MY BEST FRIEND
As all of us know, our Canine companions are often our closest friends. To many, they represent extended family with all of the rights that entails. With that in mind, it is important to educate ourselves on their care, comfort, and potential concern. In this section we will periodically update articles related to; My Best Friend.
· Being Your Dog's Leader is Key to Training
Buying Dog Toys For Your Dog
· Camping with Man's Best Friend
Creative Dog Toys Help Alleviate Boredom
· Entertain Your Puppies with Dog Toys
· Survival Skills for Pups
Traveling with Dog
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Being Your Dog's Leader is Key to Training
- by Lee Asher
Dogs, in their natural state, are pack animals. We tend to think of them simply as autonomous pups and don't often consider their immutable core nature as pack animals, however. This failure to take into account the true nature of dogs can make training more difficult. Likewise, understanding what it means to be a pack animal can unlock one of trainings greatest secrets.
Dogs, in packs, have leaders. The leadership role in dog packs is one of great influence. Other dogs in the pack naturally subordinate themselves to leadership and will look to their leader for guidance and instruction.
Of course, domesticated dogs don't travel in packs. Instead, they build a pack based on those with whom they regularly interact. In essence, the owner and the owner’s family members or close friends become the dogs pack.
This creates a wonderful opportunity for dog trainers. By casting yourself as the leader of your dogs pack, the dog will naturally tend to follow your lead, will naturally feel inclined to respect you and will demonstrate an instinctive need to learn from you. Since a dogs real social structure will always be seen through the innate canine perspective of packs and leaders, it only makes sense for trainers to take advantage of this by assigning roles for both pet and master that will make dog training especially effective.
There are several things a trainer can do to emulate being a pack leader. These techniques will allow your dog to find what he will rightfully feel is his place in your family’s social order and will make him substantially more amenable to your training. Some may say it is as easy as making sure the dog knows who the boss is, but that is an oversimplification. Being bossy is not the same as being a leader. Simply trying to enforce your will on a dog does not necessarily communicate to him that you are truly the pack leader. The talented trainer will understand this and will take specific actions to emulate a pack leader.
Some expert-recommended techniques include:
Good leaders are consistent enforcers of rules and regulations. Leaders who too often look the other way are not taken seriously. A dog will notice whether your rules and expectations are consistently maintained and may even test your mettle upon occasion, pushing the boundaries of established behavioral norms to determine who is really in charge. By being a wholly consistent leader, you are likely to establish yourself as being the head of your pack and your dog will then be much more apt to follow your lead.
Leaders are respected not just as an arbitrary outgrowth of their assigned position but because of how they behave in that role. A firm, but fair leader is far more likely to be admired and followed. One must be firm with their dog when training, but cannot hold unreasonable expectations or enforce their rules with violence or punishment. A good pack leader can still use the positive-reinforcement techniques that have been proven the core of successful training. Being a respectful leader will create a respectful follower in your dog. Their submission to you should be premised in respect and appreciation, not in fear or humiliation.
The successful pack leader will interact with his dog in ways that reinforce the notion of the social hierarchy. Dogs, for instance, look for cues from leadership in the eyes. By maintaining eye contact with your pet during training, he will better understand your role as leader. Likewise, it is desirable to occasionally demand your dogs attention while walking, playing or during more intense training sessions. By commanding your dog to heel and to look at you, for instance, you will further reinforce your position as pack leader.
Unlocking the power of being a pack leader can make training much more effective. With roles clearly established, one can avoid much of the struggle others may experience while training their pets. Additionally, by assigning yourself the role of pack leader you create an environment in which your dog will naturally look to you for its guidance. Pack leadership is an essential component to any fully optimized training program.
Buying Dog Toys For Your Dog
by Gerald McNicholl
These days when you walk into the toy section of any pet stores for dogs, you are most likely to be spoilt for choice – an endless supply of colorful toys that are uniquely created to keep your dog healthy and amused. Dog toys are a great bonding tool for you and your dog, so exactly how important is it to provide your dog with lots of fun toys?
Dog toys are actually one of the most important possessions you can give to your dog, especially for puppies. Dog toys help to develop your dog’s mental and emotional well-being, as well as good physical coordination. They also help your dog to relieve separation anxiety (especially in puppies that have just been separated from their mother), mental stress and boredom, promote dental health and prevent your dog from eating away or chewing on your personal belongings, such as your shoes! So shower your dog with lots of toys to keep it occupied and challenged.
Toys can be divided into 3 general categories:
* Primary toys are your dog's favorite. Leave these out for your dog when you are not around. This helps reduce separation anxiety because your dog associates you leaving with him getting his favorite toys.
* Secondary toys are the toys to have out when you are at home. Be sure to pick up the primary toys.
* The third set of toys are to be rotated with the first set. Trainers recommend swapping toys every 3 days or so. Mixing the toys will keep your dog interested in all his toys.
Variety is the spice of life. Most experts would recommend that you buy different kinds of toys for your dog so that you can discover which ones he really likes. An ideal toy would combine both the fun and safety factors that suit the size and personalities of your dog. There is no point in buying a small Chihuahua a huge heavy ball that it cannot grip with its teeth.
Do consider the following points as you peruse your toy options at the pet store:
* Make sure there are no dangerous small pieces that your inexperienced puppy or dog can chew loose and swallow, lodged in his throat or worse yet – choke on. Good pet toys include hard rubber chews and bones that are robust and hard for your puppy to destroy or swallow. Some toys do eventually fall apart or splinter, if that’s the case, either repair or replace it.
* Larger dog breeds have bigger throats, and this means a small toy can pose problems.
* Don’t limit your choices to only safe dog toys that you can buy from pet stores. Many household items make for great alternatives, such as tennis balls or Frisbees. You should go for Frisbees made of soft plastic or cloth. Although this variety won’t go as far, and they are not as controllable as the hard plastic flying disks, they are much less likely to damage your dog’s mouth and teeth when he snatches it from the air.
* To keep your dog interested, combine a variety of toys – squeakers, flavored rubber bones, bouncy balls, squishy toys etc all of which will provide your dog with hours of fun.
* Another popular toy for your adult dog or puppy is a strong rope. It allows them to chew on something and also it allows you to participate during playtime by pulling and tugging on the rope.
* Create your own dog toy – to make a chewable toy for your dog, put some cheese or his favorite treat inside a sterilized bone. Give your dog the bone and it will try to reach the food inside of it. This toy is ideal to stimulate the dog when he is home alone.
* Do not give your dog old clothes or shoes as play toys. If you let your dog chew these items, it will assume that this is an acceptable behavior and will do it to other shoes and clothes! Dogs cannot distinguish between old and new things, so bear that in mind when you choose normal household items as toys for your dog.
Creative Dog Toys Help Alleviate Boredom
by Gene Sower
The old adage that a tired dog is a happy dog is all too true. And even more to the point, you could say that a mentally stimulated dog is a well-behaved dog. Boredom is often the root cause for a whole bunch of behavioral problems such as chewing things in the home, destroying furniture, digging holes, self-mutilation or even barking constantly. If your dog is exhibiting any of these chronic traits, chances are your dog is bored. And boredom almost always leads to trouble. Here's some ways to help.
To better understand your dog and help to maintain a good temperament, you have to realize that dogs like to work. They also like to play. They like to be involved. They also need a certain amount of physical exercise EVERY day. And they like to do it with you! Dogs, as you well know, are pack animals that crave interaction with other living things. Since your dog no longer has a pack of dog playmates, you and the rest of your family are the defacto pack. It's your responsibility to care for your dog's mental well-being just as much as it is to care for her physical well-being. Putting the dog out in the yard by itself with a squeaky toy just doesn't cut it.
The point of this article will be to help you identify a class of indoor dog toys that elevates your dog's play to a new level. We all have limited time, right? So if you're going to play with your dog or encourage them to amuse themselves for a bit, the dog toys we'll discuss will help you maximize playtime as well as the mental stimulation your dog receives. These dog toys will improve your dog's indoor playtime beyond simple throw and fetch games or basic tug and play games.
The Hide A Toy Series
The Kygen company makes an adorable set of "hide and seek" dog toys called "Hide a Squirrel", "Hide a Bee" and "Hide a Bird". Each plush dog toy includes three squeaky toys that "hide" in a plush base: tree trunk, hive, or bird house. The object of the game is to get your dog excited about getting the 3 squeaky toys out of their plush base. Dogs that like to dig and gut their plush toys will love this innovative dog toy. Only with this toy, it lives to play another day! And once the dog succeeds in removing all 3 squeaky toys you can stuff them back in (squeaking them like crazy to get your dog excited) and have them work at it again. I think this is a great dog toy for smaller dogs under 40lbs. Perfect for any type of terrier, for sure. Great toy for all puppies, too. Helps develop a dog's thinking and puzzle-solving skills.
A similar line of seek and destroy dog toys are the Egg Babies. Also made by the Kygen company, these cute plush animals (ducks, fish, turtles, dinosaurs, etc) have a velcro slit up the center of their stomachs with 3 squeaky eggs inside. This is also the perfect activity toy for smaller dogs (under 40lbs) or puppies who enjoy gutting their toys. Except that with these clever dog toys, you can simply reinsert the eggs and press the velcro back together and the fun starts all over again without having to break out the needle and thread.
While Kongs have lead the way as a must-have chew/treat toy in your dog's toy box for years, a couple of lesser-known treat toys I like include the Buster Cube and the Havaball. The Buster Cube is a hard plastic cube that comes in two sizes, one for smaller dogs (20lbs and under) and one for larger dogs (20lbs - 80lbs). The cool thing about the Buster Cube is that you can adjust the difficulty level to make it harder or easier for the treats or kibble to come out of the toy. As your dog gets better at getting the treats out, you can increase the difficulty to keep your dog challenged.
The Havaball is a personal favorite because unlike the Buster Cube, the Havaball is a grooved rubber ball that not only dispenses treats but helps to clean your dog's teeth and gums just by playing with it. By biting the slits in the ball, the teeth sink into the grooves helping to clean the teeth and stimulate the dog's gums, all the while dispensing treats. Havaball is also sold under the Kong brand as the Kong Treat Ball. Same toy, different licensing. It also comes in three sizes for toy breeds all the way up to extra large dogs and even includes a medium-sized black ultra-tough rubber version for really tough chewers.
All these innovative dog toys can bring an added dimension to your dog's play time. What they each have in common is the ability to reward your dog as the task is completed, whether it's removing certain parts or being able to dispense treats. Participating in this type of mentally stimulating play will help calm your canine by allowing them to divert some of their excess energy to something positive and interesting. Something that gives them positive feedback just by playing with them. And with ALL dog toys, we recommend you supervise your dog's play and discard any broken pieces that may break off over time.
Entertain Your Puppies with Dog Toys
by NamSing Then
Buying dog toys is not the hardest of the shopping ventures these days. This is not because they show tantrums like kids when you are buying toys for your kids. Shopping for dog toys has become pretty easy that you can choose and order a toy of your choice over the internet just by a few clicks of the mouse.
The Never Ending Types of Dog Toys
If you are a first timer to buy toys for your dog, then you are sure in for a big surprise. Browsing through the variety can be quite time consuming. You can buy the toys based upon their brands and makes, toys by types, breed of your dog and by age of your pet dog etc.
If you are buying by toy types or by any other criteria, the biggest hit with any dog breed is the reusable bones which can be chilled in a deep freezer over and again. These are made from tough plastics in the shape of bones and filled with non toxic water. The next best buy which your best friend is sure to like and play non stop are fetch toys. Unlike the frozen bones, it requires your involvement too, that is when you want to indulge. Or let him play all by himself. Then there are knotty balls, Frisbees that float, or fly which also glow in the dark.
Almost all pups and Pomeranians like playing with Halloween plushes, talking animals which they can relate to. Rubber toys with tongues are a craze with small to smallest dogs.
Exercise Care While Buying Dog Toys
Don't forget that, buying toys for dogs are no different from buying toys for kids. Both of them are ignorant of dangers of mishandling, the cost of toys or even vulnerability of toys to breakage. It is not enough for dog toys to be entertaining as they like to play around with them comfortably by licking, chewing them hard. So, keep in mind the toxicity, breakability, comfort of handling (bigger the toys harder it will be for dogs to play with them) etc while buying. Durability is another aspect you need to keep in mind as it is likely to get torn out easily than you expected.
Initially dental health toys and then fetch toys may suffice to train them. When it is time for just entertainment, you can look around for household things to use as dog toys. Empty pet jars, pet bottles, cereal boxes which will not stuck his head can be truly useful. Garden hoses cut to one foot will sure find his attention while saving money for you.
Survival Skills for Pups
by Gary Wilkes
About four years ago, my wife and I woke up one Sunday morning and decided to find a puppy. If that sounds like an odd "spur of the moment" decision, it may help you to know that two days before, we had lost our beloved Australian Cattle Dog, Megan, to a very serious illness. Our house was so empty that we knew we simply couldn't live without a dog. By the end of the day, we took home a six-week-old, ten pound Cattle Dog. We named him Tug.
If a puppy is old enough to come home, he is old enough to start learning. For Tug, this translated into disciplined learning of a number of very specific behaviors and a general, supervised freedom to interact with his environment. Having trained hundreds of puppies for my clients, you might think I would immediately start on fancy obedience type behaviors, such as sit, down and come. If I were deciding only as a trainer, that might be so - but before I was a trainer I spent eight years working in humane shelters. That influence made Tug's schooling a little different than most. Rather than teaching him only obedience behaviors, I preferred to get him started with "survival skills" that would allow him to live successfully with people.
If you are having a hard time thinking of obedience behaviors as "fancy" and wondering how the word "survival" can be connected to puppy training, it might help to look at the broader context. In this country, millions of puppies do not survive their first year. Many of those pups are taken to shelters because their owners simply can't live with them any more. Of all those puppies, not one is released to a shelter because it won't sit, stay or come. The behaviors that must come first are a little more basic and a lot more important than precision "heeling" or "scent discrimination". The puppy who knows how to sit, but does not know how to greet strangers is unlikely to survive. The pup who knows how to greet strangers politely may actually live long enough to learn how to sit, heel and stay. To see how this perspective translates into a training program, here is a brief overview of Tug's early education.
Establishing some ground rules.
Start immediately: The first rule in our puppy teaching program can be summed up as "Do it, now". Behaviors that are created or inhibited in puppyhood stand a good chance of being a part of the dog's repertoire for life. For example, if you don't want your adult dog to jump on guests, it is far easier to teach that inhibition to a 10 pound puppy than it is to teach a 100 pound adult dog. The common misconception that you should wait until the pup is six months old to start training leads to a very risky form of neglect.
Pleasant and Unpleasant: The tools of the trade: Before you can get started with a training program, you have to have a basic understanding of how animals learn and how you can control that learning. Most animals respond to things they like by repeating behaviors that produce "nice things". The flip side of this process is that most animals will naturally avoid things that are unpleasant. These two types of consequences are the primary tools you will need to use to affect your pup's behavior.
Positive reinforcement - Everybody's favorite: Loosely defined, a positive reinforcer is anything your dog will work for. If your dog pesters you to play ball, then playing ball can be used to strengthen other behaviors. If your dog is a chow hound and will do almost anything for a treat, then food treats can be used to strengthen behaviors. The same rule applies to praise, water, warmth, physical affection and the opportunity to take a walk. While we can all think of many things that motivate our dogs, we still must understand how a motivation can be attached to a particular behavior.
The most important thing to know about using positive reinforcement is how to link a reinforcer to a behavior. Few people realize that it is the timing of praise that tells the pup which behavior "caused" the treat. If your timing is off, the puppy may learn something other than what you intended. Currently, many of the most sophisticated dog trainers are using the sharp click-click of a toy clicker as the signal that marks good behavior. "Clicker Training" offers great accuracy and allows for a much greater proportion of positive reinforcement in your pup's training program.
Safe and Effective Punishment - Toss your pup a "life-line": While we would all like to teach our dogs with exclusively positive reinforcement, nature has decreed otherwise. Puppies and dogs possess some behaviors that simply cannot be allowed in a family setting. Dogs, for instance, like to fight over food. In nature, this process of fighting occasionally leads to death or serious injury among the combatants. Positive reinforcement does not allow us to gain real control over these types of behaviors. In order to stop a behavior in its tracks, we are forced to use a different tool. Inhibitions are most powerful when they are the result of punishment.
Needless to say, the most difficult thing for an owner to do is to punish a pup for unacceptable behavior. Our culture tends to consider pleasant things as "always good" and unpleasant things as "always bad." In teaching our pets, this simple rule tends to get us (and therefore our dogs) into trouble. For instance, ice cream is extremely pleasant for our pups and ourselves - and can lead to tooth decay, obesity and clogged arteries. The "pleasantness" of ice cream must be balanced with the unpleasant teeth brushing, scaling and dieting that is required to maintain healthy teeth, gums and arteries. Conversely, the vaccinations we give our puppies cause momentary and immediate pain, but help to protect the animals from potentially fatal diseases. This is an example of a small intentional unpleasantness (the prick of a needle) that prevents a far more serious and potentially fatal unpleasantness.(Parvo Virus).If we use an unpleasant experience, such as a spritz of water from a spray bottle, to teach a puppy not to chew electrical cords, we have provided a loving and thoughtful use of punishment. The ethically minded owner will see the analogy between the spritz of water and the prick of the needle - both cause an immediate discomfort, in exchange for a longtime protection against a potentially fatal consequence. If we fail to connect an unpleasant consequence to a harmful behavior, our puppy may pay the price for our weakness.
Now that we have some basic ground rules, here are the specific "survival skills" that I chose for Tug's first batch of training.
Hugs and Kisses
A significant part of Tug's early discipline included being hugged, kissed, petted and fussed over by anyone who was willing to do it. Though learning to accept human affection may appear automatic, it is actually a learned skill. In contrast to traditional views of obedience, I think accepting and giving "love" is about as important as "come" and far more important than "stay." While it is possible for a dog to go through life and never really know how to "sit", "stay", or "Heel" it is next to impossible for a dog to live happily without a sincere joy of human attention. Owning an adult dog who genuinely loves people is not something that should be left to chance.
One Dog Night
Another thing that we taught Tug right away, was how to lie quietly and go to sleep -- on a bed. While many trainers suggest that this should never be done because it leads to aggression and dominance, an examination of the facts doesn't support that conclusion. Many millions of dogs sleep in their masters' beds without a hint of dominance or aggression - unless you term "stealing the covers" as a form of passive aggression. Frankly, one of the most common "rites of passage" for children is the age at which their dog can sleep with them. To suggest that the mere possibility of aggression should cause us to totally prohibit a pleasant and mentally healthy activity is an over statement of the risk. If we carry that logic further, it would be like suggesting that because a handful of dogs viciously guard their food we must stop feeding them. The most likely way to reduce any form of aggression is to teach polite behavior while the pup is still young, whether it is sleeping in the family bed or allowing people to take food, bones and toys away from him.
There is one grooming task that defeats more pet owners than any other - nail trimming. One of the reasons nail trimming is so difficult is that it can be painful and uncomfortable for the pup. We started Tug's nail training within a couple days of arriving home. I gently but firmly held a paw, while nipping off the tiniest bit of a nail. After each clip, he received a small treat. While most dogs will forever show some irritation with nail trimming, the early association of nail trims with treats may make the experience more tolerable for both of you. If you have never tried to trim a dog's nails, have your veterinarian give you a short course in nail trimming before you launch your career as a pet manicurist.
What's in a Name?
While humans can understand that a name means identity, dogs have a slightly more primitive take on the process of name calling. For instance, we decided to name our puppy "Tug" in memory of a dog we knew many years ago. Tug doesn't realize that his name describes a type of boat, or an action verb that relates to pulling on a rope or leash. He merely knows that "Tug" means "stop, look toward the source of the sound and wait for instructions."
To teach your dog his or her name, follow this simple process:
1) Wait until the pup is looking away from you.
2) Say the pup's name in a normal tone of voice, just loud enough so that you're sure the puppy can hear you.
3) As the puppy looks back to investigate that noise, say "Good" and offer him a food treat.
Repeat as needed. Do not say good, or give treats if the puppy approaches you after you have called his name. The behavior specifically means STOP - Look Listen. It does not mean "Come."
Whatcha Doin? Absolutely nothin'
The next thing we decided to work on, was teaching Tug to do nothing at all. This may also seem like a pretty nebulous behavior, but in our house it is a necessity. Because we run a business from our home, Michele and I both wanted a dog who would curl up and snooze during working hours, lie still in the hall way as we zipped past to answer telephones and stay inside the house even when delivery men brought in boxes of video tapes. The place where Tug started his "nothin" training was in the artificial "cave" where my feet are supposed to be, on my roll-top desk. This not only allowed me to watch him closely, but was one of those heartwarming bonuses of having a puppy. Sleeping comfortably under the desk also made it incredibly easy to teach him to sleep in a crate - one of the best aids for teaching housetraining.
Leashes? We don't need no stinkin' leashes!
Because my dog is occasionally required to work in public, off leash, I used "Click & Treat® Training", my "hands off" method of dog training, to create consistent performance at a distance. The first real area for training was along the canal, behind our house. Because the weather in Phoenix is so nice, the canal banks are packed with joggers, motor bikes and a large population of geese and ducks. Tug had to learn to take my directions even in the face of a nice big fat old hissing goose or a zooming motor bike. The vast majority of his lessons were taught with food treats, affection, praise and all sorts of positive reinforcements. Once the behaviors were firmly established, I let him know that they were no longer optional. To balance the dominant influence of positive reinforcement, I used safe, harmless and effective punishment on very rare occasions for failure to perform a behavior. My primary tools were scolding, a squirt bottle full of water and a variety of soft, thrown objects, such as small pillows or rolled up towels. The key to punishment is to use it very cautiously, with methods that can't possibly do any physical harm. While it is nice to have "off leash" control, your pup still needs to learn to walk correctly on a leash and to work in the presence of other dogs. To augment your off-lead training, there are many "puppy kindergarten" classes that can help you build a firm foundation and socialize your puppy at the same time.
The Life of the Potty
Because I expected Tug to live in a house, I decided to teach him to eliminate outdoors. The tools for good housetraining are:
1) Food treats for correct elimination
2) Limited confinement to a crate, laundry room or bathroom when you can't watch the pup
3) Regular trips outdoors
4) Scheduled/regulated meals and snacks
5) Restrict playtime to outdoor areas as much as possible
6) No Punishment for accident
Stop!! In the name of love!
While much of a puppy's early learning can be taught with positive reinforcement, there are some very natural canine behaviors that need to be controlled or eliminated. High on my list of objectionable behaviors were biting, jumping and wandering out the front door. Australian Cattle Dogs are wonderfully adapted as herding dogs, and are notorious for nipping at the heels of people when cows are unavailable. Since we have no cows, and being herded while sprinting to answer the phone can be awkward, I needed to discourage that behavior immediately. The secret of using firm, but safe punishment is to make sure your methods are very precise and cannot injure your pup, even accidentally. In order to correctly apply such methods, we must give some further attention to the process of eliminating behaviors.
To show you how safe punishment works, imagine that your Great Aunt Martha, is coming to visit you. When she walks in the front door, your puppy starts leaping up and biting at the hem of Martha's dress. This is plainly unacceptable behavior that you need to control, quickly. Instead of making a big deal of the experience, you pick up the puppy and slip him in his crate for awhile. With a little preparation, you set up a repeat greeting by asking Martha to stand outside the front door and ring the bell. This time, the sequence changes considerably. When the puppy darts forward to leap for the hem, you say the word NO! and toss a small throw pillow at the puppy - coincidentally this procedure is similar to the one Great Aunt Martha used to teach you to stay out of the cookie jar. The pillow startles the pup and causes him to reconsider the attractiveness of skirt hems. You ask Aunt Martha to humor you one more time and she steps outside to repeat the event. This time, as she enters the house, the puppy stands back and hesitates for a second. That's your cue to pour on the praise, affection and treats. You are positively reinforcing the puppy's new, sedate behavior. The goal is to make all hem biting disappear while retaining an overall pleasant relationship between Aunt Martha and the pup.
Soon after the skirt experience, when you are at work, a letter carrier stops by to deliver a registered package. Aunt Martha is in the living room, dusting the furniture, while the puppy is still skeptically eyeing her skirts. At the sound of the doorbell, Martha opens the door. The puppy sees a means of getting to the real world and bolts forward. Aunt Martha notices the puppy trying to slip out the door and pitches a fit. She yells "NO!", exactly as you did, before the puppy gets to the door, thereby scaring the heck out of both the puppy and the letter carrier. As the puppy freezes, she pitches her dust cloth in the pup's general direction. The puppy remembers yesterday's throw pillow and quickly retreats into the hallway. Now the pup is about 15 feet away from the door and shows no signs of coming any closer. After signing for the package, Martha closes the door and pulls a treat from her apron pocket to reinforce the pup's new behavior. Once the pup believes that ALL people are capable of saying "NO" and that strange soft projectiles start flying whenever he hears that word, he will abandon behaviors even more rapidly. By the end of the week, the puppy is starting to automatically go to his place in the hall when he hears the door bell. Aunt Martha starts stashing a treat in her apron pocket to give to the puppy for successfully ignoring the open door. Within a few repetitions, the pup eagerly anticipated the treat at the end of the sequence rather than the initial opportunity to run out the door. While many people think that punishment will solve their problems, it is almost never appropriate to use punishment unless you are willing to follow it up with lots of positive reinforcement for correct behavior. My rule of thumb is "you aren't finished until the dog's tail is wagging again."
The Long Haul
Raising a puppy often requires a new examination of your lifestyle. If your puppy sleeps in your bed, you must be willing to live with dog hairs and warm bodies. Failing to teach your dog to walk on a leash may prevent you from taking your dog in public. Allowing your dog to run loose takes the chance of an auto accident or unexpected dog-fight. While many books, videos and articles offer valuable advice about puppy raising, ultimately your individual goals and desires will be the ruling force behind your pup's education. Whether you raise a puppy that you can be proud of, or a catastrophe waiting to happen, is largely dependent on how you control your pup's education. Whatever you decide in the way of canine learning, there is one thing that you cannot avoid - the time to start is now.
How to stop biting - There are any number of ways to get a puppy to stop biting. One fashionable technique requires that you yell "ouch" as the pup clamps down on your finger, ear lobe, cheek or ankle and then stop playing with the puppy for awhile. This is supposed to let the puppy know that he has injured you and allegedly imitates the way pups teach each other to bite softly. Having seen a few thousand pups go by, I think this is mostly wishful thinking. A closer look at the way pups REALLY play will set the record straight.
Pretend that two puppies, Baby Fido and Baby Rover are romping and playing. In the middle of the frenzy, Baby Fido bites Baby Rover pretty hard. Baby Rover does indeed let out a whoop. However, Baby Rover's reaction is slightly more pointed than merely cutting off play-time for awhile. About a millisecond after the yip, Baby Rover will haul off and bite the heck out of Baby Fido. This effectively teaches Baby Fido that biting Baby Rover too hard has a very serious consequence. If Fido has a similar experience when he plays with Baby Fifi and Baby Spot, Baby Fido is likely to carry the lesson along for life.
The most likely reason dogs learn to not bite each other is because when a dog bites another dog, the bitten dog bites back. The best way to imitate the natural way dogs learn is not to yell "ouch", but to metaphorically "bite back" in the form of a safe and effective punishment for biting. The particular type of punishment you use must be appropriate for the puppy. If you have a tiny Yorkie that weighs less than a pound, a spritz from a small squirt gun is probably all you will need. If you have a 20 pound, 12 week old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, you may need to use a standard size throw pillow. The purpose of the punisher is to teach the dog one simple statement -- biting people causes unpleasant consequences. In order to make the connection between the biting and the spritz or bonk, you must use a signal that connects the two together - a signal like "No." Here's the sequence to stop the biting - make sure you do it in exactly the order listed, or it won't work.
1) Place the spritzer of bonker in a place where it is not easily noticeable. If you make the "punisher" an obvious part of the environment, your pup will only be good when the spritzer or bonker is visible.
2) Start playing with the puppy in a manner that would normally cause a bite.
3) At the instant you see the pup's mouth open, say "No!" with some emphasis. (It isn't necessary to scream it, merely to make it a little punchier than a normal conversational tone.)
4) Spritz or bonk the puppy. Whether you are using a spray bottle, water gun or throw pillow, hide the punisher behind your back before you start playing with the pup.
5) Wait for about 10 seconds and repeat steps 1-3 again. Repeat as necessary until the pup will still play, but completely stops trying to bite you.
How to find a behaviorist
OK, so you think you've messed up. The puppy steals food off the counters, jumps on guests, chews up shoes and remote control units, and isn't quite housebroken at six months. Don't panic. If you are concerned that your puppy's behavior isn't acceptable and you have no real control, you may consider seeking a qualified behaviorist - which means talking to your veterinarian. There are several reasons that your vet should be involved in your pup's behavioral care. While the vast majority of puppies are mentally healthy, a few suffer from physical abnormalities that make normal behavior unlikely and sometimes impossible. While the odds are slim that your puppy has a neurological disorder, consulting your vet is the only way to know for sure. Some diseases have symptoms that may appear to be purely behavioral, yet have a medical component. If you don't tell the vet about your difficulties, you could actually hurt your dog by failing to diagnose a medical condition. Not only can your veterinarian determine that there isn't anything medically wrong with the puppy, he or she is probably the best person to give a meaningful referral to an animal behaviorist or trainer who can help you. While not all vets take the time to know the track records of all the trainers in their area, they are still more likely to know who does good work and who does not. Your veterinarian is far more likely to give you straight talk about local trainers than the alternative - telephone directory display ads.
What to look for in a behaviorist or trainer
1) The first thing to look for is a behaviorist or trainer who has a working relationship with one or more veterinarians. During your interview with the behaviorist, ask for professional references, not just the names of a couple of satisfied clients. Almost anyone can come up with a couple of clients who liked the service. It is far more desirable to have the names of several veterinarians who value the trainer's skills based on client feedback.
2) Be cautious about signing a contract that forces you to pay the entire amount for the service before you see any results. Most reputable trainers are willing to accept some form of partial payment to start and a balance payment to be paid during the course of the training. If there is any doubt about what happens to the money if you are not satisfied with the service, find out BEFORE you sign on the dotted line.
Traveling with Dogs
by Kelvin Ho
You love to travel and you love your dogs. So what do you do?
Leaving Your Dog At Home
You can ideally leave the dog at home in his familiar surroundings and have a trusted friend or relative check on him daily, or you could arrange to put him in a kennel or hire a dog sitter. The last two alternatives can be costly, and if you just can’t stand to be away from your dog, then there is only one solution: take your beloved pet with you. Today traveling with dogs has become more widely accepted and easier. By taking some simple measures and safety precautions you both should have an enjoyable adventure.
Traveling By Car
When traveling with dogs by car, always keep in mind your dog is like a small child. The safest place for your pet is in the back seat. Traveling with dogs in the front seat is not safe for you or the dog. If you make a sudden stop, the dog will crash into the windshield. If you make a sudden turn the dog could fall into your lap causing you to loose car control. Also, traveling with dogs in the front seat could prove to be a view obstruction. It is also important to either belt the dog in with a special harness or get a doggie car seat. If you have a station wagon or an SUV, it is recommended to put the dog in the very rear in a dog crate. Never let your dog stick his head out the window, as a passing car or flying debris could hit him. All these suggestions will provide safety when traveling with dogs.
Traveling with dogs by car should also be introduced slowly. To get them use to traveling in a car, go on short trips at first and gradually increase the lengths. It is also a good idea to start this at an early age, so the dog will have grown up as a traveler. Always lock your doors when traveling with dogs, so you can prevent someone from taking your adorable companion, and never leave the dog in the car in warm or hot weather even with the windows cracked. The temperature in a car on a hot day can escalate rapidly. Take food, water, and first aid kits with you when traveling with dogs.
Traveling By Truck
Dogs should never travel in truck beds without caps. This is very dangerous. Instead the dog should be put in a crate secured with cords. In hot weather the truck’s metal bed could also get too hot for your dog to stand on.
Traveling By Air
When traveling with dogs by air, make reservations early for them, as an airline will limit the number of pets allowed in the cabin or cargo. Make it as easy as possible on the dog by selecting nonstop flights. Layovers and plane switches give ample opportunity to lose your pet. Crate your dog and make the crate is the appropriate size. Travel early in the day or late at night, when temperatures will be comfortable.
Other Important Considerations
It takes some common sense when traveling with dogs. Make sure their shots are current and bring proof of vaccinations. Keep them on a leash as they may bolt in unfamiliar places and check with hotels to see if pets are welcome. Any questions you may have regarding traveling with dogs can be answered by your very own veterinarian.
Have a safe trip!