Tag: happy dog

Why it’s Absolutely Okay to Avoid the Dog Park!

Why it’s Absolutely Okay to Avoid the Dog Park!

Do you stare longingly at your pup wondering if he’s happy laying at your feet chewing on his bone?

Do you wonder if he needs more socializing in his life?

Every dog wants to play with other dogs, right?

I work with quite a few dogs who just lose it at the sight of another dog. I’m talking jumping, barking, pulling on the leash, and otherwise doing the exact opposite of what you would like them to do when this scenario comes up. (If this embarrassing scene is happening to you, contact me, or a local force free trainer in your area. We can help!)
Many of these dogs act this way because they are, in fact, afraid of the other dogs approaching them. For your dog, acting this way gets the other dog to go away, because there is absolutely no way you are going to walk over to that person to explain why your dog is loosing his $@**.

Most pet parents also have the idea in their head that dogs should have doggy friends. They should be able to be social at the dog park or doggy daycare in large groups of dogs and still keep a cool head. If you have one of those dogs, consider yourself lucky!

Here is an example I like to use when explaining this to people:
Some people like to go to the bar every weekend. Some people like to sit at home with their dogs on the weekends, and some people like to have a few close friends over to play a game or watch a movie.

Is one option better than the other? It depends on who you ask. If you ask me, I’ll be at home on Saturday night with my dogs every single time! Now, I go to the club once a year because I like my friends and I want to hang out with them, but asking me to go every weekend is going to just wear me out!

Now let’s look at your dog. If he is freaking out at one new dog from 100 yards away, I don’t think he’s going to like going to the “bar” where there are 30 dogs on top of him all at once. Your dog may learn to enjoy one or two doggy friends in his lifetime, or he might be a dog who doesn’t want friends. Both of those options are okay!

Society puts a lot of pressure on dogs to be super friendly and A-Okay 100% of the time. No one can hold up to those expectations. Take an honest look at your dog, and decide if your dog as an individual is okay with doggy friends. If your honest answer is “no” or “not right now,” that’s okay! Your dog just heaved a sigh of relief that you are not going to ask him to do something he’s not ready to do!

This concept is the root of my training philosophy. Is your dog ready and capable of making good choices in this situation? If not, then we need to train some more to get him ready, or we need to decide if this position is one that your dog needs to encounter. Then determine the best way to help your dog cope with this decision.

Find things that truly do make your dog happy, and pursue those options. Does he enjoy swimming, or playing ball with you? Make sure he gets the opportunity to have those social interactions with you, and having doggie friends becomes farther down the list of requirements for a happy life.
For more insight to my struggles with Pixie’s reactivity, check out my past blog posts!
Until next time, make good choices!

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Back to School Tips for your Dog

Back to School Tips for your Dog

September is here and that means Back to School!
If you have kids, that means packing lunches, homework time, and getting to sports practice. If you are a teacher, that means back to your normal 7am to 7pm (yes, I know that’s a 12 hour day. Teachers work a lot y’all). So what does that mean for your dog?
If you have an older pup who has gone through this routine change before, then they might be a little more prepared than if you brought home a new puppy or rescue dog this summer. That doesn’t mean you should expect them to readily adjust to a huge change in routine. Here are a few tips for helping make the transition a smooth one!

#1 Make sure your pup is ready to handle you being gone all day.
No one likes puppy surprises when they get home from being gone all day. If you have a pup who is younger than 5 months or an older dog who is used to you being home to let him out every 3 hours, then test pup on how long he is ready to “hold it.” Plan to run some errands for just a bit longer than you are normally leaving pup home alone. If pup can successfully wait until you get home then slowly make that time equal the amount of time that you will be gone for work and school. If pup is having some trouble with the extended time, plan to have a neighbor or dog walker come by for a few weeks to help with the transition. As puppy gets older, and as older dog adjusts to the new schedule, you will find that they are able to “hold it” a bit longer to meet your scheduling needs.

#2 Create a new routine for Rover too!
Since pooch is going to be waiting around all day for you to get home. Add him into your morning routine. A nice long walk early in the morning allows pup to know that you have not forgotten about him in all the shuffle, and he gets to burn off some energy. If you are not a morning person then an evening walk is fine, just make sure it doesn’t get shadowed by homework or sports practices. Most people find that waking up just a few minutes earlier to get the pup out is not that bad and they actually look forward to it. Science says exercise is good for our productivity too! Rover is tired, and we get more done. Win win situation!

#3 Invest in some new toys.

IMG_20170324_090704_143I know, one more thing to spend money on! The kids got new backpacks and lunch boxes, why not spend some money on the pup too! A new puzzle toy or game for Spot to work on when you leave will spare you his ideas of remodeling your kitchen. A frozen kong or bully stick wrapped in a paper bag allows your pup the opportunity to do something constructive while you are gone. It also has the added benefit of reducing stress in your pup by allowing him to forage. This allows him to use different areas of his brain that we have inadvertently shut off by offering food in a bowl. Scavenger activities for dogs is like taking a relaxing bubble bath for us!

Little things will make a big difference for your pup this September. If you find that your pup is having a hard time with the life changes of back to school, schedule a vet visit as soon as you notice the change. Often behavior changes are linked to health problems that are masked until something stressful happens. If all checks out well and you are still having some trouble, look for a certified trainer who is knowledgeable in behavior modification and separation anxiety. There are lots of things we can do to help you out, but we need to address it sooner rather than later!

Just a reminder to my local clients: I am quickly counting down the days to my Wedding! Things are moving along smoothly so far! Make sure you get your appointments scheduled so I can see you before all the chaos really begins! If you are interested in scheduling a consultation with me, please contact me soon! I will be limiting the number of new clients I see in October so I can give you the attention you and your pup deserve!
Until next time!

Is frustration affecting your dog walking?

Is frustration affecting your dog walking?

I want to touch on the idea of giving your dog a choice. Is your dog ready to go for a walk? Are they actually capable of listening to you in the moment you are speaking? Sometimes the answer is no.

Most of the time your dog does not respond to the cue given because their brain is elsewhere. You know the look I am talking about, the one where their nose is twitching and their head is on a swivel. They have no idea you actually exist in that moment. They are looking off to the hills, and have forgotten about the leash and the walk that you are ready to go on. From a training point of view, that is a problem!

Many traditional trainers teach that the dog should obey what you say no matter what, and that level of sharp obedience is what you strive for. If you are not getting the result you want, then a sharp pop of the collar to remind the dog what he is supposed to be doing will help him get there. If this is how you were taught to train your dog then one of two things are happening. (I was also taught this way originally, so I know your frustration) One, you are now constantly popping the collar and giving cues that your dog is ignoring. Two, your dog is giving you a half-hearted sit when you collar pop but still no actual focus to do what you ask. A very frustrating problem.

A story: Pixie loves dock diving. Her favorite thing in the whole world is jumping from the dock into the pool and going for a swim. She loves it so much however, that she leaves her brain in the car when we get to the pool. All of last year I struggled with her staying on the dock. I could see in her face that there was no brain in her head. The more training I did on the dock the more frustrated I got because I could not get any thought processes while near the pool. So I stopped going to the pool to let her jump. The first time we went to the pool this year, she didn’t get anywhere near the dock. I just let her sniff. We sniffed in the parking lot, and the fence line. We sniffed the parked cars, and watched the dogs go into the vet clinic. Any time she offered me some eye contact, I would reward, and move her a little closer to the pool. Thoughtfulness, gets you closer to what you want.

What would happen if you just gave your dog a few minutes to sniff? Hang out on the porch, and let your pup get all the sniffing out of his system before you asked him to move forward. I’m not saying let your dog drag you all over the yard to sniff every blade of grass, you stay in one space, giving your dog as much room to sniff as the leash will allow and just wait. Let me know how this goes, and the difference you see in your walks with your pup!

4 Tips for an Effortless Dog Walking Experience

4 Tips for an Effortless Dog Walking Experience

Most of us live in neighborhoods where a nice evening stroll to the park or by the water is something we could easily do with our dogs, and most of us with dogs, want to make that part of our daily life. When we got our dogs, we also envisioned an exercise partner who was ready to wander the beach with us in the spring, and walks in the park on a nice loose leash.

What happens when the dog has other ideas? We tell ourselves walking the dog is something we need to work on, and we will take care of that tomorrow. We come home from work exhausted and don’t feel like having the dog drag us down the street. Then days go by and weeks, and no one is going for a walk. (I’ve been there!)

Here are my 4 tips for getting you and your pup back outside and enjoying your time together!

  1. Help your dog focus!

Dogs see the world much differently than we do. They use their sense of smell to analyze things before their other senses even begin registering what’s happening. If you are opening the door and Rocky is off like a rocket, then practice your focus before you leave the house. Start with a leashed dog at the door you usually take them out to walk. Ask for a “sit” and wait until you have a seated pooch. Reward that sit and begin to open the door. If they get up then take your hand off the door and wait for them to sit back down. Wait to see what decision they make before you immediately prompt another sit.

Once you have begun to open the door do you see a dog whose nose is now twitching 100 miles an hour? Rocky is now smelling all the smells that he can get through his nose from that tiny crack in the door. Your job right now is to let him sniff!!

  1. Wait until your dog is ready!

When your pup has done all his sniffing at the door, he will most likely look up at you to say “hey, why aren’t we going anywhere” Reward that eye contact! The more time you give your dog to sniff the birds, bees, grass, cars, people, temperature, dogs who have walked down the street, rode by in the car, bicycles, wildlife… (you get the idea) the quicker they will begin to recover, and offer that eye contact. Giving your pup time to analyze where he is and where he is going will make the walk more enjoyable for both of you because pup will not be distracted by all the sniffs and be able to pay better attention to you. Be patient!

  1. Reward what you like!

Reward your dog while he still has his brain in his head to learn. Most of the time, when dogs start to pull at the leash they have run out of brain space to remember you at the other end of the leash. Remember all those smells your dog was sniffing when we got to the door? They change as you get farther from the door! If you are getting close to the mailbox, and Rocky is pulling, turn around and go back to the house and start over. Rewarding what you like will keep your dog checking in with you until the smells take over. Check out this video of Duke learning how to walk with a nice loose leash.

Duke Golden

  1. Set a timer not a distance!

Most of our frustration with walking our dog comes from not getting anywhere. All of our cell phones, have a timer on them. Set the timer for a length of time you are comfortable with. 5 to 15 minutes is usually my goal for any training sessions.  In those 5 minutes, you get as far as you can, then pack up and go home. If you sit at the back door sniffing for your 5 minutes, well then, that was your “walk” today. Congratulate yourself for training the dog!

With time and practice you will begin to get farther and farther down the driveway and into the neighborhood. It will also take your dog less time to check in with you when he does lose his brain.

If you liked these tips, and would like to work on enjoying your walks with your pup, contact me through my website http://www.thefreckledpaw.com

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