Category Archives: Living with Your Dog

Articles and Links… Living with Your Dog

Renee PremazaPhone: 609-280-9338Email: renee@JerseyDogTrainer.com

Learn to Understand Your Dog!

Avoid “humanizing” your dog (known as “anthropomorphism,” which means giving human qualities to animals)! Your dog is not a human child wearing a furry suit. He’s a dog, and behaves like a dog. He doesn’t do things out of spite, he doesn’t get jealous, and he doesn’t choose not to listen to you. Dogs do only behaviors that for them. If he’s learned that a particular behavior (i.e.,jumping up on people, nipping and biting) gets him reinforced in some way, he’ll continue to do that behavior until he’s taught that a more appropriate, alternative behavior will become more rewarding than the one he’s been doing all along.

Here are some facts for you to consider:

  1. Physical punishment is inhumane, and it doesn’t work anyway!
    Yes, he might stop doing whatever you punished him for in order to stop the punishment; but he won’t trust you when you show aggression toward him. Punishment can suppress a behavior, but all too often, it can come back in some other form (biting!).
  2. Your dog never feels guilty about anything!
    When your dog stands in front of you with that look of “guilt,” he is merely responding to your negative, angry demeanor and is trying to calm you down so you’ll go back to being the “you” he feels safe with. You say things like, “what did you do?” and he looks away, he lowers his head and his tail goes between his legs. Sometimes he runs away and hides in order to avoid punishment. Dogs view things as either safe or dangerous. When you’re screaming at him, all he wants to do is get things back to normal as quickly as possible. If your dog continues to “misbehave” over and over again, surely he’s not intentionally trying to bring your wrath down on him. He just needs to be taught a more appropriate behavior.
  3. Teach your children to behave properly with your dog.
    Never allow children to pull tails or ears, or to sit on your dog. Many puppies and adult dogs do not like when children get in their face. Dogs can nip or bite children who continually hug them or try to kiss them. Always supervise children and dogs when they’re together, and never leave them alone together without an adult to supervise! woman-walking-dog
  4. Always praise and reward your dog when he’s behaving well.
    We tend to punish dogs for doing what we don’t want them to do, but we neglect to acknowledge and reward them for doing something that is good. Give your dog that feedback whenever he’s doing something that you like. Otherwise, his good behavior will fade.
  5. Avoid using choke chain collars and shock collars.
    Choke collars can cause injuries to a dog’s trachea. They can also cause ocular hemorrhages. Shock collars do cause pain and using pain to train a dog is always inappropriate!
  6. Never chain a dog outside and leave him unsupervised!
    Chained or tied up dogs become frustrated and angry because they are prevented from being where the activity is. Dogs are pack animals and enjoy being a part of what’s going on. Each time your dog runs toward the end of his chain, he gets a major leash correction. This creates anger and barrier frustration. If you don’t have a fence, bring your dog inside the house, or put him in an outside kennel where he has room to walk around. Also provide him with a doghouse or other shelter so he can escape from the elements.
  7. Avoid free-feeding your dog.
    Do not leave food in his bowl all day. He will become a fussy eater, and you won’t be able to establish a routine of good housetraining, because his digestive system will not become regulated. Your dog will not value his food, and will just nibble at it like a cat. Dogs in the wild have to hunt for their meals. They are not grazers!
  8. Provide plenty of opportunity for your dog to receive daily exercise. Most of all behavior problems can be elminated or improved when a dog is able to release pent-up energies. A tired dog is a good dog!

©2009 Renee Premaza

Your Aggressive Dog

All dogs are capable of biting. Aggression is normal canine behavior. What provokes a dog to bite depends on his genetic makeup and what he’s learned will work for him. Aggression is not curable. However, with behavior modification training, and sometimes with medication, we may be able to raise the dog’s bite threshold so that he can handle more stress in his life without getting to the point of exploding.

You can think of your aggressive dog the way you would view an alcoholic. An alcoholic is always said to be in recovery. Once you begin to work with your dog, you should consider him also to be “in recovery” for the rest of his life.

If you decide to embark on helping your dog become a safer, happier companion pet, you must recognize that this will take time, patience and consistency. You must also recognize that if medication is indicated, this could be costly. Anytime we interact with an aggressive dog there are risks involved. If you have young children in your home, are you willing to put those children at risk? What would happen if one of your children’s friends came to visit and your dog bit that child? You could be sued. Will you be able to teach your children how to properly interact with your dog so as not to provoke a biting incident? These are all things to consider if you want to make the commitment to rehabilitate your dog.

In many instances, while you work on modifying your dog’s behavior, everyone who lives with your dog will also have to modify their behavior in order to prevent your dog from becoming reactive toward them, or to other people your dog will encounter in his life. While it may be heartbreaking to make this decision, you may have to consider euthanasia as a viable alternative. If you attempt treatment and it proves unsuccessful, euthanasia may be your only choice.

In order to teach your dog more appropriate behaviors to use in place of aggressive behaviors, you must prevent him from ever showing aggression again. Each time a dog practices aggression, he learns this is a very powerful strategy to use to avoid something negative or to get something he wants. To help your dog avoid showing aggression, you must avoid putting your dog into any situation that would trigger that response. Since stress is a huge factor in creating aggressive behavior, recognize situations that may cause your dog to feel stressed. Author and trainer Turid Rugaas has written a book called, On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals, published by Legacy By Mail, Inc, 1997. The following is a list of situations that stress dogs (Rugaas, p. 25):

  • Being threatened directly by us or other dogs
  • Being exposed to violence, anger or aggression
  • Jerking his leash, forcing him down, yanking on his collar to move him
  • Making unrealistic demands on him in training and in life Over-exercising young dogs
  • Not enough exercise and activity
  • Hunger and thirst
  • Not having access to outside potty area when necessary Temperature extremes
  • Pain and illness
  • Noise
  • Being alone and feeling isolated
  • Sudden and frightening situations
  • Overstimulation from playing with balls or other dogs
  • Always being disturbed and not getting enough down time
  • Any sudden changes in his routine or his life

The following is a list of indicators your dog might give when he is feeling stressed (Rugaas, p. 26):

  • Restlessness
  • Over-reacting to something happening; i.e., doorbell, an approaching dog, etc.
  • Scratching himself; Biting himself
  • Chewing on inedible items, such as furniture, shoes, etc. Barking, howling or whining
  • Bouts of Diarrhea
  • Dog smells bad, both mouth and bod
  • Tenseness of muscles
  • Sudden onset of dandruff and shedding
  • Shaking
  • Change of eye color
  • Dog licks himself
  • Tail chasing
  • Raised hackles (piloerection)
  • Constant panting
  • Lack of concentration
  • Shivering
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent urination/defecation
  • Allergic reactions
  • Fixating on certain stimuli; i.e lights, flies, crackling firewood
  • Appearing to be nervous
  • Use of displacement behaviors

You will benefit by being able to identify those calming signals dogs give when they are experiencing stress (Rugaas, pp. 5-14):

  • Turning of the head: Dog swiftly turns his head to the side and back or the head can be held to one side for awhile.
  • Eyes shift from side to side while the dog’s head remains still. Turning away: dog turns to the side or back
  • Nose licking
  • Freezing in place
  • Walking slowly and using very slow movements
  • Quick sits
  • Quick downs: dog lies down with his belly to the ground Yawning
  • Sniffing: quick movement with head down to the ground Splitting up: dog goes between people or other dogs
  • Wagging tail

Finally, you will recognize the following signs of aggression as preludes to a possible biting incident (The Canine Aggression Workbook, by James O’Heare, published by Gentle Solutions, 2001, p. 13):

  • Growling
  • Snapping
  • Lunging
  • Snarling (lips raised and teeth bared)
  • Barking furiously
  • Staring Piloerection (raised hackles)
  • Stiff, high tail wag
  • Dilated pupils
  • Freezing in place
  • Dog closes his mouth prior to biting

BOREDOM BUSTING IDEAS TO HELP KEEP YOUR DOG PHYSICALLY & MENTALLY STIMULATED

 

                                       Tired Gino 600 x 450

This picture is of “Gino” DeCarlo. He is a very tired & happy 6 month-old Boxer who just had lots of mental stimulation. He wants you to know that A TIRED DOG IS A GOOD DOG!

Does your dog spend much of his day running around your house stealing your underwear and chewing your shoes? Do you go out in your yard and discover that he’s tried his hardest to dig to China and beyond?  Have you gone practically bald pulling your hair out trying to figure out why your furry friend is doing these things?  Well, I’m here to tell you, he’s more than likely bored out of his little mind. So what’s a pet parent to do?

It’s really important for all of us who live with dogs to provide both physical exercise and mentally stimulating activities for dogs. We need to be challenging our dog’s mind by directing his attention to interesting stimuli rather than his having to create ways of exercising and entertaining himself inappropriately.  Afterall, dogs were originally bred to do a job of some kind, whether it’s herding sheep, hunting birds and other prey animals, performing in the show ring, protecting property and even sitting pretty on the laps of royalty.

Your dog should be walked regularly to facilitate continued socialization with people, places, other dogs and his world at large. So many people think a dog shouldn’t be permitted to sniff the ground, but that’s not true. Let your dog sniff during your walks. Mind you, he doesn’t have to smell every blade of grass, but give him opportunities to use his nose to figure out who has been at that very same spot and to discover if it was a male or female dog, or a cat or some other critter that may have visited the neighborhood. Teach your dog to sit politely when someone approaches to greet him while you’re out walking together. Do some obedience training during your walks, like teaching him to look up at you when you say his name, or training him to touch the palm of your hand, which can help keep him walking right by your side on a loose leash. I like to train dogs to stop and wait at curbs until I give a cue to move forward. The more you pay attention to your dog, the more he’ll pay attention to you.

I believe more than 50 percent of dog behavior problems are caused by extreme boredom.  There are lots of sports activities that you could actively participate in with your dog, such as agility, flyball, canine freestyle (dancing with dogs), hiking, herding and hunting.  If your time is limited to consider the above, there are activities you can do right at home.

If you have a dog who loves to dig, you can purchase a child’s sandbox and bury all sorts of goodies in the sand for him to dig up and enjoy. Bury some biscuits and inexpensive stuffed squeaky toys so he’ll be so excited to dig in that sandbox and won’t even bother with digging up your prized vegetable garden.  Keep things interesting for him by rotating the toys you bury in that sandbox each day so he’ll always be interested to see what treasures he might uncover when he’s digging.  Make use of your dog’s innate instincts to want to dig and explore.

If you have a herding dog or a super energetic dog, there’s a fantastic interactive dog toy on the market just waiting for you to bring home to that energizer bunny you live with.  It’s called a Flirt Pole or Push ‘n’ Pull.  It looks like a fishing rod and it has a fleece lure at the end of it. You can entice your dog to chase after that fleece toy as you keep moving it in all different directions, as well as raising it up high and then lowering it.  Be kind and let him grab the toy once in awhile to keep him very interested. Trust me that you won’t have to break a sweat while playing with your dog and the Flirt Pole: http://www.amazon.com/KONG-Chase-It-Squeaking-Assorted-Characters/dp/B00AEJANCW/ref=sr_1_3?s=pet-supplies&;ie=UTF8&qid=1384561833&sr=1-3&keywords=flirt+pole+for+dogs

Have you used your muffin tin lately? Maybe it’s buried underneath your tupperwear containers and all those lids that don’t seem fit any of them 😉  Take that muffin tin and put an especially tasty treat at the bottom of each opening. Then get some of your dog’s favorite toys to sit on top of each of those treats. Call your dog over and encourage him to sniff around the muffin tin. Get all excited and clap your hands when he picks out one of those toys and uncovers a treat. Then get him to do the same thing with all of the toys sitting on top of the muffin tin.  You’ll never guess what this activity is called; “The Muffin Tin Game.” Check out this video to see how busy and happy your dog will be when he’s playing this really fun game:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhIWa_W3QxY&;feature=related

One of the dogs I’ve recently worked with is a very smart and energetic Boxer who has separation anxiety. One of the owner’s complaints about her dog was that he would destroy anything made out of cardboard she might have around the house. I smiled and I looked over at the dog who seemed to be smiling back at me. I told my client to go to the supermarket and get some cardboard boxes to leave with him in his room when she had to leave him alone. All he had to do to earn getting the boxes everyday was to sit, and then do a handshake with his mom. She’d then toss a box or two into his room and told him to “go find it.” I had her tape him for a few days after she implemented this protocol and she said he seemed very pleased with himself after he got to rip them all to pieces. Yay!

Do you have a dog who likes to tip his bowl over and then his kibble goes all over the place? Have you noticed your dog takes pieces of kibble out of his bowl and then brings them to a different area to eat? I have a very unscientific theory that these dogs are actually “pretending” to hunt for their food. Hey, nobody says a dog has to eat his food out of a bowl. The only reason we feed them out of bowls is because we humans eat out of dishes! There are several different types of food-release toys on the market that would enable your dog to hunt for his meals. Why not use one or two of these when it’s time to offer Fido his breakfast or dinner.  Click on these links to see what food-release toys and games your own dog would enjoy:

http://www.amazon.com/KONG-Classic-Kong-Dog-Small/dp/B0002AR15U/ref=sr_1_5?s=home-garden&;ie=UTF8&qid=1295991064&sr=1-5

http://www.amazon.com/Omega-Paw-Tricky-Treat-Large/dp/B0002DK26M/ref=sr_1_24?s=pet-supplies&;ie=UTF8&qid=1314199559&sr=1-24

http://www.amazon.com/Kong-PW1-Wobbler-Dog-Toy/dp/B003ALMW0M/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&;ie=UTF8&qid=1297989832&sr=1-1

www.amazon.com/KONG-Chase-It-Squeaking-Assorted-Characters

http://www.amazon.com/Deer-Antlers-Dog-Chew-Treats/dp/B004YFY0Q2/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&;qid=1417195034&sr=8-5&keywords=deer+antlers+for+dogs

http://www.amazon.com/BULLY-STICKS-Standard-Regular-Downtown/dp/B004B3W4N8/ref=pd_sim_petsupplies_2

I hope I’ve given you some good ideas for keeping your canine companion happy and busy.  Always remember how important it is to keep your dog mentally stimulated and physically exercised.  If you do, I strongly doubt you’ll ever need to call me or any other behavior consultant because your dog is destroying things in your home or because you’re convinced he’s become out of control.  Trainers have a favorite expression; “A tired dog is a good dog!”

Renee Premaza
Copyright: 2012

Advice to ALL Dog Owners

  1. Make sure your expectations of your dog are reasonable. Don’t expect your dog to acquire good behaviors until you train him to do what you want.
  2. When you begin extinguishing attention-seeking behaviors (e.g., jumping, barking in your face, pawing at you, stealing, etc.) expect these behaviors to get worse before they get better (known as an extinction burst). Be consistent in your training, and be patient!
  3. When saying English words to your dog (e.g., his name, commands like sit or down, etc.), do not repeat these words more than ONCE. When we nag our dogs by repeating and repeating, they learn to stop listening to us.
  4. If your dog ignores you, it is not because he’s being stubborn! It can be because whatever you’re saying might be confusing to him, or you might be using words that have become meaningless to him because you’ve repeated them over and over again.
  5. When asking your dog to sit, or when asking him to do anything, please stand up straight. Avoid leaning over your dog to address him as he may back away from you.
  6. WOMEN – avoid sing-songing commands to your dog. When you tell your dog to sit, say the word in a firm, but neutral voice. You’re not asking the dog to sit — you’re telling him to sit.
  7. Remember that when you reward your dog for a behavior, that behavior will tend to increase. This is known as positive reinforcement.
  8. If your dog is hyper, reward him for sitting, lying down or doing ANY calm behavior he voluntarily offers by giving him treats . You’ll notice that your dog will begin sitting and lying down more and more on his own.
    If your dog starts to show inappropriate behaviors, and those behaviors get worse and worse, you will have to figure out who or what is reinforcing those behaviors. Remember that what can be rewarding to a dog is not necessarily rewarding to humans.
  9. Consider the breed of your dog when fretting over his behaviors. If you have a herding dog, this dog will tend to nip at children’s ankles, he’ll be more likely to chase children, cars, bikes, rabbits and squirrels and anything that moves quickly. If you have a dog known for protecting, your dog will bark at strangers. If you have a dog that has been bred to hunt rodents underground, this dog will enjoy digging.
  10. Never physically punish your dog for anything! Your dog will not trust you if you slap him. He will think you’re a bully and he will not respect you. He might learn to be afraid of you, but he won’t respect you! Also, someday he may choose to defend himself against your aggressive behavior toward him. His behavior toward other people may also be affected by your aggression toward him. Physical punishment creates a lot of fallout.
    MEN – when speaking to your dog it is not necessary to yell. More often than not, a word spoken in a non-threatening way will get more of his attention than hollering.
  11. Your dog needs to know that you’re a good leader. When dogs do not have confidence in their humans to make good decisions, dogs instinctively feel that they need to “take over” and make decisions on their own. Your dog wants to know that you will never place him in harm’s way. Your dog wants to feel confident that his survival is your responsibility. If your dog feels the need to make decisions on his own, he will always resort to doggy-behavior. Dogs that think they have to rule the roost become hyper and nervous. Many times they develop very bad habits, like biting people, growling and snarling when they don’t get their own way. Help your dog to feel more relaxed by controlling all of his resources (e.g., food, toys, shelter, and all good things). He will become much calmer when he knows it’s not his responsibility to make important decisions. Follow the Nothing in Life is Free Program.
  12. Do not leave your dog’s food in his bowl all day long. “Free-feeding” causes dogs to lose their appetite. Dogs that have food out all day do not feel that their food is valuable. They think food grows in the bowl just for them. By offering two distinct meals per day, your dog will learn to eat when his bowl is placed on the floor. He will also see YOU as the giver of his food. If you have a puppy, feeding at definite times will help his digestive system become more regulated and you will be able to housetrain your pup much more easily.
  13. If you have young children in your home, and you have a computer, please go to the following website for extremely important information about how to keep children safe with dogs, and how to keep dogs safe with children: www.doggonesafe.com
    1. Never allow small children to play on the floor with any puppy or adult dog. When dogs get overly excited they tend to nip children on the face! Avoid making this mistake. Young children should either stand up or sit on furniture when playing with their dogs.
    2. Never leave young children with puppies or adults dogs without an adult to supervise — do not leave them alone even for one second!!
    3. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 12 year old boys are more apt to be bitten by their own dogs. Never allow your children (or your husband) to rough-house with your puppies or adult dogs.
    4. Teach your children to behave appropriately with your puppy or dog. Never allow children to pull tails or ears or to lay on top of your dog! Teach children that when puppy or dog wants to go into his crate for a rest, they should respect his need to do so.
    5. Learn to recognize stress signals that your dog tries to communicate. When your dog becomes stressed around your children, allow him to escape to either his crate or another room where he can chill. Teach your children never to bother your dog when he’s in this “safe space.” **To learn how dogs communicate that they are stressed, purchase the book, “ON TALKING TERMS WITH DOGS,” by Turid Rugaas. Also purchase the companion video with the same name. You can purchase these items at: www.Dogwise.com
  14. When purchasing puppies, do not take them from their littermates until 8 weeks of age. If you purchase a pup younger than 8 weeks, it will be difficult to teach him to have a soft mouth. Puppies removed from their litter too early tend to be nippy and play bite with hard-mouths. A pup needs to learn bite inhibition from his littermates before he’s brought into the home. You then must teach him to use his mouth softly (see my Puppy Packet for more information).
    Begin training puppies as early as 9 weeks of age. The earlier you begin training, the less likely your puppy will be to develop inappropriate behavioral habits as he goes through his adolescence and enters adulthood.
  15. If you adopt an adolescent dog or adult dog from a shelter or rescue organization, be sure to start obedience training ASAP. The majority of dogs that wind up in shelters or rescue have not even been trained to sit.  
    1. When adopting a dog from a shelter or from rescue, expect a “honeymoon period.” This period can last anywhere from 1 week to 4-6 months. This might all depend on how long it takes for your adopted dog to feel comfortable and secure in his new home. Once this honeymoon period comes to an end, your dog might begin showing some inappropriate behaviors that he had developed in his previous life. Be patient with your dog and teach him more appropriate behaviors by rewarding him heavily for doing what you want him to do.
    2. Start training your adopted dog in obedience after only a few days of arriving at your home. Let him know from the very beginning that you’re going to be a firm, but benevolent leader!
  16. When you train your dog, teach him the word you want him to learn AS HE’S DOING THE BEHAVIOR. For example, if you want your dog to understand the word, SIT, say the word “SIT” as he goes to put his butt on the floor. After about 5 times, test him to see if he understands the word by saying it first. If he sits then you’ll know he now understands what that spoken word means. Dogs will always respond quicker to hand-signals, as they communicate with each other using body language.
    When using reward-based training, give your dog his reward within 1/2 second of his doing that good behavior. If your timing in incorrect, you might be rewarding him for the wrong behavior. For example, many people will take their dog outside to potty, but will then give the dog a treat after he comes back inside the house. The dog has only learned that he’s been rewarded for coming back in the house — not that he’s done a good thing by going potty outside!
  17. If during the life of your dog you notice any sudden change in his behavior, take him to the veterinarian for a complete physical examination. There are many serious illnesses that might cause a dog to change his behavior.
    I wish you good luck with your dog, and I hope this article will help you understand your canine companions.

© 2009 Renee Premaza

Canine Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic – the practice of using one’s hands to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases. Chiropractic spinal manipulations have been done on both people and animals in this country since 1895. History indicates that spinal manipulation was used on animals as far back as ancient China.

Misalignments of the vertebrae are called subluxations. When a chiropractor manually performs a spinal manipulation on an animal, he is attempting to correct subluxations in the spine in order to restore the proper functioning of that animal’s nervous system.

Spinal subluxations in dogs may be caused by any physical injury, stress, faults in conformation, excessive crate confinement, leaping from or running down stairs or other high places, using leash corrections with choke chains, chaining your dog out on any collar, poor diet, insufficient exercise, sporting activities, such as agility, herding, lure coursing and playing rough with other dogs.

If a dog has a subluxation, he may or may not experience some form of pain, ranging from moderate to severe. Symptoms that you may observe in your own dog might include any of the following:

  • Shows any signs of lameness
  • Refuses to have his collar or harness put on
  • Does not want to be touched on specific areas
  • May no longer desire to jump up on the bed or sofa when previously happy to do so
  • Shows sudden change in behavior, such as aggressiveness or depression
  • Becomes stiff anywhere on his body
  • Appears weak or unable to walk or move about
  • Excessively licks his paws causing sores to develop
  • Drags his hind leg behind as he walks, or becomes paralyzed
  • Favors sitting on one side
  • Becomes incontinent (urinary and/or fecal)
  • Develops problems with digestion
  • Shows poor performance in sports activities or a decreased interest in playing
  • Dogs who suffer from hip dysplasia, IV disc disease and Wobblers Disease are excellent candidates for chiropractic care.

Ray E. Derman, D.C., C.V.C.P. Equine & Canine Chiropractic 401 W. Somerdale Rd., Hi-Nella, N J 08083 Office: (856) 309-1991 Cell: (856) 889-7729 drray@peoplepc.com

Game for Teaching Self-Control

“Go Wild & Freeze”

This is a game that is all about having a great time, but teaching your dog that he MUST remain in control of himself. You will also enjoy this game because you can now act like a total idiot with your dog and this dog trainer won’t even raise an eyebrow about it 🙂

Take your dog outside or down the basement to play where there is plenty of room to run around. Remember to have your dog’s leash or a long-line attached to his harness or collar before you begin playing.

Before you play this game:

  1. Hold onto the leash
  2. Ask your dog to sit
  3. Once he’s seated, ask him, “wanna go wild?” in a real excited and happy voice
  4. Start running around, but only for a very short distance (maybe a foot)
  5. Immediately stop running and tell the dog to sit!
  6. Give him a treat if he sits instantly!
  7. Repeat all 5 steps for a good 3-4 times before lengthening your run.

As you and your dog really get into the game, as long as he is sitting for you as soon as you ask him to, you can begin lengthening the distance and time that you’re both running around. Run around in a straight line at first. Then begin running around in circles. You can now discontinue the food treat for sitting, as the reward for sitting will be playing the game.

If you notice that your dog is getting too revved up, go back to the last level where he was able to control himself. Once he’s doing well at that level again, slowly raise the bar by allowing longer wild playtimes before you again ask him to sit for you.


I have had owners successfully play this game with very jumpy dogs. Require that your dog use good self-control, and his reward will be getting to play for longer periods of time.

Important Advice for All Parents of Young Children

  • A dog is a dog, not a human child.
  • A dog has no morals and doesn’t recognize right from wrong.
  • A dog sees a young child as a “littermate” not a leader.
  • Both dog and child need constant supervision when they’re together!
  • Do not expect your dog to tolerate childish behaviors that cause pain and/or discomfort to your dog!
  • Your 5-year-old will not understand why he is not to pester your dog when he’s sleeping! A 5-year-old child does not understand that his dog could wake up startled by his sudden approach and bite him. A 5-year-old child does not think that his dog could bite him if he pulls on his tail or ears or sits on him. A young child needs constant and close supervision when he’s with his dog. You can tell him not to do something until you’re blue in the face. He may not listen to you.
  • Physically remove your child from the dog if the child is behaving inappropriately. If you do not do this, your child could get bitten.
  • Teach your child to behave appropriately with your dog and make sure to reinforce your rules!
  • Never allow your child to be on the floor at face-level. Young children should be sitting on furniture or standing when interacting with any dog.
  • Dogs play-bite! When they are with their doggy littermates, that is how they play with one another. When children get on the floor with a dog, the dog automatically behaves toward the child the way he would a littermate. Avoid facial injuries by keeping children on furniture when the dog is in the same room.
  • Never allow children (or husband) to roughhouse with your dog. This will cause your dog to play-bite and he will learn to play rough with everyone! Rough play will produce biting behaviors and you will find it difficult to undo this habit later on.
  • Every time you or your children interact with your dog, you are training him!
  • If you have a puppy, whatever you allow your puppy to do when he’s young will follow through when he becomes an adolescent/adult.
  • If you think a particular behavior is amusing when your dog is a puppy, do not think he will “grow out of it” when he matures! By laughing at him or allowing him to practice a behavior, he will learn this behavior gets him positive attention, and he will choose that behavior all the time.
  • Think more than twice before allowing your dog to sleep in the bed with your children. Dogs belong in their own beds on the floor!
  • Avoid spoiling your dog, as well as your children. Both species will become demanding and obnoxious!
  • You send your children to school to learn how to become well-behaved and knowledgeable adults. Take your dog to school for those same reasons. A well-behaved and mannerly dog is a pleasure to live with!
  • Involve your children in your dog’s training and supervise them during their lessons together.
  • The more your children work with your dog to educate him, the more your dog will see them as valuable leaders in the home.
  • Do not place inappropriate responsibilities onto the shoulders of your children. Give a child 1 or 2 easy and fun things to do with/for the dog and supervise to make sure things go smoothly. Avoid making those responsibilities drudgery for the child. Be sure to positively reinforce your child if he is doing a good job!
  • If either the dog or the child are behaving inappropriately with each other, your responsibility is to prevent those behaviors from ever happening. Bad habits develop easily. Bad habits are hard to break!
  • Never, never, never physically punish your dog! Your dog will learn you cannot be trusted and he may develop defensive behaviors.
  • Never, never, never punish your dog in front of your child. He will associate punishment with the child and develop negative emotions toward him or toward other children of similar appearance, sizes/ages.
  • Never, never, never scold or punish your dog for growling. Growling is a warning to tell you or your children (or another dog) that he is feeling uncomfortable about something so please stop what you are doing!
  • A dog that is punished or corrected for growling will learn to bite without giving any warning signals!
  • Allow your dog to have a “child-free” safety zone. This could be his crate or a specific corner of a room. Instruct your children that they are never to disturb their dog when he chooses to escape to that safety zone.
  • If your children love to run around the house screaming and flailing their arms, do not be surprised if your dog chases after them and nips their feet or clothing. Childish behaviors like this may cause a dog to go into prey-mode. Squealing kids who run around erratically can evoke hunting behaviors in many breeds. Do not lose sight of the fact that dogs are hunters. Terriers are bred to hunt and kill prey.
  • If you have a young child or children and are contemplating getting a dog, choose your breed carefully. Learn what job that breed was originally bred to do and you will know what behaviors will be typical for that dog. If your life is already hectic and a bit crazy because you are busy with your family, please think carefully about whether having a puppy or dog in your home is a good idea.
  • If you have a hectic schedule and do not have time to sufficiently exercise your dog, you will have a dog that will develop behavioral problems. Exercise is critically important to dogs. Most dogs are born with high energy levels.
  • If you are experiencing any serious problems with your dog, especially around your children, please contact a professional as soon as possible.

 

Copyright: Renee Premaza 2009

Introducing Shy/Fearful Dogs to People

 This article addresses shy/fearful dogs, but not dogs that will automatically go into attack mode at the sight of a stranger! If you live with a dog who displays this behavior, we will use other methods to re-socialize him, including using a muzzle. 

We humans often exacerbate our dogs’ behavior problems. One thing that most of us do is allow our fearful dogs to run wildly to the front door when the doorbell rings. By the time we arrive at the door to answer it, our dogs are already in such lather that they can’t think straight! Then we compound the problem by opening the door and holding the dog back by grabbing his collar to avoid having the dog either jump on or lunge at whoever is standing on the other side. What do we do then? We scold the dog for misbehaving. 

The truth is, no dog should have the job of being the main greeter at the door, particularly shy and fearful dogs. We need to set our dogs up for success rather than cause them to fail time and time again. Their behavior should not be construed as misbehavior; they are having panic attacks when they hear the doorbell ring or when someone knocks and enters!

Here is how to prepare to introduce your frightened dog to strangers and other visitors that enter your home:

  1. Whenever possible, allow your visitor to enter without ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door.
  2. Have your visitor sit down and get comfortable and ask if they’d be willing to help you re-socialize your dog. I find the best place to seat myself is right at the kitchen table.
  3. Get lots of delicious food treats ready and place them in a bowl on the table.
  4. Bring your dog into the room wearing his leash,
  5. Keep him with you until he is totally calm and relaxed.
  6. Never force your dog to socialize with anyone!
  7. Always leave it up to your dog to decide if he wants to investigate your visitor.
  8. If he is not able to relax in this situation, remove him to a room where he feels safe and comfortable. 

Here are the instructions you need to give to everyone who wants to meet your shy/fearful dog:

  1. Do not make eye contact with the dog.
  2. Do not speak to the dog.
  3. Do not reach a hand toward the dog or lean over him.
  4. Do not try to pet the dog!
  5. Do not get up and move around unless they tell you they’re getting up! Then remove the dog from the room FIRST!
  6. Basically IGNORE THE DOG!!
  7. Allow your dog to approach someone new only when he’s ready.
  8. If your dog seems interested in investigating the visitor, have them toss treats on the floor but at a distance away from your visitor. If the dog accepts those treats, that’s a very good sign that he’s not terribly stressed.
  9. If YOU believe your dog is accepting this person, they can offer a treat to the dog directly from their hand which should be flat against their side, not reaching toward the dog!
  10. Nobody should pet your dog during this first meeting!

You will have to be firm in giving these instructions! You will hear people say, “Oh don’t worry! I love dogs and they love me.” This will be a challenge because you will have to set these rules in stone, even when you’re giving them to your close family members and friends. We tend not to want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so we allow people to lean over the dog, reach out to pet the dog, etc. When dogs are frightened and undersocialized, if someone pushes them past their comfort zone, we can cause these dogs to bite defensively!  If you do not trust your visitors to observe these protocols, keep your dog in his safe-room and give him a tasty chewy to keep him occupied and happy until your visitors leave.

© 2009 Renee Premaza

How to introduce a new puppy to a home with a resident cat. Also, how to introduce a new cat to a home with a resident dog.

Marilyn Krieger, well-known and highly respected Certified Cat Behavior Consultant visits the show today. She talks about the best ways to introduce a new puppy (or dog) into the home that already has a resident cat (& vice versa). Marilyn also talks about the benefits of using clicker training during this process. Great show!!

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Ideas for providing much needed mental stimulation in the lives of all dogs of all ages and all breeds.

Renee & Karen give out lots of very fun ideas on how to provide mentally challenging activities to keep terriers, hunting dogs and working dogs happy and active doing appropriate things vs. destruction, stealing and other bad behaviors that are caused by boredom. The two links here are Renee’s favorite boredom-busting toys: www.petproductadvisor.com (click on Toys, and then type in Hide-a-squirrel). www.petproductadvisor.com (click on Toys, and then type in Babble Ball). Fun, fun, fun!

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Have you ever suffered from “my other dog was so much better” syndrome?

Renee and Karen discuss what causes this human syndrome where they compare a new dog to their “heart dog” that they lost. Humans tend to expect the new dog to be just as wonderful and “perfect,” and often wind up feeling very disappointed and resentful. The trainers talk about ways to prevent this from happening, and how to improve the bond between the human pet parent and their new dog.

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Barrier Frustration

Karen Fazio discusses the behavioral issue called “Barrier Frustration.”  Dogs can experience this when they’re behind a window, a fence, on a leash or anytime a barrier causes them to feel frustrated because they cannot go and investigate something that is interesting to them.  Listen to how to prevent this and what can be done to improve the dog’s behavior.

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A new puppy/dog to a resident cat

Today’s subject centered around introducing a new puppy/dog to a resident cat. Sue Bulanda, a very regular guest on Thursday in the Doghouse, gave us numerous ideas on how to make these introductions go smoothly. She also talked a lot about cat behavior, especially when they meet a new pup or dog for the first time. Cat lovers ENJOY! Contact Sue Bulanda at www.sbulanda.com for more information about dogs and cats together!

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Games to Play to keep dogs mentally exercised and happy

Renee and Karen provide instructions on how to play wonderful and entertaining games with dogs that help provide mentally stimulating activities.  Games like these keep dogs from becoming bored.  They also prevent behaviors like barking, destroying personal effects, stealing and other inappropriate and problematic behaviors.

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Protocol to help hyper, overly-energetic and nervous dogs to RELAX!

Renee & Karen talk to New Hampshire trainer, Jessica Janowski about a pre-relaxation protocol she’s created to teach dogs how to calm down. If you have a dog who never seems to tire no matter how much exercise you’re providing, or if you have a dog who becomes out of control, or paces around your house and can’t seem to sit still, this show is for YOU!

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Canine Body Language and the Definition of “Dominance”

Renee and Karen were honored to interview Dr. Roger Abrantes this morning. Dr. Abrantes is a well-known expert on why animals do what they do. He shared lots of information about what body language cues our dogs offer to each other and to us to express themselves and their emotions.  Dr Abrantes also offered his definition of “Dominance” and whether our dogs are really trying to take over our households!  You might want to purchase his books, “Dog Language – An Encyclopedia of Canine Behavior,” as well as “The Evolution of Canine Social Behavior.”  Both books are available at: www.dogwise.com and www.amazon.com

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Renee and Karen answer emails from listeners on a variety of issues

Karen and Renee answer emails today.  Subjects ranged from developmental stages known as fear periods, the pros and cons of taking young dogs to dog parks, how to react to growling dogs, and recommended food bowl exercises for both puppies and a newly rescued dog who is showing some resource guarding issues around his food bowl.  Excellent show!

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