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Dog to Dog Play- Body Language Info!

February 1st 2014 11:12 am
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Dog to dog play is a huge part of dogs' social lives. They learn proper interaction with different dogs, what is and isn't acceptable, and how to engage or disengage a play session. They begin this lifelong lesson at just three weeks old and maintain and shape their play behavior around the types of dogs that they are exposed to.

Without knowing dog body language it could be hard to determine if the play is good or teaching your dog bad habits that can get him into trouble wih the next dog. Things to look for are mirroring and equal trading of roles- one dog chased first and now it's time for the other to chase. Shaking off and sniffing are also good signals to see. These last two could be indicators of many things but most usually shaking off is a release of adrenaline or an attempt to calm the other dog and sniffing is a calming signal if another dog was too serious or needed a reminder that they are playing. There are many other good signs to watch for including blinking eyes, head turns (also called look aways), and swooping happy tail wags to name a few. Most of these body cues will seem subtle at first, but once you start watching for it frequently it can become second nature for you to watch for them. Let's take a look at the other end of body language in dog interactions.

Body language indicating a tensity in the air usually entails one or more of the following; stiffness, hard staring, raised and quick tails, fast mouth jiving leading to heightened excitement, stalking - with few exceptions, constant mounting, and excessive barking. Many greetings start off with a hint of stiffness and then both dogs break into play or become relaxed and friendly again. If they do not become friendly with one another after a few moments, call your dog to you an engage a short play session to help ease the tension. Avoid walking over and grabbing collars or trying to physically move them. The added stress could cause an altercation. As mentioned previously, keep an eye on your dog to watch for subtle cues hat your dog is or is not enjoying the play time. Remember to praise any GOOD behavior to encourage them to behave in the future. And interrupting and redirecting their attention can go a long way in preventing a scuffle.

Although this discussion does not hold all the keys in dog to dog play, it will help you begin to see the world of body language and begin to understand dog socialization. In watching your dog play you will learn your dog's quirks and what makes him tick during doggie play times. They may show you that they dislike certain types of dogs and LOVE other types of dogs. Enjoy your doggie playtimes and go have some fun at the park!


Autumn training and fun!

October 24th 2013 7:49 am
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Autumn is here! Hiking through National Parks, camping by the lake, and walking around our favorite parks will begin to boom. I'm sure that I'm not alone in saying bringing our dogs with us makes each of our outdoor adventures so much more enjoyable! That is, as long as they behave! Teaching our dogs to be calm, attentive and friendly in these situations will be as simple as a few minutes of practice per day.
Mastering friendly greetings isn't as hard as it sounds! Have Bruno sit before you say hello to him each time you come home or inside from a chore. Enlisting your family and friends a few times in a week will help your pup generalize the behavior. Do a local test run before taking him out on the trails. The reward is getting to say hello and soak up some loving from adoring people!
Picture you and your dog walking happily through the park without beig pulled across the terrain! Set your dog up to succeed by practicing click and treats for every 3 to 5 steps of loose leash walking. Once he can do that well inside then up your rewards to every 8 to 10 steps. Keep the numbers variable and mix it up with bigger and better rewards. Going to sniff the trees and getting to greet another dog are some examples of bigger rewards. Fade out the treats and make them intermittent. Loose leash walking starts inside and then graduates to outside in the drive way. Once he can do this area like a champ then you can start doing your normal walks this way. If he pulls then stop in your tracks until he releases the pressure. You're on the road to smooth and enjoyable walks!
I know what you're thinking.. how are you supposed to keep your dog's attention with all the distractions? Teaching an attention cue will come in handy. Use a small treat between your index finger and thumb- reach it out to your dog's nose and slowly beig it up to your eyes. As soon as your dog looks at your face- click, treat! Practice several times and then fade out the food lure. He should comply with a hand signal (your finger pointing from him to your eyes) and verbal cue. Once you get that attention you've got to keep it with an activity! You and your dog will be the ones to determine what that will be, from playing tug, running the other way, getting to go say hi to another dog or practicing another behavior. Stepping in front of his vision to get him to focus can also be helpful if he is very distracted!
Have you noticed a trend in all of the above? The key ingredients are persistence and FUN! Don't let any of these things become a chore. Always make it fun and explore a little with your dog! They like to have fun just as much as we do! Now go out and enjoy the beautiful Autumn weather with your dogs!


Back to School Tips for the Pups!

September 8th 2013 1:14 pm
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Daily routines are changing for everyone while the kids are heading back to school. The hustle and bustle of the morning looks a little different to our four-legged friends. Kids are rushing by the dog to grab breakfast and head out to the school bus rather than going out to play ball in the yard. Parents are hurrying their children along and heading out to work. Now the dog is home alone. This change can sometimes be hard on all of us, especially the dog! Don't worry though, there are ways to make this transition easier on everyone!

Keep up with exercising your four-legged friend and you'll find they will be more relaxed and jolly. Skipping exercise causes a build up of stress hormones, thus, a more stressed dog. Regular walks and play times will be a great outlet for your dog and you!

For the hours that your dog is at home alone, supply them with a variety of chew and treat toys to keep them occupied. Stimulation throughout the day will keep them mentally healthy and happy. A few options are Kong wobblers, Kong treat balls, Aikiou bowls, Nylabones, Zukes bones and Kyjen or Nina Ottosson activity sets.
If your dog has a little extra energy then try out a local doggie daycare facility. Not only will it release your dogs energy, it will also provide them with a great deal of socialization! Socializing is vital to every dog's psychological health.

Training games are a great way to get the kids involved and provide the dog with fantastic mental health! Using force free training techniques will increase your dog's compliance, strengthen your relationship and encourage your dog to begin offering desirable behaviors. In short, it will make your life with your dog easier and more enjoyable!

Routine reduces stress in animals and humans. Use this to your advantage! Set a routine to stick to that incorporates everyone pitching in.

Get the kids involved! Set up a weekly chart that has a task for each child and parent to complete with your dog daily. Divide play times, walks, feedings and brushing along with any other activities that your dog requires. Using a star system gives everyone something to look forward to- pick a prize for those who get a set amount of stars by the end of the week- ice cream trip with the pup is one idea!

With these tips you and your pup should be on a smooth road to transition! I hope you all enjoyed summer. I'm certainly looking forward to the autumn season and the many training opportunities that come with it!


Barking! Baying! Woofing! And how to address it :)

August 2nd 2013 11:21 am
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Dogs barking is one of the most frequent behaviors that I get questions about. 'How do I make them stop barking?!' is the one that stands out in most of these conversations. The answer is not the same for every dog, it's important to understand why they are barking before we can alter the behavior.
First off, barking is a natural dog behavior. Breed background and personality are key ingredients to why our dogs are barking. Dogs bark to alert, to get attention, out of boredom, out of excitement among other possibilities.
Now, whether your dog is alerting to inform others of an intruder or to alert in order to hunt is for us to determine by first looking into their breed background. Once you have reviewed your dog's breed history, there should be insight on whether they have a protective, hunting, herding, companion-bred or chasing-type background. Now, once you are aware of your dog's background it should give you insight on why your retriever is staring at the sky barking at birds he is alerting to and why your shepherd is protectively barking at passerby in front of your home.
Your dog's individual personality will affect barking behaviors, as well. If the breed book says your breed commonly barks at strangers, but yours just happens to love meeting new people then your in luck! A dog's personality and good socialization on your part can sway a dog's natural behaviors.
Most any dog will figure out that barking gets them attention. This attention could be a greeting or it could be a holler to hush up! If a dog wants your attention bad enough then they may begin to bark. Some will bark until you look at them, some will bark until you get up and take them for a walk. Bored dogs will bark even to get negative attention, such as a reprimanding because to the dog any attention is better than none.
Dogs who bark out of excitement could be one just seeing a squirrel and begins to yip or in excitement of going to the park!
Finally, let's review a few options to help you with your barking buddy! The best way to address attention seeking barkers is increase exercise and attention AND do NOT give in when they bark! Don't even look, don't touch, don't talk to them while they are barking. Wait for 3 to 5 seconds of quiet and then give them attention. These dogs need to be engaged constantly, so play, play, play with them when they are quiet. Always tell them 'good dog' when they are being good, too! By doing these things we teach the dog that barking is an unrewarded behavior and therefore it will DECREASE while the rewarded behaviors INCREASE!
Another method is to capture the barking behavior, put it on cue, and teach them a 'hush' command. The hush command is pretty simple: when your dog is barking put a handful of irresistible treats in front of them and entice them to follow you back a few steps until they are quiet and they get the treats! Once they are quiet you must engage them and get them to follow you to a game or play session rather than looking back at the same thing to bark.
If your dog barks at anything that moves then you'll need to desensitize them to each item individually. Although it does require a good bit of commitment on your part it is WORTH THE EFFORT! Reward them for staying calm at a distance from the item that usually causes barking and gradually get a little bit closer until eventually your dog can be near a squirrel or car without barking intensely!
Although we wouldn't expect our dogs to stop barking completely, a large decrease in barking can be feasible when the behavior is dissected and addressed properly. As we discussed, there are as many different types of barks as there are different reasons for barking. With these tips you have the tools to teach your pup that barking isn't everything!


A drop in the ocean, a change in the weather

July 4th 2013 10:54 am
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There are certain things that make you think of happiness and complete joy. Maple is one of those thoughts and feelings. There is nothing like laying on the floor and massaging your dog to sleep and having a mutual sigh of comfort with him. He is my soul dog. Changed my life in ways I could've never imagined. He has a tribute shadow box on the wall that will one day get a picture on his page. My hound dog.

Thanks to Ron Pope for the entry title ;)


Ever wonder what force-free training is?

May 18th 2013 7:16 pm
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There is a great diversity of training styles that have evolved over the past several decades. The latest and greatest methods are based on scientific research and field studies. My training style originates from the mass of scientific research done on animal and human behavior and learning theories in the past few decades.
The label 'force-free' means not only do I employ positive training, I don't use any harmful or degrading methods. Showing the dog the right way to do things and rewarding frequently is much more productive than telling the dog what not to do and not showing him what is okay.
All of this doesn't mean you can't tell your dog if he does do something wrong, we just don't make it a big deal. A simple 'eh, eh' and redirecting the dog onto a desired behavior is easy enough and doesn't make the dog fear you! Think of your relationship with your companions as a fluid friendship. Rather than invoking fear upon our companions, we improve our relationships, and therefore compliance, by showing them the right way to interact and live in this human society, all while increasing their confidence! Effective communication is absolutely essential to any lasting relationship!
More times than not people forget to tell their dogs when they are doing something good. So let's all do our dogs a favor and use 'Good boy! or girl!' more often! The more a behavior occurs the more likely it is to reoccur!

I hope you enjoyed the read!


:D happiness

April 26th 2012 8:16 pm
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we played in the yard yesterday, :) he just makes my heart leap with happiness when he is jolly. that goofy face prodding me for more play :P

he is so in tune to my every move and emotion. i hope to bring together pets and their people through training and show them just how deep their connection can be with their dogs!!!


laughter and positive training

March 12th 2012 6:59 pm
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my bugaloo has been such a jollybutt recently. we've been going to the park more and playing games everywhere we go. he just had me laughing so hard i couldn't stop. he thought it was funny too--> wagging his stiff little tail and barking at me and cinnamon. too much fun!
I LOVE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT!!!! it has changed our lives SO much. i love when he is happy!!!!! he now enjoys seeing other dogs from a distance. the gentle leader isn't our favorite thing-- it pulls the skin on his face :/ but it helps when he gets carried away. natural balance treat roll-lamb. his favorite treat when we see other dogs.


walkin and wabbit huntin

November 12th 2011 1:31 pm
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oh what fun we have on walks! when i dont expect much of them they always make me happy and do so great :P we played recall games while they were 'huntin wabbits' and they did wonderful. tired pups ready for a nap while i finish up work


clicker session #2 for the day :)

October 23rd 2011 2:31 pm
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clicker training is such a blast! i love seeing my kids using their brains to figure out what i am asking them to do.
we are introducing a new behavior- shaping a deliberate look at a familiar dog. this will help with their dog aggression modification protocol. working on it with both doggens :)
they did SO good today, YAY!!!!!!!!!

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