Diane Mitchell – Trainer, Animal Instincts Dog Training and Obedience

Hello, I would also love to welcome Diane Mitchell to the team! Diane is an amazing trainer and specializes in dog sports. She will be teaching Agility, Rally Obedience, and General Obedience. Here is what Diane has to say about training, “I love helping dogs and owners understand each other and grow as a team.”
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Diane started teaching in 2009 at Best West and most of her background is in the sport and activity zone. She played Flyball for 13 years with 4 different dogs, her biggest accomplishment was with her Sheltie, Vega. He retired with his Grand Champion title. Diane also competes in Agility, Disk Dog, and Rally-O with her dog Blue, a Border Collie X. Her other dog, Static is retired from the sports scene. Static is a 10 year old Australian Cattle Dog.
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I met Diane last winter when she was assisting Kev Roberts and the Oxford Dog crew in Skijoring/Kicksledding class. Diane loves to go Kicksledding in the winter with her pups. After meeting her there, I knew I just had to take one of her classes. I took her Body Building, beginner Agility/dog sports class at TLC and it was just amazing.
Since taking that class, Diane and I have discussed her coming on board as a trainer and I am so excited that it is finally that time!
Diane will not only be a trainer, but she will be the manager of my retail section at the new dog daycare, Wooftopia Dog Training and Recreation Centre.

 

Is Your Dog Trying To Be The Alpha? Doubt It!

Unfortunately many trainers still believe in the dominance/alpha theory. This is harmful because it prevents owners from understanding what their dog is actually trying to tell them.

This “dogs are wolves” theory started in the late 1960s. The underlying meaning is that because dogs and wolves are the same species, they must behave the same way. A man by the name of David Mech trapped several wolves and put them all in a pen to observe them. He came to the conclusion that wolves “pack” and “dominate” each other, therefore dogs must do the same, right? Wrong.

wolves

As science advanced, Mech continued his research but started to observe wolves in their natural habitat. He came to a much different conclusion, the model of the wolf’s supposed “fight for dominance and alpha status” was replaced with one where parents and older siblings guide and lead the younger ones. Now, Mech has written and edited many books on this subject stating why his earlier observations were misinformed and explaining his observations of packs in the wild.

Since that time, studies of the domestic dog have also moved on. It has been well established that the social behavior of the domestic dog is not the same as a wolf. Humans have been breeding dogs for thousands of years to not only work for them, but to be companions. These adaptations have removed the need for them to operate as their wild ancestors. Although dogs do congregate in groups around resources, they do not form packs in the cohesive family way that wolves still do.

The concept of “dominance” itself has never been a quality of an individual, but the product of a relationship. In fact, the relationship of the pet dog to human, is much more complicated than to just label it as one trying to “dominate” the other. Dogs do certain things because they are getting some sort of positive reward from it. They jump on the counter because they find food, not because they are trying to show you that they are “alpha” and can do whatever they want, they bite people because they are scared and people misread or ignored their warning signs.

person-and-dog

Dog training has come a long way scientifically and to continue to label so many issues as “dominant” and “alpha” is doing a disservice to the dog and owner. So get some treats, and start rewarding for the behavior you want and you will in turn, have a great partnership for many years to come!

Interested in leaning more? Check out this great article here!

Brain Games for Dogs

How do you exercise your dog? Do you exercise their brain too? Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. Throughout history, dogs have been bred to have jobs. Sure, most of our pets aren’t working dogs, but none the less they still need something to do to keep busy. Dogs that are heavily exercised but lack outlets for mental stimulation suffer from an imbalance that can lead to several behavior problems. If you exercise your dog well but don’t provide mental stimulation, a possible result is a wonderful but bored athlete that has the energy and physical fitness to destroy lots of things or participate in many undesirable behaviors!

It is important to give your animal the opportunity to perform various activities each day. If your pet spends an hour a day barking or gnawing on the table legs, it is probably lacking stimulation. If you provide a variety of structured activities, it is likely that the undesirable behavior will decrease or be extinguished. For example, if your pet spends 30 minutes to an hour per day eating instead of wolfing food down in 5 minutes, it will have met a large part of daily activity needs, and will be less likely to destroy the couch or dig holes in your backyard!

Feeding Your Dog

How do you feed your dog? Do they get meals in a regular bowl and wolf it down in seconds flat? Just think! All of those rewards being wasted in just a few minutes. Use it for training exercises or stuff it in a kong or other treat dispensing toy and make them work for it! In the video above, you can see Nanu eating her breakfast out of a kong. Buy or make a few different dispensers and switch them up but remember to always put them away after they are done with them. You don’t want it to be available to them all of the time because you want it to be a novelty.

Home Made Treat Games

You don’t have to break the bank on expensive treat dispensers for your dog! Pick a few good items (like a kong) and try making some others at home.

  • Different types of plastic bottles or containers. Make it interesting! Use some with the lid off, and some lid on and cut holes into the plastic in different places. Just make sure not to leave any sharp edges.
  • Put pieces of kibble or treats in a muffin tin and cover each indent with a tennis ball. Remember, you want your dog to be sniffing out the food so make sure not to fill each hole and always leave different ones empty.
  • Put kibble or treats underneath different Tupperware containers and get your dog to sniff them out and figure out how to get the container off of the reward.
  • I recommend using your dog’s food for all of these activities so they do not gain any weight. However, if you are using treats, make sure to minus that from their daily food intake.

TIP: If you want to give your dog a tasty treat to calm them down if they are over excited, or anxious because company is coming over, try frozen peanut butter, sweet potato, or low sodium chicken broth in a kong!

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When playing a special game, or when teaching a new behavior, make sure to use a really high value reward that your dog wants to work for. These treats should only be about the size of a pea and very soft. Switch it up! Use different kinds of rewards such as chicken breast, cheese, Zukes Training Treats, etc. If your dog starts to get bored of one, either take a break or switch to another. If your dog isn’t big on treats, you can use a favorite toy that they only get to play with during training time, or if they are attention seekers, give them some love.

Hide and Seek

Hide and seek is a great game to get your dog to use his brain, and get some physical exercise. This is especially good on those really rainy or cold days, or you are just too busy to get outside. Hide and seek also encourages your dog pay attention to you on walks, because he learns to look for you and he gets a tasty reward or fun toy.

  • When your dog isn’t paying attention to you, slowly walk away and find a hiding spot (examples are around a corner, in a different room, etc)
  • Wait for a second and then call your dog’s name. If he has stopped and isn’t looking back, call your dog’s name again in a very excited tone.
  • As he rushes to find you, keep calling out his name. Once he finds you, praise him and give him a treat or toy. After the first few times, your dog should figure out to come find you after just calling his name once.
  • Now that your dog is catching on to the game, start incorporating some training! Get your dog to “sit” use “stay” or “wait” go hide, and introduce “find it”. REMEMBER, don’t start using “find it” until he is going to look for you every time.
  • When your dog is a hide and seek expert, you can start hiding in more difficult spots inside the house, and move to play in the backyard or at the park where there are more distractions.

Hide and Find the Treat

This game is similar to the first, except you will be hiding treats around the house. If you have multiple dogs that can be aggressive around food, play with each of them separately.

  • Grab some treats, go into a room without your dog and hide them. Make sure to use really smelly treats the first few times.
  • Hide the treats in pretty easy spots until your dog learns how to play the game, you may even have to point them out for him at first.
  • Call your dog into the room and let him at it!
  • Once your dog gets really good at the game, start incorporating some training! Get your dog to come into the room and “sit”, “stay”, and “find it”!
  • If this game becomes to easy for your dog, start hiding the treats under different types of tupperware containers.

Tricks and Obedience

Work on your dog’s obedience training! Sit, stay, down, shake a paw, etc. Take a class with your dog, this does not only work your dog mentally, but it also creates a great bond with you and your pet. There are so many different tricks you can teach your dog, not only to impress your friends, but also as a calming method when they get overly excited or nervous.

REMEMBER mental stimulation is very important, but needs to be paired with physical exercise, you cannot do one or the other.

How do you keep your dog happy? What is your dog’s best trick? Let me know in the comments below!

Collars, Collars, Collars

As you already know, I am a Positive Reinforcement (Force-Free) Dog Trainer. Something I see ALL of the time is people using abrasive collars on their dogs such as pinch, choke, or shock collars. As a PRDT, I do not use, nor train people to use, these methods as it is scientifically proven to be detrimental to your dog’s training success. It may seem like your dog is walking nicely, but he is only doing it to avoid punishment. Once you put on a regular harness, or collar, you will be right back where you started. This is also associating events that happen on your walk with a negative experience, such as other dogs walking by, children playing, or whatever it may be. You can see how this can have a negative effect on your dog’s psychological well-being.

These forms of collars can cause not only psychological damage to your dog, but also some pretty serious medical issues. Dog’s (same as people) have very sensitive necks that many medical issues, such as hypothyroidism, ear and eye issues, nerve damage, etc, can be linked. If you are interested in learning some of the more serious medical issues that these collars can cause check out this article here. I always walk my dogs on some sort of harness, whether it be no pull or regular, depending on your dogs walking style, and I always recommend my clients to do the same.

Pinch/Prong Collars

Pitbull-prong-dog-collar-pinch-collar-prong-collarWhen we first got Kali, she was terrible on leash, a huge puller, very typical Malamute. I hadn’t tried any forms of “no pull” devices yet, and wasn’t very educated in the subject. Off I went to the pet store to ask some questions and see what they recommended for us to try. The FIRST item that they recommended was a pinch collar. Not only, did they not give me any other choices, they also said that this is a “humane and pain-free” option to teach your dog not to pull. Pain-free??? I would like to see her put it on her neck and give it a good yank. When there are are tons of pointy pieces of metal jutting into your neck, it is not “pain-free.” Thankfully, I questioned it, and ended up trying out an easy-walk harness instead. ALWAYS QUESTION PEOPLE IN THE PET INDUSTRY, INCLUDING TRAINERS. If you think something is off, or are not feeling comfortable with a certain technique or recommendation, ask as many questions as you need to. Also, go with your gut, it will usually guide you in the right direction.

Many people say that the prong collar “emulates the correction of a mother’s teeth.” This is A MYTH and is not correct. These collars can cause many health issues, as mentioned in the article above, and can go as far as becoming embedded in your dog’s neck. One quick jerk is all it takes. The more pressure you are putting on your dog’s neck, the more pressure they will feel emotionally. You want your dog to remain under threshold the entire time you are on your walk, this will be next to impossible with this type of tension on their neck. Dog’s have a natural instinct to pull forwards when something is pulling them back, therefore making the entire experience painful and frustrating. The behavioral issues that this can cause your dog are limitless.

If you would like to take a more in depth look on the effects of this type of collar, check out this article here.

Choke Collars

choke-dog-collarChoke collars have basically the same negative effects on your dog’s mental and physical health as the prong collar. One of the big differences is however, that they can choke themselves to death. There is nothing stopping this type of collar from tightening to the point of actual choking on your dog’s neck. Again, the natural instinct of your dog to pull away from something putting tension on their neck comes into play, causing a negative experience on walks, as well as a negative experience relating to the surroundings. For more information about the effects of the choke collar, check out this article here.

Shock Collars

D58134All of these collars have similar negative effects on your dog’s well-being, however the shock collar is a whole other ball game. Some people say that the shock is just like a tap on the shoulder, while others say that it is more of a zap, similar to sticking your finger in a electrical socket. Well, which is it? It seems that only a dog can answer this question, and since they can’t tell us, it is important for us to know their body language. A dog who is being trained positively has a loose body, tail wag, open mouth, and they show a willingness to learn and please you. A dog being trained with a shock collar will have a closed mouth, possibly yawning, stiff body and tail, ears back, whale eyes, and a general nervousness about them.  For more information about shock collars, check out this article here.

Notice the body language of the dogs in these pictures? Stiff postures, ears back, and on high alert. If you ever see a dog wearing one of these collars, compare their body language to that of your positively reinforced dog. There will be a huge difference between them.

Wouldn’t you rather focus your training sessions and walks on the positive, rather than on the negative? You especially do not want to use any of the aforementioned training methods with a fearful or aggressive dog. These techniques will just enhance their issues and very likely cause more harm than good.

What kind of collar does your dog wear? What worked for you when training your dog to walk on leash? Let me know in the comments below!

Weekend Crate Training Plan

Crate training is seen in two lights; it is cruel to confine your dog to a kennel, and it is good for them to have their own safe place for down time. I believe that the crate is a great retreat for your pooch, as well as an amazing training tool.

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A few positive aspects to using a crate:

  • Can be used as a training tool for house training, and preventing him from being destructive.
  • As a safe and effective way to transport your dog.
  • Creates a place of their own, which is especially important for dogs with fear and anxiety issues.

A few tips about crate training:

  • Never use the crate as a punishment, you do not want your dog to be afraid to go in there.
  • Always associate the crate with something good, feed him in there, give him a special bone, chew, or toy that he only gets when going into the crate.
  • Put the crate somewhere permanent, dogs thrive off of consistency. If you keep the crate in the dining room, your dog will get used to that being “his place”. Once you move it for a dinner party, he will get confused and be unsure of what to do.
  • If you’re dog is having a lot of trouble adjusting, try a different type such as wire vs plastic. Sometimes this small fix can make a world of difference.
  • Make sure to make it comfortable with blankets, a dog bed, or even a shirt with your scent inside.
  • Always exercise your dog before he goes into his crate. 30-60 minutes of physical exercise, paired with mental stimulation (obedience training, treat games, etc) is preferred.
  • Leave the door to the crate open so that your dog has access to it whenever he wants. He now feels comfortable here, and it will be his safe place if he ever feels uncomfortable, or just wants to take an uninterrupted snooze.
  • Make sure to let your dog out to the bathroom before he goes in and after he comes out of the crate.

Recommended time lengths to crate your dog:

  • 8–10 weeks 30–60 minutes
  • 11–14 weeks 1–3 hours
  • 15–16 weeks 3–4 hours
  • 17+ weeks 4–5 hours

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, a crate can be detrimental to their issues depending on the severity. If your dog is having a lot of uses in the crate, defecating or urinating, soaked with saliva, damage to the crate, moving the crate, or excessive howling, please contact a professional trainer near you.

I have had great success with the Weekend Crate Training plan as have my clients, so here it is:

Friday

During this phase, the crate door always stays open.

  • When your dog isn’t looking, toss a few tasty treats inside the crate to spark their investigation. Make sure to use something extra tasty that they only get during training time.
  • Leave the crate door open and every time your dog looks towards it, walks towards it, takes a step in, etc, give him a lot of treats and praise.
  • Periodically leave extra special treats inside like a kong, bone, or toy.
  • Feed them their dinner inside the crate. If they are too uncomfortable to go all the way inside at this point, try leaving it just inside by the door or even just outside the door.
  • Over the next couple of days you will be rewarding your dog for going towards and into the crate, make sure to have a bunch of training treats ready because you will be using them!

Saturday Morning

Get your treats, toys, and bones ready!

  • Decide on the verbal cue you will use to send your dog to his crate. You can use “Go to your bed” or whatever you would like. Start using the verbal cue once your dog is going inside every time. If you add it in too early, they will get confused and not understand what you are asking.
  • Start by either sitting on the floor or in a chair beside the crate. Show your dog one of the treats and toss it in. Once he goes in to eat it, give a lot of praise and feed her another treat while inside.
  • Use your release cue, again, “okay” or “break” whatever you would like to use, so they know they can come out again. Don’t reward when they leave the crate so he learns that good things happen when he is inside.
  • REPEAT these steps about 10 times, take a short break, and then do another 10 reps. After you have finished the two, end the session.

Later on in the morning….Now you are getting your dog to earn the treat. Instead of tossing a treat in for them to follow you will be using your verbal cue and rewarding once he goes inside.

  • First, warm up with a few reps of tossing the treat in and using the verbal cue.
  • Give your cue and point to the crate instead of tossing in the treat. If he is being stubborn, try your “point” in the same motion as tossing in the treat.
  • Once your dog goes in, then give a lot of praise and treats while he is still inside.
  • Use your release command for your dog to come out.
  • REPEAT these steps about 10 times, take a short break, and then do another 10 reps. After you have finished the two, end the session.

If your dog isn’t catching onto the cue or seems nervous, step back to tossing the treat in first and wait until he understands and feels more comfortable.

Saturday Afternoon

During this phase, you will start getting your dog used to being in the crate with the door closed.

  • First, warm up and do a few repetitions of the last step, remembering to release him every time.
  • Do the same thing, reward him for going in, and then gently close the door, give him a few treats and praise with the door closed
  • Give your release cue, open the door, and let your dog out
  • If your dog seems to be too nervous with the door closed all the way, break this down into two parts, start with the door halfway closed and then transition to fully closed.
  • REPEAT these steps 10 times, take a short break, and then do another 10 reps. As you go through your repetitions, increase the time the door is closed. Do 1 second, then 5 seconds, then 8 seconds, then back to 5, then 10, then 8, and so on. Make sure to mix up the times.

Saturday Evening

Once your dog is comfortable sitting the crate with the door closed you are going to start getting them ready for alone time.

  • First, warm up with a few repetitions from the last step, but each time start to slowly move away and then back to the crate.
  • Release your dog, go through the same steps, once the crate door is closed, treat.
  • Now, with the door still closed, stand up, treat, take a few steps away, then go back and treat again.
  • Open the door and release your dog.
  • REPEAT these steps 10 times, each time walking in a different direction. After a short break, start again increasing the time your dog is left alone in the crate. Do 5 seconds, then 10, then 8, 15, and so on. Be generous, give a lot of treats for now, and as your dog gets more comfortable being in the crate, you can gradually start giving less.
  • After these repetitions, take about a half hour to an hour break, and repeat the steps again. Start leaving the room, only for a second, and then releasing your dog. Gradually build up the time as we did before, try to get to him being in the crate for 1 minute while you walk around the room, briefly leave, and come back. REMEMBER if you go through the steps too quickly, you will have to step back or even start over.

Sunday Morning

Now you will be working on getting your dog comfortable with longer periods in the crate. Grab your treats, and a kong stuffed with something delicious, or a favorite bone or toy as well as something to occupy yourself.

  • Ask your dog to go in the crate and close him in with the kong, bone, or toy and get yourself comfortable watching TV, reading a book, or whatever you choose to do in that room. Leave him in there for about 30 minutes.
  • If your dog finishes the kong or bone, you can continue to give him a few treats here and there as long as he is staying quiet.
  • After the half hour is up, release your dog and take away the bone, kong, or toy. DO NOT give him any treats when he comes out or make a big deal out of it. You want him to learn that good things happen while he is inside the crate, not when he is released.

At this time, your dog may start to wine, or bark while being left alone inside. My suggestion here is to ignore him completely. If you release him, or treat him for this behavior he is learning that if he makes noise he will get your attention. Once he has stopped, then reward him with a few treats.  This step can be frustrating in some cases, but if you are consistent, your dog will learn that it is in his best interest to be quiet and relax.

Sunday Afternoon

Now it is time to give your dog some alone time in the crate. Make sure to exercise your dog before this step, take him to the park, for a walk or run, play fetch, and also do some basic obedience training and maybe even some mind games. .

  • Ask your dog to go into his crate. Give him his kong, bone, or toy, and leave the room.
  • Stay out of the room for 10 minutes, then return and release him. If he hasn’t finished his kong or bone, take it away (he only gets these treats while in the crate). If your dog is making noise, don’t return until he has stopped for 5-10 seconds.
  • REPEAT the exercise, after a short break.

Sunday Evening

If your dog can calmly stay in his crate for an hour while you work around the house, it is time to try leaving completely.

  • Ask your dog to go in his crate and give him his special treat.
  • Without saying any goodbyes. leave the room and house for 10 minutes.
  • When you return, calmly let your dog out of the crate and take away his treat.
  • REMEMBER your dog will feel more comfortable going in and out of his crate if it seems like no big deal. Don’t give him any indication that you are leaving, or be overly excited when you return home.
  • REPEAT this exercise as often as possible before going to bed with bathroom breaks and exercise between. Gradually increase each time you are out of the house until you get to about an hour or even longer.

THAT’S IT! You have (hopefully successfully) completed the Weekend Crate Training plan. Now you are ready to start crating your dog every time you leave the house, and overnight (if you wish).

REMEMBER if you are having any issues at all, don’t hesitate to consult a professional in your area. For a more in depth look at crate training check out the ASPCA website.

Is your dog crate trained? How was the process for you? What worked and what didn’t? Let me know in the comments below!

DNA Results Are In!

I finally sent in Kali and Nanu’s DNA tests and got the results just over a week later. I know many people are skeptical but I believe that they have some merit to them (as it is the same or very similar technology to a human DNA test). You can also purchase the tests from a variety of dog rescues for $10 so buying is contributing to a good cause.

Kali and Nanu

Kali and Nanu

How it works:

Every dog has it’s own unique DNA. The test itself is an easy cheek swab, and then you send it in and they look for DNA matches in their extensive database of dog breeds. DNA my dog claims that they match every breed that is found in your dog. Yep, it is THAT simple!

Once you receive your results, each breed match is categorized into a level. These levels indicate how prominent each breed match is in your dog’s DNA.

  • Level 1 This category recognizes when a dog’s DNA contains a majority of one specific breed (75% or greater). A dog will only report with a Level 1 breed if they have a high percentage match to a single breed in their DNA. Most mixed breed dogs will not usually have a breed in this category unless one or both of their parents are purebred.
  • Level 2 This category reports breeds that may be easily recognizable in your dog. Each breed listed makes up between 37%-74% of your dog’s breeds. Dogs with a large mixed ancestry will not normally have breeds reporting at this level.
  • Level 3 This category identifies breeds that have between 20%-36% of the listed breed(s).
  • Level 4 This category represents 10%-20% of the breed DNA. Dogs with large mixes may have a number of breeds in this category.
  • Level 5 This category represents the lowest level of breed in your dog occurring at 9% or less. These breeds still appear at a low and measurable amount in your pet’s DNA and were likely carried over from several generations.

Results!

Kali was listed as a Husky Boxer mix, and we thought that her more prominent breeds would be Husky and Lab.

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Her Results:

  • Level 2: Alaskan Malamute
  • Level 4: Cocker Spaniel
  • Level 4: Schnauzer

Nanu was listed as a Shepherd mix, and we believed her prominent breeds to be Shepherd, Collie, and maybe some Rottweiler.

Nanu5

Her results:

  • Level 3: Miniature Pinscher – We were BLOWN away by this!
  • Level 4: Boxer
  • Level 4: Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Level 4: Rottweiler
  • Level 4: Siberian Husky

Have you gotten your dog’s DNA results? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments below!

Project 48: 48 Dogs in 48 Hours

As most of you probably already know, I am DREAM‘s Spay/Neuter Program Coordinator. We were approached by Sagkeeng Spay Neuter Initiative Program (SSNIP) at the beginning of September asking us to partner with them on running the largest mobile spay/neuter clinic in Manitoba and we jumped on the opportunity. The two most important initiatives of DREAM are spay/neuter programs to help control the animal overpopulation problem, and education programs in schools in Winnipeg as well as the remote communities.

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Project 48 is happening this coming weekend, September 28/29, 2013. We are “fixing” 48 dogs in 48 hours and vaccinating and deworming as many as we can.  Vetting services will be provided by Dr. Keri Rydell’s Mobile Clinic and we will be bringing a group of dedicated volunteers to help out with the recovery and rounding up of stray dogs in the community. Many of the dogs we will be altering will be owned dogs, however we will also be spaying and neutering as many strays as we can coordinate rescue spots for.

Why is heartworm important?
Parasites or worms, live in a dog’s stomach and intestines. They will cause a dog to lose weight and have a bloated belly. Your dog will eat a lot of food, and never gain enough weight if she has worms. Deworming medication is inexpensive and will get rid of the parasites in your dog, saving you lots of money on dog food.

Why is vaccinating important?
Vaccines are something we give our dogs with a needle to keep them from getting sick with diseases like Parvovirus (like a very bad stomach flu that kills most puppies that get it). Vaccines are not expensive, but treating your dog for the diseases will prevent treating them at a vet, which is very costly.

Why is spay/neuter so important?
Spaying your female will help her live a much longer, happier life because she will not be constantly caring for puppies and needing lots of extra food to keep them healthy. It will also prevent big groups of male dogs from coming around your home when your female is in heat, which can be dangerous for your family.
Neutering your male dog will keep him from siring puppies. It will also make him less likely to wander away from home, and he may be less aggressive or territorial. He will not get into as many fights with other male dogs and will not chase females in heat anymore. In Manitoba, the majority of dog bites are from intact males.

If you are interested in learning more about this project please go to http://dreamrescue.ca/project48/. If you would like to donate please go to http://www.spaynneuterinitiativeprogram.com/donations.html.

Have you helped out at any spay/neuter clinics? Let me know your experiences in the comments below!

Introducing a New Dog into Your Home

Hello!

I have had a few fosters and adopters contact me recently about how they should introduce a new dog into their home, so I thought I would write about it today. Introducing a new dog into your home is a very important part of adopting or fostering. First and foremost, the meeting between the new dog and your current pets is critical.

If you are adopting a dog, you want to take both yours and the other dog to a neutral place, on leash, to meet each other. If you are fostering you probably won’t have this luxury so make sure that they are meeting outside on leash.

Greeting

Tips for Leash Meetings

  • Calmly walk the dogs towards each other, don’t let them pull to get there, try and calm them with some redirecting and treats before they can sniff one another
  • Let them meet for 3 seconds (1 alligator, 2 alligator, 3) and walk them apart (no matter what) and distract each dog, if this meeting goes well you can let them extend their greeting to a good sniff. Here is a more in depth article about the 3 second rule: http://www.thrivingcanine.com/letting_dogs_meet_the_three_second_rule
  • REMEMBER: Make sure to be holding the leash so the dogs cannot get tangled together, that can put a lot of stress on dogs who have never met before. You also want to make sure that both dogs have an escape route, this is very important inside, you do not want your dog or the foster to be trapped in a corner or back of a room.
  • Once you feel confident that the dogs will get along, you can take the leash off, but you may have to do this for a couple of days before that happens. It all depends on both dogs body language, loose, wiggly body, ears loose, tail wagging, play bowing, etc. Sometimes I will keep my foster’s leash on for the first few days, just in case I need to redirect them outside if house training is involved, or if they are having a hard time coming and going through the door.

If your dog is having some issues with the new one, set some boundaries for your foster, like no going up on the couch, their dog bed, your bed, (depending what your house rules are of course), or sharing their toys. This will make your dog feel more secure knowing that you are not just letting this unknown dog in to take up all of their space. You may have to keep their meetings to  a minimum at the beginning if they are not getting along. You can either keep your foster in a separate room, or behind a barrier of some kind (like a baby gate). Having them in the same room but behind a gate is good because then your dog and the foster can still sniff and get used to each other without it being too much.

A good friend of mine is an AMAZING whelping foster, meaning that she takes in pregnant dogs and helps them through their pregnancy, birth, and care of mom and pups afterwards. She said that it always helps to bath the dog before having them meet her pack because then her dogs have something to recognize. Dogs have an amazing sense of smell so having the new dog smell as similar to your pack as possible, will definitely help the transition process.

Wish, available for adoption through Earthdog Terrier Rescue of Manitoba

Wish, available for adoption through Earthdog Terrier Rescue of Manitoba

What not to do

  • Never introduce your dogs off leash
  • Never introduce them in a small area inside with no escape routes
  • If you get a very timid or scared dog, don’t introduce them right away, Let them get settled in their own space and then you can start the intros.
  • Do not introduce your entire pack at once, do one dog at a time

Are you a foster or an adopter? What has worked for you in the past? Let me know in the comments below!

Why Punishment Fails in Dog Training

As you all know, I am a Positive Reinforcement Dog Trainer, and am against any use of physical or verbal punishment. Scientific studies have proven that punishment fails in dog training, and here are just a few of the reasons why:

  • The use of punishment is training your dog what NOT to do, while using positive reinforcement trains the dog what TO do, therefore less training steps.
  • Punishment can suppress certain behaviors, such as growling or baring teeth. These signs are important to know when your dog is feeling uncomfortable, so you can remove them from the situation. If your dog is being punished for these behaviors, they may skip the warning signs and go straight to biting or attacking. I never reward for growling or baring teeth, I  only do for calm behavior, however they do not get punished for doing so. I choose to redirect that behavior so that they offer me something like eye contact, making them choose to do that over growling or baring teeth.
  • Dogs feed off of our emotions. Punishment is giving off a negative and frustrating emotion, making your dog feel that way too. You want your dog to enjoy training and to WANT to do things to please you, rather than being afraid to do something to displease you.

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  • If your timing is off, you will confuse your dog as to what behavior you are punishing. This can give your dog fear aggression when they do not know what they are doing wrong. Imagine if we were walking down the street and every time a blue car drove by I kicked you, but a couple times I kicked late while a different car is driving by. You are going to be paranoid the entire time we are walking that I am going to kick you.
  • You want training to be fun for your dog so they want to do the things you ask. If you are constantly punishing, your dog will eventually give up because they aren’t sure what you actually want them to do.
  • Using punishment can sometimes be reinforcing the behavior. For example, when a dog jumps up they are looking for attention, therefore verbal punishment and pushing can seem like play.
  • When using punishment, you need to be punishing the behavior EVERY TIME it occurs or else they are self rewarding. When you use positive reinforcement, you are teaching the dog to choose the right behavior on their own.

So next time you think you are taking the easy way out by using a verbal or physical punishment, think how it is really going to affect your dog. In the long run, don’t you think it is best to train your dog the right behavior from the beginning? You want to have a positive relationship with your dog, not one where they listen to you out of fear.

What training methods have worked for you? Let me know in the comments below!