Tag Archives: obedience

Dog Walking Etiquette


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Have you ever considered there is a certain way you, as a pup parent, should behave when walking your furry child? Often, a heavy focus is placed on the way a pooch behaves (or should behave when properly trained). However, with something like dog-walking which requires two to tango, there is a certain etiquette that the puppy parent should follow as well. Here’s a helpful list of do’s and don’ts to help you master dog-walking, prevent potential problems with other dogs and people you encounter on your walks, and make it an overall enjoyable experience for both you and your pup!

DO…

Always make sure you have bags with you to pick up after your dog. It’s impolite to leave your dog’s waste somewhere that others might step in it, not to mention it’s unsightly and doesn’t exactly smell pleasant! Always pick up after your dog and dispose of his poop in a public trash can or your own. Every time.

  • Use a leash. Even if you believe your dog will listen to you and immediately return to your side when you call, you can’t always predict what you might encounter on your walks. A squirrel, cat or another dog might catch your dog’s attention and distract him from your commands, a car could come around the corner suddenly, or your dog might startle someone else as he bounds up to greet them. Keep your dog safely by your side so you can control his movements, and potentially remove him from any dangers that come his way.
  • Respect other pedestrians. And remember, not everyone loves your dog as much as you do! Although you might be used to certain behaviors of your pooch at home, everyone raises their puppies differently, and may not approve of your dog’s behavior. For example, even if you allow jumping up at home, others you encounter may not want your dog jumping on them. Even the biggest dog lover may take issue with your pup charging, jumping or slobbering all over them. The strangers you encounter probably have no idea what your dog is like, so respect them by keeping your pup on a close leash.
  • Change course when necessary. Keep an eye on other dog walkers and assess if they have control of their dogs. Is that dog walking politely beside his owner, or is he dragging his owner down the street, ignoring all commands? Or, do you see another potential source of trouble up ahead? Sometimes you might see something you’d rather avoid. Use your best judgment and remove yourself and your dog from a potentially dangerous situation when you feel it’s necessary by crossing the street or making a turn. It’s also a good idea to explain yourself if you get close enough to another person you’re trying to avoid. Simply smile and say “He’s jumpy with other dogs,” or, “She gets loud when she meets new pups.” With open communication, the other party should understand kindly.

DON’T…

  •  Escalate a situation if one arises. Dogs will naturally sense your mood and anxiety level, so stay calm and lead by example. If an encounter with another person or dog starts to go south, the best idea is to pull your dog away and walk in the opposite direction. Getting involved in a heated argument with someone will only serve to rile up your dog and make things worse.
  • Be careless when holding your dog’s leash. Simply having your dog on a leash isn’t always enough; controlling the leash and using it to lead the way can prove to be crucial. Take a break from texting or being glued to your phone as awareness of your surroundings, including people, dogs, cars and anything else in your vicinity is paramount to you and your dog’s safety. The last thing you want is for your dog to wrap his leash around someone’s legs, or for him to get tangled up with another dog’s leash (especially if that other dog isn’t very keen on sharing his personal space). Keep your dog’s leash short when in a busy area to give you more control and to keep him out of trouble.
  • Punish your dog. Stay in control of your dog and you likely won’t have to discipline him. Even when you are changing course or preventing your dog from doing something wrong, a simple firm grip on the leash will do. By staying calm with a firm tone, you will communicate successfully with your dog and lead him in another direction.

Remember, being consistent is the best way to master any training-required skill, including dog walking. Start leash training your dog at a young age so that they have these skills down pat by the time they are ready to go on adventures with you! Following these tips will ensure that you and your pooch stay safe and have fun.

SERIES: When The Bite’s Bigger Than The Bark: Aggression in Dogs Part 3


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Dogs are complicated animals with distinct personalities and therefore temperaments based on their individual genetic makeup, environmental factors and breed history. Just like humans, dogs have faults and behaviors that need correcting. And one of those common issues is aggression. While we’ve established in Part One of this series that training an aggressive dog takes time, patience and consistency, before choosing and committing to a training plan, the first step is identifying the various types of aggression and the respective motives and triggers for each. In this final part to our special series, we hold a microscope to four additional classifications of aggression.

Redirected Aggression

Consider this situation: In the midst of a scuffle between two dogs, one of the owners jumps into the middle attempting to stop the fight. Instead, the dog suddenly turns and bites the owner. This scenario describes a dog redirecting aggression towards an interfering party. Or, if two dogs are standing behind a fence together and one becomes aroused by something or someone on the other side of the fence, he may have no other way to take out his aggression than by turning to his furry companion and biting him.

Training approach: The remedy for redirected aggression is often to remove the dog from volatile situations which may trigger these feelings. For example, in the fence scenario, a responsible owner should not allow the dog to be outside unsupervised. Reward-based obedience training is also always a good idea.

Pain-Elicited Aggression

When a dog is in pain, a common reaction is aggression. Therefore, it’s crucial to handle an injured dog with care or to defer to a professional in order to prevent a pain-related attack. Even the most gentle, friendly dogs can react aggressively when they feel pain. And remember, while serious injuries are obviously quite painful, a dog can also react aggressively from something as minor as a pinched neck from a collar, stepping on a sharp object or getting stung by a bee.

Training approach: This particular case of aggression may be the easiest to treat and remedy, simply by making sure your pup receives proper veterinary attention. By getting to the root of the pain, once you obtain a diagnosis and medically treat the problem, your pup’s pain-related aggression may simply go away.

Sex-Related Aggression

Dogs who are not neutered or spayed will demonstrate aggression in order to attract the attention of the opposite sex dog for breeding purposes. Fighting can also occur between two male dogs (even if no female dogs are present) in an effort to compete for female attention. In the wild, the strongest dogs are the first to gain access to the female they’re vying for – so this is a natural, evolutionary practice. While it’s possible for females to also fight amongst each other as well, it’s less common. If a dog is fixed later in life, he may still demonstrate aggressive tendencies until the sexual urges wear off.

Training approach: Dog-on-dog aggression is typically remedied with behavior modification programs designed to de-sensitize and counter-condition. Basic dog training commands such as “stay” and “sit” will be reinforced to encourage self-control. After all, a dog who is passively standing still in one position cannot act out on aggressive tendencies.

Predatory Aggression

Classic predatory behavior includes chasing after fast-moving prey. And oftentimes, domesticated pups will chase other pets, wildlife (such as rabbits or squirrels), or even running people, bikers or skaters. Sometimes, a dog will bite his “prey” if they manage to catch the object of desire. While predatory aggression towards people or even human babies is possible, it is rare in pet dogs. That said, this type of aggression can be especially worrisome as there is often no warning before the attack.

Training approach: Those most effective treatment for predatory aggression will be intensive obedience training with a focus on the recall and “and down” commands. If a dog is chasing something, the owner must demonstrate control to retrieve the object. Developing control is a process, but can be practiced with repetitive fetch play and exercises.

In conclusion, while aggressive behavior in canines can be difficult to break, positive change is certainly possible and the behavior should be addressed immediately for optimal results. Through regimented training and therapy, aggressive dogs can recover to become the sweet and loving furry friends they’re meant to be.

The LAB Report: All About The Labrador Retriever


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The Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed in the country, and it’s no surprise why. We’ve broken down the top reasons why dog owners can’t get enough of the Lab. Disclaimer: You may shortly find yourself yearning to bring home one of these very special dogs after reading these 10 characteristics of Labs:

1. Very Trainable
Bred to follow human cues, Labs are extremely obedient if they receive proper training. In addition to the basic commands of sit, stay and roll-over, Labs can be taught more difficult tasks that require a high level of attention and intelligence.

2. Can Doggie Paddle
Natural-born swimmers, Labs were bred to jump into icy waters and help fishermen retrieve nets, fish and equipment. The extra skin (webbing) around their toes makes for natural paddles and their water resistant coat keeps them warm and dry in the water. Lastly, the Lab’s long round tail, often called an “otter tail,” moves back and forth in water like a ship rudder, making the Lab the Michael Phelps of dogs.

3. Easy-to-Manage Coat
Labs are short-haired, so you don’t need to brush them often, with the exception of during molting season. You also don’t need to bathe the Lab often as the natural oils in their skin serve as protection from outside irritants. In fact, it’s recommended to bathe Labs only 3-4 times per year.

4. Great with Kids
Want a nice, well-mannered family dog? The Lab is one of the best dogs for children of all ages. Labs are kind, good-natured, friendly, laid-back and affectionate. However, as puppies they can be rambunctious and unknowingly play a little rough. The good news is with a little bit of training (and maturity), they will respond well.

5. Athletic Sports Dogs
Part of the AKC-classified sporting group, Labs are willing to retrieve just about anything. Thus, if you’re interested in a breed to accompany you in hunting or fishing, Labs are a prime choice.

6. Selfless Helpers
Labs also make incredible service and therapy dogs. If you or someone in your family has a disability or illness that requires canine assistance, the Lab is a great option. Their intelligence and trainability, coupled with their readiness to please and affectionate streak make for a perfect combination. Labs are known for their ability to lead the blind, act as hearing dogs, and perform law enforcement and military work.

7. Active, Energetic Dogs
As you can tell from this article so far, Labs love exercise and are perfect companions to the active owner who loves the outdoors and daily walks. Whether playing a game of fetch, hiking, swimming, or fishing, Labs are in their element when they’re outdoors, and are not for your average couch potato.

8. Nose for Security
Labs are highly protective of their family members and home, so they make for effective watch dogs. If you’re interested in a dog who will bark at an intruder, the Lab is a great choice. Because Labs are considered “working dogs,” they are often trained to be professional security dogs.

9. Healthy with Long Lifespan
While every dog is different (just as humans are), some generalizations can be made for the healthiness of the breed. Labs are expected to live for at least 10 years, and have an average lifespan of 12 years. Thus, if they’re taken good care of, they’ll be around for lots of memories to be made.

10. Affordable
Although the Labrador Retriever is a purebred, the breed is only #18 on the list of most expensive breeds factoring in all medical costs. That said, it’s worth assessing expected expenses to make sure the Lab (or any other breed) is within your budget.

Managing Your Dog’s Tendency to Jump on People


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Have you ever walked into someone’s home and had their dog jump up on you? While some dog lovers may not think twice and some may even welcome this behavior, others could be taken aback, frightened, or annoyed. The truth is, dogs shouldn’t jump on people, whether it’s their own family members, a house guest or stranger. Learning how to manage your dog’s inclination to jump is essential to having a safe, happy household for both your puppy and your family.

You Make Me Wanna Jump, Jump: Why They Do It
There are several explanations for a dog’s tendency to jump on people. Although this behavior may sometimes simply be a result of your pup’s overwhelming excitement or desire to play, it may also be rooted in a dog’s instinctive desire to reflect their standing in their ‘pack.’ When dogs greet one another, they sniff each other’s faces. Therefore, jumping up on you is widely believed to be an attempt to level their height with yours and greet you as an equal. A dog may also be trying to reach your face in order to lick it, which is a learned behavior that indicates submissiveness. Puppies licking around their mothers’ mouths shows her that they are submissive to her (“sorry, mom!”), so this behavior is meant to demonstrate to you that your pup views you as her leader.

Conversely, jumping may also be a dog’s reaction to feeling uneasy when someone (especially someone new) comes into the house. In this case, jumping is an attempt to show the pup’s dominance over this visitor. Your pup may also be jumping because she is anxious, and has quickly learned that if she jumps on you, she will be picked up and held close or petted.

Fix the Problem
It’s best to correct this problem during puppyhood, when your puppy is busy growing, absorbing information and learning how to become a well-behaved family member. If the jumping continues past these early years, it’s much more likely that the dog could frighten, or worse, injure someone. At a young age, a puppy’s biological mother teaches boundaries in a firm, calm manner. You should take a similar approach to correcting this behavior, and establish your expectations early on.

The most widely accepted way to stop a dog from jumping is to simply ignore it. Each time the dog jumps up, turn away, and don’t look or speak to your dog. Only reward her with your attention once she has had all four paws on the ground for several seconds. If the pup jumps again, repeat the process until she is back on all fours once again.

It’s always a good idea to reward your dog with attention once she is calm, even if you are irritated at her for jumping. Yelling at the puppy or scolding her is generally considered not to be as effective as simply withholding affection and attention until the bad behavior is no longer happening. This will allow your puppy to make the connection between having all four feet on the floor and getting all the belly rubs and cuddles she wants!

If you believe your dog is jumping on guests to assert control, you should consider not allowing her to greet guests right away. Confine the dog and allow her to greet guests once she has calmed down. If your pup acts aggressive towards visitors, it may be best to simply keep them separated – this will keep both the guests and the dogs safer and happier.

Consistency is Key
Being inconsistent in your treatment of this behavior will only lead to misunderstanding and anxiety in your dog as well as frustration for you as the behavior will not change. Be clear every time you encounter the behavior that it is unacceptable, and that you will only greet a dog who has all four feet on the ground! It will be confusing for your puppy if you allow her to jump on you but then expect her not to jump on guests. Pick one approach, and stick with it! You can even involve your close family or friends in your puppy’s training, and show them how to treat the behavior when they come over. Pretty soon, you’ll have a polite, well-behaved furever friend ready to be part of the greeting committee at your home.

Training Your Dog for the Busy Holiday Season


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As the smells and sights of Christmastime fill the air this time of year, so do emotions of excitement and anticipation. While the holidays are a time of joy for many, the busy schedules leading up to them can leave people overcome with stress and anxiety, and unfortunately our dogs often pick up on these feelings as well. To prevent your restless pup from ravaging the house and misbehaving when guests come over for the holidays, it is important to start preventative training beforehand. Here’s a guide to keeping an energetic or anxious pup in check so the holidays stay cheerful for both humans and our four-legged friends.

Call a Professional

If your dog is still a puppy who likes to play by her own rules, it may be a good idea to enroll her in obedience classes. This may be an especially viable option for those who fear aggressive behaviors from their pooch, which may be triggered when new family or friends come into the picture. If you don’t see yourself being able to train your pup before the holidays, it may be time to call a professional.

Invest in a Crate

A crate can be a very helpful tool in containing an overactive puppy. As soon as you sense your pup getting antsy around guests, it’s time to take a proactive approach by pulling her away from the situation and placing her in a crate. Even if your dog isn’t the type to bite others, new, stressful situations such as a busy holiday get-together may spark behavior you’ve never seen in her before. This is why it pays to have a crate handy, especially for younger dogs whose behavior can be unpredictable. And if you start crate training prior to your event, your dog will be comfortable going in her crate when you ask her to.

Utilize the “Sit” Command
The “sit” command is probably one of the first things you’ll teach your dog to do, and it’s also the foundation of proper obedience. With the right training, this simple command will come in handy to control a jumpy dog who pounces on every guest who enters the door. Now, your guests might not mind if there’s a tiny fur ball scraping at their ankles, but if it’s a larger, more menacing-looking breed who’s practically leaping atop their laps, it may be a cause of concern. Teach your dog to sit when she approaches you, and reward the behavior so she does the same in front of guests. This command also works for when your little beggar comes out during mealtime. Combined with a firm “stay” or “down,” the command can be especially effective. Yet, if you still find your pup pestering your guests for food, then it’s time to break out the crate.

Praise Good Behavior
Positive reinforcement is one of the fundamental techniques to encouraging desired behaviors from your dog. By rewarding her with treats and praise every time she behaves favorably, you can, in theory get your dog to do almost anything. Get your family involved, too! Invite willing guests to praise your dog for good behavior such as sitting and staying away. You can even give a small baggy of dog treats to each guest to use when your pup acts calmly around them. And finally, when you reward the positive, you, your furry best friend and everyone she meets will all benefit.

Introducing Your Dog to a New Baby


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Bringing home a new member of the family is a special occasion filled with joy and new beginnings. But with the start of something new, it’s difficult to know just how some will react (particularly, your first furry baby). Of course, a newborn baby requires a great deal of attention, which inevitably means time taken away from the family dog. That said, there are ways to ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible for all involved.

Preparation Pre-Due Date
Make your dog more comfortable with a new addition to the family by teaching your dog the proper obedience a few months ahead of time, before the stork arrives. Start introducing your dog to new sights, sounds, smells and experiences. Especially if your dog has never been around children, you should socialize him to behave comfortably around young ones who might have less awareness of personal space than their older human counterparts. Take your dog places like a dog park or to a family member’s house with children and allow him to observe kids from a distance before slowly making safe contact with them. Also allow him to sniff out the baby’s stroller, crib and related products which will soon become a daily part of the family’s new life. A month or two before the baby arrives, start implementing any changes in schedule that are anticipated for when the baby comes. If you know you won’t have as much time to play with your pup, make playtime short but meaningful, and eventually your dog will get into a new groove. By the time Baby comes home, your dog will already feel some sense of familiarity.

Coming Home
While Mama recovers in the hospital, have a loved one bring home one of the baby’s blankets for the dog to smell. It’s better that he gets used to the baby’s scent now than for him to have sensory overload when the baby arrives. When arriving home from the hospital, let someone else hold the baby as Mom receives a warm welcome and excited kisses from the pup who missed her. Your dog can sense any emotions you have, so whether you’re feeling stressed or excited, make sure you put on a calm face when it comes time to finally having your dog and baby meet face-to-snout. Keep your dog leashed, use cues such as “back up” (a command ideally taught before the baby’s due date), and reward your dog with treats and praise for his good behavior so that he only associates the baby with good feelings.

Daily Life as a New Family
thumbnail-introducing-new-babyThough it might seem like a good idea to switch your time between baby and puppy, it’s actually much more beneficial to shower your dog with attention, praise and treats while the baby is around. That way, your dog will learn to love the baby as much as you do—albeit for different reasons. While balancing your attention between two needy “children” requires a great deal of multitasking and patience, even small gestures like happily talking to your dog while the baby is in your lap can make a big difference in keeping your dog happy and content with having the baby around. As your child grows to be more hands-on, your dog may receive some unwanted pulling and tugging. To prepare your dog, give him small, friendly tugs or pinches, then reward him with a treat. He will gradually learn to tolerate unwarranted touching from your baby. One very important tip to keep in mind throughout your dog’s acclimation process is that you should not punish your dog for aggressive behavior such as growling or barking in front of the baby. The outcome will be a dislike of situations in which the baby is involved, and he may even strike without any warning signs next time. Instead, you should implement continuous training to reward situations which involve your dog and baby together. Seek professional guidance if your dog’s behavior appears to pose a threat to your child’s safety.

Welcoming a new child into the family is a big change on many levels, but it doesn’t have to be a scary one with your pooch involved. Through small preparations and repeated positive reinforcement, your dog will learn to cherish the new addition to your family.