Relationships

  • By Kathy McRoberts
  • 11 May, 2011

Original article by Virginia Simpson, Unleashed Canine Obedience


Dog Training Starts Right from the Beginning

(It’s all about the prep work!)

There is a lot of time and attention given to healing relationships, saving relationships, creating relationships and growing relationships. And for good reason; we are built to be in relationships. People who have strong, supportive relationships not only live longer, but they are generally happier and healthier while living that longer life. And, studies have also shown that people who own a pet or two are less stressed out than their counterparts overall and tend to live longer.   Now, I am assuming that these studies were done with people who owned well-behaved pets! I don’t know anyone that has a poorly behaved pet that does not have some stressed out feelings happening! And there are a lot of people out there trying to figure out how to create the perfect relationship with their dog and thankfully for me, many of them find their way to my door with loads of questions.

I wish I could talk to most people right at the beginning of the process! Dog training starts before you even bring your new pup home. It actually starts with the selection process. The importance of spending some time to really research out exactly what qualities would make the best dog companion for you is an imperative step to creating a good relationship with your prospective pup. This is a relationship you are going to have hopefully for many years and spending some time to set up realistic expectations and “must haves” will save you many headaches and much heartache down the road! And remember, just like in that bad relationship you had once upon a time, at some point those quaint little peculiarities you thought were so cute at first, can turn into hair pulling, skin grating, “I want to end this relationship NOW” defects down the road.

But let’s assume you already have your new pup and you are ready to move on to some actual training. Training starts from moment one. Every waking moment your puppy or new dog is learning from you and the environment around them. They are like the proverbial sponge! So prep work is paramount! First thing to think about is how you need to control the amount of access to the different parts of your home your new dog will have. Too much too soon is not a good idea. If it’s a new puppy, potty training efforts will be thwarted if they manage to pee on the carpet too many times. If it is a dog out of the pound, they may become overwhelmed and stressed if given too much freedom too quickly. (Think in terms of a prisoner getting out of jail. Although it would feel great to be out, it can be stressful too if you aren’t given time to get used to it!) Better to start out slowly and let the dog show you when they are ready for more and more responsibility and freedom. Use a crate in the beginning if possible! Crates are not a bad thing. They will help you keep your pup from engaging in behaviors that you don’t want and if they are feeling a little stressed out with all the changes, the crate will create a den like experience which the vast majority of dogs love! Use baby gates in the beginning if needed to help create physical boundaries until your new pup learns the rules of the house. If you use these things properly in the beginning and train your pup, they should not be a forever fixture in your home.

You’ll need to be thoughtful about what your body language, tone of voice and facial expressions are communicating to your new dog. Remember that they cannot understand all your words. Be aware of what you are rewarding. If you give your new puppy a treat when they come inside after going the bathroom outside, does your puppy think you are rewarding them for going the bathroom outside or for coming inside? Whether you are using treats or praise or a favorite toy, try giving rewards as close as possible to the behavior you are looking for. If your new dog acts frightened of anything or seems shy at first, don’t try and soothe them too much. Your body language and tone of voice may actually end up reinforcing their fear and keep them stuck in that state of mind. Either use what we like to call the “happy jolly voice” or even just ignore them for a bit until they come out of it and then pay attention to them when they are not so worried. That way you are rewarding the behavior you want and giving your new pup a chance to be ok! That also gives them time to notice that you are not overly concerned about whatever it is that frightened them.

So, these are just a couple of things to think about here when choosing and bringing home a new puppy or dog. Have any questions? Please feel free to contact us and maybe think about attending a class or coming in for a private consultation. We’d love to help out!

 

Virginia L. Simpson
Certified Dog Trainer
Unleashed Canine Obedience, LLC
www.UnleashedCanineObedience.com  
IACP Member #3141
Phone: 513.317.7484





Cincinnati Dog Knowledge Center

By Pets in Need 16 Oct, 2017
Heartworm is a serious, potentially fatal disease for our pets. Prevention is easy, but treatment can be costly and difficult depending on the stage of the disease. Pets In Need veterinarian and board member, Dr. Jack Walkenhorst discusses the importance of heartworm prevention.
By Pets in Need 02 Oct, 2017

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.

By Pets in Need 18 Sep, 2017
Many people are afraid of pet insurance because of the issues associated with human health care, but the systems are very different. In the human managed health care system insurance companies make agreements with networks and the insured person has little to no say. Because of the way human managed care works, insurance companies have a lot of control over which doctors humans can use, what services they can receive, and how much they have to pay. Conversely, in the pet insurance market, pet owners have more control because pet insurance is an individual contract between the pet owner and insurance company. Pet insurance companies can’t tell pet owners what network of veterinarians to use and decisions about the care of a pet remain entirely between the veterinarian and pet owner. All the pet insurance companies do is pay out their portion of care as detailed in the policy or contract.
By West Chester Pet Resort & Spa 20 Jun, 2017
Now that summer is just around the corner, family vacations are about to be in full swing. While traveling with your pet certainly has its benefits, there are things that you need to know before jet-setting with Fluffy in tow.

First and foremost, having your pet as your co-pilot completely alleviates the worry of who is going to care for them while you're away. This question is always an anxiety for pet owners. The option of traveling with them is especially beneficial if your pet has behavioral issues such as separation anxiety.

Crating your pet while driving to your destination is never a bad option. They're confined and safe, and you as the driver are less distracted. Just be sure to remove collars and leashes to prevent a strangling incident and keep the air flow on them.

If your pet has never been crated, you can find a great video here  by "Dog Guru" Cesar Milan on tome tips and tricks to crate training.

While the car is in motion, feeding your dog is one big "Don't!" If you are on an extended road trip and your pet needs a meal, the next time you stop, feed a small snack- preferably high in protein. And remember to never leave your furry friend in the car, especially during these warm months!

Now, traveling with your pet in an airplane is a much more complicated process as you will more than likely want to book a direct flight. Communicating with the airline prior to travel dates is absolutely imperative. Many airlines have strict regulations for canine and feline travel and their regulations may vary based on the airline and the destination.

However you decide to travel, always remember that if you are taking a not-so-pet-friendly vacation, we would love your pet to stay with us while you are away.  West Chester Pet Resort offers a variety of services to make your pets stay a fun- filled adventure. Call to book your pet’s adventure today!

-West Chester Pet Resort & Spa
http://www.wcpetresort.com/
513-898-9631
By Kathy McRoberts 03 Dec, 2014

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:

  • You hear your Husky howling, and immediately storm in to reprimand her. How is this reinforcement? To many dogs, having a beloved human present (even a beloved yet annoyed human) is better than feeling lonesome. Your dog begins to think her howling is prompting you to chime in.
  • Your Lab whines pitifully as you begin to leave the house, so you return to take him with you. Over time, your dog starts believing that his whining causes you to come back for him (Pavlov’s theory, anyone?).
  • Your Westie mix cowers and growls behind the sofa whenever company arrives, so you pick him up and coo “Ohhhh, you’re fine, what a gooooood boy….” Soon, your dog begins to equate hiding and trembling with oodles of TLC.

“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.



More Posts
Share by: