Archive for 'Dog Training'

Dogs Walked by Men Are More Aggressive

By Dr. Becker

A recent study conducted by scientists at a Czech university revealed some interesting findings about what factors shape dog behavior on walks.

The study, recently published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, involved almost 2,000 dogs and their dog-to-dog interactions while walking with their owners around the city of Brno in the Czech Republic.

What the research set out to explore, according to lead researcher Petr Rezac, an associate professor in the Department of Animal Morphology, Physiology and Genetics at Mendel University, was whether dogs behave differently with one another depending on who is at the other end of the leash.

Per Rezac:

“We propose that the occurrence of threat and biting in dogs on a walk may have some connection with aggressive tendencies and/or impassivity in people.
Dogs are able to perceive subtle messages of threat emitted by another dog.
Simultaneously, dogs are unusually skilled at reading human social and communicative behavior.”

What the Study Found

It will come as no surprise to dog parents that body sniffing is far and away the most popular form of interaction among all dogs of any age.

Findings regarding specific sniffing and marking behaviors are also no surprise:

* Off-leash dogs sniffed other dogs more often than leashed dogs.
* Male dogs sniffed females more than the girls sniffed the boys, and also more than same sex dogs sniffed each other.
* Males urine-marked more often than females regardless of the gender they encountered.

Study results in the area of canine playfulness included:

* Puppies that met up with other puppies played together twice as often as adults and 11 times as often as senior dogs.
* Opposite sex dogs were more apt to play than two or more males together.
* Dogs tend to play with others of the same size.

Aggression findings:

* Aggression was twice as likely between dogs on-leash as between unleashed dogs.
* Dogs threatened same gender dogs almost three times as often, and bit them over five times as often as opposite sex dogs.
* When dogs were with men, they were more than four times more likely to show aggression and bite than dogs walked by women.

These research results seem to point to the significance, in particular, of sex of the owner and use of a leash in how dogs behave during walks.

Why Being Leashed May Make a Difference

According to Inga Fricke of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), dog-to-dog aggression among leashed pets is probably the result of frustration. Dogs have innate greeting behaviors they can’t express when on a leash.

Given the option, dogs will run around each other when they first meet. Per Lisa Peterson of the American Kennel Club:

“They can’t do this run-around behavior when on a leash and they likely feel more threatened. They are also more inclined to resource guard, with the owner being the resource. It’s as though they are communicating, ‘He is my owner. I don’t want you to have him because he feeds and cares for me.’”

Many pet owners find their dog is actually better behaved off leash than leashed.

The same is often true for dogs that are crated or behind a fence. Confined, they demonstrate aggressive behaviors like barking or growling that they don’t exhibit when able to move around freely.

Being confined or leashed and therefore unable to fight or take flight if necessary very likely feels threatening to some dogs, resulting in aggression. Many animals, including humans, become fearful and hostile when they feel they aren’t able to make decisions for themselves.

Male Owners and Aggressive Dogs

There could be any number of reasons why the dogs walked by men in the Czech study were so much more aggressive than dogs owned by women.

Ms. Peterson of the AKC theorized it might have to do with the way men train their dogs in that region of the world.

Ms. Fricke of the HSUS offers this possible explanation:

“The increased incidence of bites when dogs are being handled by males, rather than females, may simply be a reflection of dogs mirroring the emotions of their handlers; if their handlers are acting either defensively or assertively upon meeting, their dogs are likely to sense and reflect that.”

Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist and the founder of PetBehavior.org, offered this insight to ABC News:

“For the average owner, males probably rely more on strength in controlling their dogs, whereas women have to rely more on skill and anticipation of what a dog or dog owner is going to do.

“So, female dog owners may develop their own more acute sense of surrounding. That may be part of why dogs with male handlers behaved more aggressively in this study. Dogs with male handlers may not get the same kinds of cues that they would if they were walking with a woman.”

Another important consideration according to Carlo Siracusa, a resident at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, is the dogs in the Czech study as well as a good number of dogs across Europe are not spayed or neutered. Per Siracusa, “This hormonal component may have a significant influence on the interaction between two dogs.”

Helping Your Dog Relax on Walks

It may not be obvious, but your dog is picking up on your mood and energy whenever you’re together. Dogs also tend to mirror the behaviors of their owners.

So if while walking your pet you feel distrustful or wary of other owners and their dogs, your canine companion will pick up on that energy and become hyper alert and ‘on guard’ as well.

Some men are more likely than women to remain aloof and avoid eye contact with other dog walkers.

Women are more apt to smile, nod or say hello, and generate friendly, non-threatening energy toward oncoming humans and their dogs. Their dogs, in turn, don’t learn to view approaching dogs as a potential threat. Women who do perceive other dog walkers and their pets as potentially dangerous generally have a fear-avoidance response. This energy has the potential to create the same fear-avoidance response in an otherwise calm, well-adjusted dog.

No matter your gender, if your walks with your favorite furry friend aren’t pleasant, it’s a good idea to check your own emotions – conscious and unconscious – and take note of what kind of energy you’re transmitting to your pet.

Don’t walk your dog when you’re feeling anxious or angry. Make a conscious effort to view fellow dog walkers as friends vs. foes, and make it a practice to smile or exchange a few friendly words with passersby whenever you’re out with your pet.

If you encounter a dog behaving in a threatening or unpredictable manner, take calm, firm control of your dog so he knows he can lean on you.

Ignore the other dog while making your way past him, and consciously return to a calm, relaxed state of mind.

China to Ban Eating Dogs

Dog and cat meat could be banned from restaurants in China after growing pressure from animal rights activists.


China plans to end thousands of years of culinary tradition by taking dogs and cat meat off its menu. A law being drafted against animal abuse—China’s first—calls for the country’s thousands of dog butchers and dog meat restaurants to be closed down. Stiff fines will be imposed on anybody caught eating dog or cat meat, the Times of London reports.

The debate over eating dogs and cats has sparked fierce disagreements between the affluent, pet-owning middle classes and sticklers for traditional values. Dog meat is a traditional winter dish and practitioners of Chinese medicine extol its health benefits. Cat meat is less widely eaten—largely due to a superstition that holds the cat will return by night to seek vengeance—although it remains popular among the famously omnivorous residents of Guangdong province.

How To Prepare Your Dog for a New Baby

Luckily, man’s best friend is also man’s most adaptable friend. The vast majority of dogs will do great with kids — just remember to start training as soon as possible so that your pooch has plenty of time to prepare.

BEFORE THE BABY ARRIVES:

* Let your dog observe kids. When your dog meets your newborn, it shouldn’t be the first time he or she is introduced to a child. Take your dog to a playground to experience children running, playing, and yelling, or keeping the television tuned to a kids’ station so your pet can get used to the sounds. If the dog seems stressed around children, seek professional help before the newborn arrives.
* Practice grabbing your dog gently. Your baby will most likely tug on your dog’s tail, so it’s essential to teach your dog to be patient when this happens. Practice gently grabbing your dog in different places and tell him how good he is each time.
* Give your dog a baby blanket to smell. Since your baby’s blanket will be a new object in the home, it’s important that your dog is comfortable with it before the baby makes an appearance. Buy the blanket in advance and get your scent on it. Your dog will sniff it and realize that it smells like one of the family.
* Teach your dog the difference between baby toys and dog toys. Baby toys will be popular items around the house, and they tend to look very similar to dog toys. Teach your dog that baby toys are off limits early on. Wilson recommends putting vanilla extract on the toys and saying “leave it” while touching them.
* Change your praise word. Refrain from calling your dog “boy” or “girl” to avoid confusion and jealousy when there’s a newborn around. If your dog comes up to you when you say ‘boy’ and realizes you were talking about the baby, he’ll become very upset.
* Teach your dog to leap only when invited. An uninvited jump on the couch or bed will cause trouble when you’re holding a newborn. If a dog is accustomed to uninvited leaps, gently lead them off by the collar. Wilson recommends pausing, telling them to sit on the floor, and then patting the couch.
* Train dogs to eat above face level. Babies and dogs will be at the same head level, so pups need to learn to eat above that level in order to avoid snatching the baby’s food. Wilson recommends holding a treat near the dog’s face, pausing, giving your dog a clear, verbal “okay,” and then lifting the treat up and allowing them to grab it.

WHEN THE BABY ARRIVES:

* Don’t force interaction. Many dogs will be curious about the newcomer, but others might ignore the baby. Either way, allow dogs to move away from the child and investigate at their own pace. Animals are fight-or-flight. You definitely don’t want to remove the flight option. In addition, make sure the child doesn’t pursue the pet. Most of the issues between dogs and babies occur when a child interrupts an eating dog or pursues a pup who wants privacy.
* Be happy around your dog and baby. If the dog is ignoring the baby, they probably will still pay attention to you. Wilson recommends acting loving towards your dog when you’re holding the baby. This will help the dog have positive associations with the baby.

Walking Without Pulling

Training a dog not to pull on the leash requires time, patience and consistency.

However, you can help yourself at the outset by buying a head halter.
This brilliant device gives you control over your dog much better than a neck collar, which can damage the dog’s trachea if he pulls hard enough against it.

A head halter lets you control your dog’s movement with a minimum of effort because you control his head, and where the head moves, the body will follow. The halter looks like a nylon-strap muzzle because it goes around your dog’s nose, but it isn’t a muzzle. The halter does not affect your dog’s ability to breathe, chew, drink or pick things up with his mouth. The collar part fits behind your dog’s ears with a loop over the nose. The leash is attached to a metal ring below your dog’s chin.

Trainers and veterinarians widely recommend the product Gentle Leader®, introduced in the 1980s.
A similar version is called the Halti®. It’s less easily adjusted than the Gentle Leader head halter, but is simpler to fit. You should double connect your leash to the rings on the Halti and your dog’s collar in case he slips his nose out of the loop. This way, you will still remain connected to your dog if he does “slip the noose.”

Your dog will probably require a little time to get used to a head halter, and may even try to pull it off with his paws. Let him get used to it by walking around the house with it on for an evening or two. Then take him out for a short walk. He will soon learn to associate the head halter with the enjoyable prospect of going for a walk. When your dog pulls, pressure on his nose will painlessly encourage him to slow down and walk with a loose leash. He will soon learn it’s easier to go with the flow rather than fight.

Training Your Dog Not to Pull

This is the hard part – training your dog not to pull on the leash. It is important to take away the reinforcement by “being a tree” – refusing to go forward an inch when he is pulling. Only move forward when the leash is slack. (This applies when using head halters, as well.)

This means you shouldn’t expect to cover much ground at first. You may even give “penalty yards.” When the leash is tight, or your dog is too far ahead, take small fast steps backwards until his attention is back on you.
You may wind up back at your starting point. That’s fine as long as the dog gets the idea that pulling is getting him nowhere fast. If your dog gets distracted and moves to the side to sniff or grab something, keep walking. As soon as your dog comes back to your side, praise him warmly. Better yet, give him a favorite treat. “Timing is crucial,” she says. “The key is to never let your dog get reinforced for tightening the leash.”

Treats can be very helpful in reinforcing a desired behavior. Every time your dog comes to your side, even if only for a moment, give him a treat immediately with the hand closest to your dog. You may want to reinforce the preferred side your dog should walk on – conventionally, the left. If he comes to your left side, give him a treat from your left hand. You may be able to teach the command of “heel” by saying word as you give your dog the treat. You should make sure he has mastered walking without pulling before moving on to “heel.”

At first, give him a treat at every step. When he seems to be getting the idea, give him a treat at every two steps, then three, four, etc. You should alternate when the treat is given – sometimes at two steps, sometimes at four steps and so on – so your dog does not know whether he needs to walk nicely for one step or 10. Take it slow, and don’t ask for too much too soon.

It is recommended using distractions to your advantage. For instance, if your dog pulls toward a friend or an object, back up as described earlier, so there is no tension on the leash. Take steps toward the friend or object only when the leash is slack, backing up whenever your dog pulls. Reward your dog by going toward the object of his desire when he is walking obediently by your side.

Teach your dog to FETCH

By Particia McConnell

Teaching Your Dog to Fetch (Instead of Vice Versa!). It seems as though what dogs really want to play is “Tag, I’m it!” and have you chase them around the yard. They want to get the toy in their mouth and have you to run after them while they chant some doggy equivalent of “Na ne na ne boo boo! I’ve got the ba-a-all!” If you want to learn how to be a great animal trainer, watch a dog teach a person a fetch game in reverse……. Visit www.greenergrassdesign.com

Dogs are masters at training us, and we all can learn from their example. Here are some ideas to try to turn the tables on them. Let’s say you’re teaching your dog to bring back the ball.

Start by waving a ball about two feet in front of dog,s face (not too close or you’ll push her away). It’s often the movement that attracts dogs more than the object, so get her focused on the ball by moving it back and forth, or bouncing it a couple of times and then tossing it no more than four or five feet away.

If she trots to it and puts her mouth around it, softly clap your hands and run the other way, encouraging her to move toward you. Wait to clap until she has it in her mouth, and resist the urge to say her name or call her to come—this causes many dogs to drop the ball and trot obediently to you. (Do not be distracted by the hysterical laughter of other readers whose dogs pick up the ball and run a hundred yards away in response to hearing their name or the word “Come.”)

If she comes partway to you with the ball in her mouth and then stops and tries to get you to chase her, back up again, clap some more and run away from her to lure her toward you. This game has one rule that can’t be broken: She moves toward you, you never move toward her. If your dog is one of those who grabs the ball and runs, start running yourself, but always in the opposite direction. It’s a rare dog who can resist a chase game, and it’s up to you to decide who is the chaser and who is the chasee.

If she does bring the ball toward you and drops it anywhere near your feet, pick it up and throw it instantly. Most of us tend to pick up the ball, hold it in our hot little paws, and either ask our dogs to sit, spend several seconds praising them, or pet their heads when they’d rather we didn’t. We call this playing fetch. Dogs call it hoarding. They want the ball back, period. So give it to them! Throw the ball the instant your dog drops it. This sounds simple, but after years of experience, we can tell you that people need lots of coaching on this. When you begin teaching your dog to fetch, either focus on throwing the ball as though it were a hot potato and/or have someone watch you and shout “throw it!” the second you get your hands on it.

Most young dogs will only fetch a few times, so don’t be discouraged if your dog brings the ball back twice and then stops. This is especially common outside where there are so many distractions. If she brings the ball back two times and then puts it down and ignores it, that’s okay. Game over. Quietly go get the ball and end the play session. If you notice a pattern (say, she fetches five times in a row and then quits), the next time, stop the game after four throws so that you leave her wanting more.

The most common fetching problem is a dog who brings the ball back but won’t give it up. She wants you to want it, oh yes she does, but there is no way she is going to give it up. Here’s where you need to beat her at the “hard-to-get” game. As soon as she’s anywhere near you, fold your arms and turn away from her, refusing to face her or to reach for the ball. Dogs who love the game will keep trying to face you, and many of them will eventually drop the ball. If that happens, swoop it up and throw it as soon as you can. If your dog won’t drop the ball no matter how long you play hard-to-get, try tossing a second ball once she has approached with the first. Most dogs will drop the ball in their mouths as soon as a second one is thrown.

It can take a while to convince a dog to drop the first ball without a second one, but if you continue this throughout several weeks or months, you’ll end up with a dog who reliably fetches without the addition of a “back-up ball.” You can also swap the ball for a treat you’ve kept in your pocket, saying “Drop it” just before you wave the food under your dog’s nose. Give her the treat, then pick up the ball that’s been dropped to get the food, and toss it again.

Some dogs lose interest in the ball if they learn you have treats, but trading a treat for the ball works well for the ones who are committed retrievers. It won’t take long before you can eliminate the treat altogether, because chasing the ball is more than enough reinforcement for giving it back to you. The keys to teaching fetch are to move away from your dog to encourage her to come to you, to reinforce anything she does that approximates fetching at first, and to ignore her attempts to teach you to play “Chase the dog around the yard.”

Ian Dunbar

Ian Dunbar has been winning over dogs, dog owners, and dog trainers for years with his accessible, effective positive-reinforcement approach. Talk with the most respected names in the dog training world and you discover Dunbar’s impact is unparalleled.”His contribution to this field is immeasurable,” says Patricia McConnell, author of The Other End of the Leash, co-host of NPR’s Calling All Pets, and founder of Dog’s Best Friend Training. “Ian Dunbar created an entirely new perspective about dog training. He deserves tremendous credit for teaching us to be loving with our dogs and to have fun with the training.”

Let’s not get physical
Dunbar’s hands-off, reward-based approach stands in contrast to Millan’s dominance-based philosophy and physical corrections. He emphasizes that communicating with your dog is far more satisfying than dominating your dog and stresses that even children can use his positive reinforcement methods to become able trainers.”Ian carried the torch for lure-and-reward training,” says Sue Sternberg, founder and owner of Rondout Valley Animals for Adoption in upstate New York and author of Great Dog Adoptions: A Guide for Shelters and Successful Dog Adoptions. “He converted an entire generation of yank ‘em, crank ‘em dog trainers into better communicators.”

Doctor, teacher, trainer
Raised on a farm in England, Dunbar’s connection with animals formed early and undeniably. After attending the Royal Veterinary School in London, he earned his Ph.D. in animal behavior at the University of California, Berkeley, merging–what at the time were–two very discrete aspects of animal study: medicine and behavior.For him the pairing was natural–and long overdue. “People don’t bite their hairdressers or the ob-gyns,” says Dunbar. “But biting is an issue for vets, so it’s in our best interest to know a bit about behavior.”

He moved to Berkeley in 1971 and later taught a dog behavior course, which was the first time he realized how hungry dog owners were to understand their own pets. Discouraged that he couldn’t find a training course for his own young puppy, he started a school, Sirius Dog Training in 1981. (With 19 locations, it’s become one of the country’s biggest training centers.) Dog training was changed forever.

Groundbreaking ideas
He didn’t know it at the time, but Dunbar introduced a concept so revolutionary he’s credited with launching what is now commonly regarded as the modern era in dog training: Train puppies before six months of age–off leash (the way they live at home)–and use rewards rather than punishment to teach proper behavior.Today, the notion that very young puppies can not only be trained, socialized, and handled, but that doing so actually prevents most problem behaviors from developing, is a founding truth of modern dog training.

“Ian Dunbar understood that problems up front lead to problems down the road and he pounded the podium talking about early socialization and enrichment,” days Nicholas Dodman, author of The Well-Adjusted Dog: Dr. Dodman’s Seven Steps to Lifelong Health and Happiness for Your Best Friend (Houghton Mifflin, 2008) and Professor, Section Head, and Program Director of Animal Behavior Department of Clinical Sciences at Tufts’ Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

Building on success
The soundness of Dunbar’s methods garnered worldwide attention and his techniques were embraced by trainers everywhere. In 1993 he founded the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, an international organization devoted to promoting human-canine relationships based on trust and respect. Along the way, he’s written six dog training books and hosted the popular British television series Dogs with Dunbar.In 1999, Dunbar met fellow trainer (and future wife) Kelly Gorman, cofounder and president of Open Paw, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping cats and dogs out of shelters and in loving homes. Though their techniques differ slightly, the Dunbars’ philosophies towards dogs meshed perfectly. By 2000, they were living together in Berkeley, California as a family and married in 2004. Dogstar Daily, the online arm of Open Paw, was born shortly thereafter in February 2006.

Different methods for different dogs
At this point it’s worth asking: With so much experience, and the respect and veneration of so many of the field’s most renowned figures, why is Dunbar still relatively unknown and Cesar Millan a household name? “Cesar works with aggressive dogs, and that’s sexy these days,” says Patricia McConnell. “But Ian’s methods are successful for the average dog owner. What’s more, they have been used by professionals for years to successfully treat serious aggression problems. And, they’re fun.”

With more families than ever bringing dogs into their homes, and more dog trainers embracing Dunbar’s accessible, family-friendly techniques, 2008 may well mark the year that the “dominance mentality” takes a back seat to the reward-based training, which promotes understanding and living peacefully with one’s pets.

Teach your dog to COME

Steps:

1. Begin inside the house, with you and your dog in the same room.

2. Have some dog treats on hand. Facing your dog, back up a few steps.

3. Call the dog by name, followed by the simple command “Come.” (For example: “Spike, come.”)

4. Reward your dog with a treat after he approaches you.

5. Slowly increase your expectations for your pup by calling him from another room.

6. Gradually move into the backyard, front yard on a long leash and so on.

7. Praise and encourage your dog as he comes to you.

8. Remember to say “Yes” right when the dog exhibits the behavior you want.

Tips:

1. Set your dog up for success: Only call when you know he’s likely to come. Otherwise, you’ll be teaching him not to come.

2. Adopt a casual, relaxed attitude and practice with your dog throughout the day.

3. If the treat isn’t enough to entice your dog to come, put a leash on him and face him, leash in hand (leave some slack on the leash). Give the “come” command and then give the leash a gentle tug. Reward your dog when he comes to you.

Teach your dog SIT-STAY

Steps:

1. Start with a leash and collar on your dog. Tell your dog to sit.

2. Once your dog is sitting, praise her and give her a treat, but keep her sitting.

3. Say your dog’s name followed by “stay” in a firm, clear voice while holding one hand up, palm out (as if to motion stop) for 1-2 seconds.

4. Say “Yes” in an upbeat tone and give your dog a treat.

5. Release your dog from the command by saying “okay” and encouraging her to move.

6. Instruct your dog to sit again and praise her when she complies.

7. Give the stay command again with the hand motion while taking a few steps back over 2-3 seconds.

8. If she stays, say “Yes” and give her a treat. If she moves, start over from step 1.

9. Release your dog from the command by saying “okay” and encouraging her to move.

10. Repeat this process 5-6 times, gradually increasing the time period between “stay” and “okay”.

Tips:

1. Over time, you should gradually increase the distance between you and your dog. Remain in your dog’s sight until she understands how to stay. Then, you can try leaving the room after giving the stay command.

2. Try starting this command in the standing or lying down positions. If successful, your dog should not change positions during the stay command.

3. Once your dog has mastered the stay command, try practicing with distractions. Get a friend to talk or squeak a toy. Your dog should not move at all despite the distractions.

4. If you wish to try this outside without a leash, always be sure you are in a fenced-in area.

5. Once your dog becomes an expert at staying, you no longer need to give a treat every time – only occasionally. However, rewarding with praise is always a good idea.

Teach your dog to DOWN

STEPS

1. Get your dog’s attention and show him that you have a treat in your hand.

2. Hold the treat in front your dog’s nose.

3. Say your dog’s name followed by the word “down,” spoken clearly and firmly.

4. Slowly move the treat towards the ground.

5. As soon as your dog’s elbows and hocks are on the ground, say “Yes” in an upbeat tone.

6. Give your dog the treat.

7. Repeat 5-6 times.

Tips:

1. If your dog does not lie down on his own after a few tries, avoid pushing him down. Next time he naturally lies down, say “down,” then praise and reward him.

2. Hold short training sessions throughout the day in various locations, both indoor and outdoors.

3. Once your dog becomes and expert at lying down, you no longer need to give a treat every time – only occasionally. However, rewarding with praise is always a good idea.

Teach your dog to SIT

STEPS:

1. Get your dog’s attention and show her that you have a treat in your hand.

2. Hold the treat just above your dog’s nose (not too high or she might jump).

3. Say your dog’s name followed by the word “sit,” spoken clearly and firmly.

4. Move the treat back towards your dog’s ears.

5. As soon as your dog’s rear lands on the ground, say “Yes” in an upbeat tone.

6. Give your dog the treat followed by petting and praising.

7. Repeat 5-6 times.

Tips:

1. If your dog does not sit on her own after a few tries, avoid pushing her into a sitting position. Instead, spend some time watching her. Anytime she naturally sits, say “yes,” then praise and reward her.

2. Hold short training sessions throughout the day in various locations, both indoor and outdoors. Include the front door and food bowl as regular training locations. This will make her more likely to sit when greeting guests or before feeding.

3. Once your dog becomes and expert at sitting, you no longer need to give a treat every time – only occasionally. However, rewarding with praise is always a good idea.