Wednesday, December 30, 2009
In the past I have focused quite hard on all of the dogs that I didn't or couldn't save and it drove me down to a very dark place indeed. As of late, I have tried to focus on the ones that I have saved. The ones that are in their happy forever homes right now as I type this. The ones that if my life hadn't bumped into theirs, might not be of this earth anymore. So for the dogs saved, I celebrate. I will of course always continue to morn the fallen, but their sacrifice only gives me more courage, more stamina and more passion.
Things cannot go on as they are. Euthanasia cannot continue to be our main population control device. Our children must cease to be entertained by the cruelty of the circus, we must look long and hard at what or WHO we are eating, and we must not allow convicted dog fighters back into our hearts.
As a collective we have a long way to go, but I see bright spots in the tunnel. I hear every day from people trying to do the right thing. I hope that this decade will be one of understanding and compassion. A decade of respect for ALL living creatures big and small. Each and every one of them having the right to live out their lives in safety and in health.
A wise man once said: The greatness of a nation and its morals, can be judged by the way its animals are treated. (Gandhi)
Just something to think about as you make those annual resolutions come midnight.
And remember, if you only change ONE person, open ONE mind or soften ONE heart this year, count is as a year well spent. Do not allow your self to become focused on the millions you didn't change...there's always next year!
Have a Happy-yappy humane New Year!
The Dog Diva
Monday, December 28, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Remember those less fortunate than your Buddy or Daisy and donate food, toys, treats, cleaning supplies, bedding or time to your local Animal Shelter.
I wish all of you a very Happy-Yappy Christmas!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Chico the reformed humper.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
OK enough with the psychology lessons....the problem is much simpler than that: How to get people to open their minds and perhaps more importantly their hearts?
Some people respond to hard numbers and facts. So here goes....For every human born there are 13 dogs and 65 cats. That means for every pet to have a home EACH person would have to have 13 dogs and 65 cats. Not just every household or family but every individual. One pair of cats and their offspring can create up to 420,000 kittens in just 7 years. Millions of adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized every year in this country alone, while puppy mills and stores make millions of dollars make MORE dogs.
Some people learn through fear: Neutering your male dog will save him from testicular/prostate cancer later in life. A spayed female cannot get ovarian cancer. (Did I mention that cancer is the number ONE killer of dogs?) Spaying and neutering cuts down on aggression. Neutered males seldom mark their territories and spayed females wont bleed all over your rug.
Then there are the folks out there who respond to passion. I see good dogs die every day. Dogs who've never done anything wrong in their lives, dogs that some one at one time had promised to take care of, dogs with love, fear and uncertainty in their eyes. Dogs that willingly walk back to the euthanasia room, happy to be out of their kennel, not knowing these are their final moments on earth. How anyone could justify purchasing a dog, or breeding a dog when these wonderful companions are killed every day, is just beyond me. It just doesn't fit in any of my boxes or in my heart.
Perhaps I am too passionate about my work, and maybe I overwhelm people with my fervor.
Or it may be that people build a wall of guilt, telling themselves that the one litter they let their cat have really didn't take the homes of 7 shelter pets, who were then put to death when their time was up.
Whatever it is, guilt, indifference or plain old stubbornness...it seems one simply cannot teach compassion.
Diane AKA The Dog Diva
Monday, December 7, 2009
No one (well most of us anyway) likes going over to 'that friends' house all dressed up, only to have our panty hoes ripped or dress shirts paw stained, all while 'that friend' clamors (always too late) to drag the dog away to confinement, while muttering something about how she just doesn't know why he does that and how sorry she is.
This whole ordeal is just not necessary.
Jumping up is an attention seeking behavior, therefore the way to break a dog of this is to withdraw ALL attention from them; even negative.
Some people will suggest pushing the dog off, saying NO or kneeing the dog in the chest. Even though all of this is "bad" attention it is still attention none the less.
(I know we all remember that kid from our elementary school who would act out just so he could see his name written on the board!) Thus, 'bad' attention is still......well.....attention, and therefore rewarding.
When your dog jumps up on you, simply cross your arms, turn and look away and say OFF! If your dog comes around to the other side of you and tries again, turn away once more and repeat until your dog has all four paws on the ground. Once this occurs you may praise your dog lavishly. If your dog becomes exited by this attention and jumps up again, simply repeat the off procedure once more. It wont take your dog long to figure out that he receives attention while on the ground and gets ignored in the air.
Off is an instructive reprimand and is better in this case because it tells the dog what to do, rather than just letting them know you are displeased.
Have guests coming over? Make sure they know the OFF rules so they don't un-do your training with a single "good doggy" while Fido has his paws on their shoulders.
This system works; period. I have used it on very severe cases and with time and consistency, OFF always wins out.
So good luck and as always, happy training!
Friday, December 4, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Today we will be discussing: Handling.
Handling is very important for all dogs. You can start this process whether you have a puppy or a senior. It's never too early or too late to start!
Handling is an especially important routine because all dogs will need their nails trimmed, their hair combed, teeth brushed and ears cleaned. Do NOT wait until these things actually need to be done to try them! Start getting your dog prepared today!
Get your dog used to having all parts of his or her body touched. Always be gentle and praise them verbally and with yummy treats for good behavior.
Toe nail clipping can make even the most seasoned dog owner cringe; and anyone who's ever "quicked" a dog knows why!
Start small by clipping just the tip of the toe nails. Do just one or two at a time, followed by praise, treats and/or play time. In other words, associate the event with something enjoyable for your dog.
If your dog has clear nails...lucky you! You will be able to see the quick (vein) in the nail, so you shouldn't have trouble avoiding it. For the rest of us, the best advice is to go slow and take a little at a time. Always have styptic powder close at hand to stop the bleeding in case of an accident. Quicks can bleed without stopping for quite some time without this.
Follow the same rules for teeth brushing and ear cleaning. Slow and patient with lots of "Good Dogs!"
You can practice handling whenever your dog is near you. Touch your dogs feet, look in their ears and open their mouths whenever you get a chance.
If you do this enough your dog will become desensitized to the process.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
DO NOTHING: Behaviorist Sue Sternberg developed this idea, and it really works! All that is required of you is that you do...well...not much. Sit in a small quiet room and read a book or a magazine; or get some work done on your computer. All while paying peripheral attention to your dog. If your dog nudges you, barks, whines, paws, jumps or tries to get your attention in any other way, ignore them completely. (This may take some time at first.) When your dog finally settles down, hand them a treat and say GOOD BOY! (Or girl!) If you are thinking that this will in turn send your dog running to you in hopes of attention, well, you're right. But what you must do is ignore them once more. Again, after they settle, give them another treat and a GOOD DOG. Repeat. Remember to continue to reward your dog the longer they remain calm and quiet.
FOOD: You may actually be feeding your dog the crazies! Many dog show ADHD like behaviors when they eat a poor diet. If you can't pronounce all of the ingredients in your dogs food, don't feed it to them!
LAVENDER: A few drops of lavender essential oil between your dogs shoulder blades or a spritz on a bandanna around their neck can have calming effects. Even if this doesn't work for you, your dog will smell great!
T-SHIRTS: A snug fitting shirt can help sooth and calm dogs. (Kind of like a hug!)
Friday, November 20, 2009
Shadie is a 7 year old terrier mix available for adoption from the SPCA of Central Florida. She'd love to go home with you for the holidays!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
OK, all kidding aside, coprophagia is a serious problem that can either be behavioral or biological.
Some dogs may consume feces out of pure boredom. If this is the case, then please, buy your dog a KONG toy!
You must catch your dog in the act to prevent this from happening in the future, but the best solution is to pick up all droppings immediately.
Feces contain undigested and semi-digested material which can provide needed nutrients for a dog with a specific nutritional deficiency.
It is normal for nursing mothers to consume the feces of their puppies in order to keep the den clean and to prevent predators from picking up their scent.
Always make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and has lots of different things around to stimulate his mind. If these remedies do not work, your dog may have a vitamin B or K deficiency. If this is the case, your vet can recommend supplements for your dog to help remedy this.
Simple aversion therapy can also be done by letting the dog approach the feces while on leash. The second your dog begins to sniff the feces, say NO LEAVE IT and continue walking past the pile. Make sure to praise your dog every time during this exercise.
And last but not least....brush your dogs teeth! :)
Monday, November 9, 2009
Wear appropriate attire! Closed toed shoes, long pants and no dangly jewelry! Equip yourself with a training pouch, and fill it will lots of different yummy treats.
Don't get distracted! Stay to the task at hand!
Determine where the session will be held. Find a place with as little distractions as possible to start.
Keep things consistent!
Dogs love a leader! Lead through a firm voice and straight body posture.
Keep body language and facial expressions appropriate.
Pay close attention to your dogs body language. Is their attention waning? Are they getting frustrated?
Prior to the training session, let your dog run a bit and relive themselves. This will help them focus.
After training is over, reward you dog with some free time. I like to call this "belly rub time!"
Don't over do it! A session should not be much longer than about 20 minutes, remember, school is tough!
Focus on new commands, but intersperse with commands your dog already knows.
Always end the session on a positive note! This is extremely important. If you have been working and working on a command and suddenly the dogs does it right, praise them like crazy, give them a 'jackpot' of treats and stop! If you are working on a more difficult command and the dog (and you) are becoming frustrated, have the dog preform a simpler task in order to be rewarded, then end the training session.
Keep written records of your dogs progress. This way you will never forget where you left off!
Good Luck and Happy Training!
Friday, November 6, 2009
Come back next time when we go over pointers for a positive training session!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
This will take time! So be ready to invest in it. There is nothing worse than being drug around like a rag doll every time you take Fido for his evening walk. It's tiresome, painful and let's face it, a little embarrassing. Unfortunately, for many dogs, the solution equals no more walks.
This is just not fair, nor is it healthy for either human or K9. So let's tackle this problem head on.
First off, make sure you have the correct equipment. A 4-6 foot nylon lead and simple nylon buckle or snap collar. NO PINCH COLLARS OR CHOKER CHAINS! The only other acceptable apparatus would be a Gentle Leader Easy Harness. This is NOT a typical harness with the hook on the back that actually encourages pulling, but instead one that goes around the dogs' front legs and has a sliding ring at the chest. This will help greatly for 'problem pullers'.
The ultimate goal of wait/heel is for the dog to walk at your pace, and stop when you do. A properly executed heel places the dog on your left side. Use the dogs name plus the command to begin; "Fluffy, Wait."
If the dog runs ahead and pulls at the lead, stop walking and repeat the command. As soon as the leash becomes slack, take another step. Repeat. Yes it is certainly possible that you will only get to take one step at a time, but keep at it. Before you know it you will be on to two, then three and so on. Eventually the dog will learn that pulling gets them nowhere fast.
(Cheat sheet: Carry tasty treats in your pocket and offer them to your dog when they walk beside you. This will help encourage them to stay close!)
After you and your dog master this, adding in the automatic sit will seem like a day at the park! The goal here is to have your dog sit every time you come to a stop. This behavior comes from simple repetition. Walk stop sit walk stop sit etc... you'll be surprised at how fast your dog learns this especially when a food reward is offered for the sit part!
If you've made it this far, congratulations! You have a very well behaved pooch! However, people never seem fully amused or satisfied with this and insist that the dog learn other people pleasing behaviors such as "gimme 5" Roll over or crawl....so here we go!
"Gimme 5", "Shake" or "paw" is probably the number one favorite trick that people teach their dogs. It has come to a point where it seems almost as expected of them as sit! Despite being immensely popular and easy to train there are some very important rules that go along with teaching this trick to your dog.
Your dog MUST learn sit, down and stay BEFORE beginning this trick! This is more important than is sounds. Just ask anyone who taught sit, then shake and then attempted down. You've just made a lot more work for yourself trust me! Besides that, down is a submissive behavior and shake a more dominant one. You should always teach the submissive behaviors first.
To train your dog to offer up their paw, place them in a sit position and take one of their front paws in your had and say "gimme 5!" (Or shake or paw) Then "Good!" and give them a tasty treat. Repeat. eventually your dog will offer their paw in exchange for a treat, or a pat on the head.
Once your dog learns this it is important to vary their routine! Don't get caught in a rut. (Sit paw down, sit paw down...) as your dog will go on auto pilot. Keep them thinking by varying their behaviors. Also important is to never reward a paw you didn't ask for!
"Crawl" is another easy one. Have your dog lie down, then hold a treat on the ground just out of their reach. Say Craaaaawl......! Your dog will most likely scoot their body on the floor to get the treat. Repeat, gradually increasing the distance you ask them to crawl.
Roll over is another immensely popular trick, but it's not the easiest, nor is it for every dog. Take into consideration your dogs shape, age and size. For example, Dachshunds should never learn this behavior as they have very fragile backs. It may be hazardous for an older or large dog as well. If your dog is young, healthy and strong enough to attempt this, then you may proceed.
Place your dog in a down position and lead their head over their shoulder with a treat. (Most dogs will 'pick a side' when lying down, so make sure to go with that and not fight it.) At first you may only succeed in getting them on their sides, but with enough work and patience, you will soon get them on their backs and then the rest of the way over.
Please note that this is an incredibly submissive behavior and extremely shy or nervous dogs may refuse to preform it. That's OK, don't force them.
Join me next time when we cover corrections, modifications, releases and praise!
Monday, November 2, 2009
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Friday, October 30, 2009
Bandit, adopted from the SPCA at age 7.
Bandit is such a good sport!
Buddy, an SPCA therapy dog, is ready for a night on the town!
Jackson, an SPCA Pet Visitation dog, poses for Mickey!
Kepa, adopted from Orange County Animal Services.
Yes, that is our good sport Bandit dressed in Disney Princess attire!
Wanda the pumpkin. Adopted by her heart worm foster mom!
Have a happy and safe Halloween and remember to keep the candy for yourselves! No chocolate for Fido!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Before starting your session, make sure that the dog has had some play time and does not need to use the rest room! Next, get your face and voice in check. After thousands of years of domestication, dogs have become experts on human emotions so make sure you face and voice fit the situation. The three main voices are as follows: Command Voice, Correction Voice and Praise Voice. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people using a high soft pitch tone when ASKING a dog to sit for them. Guess what? It didn't work so well! We call these behaviors commands for a reason and we are TELLING the dog what to do not asking them. This voice should be firm and some what low. (Sometimes I call it the "mom" or "wife" tone...you know the one, the one that makes you feel compelled to complete whatever action is being 'requested' of you!) During this time your face should remain flat.
For your correction voice it is important to remember that there is no need to yell. Dogs can hear really well. They may not act like they hear you but they do, it's called selective hearing. ;)
I make a 'buzzer' type noise and say "EH EH!" I find that this generally stops them in their tracks pretty well. They know they've done something they were not supposed to. Your face should look stern and serious.
The praise voice is the one we all know and love. It's the high pitched baby talk that just seems to spring involuntarily from our lips when we see a K9 cutie. The more excited you can get, the more reinforcing the praise will be. Make sure you face is light and happy. (On a side note, dogs know when you're fooling them, so keep it genuine!)
Commands can be divided into 5 categories; direction, correction, modification, release and praise. Direction commands tell the dog what to do, correction commands tell the dog to discontinue specific behaviors, modifications are qualitative and instruct a dog HOW to preform a task, release words allow a dog to discontinue a behavior after successfully completing it and praise is always given when a command is followed.
OK, let's start with the basics: Sit, Down and stay. After your dog learns these you can move on to more challenging behaviors and 'fun' tricks.
SIT: The dog sits on his or her bottom with head held erect and front legs and paws straight.
To lure your dog into this position, allow them to sniff a yummy treat that you are holding in your hand. Slowly move the treat back and over their heads. The dog should follow the treat back, ending up in a sit. This works! There is NO need to physically manipulate the dog into any position! If the dog backs up when you try this, simply find a wall or corner to work with so that the dog wont have anywhere to go. Sometimes dog will try to jump up for the treat, if this happens you are most likely holding the treat too high. Ty holding it closer to the dogs head. Sit is the simplest of tasks and can be learned in as little as five to ten minutes!
Sit is the 'gateway' command that leads to all others. After your dog has mastered sit, they can now learn stay and down.
Let's start with stay. To teach your dog stay, first place them in the sit position. This command will present a new challenge for your dog, as up until now he or she has been immediately rewarded after preforming the sit behavior. Reduce distractions during the initial training to help your dog focus, gradually adding them back in as your dog improves.
Use the word stay as long as the hand signal. (A flat hand held outward in front of the body.) Wait only a few seconds before rewarding your dog. This will be a slow process! Take your time and do it right. Little by little you can start to increase time and distance. If your dog breaks their stay, say NO or EH EH and start over. You may use a release command of "Alright" to tell your dog when the stay is over, and allow them to come receive their reward.
Down: All four feet/legs are on the ground along with the stomach, while the head is held erect.
Again, as with sit, there will be no need to physically move your dog into this position. We will be using the lure method once more.
Have your dog sit for you, then let them smell a yummy treat that is held in your hand. Take the treat and move it slowly down from the dogs nose to their front paws and then out, away from their bodies. (Like a giant L). The dog should follow the treat all the way down to the floor. When the do, reward them with the treat from your hand.
Sometimes a dog will lift their rear ends off the ground in order to get to the treat. If this happens slow down even further and get them super focused on the treat in your hand. You may also try to lure them under a bridge that you make with your leg, by squatting and extending one leg out.
Another funny thing these furry comedians do is to stretch our there necks as far as possible in a vain attempt to reach the treat, while refusing to leave their sit position. It's as if they just can't figure out how to reach that yummy treat! When this happens I simply break the treat up into the tiniest pieces possible and reward the dog for each step. Example: The dog stretches his neck toward the treat. OK, he's trying, so I'll give him a little something. However, next time, he will have to give me a little more to receive a reward. Let's say he moves one paw out on his next try. Great! He can have another little piece of treat. This continues until he gets all the way into a down position. By rewarding him little by little on the way, you encourage your dog to keep trying not give up!
After down is mastered you can begin work on down-stay. This is much more difficult for a dog than sit-stay. A down-stay is a very submissive and vulnerable position for a dog, so be patient and go slow. This is taught in the same way as sit stay was.
Come back next time for Heel/Wait with automatic sit and then it's on to the 'fun stuff'!
Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
It is important to remember that barking is a dogs natural reaction to changes in their environment. Please allow your dog to indulge in a few reasonable barks before redirecting their attention. What is reasonable you ask? Well, a few barks at strangers passing by, other animals or loud noises are pretty common for most dogs. And what constitutes as not reasonable? That's simple, when it annoys your neighbors.
So what to do if your dog is an "unreasonable" barker? First you must answer the question: Why is your dog barking? Some dogs bark out of sheer boredom. The answer could be as simple as a change of scenery for the dog, or a few puzzle toys left out or hidden to keep Fido busy while you're gone.
If your dog seems to bark at everything they hear or see, sensory isolation might be the cure. Put your dog in a kitchen, laundry room or bathroom (with little or no windows, and not along a common wall,) along with their crate or bed. Try turning on some classical music before heading out to help muffle outside noises.
(Remember to always confine your dog to a room using a baby gate, and not a closed door, so that your dog does not feel trapped and panic.)
For more severe barking problems the owner must do a bit of sleuthing. Leave the house as usual, then sneak back and watch the dog from a hidden spot. When the dog begins to bark, make a brief and distracting noise to change the dogs point of attention. Repeat if and when the dogs barks again. Wait for the dog to settle, then leave.
If the this method does not work, the owner may also try entering the house with a loud NO BARK every time leaving calmly again. Repeat. Please make sure you have the patience this method requires before attempting to carry it out!
If your dog barks while you are at home, you may have a bossy dog! If you have a bossy dog (BARK let me out! BARK I want dinner! BARK let me in! etc...) then your task is relatively simple. Let your dog know that they are not the boss, YOU are! Make your dog work for everything they want. Your dog should sit (or preform another behavior from their repertoire) before receiving anything form you.
If your dog barks while you are at home, but is not a bossy dog, you may have a suspicious dog. These noisy pups take a bit more work and commitment. As odd as this might seem, the way to quite these pooches is to actually teach them to 'speak' on command. At the same time, teaching them to be "quiet" on command as well. In other words, you name the behavior in order to control it.
Your first task is to find something that triggers the barking. For example, if your dog barks when some one knocks on the door, he will most likely be fooled (most dogs are) by a knocking on almost any hard surface. Knock a few times and when he barks say "speak speak!" and tell him he is a good dog. Then show him a tasty treat to distract him while saying "quiet" and asking him to sit to receive his reward. Repeat. When your dog has mastered this, congratulations! You have now shifted your dogs focus from the distraction to you!
I recommend setting up some trial runs with friends and neighbors. Go slow and be patient, and as always, try, try again.
It is also important to remember to allow your dog their 'acceptable' barks; About 3-5 should be sufficient, before asking them to be quiet.
Remember that barking is a normal response for all dogs to a stimulus in their environment. You should never leave an excessive barker outside un-attended. (For your neighbors sake!)
In addition, did you know that barking can relive tension in dogs? It also drives away strangers and serves as a way of communication for the species. Most dog owners want their dogs to bark if they hear some one at the window, or see a person enter the yard. Dogs are natural warning devices, however it is important that they know when to stop, and do so when asked.
Hopefully with these helpful hints and tips you and your dog can live in world of civilized conversations!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Dogs generally have no issues what-so-ever adjusting to life with baby; all it takes is a little bit of training, which should start right after that important phone call to the soon to be grandparents.
Introducing baby, the newest pack member, actually starts long before the baby is actually born. First and foremost, if your dog is not yet properly obedience trained, (shame on you!) now is the time to do it! Your dog must always comply with your verbal commands, and curb any play biting or mouthing behavior right away. Do you have any friends or relatives with young infants in the house? Bring your dog over for a 'sniff' date. Bring plenty of extra yummy and special treats such as freeze dried liver, chicken or beef hot dogs. Keep your dog on a leash, and make sure to keep all dog/baby interactions completely positive! Offer treats, toys and love whenever your dog is near a baby and behaving. If your dog does not behave, simply remove him or her from the room in a calm and quiet manner and try again later.
Begin child proofing your dog by handling him or her all over. Your child will most likely pull on doggy's tail and ears, and pinch, poke and push! Get your dog ready now! Always praise and give treats to your dog while going through these exercises. Make sure that hands are welcome in and around your dog's food bowl. Do this by dropping hand fulls of dinner one at a time into the bowl as your dog eats.
Get your dog accustomed to the nursery. Teach your dog to lie down quietly in the baby's room, and praise them lavishly for doing so! (You may want to purchase a special mat for them in that room so they know exactly where they are allowed to be.)
Make sure you have a plan for you dog for when you have to go to the hospital. Preferably one that keeps the dog in the home, where there will be the least amount of change to the dog's routine.
After baby is born, but about a day before you come home from the hospital, send some one to the house with on of baby's blankets. Allow the dog to sniff the blanket thoroughly but do NOT allow him or her to play with it! Your dog will remember the scent and recognize your baby when you bring them home. When you and your baby do arrive home, have some one other than yourself carry baby and greet your dog as you normally would. Put your dog on a leash for the first few encounters with the baby, but allow your dog to sniff the baby. Always pair these interactions with yummy treats and lots of praise.
Your dog will start to associate the baby's presence with good and positive feelings. If the dog does do something inappropriate, calmly remove yourself and the baby and try again later.
Remember to ALWAYS praise your dog for ALL appropriate behavior, including when they are doing NOTHING at all! Be patient and persistent. Remember to always remain calm, if you get excited, so might your dog!
Do NOT exclude or ignore your dog. This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make, and it is unfortunately sometimes recommended by the family doctor! Your dog and your baby must have the opportunity to bond, so as long as your dog is behaving, allow him or her to be a part of all baby activities. Give your dog a treat when the baby cries, when you change the baby and when you feed the baby. You will find your dog will start looking forward to these activities, and even enjoy 'helping' with them.
Remember to ALWAYS monitor all interactions between your dog and your child. Period.
This all may take time so be patient and consistent throughout the process and your dog will adjust to the new situation.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Strains are sometimes put on the relationship when human expectations differ from reality. One must remember that any dog has the potential to become an ideal companion under the right circumstances. You must ask yourself what those circumstances might be, and then begin to implement them.
It is important to remember to build your bond with your new dog and always LOVE the dog you HAVE not the one one you wish you did! Once your pet enters your home it becomes your responsibility to deal with their behavior, whatever it may be. If the dog is yours, so then is the responsibility.
When looking for a new furry family member, ask yourself these simple questions: What do you want out of your relationship with your dog? What do you see you and your dog doing together? And are you ready for the responsibility?
Dogs, like us, are a combination of nature and nurture. Every dog has a behavior potential that can be shaped by consistent and positive training. Dogs are incredibly resilient; they can begin to adjust to a new life TODAY, no matter what their past might have held. Adjustment periods can be tough, but the end result is always worth the effort!
If your dog just isn't meeting your expectations.....adjust them! Make it a point to seriously tackle each problem. Begin obedience classes and have the whole family participate. Learn to shape what is desired rather than punish what is not. Obedience training has a settling effect on a dog and gives you an opportunity to bond and re-direct focus. Take time to touch your new dog all over. (Feet, ears, teeth, tail, paws...) This will make trips to the groomer and veterinarian easier for everyone! Also do this while your new dog eats to help prevent any food aggression issues.
If you are bringing your new friend into a household with a resident dog, make sure to introduce the two on neutral ground. Go for a walk! Do NOT walk he dogs right up to one another nose to nose, a side by side walk will encourage companionship and tire them out! When the get back home they will be too pooped to start any trouble.
Remember to dog-proof your home. (Especially important with puppies!) Walk around your house and yard and move anything you do not want the dog to get a hold of. If you do not want your new dog in certain rooms of the house, purchase baby gates to block their way. Remember it is YOUR responsibility to keep your dog away from things you do not want destroyed or that might be harmful to them.
If you will be crate training your dog, make sure to purchase a crate that is just large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around in; no more, no less. If you are buying a crate for your puppy to grow into, you can block off part of it with cement blocks. Stainless steel water and food bowls are recommended as they can not be torn up and ingested. Also, be sure to look for durable bedding; hard to chew up and easy to clean will make your life much easier!
You will want to purchase a simple 4-6 foot nylon leash with collar. No flexi-leads, harnesses or pinch collars will be necessary with proper training. You'll want some toys as well. Get a nice variety and then rotate them every month so your dog doesn't get bored. KONG toys are wonderful for dogs who chew and can be stuffed with anything from peanut butter and cream cheese to wet food and bananas! (You can freeze them to keep your pooch busy for a longer period of time!) Now your job will be to teach your dog what is appropriate to chew on vs. what isn't. (ex: the TV remote, your shoes and your sofa!)
Select a high quality food with little or no preservatives. If you can't pronounce most if not all of the ingredients, don't buy it! If your new dog has been eating a different food than the one you plan on feeding them, remember to gradually mix the new food in with the old, then wean them off the old and onto the new. A drastic change in diet can really upset a dogs stomach. Don't allow your new dog to become a picky eater! Feed them their food at set times. When they are hungry, they'll eat! Do not leave food down for longer that 20 minutes; after that pick it up. Also, refrain from 'free feeding' your dog. It can lead to obesity and makes it difficult for you to monitor their eating habits.
Make an appointment for your new dog at your veterinarian about two weeks after they've joined your household.
Make sure the entire family understands the 'doggy' rules and that there is a clear consensus of what behaviors are to be reinforced and which ones will not.
If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it's because it is! But life with out dogs is not much of a life at all......(in my opinion anyway!)
Friday, October 9, 2009
I'm going to start of this section with some numbers: 28,955, 81.9, 1,235 and 85.5. What do these mean? Let me tell you; every year the American Temperament Test is given to thousands of dogs representing every breed imaginable. Last year they tested a total of 28,955 dogs. The dogs go through a series of tests that measure temperament, disposition and more. The average score for all breeds (out of 100) was 81.9. 1,235 of the dogs tested were American Pit Bull Terriers or American Staffordshire Terriers; their average score was 85.5, HIGHER than the over all combined average! (This score also places them above the ever popular Golden Retriever.) You can check out how your favorite breed tested (including mixed breeds) by going to http://www.atts.org/
As promised, we will now discuss proper training techniques for you and your pit bull.
First lets go over positive vs. negative re-enforcement and punishment. Let's try not to think of positive equating to good and negative to bad; instead think of them as + and - signs. Positive means that you are adding something to the dogs environment while negative means that you are taking something away.
I train using positive re-enforcement. I simply reward desired behavior and ignore any un-desired ones. Simple as that. Remember it is very important to tell you dog when he/she is doing something RIGHT, even if it's nothing at all. We tend to spend a lot of time telling our doggies what they CAN'T do and not enough time letting them know what is acceptable.
There is a lot of talk out there about establishing yourself as the 'dominant' or 'alpha' in your house hold, and while this is true, you do NOT have to challenge or force your dog into submission in any way to achieve this status. There is a popular TV personality, who will remain nameless, who often preforms 'alpha roll-overs' on dogs. Many times this person ends up getting bit by the dog, which I assume is why there is a "Do not attempt this at home" warning at the beginning of each episode.
There is actually a very simple and non-confrontational way to establish leadership in a house hold, and it's called the Nothing in Life is Free method. First let me start by saying that dogs are natural born followers, not leaders. (If every dog were born to lead, they would never survive in a pack society.) However, that being said, they need a leader and they need structure, therefore if a clear 'alpha' is not established they will reluctantly take on the role.
The Nothing in Life is Free method bridges the gap between human and K9 communication, and it is quite simplistic. Basically, every time your dog wants anything, they must first 'work' for you. Ex: If you dog wants to go outside, he/she must first sit and wait while you open the door and then release them to go out side. This must be done for everything including going for walks, getting treats, eating dinner, playing and even before receiving affection. It may not seem like a big deal when your dog brings you a toy and you in turn begin to play with him/her, but what really took place was your dog demanded that you play with them at that moment and.....you did. So, they must be in charge right?
Other things you can do when dealing with a more severe case, include mixing your dogs food with your hands. This will leave your scent on the food, and in dog world, leaders eat first. You can also buy two bowls that look exactly alike. One for the dog to use and one for you. Put some cereal in the clean bowl and have your dog sit and watch you while you eat it. Then give your dog their bowl with the dog food in it. What your dog just saw was you eating first and it sends a clear message. If a dog knows who the pack leader is, he can relax; being a leader is stressful on dogs, always having to worry about resources and protection! Whew! They are much happier leaving those hard jobs to some one else, namely, you.So, after reading all of this, you wonder: "What can I do?" Well, the easiest thing you can do is to spread the word by passing all 6 blogs around to all of your friends, neighbors and relatives and encouraging them to do the same. If you are the proud parent of a pit bull, I would highly recommend having your dog CGC certified. The CGC (Canine Good Citizen) is a nationally recognized certificate issued by the AKC. (American Kennel Club) It is a 10 item basic temperament/obedience test that takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. You can go to the AKC's web site to search for evaluators/trainers in your area, and to view the items on the test. A pit bull with a CGC is truly a beautiful thing. In some cases, rental agencies and insurance companies that would normally turn the breed away, will make exceptions for dogs who have earned their CGC certificate. It is a huge step forward to having your dog become a true ambassador of the breed.
If you only take one thing away from all of this, please remember: Pit Bulls are just dogs; four legs, two eyes, one heart.
They are not monsters who are going to creep into your house at night and eat your children.
In fact, let me put it this way.....
Pit bulls are responsible on average, for 2 deaths a year.
Fifty people a year die after drowning in 5 gallons of water.
150 people die every year when a coconut falls on their head! Therefore you are more likely to be killed by a palm tree, than a pit bull!
320 people die in their bathtubs every year, but we never hear talk about banning them!
The sad reality is that with the millions of pits euthanized in shelters across the country (and world!) a pit is half a million times more likely to be killed by a human, than the other way around...
Thanks for listening...now spread the word...!