Archive for » December, 2011 «

Common Mistakes When Training Your New Pup

Puppies are capable of learning simple commands from a very young age. Don’t try to give your puppy a meaningful training session if he is highly excited, occupied with exploring, or tired. You need his complete attention. Otherwise you’re wasting both your time and his. You can build up to training sessions in more distracting environments once your puppy is reliably responding to your commands when at home.

When it comes to home training, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand the concept, what goes in must come out. If you feed your puppy a quality, nutritious and balanced dog food and stick to regular meal times (3 times a day for young puppies, dropping down to twice a day for older dogs), then your puppy is more likely to have regular potty habits which means you’ll have a much better idea of what time to take him out. If, on the other hand, your constantly offering your puppy with treats and tidbits and feed him at random times of the day, you can expect your puppy to need to potty at any time of day too.

If you’re expectations are too high of your puppy to master all of your commands in the first couple of weeks, you are sadly mistaken and will be disappointed. Young puppies, in particular, have a lot of information to take in the first few weeks as they get settled into their new home away from their mom and siblings. Try to start off with two or three commands at the most sit. “Come” and “down” should be of top priority. Don’t move on to new commands until you are confident enough that your pup has mastered the basics.

Like an adolescent child, puppies have short attention spans and get tired very quickly. Remember, when training your puppy, keep sessions short. 5 to 10 minutes should be sufficient enough time. Two or three short training sessions every day is ideal. You can build in the command “come” throughout the day such as when you want to feed your puppy or take him outside.

A pup will learn much faster and affectively through the association of an action with a positive reward. However, our attention can also be very rewarding to a puppy. This can also include negative attention such as yelling, scolding, or punishment.

Is Dogs Eating Grass, Harmless or a Health Concern?

For the most part, dogs are mainly carnivores, but they can and do eat plants and vegetables. One of the more common plants eaten by dogs is basic grass. Raw grass is not toxic to dogs unless it is treated with chemical pesticides and or fertilizers. So if you begin to notice this habit in your dog, don’t panic. The exact reason behind why dogs eat grass and why it makes some dogs throw up is still basically unknown.

Theories about Dogs Consuming Grass:

For years, dog owners and veterinarians believed that dogs with upset stomachs ate grass to induce vomiting or that the grass upset some dogs’ digestive systems. A study has been conducted were approximately 1,500 dogs were examined that had consumed grass at least ten times over the course of a year to get more definitive answers. The study found that less than nine percent were sick prior to eating the grass, and less than one in four vomited after consuming the grass. The researchers determined that grass consumption is most likely a trait that modern dogs have inherited from their wolf ancestors which also ate grass occasionally. Scientists believe wolves generally eat grass to help them purge internal parasites and prevent the parasites from building up in their systems.

When Grass Consumption May Signal an Illness:

Owners who occasionally catch their dogs in the act of eating grass can relax a bit once they understand that this behavior is fairly normal and usually harmless. However, it still pays to watch for any change in your dog’s general behavior and habits after he consumes that grass. If your dog becomes lethargic, has diarrhea, or shows any other signs of illness right before or shortly after eating grass, you should ask your veterinarian to evaluate your pet’s health right away. While grass is unlikely the cause of any illness, any change in eating habits and behavior sometimes indicates a problem. A veterinarian can examine the dog to try to determine exactly what’s going on.

Since the consumption of grass by dogs is generally harmless, there is no reason to prevent your dog from eating it. Unless he eats an unusually large amount each time or it always causes vomiting. Of course, never let a dog eat or play on grass that has been treated with harmful chemicals for pest control or fertilizers.

A Helping Hand in Housebreaking Your Puppy or Adult Dog:

Housebreaking is an issue that can be addressed at any stage in a dog’s life. Food is also a very important step into successfully housebreaking your dog. Good quality food is a key factor in regulating these unfortunate incidents. Higher quality foods mean less filler so the dog needs less food to get the same amount of nutrition. With lower quality food, your dog has to eat more to get the same nutrition. Remember, the more food you feed your dog, the more stool.

Keep your puppy or dog on a schedule:

The very first step to housebreaking your puppy is to establish a schedule. It is critical to stay as close to the same times every day until your puppy has fully understood the concept you are teaching him. The more committed you are to a set schedule, the faster the puppy will develop a feel for the concept. This will help him to build an internal time clock for his own schedule.

Let him out to potty after eating, playing or waking up. Don’t give your dog big meals right before leaving the house for an extended period of time or right before going to bed. Be sure that your dog has plenty of chances to go potty in the right place. Only taking him out once or twice a day just won’t cut it. If your puppy is still having accidents, you may need a house breaking class to assist. This will offer you the proper aid in making sure your pup is “doing his business” in the right places.

Praise your puppy or dog when he gets it right:

In the beginning phases of housebreaking, don’t just open the door. Don’t just send your dog outside with high expectations that he naturally knows what to do. You should go out with your dog so you know for a sure whether he’s gone or not. Most importantly, don’t forget or be afraid to celebrate with your dog when he does the right thing outside. Verbal praise, petting and play are great rewards that will convince your dog that going outside to do his thing, is definitely the way to go!

Generally, most dogs and puppies can be successfully housebroken by following these few simple rules. However, sometimes housebreaking can be some what tricky and may require a customized housebreaking program.

How to Break Common Excessive Behaviors & Simple Solutions:

Excessive Digging:

Digging occurs for many reasons. They dig cooling pits when it’s hot and warming pits when it’s cold. Dogs dig to bury and recover bones. Digging is a highly enjoyable and natural canine activity. Lack of exercise, prolonged confinement and boredom can also be the blame. Once digging starts, it can quickly become a habit.

Providing your dog with regular walks, play-time and proper training, the better chances you will not have a digging problem. But until your dog has been taught that digging up your yard is unacceptable, he should not be given free access to these areas when you are not there to watch over him. Confinement is not the solution. It is only a temporary measure until your dog can be trusted out in the yard.

Excessive Chewing:

When yelling at your dog for chewing something up, such as a newspaper, both the owner and dog are completely misunderstanding each other. We feel that when the dog has his head down and looking guilty, that he must know what he did was wrong. The dog’s body language is actually showing he is frightened and submissive. So in reality, he is avoiding punishment. He may indeed know you are angry about the newspaper, but what about the newspaper? Are the pieces not small enough or is the job not done well enough?

Whatever the dog is thinking you are mad about, it is not for the act of chewing because that is not what he was doing when you scolded him. In order for him to know you are mad about chewing the paper, he must be caught in the act of chewing.

Excessive Barking:

Barking is the most natural thing for a dog. It’s a dog’s way of communicating, like humans when talking. You cannot expect to own a dog and not have a certain amount of barking, whining and howling. Barking is simply what dogs do. You can however, train your dog to bark less frequently than he might already do.

Every time your dog barks, after two or three barks, praise him for sounding the alarm. Then ask him to, stop barking. At the same time, wave a favorite treat in front of his nose. Most dogs immediately stop barking because they can not enjoy a treat and bark at the same time. During this time, continuously praise him.

Why Does My Puppy Bite and How Do I Take Control?

Your puppies need for biting is a perfectly natural and essential phase to go through, especially when they are teething. With this being said, however, it is not acceptable to have your pup chewing on you, or anyone for that matter.

Puppy biting or nipping starts out as a bit of fun, but needs to be controlled quickly to avoid ongoing problems. Most puppies can be trained to regulate and minimize the biting fairly easily. The sooner you get started educating your puppy not to bite, the easier it will be. Remember, the younger the pup, the “softer” the bite.

Proven Techniques:

If you catch the biting, just try to redirect the biting from your flesh to a toy or chew bone. For very young puppies this method is often all you need do. As soon as your pup starts to bite your hands just let out a firm ”No!” and replace your fingers with a chew toy.

Make your puppy think he is hurting you each time he has a nip at you. This method replicates the way dogs sort out this biting amongst themselves. When puppies are biting and nipping each other it only stops when one puppy lets out a yelp. We can use this natural way dogs learn by letting out an “Ouch!”  every time your puppy bites. The trick is to startle your dog using your voice, and then pull away and stop playing with your puppy for a while. Your pup will soon learn that when he begins to bite, his friend goes away.

In bad biting cases, as soon as your puppy latches onto your hand say “No!” and quickly put your thumb inside his mouth under his tongue. Your other finger will be under his chin and pinch down, but not to tightly. This will feel uncomfortable to your puppy and he won’t be able to bite you.

If your puppy has an even more severe biting problem, try putting on a pair of gloves and apply a foul tasting substance to them. Your dog will soon understand that if he bites you, it won’t be very pleasant! This method produces a strong negative association to your dog every time he decides to bite you. Some dogs are smart enough to realize that when you take your foul tasting gloves off, it is fine to bite you again.

How Do I Teach My Dog To Obey Commands?

Most people want their dogs to behave when walking on a leash. It is essential that your dog come when called. Staying when told is also very helpful. But how do you teach your dog to do these things?

The key to success is understand how your dogs mind works, and then incorporate that with proven training techniques, a few training aids, and consistency. Dogs do not understand every word in the human language. Instead, they learn a few words that they are told repeatedly and associate with a specific activity or task. For example, your dog may recognize the word “out” and associate it with going outside. However, if you change the word you use, he will no longer understand what you are saying or what you mean. It is important that whatever word you choose to give as a command, you stick with that same word each and every time.

A word that often confuses dogs is ‘down’ because people use it to mean ‘lie down’ which is the correct usage. However, the dog also often hears it with the meaning of “get off the couch” or “don’t jump at people”. When the word is used to command all three things, your dog will remain unknowingly clueless. Persistent training in this situation means that you would use “down” to mean only “lie down” and nothing else. If you want your dog to get off the couch, you would use the command ‘off’ rather than ‘down’ and if you want your dog to quit jumping on people, you would use a command like “floor” or “no jump” instead of “down”.

Pack Leader:

Before you begin training your dog, you must set the ground rules that you are the master and he is the follower. In some breeds you will need to work 24/7 to remind your dog that you are the pack leader for example a Doberman, while in other breeds for example, a Golden Retriever will only need to establish your “leader-follower” relationship at the very beginning.

Find the key to being your new pack’s leader. Encourage and help all your family members to become pack leaders for your dog. If you are not the pack leader, your dog is. The pack leader trains the pack members. Become the pack leader. Turn your out of control dog into an obedient pet.

Why Oh’ Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?!

Do you have a puppy or older dog that has taken a fancy to eating their feces? This filthy habit, also known as “Dog Coprophagia” is one dog problem, we as owners… HATE! This is generally more common in puppies up to a year old, but can occur at any stage throughout your dog’s life.

There is good news for us dog lovers though. Several proven techniques and training methods can be called upon for correcting this before it can become a permanent habit.

*NOTE* If your dog has this problem (Coprophagia), ensure that all dog vaccinations and worming treatments are current or up to date. The reason for this is that various diseases and internal parasites can be passed from dog to dog due to the eating of their feces.

Possible Causes:

Sadly, in most cases, your dog just thinks poop tastes fantastic. Just the thought of this alone is absolutely disgusting and I’m sure most would agree.

Your dog may have a mineral or vitamin deficiency and they will eat their feces in an effort to help compensate and restore this balance.

It may be a sign or symptom of anxiety, stress or your dog is just suffering from plain old boredom. Certain medications or antibiotics for your dog have even been known to cause this habit to form.

This can be the result from over-feeding your dog. This will not allow for the proper digestion of food, which means his feces will still smell and taste the same as when it was consumed. With this being said, its also a possibility due to feeding your dog too little, such as once a day, some dogs become very hungry and will scavenge around for any kind of food.

Possible Solutions:

Feed your dog twice a day as appose to only once.  Try to get your dog interested in a nutritious and well balanced meal.

If you catch your dog in the act red handed, try to provide him with a distraction. Call him over to you right away with a reward in hand to praise him with. This should be sufficient enough to break this habit, but you must stay consistent when doing this.

You must enforce your strategy every time and stick with it. The longer you let your dog do this, the harder it will be to break the habit.

Easy Dog Training & Tips:

Dog training has long evolved from its roots as simply a way to get your k9 to perform acceptable behaviors. It has become a full fledged science. This particular topic has been well studied and researched to create several known aspects about the art of dog training. Here is a list of several dog training facts that are interesting to know about dogs and their behaviors.

According to their size, larger dogs age faster than smaller dogs (large dogs at 7 years per human year, small dogs at 5 years per human year). However, all dogs age roughly 12 years per year over the first year of life. By 2 years old, all dogs are roughly the equivalent of 24. But at 12 years old, large dogs are 94, while small dogs are only about 74.

Dog tricks are more effective when you use a single syllable command (Sit, Stay, etc.) rather than a two syllable command. On the flip side, however, your dog is more likely to know its name if its name consist of two syllables. “Marley” is easier for the dog to understand than “Spike” if you want your dog to know you are referencing to him with each use of the name. When your dog knows its name, training is much easier. Training is more effective when you use your dog’s name before the command, instead of saying “Sit!,” say “Marley, Sit!”

Dogs are more prone to learning behaviors when they have received a sufficient amount of exercise. If you want your dog to learn a new trick, make sure you are taking your dog on frequent walks. Dogs learn in context. As a result, if you only train your dog inside, your dog may not understand the commands if you try to do them outside, because the context of the command has changed. It is best to train your dog in multiple locations to help make the training more context neutral.

If you own more than one dog, you should know that it is healthier for your dogs if you do not treat them all as equals. Every dog pack has a hierarchy, and dogs that know their place suffer from less anxiety (reducing illness) and exhibit more desirable behaviors. Watch your dogs closely, figure out where each of them appears to fit in the pack, and treat them as such. This greatly improves your success with obedience training.

General Guidelines for Effective Dog Training:

No matter what type of dog training you prefer, it is important to know the general rules and policies for dog training. Knowing these rules does not just entail effective training but also make the process a whole lot easier. Below are some useful examples that every dog trainer should learn to follow for effective dog training.

-Make sure that every dog training session is short and fun. Animal behavior experts say that short periods of training is always better than long periods of time.

-Reward your dog. Give him treats or chew bones every time they follow your orders and commands.

-Try not to punish dogs by shouting or yelling at them if they don’t follow what you want them to do. Doing so will only make them aggressive.

-Be consistent. Remember that your dog will never learn the things that you teach them right away. Consistency is the key here. Do the same thing again and again until they’ve learned your orders and commands by heart.

-Teach him tricks and commands one at a time and make sure to start from the simplest one before moving on to more complicated ones. Teach them a new trick or command only if they’ve mastered the previous one.

-Learn what motivates your dogs to behave and be obedient. It can be in the form of dog food, treats, or toys.

-Never hit dogs every time they do something wrong or unwanted. Ignoring them is the best way to let them know they will never get anything if they keep on doing whatever it is that they’re doing.

-Test their obedience in various situations. This is the best way to ensure they still follow your commands and orders even when they are outside and around people.

Whatever dog training method that you may go with, it is critical that you make them feel you are the leader in your dog-owner pack. It is also important that you make them understand what are good and acceptable behaviors and what are not. Training your dog to become a good and well-behaved citizen may not be easy, but all your time, efforts and patience will certainly pay off. Remember that there’s nothing better than a dog that knows not just how to protect their owners but also follows orders and commands and knows how to behave in different surroundings and situations.

Fictitious Dog Training Myths:

Dogs can not comprehend earning food as a reward for training and good behavior. This myth is false. Researchers have proven that dogs understand that their behavior influences their environment. If their behavior causes a change in their environment that pleases them, they won’t forget the behavior. If your dog grabs something and you chase after him, this is misconstrued as fun for him. Even though it may not be fun for you, your dog will remember how to get this attention. In the same way, if your dog’s behavior earns him a treat, or some of his dinner, he will learn to repeat these acceptable behaviors.

Using treats to train your dog increases your dog’s chances of becoming ill, or makes your dog unreliable around food. This myth is false. Your dog will only be reliable when you have food. All dogs should be taught a command, such as “off” or “leave it”. Dogs should not be left unsupervised in any area where they can be offered food by strangers. When food is properly used as a reward, not as a bribe, dogs will begin to learn to work for long periods of times before wanting a treat. How many of us get paid every hour, or expect to be paid every time we complete a task? Dogs learn to wait for their pay and continue your command while waiting. Properly trained dogs will learn to ignore food over time, whether it is on the kitchen table, the floor or from someone’s hand.

One major myth that is false is that dogs will generally misbehave because they are trying to be dominant and seeking higher rank. According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s (AVSAB) recently released statement. The use of this dominance theory in behavior modification of animals, this theory has limited use in animal training and rank is rarely the motivation behind your dog’s bad behavior or actions.

In vice versa, there are a lot of myths about a need for dominating your dog. TV shows promote this false idea. When owners use forceful tactics to dominate and punish their dogs, the dog will generally shut down. What the dog has learned is to suppress their way of signaling they are uncomfortable in certain situations. This may cause a dog to escalate its behavior to lunging, biting, showing it’s teeth or growling.