I wrote in my previous article about training a puppy. Our days a lot of people are looking at the adoption of dogs from shelters and rescue groups as the way of getting dog cheaper and reducing numbers of unhappy and abandoned dogs. Dogs are getting into shelters because of many different reasons: It can be because of necessity to move or transfer to work in remote area, sometime because of dog misbehaving and getting in conflict with the local bylaws and sometime just because of not proper match of the bread with owner situation and desire. Every adopted dog has to be carefully re-train. Training adopted dog, even the one that is very well behaved is necessary, as after changing the pack dog needs to learn the rules of new household, respect the leader and recognize all new pack members. Dog has to get custom to new odours, noises and learn new sound of commands. We never know the whole history and the past experience, therefore we have to start from the beginning watching very carefully dog’s reaction on each and every command and provide immediate correction if it is not executed properly. If we encounter some annoying behaviour such as excessive barking, chewing, smelling the trash, jumping on people, stealing food, digging, biting, fighting with other dogs or urinating in the house to mark his territory, we have to correct our dog immediately.
Excessive barking is one of the most common behaviour among adopted dogs that owners have problem with. It is enough that neighbours complain and owner may end up paying hefty penalties. Sometimes dog owners give up and send their lovely pets for adoption. When we are training adopted dog first, we should figure out why our dog is barking. Is it from fear, loneliness or just to attract attention? It is also possible that previous owner taught him to bark. If he is barking out of fear, we should socialize him more with people and introduce him to strangers. Your dog should learn a difference between passerby and person invading your home territory. If he barks when there is a reason for it you should award him, when he barks when is no reason say “no”, “quiet” or “hash” (whatever you taught him before). Always use the same word for the same situation. If your command does not work, you can use a squirt bottle with water. I found the last very useful with larger dogs. Dogs don’t like stream of water in the nose, so they react fast. Never try to hit your dog. You want him to trust you and to defend you not to be afraid of you. If your dog is lonely, sometime may help to invite dog from neighbourhood for a play time. When dog looks for the attention, he barks because he expects owner most to react right away and try to comfort him to calm him down or even give him a snack to make him stop. If this is the case squirt bottle is a very good choice, as it is not going to be pleasant.
Chewing is a common behaviour that owners are struggling with young dogs. We cannot teach dog to stop chewing as it is his natural behaviour, but we can look for the toy, chewing bone from raw hide that our dog will enjoy more than our shoe or our furniture. If substitution doesn’t help, the best next idea is to take his objects of attraction out of his reach and protect furniture with spray (available in any pet store)
If your dog is smelling or tearing up the trash, you have to catch him in the act and tell him “no”, scare him away or squirt him with water. This kind of situation should be arrange few times, so get ready by providing something smelling very good on the top of the garbage, wait till your dog gets attracted to it and again scare him off. If problem persists, try to secure garbage to be out of reach. If your dog steals food from the table the training method I the same as with the trash.
Biting is another problem that endangers dog to be put for adoption or even euthanized. When we train adopted dog we have to observe him very closely and correct him for any aggressive action he takes including growling and aggressive barking. When your dog growls on passing by dog or person, pull the leash, say “no” and sit him to give him time to cool down, then walk for a while holding leash very short. If such growling or barking occurs when dog is on your yard, you can use water from squirt bottle or garden hose. Stopping first signs of aggressive behaviour teaches your dog to look for a guidance from you to tell him when danger is coming.
About fighting with other dogs I wrote separate articles. Once more though I would like to point out that training adopted dog requires consistency, patience and good communication
We often hear that in the hospitals, senior homes or schools with handicapped children volunteers are using their dogs to provide a comfort for their occupants. Not every dog can be used for this kind of purpose. Dogs suitable for the Therapy dog training should be selected very carefully. If you are thinking of using your family pet for the therapy dog training you have to understand the requirements your dog has to fulfil.
All therapy dogs have to be housebroken and well trained in basic obedience. They should be able to execute basic commands such as: sit, down, stay and come. He should put attention to handler and be able to avoid distractions.
Dog good for the therapy dog training needs to be calm gentle nature. He should be able to handle gentle touching and more vigorous one. He should be also comfortable in environment of strangers and enjoy their companionship. He should calmly permit strangers to get close to you, hug you or even pat you in the shoulder. He should not be defensive or aggressive in any way. Certain behaviours are not permitted such as jumping, burking, sniffing, licking and growling.
To prepare your dog for the therapy dog training you should take him to the crowded places such as parades, outdoor shows, to introduce him to different type of noises.
You have to teach your dog to walk on a loose leash, heel when you walk and sit when you stop. Your dog should put complete attention to you, even when other dogs are around.
Remember also that your dog has to be fed well and groomed well.
When your dog is ready then you can enroll in therapy dog training course and obtain a certificate. Remember that being a volunteer with dog used for a therapy is a big commitment, but very rewarding.
Most dogs have natural instinct to guard their property and their owners. Some dogs such as German shepherds, Rottweiler, Doberman Pinschers, Bullmastiffs are known to have genetic guarding predisposition and they will usually do their job with little or no training. For general home owners guard dog training should be limited to defence. If you need guard dog training with the use of an attack, you should rather get help of a professional dog trainers specializing in attack training.
Before starting guard dog training you should have your dog trained in basic obedience. Such commands like “sit”, “stay”, “come”, “stop” or “no” should be executed without fault every time. You must have a control over your dog. During training you should use rewards for well executed command. It is helpful if dog is not fed just before training, as then is more eager to work for the reward.
Socialize your dog well. Accustom him to other animal destructions, such as cats, rabbits, squirrels and other dogs. Accustom him to family members, and visiting friends. Take him for walk in crowded places to show that people passing by can be ignored.
Guard dog training shall be started with the controlled barking. Encourage him to bark at the unknown people at the door or at the fence. Call your dog to assist you at the door every time somebody knocks or ring the bell. Let him bark until you give him command to stop.
Teach your dog borders. If you live in the city you probably have fenced yard. If you live in the country property is much bigger and rarely fenced. You should walk your dog along property lines few times. If your dog crosses the borders, you might need to use for a while the invisible fence collar. It is important that your dog will not follow the intruder further than property line.
If your dog might have natural tendency to jump at intruder or even bite, post warning at the property line (such as Guard dog on duty) and observe if your dog knows the property borders.
When training guard dog, do not let him accept food from anybody, but you. Your dog should not be hungry when on duty. Thieves often try to throw sausage with poison clear their access to property.
Did your dog growled at you or other member of the family or showed his tees? Did you get scared that he could bite you, his owner or visitor at your home? This kind of aggressive behavior should be treated right away as it will escalate if you don’t take control.
If dog is showing aggressive behavior towards you it means that you are not a very strong pack leader and your dog wants to get up the ladder in the pack. You have to show him that you are the Alfa dog in the pack and he has to look up to you for permission to be aggressive.
How to show your dog that you are leader of the pack?
Train your dog to follow basic commands. Execute them without repetition. Teach your dog very important command “No”. If you still didn’t do so, or your dog doesn’t respond substitute this command with growling. Dogs understand this language better.
Growl at the bad behavior and award good behavior with patting.
Feed your dog according to his status in the pack: you first, your other family members next, your dog on the end. If your dog is trying to get closer to the table or beg, you growl or say ‘No” with serious determined voice. You might even stamp your food to show that he is out of place.
Don’t give your dog treats for nothing.
Don’t treat him like a spoiled child.
Dogs don’t show aggressive behavior towards pack leader, unless they feel that they can become a leader. Remember that you must be confident but kind, fair but tough, loving but firm to prove your leadership and to earn respect. Use your body language, attitude, and, yes, a little growling and your dog will understand and will submit to your leadership.
Here in America where population of pet dogs is very large and growing, all dogs adopted from Humane Society are neutered or must be neutered, as society wants to control numbers of abandoned dogs. These dogs usually were crossbred and they are not considered for future breeding. If you adopted one of these dogs delay neutering or spaying until your dog is fully developed. Neutering or spaying during puppies years might have influence on the hormonal development and it can cause future health problems and injuries. Many statistics show that dogs neutered in early age have more knees and hip injuries cases.
There is a believe among dog owners that untouched dogs are more aggressive, have tendency to mount other dogs, develop testicular cancer, will mark their territories and in case of females unwanted pregnancies and unwanted puppies and in later age uterus infections.
Dog aggression will not change with the neutering, but it can be controlled with proper training. Dogs are mounting other dogs more likely to show their dominance than for the purpose of sex. When untouched dog will meet female in heat he will get excited and will try to mount her, but this is a natural behavior. That is why owners of the untouched females should have escape proved yard and during her heat they should walk her on the leash only and far from off leash areas. Females are in heat only twice a year, so it is not so hard to control them. Marking territory is a normal dog behavior regardless of neutering. All dogs will mark outside every post and tree. Usually dogs are not marking their territory at home. If they do try to do it at home, one word “no” can be sufficient to prevent future marking. I am not an expert in health issues, but avoiding possibility of cancer by cutting out organs is not exactly what we would consider smart in case of humans, so why we are so easy accepting it for dogs. Spaying or neutering is a serious surgical procedure. I would advise to think about it. In the past I have lost one female dog due to veterinarian negligence during this standard procedure. She bled out internally.
My final advice is: If you don’t have to, don’t do it. If you do have to, do it later when dog is above 2 years of age. Avoid neutering if you want to use your dog for hunting or agility
Dog Rolling in Poop
Is your dog rolling in poop and smelly things that he finds? Some dogs like to roll in human poop, some try to roll in their own poop and some are rolling in remains of dead fish. It is their natural behavior to do this. There are few theories explaining why dogs are doing it. One theory explains that dog in the past wanted to camouflage their own smell to have easier way to sneak closer to animals they were hunting. The other theory explains this behavior as way of communicating to the rest of the pack about their finding. Either theory is probably right. Our pets are acting like their ancestors. It is hard for us, pet owners, to accept that few hours after we had given bath to our lovely friend, we found our dog rolling in poop. There are few methods that can help.
1. If dog is rolling in his own poop, we should try to clean his feces on a daily bases from our back yard. In the summer we can try to hose our dog every time we catch our dog rolling in poop. Most dogs don’t like cold water wash and they will associate consequents of hosing after the rolling action, but we have to react right away.
2. If you are catching your dog rolling in poop or some smelly stuff during the walk, you can try to stop him with command “leave it”. If your dog is obedient enough he should follow your command. If you cannot stop him with the command you can try to make for him the action of rolling in poop unpleasant in some other way. Many people are successful with using remotely engaged citronella collar. You should put collar on your dog when going out for a walk (specially to the off leash area) and as soon as you notice unwanted behavior press the button and citronella will be sprayed from collar below you dog nose. For the dog this is very unpleasant experience. Many people use these collars also to stop dogs from barking or digging.
Puppies are afraid going downstairs and this is normal. They can easily claim stairs up, but then they stay on the top of the stirs and they look and they are afraid going downstairs. Often dog balance is causing this fear. Some dogs especially of the large breeds don’t have problem with few steps, but when they come towards long run of narrow stairs they will stop and they will refuse to walk down. This is a dog stairs phobia.
I have encountered this problem with my dogs in the past. I would advise to everybody to not force your dog to go downstairs. Pulling pushing shouting will cause only bigger dog stairs phobia. If you have a young puppy you should not even encourage him running down the stairs until he is at least 4 to 5 month old. Small dog can tumble down and injure himself. With older puppy or the adult dog you might start training.
Many canine behavior specialists recommend helping to work through your dog stairs phobia by using encouragement and positive reinforcement.
First start to introduce your dog to the stairs by approaching the top of the stairs, sitting on the stairs and awarding any small progress around the stairs.
You can use favorite toy or treat to encourage your dog to pick up from step below making small progress to next target step every day. If it is small breed you can sit on the staircase blocking the passage and give encouragement to your dog to get into your open arms. Not seeing the long run of the stairs might be sufficient to overcome dog stairs phobia and few steps to you. With the small breeds it also works method of taking dog downstairs and placing him three or four steps from the bottom and then let him follow you.
With the larger breeds it helps to gain first dog confidence and train him in basic obedience and then start approaching stairs walking just beside him. First chose shorter stairs somewhere in the park, next advance to longer runs. Every successful training session should be ended with the award. Praising your dog reduces his anxiety.
Dog Stairs story. I had a dog that had extreme phobia of stairs. No treats or training was helpful. He was going downstairs beside me when I was holding his collar, but never alone. I tried to live him home alone with the tasty treat on each step with no success at all. I gave up. Then one day I was in the basement doing my laundry and suddenly I noticed my dog beside me, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I followed him upstairs to check the reason for this brave visit and I discovered that outside on my backyard was a female in heat and my dog wanted me to open the door. Dog stairs phobia can be broken if encouragement is right.
Dogs jump on people for few reasons. First is to call attention, second is to great and smell and third when they want to intimidate. In the nature this would be their natural behavior towards any species bigger than them. For us people this behavior is not acceptable. In case of the bigger dogs this behavior can be dangerous, as dog over 60 lb. can easily knock somebody over. Quite often dogs, when jumping, are keeping their mouth open and by accident can scratch or tear our clothing.
I met many time dogs jumping on me during their walks on off leash area just because they could smell treats in my pockets. Their owners were screaming, apologizing and picking them up. I can be sure that the same dogs at home are jumping on their owners at the door to get attention and treats. Sometime we might think that to stop your dog from jumping on people is almost impossible task. If we are consistent with our training we can get rid of this unwanted behavior within a week or two.
If your dog is small the easiest way to stop your dog from jumpingon people while greeting at the door is to completely ignore him. If your dog jumps do not look at him. Look past him and walk around him. When he will follow you to get your attention, turn around, ask him to sit. You should kneel or lower yourself to his level and pet him. With the time you can teach him a trick how to shake a paw and use it for greetings. Your guests will be amazed. If your dog jumps on you outside just turn your back to him and walk away. Do not play with him any more for a while.
If your dog jumps just on the visitors, snap the leash on your dog before opening door. To prevent dog from jumping you can step on the leash while holding it with the hand. Next command “sit“ should follow. This method can stop your dog from jumping on people even if he is a large one.
We should remember to be consistent and never award dog unless his feet are on the ground. If you have kids ask them to not play with dog when he is jumping and to not pet him unless he is sitting or lying down. Smaller children shall always play with dog under adult supervision, as unexpected push can cause child fall and serious injury. Stop your dog from jumping on kids even if it is a puppy
Dog is a pack animal and humans living with him are his pack members. Cat is an individualist taking cares about his needs and comfort. People are only in his service. Dogs are chasers in attempt to catch and kill the prey. This is their instinct. To introduce these two different characters and make them tolerate each other to leave in peace under the same roof is quite a chalenge.
We might consider different methods of introduction Dog and Cat depending on the situation.
Puppy and kitten. If puppy and kitten are brought home approximately in the same time and puppy did not have any previous experience with the cats, it should be very easy to introduce them to each other. To help dog and cat to accept each other faster it is good to rub the dog and cat with the same glove to transfer some smell of cat on a dog and some dog smell on the cat. Puppy shall accept kitten as a part of the family. He might still chase other cats, but this one will be his and sometime he might even defend him.
Adult Dog and a Kitten
First our dog should be trained in basic commands such as Come, No and Leave it. Few days before kitten is brought home we should take some small blanket on which cat slept for a while and introduce it to the dog to smell it. When dog will start to smell the fabric we should happily praise him to suggest that this is good smell. If dog will get agitated, or will show any signs of aggressive reaction we should calm him down and pet him. We should repeat this exercise until the dog will get custom to the presence of cat smell before kitten will be introduced to him. Some dogs specially females will show maternal instinct and accept kitten easily. With some dogs we have to progress very slowly a patiently. In this cases is good to start introduction having dog on the leash. Sometime crate might be helpful. We can let cat to get familiar with the space, Later we can put cat in the crate and let dog roam around. We have to remember to be patient and very consistent, in case of any aggressive dog reaction we should use command Leave It.
Adult Cat and puppy.
We are introducing the smell first the same as in case of adult dog and kitten. Small blanket with the smell of dog should be introduce to the cat. If he is not eager to get on the blanket we can invite him there with few favorite snacks. Later we return blanket to the dog and repeat the process. Cats usually easier will accept new companion, but we should not leave dog and cat together without supervision until dog will learn our house roles. Even very tolerant cat will stand up for himself and use his claws when puppy will try to chase him or terrorize him.
This situation is most difficult. If adult dog was first in our household he will probably try to treat cat as an intruder. We should start the introduction through the blanket to get both of the familiar with each other smell. When we introduce them for the first time we should keep dog on the leash and cat should be kept by another person. If we have no help we can eventually use crate to observe reactions and give them opportunity to smell each other. We should instruct the dog “leave it” on any sign of aggression and award him when he ignores the cat. If the one of them or both do not cooperate we should re-consider the adoption of the new pet. Cats claws are very sharp and can cause serious injury to the dogs eyes or nose. Dog might grab the cat and throw it against the wall and even kill.
Most important dog senses are: sense of smell, hearing and vision.
Dog Sense Of Smell
The sense of smell is the most dominant from all of dog senses. This sense is more than a 1000 times better than humans.
When we are taking our dog for a walk we can notice that he will stop whenever he smells something interested and then he will pee on it. We say “he is marking his territory”. In fact this is the way dogs advertise their ability to mate and their social status. Next dog going the same path will smell and gather essential social information. By smelling the pheromones in urine dog senses age, gender, sex, and readiness for mating. When dog smells markings by female in heat he will get arouse and might track her down.
Rolling over in some smelly spot is another dog behavior related to communication by smelling. By putting smell on his fur he carries the information to the other members of the pack or other canines in the area. This is a normal dog behavior and it can be notice among wolves.
Dog Senses – Hearing
Hearing is second sense in importance from dog senses. Dogs are born deaf and blind. The sense of smell is their guide to find their mother. The first sounds they start to hear at when they are about 3 weeks old. Adult dogs can hear sounds from the four time longer distance than average human and their frequency range is double comparing to humans. Dogs can hear a lot of very high sounds that human ear cannot capture. That is why some dog owners, who do not want to make much noise, use high frequency whistles to call their dogs. Sometime we are surprised that our dog is running away from the vacuum or hair dryer. We should understand that this dog behavior is caused by unbearable for them motor sound.
Dog Senses – Vision
Vision is poorest of the three most important dog senses. Many people believe that dogs are colour blind. This is a myth. Dogs see colours and shades, but they see them differently than humans. Dogs see everything in various shades of grey, blue and yellow. Some colours that are very different to human eye such as green and orange, might look the same to your dog. If you want your dog to see toys in the grass, better by them in white or blue colours. Otherwise your dog will search for them using his sense of smell. Dogs cannot see as far as humans do and also they see better moving objects. That is why we can often observe dogs chasing behavior. They see something moving, so they run to get closer to see. I saw once dog chasing rabbit on the snow. In some moment rabbit stopped like frozen. Dog could not see him, but I could.