if the behavior is not addressed it may carry on throughout a dog’s entire life. There are health issues that could prompt a dog to eat feces such as poor digestion and plain old hunger. If a dog has poor digestion, the food may come out in a very similar way to how it went in, prompting a dog to have dinner, version 2.0. Parasites can also take nutrients from their food, so Fido may opt to eat anything he can get his paws on to feel full. If you suspect your dog is eating poop due to a health condition, contact your vet right away.

Tail Chasing

I’m gonna get you…someday!

Tails are just plain entertaining for humans and dogs alike! For a playful pup, seeing a fluffy tail (even one that’s on his own body) may just be too fun to resist. Often chased, though seldom caught, tail chasing is usually just a dog burning off excess playful energy.  It’s like your dog is twiddling his thumbs! Tail chasing can be a genetic predisposition in breeds such as German Shepherds, Bull Terriers, and Dobermans. Just like us humans, dogs can develop obsessive compulsive disorders. One common display of OCD is wait for it, compulsive tail chasing. If you notice that your dog seems fixated on chasing his tail rather than playful, seek help from a canine behaviorist. They can use behavior modification training and anti-depressants (if necessary!) to help stop compulsions.

Humping

Get a room!

Is your dog being physically amorous with other dogs at the park? How about with inanimate objects, or worse…your leg? What exactly is causing this blush inducing behavior? If you have a humper at home, know that you’re in good company. It’s a common issue, and one that may not need to be addressed. First, it’s important to understand that both male and female dogs hump. Spayed and neutered dogs may hump as well, and though dogs under the age of one are more frequent humpers, many dogs don’t age out of this behavior. The first reason for humping is a sexual impulse. Whether it’s another dog, your leg, or a pillow, dogs will hump any dang thing for sexual gratification. Dogs of both sexes (especially those whom have not been fixed) can begin humping when they start reaching sexual maturity. Female dogs in heat are will hump another dog of either gender to signal mating. It’s vital to spay and neuter your pet to not only cut down on the humping tendencies but prevent successful mating. Usually dogs aren’t emulating mating behavior when they hump. The ol’ bump and grind can be caused by nonsexual arousal (caused by stress or boredom), and play is another reason that dogs hump each other, which should be totally acceptable if both dogs are fine with it. You should intervene if one of the dogs looks annoyed or is being overpowered by the humper. Social dominance is another reason that dogs hump each other. It’s a vital part of establishing the pecking order within a pack, and to test the submissiveness of another dog. If your dog compulsively humps, a canine behaviorist can help find the cause and help calm your little Romeo down.

Dog Agility 101

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Whether you and your pooch are just looking to have some fun at the dog park, or want to compete in agility competitions, first impressions to dog agility training are key. Dogs who are properly introduced to agility components are more likely to use them again and have fun! No matter what age, breed, weight, or temperament, agility can benefit your dog in so many ways! From increased focus, helping with behavior issues such as lack of confidence and/or anxiety, and creating a stronger bond between yourself and your dog through teamwork!

Start Slowly with Enthusiasm!

Fido’s first exposure to agility components should be extra fun and super positive! Now is not the time to worry about them perfecting their weave pole speed, or teeter totter skills, but rather a time for them to become acquainted with the idea of engaging with the components. Let your dog’s curiosity lead the way during the introduction; they will probably sniff the heck out of it, and possibly pee on it, which is a part of the “getting to know each other” process. If they interact with the agility components on their own (like walking though a Bow Wow Barrel without a prompt), give positive reinforcement through praise, pets, and treats. If your dog seems hesitant about the agility components, don’t rush them – rather praise and treat them when they go near the equipment. You want to encourage your dog to view these components as fun, and that they are rewarded by engaging with them.

Next Steps

Once your dog feels comfortable with agility components, its time to get moving! Trying out agility components may or may not happen on your dog’s first exposure; you be the judge of whether they’re ready or not. Depending on where you are (a dog park with agility components, your own backyard, or a dog agility facility), you’ll have to gauge potential distractions. Try to avoid a busy time of day when other dogs may distract your pup from using the agility pieces. Let’s break it down:

  1. Start with simple components, like a step up table or a single wall jump.  
  2. Use your dogs biggest motivator (treats, a toy, a tennis ball, verbal and physical praise, etc) to entice them through, over, under, or around the agility component.
  3. The first time around, you may want to leash your dog to help guide them (for example, if they were going to walk over a ramp or an A frame.  This will help your dog understand what they’re supposed to do, though you won’t need the leash for long. You may also guide them through the obstacle with treats or a toy.
  4. Once they’ve completed an agility event, praise and treat them like they are the best dog on earth (which they are)! Try each agility component for several minutes before moving on to the next. Be sure to take play breaks so their concentration doesn’t get overloaded. Learning new things is better when it’s fun!

Repeat Customer

Once your dog has a firm understanding of agility components, how can you help keep them interested and wanting to use them regularly? Depending on your dogs’ level of skill and interest, there are many ways to get keep them involved in agility. Got a naturally gifted canine athlete?  Join one of the many agility clubs across the country like USDAA, NADAC, or AKHA! These are serious and competitive organizations that can take a good agility athlete to the level of competitions. If you love how agility improves your dog’s behavior and crazy energy, but his skills need some improvement, find a local agility class. These are wonderful environments that will allow your dog to hone his skills, have fun and make new friends! Just think of how your pup will impress everyone at the dog park after a few classes! If you have a dog that isn’t at the level of classes or competition, keep going to the dog park and encouraging them to use the agility components. They may just surprise you with how fast they learn and progress!

Shy Dogs & Dog Parks

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

Shy dogs have a special place in our hearts! Anyone who has ever loved a dog will tell you that they absolutely have their own personalities and funny quirks.  Though their temperaments vary from pooch to pooch, shyness is a fairly common trait. It’s especially noticeable in dogs who have experienced abuse or poor socialization early in life. Rescue dogs are even more susceptible due to trauma associated with being in a noisy shelter, going from foster home to foster home and essentially a lack of stability.  For a shy pup, the dog park can be an overwhelming and scary place at first. Thankfully there are ways to safely introduce Fido to the dog park to ensure that they have a life filled with fun visits and play.

Signs your dog may be timid or shy:

If your family has recently adopted a dog and you’re unsure about their temperament, body language can help give you some insight into how they feel. If your dog exhibits some or all these traits, they may need some extra TLC and training:

  • Ears are flat against his head
  • Often in a cowering posture
  • Shies away from interactions with other dogs and/or people
  • Tucks his tail between his legs
  • Panting or shaking
  • Excessive yawning (a sign of stress)
  • Skulking, pacing, hiding, or escape attempt
  • Whining or barking
  • Raised hackles
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Nipping, biting, or sneering
  • Submissive urination

Dog Park Introduction Techniques

Basic Obedience: For safety purposes, every dog should respond to basic commands before visiting a dog park. Obedience training can be your best friend’s best friend here! If a shy dog knows exactly what you’re asking/expecting, he may be less likely to panic during a stressful situation. Start at home with simple commands such as “Sit,” “Stay,” and “Come”, and be sure to use lots of positive reinforcement!  Once your dog has mastered those commands indoors, try taking them outside where there are more distractions. Working closely with your dog will boost their confidence and give you peace of mind as well.

Additional Training: Sometimes a timid pup can overreact when they feel threatened or nervous.  This can be something such as anxious barking, but can also be more problematic if they resort to fear-based responses such as nipping or biting.  Fortunately, most reputable trainers offer classes and/or one-on-one sessions geared towards shy dogs.  These classes build upon basic obedience and focus on confidence building and strengthening the dog/guardian bond.

Doggy Playdates: If your dog is timid around other dogs, consider an at home playdate before introducing him to the dog park. The best BFF candidate is a calm and gentle dog who is confident around both people and pets. Not only is this a big step in socialization, but your dog will learn appropriate behavior just by being around a laid-back canine. If you don’t have any dogs like this in your life, ask a local dog trainer!  Many of them would love to bring a “canine mentor” to a training session or allow your dog to test out a day at doggy daycare where they can learn those same skills in a managed environment.

Practice Park Activities: Teach your dog games like “Fetch” and “Hide and Seek” at home or in your backyard. This not only gives your dog a chance to learn while playing, it also trains them for activities you’ll likely engage in at the dog park. Giving treats or using a clicker can help him focus on the positive and stay out of worry-wart mode.  It may sound simple but for a timid dog, just learning that they can initiate an interaction with a predictable outcome can make all the difference.

Putting it All Together: When it’s time to load your pup into the car and head to the park, start slowly.  That means doing some background research first: does your local park have a shy/senior dog section?  What are the slowest and busiest times (so you can plan accordingly)? Are there any reviews of the park from other park users that might be helpful? Can your dog trainer meet you there to provide an extra set of eyes?  Do everything you can to set your dog up for success, but be patient! It might take a few tries, or visiting a few different parks for the stars to line up.  And it’s possible that Fido just isn’t a dog park kind of dog, and that’s fine too!

Hopefully these tips will make the dog park a happier place for both you and your pup.  Woof!

 

 

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.

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!

A-Frame: A Dog Agility Classic

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

A-Frame Storey Bark Park

The A-Frame is a traditional piece of agility equipment; it’s fun for dogs of all shapes and sizes. Now, not all dogs are natural climbers so it is important not to push them past their comfort level. Using treats, praise and positive reinforcement to encourage your dog can also be helpful! According to Pet Expertise there are four types of treats that work best and are healthy options for your dog. They recommend using regular dog kibble, cheese, chicken, and chopped veggies as healthy alternatives to dog biscuits or cookies.

dog-loves-cheese

There are several important differences between our A-Frame and others. First of all, ours is not as steep. We think all dogs should be able to safely and comfortably play on our equipment! When an A-Frame is too steep and/or too narrow, it’s not only unsafe, it will discourage dogs from using the equipment again if they lose their footing or feel they need to jump off the side. With that in mind, our A-Frame is only three feet high at the peak with an extra wide width of 38”. Another important consideration is the angle of the ramp; traditional (professional) dog agility requires it to be a very steep 98 degrees for large dogs and 104 degrees for the smaller pups. By design, our A-Frame is only 43 degrees, so about half as steep. This helps to ensure that any pooch, whether an agility champ or a novice, can feel like a top dog once they conquer the ramp. One last word of warning, if a dog park company says they are using AKC or USDAA standards for their equipment, be careful! It’s always a much safer bet to install recreation level equipment in a public park.

Our A-Frame is also coated with PawsGrip™, our exclusive highly textured material designed for maximum slip resistance. Other products may have rubber or textured polyethylene. Neither of these are really suited for the use a dog park sees, and the surface can crumble, degrade or crack quite easily. However, PawsGrip™ is made from the same materials used in truck bed liners, and provides a more stable and sturdy texturized surface that is super durable and holds up under frequent use and all weather conditions.

dog_on_it-189

So remember when comparing dog park agility equipment, we don’t just offer the widest range of products you will find, but also the safest and highest quality. Dog parks are essential in bringing your community together and sourcing safe equipment with a lifetime warranty will guarantee a long lived (and loved!) place for all the pooches and their people to play!

6401 - Greenwood Urban Wetland Park


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