Original article by Ronald Pfierman, Owner of Aztec Dog Training
Puppies start learning the day they are born and much like human children are hungry for knowledge. Their experiences play a large role in shaping their character and disposition. A dog has no ability to reason outside of what he has experienced so that means his life is limited to his experiences. We can use this to our advantage by Obedience training before he figures out that as we see it “the grass is greener on the other side”. If the dog starts training within a week or so of being brought into your home This will instill into your puppy’s mind that obedience is a way of life – he will simply not know any different.
There are 3 Basic Concepts puppies need to learn between the ages of 8 – 14 weeks if you expect him to listen in the most difficult of times. Those are:
From the age of 8 weeks to somewhere between 12- 18 weeks – depending on breed and speed of maturity - the puppy is in what I call his “character development stage”. This is the stage in his life where the foundation for all interaction between him and humans and other dogs is established. He either learns that he can dominate and control the people and the dogs surrounding him or that Obedience is a way of life. This greatly affects what he does and who he listens to in the most distracting of situations for the rest of his life.
If obedience is instilled into his life at this young stage, daily routines are set up to live by and the dog is worked in obedience just 10 minutes a day The puppy will listen much more consistently than a dog trained at a later age that has learned to control his pack and ultimately making the final decision when the chips are down. It will also be much less stressful on everyone involved, less expensive and much less work on the owners.
If you wait several Months or Yrs- By now he has learned about controlling you and it is up to me to CHANGE HIS PERCEPTION OF YOU not just instill Obedience. That is much more difficult, more stressful, less effective and more work for you the owner on followup .
Starting the moment you pick up your puppy he learns about you and your family. He studys all of your body language, How you interact with each other as well as with him, who appears strong or weak, What gets your attention, How to make you feel Empathy (sorry for him) and ultimately exploits your weaknesses as well as perceives his ability to do so as a sign of weakness. The entire time learning to manipulate you and your family to get his needs and slowly but surely worming his way to the top of the pack.
A Little About Pack Mentality and its role in a Puppy’s Development
Pack mentality dictates that the strongest must lead the pack for the Pack to survive. This a prevailing tune not only in dogs but in Wolves, Military, Football Teams or even Prison Gangs and believe me your puppy is clearly aware of this. He observes our body language as Humans and Human behavior in general – and sees subtle things we may perceive as absolutely normal or things we may overlook assigns of weakness You must express to him in a language he understands several concepts as described in the opening paragraphs.
Most dog’s main goal in life is to someday become the leader of your pack. The more “buttons” your dog learns to control you - the less control you will have in him as an adult. One giant advantage puppyies and dogs have over you is that they can actually smell the pheromones your body gives off when your moods change as well as much more information.
This is called scent discrimination. When we walk into thanksgiving dinner we smell the strongest thing on the menu – usually the turkey or dressing – a dog has the ability to tell you everything on the menu, what kind of mood everyone is in the room. Animals and People. He can tell if a woman is ovulating ,if someone is excited and even worse a dog can smell someone’s adrenaline rise. So a puppy is very perceptive in a way that we as humans have very little comprehension. This is all more reasons why your puppy needs to start training from day 1 before he learns to control you and your family and literally learns to outsmart you.
So he simply doesn’t know that “The grass is greener on the other side” as we would see it – he only sees and EXPERIENCES Obedience as a way of life and learns that not being the Leader is a good happy way to live. That being Beta is better than Alpha for him. The Role or status a dog perceives he has acquired and his position in the pack determine in his mind what his rights , responsibilities and duties are – this clarifies many things for a dog and once established dogs become happier, more responsive to commands and much calmer.
The best example I can give is when we feel over whelmed in our life or even have become hopeless and we pray to god to take control and lift our angst from us – the feeling of peace that we get knowing that he has our back and we no longer have those concerns and that it is all going to be OK is the closes t I can describe in human terms how a dog feels once he has relinquished control to his owners and his life is defined by predictable routines and fair, strong and consistent Leaders – You.
So do your research and get that Pup trained by a professional – without the improper use of food TODAY!
Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.
If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular heart disease can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.
Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine
When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.
But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.
At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.
So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.
When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.
We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth: The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.
Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.
“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.
So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:
“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.
Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.
The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”
Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.
Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress
The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )
Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.
Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.