In this issue:
Attention is central to our relationships with our dogs. With a dog that is making the wrong choices around other people and animals, it becomes crucial. Attention is also a two-way street. You can't have communication without attention. If your dog's attention is on you, he can't engage in conflict with someone else. If your attention is on him, you'll know when he needs direction in order to prevent problems, and when you need to reinforce him in order to strengthen his focus on you. If your attention isn't on him, he'll be more likely to give up on you and make his own choices. You won't know what he's doing until it's too late to either reward good behavior or prevent unwanted behavior. If it's rewarding to look at you, your dog will look at you more often; if it's not, he won't.
Following are six steps that will increase the attention your dog pays to you:
STEP ONE Building Awareness: This is a big one, because it sets the groundwork for everything that follows. Observe your dog, especially the direction of his eyes. From certain angles, you will be observing the direction of his forehead. Notice when he makes the decision to look at you, however slight it may be, and also when he looks away. You're going to need to become expert at catching those moments as they occur.
STEP TWO Putting it on cue, or the "head snap": The goal now is for your dog to respond to his name with immediate attention to you. If your dog is being pushy, hyperactive, or unfocused, a tie-down can be used to narrow his options, after you have made sure that there's no other problem.
Method 1) If your dog is already giving you reasonably good attention, you can simply start in a low distraction environment, say his name, and mark his attention with your marker word and treat as before. Say his name only once each time, and then wait. Practice this in short sessions throughout the day, varying the location. If this method does not work for you, go to Method 2 or 3.
Method 2) If it’s difficult to get his attention, or if he doesn’t look at your eyes, you can hold a treat to your forehead. Have another treat ready in your other hand, hidden from your dog. When he looks at the treat on your forehead, Mark it and pop him the treat from your other hand. As he gets the idea, shift the treat away from your head. Each time you move the treat farther, you may have to wait a bit before he realizes that it’s still the same game. Don’t worry, just wait him out. If he doesn’t get it, you can always back up.
Method 3) This method is a bit esoteric, and requires excellent timing, but I have found that it can produce more of an “ah ha” moment for the dog about actually looking in your eyes. I have found it to be helpful with dogs that have inhibitions about doing that. Hold a treat on either side of your head, beside your eyes. Watch his eyes carefully - they will probably be going back and forth between the two treats. At the instant that his eyes cross your eyes, mark it and pop him a treat. Gradually increase the distance between the treats, eventually moving them out of sigh.
STEP THREE: Adding duration: Adding duration is relatively simple.
STEP FOUR Adding distractions from your own hands, and walking attention: This step is used to make sure that your dog is not distracted by incidental movements from your hands, and to introduce him to movement distractions.
STEP FIVE: Adding distractions from the environment. Use your very best treats for this! If your dog has two or three favorites, use them all. You’ll need someone to help you at this stage, although you should also find other controlled environmental distractions. These environmental distractions should always be below the threshold level of your dog. For example, it could be a dog behind a fence, or a horse in a paddock, but it would have to be at a distance at which your dog was comfortable enough to succeed.
STEP SIX Use all of the distractions that work for you, but have your dog in an attention walk: I find that the dog will react very differently if the person approaches from my side or the side on which my dog is walking. You can also have the person standing still, with or without an additional distraction, such as food held out, and pass by them. Again, it will probably be easier for your dog on one side than on the other.
Note that these steps are just a list of suggestions - use only those that work for you and your dog. It may be that you only find a couple of suggestions here that work for you, or you may use the whole list. Be creative.
Keep it fun for both you and your dog. The goal is simple - increased attention between the two of you.
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Conflicts arise in multi-dog households when there is instability in the social structure; that is, when there is no clear set of rules, boundaries and limitations set by the human and enforced consistently.. Dogs may warn each other initially by snarling, growling or snapping, but not causing injury. However, the conflict may sometimes intensify into prolonged bouts of dangerous fighting, which may result in one or both dogs being becoming injured.
Establish fair rules and enforce them consistently. This helps all the dogs feel more secure and also reinforces your role as leader. Teach all the dogs non-aggressive behaviors that are incompatible with aggressive behaviors. Use counter conditioning, desensitization and positive reinforcement as your primary tools. Punishment may stop the behavior temporarily, but if there is still no consistency in the management of the dogs and they haven't learned what to do instead of fighting, those behaviors will return..
You should be aware that if you respond to this type of problem inappropriately, you run the risk of intensifying the problem and potentially causing injury to yourself and/or your dogs.
There are various kinds of anxiety in dogs - the most common is separation anxiety, followed by fear of strange objects, people or animals. Some of the symptoms include, but are not limited to: barking, digging, chewing, following the owner from room to room, excessive touching or licking, "dry" panting, whining, sweating from paws, soiling, sudden hair loss, self-mutilation, destructiveness, defensive growling and occasional aggression.
The cause of anxiety is usually quite simple - the dog`s needs are not being met properly, or were not met during the dog`s developmental periods.
Dogs are very social creatures. They need structure, limits, and clear rules to be set by the owner. If the leadership - and companionship - of the social group is not adequate, or not available, the dog will respond in ways that are definitely anxiety producing in humans!
Most problems of anxiety can be solved - or at least helped - by strong leadership / parenting skills from you, the owner, and a solid routine they can count on. However, the dog must learn to accept the routine - and that can take time. The following are some guidelines for the owner of an anxious dog.
1. First, make sure the dog understands what you want and looks to you for direction and guidance. Take him to class, or teach him obedience work at home. Make sure he gets enough exercise and stimulation. Ball playing in the back yard is good...but a morning and evening run is better.
2. Be aware how much he approaches you for attention and petting. If it`s a great deal, stop petting him every time he demands it. Ignore him, turn away. When he relaxes, you can call him and pet him - at your discretion. This builds up his confidence that you are handling things and helps him to trust your decisions.
3. If the dog goes from human to human in his search for attention, make sure all the humans understand that the dog is not to get attention when begging for it, but only after he has been calm and settled for awhile.
4. If the dog follows you from room to room, desensitize him to your departure. Go from room to room, and leave the dog behind you, shutting the door after you. You can tell him you are leaving him. When you return to the room, there should be no verbal warning and no greeting. Be very matter of fact, very cool. Coming and going should be a very relaxed, casual activity, not full of emotion.
5. Leave the house for short periods of time (beginning at two minutes), and return... again, no fanfare; cool, non-emotional departures, warm, calm arrivals. Gradually increase the amount of time you are away. If appropriate, leave the dog with something delicious that he can work on for some time. A "Kong" rubber toy, with peanut butter or cream cheese stuffed up the middle is a nice treat that takes some time to work on. Freeze it and it takes even longer to get through. Take it away when you return. This gives him something to look forward to.
6. If the dog is shy or sensitive, encourage independence by teaching games - find it, hide and seek, and agility. Play tug of war, push-a-war, chase me and other highly aerobic games and let the dog win.
7. Never apologize to the dog for leaving - say good-bye lightly. Upon your return, act as though you`ve never been away. Putter around the house for a couple of minutes before greeting your dog. In essence, act as though nothing you do is unusual or noteworthy. That will lower the dog's anxiety level...and make both of you happier
Seize The Leash - Newsletter Vol. 3 Issue 2
Urban Agility (Canine Parkour)
This class is agility with a twist. The agility is done over, under and through some of the most challenging and environmentally distracting objects we can muster up. This is a safe confidence builder for any dog. This fun and exciting class is a practical alternative to conventional agility and a great way to prep your competitive agility dog. You won’t believe what your dog is capable of until you try! All breeds and all ages welcome!
Everyone and every dog deserves to be fit and healthy without risk of injury. You can achieve your agility and obedience training goals and increase the bond with your dog at the same time. Go beyond the hamster wheels of typical agility or obedience training. Train your dog to climb stairs, ladders, and ropes; go up and down slides, walls and tables; be fearless and confident in the face of any obstacle.
Urban Agility is a fun way to exercise your dog using everyday objects, structural components and park furniture for agility and sport. Mental stimulation is so important for every dog, so you will learn how to use items you come across every day to make walks more fun for both you and your dog. You don’t need access to expensive agility equipment for you and your dog to have fun!
Think of urban agility as a gym membership for you and your dog. Tons of fun and a great bunch of people. it is a non-competitive physical activity in which you and your dog are expected to overcome obstacles by adapting movements to the environment in the most efficient way possible.
Traffic, people, other dogs, loud noises, dog parks, these are every day occurrences in the life of urban canines and should be a source of confidence and positive stimulation. This class engages dogs and their owners in a positive manner and gives them the tools to tackle these challenges head on. Obedience training and urban agility exercises are combined to create a class that is as exciting as it is productive.
This is a lifestyle change for both you and your dog. Urban Agility will equip you with the tools you need to achieve your training goals with your dog.Whether you are working with your dog for your and his health, or training for a big challenge, Urban Agility will help motivate and inspire you to continue.
Are you up for the challenge?
Starting THURSDAY, April 20th, 2011 at 9am at our facility. - Sign Up Here
Your dog lunges at passing dogs, snaps at approaching people, or growls when you least expect it. Maybe you think your dog is unpredictable - sometimes she's okay with a person or another dog, sometimes she isn't.
What you do know is that you don't trust her to behave in a civilized manner, and want to do something about it. Can you? The answer is, maybe.
Why is my dog aggressive?
Aggression is a natural behavior, not an aberration. Most aggression is defensive in nature - that is, the dog is reacting to what she sees as a threat. Here are some of the reasons a dog may be aggressive.
Fear - This is the most common cause of aggression and in truth is behind nearly all aggression we see in our domestic dogs. In fact, it can be argued that all aggression stems from fear, with the exception of predatory aggression, which is hunting behavior. Oftentimes, dogs that have become aggressive over time were fearful or cautious as puppies, and have learned that the best defense is a good offense.
A fearful dog learns what works best for her, and will default to that behavior to the point that it becomes habit. Some dogs respond to fear by fleeing, some by freezing, some by growling and threatening, and some by attacking viciously.
Trauma - One of the more common causes of fear-based aggression is a traumatic episode in early life - being jumped by another dog, physical abuse by a human. The younger the dog is when the trauma occurs, the more lasting the imprint of the event. Often, the dog learns not to trust dogs, people… or even you, since you have been unable to keep her safe.
Frustration - Dogs who tend to lunge at the end of the leash, to race up and down a fence-line, or to pull frantically from a tie-out (like a leash wrapped around a tree), are very frustrated. They are probably also afraid - or were some time in the past, before they learned that they can scare away anyone or anything that appears threatening to them.
Territoriality - Most dogs are intrinsically attached to a territory. This can be the area where she lives, a car, or even a dog park, if she was there first. Dogs defending their territory can be extremely dangerous; it is instinctive for them to chase away intruders, and it is, also, instinctive for the intruders to allow themselves to be evicted. Usually, dogs will begin with chasing or circling, sometimes air biting. If they are successful, the behavior can escalate, and dog bites are often the result.
Protection - Because they are pack animals, many dogs have a tendency to protect or defend other members of their group. Often they will place themselves between a threatening individual and their pack member. They will often rely on other pack members to defend or back them up as well. We sometimes think dogs are protecting us, when they're really counting on us to protect them! You can tell that the dog's counting on you, if the dog presses up to you when he feels threatened, as opposed to thrusting himself between you and the threat.
Resource guarding - Dogs sometimes believe they have certain inalienable rights, like first access to food, sleeping places and territory. A dog who feels that a pack-mate (human or canine) is about to take something scarce or valued may attack. This is usually very quick - a disciplinary move - an air bite or snap. Some multiple member dog packs will gang up on another dog that appears injured, and kick him out of the pack or dispatch him. However, in a family, the dogs most likely to fight are dogs that don't have a clear picture of the rules and structure of the household. Major disputes within one household are often extremely difficult to reconcile or diffuse if the humans cannot set clear, concise, consistent rules, boundaries and limitations.
Redirected or displaced aggression - In this scenario, a dog may be trying to get to one target - say another dog through a fence - but can't get to it. His excitement and arousal has to go somewhere, so he attacks whatever is closest. This could be his companion dog, or even you.
Pain elicited aggression - Any dog could lash out when in pain. Some are more likely to than others.
Maternal aggression - Maternal aggression is a natural defensive behavior towards strangers as displayed by a female with puppies, and sometimes a female who is or has gone through a false pregnancy.
Predatory aggression - Not aggression in the true sense, this is the instinct to chase and catch food. Predatory aggression is usually noiseless and very fast. A dog thwarted from chasing his "prey," (which can be other dogs, children, bicycles, cars, or joggers), can become highly energized, display displaced or redirected aggression and begin to vocalize, often with a high keening whine.
All dogs who feel threatened go through the following series of behaviors. Sometimes the progression is slow, sometimes very fast or almost non-existent. One of our goals in working with aggression is to diffuse or prevent the behavior during the first three stages.
Controlling Aggressive Behavior
If you have a dog with aggression problems, ignoring your problem won't make it go away. Behavior is always in flux, and as easily gets worse as gets better. Punishment may well backfire, since aggression met with aggression often causes aggression. Re-homing the dog thrusts the problem on another human family. So here are the remaining choices. If your dog is aggressive, you must first decide:
For those who wish to control and train their dogs, the following is a behavior modification program - which takes a lot of work!
Know your dog and his/her body language - from behind the dog as well as beside or in front. Dogs, after all, often walk ahead of their owner.
Know your own response to stress
Understanding Good Dog Communication
Dogs actually have an intricate and subtle language of their own, involving movements of the head and body. Unfortunately, many of our pet dogs haven't had the chance to learn this language, either because they were separated from their family too soon, or there were no experienced canine teachers on hand. Dogs who strain and lunge at a leash to get at another dog are actually being quite rude. Dogs who charge other dogs - even in play - are also rude.
People are a "linear' species. We tend to move in a straight line towards our goal. This is because we're primarily visual. In our culture, we also encourage direct eye contact when meeting new people and greeting friends, although we very rarely look directly at strangers we pass on the street.
Dogs do not walk in straight lines, as many an owner has realized as his dog pulls first this way, then that way.
Dogs use all their senses when walking, and they'll follow each of them. When a dog is moving in a straight line it is because he has sensed something he wants to investigate or to chase. In other words, he's on some sort of mission. When placed on a leash, many dogs do walk in a straight line, because their guardian is pulling back, thus forcing the dog to peer forward with chest thrust out - a position that automatically challenges other dogs.
In addition, by breeding certain characteristics into dogs, we have altered the way they appear to other dogs. Herding dogs sometimes lower themselves towards the ground, and move forward - stalking other dogs. This can be quite disconcerting to an oncoming canine.
Most dogs, also, do not look directly at other dogs. If they do so, it is either because they feel threatened or challenged by the other dog, or the other dog is very well known to them (though, that is rare). Some breeds are more likely to stare at dogs than others are. Border collies are bred for their "eye," and many bully breed dogs - Boxers and Pit Bulls - have a tendency to gaze intently at other dogs. This makes the dogs they are looking at quite nervous, and sometimes invites aggression.
Fill out our Training Services form and get started today!! New classes will be starting every two weeks. So watch here for updates. All classes are four weeks long. Basics classes are $75 each and the two Advanced classes are $100 each.
Group Behavior Training -Building a Relationship With Your Dog
Sign up for a weekly workshop here.
Please feel free to contact us at any time for more information, class schedules or just questions about your dog. We can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 727-686-4246 or 520-751-7772 (message only).
Sunday, May 8, 2011 · 12:00pm - 3:00pm
- $40.00 per person
Dogs have a complex emotional and logical range with which they attempt to communicate with each other, their humans and other species. Dogs are devoted creatures with an intellectal and emotional response to life.
The first segment of this seminar will cover all aspects of canine communication using slides, film and live dogs. We will address aggression, fear, dominance, submission and friendliness, with all their multitude of expressions.
The second segment will give you a thorough understanding of canine social behavior. We will observe dog behavior and discuss and interpret what the dogs are doing, by analyzing the subtle and not so subtle aspects of their body language. Our intent is to heighten your ability to recognize what is being communicated, when, and to what degree,
The third segment will focus on bridging the communication gap between human and dog. We are communicating with our dog all the time, whether we intend to send a message or not, but, what do these words and movements mean to our dog? Video footage and live demonstrations will help you to recognize the difference between your intended message and what the dog is apparently perceiving. Additional footage and demos will help show the unintended effects on the dog of our often-unconscious words and body movements.
April 10, 2011 from noon to 3pm - $40.00 per person
There is a lot of conflicting information and misinformation about canine aggression and its treatment. It’s no wonder why many are confused about aggression and are often at their wits end on how to treat it.