training

Down Doggy!

There has been a paradigm shift in the entire dog training industry just in the last 20 years thanks to the work of Veterinary Behaviorists Sophia Yin and Ian Dunbar, Anthropologist Brian Hare and a whole slew of other modern researchers in the field of canines. We now know that hitting, shocking, yanking or any other kind of physical punishment to curb behaviors such as jumping on people actually can backfire and create more problems than it solves . This is especially true with sensitive dogs. 

Take, for instance, a dog that is happily jumping on guests when they come in the house. It is very annoying to your guests and an embarrassment for you.  But, put yourself in that dog’s mind for a moment. He is saying to himself, “I love people so much that I want to jump on them like crazy!!” One common solution for many people is to just go ahead and knee the dog in the chest or belly to get him to stop jumping and many times, those owners instruct their guests to do the same.  

This is how the physical punishment of kicking a dog in the belly when they jump backfires. Since he doesn’t understand English, the message he is getting is that greeting people is bad because it causes pain. So over a period of time, the dog associates people with pain. In the worst case scenario, the dog becomes hostile toward people. This in turn can lead to the risk of aggression issues which could lead to an injury. Aggression can be a complex behavior and many times it requires a specialized trainer to solve the issue.

When we use positive training solutions, the dog’s  enthusiasm is redirected and the desired behavior is rewarded. After all, why would you want to break that friendly and outgoing spirit in a dog? We could train them to go to a place and not jump when the doorbell rings or at the very least, train them to have all four feet on the floor.  A well-behaved dog will make all the difference in the world in the experience your guests have as they enter your home.

A positive reward based trainer can show you the proper way to train your dog without force or violence. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” Ben Franklin.

Crate Training – great tool or cruel punishment?

Dogs don’t speak English and they don’t think like humans. Too many people anthropomorphize (humanize their dogs). Our dogs are our lovable, friendly companions. It is easy to think that they completely understand us and we understand them. But the fact is, dogs are not humans and they don’t think like us. If they did, we could reason with them when they were feeling separation anxiety or they would instantly comply when we wanted them to not run out in the street.
 
The same is true when we are talking about a dog crate. If dogs thought like a human, the dog crate would be jail. “JAIL? Get me out of here, I did nothing wrong,” says the human. But for most dogs, and with the right training, a dog crate is nothing more than a happy little home. All it takes is looking into the dog’s history. Most species of the canidae family are den animals including wolves, the dog’s closest relative. A cave is where a dog feels comfortable and safe. A dog crate, especially the plastic ones, closely mimic a cave or den. The wire crates can be covered to create a den-like feeling.
 
This is fortunate for dog owners. With busy lives, tending to our dogs 24 hours a day is just not feasible. When it comes to puppies, it takes them months to learn the rules and boundaries of the house. If we train our puppies to love the crate, go in there when we want them to, and sleep in their crate, we have a place to put our them when they drive us crazy. When puppies are tired, they tend to really misbehave and obedience gets thrown out the window. When we ask the puppy to go into their crate, many times they fall asleep or just feel relaxed.
 
When the crate is sized properly, the puppy won’t soil in their “lair” and also teaches the puppy bladder and sphincter control. It is natural for a dog to pee and defecate anywhere whenever they feel like it. When the puppy is in its crate and when we can’t watch them, it teaches them to hold it until they can get outside where we have established that that is the right place to go to the bathroom.
 
Many puppies grow into adulthood and continue to use their crate even after their owners have removed the door. Adult dogs should always have a space that is “their space” where they can’t be bothered. The crate is a perfect option and best of all, it is natural.
 
Once you have everything established and your puppy or dog loves to go in the crate, the last thing you want to do is use it as punishment. Never put your dog in the crate because you're mad that he chewed up your slippers. Get with a qualified modern dog trainer like myself to help you deal with problem behaviors.
 
Most of all, a dog crate is a great tool when used correctly.