We all have places where we like to go to unwind and just blow off a little steam. The world can get just a little too crazy and we just want to take a “time out” for a little while. This could be the gym, a movie, or the Lazy Boy and a good book.
Our dogs also have a critical need for their own safety zones. This fills their natural need for a cave or den where they could retreat and unconditionally become safe and secure. It is a place that they can also unwind and rethink the world around them. It is important that we nurture this need with our dogs and actively provide them with the opportunity to have one or more of these places available to them. These places can be either single locations or even mobile.
We always try to do our best and try to train our dogs (and family) as best we can, but sometimes our dog just gets out the front door. It is amazing how our “well trained doggie” turns into a misbehaved mutt when he has the freedom and excitement of the entire neighborhood. Whatever we do, it seems that our trying to catch him just makes it worse.
As dog trainers, we have to admit that this happens with us and our dogs from time to time. We have found that our normal, human reaction to trying to catch our dog just adrenalizes and encourages our dog to run more and faster. We need to understand that we must calm down and take the process slow and methodical if we ever want to get our dog home on our time and on our terms.
Crates are really great for our dogs. They are a place of safety and also a sign of security. We can use them as a simple place to feed our dogs as well as a place to have them when the repair man is over to fix the disposal. The problem that many of us often face is getting our dog to easily go into the crate. This problem probably started with some sort of inappropriate use of the create or lack of passive socialization in the introduction of the crate.
We need to focus on making the crate a great place and to make our dog “want to go” into the crate. This really isn’t a big deal if we introduce some simple exercises focused proper crate introduction and passive, supportive socialization.
We all get dogs because we love their companionship and we look forward to sharing them with our friends and neighbors when they come into our house. When we have a very nervous dog, our ability to share this experience becomes quite difficult. We always are deciding if we have to put our dog away when friends come over or if they are going to lunge or bark incessantly during the entire visit.
What we need to understand is that nervous dogs are often that way because of prior experiences or the lack of prior experiences. We need to be their leaders and mentors. This means that we need to socialize them to new experiences or redirect their past experiences that might have caused fear or trepidation into trust and focus.
We all love walking our dogs around the neighborhood. It can be a great time to meet our neighbors and to allow our dog some “social time” with the other humans and dogs. The problem comes when our dog doesn’t pay attention to us and pulls or jumps as we try to walk. Although proper training is an essential part of correcting this issue, the proper equipment is also very important.
There are many trainers that only recommend one type of collar or device to walk a dog. We take a different approach and suggest multiple options, based on the issues at hand. Sometimes a collar is the best solution and sometimes a harness is needed for added safety and security.
I know that it just sounds so despicable that it is hard to believe, but people steal dogs every day. Your dog can be sitting on the front porch and someone will stop their car, walk up, take him, and drive away. You may have left your dog in the back yard while you went to your neighbor and someone walking by could open the gate, click on a leash, and whisk him away.
Why do they do this? More than just being bad, bad, people; they normally do this because they want to sell them. Many people “fish our neighborhoods” with orders for dogs. Once they find a dog that someone wants to buy, they simply scoop it up and away they go.
Many times we have to go to the front door to get a package, pay for the pizza, or let in our friends and neighbors. What we don’t want to happen is to have our dog run out the front door and down the street. That was just something we didn’t want to deal with. In the same respect, we may want our dog to stay put while we are getting something out of the oven or even stay back when we are putting his food down for dinner.
“Stay” is a classic command that most people want to teach their dogs. The problem is that they often rush the process before the dog is really ready for the lesson. It is important to know the multiple levels of training and conditioning that must be accomplished to have your dog really obey “Stay”.
As dog trainers, we often run into the situation where most of the family knows that they have to train their dog and really want to get on the program. But, there is often one “hold out” that, for some reason, just doesn’t want to take the time to train their dog, doesn’t think there is a problem, or just doesn’t care.
In cases like this, we can still help the family and the dog to create a long and lasting relationship of trust and love. We simply have to appropriately define the roles and responsibilities of the individual family members. The most important dog training technique we use is to clearly define leaders and members. The leaders lead and the members follow. Guess what, that one family member who didn’t want to get with the program, like the family dog, is a “follower”.
As dog owners, we can keep our dogs inside the house or outside in the back yard. Many times, we keep our small dogs in the house almost all the time. On the other hand, many people get large dogs and only want to keep them outside. We always hear the term “Outside Dog” and think that it is perfectly acceptable to always have our dogs outside.
I want to propose the idea that always having your dog outside is not that great of an idea. Dogs are social creatures; just like us. If our parents always made us stay in our room and never socialize with the rest of the family, we would feel ostracized and this could even lead to bad or dangerous behavior.
The same is true of our equally social dogs. They need to create bonds and relationships with the entire family (pack). If we only interact with them during the few periods of time we are outside, that bond will not be created. They will not feel that they are truly part of our family and will act accordingly. This can cause misbehavior, not listening, aggression, and escaping.
Whenever we go out to train a new dog owner and their puppy and ask them to list their “a Priorities” of what they want to accomplish, they always tell us that they want their puppy to stop nipping at their hands. The funny thing is that their cute, little puppy is nipping at their hands because they are actually telling him to do so.
A part of a puppy’s communication is nipping. They are not trying to be mean or hurt us, they are just trying to get our attention. As babies ourselves, we used to cry and throw things on the ground. (…and there are some family members that still do that into adulthood!)
We also encourage this by constantly playing with them and getting our hands close to their mouth. Height and proximity are triggers for physical play and our puppy is simply following our lead.