Monthly Archives: March 2016

People = fun, treats and petting

peopleIdeally puppies are socialized to a ton of different people by 16 weeks of age.  This will reduce the probability of fear based issues with people later in life.  Daily field trips will give them the variety of exposure necessary during this critical period of life.  After 16 weeks of age, dogs need continued weekly socialization that extends through their 3rd year in life.  

Socialization is the process of exposing your dog to stimuli in a controlled manner while ensuring it has a positive experience.  If your door puppy wants to move away from something it is not sure about,  you let it!  If your dog does not want to approach something, you let it experience it stimuli at a distance.  You can use treats, praise, petting and play to make the experience fun and positive.  Here is a list of people a dog should experience to minimize the risk of having fear based issues with people.


Age                   Sex                                Appearance                                   Using
Infants              Male                              In uniforms (police, fire, mail)     A cane
Toddlers           Female                          Veterinarian                                   Walker
Children           Ethnicity                      Tall                                                   Wheel chair
Teenagers        Light skinned               Short                                               A jogging path
Adults               Medium skinned         Facial hair                                      A bike, skate board, etc.
Seniors             Dark skinned               Glasses, hats, costumes              Grocery Cart
Elderly                                                     Costumed                                      Outdoor equipment

Locations to find all these people

Wags Dog Emporium
The Healthy Pet
Down town mall
Your vet office
Hardware stores (Home Depot, Jerry’s, Lowes)
Shopping Malls
Your work
kids Sports games
Dog training class
Train Station
Hotel, Camp Ground

While visiting people in these different locations, you will simultaneously be exposing your dog to a lot of different environments, noises, smells and sights.  Remember, variety and a positive experience will reduce the probability of having issues later in life.  Make your dog’s social experience fun, varied and controlled.

Hand feeding improves behavior

hand feeding Hand Feeding

Hand feeding is one of the key ways people get their dog to obey commands.  People want their dog to:
• not misbehave
• be attentive
• follow commands

But they have a tendency to think the dog should do this because it is a dog and we humans are the superior being.  It is also not uncommon for owners think “he knows how to do it” or “knows better but he is being stubborn.”

 He may “know how to do it or know better” but that does not mean that your dog feels it is to its advantage to do what you want!

Your dog is only going behave and follow commands if it thinks it is to its advantage to do so.
One of the easiest ways to make a dog think following commands is to its advantage is to never feed the dog out of a bowl!  Really, Who does that?

Well professional dog trainers do

Think about it!  As long as your dog is not overweight or sick, it wants its food.  That means every piece of food is a reward that you could be taking advantage of.

Instead of feeding your dog out of a bowl, measure the dog’s food and use that food throughout the day to reward the dog for good behavior.  

2 ways to use your dog’s meals for training

1. You can use the measure portion of your dog’s meal during structure training sessions (you plan to train the dog now) as long as you are at home and not in a distracting environment.  Under these circumstances you will most likely have the food on your body in a treat bag or in a container within reach.

2. Set up reward stations around the house so you can use the dog’s meal at impromptu moments to reward good behavior that happens throughout the day.  This could be you are rewarding the dog for a lack of misbehavior (sitting for attention instead of jumping) or for following commands.  Under these circumstances you will want to have the food in containers that are positioned around the house (but securely sealed).

Hand feeding will greatly increase your dog’s desire to do what you want.  Now it has incentive to not misbehave and to follow commands because that is how it eats.  Your dog will pay attention to you, follow commands better than you could ever imagine and you will enjoy your dog more.

When you cannot do hand feeding

If there are times in which you cannot hand feed your dog, instead of putting the food into a bowl, put the food into a food interactive toy instead.  Under these circumstances your dog will still be getting mental stimulation and will be less likely to misbehave.

he knows it but won’t do it

"he knows it"When a person thinks, “He knows it!” or “He’s got it!” they are misleading themselves. Correct responses are not an indication that the dog “understands” what is expected.  It is an indication they are trying or that they perceive what we are asking is to their advantage.  And it is an opportunity for us to reinforce and that strengthen behavior even if it occurs during real life when we are not training.   When a dog does not do as it asked, it is because either they have not received enough information about what is wanted (education and training) or they do not perceive it is too their advantage to do so (not enough rewards).

How to teach so he knows it better

Dogs do not learn new behaviors the way we humans learn math or reading.   They learn more like the way we learn to dance or play a musical instrument.  Lots of practice, mistakes, tweaking what they are doing and getting feedback on what is correct or incorrect.  Each new situation (going to the vet, company arriving etc.) is a new experience to see what is correct or incorrect.  This means your dog will never be 100% correct. Which is perfect because neither will you.

Animal training alters the probability of behaviors occurring at any given point.  The thing is training is happening at all times, it is not just what happens when you are purposefully working with your dog.  It happened when you answer the door, stop on a walk to chat with a neighbor, are trying to rest.  So keep setting your dog up for correct responses and rewarding those responses and it will at least feel like he knows it despite the reality of he is going to make mistakes.

Trust – does your dog trust you?

trustWhen it comes to any relationship, trust is an essential part of the best, healthiest most enjoyable relationships.  

But what does the word trust mean to the relationship you have with your dog? describes trust as “the confident expectation of something”   Trust results in a sense of security.  The confidence you feel for your dog and its actions will only build with a combination of prevention and training.  Those are things you have complete control over.  So no matter how naughty your dog is, that trust can be obtained.

But what about the faith your dog has for you.  Are you trustworthy?  Does your dog have confidence your actions will not cause pain or fear or that you will protect it from harm?  

Building Trust

No one can explain the concept of building a trusting relationship better than Dr. Susan Friedman, so enjoy her video and then come back to finish reading.

Creating a relationship in which your dog trusts you is also something you have control over but it might take some work.  You will have to work hard at times in which you are angry, stressed out or just do not want to be reasonable.  These are the times in which our actions are most likely to deteriorate.  If you are in a position in which you think you may blow it, take a break.  Give yourself a timeout.  You can do this by gently and without ceremony or emotion put your dog in a crate or another room.  And of course seek training to learn better techniques for putting “deposits into your trust account” and avoid having withdrawals from the account.

When are you most likely to loose it and betray your dog’s trust?
I have to be extra careful when I am sleep deprived.  This is when I communicate less clearly, can be a bit grumpy and my less than charming self comes out.  By identifying when I need to be most careful, I can avoid situations that might cause a withdrawal.  When are you most at risk of behaviors that will cause a withdrawal from the trust account to take place?