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TRAINING 411

posted October 15th, 2010 by
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BY MARY GREEN

There’s a new puppy at my house! “Cinder,” a border collie, has come to join my family, and I find myself facing the same problems as every new puppy parent. This column is all about how I faced the challenges that Cinder brings to my life.

Q. At what age should a puppy leave his mother for his new family?
A.The AVMA (American Veterinary Medicine Association) says that puppies can leave the litter from 6 to 10 weeks. There is a huge difference developmentally between a six-week-old puppy and a tenweek- old puppy.

Cinder came home with me at eight weeks of age. For me, that was the optimal time. She had visited the veterinarian and received her first vaccines, she had been dewormed, and she was doing well on her commercial dog food. She had a great head start on crate training and house training, too!

Q. How do you crate train a puppy?
A.Start by making the crate a “happy” place. When you first introduce the puppy to her crate, put some really yummy food in there. Don’t close the door – just let her go in and explore, and leave when she wants to. Cinder liked having a couple of toys in her crate, and a puppy Nylabone®. Also in her crate, she gets a Kong® toy stuffed with her food and a treat.

By starting Cinder in a small travel crate, I was able to move the crate around the house, so she wouldn’t be isolated. I took her for car rides – always in her crate! At night, I placed the crate close to my bed, and if she was fussy, I tapped on top, or wiggled my fingers through the openings to distract her. I made the hard and fast rule that I never took her out of the crate while she was fussing. She had to be quiet for at least three seconds in order to be let out!

Crate training Cinder significantly aided her house training. Every time she came out of the crate, I immediately took her outside. If it was nighttime, I did not allow her to play. Once she had done her business, I took her back in, and put her in the crate with a biscuit. In the daytime, going potty outdoors meant that she had a period of freedom in the house (supervised, of course). If she did not eliminate, I put her back in the crate and gave her another chance 10-15 minutes later. She quickly learned to potty outside!

Q.Are dogs and cats natural enemies or can they get along?
A.They can get along and often do! Cats can often be overwhelmed by puppies or exuberant dogs. Be sure that initial meetings are well controlled to prevent any aggression from the dog. The cat needs to feel safe and secure, so she might be up on the back of a chair, or in a carrier if she is accustomed to one. Give each animal a really yummy treat when they meet each other. Another great tip is to rub each of the animals with a towel, then ‘introduce’ them by way of smelling the other towel.

Q.How do you introduce the puppy to other animals in your home?
A.First and foremost, do not traumatize the puppy! A traumatic encounter during early social development can have a lifelong effect on her behavior.

I was careful with Cinder’s introduction to my other dogs. I placed her in her crate and allowed each one individually to sniff her through the crate, and for her to see and smell them safely. Next, one at a time, I leashed the adult dog and allowed Cinder to come up to them, or retreat if she wanted. My dogs are quite well socialized, and my approach would have been different if they were not dogfriendly!

The other border collies (Bonnie & Kindle) accepted Cinder quickly, but don’t have a lot of tolerance for her puppy behavior. They are serious in their games, and are so fast and physical, that Cinder couldn’t participate until she got bigger.

Parker, my boxer, is the one who plays the tolerant Uncle to Cinder. He thinks she is the coolest thing ever! He has been a good role model for her, and accompanies her on her many adventures.

Q.How do you introduce the puppy to the children?
A.There aren’t children living at our house – just a couple of old folks! But I wanted my two-year-old grandson to safely meet Cinder. Puppies jump around, jump up, scratch and nip. This behavior tends to arouse children just as much as puppies! I started out by holding Cinder in my lap and allowing my grandson to pet her if he wanted. I made sure that they were both gentle. Soon, he was tossing around her toys and she was going after them. The first encounters were very brief – I gave Cinder lots of treats to ensure a positive association about children.

At K9 Manners & More, we like to use the “Two Hands” rule when puppies are meeting people. That means, the puppy can not have more than two hands on her at a time. This helps the children learn to take turns, and not overwhelm the puppy.

Q.At what age do you begin training a puppy?
A.The day I bring her home! Even if I don’t realize I’m “training,” the puppy is learning. I want to be certain she is learning the right things, such as what to chew and where to potty. On the website www.dogstardaily.com, there is a free book that you can download titled “Before You Get Your Puppy.” This is a fabulous resource for new puppy owners!

Every day, for a couple of minutes at a time, we work on her basic good manners – sit, down, come, stay off; even tricks. I reserve a portion of her kibble to use as reinforcement.

Cinder joined puppy kindergarten class once she was ten weeks old. Puppy kindergarten class is a great opportunity to gain socialization with other puppies, and strangers – especially children and men. There needs to be supervised off-leash socialization time, where the puppies can enjoy romping, but are not allowed to be bullied – or become a bully!

It has been a few years since I’ve raised a puppy. I had conveniently forgotten how busy they are – how much supervision they require – and how much they love to chew! Eventually, I will enjoy the result of the time investment in Cinder’s early training as she develops into a wonderful companion.

Mary Green
Mary Green, Certified Pet Dog Trainer, is the owner of K9 Manners & More in Broken Arrow. She is a consultant for the Tulsa SPCA, trainer for TheraPetics Service Dogs of OK, and is a monthly guest on the KOTV Noon News. www.k9-manners.com

Training 411

posted April 15th, 2010 by
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By Mary Green

Q. How can I stop my dog from running the fence with the neighbor dog and barking her head off?

A.If she is doing this when you’re not home, it’s going to be pretty difficult to stop. Any time bad behavior happens when there’s no one around to intervene, that behavior is likely to continue. Somehow, the environment may need to change. Is it possible to keep the dog inside, crated or confined, in your absence? If not, you may need to modify the outside environment. Maybe put up a kennel run for confinement. My mom had a great setup where she installed a second fence several feet inside the perimeter fence. That way, the dogs were not so close to the neighbors and they were less likely to run the fence. Other options would be to devise interesting things for the dog to do while she is outside – a sandbox filled with interesting things to dig in, food delivery toys, or bones with filling. If she is doing this while you are home, you will have to go outside, and redirect her attention to you, or something else to do. If she persists, you may need to bring her in to curtail her barking. Try to figure out why the dog is barking in the first place. Does she have enough stimulation? Is she getting out of the yard, going for walks, going to doggie school, or having other activities? Living in the yard is pretty socially isolating for a dog, and they may bark for attention, or out of boredom. If she is particularly fond of the neighbor dog, and just wants to play, maybe you can arrange a play time for both dogs in your yard. Be sure that they are friendly! My friend Daniele has a perfect setup: a gate between her yard and the neighbor’s so that Lucy and her friend Patches can have regular playtime. Labrador retrievers Kanali & Sundance visit in the corner of their yards (their owners call that “coffee talk”) and then their owners get together for playtime. Being able to socialize with friendly dogs is a key part of a dog’s welfare.

Q. I have a nine-month old golden retriever that I would love to take on more walks, but she pulls terribly on the leash, and will bolt away after a squirrel or a bird. And, if she sees another dog she can practically jerk my arm out of the socket! Any suggestions?

A.I would first work on loose leash walking. There are some good videos online that show how to teach loose leash walking. Check out Dog Star Daily (www.dogstardaily.com) for some ideas. Pulling on leash is a hard habit to break! It is very rewarding to the dog to be able to pull his owner along for the ride, making it not so very enjoyable for the owner. Loose leash walking can be taught very effectively using a lure and reward method. Equipment can help you manage the dog as he learns how to walk politely with you. In our classes at K9 Manners & More, we have found that the Easy Walk No Pull Front Clip Harness works very well to inhibit pulling without putting pressure on the dog’s neck or nose. The leash attaches to the chest strap and guides the dog by gentle pressure on his shoulders. We also see good results with the Halti and the Gentle Leader head halters, where the leash attaches to a ring under the dog’s chin, and allows him to be guided without choking. Once your dog is more controllable, you will be better able to manage the distractions. If another dog is approaching you on a walk, you might want to cross the street. Encourage your dog to glance at that dog, but walk on by. If you’re observant, you can tell the very instant your dog spots a squirrel or bird. Her ears will pitch forward, and she’ll raise her head and stand tall. At the very first indication, say her name, and get her to turn toward you. If she won’t give you that much attention, just drop a tidbit on the ground and tell her to ‘find it.’ If her nose is on the ground, she’s not lunging toward the other animal. Teaching a ‘leave it’ skill is also very handy.

Q.Are dogs and cats natural enemies or can they get along?

A.They can get along and often do! Cats can often be overwhelmed by puppies or exuberant dogs. Be sure that initial meetings are well controlled to prevent any aggression from the dog. The cat needs to feel safe and secure, so she might be up on the back of a chair, or in a carrier if she is accustomed to one. Give each animal a really yummy treat when they meet each other. Another great tip is to rub each of the animals with a towel, then ‘introduce’ them by way of smelling the other towel.

Mary Green, Certified Pet Dog Trainer, is the owner of K9 Manners & More in Broken Arrow. She is a consultant for the Tulsa SPCA, trainer for TheraPetics Service Dogs of OK, and is a monthly guest on the KOTV Noon News. www.k9-manners.com

Training 411

posted January 15th, 2010 by
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By Mary Green

Q. Sassy is a 6 year old dachshund, and is an only child. Any time someone comes to our house, she acts like a fool. She growls and barks at people, and charges after them. I’m afraid she is going to bite someone.

A. Isn’t it funny how sometimes a dog’s name becomes a behavior trait?
“Sassy” sounds just that! If she has acted this way all of her life, and has not bitten anyone, it’s unlikely that she will – under the normal circumstances you describe. She is certainly rehearsing some bad behavior, though. Generally speaking, the longer a behavior has been going on the harder it is to change. Dogs make aggressive overtures (like barking and charging) to let people know they are uncomfortable. These stay-away-from-me signals indicate “don’t pet me,” and Sassy may be saying “Intruder Alert!” Dogs even do this with people they have seen many times. While we may understand why they act this way, it’s not really acceptable for the family dog to threaten guests in your home. So, what might you do? Put Sassy in the crate when people come over. If she has not been crate trained, you may be able to confine her in a bedroom, or another out of the way place. You need to be sure that someone can’t accidentally open the door and let her out! Settle her down in there with a stuffed Kong toy, or a favorite chew toy.

• Always have Sassy on leash when people come over. Keep hold of the leash or attach it to your belt loop. Be sure that Sassy stays close to you, but please don’t pick her up and hold her face to face with people. She should stay on the floor.

• Have special treats for Sassy when company comes over. As soon as someone enters, you give Sassy a really special treat. Make it
something yummy that takes her a minute to eat. If she’s chewing and enjoying a treat, she isn’t barking. Don’t ask your guest to give her a treat, let it come from you. You’re just making a positive association between the person entering and her getting a great snack. In time, she will associate the people coming over with something she really loves, even if she’s not crazy about company.

• Be cautious of well intentioned friends and family that say “she’ll be fine,” or “all dogs like me!” Often that’s the person that pushes the dog’s buttons the wrong way, and gets bitten!

Q. Our boxer Sadie bolts away every time she can. If you’re standing at the door, she will practically knock you down to get out. If the kids leave the door open, she is gone in a flash. And, once she’s gone she is impossible to catch. How can we train her to stay at home?

A. I’m not sure if the real issue is training her to stay at home, or teaching her to come when she’s called. Not coming when called is one of the biggest behavior problems we see at K9 Manners & More. And, it’s a behavior problem that can cost the dog’s life. Getting enough exercise is critical to a dog’s wellbeing. Be sure that Sadie is going for leash walks in the neighborhood. A brisk walk is very beneficial for mental stimulation as well as physical exercise. Sadie can enjoy the sights and smells of the world that way. When she is confined to her own territory, she can become almost starved for new information! That can contribute to bolting.

Teach Sadie to get back and stay back away from the door. She can stay on a rug, in a hallway, or other area adjacent to the doorway, but needs to stay out of the entry way. One of our trainers taught a dog to go sit on the staircase when the doorbell rings! To start this, tell the dog to “get back” and toss a treat where you wish for her to go. As she goes for the treat, move into her space, tell her to sit, and reward her with another treat. Gradually practice until you are able to open the door without Sadie moving.

Teaching a dog to come when called, reliably, every time, takes lots of practice. It’s so important to be really generous with praise and rewards, and it needs to be something the dog really likes! You begin practicing inside your house, from room to room. You practice outside in your fenced yard. We use a technique we call “catch and release” where you reward the dog for coming to you, and then you release her to go about her business, and then call her again. Don’t practice in any off-leash area unless you can be 100 per cent certain Sadie will come to you.

If Sadie has bolted and is racing away from home – don’t chase her! Try instead to cheerfully call, “Let’s go for a car ride,” or “Sadie, do you want a cookie?” Be really silly and run the opposite direction when Sadie looks at you. Go to a neighboring yard and pretend to be very interested in their garden. When she gets curious about what you are doing, run home and let her chase you. Instead of chasing Sadie, let Sadie chase you! It is never a good idea to scold or punish your dog for running away, once you catch her. She needs to know it’s always safe to come running to mom or dad.

Mary Green, Certified Pet Dog Trainer, is the owner of K9 Manners & More in Broken Arrow. She is a consultant for the Tulsa SPCA, trainer for TheraPetics Service Dogs of OK, and is a monthly guest on the KOTV Noon News. www.k9-manners.com

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE CHOCOLATE…

posted November 15th, 2009 by
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STORY BY Mary Green

THE HOLIDAYS ARE UPON US! We are so busy with decorating, baking, shopping, traveling your pets’ safety can be the last thing on our list. Keeping the “furry” family members happy and safe during the Holiday season should be as important as Grandma’s sugar cookies!

RULE NUMBER ONE SHOULD BE: PETS SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN AS PRESENTS!

AS YOU DECk THE HALLS, THINK ABOUT WHAT MIGHT BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR PETS.

TINSEL - while not toxic to animals, can cause intestinal obstruction or even present a choking hazard.
THE CENTERPIECE of the Holiday decorations, the Christmas tree, presents particular challenges to be pet-safe. Dogs find lights and cords tempting to pull on, and cats have a particular penchant for climbing the trees, both of which can cause the tree to come tumbling down. OTHER HAZARDS TO CONSIDER ARE:
GLASS ORNAMENTS - hang them high on the tree. Consider instead hanging nonbreakable wooden, metal, plastic or resin ornaments on lower branches.
BUBBLE LIGHTS – they contain ethylene chloride which can be lethal if ingested.
ANGEL HAIR – not the pasta, but the spun glass, can cause irritation to your pet’s eyes and skin.
RIBBONS AND BOWS ON PACKAGES – can be a choking hazard or cause intestinal obstruction. And please don’t put ribbons around your animal’s neck. This could cause serious injury or even death.
TREE STAND WATER – may contain harmful bacteria which could give your pet a very upset tummy.

While Poinsettias often get a bad rap for being toxic to pets, there are many more seasonal plants that are very dangerous if your pet ingests them. Ivy, HoLLY, AND MISTLETOE all are very toxic and can be lethal if consumed. Cedar, balsam, juniper, pine and fir are moderately toxic. CANDLES are a particular challenge, and if lighted, should be well out of reach of pets. It is too easy for a pet to knock them over and cause a fire hazard, both to themselves and your home.

Using caution and a common-sense approach to decorating for this holiday season will help keep your pet safe and happy!

TRAINING 411

posted October 15th, 2009 by
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Q&A By MARY GREEN

Q .

We have a year old half Great Pyrenees, half Labrador retriever mix. He is afraid of stormy weather. Do you have any tips on how to re-teach him not to be afraid?

A .

With all the storms we have here in Oklahoma, we do see a lot of dogs with storm-related anxiety. The symptoms will vary with the severity of the anxiety. You might see the dog panting, drooling, pacing, whining, shaking, hiding, or even digging in order to escape the environment. In a mild case, there may be nothing more than panting. The anxiety is so severe in some dogs that they are medicated at the drop of the barometer!

As a concerned pet owner, your natural response is to soothe and comfort your dog. You may have heard, or been advised not to coddle an animal that is afraid; that you would be reinforcing his fear. While it may be true that you could be reinforcing the physical responses to fear (such as the shaking and panting) you aren’t reinforcing the fear itself. In fact, according to Dr. Patricia McConnell*, “No amount of petting is going to make it worthwhile to your dog to feel panicked (meaning, the dog is not going to prefer a storm as a way to get attention). Fear is no more fun for dogs than it is for people. The function of fear is to signal the body that there is danger present, and that the individual feeling fearful had better do something to make the danger, and the fear that accompanies it, go away.” There are a few techniques that you can easily use that may help your dog be less frightened of storms.

  • Stretch out on the couch yourself, and take a nap! Yawn, stretch, relax – your dog may lie down and do the same thing.
  • If the flashes of lightening are bothering your dog, move him to an interior room where he can’t see it. You might even hang out in the bath room.
  • Try a homeopathic remedy for your pet. HomeoPet has an anxiety formula, which has Chamomile and other natural calming ingredients. Bach Flower Remedies has a similar product called Rescue Remedy.
  • Spray his bedding and crate if he uses one, with diluted fabric softener to reduce static electricity.
  • Try the Storm Defender cape! Check out www.stormdefender.com for this uniquely designed cape which “defends” your dog against the static charge of an electrical storm.

* Both Ends of the Leash: Fear Reduction: A gentle hand or a tasty treat doesn’t reinforce fear, it reduces it. By Patricia B. McConnell, PhD.

Q .

We lost our elderly dog recently and would like to adopt another dog, but we’re unsure of how to introduce a new dog to our cat. Our old dog and cat got along well.

A .

Since your cat and your previous dog had a good relationship, you should be able to introduce a new dog into the household – carefully! Ask the rescue group or shelter if the dog has been “cat tested.” They may know whether or not the dog is safe with cats. When you bring the new dog home, meet and greet the cat in a very controlled manner. Ideally, you should do a “scent swap” before you bring the dog into the home. Rub the dog and the cat each with a different towel, then place the dog’s towel under the cat food bowl, and feed the cat her favorite meal. Take the cat’s towel and allow the dog to lie on it, smell it, and eat off of it.

Once you bring the dog indoors, be sure that the cat is confined behind a door. Bring the dog on leash to the door, and allow him to sniff. After the dog has acclimated to the environment (still on leash), open the door and allow the cat to come out if she wants to. It’s absolutely imperative that the dog not chase the cat on the initial meeting. Both animals need to understand that from the very beginning. If you are crate training your new dog (which we would highly recommend), put the dog in his crate to relax. Let the cat wander as close as she wants to. Each time the dog looks at the cat and does not react, reward the dog with a treat.

Frequent, short meet and greet sessions are better than one long one. Time the arrival of your new dog so that you will be home and able to spend a considerable time with both animals monitoring their interactions. Q. My dog used to be great on walks and would even go running with me. Recently, he has been balking on leash. He stops and refuses to continue, and no amount of coaxing gets him to move ahead. I end up dragging him, or just going back where we came from. What’s up with this? A.

Where is my crystal ball? I can’t give a definite answer – but I can make some guesses! Maybe there was something environmental that scared him; a car back-fire, a house under construction with lots of banging noises, even scary dogs or kids. Or, perhaps he had an injury that you may not have been aware of. It could be a stone bruise, bee or wasp sting, or even him getting overheated.

Regardless of the reason – try helping him overcome his objections.

  • Try a different piece of equipment: switch from a head halter to a front clip harness or martingale collar. Ditch the traditional choke chain or prong collar if you are using these.
  • Take along your yummiest treats and leave a “trail of breadcrumbs” for him to follow. Toss treats ahead of you and tell him to get it.
  • Try walking with a friend. If you know someone with a dog that’s a good walker and friendly with dogs, ask them to go with you.

Dog Training 411

posted July 15th, 2009 by
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Mary Green answers your questions

Q

I have a Corgi puppy that is now about 10 months old. She is a very loving and affectionate dog – most of the time. Recently, she has snapped at both of my children. I have 2 daughters, 7 and 9 years old. What has me really concerned is that she snapped right in their faces. She growled at me one time when I went to get her off the sofa, but she has not snapped at me. I’m not sure what happened with the girls, because I didn’t see it, but I do know that Rosie was on the sofa.

A

Young children and dogs should never be unsupervised. At 7 and 9 your children are too young to be playing with Rosie unless you are right there to monitor their interactions. While it is never acceptable for dogs to bite, sometimes we can understand why they want to! Little girls especially like to pick up puppies, hold them, and carry them around. They tend to treat them like living dolls. Puppies often grow tired of being pursued by children, and may use their teeth to defend themselves. Little boys like to play wrestling and chase games with dogs, which can have disastrous consequences! While it may be cute that the 10 week old Lab puppy chases the kids, and they fall down and wrestle, it’s not such a cute behavior at 10 months of age when the dog now weighs 60 pounds or more.

I have counseled parents whose child was bitten when they bent down to hug a sleeping dog. There is truth in the old adage “Let sleeping dogs lie.”

Rosie may be territorial about the sofa, too. Teach her that she is not allowed up there unless you have invited her. Train her to jump off the sofa to get a treat when you tell her. Don’t pick her up and remove her from the sofa, or drag her off. Make sure that she is willingly jumping down when asked.

Teach your daughters how to play with Rosie. Have short play sessions that are toy oriented, and eliminate chase and wrestling games. Instruct the children not to pick up Rosie, or pursue her. Teach her to come when called, and sit politely for petting. Treats are a great motivation for these behaviors!

Q

Do no-bark collars work?

A

Unfortunately, there’s no short answer to your short question! There are various types of anti-bark, or bark control collars, and many drawbacks to using them. One type is considered a shock collar, which delivers a jolt when the dog barks. These collars are marketed with misleading descriptions of “levels of stimulation” or “light touch correction.” The barking dog receives a shock that he may or may not associate with his barking! He may associate the “unpleasant feeling” with the presence of another dog or person. He may become fearful about going into the yard.

There are no-shock solutions that may be effective. One option is a device which emits an ultrasonic “correction” tone when dogs bark. They can be mounted on the fence, wall, or pole. They have adjustments for frequency and sensitivity. The biggest drawback with these devices is that all the dogs within range (which can be as much as 50 feet) are affected. So, the non-barkers are corrected just the same as the barkers! There is a wide range of sensitivity to this among dogs. The ultrasonic tone is hugely aversive for some dogs, while others are oblivious.

If I were to use an anti-barking collar, I would use a citronella collar. The collar, when triggered by the dog barking, delivers a burst of citronella spray near his nose. Citronella, while not harmful to the dog, is still very unpleasant. One of the drawbacks is that once the dog has stopped barking, the citronella scent is still in his nose. As with the ultrasonic tone, some dogs are not terribly deterred by citronella.

Before making the decision to use an anti-bark device, you really need to identify the underlying cause of his barking. Using a no-bark device without incorporating a behavior modification program might put an end to the barking, and turn into a bigger problem like escaping, or even aggression.

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