Monthly Archives: November 2015

Doggie meet Kitty

dog-and-catIntroducing doggie and kitty to each other can be stressful. We know most cats will not appreciate what a dog has to bring to the game and cats have some mighty impressive weapons that can cause damage to dogs and people, so we need to proceed with caution.

The following instructions are only intended for dogs that do not have a history of doing damage to cats. They may be dogs completely lacking in experience, dogs that have chased, curiously sniffed or gently played with cats, but they display no predatory behavior to them. Even under these circumstances the introduction can be stressful.

Because these introductions can be stressful, you want to take it slowly. The process should not be a single event, but an event that occurs each day over a period of time. You want to think about it as a training opportunity for both the doggie and the kitty with a safety net in place.

You will need to protect both animals from possible injuries during the introductory period. For safety the dog will be on leash with a capable person handling it and the kitty will have its front claws trimmed.

Now that you have taken steps to protect the animals from harm you can set up the training environment. You need two people (one handling each animal), extra delicious treats for each animal, and a space that allows the animals to be in sight of each other but is large enough for the animals to relax. The kitty will be brought into the room first, and be on the end of the room that the dog will not be entering or exiting from. If the cat will relax quicker by being on a perch, make sure that is in place before you begin training.

Once the room has been set up, take the kitty into the room. Settle it in its spot and start giving it a deep relaxing massage. You want to get the cat relaxed. Once the cat is relaxed bring the dog in on leash, entering from the far side of the room and staying on that side. Each time either the dog or cat looks at the other animal, quietly cheer and give it a tasty treat. When they are not looking at the other animal, then give them a deep relaxing massage. If either animal cannot relax in the presence of the other you will need to increase the distance between the animals and may need to seek professional help. Your first training session should last no longer than 5 minutes. When the 5 minutes are up, remove the dog from the room and let the cat check out where the dog used to be. After the cat leaves the room, let the dog in to check out where the cat has been. You can have multiple training sessions in a day as long as there is a three-hour break between sessions.

Regardless of how long your training sessions are you will want 2 training sessions in a row in which both animals are completely relaxed before you make the training more advanced. Once you have two sessions in which both animals are relaxed you can have the animals a little closer. You will systematically over time decrease the distance between the animals, keeping in mind you need both animals to be relaxed. When it comes time for contact, sniffing is appropriate, but pawing, scratching, barking, hissing and biting means you took the process too fast.

Dog Meet Dog

socializationThe following instructions on introducing two two dogs is only intended for dogs that do not have a history of aggression, rough treatment or high arousal with other dogs. They may be dogs completely lacking in experience, dogs that have curiously sniffed or gently played with other dogs in the past, but they have not been aggressive to other dogs. Even under these circumstances the introduction can be stressful.

Ideally the first introduction takes place outside on neutral territory. Have both dogs on leash. Each person handling a dog should have really tasty treats on them so they can reward each dog for calm behavior. Start with the dogs about 50 feet apart. Walk the dogs in the same direction, parallel to each other. The dogs can have treats as they walk. If you run out of space, turn and go the other direction, just make sure both dogs are walking in the same directions. If either dog is pulling towards the other dog, barking or not behaving in a calm fashion, increase the distance between the two dogs until you have found the distance both dogs can walk calmly. Once both dogs walk calmly for about 100feet decrease the distance between the two dogs by 2-5 feet. Continue this process of increasing distance when the dogs are overly excited and decreasing the distance when they are calm until the dogs are walking side by side.

Once you have the dogs walking side by side, have one dog walk in front to the other. Let the dog that is behind go up for a butt sniff but keep both dogs walking. Then switch which dog is in front and which dog is in back getting to sniff.

At this point you can probably let the dogs sniff play and interact more normally but be careful. Make sure there is not food, bones or toys available that either dog would be likely to fight over.

Spaying & Neutering Benefits Behavior

spayingSpaying and neutering is not only important because of the pet over-population problem, but it also reduces frustration. Typically the dogs that show a change in behavior problems due to spaying or neutering are dogs that are frustrated due to hormones. The dog’s frustration is expressed as behavior problems. My clients find having their dog spayed or neutered does not reduce their dog’s energy level or change its personality, but that their dog is calmer, more relaxed, more attentive to them and in general behavior problems are reduced. These are all worthwhile reasons to have dogs spayed or neutered at the youngest age recommended by the vet. Well run studies also support these findings.

Dr. Karen Overall of Pennsylvania University states in her book Clinical Behavioral Medicine For Small Animals, male dogs that are intact are twice as reactive as neutered males, “the intact dog will react more easily, escalate the response more quickly, plateau in response at a higher level, …become less reactive at a slower rate and may return to a higher baseline state of vigilance” (280). Unfortunately they have the tendency to become hyper reactive to any stimuli in the environment. Hyper reactivity then becomes a learned behavior as well as a hormonal response. I see a myriad of behavior problems with dogs like this. They vary from, roaming, not coming when called, vocalization problems, destruction, and inattentiveness to owners. Overall also states, “removing hormonal fluctuations may make the dog more amiable to behavior modification” (112). Typically the only behavior problem we see due to a female dog being intact is aggression right before, during, or right after the estrous cycle.

If you want to avoid the arousal and behavioral symptoms of frustration that occur with dogs that have not been spayed or neutered speak with your veterinarian about the procedure and the age to have it done. The recommended age is going to vary considerably from veterinarian to veterinarian. For some people the operation to spay or neuter their pet at the appropriate time can be a financial burden. A web search with the words low cost spay and neuter Eugene Oregon will give you a couple of options.

Both well run studies and real life experience shows dogs that have been spayed and neutered make better pets due to less hormonal frustration. There is a reduced chance owners will be dealing with arousal issues, aggression, roaming and vocalization issues while enjoying the benefits of a dog that is more attentive to the owner.

References

Overall, Karen L. (1997). Clinical Behavioral Medicine For Small Animals. St Louis Mo.: Mosby-Year Book Inc

No Jumping training challenge

jumpingThere is nothing like a dog that jumps all over people to diminish the fun of the Holidays.  But it would be fair to say, working on a jumping up problem while high on an owners list it is not convenient to work on.  Can you imagine

• Having people to your house and not having to worry about the dog jumping

• Taking your dog out in public and not having to worry about the dog jumping

• Visiting friends or family and not having to worry about the dog jumping

November 1 2015 through Dec. 31 2015 marks an opportunity for you to work on these jumping problems with an incentive added in.  We are issuing a challenge that comes with a reward for the dog that shows the greatest improvement in a jumping problem.  Check out the information on the challenge here.

You are going to need some tips to help you make progress and succeed and I am here to help you with that.

  1. Use prevention tools to make it so your dog can not jump on people when you are not actively training.
  2. Teach and reward a behavior that is incompatible to jumping on people.  For example if the dog is sitting it can not jump.
  3. When the dog is displaying the incompatible behavior injunction with circumstances it would normally jump, reward the dog heavily.
  4. Reward the dog heavily for continuing to do the incompatible behavior throughout the petting.
  5. If the dog discontinues the incompatible behavior when it could jump on the person move the dog away from the person so it cant jump on them.

Jumping on people is covered in Puppy Class, Puppy Play and Train Camp, the Impeccable Manners Program and Doggie MakeOver training.  If you need help with this problem, I am here to help you.