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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Moving With Your Dogs

  I haven’t posted here in quite a while. The reason being is that I moved! I moved from NY to Colorado to be exact. Not exactly around the corner. And what an undertaking it was (is). 17 years’ worth of junk I had to sort through, discard, pack, and move. I bought a 16 foot enclosed trailer and loaded it up. It was so packed with stuff, that when I was done you couldn’t fit a pack of cigarettes.
  So on November 28th, 2011 I hitched the trailer up to my pickup, loaded up the dogs and headed west. Thank God a good friend of mine flew back east to help me and make the ride out. 4 days later I was there.
  This was (is) a very stressful time for all of us. Both my dogs only knew one place to live since they were puppies. Neither spent long periods of time in the car either. This was certainly very different for both of them.
  My pickup has a “cap” on the back and is fully enclosed. It does not have heat or air conditioning. Both the dogs were crated. Heidi, my German Shepherd, was in an insulated crate and had a thick woolen blanket she laid on. Fritz, my miniature long-haired Dachshund, had a fleece mat to lie on.
  The first day went pretty well. After the first couple of hours I took them out to stretch their legs and to have some water. In the morning I only gave both of them a handful of food and a cookie and their main meal was in the evening. When driving long distances in the car, you don’t want allot of food in their stomachs to slosh around. They probably will get sick. Water is always a must. Regular intervals of exercise and water are essential.
  The elements are another thing. Towards the end of the trip, Fritz rode up front with us because he has a very thin coat. On the other hand Heidi was nice and cozy in her insulated crate and wool blanket. She has a very dense undercoat and is good to 30 degrees without any help at all.
  And please, no drugs. I am opposed to giving dogs any more drugs than needed. I have heard of giving animals seditives when traveling. My dogs never made a sound. And I have a witness to attest  to that. Why, becouse they followed the leader, me. They had faith that I knew what I was doing. Simply put: I lead, they follow.
  When staying in hotels for the night you want to be sure they are “dog-friendly”, most are. There is usually a 10 or 20 dollar additional fee, but not always. When entering the room, the first thing Heidi and Fritz did was to get dibs on who was going to sleep in what bed. Also you want to go around the room and “dog proof” it. Meaning look for anything someone may have left on the floor that the dogs can ingest or something like that.
  When moving into the new home you want to make your dogs “feel” secure. That is a big deal in the dog world. Lots of love and pampering at this point. Crates are also very helpful. If your dog is crate trained properly, they know that the crate is their safe place. So if you go out and they are in their crates they will feel secure. Do things gradually. Introduce them to the neighbors and their surroundings a little at a time. After all they have been through allot going cross country and being uprooted.
  I am proud to say Heidi and Fritz came through this ordeal like troopers. On the last, longest day of the trip, Heidi didn’t make a peep and Fritz, riding up front with us, didn’t make one objection, (knowing Fritz, I’m sure he was thinking it). They have adjusted very well, considering we now live at about 4800 feet above sea level. We also live next door to 2 pit bulls. One of which barks allot when we go by. Here too they have adjusted very well.
  Once more, you have to be the leader. Your dog’s should look up to you and should have unwavering trust in your judgment. Trust and love are what it’s all about.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Personal Protection Dog

   Not too long ago, I was doing a “meet & greet” for a pet store that used to refer allot of business to me. They had a German shepherd puppy there and a man approached me. Now understand that my town is very affluent and many of the people there are fairly educated.
  This guy wanted to buy this dog and train it in protection work to look after his wife and kids when he was away on business. He was an IT professional. When I told him what was involved in training a personal protection dog in time and money, he almost had a heart attack.
  In any case why not train a dog for personal protection. I can do it, and have done it with my own dog; however I turn down many clients who ask for it.
  First of all it takes the right dog. Temperament and ability are absolutely essential here. Many so-called guard dogs are weak nerved dogs with fear aggression issues that will lash out at any one or any dog that gets close. Many police dogs are trained to bite by using defensive drive instead of prey drive. It looks impressive but it is not making a strong nerved dog. Secondly, a great deal of training. About 3 years’ worth. Most of these dogs go through Schutzhund training and are “titled” dogs.  And third, a handler who has the knowledge and is capable of handling this kind of dog and keeping up the training. It has been said: It’s easy to teach the right dog to bite. But teaching the same dog to “out” requires lifetime upkeep.”
  Most dogs will naturally “alert”. My Miniature Long-haired Dachshund “Fritz” is great at this. When the doorbell rings you can’t shut him up. If a mosquito fly’s by in the back yard, he knows about it. That is what most people need. They just need to be alerted of a potential threat.
  My recommendation is a good temperament German shepherd dog that puts on a good show. Meaning, when someone comes to the door or near the backyard fence he barks with a deep scary bark. He may look menacing and play the part, but is a pussy cat inside.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Are You Killing Your Dog With Kindness?

  Sound crazy, it’s not. As a professional dog trainer, the things I see are unbelievable. Matter of fact I wrote a book about it, “Tails From The Barkside”. A book about my experiences as a dog trainer and some of the craziest clients I’ve had the pleasure of working with. If you send me an email, I’ll email you a free copy.
  There are some people out there that bring the word “anthropomorphic” to a new level. That means “humanizing” your dog. Now don’t get me wrong. My dogs Heidi and Fritz are the king and queen. Fritz sleeps in my bed and they both eat home cooked meals. I love them dearly. But I always let my dogs be dogs. I don’t try to make them human and I don’t treat them like a human. That is one reason they are “balanced” dogs.
  I had a girlfriend once that had two small breed dogs. She had more different outfits, raincoats and such than you could shake a stick. Now that stuff is ok as long as you don’t lose perspective. I guess sometimes that stuff is kind of fun. Fritz has a shearling coat for really cold days. But other than that, he gets treated like a dog. Now that doesn’t mean being mis-treated. That simply means you must maintain the human/animal relationship balance.
  One big deal in the dog world is security, in the human world as well. That is one reason why dogs jump on people. Because the want to feel secure through dominance. When you over humanize your dog, the dog may interpret that as a sign of weakness on you part and start to lose its confidence in you as the “pack-leader”.
  Also some accessories people put on their dogs are outright dangerous. I have a client with a Shih Tzu. I saw them the other day and they had just gotten the dog back from the groomers. The dog had a small bow on top of its head. While looking cute these things can come off. The dog can ingest these things and can either become lodged in there throat or swallowed, causing blockages.
  One more thing. Many people who own dogs just give the dog love, with no discipline at all. This is a problem. When we train protection dogs, many times the decoy will act afraid and retreat when the dog barks and acts aggressively towards him. The reason why he does this is when the dog makes advances he will act afraid to give the dog more confidence and make them more “powerful”. I have a client with an aggressive Shih Tzu. He told me that several times he approached the dog and tried to put his leash on, and the dog growled at him. I then asked “how did you respond” and he said “I back off”. Now what is that telling the dog? The natural progression here is he will continue to make this dog more and more powerful if he doesn’t discipline the dog. This will reach a point of no return and eventually the dog will end up in a shelter. Now these are nice, well intentioned people. All they want to do is to give this dog love. But if you really love them, treat them like the dogs that they are.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Who Me, Jumping?


 Why do dogs jump on people? There are many reasons. One is dominance. Also there are scent glands in your face, which the dog uses to identify you. The main reason is security. The dog wants to be secure and feel safe. One way they accomplish this is through dominance.
  It is annoying and rude. Personally I don’t think it’s cute at all. If their paws are dirty, you get dirty. If their nails are not cut, they are sharp and can scratch you up. If they slobber, well you get it by now.
  So how do we stop this behavior? There are several effective methods. When I first meet a dog in a client’s home, and they are not leashed (I always request the dog to be leashed) but if they are not, I ignore the dog and turn when the dog jumps on me giving him my side profile. Also, I bump him off with my knee. Be very cognizant here about turning this into a game. I don’t “feed the beast”. And what I mean by that is I don’t play into his game. I become dominant by being boring. So now I’m in control, not the dog. The dog is probably used to people coming over and greeting him on his terms. Most people when they meet a new dog reach down to pet the dog. They use a high pitch voice and are very friendly. This tends to raise the dog’s energy level and encourage the jumping.
  I do just the opposite. I am stoic, boring and non-engaging. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a mean-spirited guy. However we must train the dog to engage guests with manners.
  Another way is through corrections. Put the dog on your favorite training collar whether it is a martingale or a prong. Invite a friend over and let them in on the deal. When they ring the bell and the dog’s energy level goes ballistic, put the dog in a sit or better yet a down. When your guest enters and the dog goes to jump on them, give a sharp correction followed with a stout “no”.
  Still another way is give your guest a small bag of treats before he comes over. When he enters the house and the dog is in a sit or a down, and only if he is still, have your guest reward him. Now be very careful that the dog ONLY gets rewarded for calmness.
  Last but not least, when your dog jumps up on you, grab hold of his 2 front paws and “dance” with him. Hold his paws firmly and no matter how much he objects don’t let go. We want to create an “unpleasant” experience for him.
  In any case I’m sure some of you have your own little tips for stopping this behavior and I’m eager to hear them. So be sure to comment on this article.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Is "Crating" a dirty word?

  Is” crating” a dirty word? Some people think it is. How could you be so cruel and put that cute little puppy in a cage all alone. Puppy jail is another way some people describe it. Once more people are becoming “anthropomorphic” when it comes to canine behavior. They are “humanizing” their dogs.  Bad idea.
  I am the first one to agree that positive methods in training are the way to go. That being said, for the first two years of a dog’s life, you have to save them from themselves. In the words of Caesar, “rules, boundaries, and limitations”. Every time you interact with the dog, it should be a positive experience for both of you. That can’t be if you have to reprimand the dog or correct him for some wrongdoing. In the dog world, you either condemn something or condone it. There is no middle ground. Let’s take a real life scenario; I just got off the phone with a client, and this is what prompted me to write this piece. His 4 month old German shepherd just ate the bottom of the stair railings. Well if the dog was supervised, that couldn’t have happened. Now the dog has to be corrected for that behavior. See what I mean.
  Now you can’t keep a dog crated all the time. That is just ridiculous. However, there should be regular “play time”. Then you can supervise his exercise and activities. Once the dog becomes mature, usually 18 mos. To 2 years old, than he can have more freedom. By that time he will have outgrown some bad habits that puppies engage in. And your interactions will be almost always positive without having to correct them for doing destructive “puppy stuff”. Too often people make the mistake of expecting adult behavior from an immature animal. Don’t make the same mistake.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

House Breaking a Puppy

  When housebreaking a puppy remember 3 things: schedule,schedule,schedule. The first thing you should do is buy a crate. Perferably an "airline" style, although a "cage" style will also make do. The enclosure should be 1 1/2 to 2 times the size of the dog. many cage types come with a divider that can be added and then adjusted as the puppy grows. Inside you should put only newspapers at first. Many people feel badly for the dog and put towels inside. This can be a surefire way to kill your dog. Many puppies will ingest the fabric and get a blockage.
  Next is a schedule. You must come up with a schedule you can keep. If you get up at 6am, get your leash in hand, put it on the dog and go straight outside to a spot you want the dog to eliminate in. When the dog eliminates, either say good pee pee or good poop and give a reward such as smoked turkey or boiled chicken. It should be a "high value" treat. The reason why you want to identify pee pee or poop, is so the dog learns those words and eventually can be taught to pee and poop on command. We'll talk more about that later.
  Repeat the process over the course of the day. The dog can be let out of the crate to play for a while, only when under your direct supervision. Rule of thumb: for every month the puppy is alive, is how often in hours it should go out. For example: a 3 month old dog should go out every 3 hours.
  Depending on how many times a day you feed them, generally a half hour after you feed, you should give them the opportunity to eliminate. Remember, if you control what goes in, you control what comes out. Also after 8pm is "last call" for water. I never leave water in the cage for them to drink after 8pm. The more they drink the more they have to go.

Getting Started

Looking for feedback and suggestions for my new blog. Any usefull information would be helpfull.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Welcome to my new blog !

I have finally arrived in the 21st century! I have a blog. In the next few weeks I'll be posting alot of good information on dog training. Feel free to ask as many questions as you like. Stay tuned......