Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to train your dog to not bark or jump on people coming over

Good manners is what you would like from your dog when someone knocks on the door right?  How often do you get them?  This is the first step in teaching your dog that it's ok to have people knock on the door without them "singing you the song of their people" aka barking or getting really excited.  Now at first I am really excited when I say the word "people" because I want the training to be fun, but as I do it more and more often soon it will be like the word "sit" and she will know that I want her to lie down and wait for me to call her.  Right now when someone knocks on the door she gets to it before I do, then it's a problem to get her back up stairs and out of the way, meanwhile someone is left standing outside not knowing if I am home (unless they hear the ruckus).  So this is what I decided to to and I thought I would share it with you!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Embarassing dog behavior?

So you take your dog out to the dog park and what's the first thing he starts doing? Mounting the other dogs at the park.  You (or the other dog) break it up, and as you are walking back to where you were you are slightly blushing and thinking to yourself, "how did I end up with the overly sexual, or highly dominant dog?"  However what you may be thinking to yourself is not all together true.  Just because your dog likes to be "on top of the world" does not mean that he is necessarily feeling sexual, or top dog. Don't just take my word for it

"Well what then is wrong with my dog?" you may still be wondering, well have you ever considered that there may be many different reason for a dog to act the way he does? Believe me it is a behavior that has caught the attention of several people who study animal behavior, specifically dog behavior.
(dogs that are intact do have more of an issue with being overly aroused than those who have been spayed or neutered.)

Patricia McConnell, Mark Bekoff, and Julie Hecht have all recently written articles about their observations and studies of such behavior.  To sum up in a nut shell what they have to say about it goes something like this; we don't.  No really, they can't pin it just on hyper-sexuality, being "intact", dominance, or aggression.  What does seem to be a common thread through most of it is being excited, or highly aroused.  Being highly aroused does not mean only sexually either, to quote Webster aroused means "to evoke strong emotions" which is exactly what all their studies do show.  If you watch your dog carefully and take note when your dog tends to start mounting ether objects or other animals, you will most likely notice that your dog happens to be rather excited by something before moving on to the mounting episode.  Excited is another word we need to be clear about defining as well.  Excited can mean scared, happy, or nervous.  It means that he, or she, is having strong feeling being evoked.  "Most of the time it is what is called a displacement behavior," states Mark Bekoff in one of his articles.  It also seems that as far as aggression issues go, mounting is one of the least likely things a dog will do to display aggression   The other dog might get aggressive because they don't like being mounted, but that does not mean that the dog mounting is being an aggressor.

 It could be that as a puppy (when the behavior is noted to start sometimes as early as 6 weeks) he found it as a way to get others to play with him and so it persisted without proper correction by other litter mates into his adulthood. (I highly recommend waiting till your puppy is at least 8 weeks before you pick it up so it has time to learn dog manners from it's mother and other litter mates).  It could also be that your dog learned that mounting a stuffed animal when it was nervous or had excess energy was calming, or had the capacity to wear him out a bit on his own.  It could also be that he is overly sexual or has a hyper sex drive, but don't always simply jump to that conclusion, and further more even if that is more of a driving factor for your dog, it still boils down to the fact that he is being over stimulated and needs help calming down.

So, you might say, what my dog is doing is not necessarily something to be embarrassed about, but is there anything I can do about it?  Fortunately for you the answer is, yes there is.  Since it is most likely that your dog is being highly aroused (remember my definition from above here, and no snickering) you need to find a way to lower your dog's arousal level.  This will be most beneficial to you and your dog anyway since dogs who have lower arousal levels are more likely to be the good and well behaved dog you are looking for.

 I would start by finding out what seems to be the trigger and go from there.  If it seems like it is just about everything, you might need help from a professional, and whatever you do you will need to take baby steps at first.  Say you find that it tends to be when your friends come over for a visit, well the next time you have your friends over, get your clicker out and ask for an easy behavior, click and treat.  Make sure that you keep your voice more even toned than not so as not to get him any more excited than he already is.  Keep your friend outside until your dog is under control, and only then move on to the next step. *note you will need to have worked with your dog and the clicker and be able to ask for the behavior and fully expect it to be given, such as "sit"

Once you are able to bring your friend in, if possible have your dog heel to you and calmly walk away from your friend, or have your dog go to his bed or crate for a relaxing and calming lay down. If this goes smoothly allow your friend to pet and let your dog smell and get to "see" your friend.  If at any time your dog gets too excited go back a step and work on it from there.  It is possible to turn your "horny beast" into a calm and less anxious pooch.  And as always never feel bad if you need to ask for help, that is what we trainers are here for, and don't feel obligated to stick with one if you don't feel comfortable with how he or she is training, (by the way that goes for vets and groomers too), there are many people out there with varying degrees of doggy understanding, so do your homework and don't be afraid to stand up for your dog if needed.  The best ways to train your dog are to keep it simple and take things only as fast as your dog is able to go, there should never be a ridged set schedule, every dog is different and will come with a different time table.

I hope that this was able to put your fears to rest and give you a new view of your dog, no he is not that "horny beast", but just a dog in need of help calming himself, or needing to learn better doggy manners.
(and neither does your dog) :o)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Potty Training Class!

I am now offering a new Puppy Potty Training class!  It will be held on every Tuesday night at 6 pm for 10.00 for those who want to start their training off on the right paw! Call Aliesha to set up your spot in class! 971-282-5721 or email at  Bring the family! All are welcome!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Teach your dog to play Fetch!
This is a 3 step video that shows you how to teach your dog how to play fetch.  First throw the toy and chase it, this shows your dog that the toy is fun and interesting.  If you grab it first, then play keep away with it that also increases your dog's desire to grab it.  Continue with this step until your dog picks the toy up with his mouth, or if you need to increase the desire for your dog to run after the toy with you feel free to break the step down even farther into micro steps where you are clicking your dog and giving a treat just for running with you then build on that.
The second step is clicking when your dog picks the toy up in his mouth, they will then run to you to get the treat which sets up your third step, click when the dog is bringing the toy to you.
So the third step is when your dog is running to you with the toy in their mouth (which is more likely to happen because you have been clicking for them picking the toy up, so they are excited and will sometimes forget to drop the toy as they run to you for their anticipated treat)  You then Jackpot them when they bring the toy back to you!
Roxy did these steps so quickly because she already knows how to play fetch, don't count on your dog catching on as fast, but don't be surprised if they do either. Some dogs, just like people, are better at learning certain new things than other, so give your dog the benefit of the doubt and be patient and consistent.  Remember to break things down into smaller steps if you need to, these are just the basic steps, some dogs will need more encouragement, but take heart, Roxy had zero interest in playing fetch for the first couple of months I had her and I taught her in the same way I am showing you. Teach your dog how to play fetch!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Confessions from your dog trainer...

        Yep, you heard right.  We are not perfect, nor do we have perfect dogs.  Sure, a lot of the time we have them trained to do tricks, or just enough things to make us look good. (or if we are smart, we have a breed that is prone to being obedient)  However, let me tell you the secret to a really good dog trainer.  She (or he) has spent a lot of time with their own problem dog.

The first dog I got as my very own was a husky.  Let me tell you what, he was the best dog I have ever had, but I would never suggest a husky as anyone's first time dog!  However I did learn a lot from him in the short time I had him, and for a time, his brother.
I did just about everything wrong with him from the get go, and he still turned out to be an excellent therapy dog a few years later. I was an irresponsible young adult, you know the kind, the one that loves animals.  I even worked at a veterinary office, which may have been my saving grace in a lot of ways.  I at least made sure he was current on his vaccines, and found a trainer that introduced me to the clicker training method.  I loved the fact that he was a very independent thinker, but I wasn't so happy one afternoon to find that bean bag that he loved to sleep in with a large hole in it and the "bean" scattered all over the backyard.  Let me tell you, it's not fun trying to pick all those up out of the grass.

 This cute little guy grew fast.  By the time he was four months old he was starting to venture out of the backyard or dig holes...
 He had started teething and chewed the bottom basket of a stroller that belonged to the neighbor upstairs.  I still can't believe how much they put up with concerning me and that dog.  Things that I didn't know were happening, and I would find out weeks later... I loved him to pieces, but there was no denying I was ready to pull my hair out at times.  Yet he was actually really well behaved for his breed, I was just to inexperienced to know exactly what to do with him all the time.
I even rescued his younger brother here a few months later and then re-homed him after getting his legs fixed up.....
I often let Pippin run off leash with me when I went horseback riding.  One ride he went behind a tree and I lost contact with him for just a second, and that's all it took.  He was gone.  We were riding in the foothills, half an hour later I heard him yelp!  We combed the hillside every day for eight days, put up posters, and walked miles of neighborhoods asking people if they had seen him.  Finally someone called, they had found him.  He was skinny and had been sprayed by a skunk, but he was home.  A couple years later he later learned to open our chain linked fence, and was hit and killed by a car on a highway we lived near.  Broke my heart.  It took me years to get another dog.
Fast forward a few years....
This little girl came to us from someone who could no longer take care of her, she was underweight and for a month I had watched her sit in a 4X5 dog run with little or no attention (I doubted that she was even fed every night)  I worried that she had enough water in the hot summer sun, and felt very bad for her.  I had however just lost my own Mini Aussie only a month before to a moldy walnut, and was not quiet ready to start looking for another dog just yet. When I said I would take her, I had every intention of getting her trained and then re-homing her too.  I thought, she is so sweet, and just loves kids, I know I can find her a good home....
Well, two screen doors later (and the third with a hole in it that we just didn't care about anymore), I started to see that whoever we gave her to would really have to stay on their toes to keep her happy.  She had separation anxiety to the point where she would demolish anything in her way to get her back to the loving family she had just found, and she was built in just the right way to have tons of energy, she is like the energizer bunny!  So unlike my last Aussie, she needed to run off her energy and a nice walk wouldn't cut it.  She was also extremely smart, which meant that whoever got her had to be able to stay one step ahead of her...
Needless to say, I found myself worrying that she would end up being too much of a handful for anyone else to handle, despite her sweet disposition.  So I caved in, and instead of getting a dog that would make me look smart, I wound up with one that would help me grow and teach me instead.  Being very smart means that she tends to get bored easily, so even though she hates to not be with us at all times, if I put her out in the backyard for even five minutes unattended  and she sees something she thinks she wants, she is so slenderly built and so small, that she can slip under the fence, or to the side of it.  Those gates that you can buy at the pet store to keep your dog out of a room?  That's right, she can slip between the bars.  Sounds amazing unless you have met my parent's dog. 
This is Frodo, he is a lab-border collie mix that weighs around 55 pounds.  He was the escape artist extraordinaire! He slipped through a missing fence slat that was only 4-5 inches at the most.  He did get stuck when he tried to get his hips through though.
So anyway, here we are now in Newberg, Oregon. 
I have had to re-potty train her at the new house, fix the fence about a dozen times (always after she has escaped to chase a squirrel, or whatever else strikes her fancy), and have a constant supply of frozen dog treats to keep her busy when I can't take her out for a run.  To her credit (and mine), she does always come running back from wherever she has gone when I call her.  She barks at our kind neighbors, and even nipped a kid once when I had to walk to the school to pick up my kids (she was very stressed and overwhelmed with all the kids that came pouring out of the school. I was just trying to get her some exercise so she wouldn't have as many problems at home.)  So here's to my teacher, I only hope that by the time she leaves me, that I have learned more than she has, and that she doesn't leave prematurely due to any neglect on my part.  So whoever you see with a dog that may not be acting perfect, remember we are all here learning something new, no one is perfect, and sometimes, that's the best way to have it.