Archive for » February, 2012 «

Recognizing Dominant Alpha Dog Behaviors:

Besides the obvious guarding, growling and biting many dogs display a variety of dominant behaviors that commonly go unrecognized by their owners. Very rarely will a dog display his highest level of dominance overnight. There are usually signs leading up to it over course of a few years. Dominant alpha dogs won’t always growl and bite. If you the owner are giving the dog what he wants, there sometimes is no reason for the dog to growl or bite unless they feel challenged.

Dogs generally understand that they exist in a human world. After all, who feeds them and opens the door for them to go outside to potty? When humans perform these tasks on demand from the dog though, why wouldn’t the dog think they’re the leader? It is easy for dogs to get the impression they are alpha in their pack. There are many alpha dog behaviors that are not acceptable in human society, such as biting, which is a communication tactic that a dog may use. It is very important for humans to remain the leaders over their dogs.

Just looking at a dog and the way he presents himself can be a sign for what frame of mind the dog is in. A more dominant dog will walk high and proud, puffing themselves out as much as they can. He carries himself with what looks like dignity to the untrained eye.

Submissive dogs on the other hand carry themselves in very much the opposite way. They hold their heads low with shoulders and tail down, in a sense making them smaller. Generally, it will appear that a submissive dog is a sad dog. Not so, the posture of these submissive dogs is telling all around them that they do not wish to challenge any other dog or that they come in peace. Dogs are animals that will fight amongst each other naturally. This means their natural defense is to fight when they feel threatened. That is why they make it as obvious as possible when they do not wish to have an altercation of any kind.

Since dominant dogs look so proud and submissive dogs look sad since they hold their heads low, it’s no wonder so many people have dominant dogs. When their dog acts submissive they mistake that for a sad dog. When their dog acts dominant they mistake it for a happy proud dog.

Submissive Urination in a Puppy

Submissive wetting or urination is unfortunately a normal way for pups to demonstrate submissive behavior. Even a puppy that is for the most part housetrained may leave dribbles and puddles of urine on the floor by your feet when they greet you.

When it comes to puppies, submissive urination is the ultimate way of showing their respect for you and the desire for a higher rank in the pack. It occurs frequently with young pups that have not yet learned and perfected very important social skills. Submissive urination in adult puppies is more than likely a sign of insecurity. Often pups that are not socialized or unfortunately in some cases abused pups will submissively urinate. Other puppies that engage in submissive urination may simply have not been shown or demonstrated that there are more acceptable ways to show respect. Such as raising a paw for a hand shake or giving a kiss with a simple lick.

Submissive urination may be present in overly sensitive or mistreated puppies because they feel the need to constantly apologize. The root cause of this state of mind is often caused by excessive or delayed punishment. This of course will frighten and confuse the puppy without having taught him how to make amends in a proper manner. The puppy resorts to the only way he knows how to show respect and fear, by submissive urination. When your puppy submissively urinates, it is best to just ignore him. If you try to reassure him, he will think you are praising him for urinating and will in turn urinate more frequently. If you raise your voice and yell at him, he will feel an even greater need to apologize by urinating. Both reassurance and scolding will only make submissive urination a much bigger issue.

Treatment of submissive urination must be directed towards building your puppy’s confidence and showing him better ways of demonstrating and showing respect. The quickest way to accomplish this is by teaching your puppy a few basic obedience exercises. A puppy that can earn praise by obeying a simple routine of “Come here, sit, shake hands,” will soon develop a crucial level of self esteem and confidence. Therefore a more confident puppy with high self esteem who can say, “Hello” by simply sitting and shaking hands does not feel the need or urge to urinate at his owner’s feet.

Diagnosis for Separation Anxiety in Dogs:

First, understand that your dog is not trying to get even with you for leaving him home alone. The destructive behaviors, going potty on the floor and neurotic behavior that accompany dog separation anxiety are linked to a panic response. Luckily, for you the owner, the panic response is a behavior that is successfully modified with corrective, positive reinforcement to help calm nerves and promote your dog’s confidence and wellbeing.

No one fully understands why there’s some dog that suffer anxieties more than others when some dogs don’t at all. However, it is known that dog separation anxiety sometimes occurs when a significant change in routine, structure or surroundings such as the absence of an important companion. This may also occur when moving into a new home, a new pet or person in the family, or perhaps a change in the normal feeding schedule.

Before we get into the process of what to do about dog separation anxiety, let’s spend a moment going over what NOT to do. First and foremost, don’t punish your dog. Punishment of any form is NOT an effective way to treat dog separation anxiety as well as any unwanted behaviors. A response such as this, on the part of the owner (you) only serves to reinforce the behavior you’re trying to do away with.

Providing another pet as a potential companion for your dog won’t exactly help either. Dog separation anxiety stems from your dog being separated from you and not so much from being alone. Being unable to play with another animal isn’t the same as just being plain old bored. There is a major difference between boredom and loneliness.

Incarcerating a dog with separation anxiety in a crate is also not the answer, nor a solution. A dog’s nature is to be free. A nervous dog locked in a crate is now left with a heightened panic response but now with a build up of paranoia and desperation on top of it. The added risk of your dog injuring himself in an attempt to escape from the crate is also heightened.

Obedience training alone will not address this psychological problem. Although, there is no question that obedience training is a satisfying and worthwhile experience for the both of you to enjoy. Dog separation anxiety is an uncorrected panic response and is unrelated to obedience as well as disobedience.

Dog Training with Positive Reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement dog training is a friendly method of teaching your dog to perform behaviors using dog food, treats and other positive actions in the form of a reward. Rewarding appropriate dog behavior makes that behavior more likely to become a future re-occurrence. This is one of the most powerful tools you can use to reshape or change your dog’s actions. Using positive reinforcement dog training teaches your dog what behaviors you do and don’t desire in a humane manner. This training method will also help to create healthier and much stronger bond between you and your dog.

Training based on physical punishment involves some level of discomfort or even pain and is most definitely not recommended. This also may cause your dog to bite in order to defend himself. Punishment may also be associated with other stimuli, including people, present at the time and occurrence of the punishment. For example, a dog that is punished for getting too close to a small child may become fearful or even defensive around that child.

When getting started, timing is key with positive reinforcement dog training. Your dog must be rewarded immediately for responding appropriately to your command. Every member of your family should use the same command system and of course, never reinforce the wrong behavior. For example, if you command your dog to sit, he should be given a treat the moment his bottom touches the floor. If you wait to long before giving him the treat after he stands up again, the moment will be lost. He will then think he is getting rewarded for standing, not sitting.

Most dogs will gladly work for positive rewards such as a tasty dog treat, play time and toys. We suggest that you choose a treat that is relatively small, soft, and easily broken apart. Treats should be highly valued by your dog as well as easy consumption. It is difficult to train a dog when he spends valuable time chewing and swallowing his reward. You want your dog to quickly eat the treat and look to you for more. Try to experiment with several different types of treats and find out which ones will work best. There are some dogs out there that are not motivated by food. If this is the case, try training using praise or build motivation through the company of other dogs.

Tips for Avoiding Common Dog Training Mistakes: (Part 1)

One of the easiest mistakes that can be made when training your dog is not paying attention. If your attention is elsewhere for even a short while, suddenly you may find that your puppy is off doing unspeakable things to you’re your furniture in the living room. You can not properly correct him unless you catch him red handed. All puppies have an incredibly short attention span. So, even just five minutes ago no longer exists. They will not make the mental connection when you are yelling about something they did minutes ago. When you can not pay attention to your puppy, he should then be in a safe place, like his crate, or perhaps by your side at all times.

Your dog will not know he has done something right when you fail to reward him for his good behavior. It is also crucial to communicate your praise to him in a language he can understand. The rewards do not necessarily always have to be something such as a treat. No matter what reward you may go with, your dog will need to connect the reward to his action in order for him to get the correct message. Instant praise is the best reward you could ever give. It’s instant gratification for your dog, and gives you a few seconds to provide the tasty treat reward if you have one. Those few seconds will fill in the gap between “Yay, I did things right!” and “Wow, what did I ever do to deserve an outcome like this?” This is extremely important during the earlier stages of the training process. This is especially true for when you are trying to get your dog to correlate his actions to your commands.

Another common mistake is to put things off for much too long. You may look at your little puppy, and think “it’s not absolutely necessary for him to need to learn anything just yet”. But what about walking on a leash, stay, coming when you call? This is especially true when a puppy’s natural instinct is to generally be by your side anyway, without incentive. But if you let things go for too long, your pup will not want to cooperate any longer. Training while your pup is still relatively young is the most solid way to get the basics into your dog’s head for good.