There are many situation where you can help your adopted dog
adjust effectively to its new surroundings and/or modify
its behavior (i.e.
jumping, barking, etc.). These pages contain
information about many of the common questions we get in these
areas. In addition the "Other Links" section has more references to
other sites that provide training and behavior advise.
Because there are many techniques that can be used for changing a dogs behavior these pages can only act as guidelines as to what might work for your pet. Getting professional support is always best but these tips have proven to be effective for many people.
And always remember; "Your dog will respond quickly and become a happy contented pet if you reward them for doing what you want instead of punishing them for doing what you don't want."
To minimize bad behavior problems your dog needs "something to do" that will provide mental stimulation, exercise, and attentiveness. So, walk the dog for 30 minutes. Play ball with him. Do some fun training. Take a training class. Teach your dog a new trick. Run him up and down the stairs 20 times. If you can't take your dog for an hour walk each day, then do it three times a week. Or do something! You can't expect a dog, or a young puppy to stay cooped up all day while you're at work and then lie by your feet at night. If you can't make the commitment to properly own a dog, then don't get a dog.
If you want to get the maximum benefit from walking your dog then learn to properly walk them by following these simple instructions. You will be pleasantly surprised by the positive, quick, results. Simply walking your dog may minimize or eliminate many behavior problems.
The proper way to walk a dog is the dog walking either beside you, or behind you, never in front of you. This may seem petty in a human's mind, however it means a lot in a dogs mind. When a human allows a dog to walk in front of them, they are sending signals to the dog that he is leading the human. Instinct tells a dog that the leader goes first.
A lack of exercise, allowing the build up of the mental energy which a proper walk releases, can cause many behavioral problems in a dog -- such as, but not limited to, hyper activity, neurotic, and/or obsessive compulsive behaviors, which are signs of a dog who is not mentally stable. An unstable dog is not a happy dog. Excitement in a dog is NOT a sign of happiness. Dogs who act very excitedly when their humans come home are showing signs of a lack of exercise and or leadership. For a dog, excitement does not indicate happiness. In most cases it is a sign of a dog who is not mentally stable. When you come home after being gone, avoid speaking to your dog in an excited manner for a few minutes. Go and do something else first. We must remember dogs are canines, not humans.
When getting ready to walk your dog, call the dog to you, do not go to the dog to put the lead on. After the dog comes to you make him or her sit calmly before snapping on the lead or slipping on the collar. Retractable leashes are not recommended, as they give the handler less control. The way you leave your house and property is also important. Your dog has to go out the door after you. If you put the leash on the dog and or leave the house while the dog is excited and leading you, you will be setting the mood for the rest of the walk to an excited state.
Take your dog to the front door and open the door. Make the dog sit quietly, do not allow the dog to bolt out the door. They need to see that you are the one deciding when it's time to leave. As soon as your dog is sitting quietly at the exit it's time to leave. Be sure you exit the house before the dog, even if it's just a step before the dog.
The collar should be far up on the neck, giving you more control over the dog. A body harness is not recommended for walking dogs. Harnesses were designed for pulling. Weight pulling, sled pulling etc.. The harness goes around the strongest point on the dogs body making it difficult to control the dog. Keeping the lead high up on the neck the same way they do in dog shows gives you more control with less effort. There should be no tension in the lead. Do not allow the dog to pull and don't constantly pull on your dog. Relax.
The lead should be short and hang loose. If the dog starts to pull, tug the lead up and to the side throwing him off balance, then hold the lead loosely again (a very quick tug, NOT a yank or jerk in any fashion). If the dog starts getting too excited and you're not keeping him beside or behind you, turn, go the opposite direction and stop (it's not necessary when you are initially training your dog to walk properly that he has to sit when ever you stop). Wait until he is calm than start again. Do not call to the dog when you start walking again, just start walking. The dog needs to learn he is following you, and tune into the person walking the dog. Do not praise your dog for walking calmly. This only creates excitement and you are more likely to pull your dog out of his calm, submissive mind.
The dog is not to sniff the ground and relieve themselves where they please; they are to concentrate on following their handler while walking. The person walking the dog decides when the dog is allowed to sniff or pee, not the dog. It is ok to allow your dog to sniff around and do his business, however, only when you decide it is ok. The dog needs to see you are leading him, he is not leading you.
If you pass a barking dog or other distraction, keep moving forward. If your dog averts its attention to the distraction, give a tug on the lead to avert the attention back to the walk at hand. If the tug does not work you can also use your foot, not to kick the dog, but to touch him enough to snap his attention back on you. If you find the dog pulling, stop and make the dog sit. Correct any excited behavior over the distraction with a tug, and if that does not work you can also use a firm touch to the neck using your hand as a claw. Do this as soon as you see the dog starting to avert his gaze toward the distraction, or as soon as you see a look in your dog's eyes that tells you he is going to begin barking or growling. Timing is everything. This must be done right before the behavior happens or at the exact moment it starts. You do not want to wait until it escalates. If you wait too long before correcting a dog (were talking seconds), the dog may not even hear you; he will be too focused on the distraction. When correcting your dog, match your dogs intensity.
Walk at a good pace, keeping your shoulders held high. Dogs can sense tension or lack of confidence. Walk proud, like you are a strong leader. A dog will respond to this, they will sense it. Notice how there is no tension on the lead and the collar is up high on the neck. Having the dog sit down when you stop is not necessary especially when learning to walk properly, however, the dog & you remaining calm is necessary.
It's a good idea to give the dog a few minute break every 15 minutes or so but only when you decide. This is the time for the dog to relieve themselves and sniff the area. A good practice is to stop and then give a command like "take-a-break" while you simultaneously let him go to the end of the leash.
The very first thing you should do once you reach your home is to go for a long walk with your dog (30 minutes to one hour) through his new neighborhood. During this walk you are both building a bond of trust with your new companion and establishing your position as leader. The rules of your entire relationship are being established in those first important moments. The dog is also getting the feeling of his new neighborhood. You are tiring him out so he’ll be more amenable to conditioning once you enter the house.
Entering the house is as important as the first walk together. Make sure you enter the house first. Then invite the dog in. Don’t let your husband/wife and kids come running out to shower the dog with affection and welcome him home. As hard as it will be for them, tell them to stand where they are. Bring the dog to them and let him approach them and learn their scents. All members of the family should project calm-assertive energy.
If you are bringing a dog into a new home where there in a cat or maybe two you should read the section we have on Dog & Cat Introductions. If you are bringing a dog into a home with another dog or two you should read the section on Dog to Dog Introductions and it would also be advisable to keep the new dog separate from your dog(s) for a few days to allow it to get comfortable with its new surroundings.
Avoid the temptation to let the dog roam the house and property, sniffing out every new room and object – you are allowing him to claim the entire property for his own. For the first couple of weeks, you must give him “permission” to do everything. The first night, dedicate a room for him and a sleeping place, possibly his crate or kennel. Once your dog is quiet, in his kennel, and ready for sleep, then you can share affection and begin your heart to heart bonding. But remember, it is not loving energy but the energy of your leadership that will make your dog feel safe and secure in your home.
The next day, begin what will become your dog’s regular routine: a long walk first thing in the morning, then food, then affection, then rest. Introduce the dog gradually to one room at a time, always making it clear that you are the one giving him permission to enter. Establish early on what is off-limits and what is okay. Consistency and strength during this early phase are gifts you are giving the dog. You are giving the gift of a solid, reliable pack—one in which he will soon be able to relax and become his calm-submissive self.
Remember the saying: "You never get a second chance to make a first impression"? The idea works with dogs, too. No matter how happy you are to bring him home, no matter how much you want to make up for the shabby way he was treated before you got him, start him off right from the beginning. Decide what the house rules are and stick to them, for the first couple of months, at least. Let him know that even though you're the nicest person on earth and the best human he could ever hope to find, your house does have rules, and he must follow them. Be what dog trainers call a benevolent alpha — a nice boss, but still a boss. Your dog will understand, respect, and love you for being his leader — it's the way dogs are. If you're not in charge, your dog will be. No democracies here. You may want to try a "Nothing In Life is Free" program.
Most adult dogs start feeling comfortable in their new homes in about a month. You can do a few things to help him understand that yours is his new home and he is a loved member of his new family, but model your leadership in front of him. Here are a few exercises to try:
Leash-bonding. For an hour each night, attach your dog’s leash to your belt and go about your business with the other end snapped to the dog's collar. Don't call him along with you and keep your hands off the leash. Just move about your house as you normally would — putting dishes in the dishwasher, paying bills, putting in a load of wash. Don't pay the dog much mind — just let your body weight remind him that he'd better go with you. The payoff is that he learns to pay attention to where you are and to think you and what you're doing are significant.
Sit for what you want. Your dog should get in the habit of sitting for the good things. Ask him to "Sit" — and praise him when he does — before putting down his food dish, before petting him, and before letting him walk out the door on a walk. He'll start to think all good things come from you, but only when he behaves as you wish.
People first. In the dog world the higher-ranking animal goes first. You want that higher ranking animal to be you. So your dog should eat after you do, and he should walk out a door after you do. Never let him run past you — out of a car, into your yard, or into the park — as if he owns the joint. He doesn't. It's that simple.
People food, dog food. Don't share your meals with your dog, and don't add your table scraps to his. If you share, you have no one to blame but yourself for his begging.
"Oh, c'mon!" you're saying, "who died and made you a drill sergeant? I want to spoil my dog!" Sure. Later - when your dog has good house manners and you are seen as the “Alpha” or leader in your dogs eyes. Can your dog sleep on the bed? You bet! But they shouldn't come up without permission and they should know it's a privilege, not a right. Can you share your carrots sticks with them? Of course! But they should sit for them, every one. And when you tell them you're done sharing and to go to their beds, they should. Set the ground rules early and stick to them fairly and consistently. You can always loosen up, but tightening up is awfully hard after your dog's out of control.
Does your dog: Get on the furniture and refuse to get off? Nudge your hand, insisting on being petted or played with? Refuse to come when called? Defend its food bowl or toys from you? “Nothing in life is free” can help. “Nothing in life is free” is not a magic pill that will solve a specific behavior problem; rather it’s a way of living with your dog that will help it behave better because it trusts and accepts you as its leader and is confident knowing its place in your family.
Using positive reinforcement methods, teach your dog a
few commands and/or tricks. “Sit,” “Down” and “Stay” are
useful commands and “Shake,” “Speak” and “Rollover” are
fun tricks to teach your dog.
Once your dog knows a few commands, you can begin to practice “nothing in life is free.” Before you give your dog anything (food, a treat, a walk, a pat on the head) it must first perform one of the commands it has learned. For example:
|Put your dog’s leash on to go for a walk||Must sit until you’ve put the leash on|
|Feed your dog||Must lie down and stay until you’ve put the bowl down|
|Play a game of fetch after work||Must sit and shake hands each time you throw the toy|
|Rub your dog’s belly while watching TV||Must lie down and rollover before being petted|
Once you’ve given the command, don’t give your dog what it wants until it does what you want. If it refuses to perform the command, walk away, come back a few minutes later and start again. If your dog refuses to obey the command, be patient and remember that eventually it will have to obey your command in order to get what it wants.
Make sure your dog knows the command well and understands what you want before you begin practicing “nothing in life is free.”
Most dogs assume a neutral or submissive role toward people, but some dogs will challenge their owners for dominance. Requiring a dominant dog to work for everything it wants is a safe and non-confrontational way to establish control.
Dogs who may never display aggressive behavior such as growling, snarling, or snapping, may still manage to manipulate you. These dogs may display affectionate, though “pushy” behavior, such as nudging your hand to be petted or “worming” its way on to the furniture in order to be close to you. This technique gently reminds the “pushy” dog that it must abide by your rules.
Obeying commands helps build a fearful dog’s confidence; having a strong leader and knowing its place in the hierarchy helps to make the submissive dog feel more secure.
Animals that live in groups, like dogs, establish a social structure within the group called a dominance hierarchy. This dominance hierarchy serves to maintain order, reduce conflict and promote cooperation among pack members. In order for your home to be a safe and happy place for pets and people, it’s best that the humans in the household assume the highest positions in the dominance hierarchy. Practicing “nothing in life is free” effectively and gently communicates to your dog that its position in the hierarchy is subordinate to yours. From your dog’s point of view, children also have a place in this hierarchy. Because children are small and can get down on the dog’s level to play, dogs often consider them to be playmates, rather than superiors. With the supervision of an adult, it’s a good idea to encourage children in the household (aged eight and over) to also practice “nothing in life is free” with your dog.
The bottom line for having two dogs meet for the 1st time is that you do not want to rush into the introduction process because first impressions are very important and if done incorrectly can result in long term problems. It is much better to spend 20 minutes on a walk/introduction, than rushing into it all and causing the dogs to have potentially serious issues with each other.
It's also very effective to use this method when you bring the new dog into your home. By walking the dogs together 1st they get acquainted in neutral territory and on equal terms. Once they get along on the walk you simply walk both dogs directly into your home for the 1st time. They don't have any time to do anything but follow your lead.
Choose a neutral location to introduce the dogs for the first time and take them for a walk. This is the most effective way to have dogs get off to a good start. This will help them develop the sense that they are a team/pack.
If you normally walk your dog on your left side then have the other person walk the other dog on their left as well. Have the other person walk new dog so it is on your right side. You will then be in a line so that there will be a dog, a person, a dog and a person.
Walk both dogs in a calm and relaxed manner as described above for at least 5 minutes or more. The dogs will be aware of each other but must remain focused on the walk. Do not stop to let the dogs interact. If the dogs try to interact just keep calmly walking.
Observe both dogs as you walk to make sure neither is showing any signs of aggression (i.e. tail up, growling, hair on back standing up, staring, etc.).
If one dog poops or pees, let the other dog sniff it – after the dog doing the pooping/peeing is done. Make sure you separate the dogs. The sniffing of poop and urine is an important exchange of information and energy between the two dogs. Once the two dogs are eliminating in each other’s presence, that’s a very good sign that the dogs are getting used to each other.
After 5 or 10 minutes stop and let the dogs have a break. Don't make a big deal of this. Simply stop and have a conversation with your walking partner and let the dogs smell each other while you watch for any signs of aggression. Don't let one dog jump on top on the other in any way.
Also take breaks and give the dogs long, slow, massaging strokes down the length of their body. Your goal is to get your dog as physically relaxed as possible.
The best way to handle dog fights is to prevent them from happening altogether. After bringing home a new dog, be careful to avoid situations that could lead to arguments. Many families report that their new dog is fighting with their current dog but they have unknowingly set the dogs up to fail by allowing them toys and treats that can are guarded by one or both dogs. Follow these preventative measures for the first few weeks until you are sure your dog and your new family member have settled into their new roles:
Initially feed dogs in separate rooms and keep the doors shut until both dogs have finished eating. Never let them eat side-by-side, where fighting may start over left-over food.
When giving treats, only give those that are eaten directly from your hand. Don’t give them big bones, rawhides or other treats that will be carried away and guarded.
Confine the new dog when you aren't present to supervise. Even when the two dogs seem to be tolerating each other well, continue for at least one month to confine the newcomer when you aren't home. Keep their first unsupervised time together short.
Train both dogs (ideally the resident dog is already well-trained!) to sit and stay on command, in order to maximize your control.
Remember that the dogs will decide their relative status on their own. The resident dog may not be the "top dog." Their status is not set in stone, and it is perfectly normal for dogs to challenge one another from time to time. Often you will not even be aware of the challenges. If you sense that a conflict is brewing, redirect their attention by giving them some commands and engaging them in other activities. If a fight seems imminent, separate the dogs and let them cool off.
If the newcomer is a puppy, do not allow the puppy to badger the resident dog. Redirect the puppy's attention toward yourself. Praise the puppy for reorienting to you. Begin teaching the puppy some rudimentary obedience commands from the day he or she comes into your home. You will need to confine the puppy when you cannot be present to supervise for several months.
If you have a doggie door, the procedure is the same, until he learns to go out by himself. But you should still be there early on to praise him and to train him to go in a certain part of the yard.
Some trainers suggest giving a cookie when the dog pees or poops. It's not a good idea because then the dog becomes focused on the treat. Praise the dog and immediately go back inside. This will show the dog why you’re out there. This applies to yard training, of course. If you live in an apartment, you’ll just walk your dog on a schedule that he can count on.
A dog that constantly barks can be extremely annoying - both for you and for your neighbors. All dogs bark, but when it reaches a certain stage, you need to stop dog barking before it becomes a real problem. There are a number of ways you can do this. You can buy special products that cause unpleasantness for the dog when it barks - such as dog bark collars. You can spend some time with your dog, teaching it not to bark at inappropriate times and praising it for good barking behavior. Or you can hire a special trainer who can help you control dog barking.
A barking dog does not always signify a dog barking problem. There are times when we actually want our dogs to bark - such as when an intruder enters the premises or when the family is in danger. In fact, many dogs are bred to bark in different situations in order to serve as a type of alarm.
One of the other reasons a dog barks is to communicate. A dog may bark when it wants to go outside or when it is excited because it senses it is going for a walk. It may also bark because it is cold, hungry, bored, anxious or excited. A dog may bark when it sees other dogs. There are many different types of barking that do not pose a problem - and may actually help their owners. Before seeking to stop dog barking, you should think about whether your dog may be trying to tell you something when it barks.
Most owners will be prepared to accept some level of barking from their dogs. The time when this barking becomes a problem will differ depending on your circumstances. A person with a small baby or who lives in an apartment will probably hope to minimize barking as much as possible. Someone who has their dog primarily as a guard dog will be prepared - and may even welcome - a fair amount of barking. Different people will have different ideas about what constitutes a dog barking problem.
Some times when owners will wish to control dog barking may include:
When it wakes the family in the middle of the night
When it annoys the neighbors
When it interrupts the family
When it breaks dog barking ordinances
When the dog seems to bark for no reason
When the dog barks at "intruders," even when these people are nowhere near the premises
When the dog barks at welcomed visitors
Dogs do not bark excessively simply to annoy people. When dogs bark, they do not understand that they may be causing a problem. They are barking for a reason, and it is up to the owner to try and understand that reason so that the behavior can be controlled. Here are some of the reasons why a dog may bark excessively:
They have not yet learned what is an acceptable amount of barking
They are anxious or bored
They have been trained to bark and believe they are doing what is required of them
They are trying to communicate with their owners and the message is not getting through
The first step in stopping excessive barking is to try and understand why your dog may be barking. Look at their environment and their history and see if you can identify any causes for the excessive barking. This will help you as you train your dog to control its barking. Some of the methods you can use to control dog barking include:
Remove anything that may be causing your dog discomfort or fear
Provide lots of toys and items to keep your dog amused
Spend lots of time with your dog
Ensure your dog feels safe
Understand when your dog is barking to communicate
Exercise your dog regularly
Don't reinforce anxiety barking
Remove any potential "triggers" from the dog's environment
Praise your dog for barking at appropriate times
For dogs that just won't stop barking, there are a number of products and training services available to help.
These collars spray the citronella scent in front of your dog's nose when it barks. As the dog does not like the smell, it will begin to associate barking with the unpleasant scent. You can order citronella anti-bark collars from Amazon.com. You can also find these collars and similar products from pet stores.
These collars give the dog a shock when it barks. Many dog trainers and vets do not like the idea of these shock collars. However, others believe they are a good training tool if use correctly. If you will be patient and persistent with other techniques this approach will not be needed.
There are a number of dog trainers who will work individually with your dog in order to control your dog's barking. These trainers will be able to help train your dog and to give you tips for producing the right behavior in your dog. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers has a Search Page that you can use to help you find a qualified trainer.
You might be tempted to try debarking surgery, which removes a dog's ability to bark. However, almost all dog trainers and vets consider this very inhumane. Barking is a dog's way of communicating to you and each other. To remove it would be like removing a human's ability to speak and should therefore should not be considered.
Although dog bark collars can be very useful, they are not the best method of dog bark control. Even if it works, the reason for the dog's barking may still continue, causing anxiety and unpleasantness for your dog. If you want to stop dog barking, understand why the animal barks, remove any "triggers" and reinforce good barking behavior.
Separation anxiety in dogs is a problem for around 10% of all dogs including puppies. Somewhat ironically, problems related to separation anxiety is the contributor for many dogs ending up in animal shelters. Separation anxiety can be a difficult problem to overcome that's why this section is so lengthy. However, with patience and persistence your efforts will be rewarded and you will experience the joy of seeing your pet overcome their condition. The new relationship that you will have with your dog will make the effort worth while.
Much of what is called "separation anxiety" is really boredom, or the dog discovering the chance to engage in his favorite "hobbies" safely. If your dog spends every second that you're home glued to your side, including sleeping times, and any destruction you find happens within the first 20 minutes of your absence (use a video camera to watch, or come back within a short time period) then it's possible that you have a true case of separation anxiety. If your dog can spend the night away from you, and is comfortable being somewhat separated from you while you're home, you probably do not really have separation anxiety - you are more likely to be dealing with boredom or just inappropriate chewing, barking, digging, etc.
Serious separation anxiety is indicated by a dog who does major property damage (chews holes through walls), injures himself in his anxiety (scratches or rubs paws or nose raw in digging or chewing), or stresses himself to the point of exhaustion during your absence. While stop-gap measures, like keeping the dog with you or with another person, will help while you train, you will need to spend a lot of time teaching this type of dog that he can survive being alone.
Start by making sure your dog is getting enough exercise, including mental exercise (usually satisfied with some training and the chance to interact with other dogs or explore new places). Before you can retrain your dog (and it may take weeks or longer), arrange for the dog to not be alone - get a pet sitter, join a doggy daycare, or leave your dog with a friend who's home all day.
Get your dog used to being confined to a pen or room where you will eventually leave him, even when you're home. Give him chew toys or some other interactive toy to occupy himself with while you quietly remain near by and ignore him. If your dog abandons the toy to try to demand your attention, quietly get him interested in the toy again, and quietly praise him for playing with it. Go back to ignoring him for a very brief period, and then intermittently, quietly praise or reward him for it. Practice this quiet confinement for a little while, then quietly open the door or gate and go about your business, allowing the dog to leave that area as well. This will be your dog's "safety zone". Do NOT leave your dog in this area when you must actually leave - for now.
Throughout your time together, do not give in to your dog's demands for your attention. If he comes to you whining, pawing, barking, jumping, jumping into your lap, or rubbing up against your hand, quietly turn away from him (you can stand up a little slowly to softly dump a small dog out of your lap). Wait until your dog is doing something else that is acceptable (not demanding your attention), and then call him over for some attention. Remember, if your dog can get your attention on demand any time you are home, it will be an even sharper contrast when you are gone.
Some research has suggested that this process of no longer allowing your dog on your lap or your furniture, no longer allowing him to sleep in your room, no longer giving treats "for free", and no longer allowing your dog to follow you throughout the house (using doors, baby gates, "stay" commands, etc.) may be vital for some separation anxiety cases. You may want to try a "Nothing In Life is Free" program.
Next, pick a day (or two) when you can practice desensitization without having to actually leave - a weekend is a pretty good time to start.
Figure out what begins your dog's anxiety. Is it when you put on your work shoes? Brush your hair? Pick up your keys? Find the earliest item in your getting-ready-to-go sequence that makes your dog anxious. Then practice doing that action, over and over again, until your dog is no longer anxious about it. For example, put on your work shoes, then take them off, then put them on again, over and over. You don't need to talk to your dog or do anything else special. Act just like you do every morning when you put on those shoes. When your dog is no longer anxious when you put on your shoes, move to the next step in your normal morning sequence; perhaps brushing your hair. (Note that if your dog's anxiety does not decrease after several repetitions, you are probably not working on the first item in your getting-ready-to-go sequence, and you'll need to back up).
Repeat this exercise several times a day (5-10 times if possible), starting each sequence at a time when the dog is relaxed. Do NOT repeat the exercise if your dog seems MORE anxious when you start, or if he can't settle down in between repetitions, or if he follows and watches you MORE between exercises.
You will have to spend a LOT of time with the early items in your getting-ready-to-go sequence, but as your dog learns to deal with this sort of thing, it will get easier. Opening up the front door (presumably the last item in your getting-ready-to-go sequence) will take fewer repetitions than the first item (putting on work shoes, in this example).
When you've worked through your whole getting-ready-to-go sequence and your dog is no longer anxious, you're ready for your first absence session. Up to now, your dog with separation anxiety has associated absences with intense anxiety. The dog has to now learn to associate absences with a lack of anxiety, or calmness. You and the dog will practice being apart from each other for very short lengths of time - the time that your dog can handle - and you will gradually practice longer and longer lengths.
So you've gone through your whole getting-ready-to-go sequence, and your dog is not yet anxious (if your dog is anxious, you are not ready to do any absences. Go over repeating the sequence items until your dog is calm about them). Now you're ready for your first very short absence. First you're going to want to give your dog some signal that this is just a "practice session". This could involve asking the dog to stay in a different area (such as the pen or room you practiced in), leaving a radio on, even spraying a certain scent in the air. This becomes a "practice cue" or a "safety cue".
Walk out the door, shut it behind you, lock it, and then turn around, unlock it, and come back in. Don't make a fuss over the dog. Repeat. When your dog is not anxious, lengthen your absence to 2 seconds. Repeat until your dog is not anxious. Lengthen your absences to 3 seconds, with occasional 1-second absences. Repeat until your dog is not anxious. Continue with this process, gradually increasing the length of time you are gone. Every once in a while practice a shorter session - you don't want the dog to learn that each absence will be longer, as this might make him more anxious. Gradually increase the average length of time of your absence until the dog is alone for longer than your normal absence. (although some researchers write that two hours is a benchmark, after which the dog may be able to handle significantly longer time.) Yes, that means you will NOT be able to really leave the dog alone in the "safety zone" for longer than you've successfully practiced. Keep your dog in the old place where you had him wait, and/or hire a dog sitter, etc.
It might help to set up some cues that the dog will not be alone for longer than he can handle, in other words, that this is just a practice session. Do you normally leave the radio or TV on when you're home? If you do, the silence when you're gone is a good indicator that the dog is alone. During this training, set up a cue that says "this is just a practice", such as the sound of the radio or a Mozart CD that you leave on "repeat" on the CD player. When you really do leave, you will continue to play this same cue - the dog will always believe that this is just a practice session.
Note: Some medications, such as the tricyclic antidepressants, buspirone and benzodiazepines (possibly clomipramine hydrochloride, "Clomicalm" or amitryptalline), may help your dog get over his anxiety. These MUST be prescribed by a knowledgeable veterinarian. However, some of these may take a few weeks to take effect, so you will need to make sure the medications are in effect before you try to use them in combination with the desensitization. The medications will not work in the long-term without the desensitization/counter-conditioning work - the process of teaching the dog how to deal with being left alone.
Another thing you might want to consider is a product which is a sort of doggy "plug-in" called "Comfort Zone with DAP", which releases a chemical which is supposed to be a dog comforting hormone. It often helps to calm stressed or exited dogs down. For some "anxious dogs" it seems to really help take the edge off of their anxiety or intensity. Some researchers suggest that it may be as effective as clomipramine.
Homeopathic remedies like the Bach Flower Essence mix "Rescue Remedy", may also help calm a very anxious dog during training. You should talk to your vet (traditional or holistic) about using these items to help. Visit the Alternative Veterinary Medicine webpage to find a holistic vet near you.
This is an outline of the steps that you must go through to help your dog deal with separation anxiety. The process takes a long time - weeks or months - and you may find that an experienced dog trainer or behaviorist can help the process go more smoothly and more quickly.
My Dalmatian Harry developed separation anxiety seemingly for no reason when he was about 7 years old. He would start digging and crying as soon as I left the house, even if my other family members were home. Aside from the 4 step program listed below, I continued to practice the general day to day duties of responsible dog ownership. By this I mean things like providing a safe and comfortable bed, plenty of exercise and obedience training.
Harry would start to get anxious (his whole body would shake) at the very first sign of me leaving the house. This typically would be putting my shoes on or turning off the TV or heater. It became a real problem for Harry, myself and the rest of my family, this is how we eventually solved it:
Step 1: Canine Separation Anxiety Treatment
Since Harry was always by my side when I was home I had to slowly teach him that he didn't always need to be close to me. I started out by ignoring his attention seeking behavior (jumping up, barking etc.) and then did some solid practice of his down stay. Little by little we extended the time and distance we spent apart, until he was happy to be alone for up to 30 minutes. Of course, we still spent lots of fun time together.
The next step was to get him used to being outside while I was inside. Again we started off with very small periods apart and gradually lengthened the time over a couple of weeks.
If you try this Separation Anxiety in dogs treatment make sure that you don't just leave your dog outside to get all worked up and stressed. The trick is to start out leaving your dog out for a few seconds, then going out and reuniting before he shows any signs of separation anxiety. Give your dog a treat or dog toy to keep his mind off missing you. Only initiate contact with your dog when he is calm and quiet.
The next step in fixing Harry's separation anxiety problem was to eliminate the distress caused by me getting ready to leave the house for work. What I did was write a list of all the triggers that started Harry's anxiety. I then set about desensitizing him to these triggers. I'd put my shoes on, and not go anywhere. Put my coat on, then sit down to read the paper. Pick up my car keys and just carry them around with me, jangling along as I went about my business. After a while (about 3 weeks) Harry barely offered a sideways glance at my shenanigans.
When Harry was completely calm in situations that would have unsettled him in the past, I left the house. At first I just stepped outside, shut the door and came back inside within 20 seconds - before he made a sound. Again this was a slow process, similar to step 2. I extended the time outside the front door and then graduated to starting the car, then driving around the block before I came back inside.
You can provide a tasty treat to your dog on your way out the door, something that he can work on for a while. Harry's favorite was a frozen Kong stuffed full of peanut butter and a few liver treats, this eventually kept him occupied for hours. Remember that when you return home, don't make a huge fuss. Come inside, get changed, pour yourself a nice hot coffee, then greet your calm dog.
This process did prove effective for me and my anxious dalmation. All up the 4 steps took about 5 weeks to work through and fix Harry's separation anxiety problem. My Vet suggested that I supplement this training with some medication. I didn't go down that path, but it would have been my next step had I required it.
Lake Haven does its best to adopt dogs that do NOT show signs of aggressive behavior. There are many types of dog aggression and these tips are focused on dog-to-dog aggression. If your dog develops signs of aggressive behavior you should consider getting professional help to control the issue before it escalates.
So you are aware, here are the most common types of aggressive behavior:
|Territorial Aggression||Dominance Aggression|
|Predatory Aggression||Learned Aggression|
|Sexual Aggression||Protective Aggression|
So remember, that dog aggression is a complex canine behavioral problem, with each case requiring serious attention. It can stem from many and varied causes and can surface at any time throughout your dog's life. Dog on dog aggression if left untreated will only escalate and become worse. It won't just disappear without your intervention.
Your first course of action should be a visit to your Veterinarian to rule out any medical reasons for the aggressive behavior (don't just rule this out yourself).
If you can't control your dog's aggression then seek out the expertise of an experienced animal behavior specialist. This applies to all forms of dog aggression - it's just too serious to take lightly.
Attend proper obedience training classes because obedience training establishes you as a fair and trusted leader and improves communication between handler and dog. It also means you will have voice control over your dog in any situation.
If you have a puppy then early socialization is a crucial stage for it to go through. Letting your dogs learn how to interact with each other is an essential step in the prevention of dog to dog aggression.
Each time you let your dog get away with aggressive behavior you are actually rewarding so don't reinforce the unwanted behavior.
Don't add punishment or pain such as leash corrections or electronic shock collars to an already fired up and stressed dog is a very risky action to take. There's far more effective and humane training methods we can implement instead. Remember; "Your dog will respond quickly if you reward him for doing what you want instead of punishing him for doing what you don't want."
The earlier you recognize and take proper action against the aggression the better. Remember that dog to dog aggression is never acceptable and you must make it crystal clear to your dog on every occasion it occurs.
Head collars and a muzzle are an effective tool to prevent altercations and may help but they don't get to the root of the problem. They are not the ultimate solution.
Never comfort your dog when he/she displays aggression - this sends the wrong message and actually rewards the behavior. As we know behavior that we reward is highly likely to be repeated.
One of the most common times your dog displays aggression towards other dogs is when you are out enjoying your daily walk. Lets have a look at some of the steps you can take to control your dog's on leash frustration.
Once again obedience training is the key. At the first sign of any anxious or aggressive behavior from your dog you can immediately call on an obedience command such as a down-stay to divert his/her attention. You are asking your dog to perform an alternate behavior which takes his focus and attention away from the other dog. It also changes your dogs body language to a passive, non threatening posture.
When you are in the process of eradicating on leash aggression be sure to use a suitable muzzle and do your best to avoid possible confrontations. This won't fix the problem but it's a worthwhile temporary measure.
Always be mindful that your dog is very sensitive to your energy, emotions, breathing and feelings. Therefore if you tense up and grab hold of the leash tightly at the first sign of an approaching dog, your dog will pick up on this and become anxious and stressed. This is a huge factor in most cases of on leash aggression.
You want your dog to believe that other dogs are no big deal rather than something to get worked up about. Another reason to not tighten up the leash is because this changes your dog's body language (makes your dog stand upright and tall). This can be seen by the other dogs as a show of dominance or at the very least threatening.
As with teaching any new command start in a familiar environment to your dog, free from any distractions DO NOT start teaching this attention exercise when you are out and about on your walk.
This exercise is all about getting and holding the attention of your dog, so grab a handful of your dogs favorite treats and lets get started!
With your dog on leash say "Toby" (your dogs name) "look", as soon as your dog looks up at you (gaining eye contact) praise him/her and then produce the treat from your pocket and give it. Remember to keep this sequence the same every time "Toby look!, as soon as you gain eye contact immediately praise your dog "good boy!", then provide the treat.
Build on this training by adding some variables such as saying "Toby look!" then take a couple of steps to one side. When your dog follows you and looks up to make eye contact you praise and produce the yummy treat. Now you can lengthen the amount of time you have your dog's attention by repeating this exercise back to back. It goes like this, say "Toby look!" take a couple of steps to your right, your dog follows you and looks up into your eyes, you praise and then treat. Straight away you repeat this process (step to the left this time) and continue to do it 5 or 6 times.
Keep practicing this exercise over and over and take it to different locations and gradually add some distractions such as the presence of other dogs. This may take a while, take it slow!
Engage in consistent (daily) non-confrontational obedience training with an appropriate reward for a job well done (see the "Nothing In Life Is Free" section).
Require all food and treats to be earned by having the dog sit or lie down on command before they are made available.
Have the dog work to receive petting (obey a command).
Initiate and terminate all games, using one-word commands.
Store all toys and other objects the dog is likely to steal and only provide them under certain terms and conditions.
Do not supply real bones, rawhide chews, or delicious foods that the dog might want to protect.
Do not force a dominant dog to do anything.
Never reprimand the dog but rather ignore it, turning a cold shoulder when it behaves badly.
Prevent the dog from getting onto furniture or beds. Over time it can be allowed but only when the dog is invited.
Dogs jumping up on people is at best an embarrassing, annoying habit and at worst a danger for all involved. If you can't stand your much loved dog jumping on you, just imagine what visitors to your home must think?
Excitement, they're just showing you that they are happy to see you.
Your dog could be seeking your attention and has been rewarded with it by jumping up in the past.
Always keep in mind that your dog doesn't understand that the jumping up behavior is "inappropriate". It's up to you to clearly communicate this to your dog.
Start as early as you can. It's much easier to prevent behavior problems such as dogs jumping on people, than to correct ingrained existing habits.
Punishing or hitting a dog for jumping up just doesn't make sense and will never work. Your goal, and your best chance of stopping your dog from jumping up is to clearly communicate that jumping up is always an unacceptable behavior.
Never reward a dog that jumps up on people by giving them the attention they are seeking. Rewarded behavior is reinforced behavior, meaning it will become more common.
You have to send a consistent message to your dog in all circumstances. Make it simple for your dog and eliminate any confusion. This means that everybody who comes into contact with your dog has to reinforce the same message. It's pointless and unfair if you give your dog a cuddle and attention when he jumps up on you, but then yell at him when he jumps up on a delivery man.
Depending on what stage you're at with the jumping up problem, you should find one of these training techniques will do the trick. In most cases you will see some positive results in a matter of days. These are my favorite methods which I have successfully used to stop my dogs from jumping:
When you see that your dog is ready to launch up at you, turn your body away from him. This will make your dog miss you, or at the very least deflect him off you. During this process don't make any eye contact with your dog and don't say a thing. Ignore your dog and make it clear to him that when he jumps he gets nothing from you. When your dog has settled down and stops jumping, you then initiate some contact with him. Get down to his level and lavish him with praise and a nice scratch behind the ear. If you are consistent and persistent with this method, your dog will soon learn that staying on all four legs is a much better alternative!
If your dog has already jumped up on you then grab both of his paws. Don't squeeze them just hold them hard enough so the dog can't break free. Then as soon as the dog starts to struggle then release him and simultaneously say the command "OFF." Dogs generally don't like to have their paws restrained so this method usually get results very quickly.
If you can catch the dog soon enough you might try to quickly give him something else to do. For example, instruct my dogs to "sit" - this is sometimes referred to as "alternate behavior training".
The good thing about jumping up problems in dogs is that they are usually an easy fix. As long as you are determined to correct the problem and follow a training techniques consistently.
Small Dog Syndrome is often used to describe toy breeds or any small dog that is a nasty, snippy thing. Dog aggression issues more often than not stem from the owners. How people act with small dogs are the reasons so many become tiny terrors. Even worse are the owners who laugh the behaviors off because tiny Spiffy is so funny when she lunges after great big Uncle Joe. No matter what size a dog is, a bite is a bite and can lead to major medical and legal issues. Even a small dog is capable of delivering a severe bite, especially if the victim is a child or the bite is to the face. The golden rule of small dog ownership: if you would not allow a large dog to get away with a behavior, neither will you allow a small dog. What can owners do to help prevent Small Dog Syndrome?
Realize that no matter what the size, dogs are dogs and not toys. These are not babies to be doted on with frilly clothes or treated like human infants. These are dogs and driven by the same inherent behaviors that all dogs are. Yes, there are differences in temperament breed to breed, but in general, you will see varying degrees of the same inherent behaviors in all dogs.
Small dogs are NOT fashion accessories. Sadly, too many “celebrities” own dogs as accessories and this means others will get dogs for the same reason.
Do not carry your dog all over. This can result in various behavioral issues because the dog is now unnaturally elevated. In addition, you are depriving your dog of exercise and the ability to be a dog.
Do not pick your dog up or allow others to without signaling the dog. A dog who does not wish to be picked up will react. Then when put down, he will learn that acting aggressively will stop the humans. Teach your dog to be picked up on cue so there are no surprises.
Do not allow your dog to walk all over you while you are on chairs/bed/floor nor should you give into demands for attention. All these can elevate the dog’s position above you.
Do not allow your dog to get away with snapping at people while in your lap. If this happens, DO NOT stroke your dog, you are encouraging and even praising these behaviors in a dog’s mind. Instead, give a quick “Uh! Uh!” and put the dog promptly on the floor.
Do not hand feed your dog. Unless there is a medical reason your dog has to be force fed, things like feeding your dog from your plate or only feeding your dog from your hand can add to undesired issues. Of course, your dog must learn to take treats and not to develop food aggressions, but it will not kill your dog to eat meals from a bowl.
Never put your dog on the counter or table for meals and feed from your fork. It is not natural for a dog to sit in a highchair and wear bib for meals.
Do not take size as an excuse for failing to housetrain.
Do not allow children to treat your dog like a toy, pick up, dress up like a doll or tote around. Even a small drop can cause severe damage to a tiny dog. If your child “pushes the envelope” too far with the dog, there can be a nasty nip or even a bite as a result.
If you must use clothing for your dog, make sure it is practical and properly fits. Clothes that constrain movement and are knock-offs of human clothes can cause stress which can lead to undesired reactions and behaviors. Choose clothes that allow for full free movement of legs and the ability to easily meet bodily needs.
Small dogs do have special considerations. They see the world far differently than larger dogs. Humans tend to do things with them that they would never think of doing with a larger dog. Lie down on the floor, look up and now have someone stand over you and act silly. This is scary. Well this is what your dog deals with on a daily basis. Ask people to kneel down when greeting your dog. However, your dog must learn it is bad manners to jump into laps without permission. Ask people not to coo or fawn all over your dog or get the dog’s face. Do not allow them to encourage bad behaviors like jumping or growling. Do not allow them to loom over your dog or swoop in for a sudden pickup. It is not cute and it is a potential lawsuit should a poorly behaving human get nipped or even bitten. Not to mention that any work you have done could be set back.
Small dogs need not become ankle-biting menaces. If you are seeing worrisome behaviors in your small dog, please consult with a trainer who is familiar with the issues facing small dogs but who also knows how to cultivate the desired behaviors you should have in any dog regardless of size.
A dog's ability to live with a specific cat does not mean that it is "good" with all cats. It may simply mean that the dog has low or no prey drive.
A dog can live with cat(s) while still maintaining prey drive around all other cats; this is because the dog considers the cat a possession or a member of the pack, (a part of the family) not prey.
You will have better chance of success if your dog is a puppy. A puppy who grows up with a cat is likely to see the cat as part of the pack.
You will have less chance of success if:
Your dog has an aggressive or predatory nature. An aggressive dog can seriously injure or kill a cat.
Your cat is a small kitten, or is declawed, handicapped, or elderly. A kitten can be injured by an overly playful dog. Declawed, older, or handicapped cats are less equipped to defend themselves.
Get to know your dog and cat well. Be able to interpret their body language and sense their moods.
Your dog should be well-trained, and respond to commands to come, stay, and sit.
You should also know how to blend mild discipline and positive redirection to gently influence your cat's behavior.
Make sure the cat can escape if she needs to. Cats
are more likely to be hurt by dogs than vice versa, so
make sure your cat has spots throughout the
house--cleared-off countertops and shelves, kitty
condos, and so on--to leap out of harm's way.
You'll also want to create areas where the cat can get a good distance away from the dog. You can block off rooms with baby gates, so long as your dog can't jump over them, or install cat doors that will let your cat escape outside or into another room.
If you already have a cat and are preparing to bring a new dog home, get your kitty acquainted with these escape routes and hiding places in advance. Lure her through the cat door, over a gate, or onto a safety perch with the help of a food treat.
The key is to go as slowly as it takes to keep fear and
aggression at a minimum. It's likely that you'll see
some of both, but if you're careful, you can stop it
before it snowballs.
Keep going over each step until it's old hat to both animals, and if either gets frightened or overly excited, just go back to the previous step and keep practicing until they're calm again. This process may take days, or it may take months.
Get them used to each other's scent. Rub a cloth on each pet and put it in the other's hang-out spot--on the dog bed, under the cat's food dish, on your lap. You may have to refresh the cloth with the animal's scent several times. Keep it up until neither one seems overly excited or distressed by the other's smell--barking and whining in your dog and a swishing tail in your cat are signs they need more time.
Let them investigate each other's living areas. While the cat's outside or elsewhere in the house, bring the dog in to sniff around her lair, and vice versa. This way they can explore the other's territory and scent without a direct face-off.
Introduce them through a door or baby gate. Bring the
dog and cat on opposite sides of a closed door or baby
gate, with a person on both sides. Don't restrain your
cat at all; feeling like she can't get away may frighten
Let them sniff under the door or through the gate, but if your cat doesn't want to get too close, don't force her. Lavish them both with praise, attention, and treats. You want them to think that good things happen when the other pet is around. Ask the dog to sit, lie down, and perform any other commands he knows, praising and rewarding him whenever he focuses on you and not the cat.
Keep practicing this step until the cat doesn't seem frightened and the dog doesn't seem overly excited.
Again, ask the dog to obey some commands, rewarding him for focusing on you rather than on the cat.
Some cats will hiss and swipe at a curious or obnoxious dog to warn him, "Back off!" That's actually a better response than running away, which often triggers the dog to take off after her.
If the cat flees and your dog starts to chase her, grab the leash, firmly tell your dog, "No" or "Leave it," and ask him to sit. If he returns his attention to you, give him a food reward--a really tasty one--for his restraint.
Once your dog and cat seem fairly comfortable in each other's company, you can let them roam around together when you're home. But to keep the peace, it's wise to separate them in different areas of the house when you go out until you're very, very sure they'll get along. Some experts recommend making this a permanent policy, to keep all the pets safe.
Bottom line: Many dogs and cats can coexist peacefully, but you'll keep everyone safe and make life much less stressful if you plan carefully when looking for a new pet, and introduce the newcomer slowly and carefully.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, it wasn't meant to be. Some dogs are simply too dangerous to be around cats (occasionally the reverse is true). If your gut is telling you that this isn't working out, respect that message. The humane thing to do in this case is contact the shelter or breeder so that you can find a good cat-free home for the dog. In the interim, keep dog and cat separated and give them both lots of love.
Dogs and cats can usually live together peacefully, although creating a harmonious "blended family" requires some planning, patience, and careful guidance on your part. In some cases your dog and cat will become best friends. Some dogs unfortunately will be too dangerous for your cat, and one of the most important points of this article is that you need to recognize when this is the case.
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From the #1 "New York Times" bestselling author of "Cesar's Way" and "Be the Pack Leader "comes the ultimate guide for living together with a healthy, happy dog. In "A Member of the Family," Cesar Millan coaches you on everything you need to know about raising a dog-from the moment you first think about getting a dog-including information on: - Selecting the right breed for your family's lifestyle - Establishing-and enforcing-household rules from day one- What to look for in a veterinarian- Proper nutrition- Familiarizing a dog with another pet in the family- Setting up exercise, discipline, and affection plans for your family and your dog- Introducing your dog to a new significant other or baby Packed with practical tips and techniques-plus advice from the unique perspectives of Cesar's wife and sons-"A Member of the Family "addresses the most common issues and questions for dog owners."
NOTE: Contrary to any advice given in the books or other people, it is our belief that being a "Pack Leader" does NOT mean any form of domination, aggression, or making the dog fearful in any way. By simply understanding that dogs are instinctively social animal (just like us) and that they are willing to accept leadership the real goal should be to use their instincts as an aid in respectful, reward based training (i.e. behavior modification).