Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ask the Trainer - Obscessive, Incessant Licking

Lance came to class as a foster and again with his new owner.  The picture is the day he came as a foster with Deena working with him on focus.

Question: Lance is doing very well he is well behaved walks and runs with me very well. The only thing that he really needs work on is that he likes to lick your face and won't stop once he starts, i even gave him a good swat on the snout the other day and he didn't even flinch he just keeps pushing towards you and want to lick you...it's really annoying haha. so i was hoping to learn some way to get him to stop getting in peoples faces and licking all the time other than that, he is doing terrific. He is also very skiddish i don't know why, i think maybe he was abused as a puppy... 
A week later: Lance did pretty well at the class, he get's easily distracted with other dogs around but i think a little more focus training will do him well. I took him hiking after the class and against my better judgement i let him off the leash and i'm happy to say he did great he stayed close by and was very well mannered. I think it gave him a good sense of freedom but he still responded to me when i called and would come right back. I took him for another run today but he didn't seem so inclined, i pretty much had to drag him the whole way, but hopefully with a little more work he'll come to enjoy a daily run like i do.

Answer: It sounds to me like Lance may have been frightened by something when you started the run the other day. When you come on Saturday, remind either me or Deena to show you "look at that" and "reorienting" which will solve this problem.
Dogs generally have 5 things they can do under stress - Fight, Flight, Freeze, Faint and Fool Around. What you've seen with the licking is "fool around". That much licking and fawning is a sign of stress. Signe was right when she said he is saying "you're my master" over and over so you don't forget it :). It's the "fooling around" method of handling stress. My cat does this when I get to her tail during her nightly brushing. She doesn't like her tail messed with and starts to stress out. Her solution - grab the brush and start playing with it to keep it from her tail.
Not wanting to run was Faint. Freeze is different then Faint. Freeze you can unstick with some gentle tugging, Faint means the dog is shutting down in the face of too much fear/stress. First the Freeze (stop and check it out) then the Faint (shutdown) totally skipping the Flight (run away) because the stress is too much. The best way to handle Faint is to teach him who will handle any perceived danger - YOU. Which means you get him to focus on you instead of the environment when you walk out your front door (reorienting) and if you do see anything that might spook Lance, tell him to "look" at it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ask the Trainer: Food Fight

Question:: I took home three 4mo old pups who seem very sweet, lab/hound mixes I would say. I put them in a crate to eat out of one big bowl and they got into a fight. Should I try and make them eat out of one bowl or avoid conflict by feeding them separately or how does one go about getting them over being food aggressive? They are skinny too.

Answer: I would just put them in a room with three bowls. Four months is considered adult by the adult pack members. They have their first rush of sex hormones around 17 weeks, so fights will start happening as they manuever themselves into position in the pack and figure out what their strengths and weaknesses are. Putting them all in the crate together made them fight for space, not food. If you put them in a room instead, they will play musical bowls and not fight. Most fights are actually over space, rank/status and manners (bad ones).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ask The Trainer - House training

Question: Ok so I rescued Duke. He comes from a home where he was not well feed, yellowing teeth, much to much for his age. He was taken from the house that had 10 other dogs and hadn't been fed for sometime. Then he spend 10 days in PACC. Here is our little Dukes problem, he goes to the bathroom on towels and rugs and if lucky enough to get him to go outside its on piles of pine needles. She bought and put in a doggy door but still... New mom is not happy. What kind of retraining ideas can I offer this new mom?

Answer: The easiest way to re-housetrain a dog, or to housetrain an older dog that was never housetrained to begin with, is to attach the dog to you when you are home. Tie a rope around your waist and attach it to the dogs collar. This way the dog is always with you and you can start spotting his signals. As soon as you see his potty signals, take him outside to a designated spot (use the towels or rugs or pine needles outside to start with) and tell hiim to "go potty" or "hurry up". Be totally calm and matter-of-fact about the whole process. When he's done doing his business, praise him lightly and go back in the house.

When you aren't home, if he is already crate trained, put him in the crate. If he isn't crate trained you have two options. Crate train him or get a cat box and put a bathroom towel in it (an old one that you don't mind washing a lot). It sounds like he could have been litter box trained or pee pad trained. You could use this to gradually move him outside through the dog door.

Don't leave rugs or towels down anywhere for him to use for a couple of weeks except the one in front of the dog door. For three days practice luring him outside to another towel through the dog door. On the third day, remove the towel that's on the inside and leave the one that's on the outside for him to use. If you don't make a fuss about things, don't punish him for going in the house, especially don't punish him hours later, then he should be choosing to go outside within a week or two.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ask the Trainer - Anxiety

Question: I adopted a fantastic little dog from Cold Wet Noses (Terri highly recommends you!). I just adopted my new pup Sunday and she is transitioning exceptionally well.

One thing that I hope you can assist me with- I see she has some anxiety when I leave, which consists of her crying and some howling/barking. She does calm down. She is making small strides in reducing anxiety each day she is with me and I am celebrating her small successes. I would love for her to trust me, and her feel secure since she has been abandoned in the past.

I would really like to enlist your services. I see that you will be offering classes in July and would like to sign up for them if you think we would benefit. She likes to be around other dogs and I think she would really love the group environment. Which series of classes would be best for a small, young dog who has some anxiety when left alone? Also, she does not yet grasp the basic commands such as sit and stay. Or, would it be best for a one on one visit? Many thanks and look forward to meeting you!

Answer :I remember seeing Maddie on the TCWN website, she is a cutie !!!

So, separation anxiety and anxiety in general. Dogs are social creatures, just as we are, they don't like being left alone especially in a strange place. It sounds like you are doing great. Just keep doing what you are doing.

Because she has only been with you since Sunday, the pattern of departures and arrivals hasn't been set with her yet, so the normal "ritual" that I prescribe for separation anxiety most likely won't work. That said, there are many things you can do to make this process go a little faster.

1) Take her out for a good strong tiring walk before you leave the house.
2) Don't fuss about leaving, just leave.
3) Don't fuss when you come home, just walk in the door (if she's in a crate let her out), ignore Maddie completely for at least 5 minutes. Come in, put your purse down, listen to your messages, turn on your computer, whatever, but don't greet Maddie yet. When she looks like she is bored with your arrival, that's when you pay attention to her. Make this greeting of a calm dog really happy and exciting for her.
4) get her some mentalling challenging toys - a busy ball, a kong, treat puzzles and chew toys. Rotate her toys every day, don't let her get bored with them. Have enough toys that you can rotate every day for at least 4 days before repeating a toy.
5) Now take her for another walk or play fetch or tug or with a flirt pole (for her size you can use one of the cat toys which is a pole and string with a fuzzy thing tied on the end for her to chase and "kill").

Dogs love an ordered existence. If you do this every day, where she can count on things happening regularly, it will speed up the process.

Trust is built with a dog through play and shared outings - just like in the wild, they play and rest together and then go hunting. Tiny Tyrants (Thursday nights at 6) group class would be a great place for her to be. She would get the socialization she needs and learn some new things with you, the person who is going to be the center of her life. The class, even though it's for reactive dogs, will help any dog that has issues, no matter what they are. The class teaches three main important things 1) calm 2) that the answer to all questions is look at mommy and 3) how to communicate both with other dogs and the human world.

I don't actually teach obedience, but sit, down, stay, wait, leave it, give it, take it, drop it and other "tricks" are part of the curriculum as a step in learning a calming or coping exercise.

Response: Thank you SO very much for your fantastic advice! I am feeling so reassured by your email that I am on the right track with creating less anxiety for Maddie. I need to work on #3 big time and I am definitely not doing that just yet. Thank you so much, I learned quite a bit just from your response! I would love to continue to learn from you and sign up for a series of one of group classes. Any recommendations of which one would be best?

MANY thanks!!

NOTE: Maddie joined Tiny Tyrants and is doing wonderful !!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ask the Trainer - Bailey, 9mo old Chihuahua

Question: We just got Bailey yesterday and he is very responsive and loving to my wife but is very mistrustful of me. He even sort of bit me( he did not break the skin. It was more a warning). He may have had difficulties with a male but I do not know. We really want this to work for him and us but somehow I need to gain his trust. PLEASE HELP.

Answer: Start hand feeding him - litterally feeding him from your hand. Every meal. Bailey gets no food except from your hand. During the day, throw treats near his feet for him to eat. Otherwise, just ignore him. Don't look at him, especially don't challenge him by looking him in the eyes. When you have to approach him, do it sideways the way dogs will greet each other.

Loosen up your body. Be as loose as possible when around him. Instead of being the big bad pack leader, be the moose - the prey. Think about this - dogs/wolves hunt in packs to capture the animals that are larger then they are. But they also have a great deal of respect for those large animals. They have sharp hooves and antlers. A moose, elk or caribou can stop an entire pack in mid stride just by turning around, standing tall and shaking their antlers at them.

Bailey, being small, sees you as the moose. You are huge and have hands and things that move fast at him. Slow down, loosen up and don't "confront" him. Let him make the moves - "dance" with him.

Don't ever reach for the top of his head from above him. Another lesson from the wild - your hands coming at the top of Bailey's head are like large birds with feet dangling down diving from the air to grab small to medium size animals for lunch. Come at him to pet him from under his chin. The most sensitive part of a dog's body to pet and massage is the chest.

Response: Good morning Jamie, Just as update on Bailey, our new dog. He is doing great!! After 2 days of hand feeding, he is trusting me enough to sit on my lap. He also lets me pick him up and put his leash on his collar. He is eating on his own and has become part of our family. We couldn't have done it without you. Thank you for all the great advice.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ask the Trainer - Pit and ShiTzu Meeting

Question: Hey if u can email me advice I'd appreciate it. So my bf got a male pit named Mac he's 6 months old and fairly obedient. He still plays too rough and nips a bit but he plays w a 5 and 7 year old fairly well. Sometimes rough. Well I just got an 8 year old female shihtzu named tahllulah. I slept at my bfs house and brought tahllulah but i wasn't ready to have them meet cuz my bf went to bed so mac was in the yard and I took tahllulah to potty out front. Well he was dying to (I hope just) meet her. Oh btw I loveee pits. I have raised only pits tahllulah is my 1st small dog so I don't stereotype pits as bad. I just know as w ppl dogs have their own personality and tolerance. Well he squeezed through the fence and charged at tahllulah and chased her under the truck I dk what he did under there but she cried (she's just fine tho) I got them apart and held her while he sniffed her and he got too wild so she ggave a warning growl. I separated them. I don't think he's vicious maybe it had to do w her not being altered (I just got her she was their cash cow. They bred her til she could no longer handle another litter and then gave her away. Lucky me tho :) mac is very rough with other dogs when he plays and tahllulah is a calm lap dog. Such a loyal sweetie. I dk what to do abt our dogs. I don't want to keep them separate I want them to get along but I'm afraid. Can anyone help me or give advice? Anything is appreciated

Answer: First off, the more fear you have, the more the dogs are going to react. Your emotional state is sensed by the dogs and they start trying to figure out where the danger is, and since Tallulah is the new kid on the block, Mac could target her as the problem or vice versa.

Secondly, Tallulah is older and settled in her emotional state right now. She isn't going to want much of that puppy energy from Mac. I would get Mac REALLY tired before introducing them again. Take him on a good long walk till he's so totally tired he can barely move. Then put the two dogs together. This way Tallulah can view him without all the energetic running around. Then make sure that Mac gets plenty of exercise every day so that his interactions with Tallulah are at a level she can tolerate.

Third, Mac outweighs her by a goodly amount even at 6 months. I have to watch two of my dogs with each other because one weighs 60 lbs and the other weighs 10 lbs. The big one likes to push with her paws when playing with other big dogs, but that really hurts the poor toy poodle. So again, make sure Mac is tired so that he doesn't inadvertintly hurt Tallulah.

Fourth and final, start training Mac. Teach him much more then just sit,stay,come,heel. He needs to learn leave it, give it, take it, drop it, how to focus, self control, impulse control and to always look to his owners for direction when he hasn't been taught the answer to a situation.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ask The Trainer

question: we want to get 2 puppies, my question is: is it easier to train one puppy and then add another one later or to train 2 at the same time? I have 2 young adults to help me.
answer: For two decades I adopted older dogs from rescue and trained them to live in my world and handled the behavior issues that they came with. 2 1/2 years ago, I decided that I wanted to train a dog up from puppyhood again and not have to deal with "issues". So I got a 9 week old puppy. Six months later, I got another puppy and six months after that I got yet another puppy. The youngest is now 1 1/2.

Ruth, the first puppy, got her puppy training alone. Brynda, the second puppy, got her puppy training with Ruth right next to her and Micah, the third, had two dogs helping him. I can say without qualification that it was easier to train Micah then Ruth because I had the examples of the other two showing Micah what to do. Now they are all learning different things. Ruth loves to fetch and I'm going to be getting her into flyball.

Brynda is my "therapy" dog and goes with me to assess the emotional state of troubled dogs and lets me know what they are actually thinking and emoting about. Micah is learning freestyle dance. So they are all training separately.

Right now in puppy class are a brother and sister pit bull mixes. Buddy, the male, is having a harder time learning then his sister, Coco. He learns best when she isn't there to distract him. He's still slower then Coco to pick things up, but when he gets them, he really "get's it". Last puppy class there were 5 puppies. Only one of the puppies had a hard time because of the distraction of the other puppies, but she was also the one that learned the fastest. I think she did it fast so that she could play with the other dogs, that was her "reinforcement" for doing her exercises.

So, honestly, the answer to your question is "it depends". It depends on the personalities and learning abilities of each puppy - even from the same litter. Even learning the housetraining, chewing training and other puppy manners is individual. Ruth was a no brainer, Brynda at the age of 2 still has potty problems and Micah hasn't yet learned to lift his leg like normal male dogs but he rarely had accidents in the house. Neither Ruth nor Brynda chewed inappropriately, but Micah ruined a few socks, pillows and slippers before he understood that he wasn't to chew things just because they smelled like me.

However, as far as time and the impulse to pull your hair out by the roots - get them together. Then you only have to supervise them for 4 months and it's done - I slaved for 18 months till they were all adult enough that I could leave them alone without crating them. You also can generally get into a puppy class with one at half price.