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

Introducing Fearful Dogs to Visitors at your Home

This article addresses fearful dogs, but not dogs who will automatically go into attack mode at the sight of a stranger!! If you live with a dog who displays this behavior, please contact a professional in-home behaviorist/trainer to work on this issue!

The dogs I will be describing below are dogs who choose a flight response when faced with fearful stimuli.

Since I’ve been training dogs professionally, I’ve come to realize that we humans often exacerbate our dogs’s 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 a lather that they can’t think straight! We’ve actually taught our dogs to behave this way because we wind up rushing to the door in an excited state, and our dogs have picked up on this.

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, lunge or attack whoever is standing on the other side. We’re now causing our dogs to feel completely frustrated because we’re preventing them from investigating what’s on the other side of that door. Doesn’t this sound like a situation out-of-control? Well… it is.

During one occasion, I was to train a fearful Shih Tzu who was always spooked when anyone arrived at the house he didn’t know. When I rang the doorbell, the owners opened the door, picked up their dog and attempted to hand him to me! Yikes! The dog was already scared out of his little mind, and now his humans were trying to push him into the arms of a person he thought might want to harm him.

So, let me offer some suggestions on how you can create a less stressful way of introducing your shy or fearful dog to a visitor at your home.

Most fearful dogs react strongly to the sound of the doorbell. The doorbell has become such a negative stimulus to the dog because it always represents something scary is about to come through the door! What has worked well with my own clients is (1) putting an “out of order” sign on the doorbell; (2) asking an expected visitor to call right before they arrive at the driveway. This way people have time to put the dog in a nice quiet room with a filled Kong toy or a healthy chew toy (e.g., bully stick or veggie nylabone). Train your dog beforehand to go into this room a couple times/day. First put him in there and stay with him for about 15 minutes. Each time you put him in there, stay less and less, and get him used to being in the room and feeling good about being in there. Also, put a TV or radio on for company. Then, when you know someone is coming, he’ll be very willing to go into this safe room without an “argument.”

Now you can go and let your visitor enter your home without having the doorbell ring or someone knocking on the door. Have this person sit down and get comfortable and ask them if they’d be willing to help you socialize your dog. I find the best place to seat myself is right at the kitchen table. I get lots of treats ready and place them on the table. When the dog enters the room, I already smell like a human supermarket of doggy treats. I sit there like a statue! Give your visitor the following instructions:

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.
4. Do not try to pet the dog.

Bring your dog into the kitchen onleash and keep him under your control. Try to keep the leash as loose as possible. Avoid holding the leash with a death-grip, or your dog will sense that you’re feeling nervous and he’ll respond in kind! Have a seat yourself at the kitchen table, but at a distance from your visitor. Have your dog sit right beside you while you continue to hold his leash. When you sense that he’s calming down and not feeling anxious about the visitor, allow him to approach this person if he so wishes. If the dog then wants to sniff and investigate this person, here are additional instructions to give your visitor:

1. Begin slowly and quietly dropping treats on the floor for the dog to eat (provide soft and very tasty food treats; e.g., cheese, bits of lunch meat, freeze-dried liver, bits of garlic chicken, bits of hot dogs, etc.). If the dog does eat the treats, you can be relatively certain that his stress levels are lowered. If he chooses not to eat, he is still quite nervous.

2. If the dog is eating, after a few minutes, tell the visitor to put a treat in an open palm and put that hand down by their side. If the dog eats the treat from this person’s hand, you’re probably on your way to a good introduction.

3. Once the dog is accepting hand-fed treats, your visitor can start to speak softly to the dog. Your visitor can begin looking at the dog, but not directly in the eyes. *You* be the judge as to whether your dog should continue staying in the room with this person for the duration of the visit. If your dog seems to be relaxing and gaining trust in this person, that’s a very good thing. If your dog starts to back away from this person, it would probably be best to give him a break in that safe room you’ve created for him. He can always come back out in a little while for a re-introduction.

4. For first-time visits with anyone, I would suggest that you not encourage petting. Sometimes I don’t pet a dog until I’ve worked with him 3 or 4 times. Petting is not always seen by every dog as rewarding! When dogs are fearful, they may resort to nipping a person for trying to touch them. You always want to avoid having your dog practice any inappropriate behavior with anyone. Each time he’s allowed to practice inappropriate behaviors with people, he’s learning to strengthen those bad habits. Both you and your visitor should praise him to the skies for showing friendly behaviors.

5. Instruct your visitor to not get up without first telling you that they’re going to get up. If someone wants to get up or leave the house, *first* call your dog over to you, and take him into another room. Keep him facing *you* and get his attention focused on you! Get his attention by feeding him those delicious treats continuously until the person is gone. Nervous dogs generally get nervous again as soon as the stranger stands up and moves around. That’s probably because the dog doesn’t know what this person is going to do. If you make a practice of feeding your dog when people leave, he’ll again begin to change his association of that behavior from negative to positive because of the prediction of food happening.

The more visitors you introduce your dog to (on a one-to-one basis), the better he’ll get at accepting strangers to the house. What you’re doing here is changing your dog’s associations with strangers. At first it looks like: STRANGERS = SCARY STIMULUS-BAD FEELINGS. After you work on this for awhile, it will look like: STRANGERS = GOOD FOOD-GOOD FEELINGS. He’ll begin to look forward to meeting people at home because they will predict “good things happen.”

Be patient! This will not happen overnight! Depending on your dog’s age, his past learning experiences, and his overall temperament, this could take a couple of months or it could take a year or more.

Playing Tug of War by the Rules

If you are the kind of person who doesn’t like setting rules down for your dog to follow, then playing tug is not a good game for you to play. Tug of War is a very competitive, but excellent game to play if you want to teach your dog to have self-control. Many trainers and vets advise people to avoid playing tug because “it will make the dog aggressive.” Believe it or not, I taught my own very aggressive Border Collie to stop biting and use good self-control by allowing him to play his most favorite game in the whole world — Tug of War! If played correctly by using very strict rules, your dog can enjoy tugging with you for hours, if you want to play for hours. As you will read below, at no time during this game is your dog permitted to put his teeth on your skin — even if it’s an accident. If your dog mouths you, the game must stop. If you don’t want to follow through with playing by the rules, avoid playing this very fun game. Here are the rules to follow:

Does your dog have a drop it command? If not, first teach him to drop things out of his mouth by placing a treat over his nose when he has a boring toy in his mouth and say “drop it” as he opens his mouth to take the food. Praise him and give him the toy back. As he gets better and better at this, begin having him drop more valuable items out of his mouth, like his chew bones.


  1. Start the game off by commanding the dog to sit!
  2. Ask the dog, “wanna play tug?”
  3. Cue him to “take it.” and then give it to her
  4. Play for a little while, and then ask for a “drop it.” The dog should have a bomb-proof drop it and should release the toy immediately. If the dog doesn’t release it, just hold onto the toy and don’t pull on it or look at her. She’ll realize that “well… this is boring” and then should release the toy. Praise her for the release, but put the toy away.
  5. You can re-start the game in about 5 minutes or so (this serves as a time-out for her ignoring the drop it command.
  6. Play again, and then ask for a drop it. If she drops it, praise her and give her the toy immediately with a take it command.
  7. It’s recommended that once in awhile, after commanding her to drop it, that you do a couple of obedience maneuvers before re-starting the game.
  8. With any dog who has shown aggression toward an owner or other humans, never let that dog win a round. If you find that sometimes the dog has gotten the best of you and was able to pull the toy out of your hand, let her think you planned it that way, and say “Take it!”
  9. Whatever toy you choose for playing tug should always be put away and out of the dog’s reach. Remember that it is your toy, as are all others. Put the toy away until YOU decide when to bring it out again.
  10. If the dog makes any mistakes, like touching your skin with her teeth, the game ends immediately, the toy gets put away, and she gets ignored for about 3 minutes or so. Wait several hours after a mistake like that before re-starting the game. Then, put the toy away.

Note: If you are playing tug with a puppy, do not pull too hard. Your puppies teeth are not strong enough yet, and you do not want to strain or sprain any of your dog’s muscles, tendons or ligaments. When playing tug with puppies, do not jerk her head from side-to-side. You may cause spinal misalignments in a very young dog. Allow your dog to pull in any direction she feels comfortable. Let her do most of the pulling. Have fun 🙂

Puppies 101 – Getting Off on the Right Paw

It is vitally important that you begin socializing your puppies NOW! The window for socialization closes at 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, you will be doing remedial work and your dog may never reach his/her full potential for being a normal, friendly dog! Gradually introduce your puppy to all sorts of people: tall people, short people, fat people, skinny people, men, women, children, men with beards and who wear hats, girls and boys who wear baseball caps, black people, white people, and DOGS. When you’re socializing your dog with children, watch your dog carefully to see if he’s getting tired. If he is, remove him from the children and let him rest somewhere, like his crate. Put him in there with a chewy or a favorite toy so he doesn’t see this as a punishment.

Begin this week by taking your dog to 5 new places. Put your puppy in the car and take him/her for rides in traffic. Speak to your dog along the way in a happy voice. Go and get gas at the gas station so your puppy gets used to someone reaching into the car to give you change. Ask the attendant if he’d mind offering your dog a treat through the window. Introduce your puppy to the mailman, to policemen, and anyone you see wearing a uniform. Have these people give your puppy treats. Each week increase the amount of people you introduce your puppy to.

Expose your puppy to many different novel stimuli. Let him see the hose outside, or the rake, or your feather duster and vacuum cleaner. Familiarize him with all different sights and sounds. Let him walk on all sorts of surfaces, like concrete, grass, sand, tile, and asphalt, etc. Purchase a CD that has the sound of thunder on it, and gradually let him hear this recording at louder and louder volumes. Have some toys and treats, and play with him while he’s listening to your thunder CD. If there is a real thunderstorm, play with your puppy and feed him delicious treats during the storm. Even if there is a loud, scary clap of thunder, clap your hands and laugh about it. Expose him to other sounds, like the vacuum cleaner, the dishwasher and clothes washer and dryer. Turn on the food processor and let him get used to that. If your dog shows any fear or discomfort from hearing those sounds, don’t console him because he’ll think you’re rewarding his behavior. Just speak to him in a happy tone of voice, as he will be very affected by your own emotions. This is important to know, folks — your dogs will be very affected by your feelings about all things in general. If your puppy suspects that you’re nervous or upset about something, he will respond in kind. Remember that for the future.

Once your dog has had its first set of shots, try to arrange play-dates with other vaccinated puppies of similar age and size. Make sure you know and trust the owners of these dogs when they tell you their dogs are healthy and friendly! Be careful not to overwhelm your dog at first. Do this very gradually. Most vets recommend that you keep your puppy off of any surface that might have been soiled by unknown dogs.

If, at anytime, you see your puppy begin to look stressed or anxious, please give him a break. Puppies can become ill if they are feeling overwhelmed.

If you notice that your puppy seems afraid of anything, DO NOT CONSOLE HIM by picking him up, petting him and cooing to him. This will only reinforce the behavior, making your puppy think you LIKE his behavior! Speak confidently and offer him treats as you desensitize him to the things he’s afraid of. Help him learn that SCARY THING = GOOD THINGS HAPPEN by pairing up a negative with a positive (treats or toys/games).

This is the time you should begin handling your puppy all over his/her body. Message your puppy’s feet and give him treats while you do this. This will get him ready for grooming and nail clipping. Bring out the nail clipper and put treats around it. Make his association with this instrument a positive one. Pretend to clip his nails with the clipper, but don’t actually cut them yet. You might want to take your puppy to a professional groomer the first time to make sure his first nail cuts are done without incident. Let the groomer show you the right way to trim nails to avoid accidentally cutting too close to the quick.

LEARNING RESTRAINT & ACCEPTING HANDLING

Some of you may have puppies who don’t like being restrained, handled or being picked up. Do NOT become alarmed. Work on these problems by using food rewards to encourage him to like these things. Pair up being handled or restrained with being given very tasty morsels of food so that the dog will learn to associate being handled as a good thing! If you pick your puppy up and he squirms, DON’T put him right down! Hold on to him GENTLY, but firmly until he settles down and stops fussing. THEN put him down. Here are some handling exercises you should begin doing with your puppy to accustom him to being restrained and touched all over his body.

Bring your left arm around the front of your puppy’s chest while your right hand and arm supports him under his chest and belly. Gently restrain him with just a tad of pressure and then release him. Praise and reward him with a nice treat if he remains unaffected. Reward him each time he accepts what you’re doing. Little by little begin to lift him up while you support him against your body. For each step you take, praise and reward your dog. You will be shaping behavior that you may need in the future for veterinary exams, lifting him onto a vet or groomer’s table, and in general, getting him used to being held, picked up and moved around. Touch your puppy all over his body, including his ears, paws, belly and genitals. Get him used to your putting your finger in his mouth to brush his teeth and stroke his gums. Touch him around his collar and do gentle collar-tugs. The more handling you do now, the more he’ll accept being handled by the vet or by other people.

A word of caution here: Please do not take anyone’s advice when they tell you to flip your puppy on its back and restrain him to settle him down if he becomes overly excited. This will scare your puppy, and he will learn that you can’t be trusted. A puppy will feel very vulnerable to being attacked while he’s got his belly exposed. This is instinct here. If you try to flip an adult dog on its back, be prepared to get bitten!

Many people like to pet puppies and dogs by reaching over their heads. Desensitize your pup to this now so he won’t feel afraid when a stranger decides to extend a hand and place it over his head. So, pet your puppy by placing your hand over his head and patting him, and then give him a tasty tid-bit for a reward.

Always praise and reward with treats when your puppy doesn’t show fear or alarm at being handled anywhere on his body. If you notice that he’s sensitive in certain areas, begin to SLOWLY desensitize him to touch by touching him gently and then offering some treats. The more you handle your puppy, the better he’ll like it.

Believe it or not, many puppies and dogs don’t like being hugged or kissed. If it’s going to be important that your puppy accept our human affectionate behavior, teach him to like it by giving quick gentle hugs and then offer a treat reward each time you do this. If you have children that love to hug your puppy, make sure you desensitize the pup well to avoid nips on childrens’ faces.

Practice putting your puppy on a high surface, like on top of your washer. This will help him get used to being on a vet’s table. While he’s up there, do a physical examination of him, much like the vet would, checking his ears and feet and his teeth. Begin cleaning your puppies teeth using special doggy toothpaste – not human toothpaste! Good dental care is important, especially for the small breeds of dogs that are prone to dental disease. Dental problems can lead to other physical problems.

SETTLE DOWN!

If your puppy becomes over-active and obnoxious — AND HE WILL…– Here’s an exercise that will teach him to settle down:

Put your dog onleash and a flat buckle collar or harness. Sit in a chair in a quiet room with your dog. Watch what your dog is doing, and anytime he behaves calmly, say “Good Boy/Girl!” and toss him a treat. If he gets all excited again, and starts jumping on you or pawing at your clothing, IGNORE HIM or get up and walk out of the room leaving him alone! The instant he stops this behavior, say “good boy/girl” and give him some very tasty tid-bits of food. He will learn that a good default behavior is being calm and quiet. Set these training sessions up a couple times each day. Just sit there and wait for behaviors to reward him for. Remember to ALWAYS ignore your dog when he’s demanding your attention. If you put your puppy in his crate, and he immediately starts to whine or bark, put cotton in your ears and don’t run back to him. Otherwise, you’ll have a dog that knows he can get out of his crate by barking and whining. If, however, you’ve put your pup in his crate for the night, and later you hear him whining or barking, you’d better check to see if he needs to go out and potty.

ALONE TRAINING

One more important suggestion is to get your puppy accustomed to being left alone. Even if you are home everyday, all day, do not neglect to teach puppy that it’s okay for him to be in his crate by himself for short periods of time. Leave him with a nice chew toy (e.g., filled, frozen Kong). Make sure you do this everyday while you extend his alone-time little by little. When you do put him in his crate, pretend to go out by opening the front door where he cannot see you, and then close it. Quietly go to some other area of the house for about 20 minutes at first. Return to your puppy WITHOUT FANFARE and release him. Do not make the mistake of getting all excited when you come back to greet him. This actually is one thing that can create separation anxiety in dogs. When you leave him, make it a non-event, and when you return to him, that also should be a non-exciting ritual. If others live with this dog, please have them get involved in his alone-training. Separation anxiety is not something you want to reinforce in your puppy or any dog! It can be very complicated and involved to modify a dog’s behavior once he is displaying symptoms of this disorder, and it can be very expensive in terms of dealing with possible destructive behavior. Let’s prevent the behavior from happening NOW.

DOGS & KIDS

If you have young children in the family, please teach your children safe and proper handling of your puppy. Do not allow very young children to pick your puppy up while they’re standing. Chances of dropping the puppy can cause his death or serious injury. Many puppies do not like being picked up because they feel vulnerable to being dropped. Have your child sit on a chair and then place puppy in the child’s lap to pet gently. Do not allow children to pull your dog’s ears or tails. Do not allow children to lay all over your dog and jump on him. Some dogs will NOT tolerate this childish behavior and will snap or bite children for doing this. An excellent website to visit to learn about how to avoid dog bites with children is: www.doggonesafe.com Be sure to click on all the links as this site is packed full of very important information.

Do not allow your young children to lie on the floor with your dog! Make sure you supervise both kids and dogs whenever they’re together. All too often, kids and dogs get into trouble with each other because the dog gets overly excited around the child, or he misinterprets the child’s behavior, and then bites the child on the face. When children play with puppies or dogs, the children should be standing up or sitting on a chair or sofa and the dog should be on the floor. This eliminates all possibilities of child and dog being at face level. If you cannot be there to supervise, then your dog should be in another room behind a baby gate with a toy or chewy to occupy him. When kids and dogs are together, the keyword is SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE AND SUPERVISE! If your child is mature enough, allow that child to begin issuing sit commands to your puppy. Place a treat in your young child’s hand to offer puppy while your own hand holds onto your child’s. Many children inadvertently tease dogs by offering a treat and then pulling their hand away before puppy gets the food. Puppy then grabs at the child’s hand and might nip. Again, SUPERVISION WITH YOUNG KIDS AND PUPPIES/DOGS IS CRUCIAL.

GOOD MANAGEMENT

Attached is a section on teaching bite inhibition. Please begin this training NOW. All puppies bite, because they’re teething, and because that’s how they’ve played with their littermates. It’s important to teach your dog to have a soft mouth. All dogs are capable of biting! If your dog has been taught good bite inhibition, if he’s ever provoked to bite during his lifetime, he will not do any damage because you will have taught him to bite without pressure!

Do NOT wrestle and roughhouse with your puppy. You will be teaching him that physical aggression is a fun thing to do when he reaches maturity. I watched a situation where the owner of 3 Pomeranians enjoyed teasing his dogs and he thought it was funny when they’d come back and try to bite him. Two of the 3 poms in this household have both shown serious aggression toward the owners and toward each other. Always think about what behaviors you are reinforcing! Again, use good common sense when you’re raising a puppy. Whatever behaviors you reinforce now will follow through into his adult life. Reward appropriate behaviors and he will behave appropriately!

When the mailman comes or the UPS driver pulls up to your house, give him a treat to give to your puppy everyday! By doing this NOW, you will avoid having a dog who wants to kill the mailman or someone else wearing a uniform or hat. Let your puppy know right from the get-go that the mailman is a good thing because he represents treats. Take puppy for a walk around the neighborhood and let him meet and greet anyone who is willing to politely greet your pup. Have treats on you so you can give your neighbors and/or their children treats to offer the puppy. If you see a patrol car or fire truck anywhere, seize the opportunity to introduce your puppy to a police officer or fireman.

If you don’t want your puppy to learn to chew on or steal socks or other laundry items, do not make them available! Keep laundry items in a closed hamper. Keep all food items off the kitchen countertops from the very beginning, so your puppy won’t want to “counter surf.” If you start out doing the right things, you won’t have to “fix” these training problems later on. Use good common sense when training and interacting with your puppies. Keep tight lids on all trash containers. Puppies LOVE toilet paper, paper towel and used tissues.

I know that many of you have had to get things out of your dog’s mouth – maybe your dog has stolen your children’s toys, or the dog has tried to eat something he found in the trash. Many of you have been told that it’s important to pick up your dog’s food dish so that he knows you’re “the boss.” I want to caution you about forcefully taking things away from a dog. Now…I fully understand that when there are small kids in the house, you need to teach your dog to relinquish items just in case the child tries to take something from the dog. But there’s a better way to teach a dog to relinquish something rather than grabbing it from him. If you work on training your dog to obey a DROP IT cue, he’ll relinquish anything you ask him to. If you continue forcefully taking things away from him, you might create a dog that becomes a resource guarder. Dogs who guard their food bowls, bones, or certain locations, or people, or their toys are resource guarding. Sometimes this behavior is instinctual, but sometimes the dog learns to do this because he feels he has to protect his stuff from everyone who keeps taking things away from him. I usually see this type of behavior develop in puppies at around 6 months of age, which is the very beginning of adolescence. Learn to make food exchanges with your dog. If you need to take something away from him, put a treat right on his nose; when he opens his mouth to take the treat, tell him, “drop it” and then reward him with that treat. You might want to do this a lot with his toys so he’ll learn a drop it command very quickly. You can reward him with that treat, but also give him his toy right back! You’re working on developing a good trusting relationship.

When your puppy is young, get him accustomed to being lightly stroked as you approach him and his food bowl while he’s eating. Toss something really delicious into his bowl when you do this so he looks forward to people being around him when he’s eating. Include your children of all ages when doing this work, but make sure to closely supervise them during this training. Watch your puppy’s body language to see if puppy seems stressed when approached around his food, bones or special resources

Set Rules for Dogs Without Punishments

Dogs are happiest when they know there are rules and boundaries to live with. But… it’s imperative that we teach those rules to our dogs and not to take for granted that they already know them. Dogs that lack confidence in their humans to implement rules and define boundaries can become extremely anxious and stressed. All sorts of problematic behaviors develop in our dogs when we spoil and coddle them, when they’re allowed up on furniture, such as beds and sofas without getting our permission first, and when we allow them to practice all sorts of inappropriate behaviors as puppies because we think they’ll just grow out of it. Remember that “practice makes perfect.” If dogs get to practice all the wrong things, serious behavior problems will be the end result.

Show good leadership skills by NOT punishing your dog! Hollering and screaming at dogs, hitting and smacking them with newspapers and pointing fingers at them saying “BAD DOG!” will not teach them to behave appropriately. These tactics will only teach your dog that (1) you have poor leadership skills, (2) you can’t handle him, (3) you can’t make good decisions for her, and (4) you can’t be trusted. Implement the following program and your dog will become a well-mannered and polite companion pet.

Do not give your dog attention when he/she demands it! Do not allow your dog to jump all over you or push his/her toys into your leg. Do not give your dog attention or affection when he jams his nose under your arm. Do not give your dog attention when he paws at you or he barks in your face or if he mouths you. If any of these behaviors are part of your dog’s daily routine, learn to remove yourself immediately by walking away from him/her every time he/she behaves in a pushy and demanding manner.

Teach your dog to sit and look up at you the first time you ask him without repeating “sit, siT, SIT!” You can teach this effectively by giving him a treat when he sits and looks at your face during the first week of your training. Once your dog knows how to sit and focus on you, here’s how to establish a structured and predictable life for him:

1. Sit & wait before getting all meals (avoid all free-style feeding).

2. Sit before getting any treat (never offer a treat just because your dog is cute and he’s breathing).

3. Sit before getting a new toy or chewie.

4. Sit to get the leash put on.

5. Sit & wait before going out the door (don’t let your dog drag you out or push past you!)

6. Sit before coming back in the house from a walk

7. Sit before you initiate any games with him.

8. Sit before getting in the car (put him in a seatbelt harness for his safety!)

9. Sit & wait before getting out of the car (wait helps keep your dog from bolting out).

10. Sit & wait to get out of his crate (he should wait for your release (“OK”)- not for the door to open)

11. Sit before getting anything he wants or needs in his life.

12. Sit before being allowed to sit on the sofa (or bed)* You may want to think twice about giving this privilege in the first place! Remove this privilege if your dog is showing any aggressive behaviors.

13. Your new motto should be “SIT HAPPENS!” You will notice that your dog is a lot calmer after about a week of living with this structured and regimented routine. He will begin to offer sits on his own, which tells you he is actually asking you for permission!

© Renee Premaza 2009

Training a Dog to Wear a Muzzle

There may be times in your dog’s life when you need to use a muzzle. Teaching your dog to like wearing a muzzle is something every dog owner should do, not necessarily just for aggression problems, but in case you need to muzzle the dog in an emergency situation. God forbid, if your dog was injured in an automobile accident, or if another dog attacked him, he might not allow someone else to pick him up or move him to the vet’s office for treatment. So, be prepared for this by desensitizing the dog to wearing a muzzle. Here’s how to do it:

Generally, I prefer using the basket style muzzle; it has wire openings that are large enough on the sides to feed the dog treats, and the dog still has the ability to pant and to drink water. Sometimes these muzzles are available in Petsmart or other large retail pet supply stores; but, you can also get one directly online at: http://www.morrco.com/wirbasdogmuz.html Be sure you get the correct size for your dog. You’ll see a page that will help you decide which size is best.

When you finally have the muzzle, show it to your dog, and keep your voice very happy and upbeat. Let the dog sniff it, and praise him to the skies for any positive attention he shows to the item. Next, place his favorite dry treat at the bottom of the muzzle, and let your dog put his nose inside of it to retrieve the treat. Praise him and encourage him to do this. Feed him some treats a few more times, and then put the muzzle away. While he’s wearing the muzzle, you keep praising him, BUT…when you take the muzzle off – ignore him for at least 3 minutes each time you work on this! That will help him associate good attention while wearing/working with the muzzle, vs. things getting kinda boring when you take it off and put it away.

Next day’s session, you’ll want to repeat this procedure again. Offer him treats that take a little longer to chew, and attempt to hold the muzzle up on his nose for a bit longer than the prior day’s lesson. Praise him, and keep adding a treat at a time while holding the muzzle on his nose for a longer period of time. Tell your dog how great he is for being so cooperative. ONLY when you’re satisfied that the dog seems very comfortable when he sees you bring out the muzzle, and he readily eats from it, you’ll be ready for the next step. Stay on this level of training for a day and practice at least 2 to 3 times for no longer than 3 minutes each time. Remember to keep things a little boring right after you put the muzzle away.

To prepare yourself for the next lesson, practice feeding slivers of treats through the side wires of the basket, but not while the muzzle is on the dog. You want to do this because it takes a couple of times to get this right. I know it was very awkward when I first started trying to feed my dog treats and fit them through fast so he could eat them.

Now, for the most important segment of muzzle training: Be prepared with about 20 treats, but instead of using the dry treat, use a much higher level of food; i.e., use bits of chicken, cheese, liver, roast beef, hot dog slices or steak.

On this 3rd day, always start out with a review of the last day’s level of training, and of course, don’t forget to praise him. Then, place the treat at the bottom of the muzzle, allow him to chew it, and then fasten the strap behind his head. IMMEDIATELY, start feeding him the soft meaty or cheese treat THROUGH THE SIDE WIRES. Continuously feed the dog one treat right after the other, and praise him like crazy in a very happy voice. FEED, FEED, FEED! Then unhook the strap, STOP FEEDING, and DO NOT PRAISE HIM once the muzzle is removed. Keep him at this last level of training for about 2 days and work on getting him used to wearing the muzzle for longer and longer periods of time.

When you see your dog wag his tail every time you bring out the muzzle, you know you’ve accomplished your desensitization work. However, don’t stop training. You’ll need to remind him once in awhile that wearing the muzzle is always a good thing. If you stop working on it, and you don’t use the muzzle for a very long time, you’ll only have to go back and work on it again from scratch. You want your dog to be prepared at any time to have a muzzle placed on his nose. With any training of any behavior, dogs are like we are…if they don’t use it – they’ll lose it!

One last thing: never put your dog’s muzzle on him when you’re showing any anger or frustration. The muzzle ALWAYS has to be associated with your being happy about giving it to him to wear.

A Message About Christmas Puppies

For those of you who are planning to purchase puppies this season, please give this idea a lot of thought before you make that final decision. Puppies are a lot of work! Ask yourself if you will have the time to devote to this new baby in order to get him housetrained properly. Will you be able to take him for potty breaks every 1/2 hour to 45 minutes throughout everyday? If you are planning to keep puppy in a crate for 8 hours every weekday while you’re at work, your puppy will not be able to hold his water or bowels for that long. Puppies have a bladder the size of a pea! He may wind up soiling his crate and get very upset about having to sleep in a mess. Puppies that are crated for too long will not become emotionally stable dogs! They need both mental and physical stimulation every single day. So… all that being said, will you be able to provide your beautiful new puppy with all of his needs during this very hectic time of the year? Please think carefully about this before impulsively getting a puppy.

Puppies need to be thoroughly socialized. They need to meet 100 people by the time they are 12 weeks old! They need to meet other puppies and dogs of different colors, sizes and breeds too. Puppies need to be exposed to everything in their environment that they will experience in their life by 12 weeks of age. Will you have the time to devote to getting your pup sufficiently socialized throughout this holiday season? Most people would have to answer, “No.”

Sadly, June of every year is a month when shelters begin to fill up with adolescent dogs. These surrendered animals were the puppies purchased during the holiday season. People surrender their dogs at this age because (1) they are now showing shy, fearful and aggressive behaviors due to insufficient socialization, (2) they have not been completely housetrained because nobody took the time to get the dog out often enough for potty training, and (3) the novelty has now worn off for the children to whom these puppies were given as Christmas presents.

Puppies are living, breathing creatures. They have special needs just like human infants. Please think carefully whether bringing a puppy into your home during this holiday season is an appropriate decision to make for you and your family. A better choice might be to wait until spring when the weather is warmer and you won’t have to worry about housetraining your puppy during a snow storm. Also, you’ll have more time to research the breed that will be best for your lifestyle.

©2010 Renee Premaza

Critical Periods of Socialization

Ages 3 weeks to 12-14 weeks are THE most critical developmental stages of life for puppies – This is the SOCIALIZATION PERIOD. Dogs MUST BE EXPOSED to other dogs from ages 4 to 6 weeks. Dogs MUST BE EXPOSED to people from ages 6 to 12 weeks. Experts used to think we had until the dog was 16 weeks to socialize him to people, but they’ve discovered this to be inaccurate. If we fail to sufficiently socialize our puppies at this age to all sorts of dogs and all sorts of people, we will wind up having a dog that is always scared of other dogs and people. Now you can see why it’s so important for breeders to do what they’re supposed to do during these critical ages. I’ve gone into homes to train puppies where they didn’t get the puppy from the breeder until he was 12 weeks old. This happens a lot with the toy dogs. But if the breeder didn’t expose the dog to enough people, guess what happens? The dog becomes shy and fearful, which can lead to aggressive behavior. Irresponsible breeders set the dogs up to fail if they keep them too long and don’t socialize them.

During the socialization period, puppies need to be exposed to all situations that it’s likely to encounter during its life. THIS is the time to take your puppies to puppy kindergarten classes. Don’t let your vet talk you out of going to classes at 9 weeks. Although there is SOME risk of health problems, the risk of your dog developing fear and defensive behaviors due to lack of socialization is much too risky. MORE DOGS DIE TODAY, NOT FROM DISEASE, BUT FROM BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS DUE TO LACK OF SOCIALIZATION.

If we miss the opportunities to socialize our puppies and to teach them certain things at this age, we can retard their development and ability to learn in the future. Much of the aggression we see in dogs is the result of insufficient socialization to other dogs and humans by the time the dog is 12 weeks old. Socializing your puppies doesn’t mean just casually introducing them to your family and friends. You need to get these dogs out and about and in as many public settings as you can. However, don’t do this all in one day, PLEASE. You should be introducing your new puppies to 5 new people every week, and then 5 more, and so on as he goes through the socialization period.

Researchers, Drs. Scott and Fuller state that puppies should never be adopted before 6 weeks of age, and best not before 7 weeks. The puppies need to be interacting with their littermates prior to those weeks is very important in their development.

At around 8 to 10 weeks, puppies go through a fear period where it’s very susceptible to physical and psychological trauma, and if something bad happens during that 2 week period, the effects could be permanent and irreversible. That’s why it’s best to get your puppy around the 8th or 9th week, so that YOU can control what’s going on in his life. Dog’s who experience abuse at this age, or if they have bad experiences with vets or other dogs, or ANYTHING that causes them emotional or physical harm, this poor dog will be traumatized for life by those scary events. Maybe now you’ll realize that punishing your puppies for housetraining accidents when they’re going through this fear period can cause terrible problems with your relationship. If you scare him by punishing him now, he will never fully trust you.

Here is a list of ALL of the things you need to expose your puppies to during that socialization period of 8 to 12 week period:

Textures, like pavement, rugs, cement, metal, sand, grass, gravel, vinyl flooring and dirt.

Sights would include trees, insects, other animals, men with beards, women in hats, people in wheel chairs, people with canes, and many children. Sounds like traffic, airplanes and trains, railroad crossing signals, construction and the sounds of children playing. Various recordings of sounds are commercially available and very useful for this. Especially important is to get your puppies used to the sound of rain and thunderstorms. CD sound effects are great for this. You can purchase these CD’s at: http://www.dogwise.com/ItemDetails.cfm?ID=DTB653

If your 8 to 12 week old puppy is kept in his kennel most of the time, he’ll become fearful and hard to rehabilitate!! This would equate to the infant who is given little or no mental stimulation. They become mentally disabled for life.

Now we come to the time that will try men’s souls – the canine period of adolescence – YIKES! This is when you want to go on a cruise around the world and not come home until your dog is at least 2 years old! When your puppy becomes 4-5 months old, you’ll notice that he becomes VERY independent. The puppy that wouldn’t leave your side now won’t come to you anytime you call him. When he was a bit younger, he was so easy to train, but from 4 to 10 months, he may become fearful and cautious even to people and novel things he was fine with before (this is the 2nd fear period that dogs go through). If you were training him early on, that will pay off now because he will trust you to guide and protect him through this.

NEVER  PUNISH YOUR DOG FOR BEING AFRAID OR YOU CAN TOTALLY RUIN THE DOG!  Your dog is always looking to you for guidance and encouragement, especially if he’s fearful. If you scold him because he isn’t comfortable meeting Uncle Joe, you will only convince him that Uncle Joe is not a good thing!

So…there you have it. If you can get through your puppies first 18 months you can get through ANYTHING. Now, if you’ve got kids that are growing up with your dog, and THEY’RE going through their adolescent periods, I don’t envy you one bit!

Getting Dogs Off of Food Rewards

A common complaint that people make when training their dogs using food rewards is, “my dog won’t do anything that I ask him to unless I have food in my hand.” Well, first you have to ask yourself if you’ve trained your dog to follow a command while you are showing him a piece of food while you’re asking him to do something. If you have that food right in front of the dog’s face, your dog will see that food as being part of the entire cue for doing that particular behavior. That’s why he isn’t following your request when you omit that cue.

You may be at a point in your training where your dog is doing a particular behavior very well every time you ask him for it. Figure out what behavior(s) your dog is excelling at, and begin putting that behavior on a “Random Reinforcement Schedule.”

Have you ever sat in front of a slot machine? If you have, you know that sometimes the machine pays you, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we might win 50 cents and sometimes we might win 50 dollars. A random reinforcement schedule is based on the “Slot Machine Principle” which states, “sometimes you get paid and sometimes you don’t!”

I’m going to give you a random reinforcement schedule below to help get you started. You can then develop your own random schedules as your dog gets further along with other types of rewards. These subsequent RR Schedules should use less and less food treats and more of other types of rewards.

Ideas for other types of rewards could be:

  • Belly Rubs.
  • Praise
  • A short game of Tug
  • A short chase game (he chases you)
  • A short game of fetch
  • A chance to chase a squirrel
  • Chasing a squeaky toy

Make a list of all the things your dog loves and use them in your reward schedules. Here is your sample of a Random Reinforcement Schedule. The numbers listed are those times that a dog does a behavior in which he is rewarded with food. All other times are rewarded with alternatives.

1, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 18, 21, 22, 23, 26.

Here’s one more to follow:
2, 4, 7, 10, 12, 13, 15, 18, 19, 20, 22, 25, 26.

By: Renee Premaza

Toy Dogs

Do you live with a toy dog? Toy dogs are classified as being 20 pounds or less. I have some helpful hints for you if you’re raising a little dog and you want to have a happy and healthy, well adjusted companion.

First, keep in mind that a little dog views the world much differently. EVERYTHING looks huge to a little dog. This is why they seem so much more reactive to their environment. Some of these little dogs don’t know they’re little, based on their behaviors. Many of the small breeds seem like they’re very big dogs in small bodies. Movement also creates a lot of excitement to them – they’re always afraid that they’re going to get stepped on.

Begin socializing your puppy as soon as you get him home. Each week introduce your new puppy to all sorts of different people, but not all at the same time. Introduce him to people coming into your home. Introduce him to your neighbors. Take him for walks in a park and teach him to sit politely for a greeting from a stranger. Hand the stranger a treat, and tell this person to wait for the dog to sit first, and then they can kneel down and offer the dog the treat reward. Try to find other friendly puppies or dogs of the same size or similar sizes to play with your dog. Put your dog in the car and take him with you on your errands. Take him to get gas in your car so that he gets used to someone reaching inside the car to give you change. Introduce your little dog to people in uniforms, like the mailman or a police officer.

THE WINDOW OF SOCIALIZATION CLOSES AT 12-14 WEEKS. If you do not give your dog sufficient socialization, your dog will never reach his full potential of being a friendly dog.

Little dogs seldom like it when people lean over them, or pet them over top of their heads. The best way for someone to greet your dog is to kneel down along their side, and pet them along that same side where they’re standing. If your dog shows any shyness or fearfulness, tell people NOT to make eye contact with your dog. Dogs consider staring as a threatening behavior.

When you’re housetraining a small breed puppy, don’t lose your patience, because it may be more of a challenge to housetrain him than it would be with a German Shepherd, or a Golden Retriever. First, they have very little bladders, so don’t expect your toy dog puppy to hold it in for long periods. As soon as he’s finished a meal, take him out to relieve himself. If you’ve been training him with treats, take him out immediately following your training sessions because he’ll have to go for sure. Take extra special care in getting your puppy out very often to go to avoid accidents.

So many people think that their little dogs don’t have feet! Put your dog down on all 4’s so that he can exercise. Sometimes, when you carry a little dog around all the time, you can give him a Napoleon Complex. Did you ever try to pet a Chihuahua or Pomeranian when their owners were carrying them around? You just might get bitten! Be very cautious about what dogs you introduce your little dog to. Big dogs sometimes see little dogs as DINNER!

One thing you should consider before bringing a toy dog home. Toy dogs and little children don’t make the best combination. Children can accidentally injure little dogs, and some dogs have been killed because a small child has picked up the dog and dropped it. Many of the small dogs, as mentioned before, are more reactive to things, and they can be a little nippy and growly. Teach your children to respect your dog by not pulling tails, ears or jumping on the dog. Teach children that not all dogs like to be hugged or kissed on the face! Many times, children will get nipped or bitten on the face because of this very same thing. Teach children not to chase the dog, nor allow the dog to chase the children. All dogs have, what is referred to as, PREY DRIVE. Little children often behave like wounded prey! Running, screaming, arms flailing get dogs all excited, and will create inappropriate behavior in the dog because of that instinctual prey drive. Remember to supervise ALL interactions between the dog and your children. NO MATTER WHAT BREED OF DOG, ALWAYS SUPERVISE THE CHILDREN AND THE DOG WHEN THEY ARE TOGETHER. If you can’t supervise, please crate your dog or put him behind a baby gate until you can watch everybody. Once your dog matures to adulthood, you will have a perpetual 2 year old living with you!

When walking your little dog, use a harness instead of a collar. I get very upset anytime I see a tiny dog being walked with a choker collar. Little dogs are prone to having a collapsed trachea, so putting any pressure on that area should always be avoided, especially with any of the toy dogs.

Teach your toy dog obedience. Obedience is the way to let your dog know that you’re his leader. When dogs don’t have confidence in their people, they will assume the role of pack leader themselves. If your dog is growling at you, biting you or your children, OR, if he is demanding your attention and pretty much, ruling your house, your dog is telling you that he is in charge. Become his leader by making him earn his privileges. Do this by making him sit before being fed treats, playing with toys, going for walks and rides, and being petted, and generally before he gets any attention.

Little dogs are also prone to dental disease because their mouths are crowded by their teeth. Learn to brush your dog’s teeth to avoid dental disease, which can also cause other problems.

If you own a toy dog, I would urge you to purchase a book called, “The Irrepressible Toy Dog, by Darlene Arden. This book is available at www.dogwise.com

Enjoy your toy dog and good luck!


Dealing with Separation Anxiety

SOME SIGNS OF SEVERE SEPARATION ANXIETY

  • Scratch marks or actual digging by the entrances of any doors leading out of the house.
  • Scratch marks at windows or on window sills.
  • Drooling in the front of the dog’s crate by the gate.
  • Drooling by the doorways or windows.
  • Destruction of blinds, draperies and woodwork indicates the dog may want to escape the house to look for you.
  • Destruction of household furnishings (e.g., torn sofa cushions).
  • Bowel excrement and urine anywhere in the house, including inside the crate. Sometimes dogs that are so severe might eliminate on walls and/or on furniture.
  • Crates that have openings where the dog has tried to get out of it.
  • Injuries that the dog might have inflicted upon himself, including wounds on his paws or other parts of his body done to reduce his own anxiety (akin to someone biting his nails).
  • Neighbors that complain about the dog barking for hours anytime he’s left alone.
  • Dog will not leave you alone for even a minute when you are home (aka Velcro Dog).

SOME SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS FOR REDUCING CANINE SEPARATION ANXIETY

  1. Avoid making any fuss over your dog when greeting him after coming home from work or anytime you re-enter the home.
  2. If the dog is able to remain safely in his crate during the time he’s left alone, give him a filled Kong toy or other high-value chewy to keep him occupied during your absence.
  3. If your dog cannot stay safely in his crate without trying to escape it, or injure himself, try confining him to an area, such as the kitchen, using well-constructed baby gates or decorative metal gates high enough to prevent him from jumping out of it.
  4. Put a radio or TV on to provide background noise so your dog won’t feel quite so alone and isolated during your absence.
  5. If at all possible, ask a neighbor or a trustworthy teenager or professional pet sitter to stop by your house once or twice/day to give your dog a potty break and to take him for a walk or have a 1/2-hour play session with him.
  6. Consider taking your dog to a doggy daycare center for one or two days/week, if that’s a possibility. Even though it may be a bit costly for just one or two days, it might actually save you money in repairing damages done by the dog, and it will save you some grief and aggravation because the dog will become happier and more self-confident.
  7. Put your dog on a “Say Please” program This is a benevolent program where structure and non-physical discipline provides predictability in the dog’s life. Check out the article I’ve written on the website about this.
  8. AVOID PUNISHING THE DOG FOR ANY OF THESE BEHAVIORS! Your dog is already anxious. If you punish him, you will only increase the amount of anxiety he’s already experiencing, and his behaviors will only worsen. Please do not attribute his behavior to spitefulness or willfulness! Even though his behavior doesn’t make sense to you, dog behavior doesn’t have to make sense!
  9. Make your routine of leaving the house varied so the dog cannot ever really know the exact time that you’ll be exiting the house.
  10. Work hard on doing obedience training in a very positive manner (e.g., clicker training or any reward-based training method that avoids any and all corrections or punishments). Obedience training will motivate your dog to do behaviors that please you. This will strengthen your leadership role with him, and it will also help him become more confident that he can survive until you return to him.

If your dog is showing severe SA behaviors, please discuss this at length with your veterinarian. There are pharmaceuticals he or she might recommend to help alleviate your dog’s feelings of stress and anxiety. .

An over-the-counter product that you can use without any prescription is called “Dog Appeasement Pheromones.” It looks like a Glade air freshener, and it also plugs into a wall outlet. Here is an article that talks about a scientific study that was done on the “DAP” product. You can get it on the net here at a reasonable price.

Many separation-anxious dogs that I’ve worked with improved greatly when the DAP diffuser was plugged in. But of course, it depends on how severe the situation is.

Purchase one or both of the following books: (a) The Canine Separation Anxiety Workbook, by James O’Heare or (b) I’ll be Home Soon, by Dr. Patricia McConnell. Both of these books are available at www.dogwise.com

There are a few Yahoo group discussion lists on the web that deal with Separation Anxiety. You might benefit from subscribing to one or all of these lists to discuss your own issues and get advice from other owners who have experienced similar situations with their own dogs.

Getting Your Dog Accustomed to Having A New Baby in the House

One of the biggest mistakes that young couples make is failing to get their dog used to having a new baby live in the house, when the dog has been an ”only child.” Sometimes the ”new arrival” is seen as an intruder into the pack, and this can have disastrous effects. Here are some very important steps you should follow when you are expecting a baby. Keep in mind that you should do these training steps well before the baby comes into your lives.

  1. Purchase as life-sized a baby-doll as you can find, preferably one that cries. If you can’t find a doll that comes with sound effects, you can purchase a CD that has baby sounds, which include crying.
  2. Wrap the doll in a clean diaper or blanket, preferably one that already has the scent of a baby on it. If you can’t get one that has a baby’s scent on it, sprinkle the diaper or blanket with some baby powder, and add a few drops of baby lotion too.
  3. Get into a routine where you’re carrying the ”baby” around the house with you. Talk to the baby much like you would if your real baby were in your arms. Pretend to feed the baby, and talk to the baby. Put the baby on your lap and watch TV. Try to make a daily routine with your new ”baby” and follow it so that your dog gets used to your new behavior.
  4. Allow your dog to sniff the new ”baby.” Praise him to the skies for calm and friendly behavior toward the doll.
  5. Put the doll into a stroller and start taking walks with baby and dog. Never forget to praise your dog for accepting the presence of the baby and for being well-behaved while you’re following your new routine as new mother.
  6. If your dog has been allowed on the sofa, you may want to re-think his having this privilege. Keep in mind that you may have your child in your lap, and your dog may now be wanting to jump up on the sofa when you now don’t want him up there while you’re holding your baby. Suppose you want to nurse your baby while sitting on the sofa? How will you react to the dog when he’s jumping up to sit with you? Plan ahead for situations like this, because if you need to change any of your dogs habits that you’ve accepted before, you need the time to do this now, not after the arrival of the baby.
  7. Another item you may want to have in your house during this desensitization period is the baby swing. Put the doll in the swing and turn the swing on. Watch your dog’s reaction to the swing. He may need to get used to this piece of equipment. He might start barking at it, or he may feel afraid of it.
  8. Play your CD with the babies crying everyday. Start out by playing the tape with a very low volume. Gradually accustom the dog to hearing the loud volume of crying babies and watch for any negative reactions. If the dog doesn’t tolerate high-pitched crying, turn the volume down to the level where he’s okay with it. Then begin to turn the volume up again until he’s completely okay with the sounds.
  9. Do not forget that you’ll still need to keep a normal routine with your dog. If you can keep a routine with the dog throughout this early period, the dog will be more inclined to accept everything else that’s going on in the house. Continue taking the dog for his regular exercise. Don’t slack up on this. If your dog isn’t able to expend his own excess energies, his behavior will deteriorate from boredom and loneliness.
  10. Teach your dog to keep all 4 on the floor. If you haven’t devoted too much time to obedience training, NOW is the time to really work on this. If you don’t know how to train the dog not to jump, please visit the Obedience Course at K9U.com and get help in this area. The last thing you want is your dog jumping when baby is in your arms.
  11. Remember that when you first bring your baby home, you may not feel like going out jogging with the dog everyday. You may want to start asking some dog-savvy kids in the neighborhood to begin walking the dog, or playing frisbee or fetch games with him. Get the dog used to new things like this early on instead of waiting until last minute.
  12. Keep in mind that you’re going to have times after the baby arrives when baby is screaming for his meal, and your dog has to go potty. Things can get pretty chaotic for awhile after the baby arrives.

Just as you are planning ahead for the arrival of your new child, please plan ahead and think how you’re going to help your dog become comfortable with the baby. If, during these early days of getting the dog used to the doll, you see any signs that your dog is experiencing severe stress, or he’s showing any indications of wanting to bite the doll, PLEASE enlist the help of a professional trainer who can come to your home and create a program for you to follow with the dog. It’s better to find these things out now rather than have a disaster occur when the baby comes. If you think you need a trainer, you may want to visit http://www.apdt.com to get a list of trainers in your area. If you live in the south Jersey area, I’d be more than happy to get you started on your dog’s training program.

Don’t wait until the last minute!

Good luck!

Renee

Housetraining Procedures for Puppies & Adult Dogs

If you’re having problems housetraining your puppies or older dogs, are you:

Leaving your dog’s food bowl full all day long? “Free feeding” prevents your dog’s digestive system from having a specific schedule of elimination. Your dog is not a cat! Feed your dog a good quality dog food and feed him twice/day. Keep his food bowl down for no longer than 20 minutes. Whatever he doesn’t finish within that time period, put the rest away and add it to his next meal.

You need to take your dog outside onleash for elimination everytime you think he has to go. This way, you’ll be able to monitor what he’s doing and what he’s NOT doing. If you just let him out and don’t watch him, how will you know if he’s done his business?

Take your dog out:

  1. First thing in the morning
  2. Within 5-10 minutes after every meal
  3. Immediately after every nap
  4. Take your dog out after being played with for awhile. This is very stimulating to many dogs and they will need to eliminate soon after something exciting happens.
  5. Take the puppy out on an average of every 45 minutes to an hour. You might want to keep a log on this to determine just how often he needs to go from how many times you can get him to eliminate when you take him outside. If you have an older dog, you can lengthen this to every hour to hour and a half.
  6. Before taking the dog outside, say to him, “wanna go potty?” and bring him outside on leash to your designated spot. Keep treats on you, so you can reward the dog immediately after he does his business. Within half a second after your dog pees or poops in the right spot, offer a treat and praise him to the skies. You can reward good house training behaviors by then letting him run around outside with you or taking him for a walk or run. Throw him a puppy party ANYTIME he eliminates in his spot.
    Caution: Avoid giving your dog his treat reward when you go back in the house. All you will have rewarded him for is going in the house! A reward must be given with 1/2 second of the behavior for the dog to learn what it was that he was being rewarded for.
  7. If you’re out with your puppy for awhile and he’s been running around and playing, make sure you bring him back to his “toilet” area before going inside. He might have to go again.
  8. When you’ve established a fair amount of success in getting the dog to go in this spot, begin putting a command word on the behavior. For example, when you bring the dog to his spot, as he starts to eliminate, say your phrase, like “go potty.” Then reward him with a treat right after he’s finished.
  9. If you cannot keep your eye on him all the time, (1) put him in his crate, or (2) tether him to your waist with his leash or long-line.
  10. Watch him for certain signals that he may have to go: (1) sniffing the floor, (2) looking a bit anxious or worried, (3) coming to you and just staring at you, (4) preparing to squat or lift leg, acting excited and a bit obnoxious.
    Caution: Don’t expect young puppies to clearly indicate when they have to go potty! Look for more subtle signs as listed above in item 10.
  11. Take the dog outside to potty before bedtime.

IF YOU TAKE HIM OUT AND HE DOESN’T GO, FOLLOW THESE PROCEDURES:

  1. Do not allow him to play outside.
  2. Bring him inside and put him in his crate for 15 minutes to 1/2 hour. This is not a punishment. Give him a toy or a chewy to occupy him until you take him out again for another try.
  3. Take him out again, and repeat all procedures you’ve been instituting. (generally, the dog will go after having been crated for an additional 1/2 hour.)

Please be aware that it is more difficult to train a toy or miniature dog. These tiny dogs have very small bladders and need to be taken out much more freqently.

DO NOT PUNISH HOUSE TRAINING ACCIDENTS!

When adopting shelter or rescue dogs, you may experience housetraining accidents in the very beginning. Just implement these procedures to get the dog back on the right track. Keep in mind that sometimes our dogs regress in housetraining because (1) they may have a urinary tract infection; (2) they may be experiencing separation anxiety; (3) females that have been altered may develop spay incontinence. Speak to your vet and he can give the dog medication to control this; (4) male dogs may mark on vertical surfaces and females may also mark as a way to establish territory. Within a multi-dog household, you should reduce competition for resources (food, toys, you), by teaching the dogs that you all good things come from you and belong to YOU, not them. Use good leadership skills and your dogs won’t feel the need to be competitive with one another.

The success of teaching a dog to go potty outside depends on your management of the situation.

By punishing the dog, he will not learn that going outside is what you want him to do. Punishment will only teach him that you are dangerous. This can result in a dog that will (1) refuse to potty outside in the presence of his owner; (2) come inside and eliminate where nobody can see what he’s doing. Dogs that are not completely housetrained and still have accidents in the house are not spiteful dogs! They are merely looking for an absorbent surface to eliminate on without suffering the consequences of being threatened. Management is key in housetraining any dog. If you don’t have the time to watch your dog or take him out very often, you’re going to have a much harder time of housetraining him!

REWARD ALL GOOD BEHAVIOR AND THAT BEHAVIOR WILL INCREASE!

Aggression in Dogs: Causes and Prevention

Renee discusses why some dogs choose to show aggression. She mentions several human behaviors that may trigger biting, including using painful punishment tactics, being confrontational, etc. She discusses what body-language signals to watch for that may predict a bite is coming. Renee also talks about how to respond appropriately when a dog is growling, snapping or snarling.

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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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Some people say, “A dog is just a dog.” WRONG!

Renee discusses the many wonderful services dogs offer us. She talks about military working dogs, service and therapy dogs, police and search & rescue dogs, as well as dogs that can sniff out cancer and seizures.  She also offers several ideas of useful and stimulating jobs in which to involve your own pet dog. Dogs love to work!

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Choosing Training Methods That Work Best for You

Phil Guida, New Jersey dog trainer who owns Canine Dimensions (www.caninedimensions.com), talks to Karen and Renee about his “natural, balanced” system of dog training. The three trainers discuss the differences between positive, reward-based training and methods which employ the use of corrections and rewards. It’s rare for trainers to discuss and debate methodology without it becoming a “heated argument.” But today’s talk was extremely professional, respectful and enlightening.

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Dogs who are Afraid to Ride in Cars

Karen & Renee discuss various methods to help dogs get over their fear of riding in the car. Did you know that dogs can feel a lot calmer if they are facing to the back of the car rather than sitting facing forward? They also discussed the reasons why dogs can develop carsickness. Later in the program, a caller shared her story of her 11 year old Lab who has suddenly become very nervous during car rides.

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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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Therapy dog training

Renee interviewed author Nancy Stanley, who wrote a book called “Pillow with a Heartbeat.” The book is narrated by “Truffles,” Nancy’s therapy dog.  It’s a heartwarming story about a mini-chocolate poodle puppy who has an unfortunate start, but who then takes on a very important role of being a therapy dog for the elderly and seriously ill children.  To purchase Truffles’ story, click on this link:

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Renee & Karen answer emails from listeners today

Karen answered an email from a listener whose mini-poodle is suddenly growling at people when they approach her. This little dog has cataracts and can no longer see very well.  Listen to the advice Karen and Renee offer this listener.  Renee then answered another email from someone whose Black Lab can’t control his excitement when visitors enter the house. The girls offer this owner some suggestions on how to teach this Lab some self-control.

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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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Victoria Stilwell, from “It’s Me Or The Dog” talks about her very popular TV show on Animal Planet.

Victoria Stilwell, TV dog trainer on “It’s Me Or The Dog,” talks about the challenges of working with dogs while filming a TV show. She also talks about how important it is to use positive training methods, and how she hopes her TV program will help spread that word to the dog-owning community.

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