Tag Archives: dog training

Want To Calm That Hyper Dog Down , Here Are Some Suggestions

By: Pat Miller

Boy, do I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say their dog was “hyperactive” or “ADHD” – I’d be a wealthy woman. In fact, those are clinical terms referring to very specific behavioral disorders (canine and human) that are relatively uncommon in dogs. In reality, most “hyper” dogs are just under-exercised. A couple of days hiking at the Peaceable Paws farm and you’d hardly know them.


Like many young dogs of active breeds, Squid needs a lot of intense exercise in order to be capable of focus and participation in training. Walking around the block doesn’t cut it for dogs like this.

Not every dog owner has access to large tracts of acreage upon which to exercise their unruly canines, and in any case, “wild child canine syndrome” (WCCS) is more than just lack of exercise; it’s also lack of appropriate reinforcement for calm behavior – i.e., training. Unfortunately, all too often a dog loses his happy home – maybe even his life, as a result of his high-energy behavior.

We’ve seen several of these WCCS dogs at the training center in recent weeks. One private client decided to return her Shar-Pei-mix to the rescue from whence the pup came. Despite her best intentions and efforts, the client had mobility challenges that made it impossible for her to provide the pup with the exercise and management she needed. As painful as it was for the owner, returning the pup was the right decision.

WCCS dogs often include inappropriate biting in their repertoire of undesirable behaviors. We currently have a temporary foster resident at the training center: a 13-week-old high-energy Jack Russell Terrier who failed his assessment at the shelter for using his mouth in protest when restrained. Little Squid is a perfect example of the kind of dog who needs to learn self-control and the art of being calm.

A successful WCCS behavior modification program contains three elements: physical exercise, management, and training. While any one of these alone can make your high-energy dog easier to live with, apply all three for maximum success. Let’s look at each of these elements in greater detail.

Physical Exercise

Squid’s day begins with an hour of barn-play while we do chores. He delights in harassing our dogs (and our pig). He gets at least one long hike around the farm per day, preferably two, or even three. He also gets one or more sessions of ball/toy fetch in the training center, and some puppy socialization/play time when there’s a class going on. Finally, he wraps up his day with evening barn chores. Does it tire him out? No. I have yet to see him tired. But it does take the edge off, so that when I work with him to teach calm he is able to focus and participate in the training. The physical exercise sets him up for training success.


The Manners Minder enables you to dispense a treat to your dog some distance away from you.

Not everyone has an 80-acre farm to play on. If you’re farm-deprived, there are other ways to provide exercise for your WCCS dog. A placid walk or three around the block won’t do it. Nor will leaving him on his own in your fenced backyard. He needs to be actively engaged.

Outings to your local well-run dog park can be a good exercise option. If you don’t have one in your area, invite compatible canines over to play in your dog’s fenced yard. If you don’t have one, invite yourself and your dog over to your dog-friend’s fenced yard for play dates.

Absent any access to a dog-friendly fenced yard, play with your dog on a long line. A 50-foot line gives him a 100-foot stretch to run back and forth and work his jollies off.

Caution: Work up to 50 feet gradually, so he learns where the end of the line is. You don’t want him to blast full-speed to the end of his long line and hurt himself. Also, wear long pants. A high-speed long-line wrapped around bare legs can give you a nasty rope burn.

If none of those work for you, having him wear a pack when you walk him, or even better, pull a cart (which takes significant training), or exercising him (safely) from a bicycle may be options for using up excess energy. If outside exercise is simply out of the question, here are some indoor activities that can help take the edge off:

-Find it. Most dogs love to use their noses. Take advantage of this natural talent by teaching yours the “Find It!” game:

1. Start with a handful of pea-sized tasty treats. Toss one to your left and say “Find it!” Then toss one to your other side and say “Find it!” Do this back and forth a half-dozen times.

2. Then have your dog sit and wait or stay, or have someone hold his leash. Walk 10 to 15 feet away and let him see you place a treat on the floor. Walk back to his side, pause, and say “Find it!” encouraging him to go get the treat. Repeat a half-dozen times.

3. Next, have your dog sit and wait or stay, or have someone hold his leash and let him see you “hide” the treat in an easy hiding place: behind a chair leg, under the coffee table, next to the plant stand. Walk back to his side, pause, and say “Find it!” encouraging him to go get the treat. Repeat a half-dozen times.

4. Again, have your dog sit and wait. This time hide several treats in easy places while he’s watching. Return to his side, pause, and say “Find it!” Be sure not to help him out if he doesn’t find them right away.

You can repeat the “find it” cue, and indicate the general area, but don’t show him where it is; you want him to have to work to find it.


The “find it!” game can be played indoors or outside. Nose work is surprisingly tiring for dogs.

5. Hide the treats in harder and harder places so he really has to look for them: surfaces off the ground; underneath things; and in containers he can easily open.

6. Finally, put him in another room while you hide treats. Bring him back into the room and tell him to “Find it!” and enjoy watching him work his powerful nose to find the goodies. Once you’ve taught him this step of the game you can use it to exercise him by hiding treats in safe places all over the house, and then telling him to “Find it!” Nose work is surprisingly tiring.

If you prefer something less challenging, just go back to Step 1 and feed your dog his entire meal by tossing pieces or kibble from one side to the other, farther and farther, with a “Find it!” each time. He’ll get a bunch of exercise just chasing after his dinner!

-Hide And Seek. This is a fun variation of the “Find it” game. Have your dog sit and wait (or have someone hold him) while you go hide yourself in another room of the house. When you’re hidden, call your dog’s name and say “Find me!” Make it easy at first so he can find you quickly and succeed. Reinforce him with whatever he loves best – treats, a game of “tug,” petting and praise, a tossed ball – or a combination of these. Then hide again. As he learns the game, make your hiding places harder and harder, so he has to really search. A trainer friend tells me she has hidden in bathtubs and closets, under beds, and even inside a cedar chest.

-Manners Minder. If you are into higher-tech exercise, use a treat dispenser called the Manners Minder that spits out treats when you push a button on the remote control. A Maryland trainer friend, Elizabeth Adamec of Sweet Wag Dog Training, shared her exercise secret with me for her high-energy adolescent Golden Retriever, Truman. This one is especially useful if you don’t feel like exercising along with your canine pal or can’t, due to physical restrictions of your own:

Teach your dog to use the Manners Minder, by showing him several times that when he hears the beep, a treats fall out of the machine. You can use his own dog food, if he really likes his food.

1. Set the machine a few feet away and have your dog sit next to you. Push the button, and let him go eat the treats. Repeat several times, encouraging him, if necessary, to go get the treats when he hears the beep.

2. Put the machine across the room, and have your dog sit next to you. Push the button, and watch him run over and eat the treats. If he’s not doing this with great enthusiasm, repeat Steps 1 and 2 several more times with higher value treats, until he really gets excited about the treats when he hears the beep.

3. Set the machine in the next room, and repeat the exercise several times. Call him back to you each time, so he runs to the Manners Minder when he hears the beep, eats the treat, and runs back to you to wait for the next beep. Gradually move the treat dispenser into rooms farther and farther away from you, until your dog has to run all the way across the house, or even upstairs, when he hears the beep. Now you can sit back with the TV remote in one hand, your dog’s remote in the other, and enjoy your favorite show while canine pal gets exercise and dinner, all at the same time.

There are tons of other ways to provide your dog with indoor exercise. Play tug. Teach him to bowl. Teach him to catch, then repeatedly toss him his ball 10 feet away and have him bring it back to you. Some trainers use treadmills and canine exercise wheels to exercise their dogs. (These must be carefully trained and supervised.) Get creative. Get busy. Have fun. Let the indoor games begin.

Management

Successful positive training, especially for high-energy dogs, relies on the appropriate use of management tools to prevent the dog from practicing – and being reinforced for – undesirable behaviors. In between his many daily exercise and training sessions, Squid is either parked in an exercise pen in the barn tack room (with plenty of bathroom breaks outside), or in an outdoor kennel off the side of the training center.


Squid has learned a modicum of calm behavior, and now offers a calm sit or down when he wants something, such as the opportunity to go outside. This is quite a contrast to his previous behavior of frustrated jumping and mouthing.

Here are examples of when to use various management tools for your wild child dog:

Crates and Pens. Use crates and exercise pens when you can’t directly supervise his energy to consistently reinforce appropriate behaviors and prevent reinforcement for inappropriate ones. The best times for the appropriate use of crates and exercise pens include:

When you can provide adequate exercise and social time in addition to his time in the crate or pen.

When your dog has been properly introduced to the crate or pen and accepts it as a good place to be. Note: Dogs who suffer from isolation or separation distress or anxiety often do not crate or pen well.

When you know you’ll be home in a reasonable period of time so you don’t force your dog to soil his den – no longer than one hour more than your pup’s age in months, no more than an outside maximum of eight to nine hours for adult dogs.

Leashes and Tethers. Leashes and tethers are useful for the “umbilical cord” technique of preventing your wild child from being reinforced for unwanted behaviors. With your dog near or attached to you, you can provide constant supervision. Also, with your dog tethered to your side, you should have many opportunities to reinforce him for appropriate behavior.

The leash can be hooked to waist belts that are designed for that purpose, or clipped to your belt or belt-loop with a carabineer. Your WCCS dog can’t zoom around the house if he’s glued to your side.

If inappropriate mouthing behavior is included in his high-energy repertoire, however, this may not be the best choice. Tethers are better for keeping this dog in view, with easy access for reinforcement of calm behavior, while keeping his teeth from your clothing or skin. Appropriate situations for the use of leashes and tethers include:

For dogs who get into trouble when they are unsupervised.

-Leashed when your activities don’t preclude having a dog connected to you – okay for working on the computer; not okay for working out.

-Tethered when you want to keep your dog near but not directly connected to you, to teach good manners and/or prevent inappropriate behaviors.

Baby Gates and Doors. Baby gates and doors prevent your dog’s access to vulnerable areas when he’s in wild child mode. A baby gate across the nursery door keeps him safely on the other side while you’re changing diapers, but still lets him be part of the “baby experience.” Not to worry if the older kids left their stuffed toys strewn across the bedroom floor; just close the bedroom door when your dog is in a “grab toy and run” mood. The most appropriate uses of baby gates and doors include:

To prevent your dog’s temporary access to areas during activities you don’t want him to participate in.

To prevent your dog’s access to areas when you can’t supervise closely enough, to prevent inappropriate behaviors such as counter surfing or getting on forbidden furniture.

Training

The final element of your WCCS behavior modification program is training. The more training you do the easier it is to communicate with your dog. The better he understands you, the more easily he can follow your instructions and requests. With a high-energy dog, in addition to basic good manners training, invest a lot of training time in impulse-control behaviors.

-Click for Calm. Start by simply clicking your dog for calm behavior, beginning with clicks and treats for any pause in the action. One challenge with a high-energy dog is that the instant you try to praise or reward, he’s bouncing off the walls again. With the clicker, an instant of calm elicits a “click” during the calm behavior. Even if the delivery of the treat causes excitement, your dog still understands it was calm that caused the click-and-treat to happen. An added advantage of the clicker: when they hear the click, most dogs pause in anticipation of the coming morsel, drawing out the brief period of relatively calm behavior even longer.

The goal of clicker training is to get your dog to understand that he can make the click happen by offering certain behaviors – in this case, calm. At first you won’t get long, leisurely stretches of calm behavior to click. Begin by giving your dog a click and treat just because all four feet are on the floor at the same instant. Be quick! You want him to understand the behavior he got rewarded for was pausing with all four feet on the floor, so the click needs to happen the instant all four feet are down. If you click late, you may reinforce him for bouncing around – the exact opposite of what you want!

If your timing is good and you click for four-on-the-floor several times in a row he’ll start to stand still deliberately to make the clicker go off. This is one of the most exciting moments in dog training –when your dog realizes he can control the clicker. Your clicker is now a powerful tool; you can reinforce any behavior you want, any time it happens, and your dog will quickly start repeating that behavior for you.


Make sure your dog’s crate is comfortable and equip him with a nice chew or food-stuffed Kong.

How does “pausing briefly on all four feet” translate into calm? Very gradually. You will “shape” the pause into longer periods of stillness, by extending the time, in milliseconds at first, that he stands still before you click and treat. As he gets better at being calm for longer periods, be sure to reinforce randomly – sometimes for shorter pauses, sometimes longer. Do the same thing with “sit” and “down.” Down is my favorite calm position: the very act of lying down evokes relaxation.

Do several short training sessions every day. You’ll have the most success if you practice “clicking for calm” right after one of your dog’s exercise sessions when he’s tired anyway. When he understands that “calm” is a very rewardable behavior, it will work even when he has more energy.

When your dog will remain still for several seconds at a time, add the verbal cue of your choice, like “Chill out,” that will eventually cue him into calmness. Over time you can phase out the click and treat for calm behavior and use other rewards such as calm praise, a gentle massage, or an invitation to lie quietly next to you on the sofa.

-“Sit” As Default Behavior. “Sit” is one of the first behaviors we teach. Even after the dog knows it well we reinforce “sit” so heavily that it becomes his “default behavior” – what he does when he doesn’t know what else to do. Teach your dog to sit by holding a treat at the end of his nose and moving it slowly back a few inches, clicking and treating when his bottom touches ground.

Alternatively, shape it by clicking and treating for slightly lowered hind end until touchdown, and/or click for offered sits. Then shape longer sits. If he already knows sit, start reinforcing it every time he does it until he sits for anything and nothing. When you have installed “sit” as his default, things like the “Wait” exercises (below) and “Go wild and freeze” (See “More Steps to a Calm Dog,” page 19) happen very easily.

-Wait. “Wait” is especially useful for dogs who are short on impulse control. I teach it using food bowls and doorways. “Wait” then easily generalizes to other situations.

-Wait for Food: With your dog sitting at your side, tell him to “Wait.” Hold his bowl (with food in it, topped with tasty treats) chest-high, then move it toward the floor 4 to 6 inches. If your dog stays sitting, click and feed him a treat from the bowl as you raise it back up to your chest. If your dog gets up, say “Oops!” and ask him to sit again. If he gets up several times in a row, you’re asking for too much too soon; lower the bowl in smaller increments.

If he remains sitting, lower the bowl 4 to 6 inches again, and click and treat for his continued sitting. Repeat several times until he consistently remains sitting as you lower the bowl. Gradually move the bowl closer to the floor with succeeding repetitions until you can place it on the floor without your dog getting up. Finally, place the bowl on the floor and tell him to eat. After he’s had a few bites, lift the bowl up and try again. Repeat these steps until you can easily place the bowl on the floor and he doesn’t move until you give him permission.

Caution: If your dog guards resources such as his food bowl, consult with a qualified positive behavior professional before trying this exercise.

-Wait at the Door: With your dog sitting at your side, tell him to “wait.” Reach for the doorknob. If he doesn’t move, click and treat. Repeat this step several times. Then jiggle the doorknob. Click and reward him for not moving. Repeat this step several times. Slowly open the door a crack. Again, click and treat if he doesn’t move, and repeat. Gradually open the door farther, an inch or two at a time. Do several repetitions at each step, with clicks and treats each time.

Eventually you’ll walk all the way through the door, stop, and face your dog, without having him move. Wait a few seconds, click, then return and give him a tasty treat. Of course, occasionally you’ll actually give him permission to go out the door!

Squid does a variation of “Wait at the door” in his pen and kennel. With the dog on the inside and human on the outside, I reach for the latch. If he jumps up, I pull my hand away. If he sits, I continue with the gate-opening process. Each time he jumps up, the process stops. If he exercises self-control the gate opens and he earns his freedom.

A Happy Future

Using a combination of exercise, training, and management, I am wildly optimistic that I can help Squid chill out, pass his shelter assessment, and find his forever home. If, after reading all this you still think your dog suffers from clinical hyperactivity or ADHD, then it’s time to visit a qualified behavior professional for help. More likely though, using the same combination of exercise, training, and management, you can ensure your own dog’s calm and happy future in your family.



Everyday Items That Are Hazardous to Our Pets’ Health

It can happen to even the best pet owners. You turn around for one second and the dog is into the chocolate that was sitting on the counter, or the cat has discovered the Easter lily you thought was safely out of the way.

“We just don’t realize how determined our pets are to eat the things they shouldn’t,” Dr. Tina Wismer, DVM, medical director for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, says.

Of the more than 180,000 cases that the organization handled in 2013, most of them involved pets who’d ingested human prescriptions. “Many children with ADHD don’t want to take their medications, so they leave pills on their plates, where pets can get at them,” Dr. Wismer says. “Even nonprescription medications, such as ibuprofen, can be a problem, because many brands have a sweet coating, so it’s like candy for dogs.”

As part of National Poison Prevention Week (March 15-21), Vetstreet has compiled an A-to-Z photo gallery of common pet poisons that should be on your radar. This list is not all inclusive, so for more information on these and many other toxins, check out the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center website and talk with your vet.
Acetaminophen
Acetaminophen, which is found in Tylenol and other medications, can cause liver damage in dogs. Cats are even more sensitive: Ingestion of a single 325 mg tablet by a 10-pound cat can cause red blood cell damage and even be fatal.
Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.

Batteries
Batteries can be toxic to both dogs and cats, leading to ulcers in the mouth, esophagus and stomach.
Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.

Chocolate
Chocolate can cause seizures and death in dogs and cats. Darker chocolate, such as unsweetened baker’s chocolate, is more toxic than milk or white chocolate. Even cocoa bean mulch, when eaten in large quantities, can be a problem.
Toxicity Ranking: mild to severe

Detergents
Detergents and fabric softener sheets can cause ulcers in the mouth, esophagus and stomach in dogs and cats. The newer laundry pods, which contain concentrated detergent packaged under pressure, may pose a greater risk. When pets bite into the pod, the contents can be forcibly expelled, then inhaled or swallowed in large amounts.
Toxicity Ranking: mild to moderate.

Ethylene Glycol
Ethylene glycol is found in antifreeze, windshield de-icing agents and motor oils. Dogs and cats are attracted to its sweet taste, but as little as a teaspoon in cats or a tablespoon in dogs can cause kidney failure. Recently, antifreeze and engine coolant manufacturers have agreed to voluntarily add bittering agents to reduce the products’ appeal to pets and children.
Toxicity Ranking: severe to fatal.

Fertilizers
Fertilizers can contain poisonous amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, herbicides and pesticides. Keep dogs and cats away from treated lawns until they are dry. Check the product packaging, though, since some products must be rinsed into the lawn before it is safe to walk on.
Toxicity Ranking: mild to moderate.

Grapes
Grapes, raisins and currants — even grape juice — in small amounts can cause kidney failure in dogs.
Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.

Household Cleaners
Household cleaners, such as bleach, drain cleaners and toilet bowl cleaners, can cause gastrointestinal ulcers and other problems in dogs and cats.
Toxicity Ranking: varies.

Insecticides
Insecticides in flea and tick products can cause problems if not used according to labels. Insecticides that are meant for dogs can cause severe toxicity in cats, leading to signs such as vomiting, seizures and difficulty breathing. Products intended for treating the yard or house should not be used on pets.
Toxicity Ranking: mild to severe.

Jimson Weed
Jimson weed, also known as devil’s trumpet, can cause restlessness, drunken walking and respiratory failure in dogs and cats.
Toxicity Ranking: moderate.

Kerosene
Kerosene, gasoline and tiki torch fluids can cause drooling, drunken walking and difficulty breathing in dogs and cats. If these products contain antifreeze, they are even more problematic.
Toxicity Ranking: mild to severe (potentially life threatening).

Lilies
Lilies — Easter, day, tiger, Japanese and Asiatic varieties — can cause kidney failure in cats. Lilies of the valley can cause heart rhythm problems and death in dogs and cats.
Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.

Mothballs
Mothballs, especially if they contain naphthalene, can be toxic to dogs and cats, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, increased drinking and urination, and seizures.
Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe (potentially life threatening).

Medications
Nonprescription medications, such as ibuprofen, can lead to severe ulcers and anemia, as well as liver and kidney failure in pets.
Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe (potentially life threatening).

Onions
Onions, garlic, leeks and chives can be toxic in dogs and cats. When chewed or swallowed, these ingredients can cause anemia and gastrointestinal upset.
Toxicity Ranking: mild to moderate.

Prescription Medications
Prescription medications, such as antidepressants and ADHD and cardiac drugs, are commonly ingested by pets when pills are dropped on the floor or left on counters. Even a small dose can cause problems.                                            Toxicity Ranking: varies.

Queensland Nuts
Queensland nuts, also known as macadamia nuts, can cause lethargy, vomiting and difficulty walking in dogs.
Toxicity Ranking: mild to moderate.

Rodenticides
Rodenticides, such as mouse and rat poisons, can contain a number of different toxins, which have different effects on dogs and cats. Several common ingredients, like warfarin and coumarin, can cause blood-clotting problems and hemorrhaging.
Toxicity Ranking: mild to severe.

Sago Palms
Sago palms are one of a number of toxic plants for dogs and cats. Ingestion can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and seizures, as well as liver failure in dogs.
Toxicity Ranking: severe

Tobacco
Tobacco can be toxic to both dogs and cats. Ingestion of nicotine in the tobacco plant or in cigarettes or patches can lead to vomiting, tremors, collapse and death.
Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.

Unbaked Bread Dough
Unbaked bread dough can expand in the stomach. If the stomach twists, cutting off the blood supply, emergency surgery is needed. The yeast in the dough can also produce alcohol, leading to seizures and respiratory failure.
Toxicity Ranking: mild to severe.
Veterinary Prescriptions
Veterinary prescriptions, such as arthritis medications, are often meat flavored, which can be enticing to dogs. Ingestion of large quantities can result in stomach ulcers, liver failure or kidney failure.
Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.

Windshield Wiper Fluid
Windshield wiper fluid can contain methanol or ethylene glycol. Ingestion of methanol can cause low blood sugar and drunken walking in dogs and cats.
Toxicity Ranking: mild to moderate.

Xylitol
Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener commonly found in chewing gum, breath mints and toothpaste. In dogs, it can lead to dangerous drops in blood sugar and liver failure.
Toxicity Ranking: mild to severe.

Yard Products
Yard products, including snail and slug bait, herbicides and fertilizers, are never good for pets. Signs will vary by the ingredient.
Toxicity Ranking: varies.

Zinc
Zinc toxicity can happen when dogs and cats eat metal or coins. Ingestion of pennies minted after 1982 can be more problematic. Zinc can cause anemia, as well as liver, kidney or heart failure.
Toxicity Ranking: moderate to severe.

Hello Cat Meet Dog ; Dog Meet Cat…PEACEFULLY

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Prince Nino

I have had my new Shih Tzu puppy , Prince Nino for almost three weeks now. I will tell you, it has not been easy introducing Nino to his new siblings of dogs and cats. The older pets simply don’t like him. And I’ve been working on different strategies to help them get along. I get that Nino is a puppy. Puppies can be annoying. My older pets have no issue with letting him. And when Nino cries, I get very upset and feel bad. I know what it’s like to be rejected too.

Well I have developed some strategies and want to pass along the tips to anyone going through the same thing.

It’s exciting to add a cuddly new pet to your life, except maybe when you have to introduce it to another pet that has already staked claim to your home. That’s especially true if one’s a dog and the other’s a cat. But whether you’re introducing a new dog to your cats — or a new cat to your dogs — it doesn’t have to be hard. Here is some expert advice to help keep peace during the transition.

Watch the Dog

If there’s going to be a problem during cat and dog introductions, it’s usually caused by the dog. SURPRISE!

Most dogs will chase a rapidly moving object. So if a cat gets frightened and runs, a dog often feels honor-bound to chase it.. It’s important to nip that in the bud. If you don’t, the result can be injury, and even death, for the cat.

Basic Rules

Make sure your cat can run and hide if it wants to. Whether your cat is the newbie or the senior pet in the house, the cat needs to be able to move freely when the introduction is made. There should be perches or cubbies for hiding, someplace where the cat can get off the floor and settle in. You basically want an elevated resting place [for the cat].

Make sure your puppy or dog is well restrained. Your dog shouldn’t be able to chase, even if the cat darts away. This is a bigger issue with herding breed dogs, who have a prey instinct. But it’s really a hardwired response in all dogs to chase small fluffy things that run away quickly.

Consider baby gates. Gates can help you gradually introduce dogs and cats, and the barrier minimizes danger to the cat. A baby gate is often better than a cat carrier because it gives the cat much-needed freedom.

Age Can Make a Difference
When introducing a new pet to the household, youth can be a virtue. That’s because puppies are much less dangerous to adult cats, and kittens can be quite fearless with adult dogs.
The same safety rules still apply, though. When adding a kitten or puppy, you may want to enforce separation longer or extend your period of supervision. That’s because kittens tend to scurry (an enticing behavior for dogs) and puppies are just goofy and will want to pester the cat.

4 Don’ts

Here are four common mistakes you don’t want to make when introducing cats and dogs:
Forcing physical proximity: Picking up your cat and holding it in your dog’s face by way of introduction will tempt your cat to scratch the dog and encourage the dog to not like the cat. Always let kitty decide when or if it will approach the dog.
Not knowing the background of the dog you adopt. Adopting a dog from a shelter is often a wonderful idea, especially if you don’t have other pets. But people rarely know a shelter dog’s past. If a 2-year-old dog is looking for a home, there’s usually a good reason. In some cases, the dog may be aggressive, destructive, or have other problems. If you want to bring a canine into a feline household, I do recommend getting a puppy.
Not preparing your pet for change: Make changes like moving your cat’s litter box, putting up a baby gate, or closing certain doors before you bring your new pet home. That way, your long-time pet has a chance to get used to the changes before the new pet shows up.
Not thinking about your pet’s reaction. Try to think about the changes you’re making in your home from your pet’s perspective. For example, be aware that if you move the litter box and the cat has to walk past the dog’s kennel to get to it and the dog is barking that’s going to be stressful for the cat.
When to Get Help

If you’re lucky, it can take just a few minutes for a new pet to settle in, although it’s more likely to take days or even weeks.

But if you’ve come home to find your kitty cowering in fear, if one pet is always hiding, if your dog is displaying resource guarding behavior (such as snarling around its food) or being aggressive toward your cat, get help.

Don’t wait until a pet gets hurt. Talk with a veterinary behaviorist (a veterinarian specializing in animal behavior). These professionals can help you troubleshoot so that your old and new pets get along.

Training Your New Puppy

I am so excited, overwhelmed, overworked yet very happy!  This is the new edition to our family, an all black Shih Tzu named Prince Nino.  My Nino is smart, affectionate , very energetic and a quick learner and he is only 8 weeks old.   It hasn’t been hard to train him because of several reasons. He listens well and is growing up with three other Shih Tzus in the house . He knows when to eat, and how to ask to go outside to potty.  He even knows to pee on the pee pad. We have had only one accident and that happened on the first day.

Yes, we are lucky but you can be lucky , knowledgable and an expert too with training your new pup. I just want to give some of my tips as well as a professional dog trainers advice.  There are some things that professional trainers believe you should do that I don’t do such as crate training. I am including it because every dog breed is different. So where I don’t believe in it for my shih tzus, it doesn’t mean it is not appropriate for let’s say a German Shepard.

 

EASY PUPPY POTTY TRAINING

It’s normal for a young puppy to be a little ‘input-output’ machine. Since they are growing and developing rapidly at this stage, they eat more food, burn up more energy and seem to need to eliminate constantly! Puppies have not yet developed bowel and bladder control, so they can’t ‘hold it’ as long as adult dogs.

Puppies need time to developed a “den” instinct to cause them to want to ‘hold it’ and not soil the den, i.e., your entire house. In their litter, puppies just go whenever and wherever they happen to be! Successful house training depends upon your diligent supervision so you can be there to show your pup where to eliminate.

Just so you know, a puppy is never completely housetrained until they are 6 months old. For some breeds, even later. This means that though you may be making tremendous progress housetraining, there will be “mistakes”. Sometimes for reasons you can’t figure out! Don’t fret about it. Stay focused on the progress you are making. Your confidence in the techniques you are using to house train your puppy will ensure your success.

Your Five Rules for House Training

• Give your puppy frequent access to his toilet area – prevent soiling in the house.
• Reward the pup for peeing or pooping in the right place – use a special treat.
• Never punish the pup for housetraining “mistakes” – scolding has dire consequences.
• Put your puppy on a regular and timely feeding schedule – in/out clockwork.

• Know when your puppy last eliminated – keep a diary.

How often do puppies have to potty?

Most puppies have to eliminate about every 30-45 minutes except, of course, when sleeping. Their elimination schedule will depend upon when they last ate or drank water; rambunctious physical activity; and the big unknown – personal preference! That’s right – every pup has their own inherent elimination schedule. The good news is, puppies sleep alot!

The section below on “HouseTraining Taxi Service” will tell you WHEN to give your pup immediate access to her toilet area. For now – keep reading.

If your puppy is not sleeping in her crate or pen, and is out in the house, you must follow her around to know what she is doing: chewing a bone, running circles, getting a drink of water, etc. In fact, don’t take your eye off of her! If you cannot watch her continuously, you must put her back into her pen or crate to prevent potty training “mistakes”.

Regular feedings will house train a puppy faster

It’s very important to put your puppy on a regular and timely feeding schedule; What goes in on a regular schedule will come out on a regular schedule. Every pup is different; some poop immediately after eating; with others it may be 30 minutes to an hour after eating. Unless advised by your vet for some medical reason, do not free-feed. That is, do not leave food out all the time. For two reasons: First, your pup’s elimination schedule will be random at best. And second, she will not necessarily associate you as the provider of her food (see our article on being a pack leader and winning a puppy’s respect and trust).

Always leave water out for your puppy. Check the water bowl frequently to note how much she is drinking and to make sure the water bowl is full.

The best way to potty train a puppy

Confinement to a small area such as a bathroom or an enclosed exercise pen in combination with confinement to a crate works best.

This method is the most effective and flexible. Your pup needs to develop his natural “den instinct” and learn where to eliminate – and where not to. To potty train our puppy we must condition a desire in the pup to avoid soiling the “den” – your house. Confinement and your due diligence in providing access outside the “den” to potty and poop will develop this instinct and eventual desire. When and how to use confinement is described in detail below.

Choose a designated toilet area for House Training

So, where do you want to train your puppy to always potty and poop? The puppy toilet area needs to be accessible very quickly. 

• If you live in a high rise apartment, or a street level apartment or home with DIFFICULT outdoor access, use a bathroom or pen in the home for housetraining. 

• If, however, you live in a street level apartment or home with EASY outdoor access, use a specific, very close outdoor location and use “Housetraining Taxi Service.” You will still use an indoor pen for housetraining purposes, but outdoors will be your puppy’s primary toilet area.

Get the items you need for housetraining and set up the household:

• A few bottles of Nature’s Miracle or similar product to remove urine and fecal stains and odor. Place these in a central or multiple locations in your house with paper towels.
• A crate that will fit next to your bed but only large enough to accomodate your puppy when full grown. I prefer the wire type for a full view of the puppy. Get one that also collapses for easy transporting.
• An exercise pen that your puppy cannot jump out of. Put the exercise pen in a central location where you spend most of your time at home. You may want to put a tarp down first then set the pen on top of it.
• Special housetraining treats (rewards) – something small and special, reserved and used only for a housetraining reward. These treats should be kept close to the designated toilet area.

• An uplifting, cheery, excited tone of voice to carry with you at all times ( do they have that at the pet store? ).

“HouseTraining Taxi Service”

What ? To house train my puppy I have to call a cab? Well, not exactly, here’s the scoop. Puppies will decide to potty or poop instantly, giving you no warning. So many times when housetraining, a puppy is led to the door and on the way they just stop and do their business. This usually happens because the puppy has not developed enough bladder or bowel control yet to “hold it” until they get to the toilet area or they simply don’t know where the toilet area is yet. Not only has the pup made “a mistake,” but you have lost a chance to reward for going in the right place.

The key to house training is preventing “mistakes” and rewarding the puppy for going in your chosen spot.

“HouseTraining Taxi Service” is simply picking the puppy up into your arms, taking them to the designated toilet area, setting them down and praising them for going where you want. If you are going outside, put a collar and leash on the pup immediately after picking them up, unless the toilet area is safely enclosed and escape proof.

When should you provide “HouseTraining Taxi Service”
• Immediately upon your puppy waking up (morning, noon or night).
• Immediately after they finish eating, get a big drink of water, and after excited play
• When you think they might have to go – about every 45 minutes.
Better too often than too late! 
• When your puppy whines in the crate in the middle of the night or whines in their pen during the day. Take them out to potty, reward for going and put them right back. If they continue to whine, see our article on whining and crying.
• When your puppy is standing at the door to the outside. Why not just let them out, you say? Well, he may not make it all the way to the toilet area, potty or poop in the “wrong” place and you have missed a housetraining opportunity!

For how long should you provide “HouseTraining Taxi Service” ? 
Taxi your pup for about one month (until the pup is about 3 months old as this should give the pup enough time to develop some bladder and bowel control). By doing so, you will prevent many mistakes. At the same time you will train a stong preference in your pup to eliminate in your chosen spot. The pup will also learn that being picked up gets – kisses ! 

If you have a large breed puppy and can’t pick them up, slip on a leash quickly and “rush” them to the potty area, do not stop until you are there !

House Training Warnings – “I’m gonna go!”

Guess what, you get no warning before a young puppy is about to potty! They just squat and do it… in an instant. So, if they potty in the wrong place, you didn’t take them to their potty area soon enough – plain and simple.

However, with a poop you might get some warning – sometimes sniffing; usually circling by the puppy. By paying close attention to your puppy when they are out and about in the house, you may get a heads-up.

What to do if you catch your puppy in the act of a potty training “mistake”…

If pup is peeing in the wrong place… you may be able to stop him. Move quickly towards him when he begins to pee and pick him up. Urgency is key here – you want to startle the pup just a little as you move towards them to pick them up, but you DO NOT want to scare the pup. You are redirecting your puppy to the right spot – not disciplining him. Immediately after picking him up, take him to the potty area and patiently wait. Most pups will finish there. Reward your pup with exuberance!

If the pup is pooping… let them finish. Puppies are not able to shut off a poop like they can shut off a pee. More likely than not, you’ll just create a huge mess by trying to interupt a poop.

As always, never make a big deal about cleaning up after your puppy when an accident occurs.

Housetraining at your bedtime and when you wake up

Just before you go to bed and turn out the lights, go get your puppy, no matter where she may be, asleep or not, and taxi her to the potty area. Reward and praise as always for eliminating. Put her in the crate next to your bed and retire for the night. 

First thing in the morning, take her out of the crate and taxi her to the potty area. Return her to the crate or pen unless you are able to supervise her without distraction. Feeding is usually next up. Feed your pup breakfast around the same time each morning and in the same location.

House Training When you are NOT Home

Confine your puppy to his, ‘puppy-proofed’ bathroom or an exercise pen and paper (or wee-wee pad) the entire floor. Put his bed, toys and food/water bowls there. At first there will be no rhyme or reason to where your pup eliminates. He will go every where and any where. He will also probably play with the papers, chew on them, and drag them around his little den. Most puppies do this and you just have to live with it. Don’t get upset; just accept it as life with a young puppy. The important thing is that when you get home, clean up the mess and lay down fresh papers.

While your puppy is confined to the bathroom or his pen, he is developing a habit of eliminating on paper because no matter where he goes, it will be on paper. As time goes on, he will start to show a preferred place to do his business. When this place is well established and the rest of the papers remain clean all day, then gradually reduce the area that is papered. Start removing the paper that is furthest away from his chosen location. Eventually you will only need to leave a few sheets down in that place only. If he ever misses the paper, then you’ve reduced the area too soon. Go back to papering a larger area.

Once your puppy is reliably going only on the papers you’ve left, then you can slowly and gradually move his papers to a location of your choice. Move the papers a little bit each day. If puppy misses the paper, then you’re moving too fast. Go back a few steps and start over. Don’t be discouraged if your puppy seems to be making remarkable progress and then suddenly you have to return to papering the entire area. This is normal. There will always be minor set-backs. If you stick with this procedure, your puppy will be paper trained.

House Training When You ARE Home

When you are home but can’t attend to your puppy, follow the same procedures described above. However, the more time you spend with your puppy, the quicker he will be house trained. Your objective is to take your puppy to his toilet area every time he needs to eliminate. This should be about once every 30-45 minutes; just upon waking; just after eating or drinking; and just after a play session. Provide house training taxi service to avoid unnecessary “mistakes”.

When your pup does eliminate in his toilet area, praise and reward him profusely and enthusiastically! Don’t use any type of reprimand or punishment for mistakes or accidents. Your puppy is too young to understand and it can set the house training process back drastically.

Don’t allow your puppy freedom outside of his room or pen unless you know absolutely for sure that his bladder and bowels are completely empty. When you do let him out, don’t let him out of your sight. It is a good idea to have him on leash when he is exploring your home. He can’t get into trouble if you are attached to the other end of the leash. Never, ever tie the puppy’s leash to something and leave the puppy unattended.

As your puppy becomes more reliable about using his toilet area and his bowel and bladder control develops, he can begin to spend more time outside his room or pen with you in the rest of your home. Begin by giving him access to one room at a time. Let him eat, sleep and play in this room but only when he can be supervised. When you cannot supervise him, put him back in his room or pen.

Active House Training

The most important thing you can do to make house training happen as quickly as possible is to reward and praise your puppy every time he goes in the right place. The more times he is rewarded, the quicker he will learn. Therefore it’s important that you spend as much time as possible with your puppy and give him regular and frequent access to his toilet area.

The Key To Successful House Training

Consistency and Patience. Never scold or punish your puppy for mistakes and accidents. The older your pup gets, the more he will be able to control his bladder and bowels. Eventually your pup will have enough control that he will be able to “hold it” for longer and longer periods of time. Let your puppy do this on his own time. When training is rushed, problems usually develop. Don’t forget, most puppies are not completely house trained until they are 6 months old.

Last But Not Least

Recommend this blog for Pet Tips and Happy Walk Happy Dog For Pet Sitting & Other Pet Care Services

Winter Boredom? Fun Exercises To Keep Your Dog Active & Fit During The Cold Season

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I posted the picture above to represent the winter season. In reality, I live in the South but this picture symbolizes how we deal with the cold season. There are many pet parents like myself that feel guilty when our active life with our pets decreases. Our pets get lazy, a little overweight and bored. Well, I want to help all of us out of our runt. No matter what’s going on in any of our lives, let’s make sure one of our priorities is keeping our pets happy through vested activities.
The winter season puts our dogs at risk for many illnesses. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates over half of all dogs in the United States are overweight or obese and have an increased risk of injury, disease and shortened life expectancy. Yes FiFi looks cute and cozy in their pet beds or your bed but believe me having some exercise with their favorite person will make them come alive. It will also prolong their health and lives. So what are these activities you say. I have 6 great activities you and your fur baby will enjoy.

Six Exercises Your Dog Will Love

1. Treadmills

Dog or human treadmills work well to exercise your dog. Start slowly with your dog on a leash and use high-value treats as motivation. After your dog is comfortable walking slowly, gradually increase the speed to a trot. Always stay with your dog to watch him closely. Never tether your dog to a treadmill or force him to stay on it. If your dog doesn’t seem to enjoy the treadmill, find another form of exercise.

2. Stair Climbing

If your dog is young, healthy and not prone to hip problems, throw a ball or toy up to the top of carpeted stairs for an aerobic game of fetch. Just be careful not to overdo exercising on the stairs. Stair climbing is also a quick way to develop your leg muscles quickly.

3. Train with Tricks

Try some new training techniques or reinforce any existing commands or training that need more work. Teach your dog some tricks. If your dog already knows the basic tricks, try teaching him something to help out around the house, such as picking up his toys and putting them in a basket. Most dogs like to learn something new and it’s a great way to bond with your dog.

4.Doggie Gyms

These gyms are popping up all over the country and if there’s one close to you, they offer various ways to exercise your dog. Some even have swimming pools and indoor dog parks.

5. Dog Walkers

If you really hate walking outside in the winter or don’t have enough time to exercise your dog, hire a recommended and reliable dog walker. Make sure they are from a formal company. And also make sure they are insured and bonded. Check out the services we offer : HWHD Services & Fees. This will give you an idea of what activities you would want no matter what part of the country reside.

6. Play Dates

Get together with friends who have dogs that want to exercise, play and socialize. Better yet, host a play date in your home and make some homemade dog treats for your dog to share with his friends.

Bonus:  More Winter Season Activities

Anyone live up north, the Midwest or Canada. Here are some other Great Ideas!

1. Snow Hikes

Head out for a hike in a wooded area after a fresh snowfall. It’s beautiful and serene since most people don’t take advantage of hiking trails in the winter. It’s also the perfect time to use off-leash areas where your dog can have more freedom without running into too many other dogs or people.

2. Sledding and Snowball Fights

Have your dog join you for some childhood fun in the snow.

3. Dog Parks
If your dog gets overwhelmed by crowded dog parks, try visiting in the winter when there are fewer people and dogs at the park. Hint: Pro Petsitters love an afternoon in dog parks.

4. Snowshoeing or Cross-Country Skiing

Enjoy these sports if you have a snow-loving dog.

5. Skijoring

Have you ever heard of Skijoring? Skijoring is having your dog pull you through the snow while you’re wearing skis. It sounds like a lot of fun if you have a snow-loving dog that can safely pull you.

Winter Advice To Keep Your Dog Safe During The Cold

Short-haired, small or elderly dogs may need a water-repellent coat to help keep them warm.

Trim the hair between your dog’s toes to reduce snow and ice buildup.

Dog booties can keep paws dry and free from ice, salt or de-icing chemicals

If your dog hates booties, apply Musher’s Secret wax to his paws before going outside to prevent painful ice balls from forming between his toes. Musher’s Secret also protects paws from hot pavement or beach sand in the summer.

If you don’t use booties, clean your pup’s paws with a warm wet cloth when you return home to remove any salt, de-icing chemicals or ice balls. Also wipe down their legs and belly.

Use reflective wear or clip-on LED collar lights if you walk outside after dark.

Consult with your vet if you have any concerns about exercising your dog outside when it’s cold.

Your Canine Baby A Picky Eater? Stop the Cycle and Get Him To Love Healthy Dog Food

 

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How many of us are guilty of feeding our canine babies human food? Any of us that says no, stop fibbing :)). We are all guilty of doing it from time to time . Therefore let’s take responsibility of turning our fur baby into a picky eater who has forgotten they are still a dog.

I’m a Professional Pet Sitter and have rules for all my fur babies . I love my fur babies and I love spoiling them. So yes I’m guilty of feeding them people food. I also recognize that can be harmful. And if I want my babies to be healthy a long time , I need to make sure they are eating healthy dog food. I want to help other pet owners continue to keep their pets healthy and turn that that picky dog eater into a lover of dog food.

Dogs and Dog Food

There are two kinds of dogs. The first kind lives to eat. They will devour anything you put in front of them. The second kind eats to live. They pick and choose, take longer to finish meals, and sometimes won’t finish them at all.

A dog’s size, breed, and age often dictate whether he adores food or could care less. Every Labrador who ever lived is food motivated and smaller canines, such as Maltese and Yorkies, tend to be more discriminating.

When Does Picky Eating Become a Problem?

If you’re having trouble getting your pet to eat on a regular basis, and he won’t consume his food at least once a day, your dog is a picky eater.
If your dog has always been a picky eater, there is likely no need for concern.

A picky dog that maintains a healthy weight, is alert and perky, and has a shiny coat, is much less worrisome than one who has dropped a few pounds and has a less lustrous coat. If you have a dog who is a regular eater that suddenly stops, that can be a sign something is wrong. Picky eating is one symptom.

What should be the most concern is change. Many illnesses could be why your dog refuses to eat. Even problems associated with old age, such as joint pain while walking to and from the bowl, could be the cause.
The only way to get to the root of the problem is to visit the vet.

If your dog has always been a voracious eater, and is becoming more selective, go to the vet after about 48 hours. For puppies, who have less reserves, don’t wait more than 24 hours.

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Tips for Encouraging Your Picky Eater Dog to Develop Healthier Eating Habits

Tip 1: Start early. Before you bring a dog home, come up with a feeding plan. You and your family need to sit down and decide what the rules will be. And you must all be on the same page. If mom gives food off the plate, but dad plays by the rules, it won’t work. If one family member is adamant about people food, then agree to mix in some healthy options, such as low-fat vegetables, with the kibble.

Tip 2: Don’t feed from the table. Doling out table scraps will cause your dog to eschew dry or canned food and hold out for more salivating options. It can also cause health problems, such as pancreatitis. In addition, variety or changes to the diet may cause diarrhea, as well as reinforce the inappropriate behavior of begging.

Tip 3: Keep dog food and people food separate. Never let a dog associate your food with their food. You have to keep it very separate. Otherwise they’ll start to think they can eat their food and their owner’s, too. Your dog should only eat food out of his bowl, and should never see food as coming from your plate or from something you’re preparing for yourself.

Tip 4: Stick to a schedule. Feed your puppy two to three times each day, as recommended by your vet. Gradually increase the volume of food as you decrease the frequency of feedings as your puppy matures. Your adult dog should be fed once or twice daily without leaving the food out more than a short period of time. To ensure equal portions for each serving, use a measuring cup. If you do choose to incorporate healthy people food, mix it into the kibble. Variety may be the spice of life for humans, but consistency is key for your canine.

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What If Your Start Your Dog On The Wrong Foot?

It’s never too late to start over, but if you want to transition your pup off the filet mignon and sweets, and on to strictly canine fare, it’s best to take it one step at a time.

It’s going to be tough and require 100% compliance from the entire family. Start by lessening people food and increasing dog food bit by bit every day until your pup is off human food entirely. While you are mixing foods, it’s best to use canned dog food as opposed to dry food. That way, your pet can’t separate out and just eat the people food.

If your dog refuses to eat, he is likely holding out for people food, but it’s important to hold firm. Just because he skips a few meals, don’t give in and give him what he wants. Leave the bowl out for 15 minutes, and if he’s not finished, take it away. He’ll eventually choose dog food over no food at all.

Make Sure You’re Giving Your Dog a Healthy Diet

Occasionally the problem with a picky eater may be that he doesn’t like the brand of food you’re giving him. Or it may be that he prefers canned food over dry or vice versa. A high-quality commercial brand is important for a healthy diet.
Check the ingredients, and make sure corn doesn’t top the list. Corn isn’t an ideal diet for a carnivore.
If you’ve tried three brands and both canned and dry food, it’s time to look for another reason your dog refuses to eat. Most likely, he’s holding out for table scraps.

Reserve treats for times when praise is necessary, such as in training. But remember, not all rewards have to be edible. If your dog loves attention, a scratch behind the ears is a treat.

If you find that food treats get the best results, create some boundaries.
For instance, only give a treat after a trick, and always do it in the backyard.

Also, limit treats to three a week, and put them in a separate container so that the entire family knows how many have been given.

It’s one thing if your dog knows he only gets certain things while he’s training, But it’s another if you’re sitting in the kitchen reading a magazine and give your dog a treat because he looks cute.

I hope these tips help in turning that picky canine eater into a healthy canine eater.

Til Next Time…..

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Fear Issues In Dogs

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There have been a lot of questions lately addressed to me about fear issues in pets. So I want to address the issue about fear/aggression issues in this blog. I am a member of the Pet Professional Guild and one of the issues we talk about are fear issues with animals. Here is a great write up by one of our members who is a professional dog trainer. Her name is Leah Roberts.

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Aggression always (or at least 99.9% of the time) is a fear issue. Just like when we feel threatened we have the choice between fight, flight, and freeze, so do dogs make a similar choice. They may hide behind something and shake, lunge and attack, or just freeze on the spot. In all cases, you want to address the underlying fear, not the behavior. Once you have healed the fear, the behavior will change on its own.

There are two methods of dealing with fear that work beautifully. Both are ways of associating good things with the trigger (object of fear) and replacing that with the perception that the trigger is threatening.

Open Bar/Closed Bar: As long as the trigger is in sight, chicken (or a very special yummy treat) is being shoveled into the dog’s mouth. I also like to “cheerlead” – praise in a happy tone of voice. When the trigger moves out of sight, the chicken and cheering stop.

Click the Trigger: Watch the dog’s eyes. As soon as the dog looks at the trigger, click (or use a verbal marker) and immediately hold the chicken to the side of the dog’s nose, so that his eye contact is immediately broken to take the treat. Repeat. Repeat.

In both cases, it is ultimately important to start at a distance/level of intensity where your dog notices the trigger, but is not bothered by it. If he’s already reacting, you are too close. In both cases, you are working toward getting a “yay, there’s the trigger” reaction. Not just tolerance, but happy excitement. Once you get that, you move a teensy bit closer and start again.

If even once during the therapy your dog is placed “over threshold” – where he feels threatened – you have lost your progress. So you may have to change your routine. If you normally walk your dog where there are other dogs who appear too close for comfort, walk elsewhere for a while until your dog is fine with that level of intensity. If you have your dog out in the house when visitors come and he’s upset, put him away before you have visitors in until he is happy to see them.

Best case scenario, locate a force-free trainer who uses these scientific principles of counter-conditioning. Never “correct” a reaction, because you will associate “bad things happen when that trigger is around” and lose your progress. Note that if you get a reaction, YOU made the mistake, not the dog. You’re too close.

First place to look for a force-free trainer: http://petprofessionalguild.com/

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How To Breakup A Dog Fight

As a Professional Pet Sitter and Dog Walker , one thing I run into on occasion are dogs fighting. Usually the dogs are part of the same household . I was recently conversing with two colleagues that ran into this issue as of late. It can be a scary situation and unless you understand animal behavior it may become a challenge to you.

Here is the reality, although dogfights look and sound frightening, most of them end with no damage to either party. ( Pet Owners now breathe)
You are correct in that dogs are capable of seriously injuring each other. But because of that, much of their aggression is ritualized. Arguing dogs might growl fiercely, bark, snap and show their teeth—or even bite each other’s faces or loose neck skin.

However, most dogfights, especially those between well-socialized dogs, don’t result in injury. A dogfight is usually the equivalent of a brief, heated argument with a friend or family member. There may be a lot of bravado and noise, but actual damage, aside from the odd scratch or scrape, is relatively rare.

Play Fighting or Get Down Dirty Fight

New dog parents may get a little anxious because what is deemed normal dog play can seem pretty violent. In fact, during most dogs play, they looks and sounds can resemble two dogs that are trying to kill each other. Dogs use their mouths to interact, communicate and explore their world, and a certain amount of growling, snapping and gnawing on one another is to be expected during playtime. If your dog is playing with another and you can’t tell if you’re witnessing rough play or an actual battle, watch the dogs’ bodies. Playing dogs don’t look rigid or stiff. Instead, they appear loose and bouncy, usually with wagging tails and happy faces.
If you’re not sure that both dogs are interested in playing roughly, especially if it looks as though one is picking on the other, try separating them. Pick a time when it’s safe to grab the “bully” dog by the collar or noose him with a leash, and gently lead him away. If the other dog immediately follows after the two of you, trying to engage her friend in play again, the dogs were probably fine and you can allow play to continue.

Although dogfights look and sound frightening, most of them end with no damage to either party. Because dogs are capable of seriously injuring each other, much of their aggression is ritualized. Arguing dogs might growl fiercely, bark, snap and show their teeth—or even bite each other’s faces or loose neck skin. However, most dogfights, especially those between well-socialized dogs, don’t result in injury. A dogfight is usually the equivalent of a brief, heated argument with a friend or family member. There may be a lot of spit and noise, but actual damage, aside from the odd scratch or scrape, is relatively rare.
Is It a Real Fight or Just Good Fun?

I will admit , because two of my dogs think they are the alpha dog, I let them fight it out. Hey I mean how much harm can two 10 lb dogs do to each other? When I say “That’s enough!” , magically they stop.

Normal dog play can seem pretty violent, especially to new dog parents. In fact, when some dogs play, they often look and sound like they’re trying to kill each other! Dogs use their mouths to interact, communicate and explore their world, and a certain amount of growling, snapping and gnawing on one another is to be expected during playtime. If your dog is playing with another and you can’t tell if you’re witnessing rough play or an actual battle, watch the dogs’ bodies.
Dogs that are playing don’t look rigid or stiff. Instead, they appear loose and bouncy, usually with wagging tails and happy faces.
If you’re not sure that both dogs are interested in playing roughly, especially if it looks as though one is picking on the other, try separating them. Pick a time when it’s safe to grab the “bully” dog by the collar or noose him with a leash, and gently lead him away. If the other dog immediately follows after the two of you, trying to engage her friend in play again, the dogs were probably fine and you can allow play to continue.
Rules to Prevent Dogfights

Go for Good First Impressions
If you’ve brought a new dog into your home, please see our article on Introducing Your Dog to a New Dog to learn how to do a calm, gradual introduction on neutral ground. You can also use the techniques in the article to introduce your dog to a dog who’s just visiting your home or to a new playmate who lives elsewhere.

Do Not Encourage Competition over Food and Valued Objects
Lets say you have multiple dogs in your home like I do, it’s a good policy to feed them in separate rooms or crates. Since I don’t crate, my pets are taught what room they go to during feeding time. Trust me you do not want added extra stress around feeding time. All pets deserve to eat in peace. Follow this rule to keep track of toys, chewies and other valuable resources as well. If you suspect that your dogs might fight over something, pick it up when you’re not able to supervise.
Pick up all toys, chewies and food bowls before the arrival of canine buddies to your home or unfamiliar dogs in the area. Even if your own dog doesn’t guard things from other dogs, the visitor (dog) might, so removing valued objects is always a good idea.
Be the Referee
I adore energetic dogs and if you have multiple energetic dogs in your home, you know that playtime can sometimes get out of hand. The owner is the one in charge. After all you are the one who brings home the dog food and pays the bills, so you should also be the one who decides how rough dog play can get in your household. There are many rules established in my home. You the owner should institute rules like “no wrestling in the living room” or “all dog play must happen outside.”
Other options,you can simply interrupt play when you think your dogs have become too noisy or rowdy. Teaching your dogs to reliably come when called can help you get your dogs’ attention easily. (Please see our article on Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called for training tips.) After you’ve interrupted the play session, you have a number of options:
If you’d like to let your dogs continue to play, just put them in separate areas for 30 seconds to 2 or 3 minutes so that they can cool down. Then you can let them play again. Another option is to take your dogs outside so that they can continue their play in a fenced yard, where they’ll have plenty of space to romp.
If you think it’s time for a play break, you can take the dogs for a walk or engage them in a game of fetch or tug. Encouraging other active behaviors may help them expend some of their pent-up energy.
Have some quiet time. Sometimes dogs get overly excited and just need to chill out for a while. To help your dogs cool down, give each one something to chew, like a tasty bone or a stuffed Kong toy.
Teach and Reward Calm Behavior
Being a Pet Parent isn’t always easy. Inevitably, Conflict will arise. Many arguments between dogs in the same household happen.Teach your dogs to remain calm during outings or other situations can prevent the excitement from turning into agitation. Good training is key. You can teach your dogs to sit or lie down and stay instead of rushing up to greet visitors. You can teach your dogs to wait for permission to walk through doorways, exit cars or pass through gates. (Instead of using a single word to release all of your dogs at the same time, release each one separately by saying her name.) You can teach your dogs to settle on a mat in many situations—whenever they get too rambunctious. All of these skills help dogs learn to control their impulses and can keep them from starting arguments with each other.

Breaking Up a Fight
How to Stop a Scuffle between Two Dogs
Sometimes, despite your best efforts to monitor their interactions, dogs get into fights. Luckily, most fights last less than a few seconds, and you can often interrupt them by simply shouting at the dogs. If the fight continues, however, you should be prepared to physically separate them.
Breaking up a dogfight can be dangerous. To reduce the likelihood of injury to all parties, follow the guidelines below.
General Advice
Have a plan. Decide in advance exactly what you’ll do if a fight happens. If you live with multiple dogs and other people, make sure everyone living in your home knows about the plan.
Don’t panic. Remember that most dogfights are noisy but harmless. If you stay calm, you’ll be able to separate two fighting dogs more safely and efficiently.
DO NOT grab your dog by the collar if she starts to fight with another dog. It seems like the natural thing to do, but it’s a bad idea. Your dog might whip around to bite you. This kind of bite, called redirected aggression, is like a reflex. The dog simply reacts to the feeling of being grabbed and bites without thinking. Many pet parents get bitten this way—even when their dogs haven’t shown any signs of aggression in the past. Another reason to avoid grabbing your dog’s collar is that it puts your hands way too close to the action! You might be on the receiving end of a bite that was intended for your dog.
Plan A: Startle the Dogs or Use a Barrier
Before you physically separate two fighting dogs, try these methods:
A sudden, loud sound will often interrupt a fight. Clap, yell and stomp your feet. If you have two metal bowls, bang them together near the dogs’ heads. You can also purchase a small air horn and keep that handy. Put it in your back pocket before taking your dog somewhere to play with other dogs. If you have multiple dogs who get into scuffles, keep your air horn in an easily accessible place. If a startling noise works to stop a fight, the noise is effective almost immediately. If your noisemaking doesn’t stop the fight within about three seconds, try another method.
If there’s a hose or water bowl handy, you can try spraying the dogs with water or dumping the bowl of water on their heads.
Use a citronella spray, like SprayShield™ or Direct Stop®. Aim for the fighting dogs’ noses. If you walk your dog in an area where you may encounter loose dogs, it’s wise to carry citronella spray with you. If an aggressive dog approaches, spraying the deterrent in his direction may stop him in his tracks and prevent a fight. If he attacks, spraying the deterrent on or near his nose may break up the fight.
Try putting something between the fighting dogs. A large, flat, opaque object, like a piece of plywood, is ideal because it both separates the dogs and blocks their view of each other. If such an object isn’t available, you can make do with a baby gate, a trash can or folded lawn chair. Closing a door between the dogs can also break up a fight. Throwing a large blanket over both dogs is another option. The covered dogs may stop fighting if they can no longer see each other.
Plan B: Physically Separate the Dogs
If other methods don’t work or aren’t possible, it’s time for Plan B. If you’re wearing pants and boots or shoes, use your lower body instead of your hands to break up the fight. If they’re covered, your legs and your feet are much more protected than your hands, and your legs are the strongest part of your body.
If you feel that it’s necessary to grab the dogs, use this method:
1. You and a helper or the other dog’s pet parent should approach the dogs together. Try to separate them at the same time.
2. Take hold of your dog’s back legs at the very top, just under her hips, right where her legs connect to her body. (Avoid grabbing her lower legs. If grab a dog’s legs at the knees, her ankles or her paws, you can cause serious injury.)
3. Like you’d lift a wheelbarrow, lift your dog’s back end so that her back legs come off of the ground. Then move backwards, away from the other dog. As soon as you’re a few steps away, do a 180-degree turn, spinning your dog around so that she’s facing the opposite direction and can no longer see other dog.
The Aftermath
After the fight stops, immediately separate the dogs. Don’t give them another chance to fight. It’s important to make sure that they can’t see each other. If necessary, take one or both dogs into another room or area. If the dogs are friends and you’ve interrupted a minor squabble, keep them apart until they calm down.

The worst case scenario is that you are alone when a serious fight breaks out. There are a couple things that you must keep in mind:
Keep your cool you have a job to do.
Do not waste time screaming at the dogs. It hardly ever works.
Your goal is still the same; you must break up the fight without getting hurt.
Go get a leash (allow the fight to continue while you do this).
Dogs are almost always locked onto one another. Walk up and loop the leash around the back loin of the dog by either threading the leash through the handle or use the clip. I prefer the thread method.
Now slowly back away and drag the dog to a fence or to an object that you can tie the leash to. By doing this, you effectively create an anchor for one of the dogs.
Then walk around and grab the back legs of the second dog and drag it away from the dog that is tied up. Remember to turn and circle as they release.
Drag the dog into a dog pen or another room before you release the back legs.
Go back and take the dog off the fence and put him or her into a dog kennel.
Sit down and have a stiff drink (or two).
People talk about using cattle prods or shock collars to break up 2 pets that fight. I can tell you that many times this is not going to work. The electric cattle prod or electric collar will only put the dogs into higher fight drive. When they are shocked they will turn and bite the prod, or when they are shocked they will think the other dog is causing the pain and they will fight harder. An electric collar is best used in conditioning training, but not during an actual dogfight.

mymegaedog

Author’s Note: To my wonderful readers, please consider rescue for your next pet. They don’t all have stories like this, but they all have stories.

Today is a good day, you are merely bored today. You walk in a circle around the post until your rope gets tangled and causes the chain embedded in your neck to tighten. When the pain of metal on open flesh becomes unbearable you stop. You lay down. Your pads are worn smooth from the endless hours of pacing on hard concrete, and they are achy and cracked. Your nails are still sore from the clipping last week when the people cut them down, down, past the quick, cutting skin and nail as one. At least there is no clicking noise now. When you click, the people come.

Your mouth is dry and swollen and your nose is so raw you cannot even lick it…

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