Posts Tagged ‘puppy training’

New Kid on the Block: Tips for introducing a dog into your family

Monday, July 29th, 2019

Whether you’re adopting a puppy or an adult dog, nothing is more exciting than bringing a new furry friend home! If you live with other dogs, remember that first introductions matter. How you introduce your new dog to your established pack can have a lasting effect on their relationship. These tips are designed to help integrate your new pup to the pack in a way that will reduce stress for everyone (human and canine alike).

Find Switzerland: Introduce Your Dogs on Neutral Ground

Before making introductions, bring home an item that smells like the newbie for your established dogs to sniff. Maybe it’s a toy, or a piece of clothing that your new dog has been in contact with. By smelling the new pup first, your current dogs can familiarize themselves with their smell and recognize it when they are all introduced! Arrange their first meeting at a neutral location. By meeting somewhere like a dog park or a Sniffspot, nobody will feel like their territory is being threatened, and their first interaction is more likely to go smoothly.

Leash all the dogs meeting each other, and walk them together with about 10 feet of spacing between. This helps to get them used to one another without the stress of a “forced” meeting. Once the walk is done, take the pups to an open area and let them sniff each other for a few moments leaving the leashes on and loose. Remain upbeat and positive through the whole introduction process. Lastly, reward them like crazy so they associate the new dog in their pack as a good thing. If you see any type of aggressive or fearful reactions, separate them and get each dog to focus on the person they are with. You can try another introduction later and be sure to always end on a positive note!

There’s No Place Like Home

Once the dogs have met on neutral turf, it’s time to bring your new pooch home! This can be a pretty scary experience, so to help make things easier on him, bring him home to an empty house (get a friend to watch your other dogs for an hour or so). Also, put away any food, toys, and bedding that belongs to your other dogs. If you have adopted a puppy, be sure to puppy proof your home!  Bring Fido in on a leash, and spend some time walking him around the house and yard so he can get familiar with his new home.

After some time, you can let him off leash to freely explore but keep an eye on him at to make sure he’s not getting into anything he shouldn’t. That’s directed at you, Labradors! After he’s finished the tour, bring your other dogs home and re-introduce them out in the yard first. Even if they’re getting along, keep food and toys separate for the first several days as mingling these items can trigger territorial aggression.

Make sure your new pup isn’t feeling overwhelmed by giving him alone time from your other pets. This could mean time in another room, a crate, or on a solo walk with you. Also be sure to monitor each dog’s body language for the first week to make sure everyone is having a positive time and not displaying aggression or fear. If things between your pack are tense at first, no need to panic! Experts say that it can take up to a month to work out the kinks of their new relationship. If you do notice any signs of aggressive behavior, keep periods of interaction brief. Halt any escalations with a firm, consistent command and then separate them for a short period. When they behave well together praise them equally.  You can also bring in the help of a dog trainer to aid in the transition. With time, training, and praise, your new and established dogs will create a new pack hierarchy, and have their own very special bond!

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.

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!


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