Our Side Of The Partnership

Hello. I need some help with my human.

Hello. I need some help with my human.

When people call me we often discuss their dogs undesirable behaviours and it led me to think about the behaviours people engage in and how it may impact our dogs.

If dogs could call a human trainer here are a few things I think they may say. Continue reading

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Toilet Training An Older Dog

A dog door can help with toilet training an older dog

A dog door can help with toilet training an older dog

Many people choose to adopt adult dogs thinking they can bypass many of the ‘issues’ associated with puppies, and for many adult dogs this is true, but for some adult dogs basic skills like toilet training may be a lesson they still need to learn.

Older dogs can sometimes take a little longer to toilet train because they have already spent months, if not years learning to toilet inappropriately. This is particularly true for dogs who have spent their lives in cages or other small enclosed areas. You will need patience with an older dog to give him time to not only unlearn old habits but to learn new behaviours at the same time. Make toilet training a top priority in the first few months of living with your new dog, this may require a super effort but in a few months toilet training will be learned and you can move on to something else. Continue reading

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The Up/Down Game

The *Up/Down Game is all about teaching your dog to focus but without the pressure we often put on ourselves and our dogs.

Start by introducing this game at home either in your back yard or inside your house. Take a handful of food and drop one piece on the ground right in front of your dog, when he eats the food and looks back up at you toss another piece. Continue to toss one piece at a time only when your dog looks up at you.

Make it harder by tossing the piece of food a little further away from you and only toss the next piece when your dog looks at you, then you can start to turn your back on your dog and wait for him to come and find you. Over time you can play this game during your walks around distractions.

The Up/Down Game is a fantastic way to engage your dog before you ask him to perform a more difficult skill and it also helps settle over excited or anxious dogs. This game can be played by any dog, at any level and even children will enjoy this game. The only place the Up/Down Game should not be played is in close proximity to other dogs as it has the potential to trigger a guarding response.

If your dog shows no interest in the food or looses interest during the game you may have expected too much too soon, go back a step and use a food your dog loves. For example if your dog can play this in the back yard but looses interest during a walk start playing the game in your driveway as an intermediate step. This intermediate step is great for any dog who has difficulty controlling their excitement at the beginning of the walk as well.

Take a look at the video of Nemo and I playing the Up/Down Game, this is the very first time Nemo has played.

*The Up/Down Game was created by Leslie McDevitt, an American trainer who has written many wonderful books, one being Control Unleashed: The Puppy Program.

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Spoiled Dogs

A spoilt dog does not have to be a terror.

A spoiled dog does not have to be a terror.

We live with dogs because they offer us companionship, closeness, unconditional love and loyalty, and these can be strengthened by sharing our space and love in the best way we know how, through physical closeness and sharing of resources. However, traditionally we have been told we will spoil our dogs with such ‘indulgences’. Continue reading

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Human Communication

A labelled collar is just one way you can communicate with other handlers.

A labelled collar is just one way you can communicate with other handlers. Image courtesy of http://www.friendlydogcollars.com.au

When two dogs meet there is always an element of arousal until both dogs have learned a little about each other. During this time a few things can occur, both dogs engage in play, or the dogs sniff each other and the interaction is over and finally, one dog wants to interact but the other does not. In order to have the smoothest meeting all handlers should learn to communicate their dogs needs, likes and dislikes with others at this time. Human communication and respect at the beginning of an interaction is a key ingredient in managing dogs effectively.

Take this scenario as an example. Two dogs meet, Rex a green dog with little impulse control and Fido a more reserved or mature dog. Rex will be over the top bouncing around Fido’s face trying to initiate play. Fido will be moving his head away, possibly trying to sniff the ground or trying to completely avoid Rex. If Fido’s subtle cues of ‘no thank you, I don’t want to play’ are ignored he has no choice but to turn up the volume by growling, teeth baring and air snapping at Rex, meaning ‘I said NO!’ How could have this been avoided? Continue reading

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