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Alpha vs A Leader and Fear Based Training

The dog training world is full of ideas and ideologies, some good, some not so good and a good dose of urban myth perpetuated now by social media and keyboard warriors.  Its funny how many people I see think or have been told to be an Alpha to their dog.  So just for a minute lets delve into what an Alpha is.  So according to the dictionary “denoting the dominant animal or human in a particular group, denoting a person who has a dominant role or position within a particular sphere”. We can see to dominate is the key word here so again the dictionary says “having power and influence over others, presiding, ruling, governing, controlling, commanding, supreme, authoritative, forceful, bullish”.

Now we know this is part of nature and that cannot be changed but what we can do is move to a way in which you can still be the Alpha but not be using excessive techniques like fear to achieve this.  This is where we differ to many as we like to be Leaders to our dog ie, Pack Leader.  What does the dictionary say about a leader? “Leadership is the art of motivating a group to act towards achieving a common goal”.  The leadership definition captures the essentials of being able to inspire others and being prepared to do so.  Effective leadership is based upon ideas original or borrowed but won’t happen unless those ideas can be communicated to others in a way that engages them enough to act as the leader wants them to act.  Put even more simply, the leader is the inspiration and director of the action. He or she is the person in the group that possesses the combination of personality and leadership skills that makes others want to follow his or her direction.

Right, now we have our definitions what does this mean? We follow an ideology where we believe you should be a leader to your dog and gain their respect to follow you by want – Not to follow you because they fear you.  To do this you need to learn to understand them and communicate with them in a non verbal way that engages them – ie speak DOG.  Just like humans, dogs are individually unique in personality.  We Blend our training methods so that they are tailored uniquely to each owner.  After all dogs are easy Humans are hard.  Your dog is an amazing animal and is superior to us in many ways and yet like in the human world we don’t respect them and often they don’t respect us.  If you have a bad manager in the workplace who flip flops on rules then you may work for them but not respect them.  Dogs are no different – you are their manager and when you can not be consistent with your behaviors they will not respect you either.  Then the Human being the emotional creature that it is goes but I love you why won’t you do as i ask? I feed you dammit, I clean up after you. Then you get all Mad and up in their grill and in comes the fear for the dog….. We have heard it all before – its all you, you are not being a Leader – just Calm your farm.  To be a good Leader you need to be calm – not an emotional mess and wreck – you are no good to yourself like that let alone your dog.  You need to follow through with what you ask – if you ask the dog to do something follow through with the instruction otherwise your dogs looks at you and goes, crap leader cant enforce anything I will do what I like.  They heard you they chose not to respond.  So we have some basic concepts here of what goes on in the home, now how not to enforce things. FEAR is a horrible thing yet so many people like to use it, client after client are amazed at how we can get the dogs respect so quickly by setting clear boundaries and rules and enforcing them, which in turn actually makes the dog more loving in their nature.  Whereas fear can often create other issues.  Two classic examples is using ball bearings or chain thrown in the direction of the dog to scare it to stop barking – whilst effective the dog then develops other issues associated with noise, the other the spray bottle.  When a spray bottle is used to break a focus ie it is barking and you spray it at their rear end to get them to look at you so you can call them that is fine, to spray it in their face as a punishment then you may as well use a bat because it creates a fear and mistrust of you and you break your relationship.  Equally hitting the dog in any way or form, I have never seen a dog go up and slap another dog for being bad or rubbing another dogs nose in poo for doing it in the wrong place – you as the human are just an asshole with no emotional self control.  Stop using fear and intimidation and start building a genuine relationship with your dog based on respect and mutual trust – your dog will love you for it.

As always life is full of decisions – make an informed one.

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To Treat or Not to Treat – What is it all about

To Treat or not to Treat –

When it comes to controversial topics this would have to be one of the most divisive in the dog training world which brings out all the nut jobs and key board warriors intent on hammering their own ideological values on everyone and trying to destroy those who disagree.  I want here to give a balanced approach to this question and the reasons why behind it including some science.  This Blog is not designed to be long and overly comprehensive but to give you food for thought – as you should always be aware and have options.

So some of the things I wish to cover are

  • The keyboard warriors
  • Food – the hygiene of it
  • Your Dog is FAT
  • My Dog doesn’t like Treats
  • Higher vs lower value treats – the tricks some trainers use
  • Fairness to Dogs (what the latest science says)
  • The 21 Day dilemma
  • randomization and the challenge to humans.

So let me first start by saying I have no issue with food when used correctly.  Any BALANCED Trainer worth their salt understands the place food has – but they also understand it’s not the be all and end all of the world.  Every dog is Unique in its temperament and every owner is unique as well.  There are 5 Primary Motivators to dog training and then any of these can be Secondary Motivators as well.  A balanced trainer knows the Pro’s, Con’s and dangers associated with each.

They are Play, Prey, Food, Tactile and Verbal.

As an Organisation in Puppy school we use Play, Food, Tactile and Verbal to build neural connections and appropriate dog behaviours.  (Prey is never taught for dogs in a domestic situation by us and is highly discouraged to help avoid child bites).  In Obedience we teach humans how to use Tactile and Verbal motivators to build the emotional connection and respect to the human.  In Higher obedience with agility we use food but teach how to phase it out and or using other forms of positive reward.  In Home Training we use whatever Motivator is required to achieve the clients needs.

But let us go back to food as this is the question we most get asked.

Keyboard Warriors – The bain of every balanced trainer – we often get attacked via social media and otherwise because we don’t subscribe to the ideology of only allowing food.  I recently had to threaten action against a very large organisation that are food oriented only after some of their “Dog Trainers” starting spouting rubbish on our advertisements at us over no use of food in Obedience – their ideological standpoint was in their view the only way – in fact they tried to tell me that sex (procreation) was a primary reinforcer for training dogs

– I kept screen shots of it all just in case.  And this is the quality of dog education that is being taught publicly.  It really is ironic that the whole perception of correcting a dogs behaviour by giving it an adverse reaction is any different from them trying to change people’s behaviour by being this way online – sit there and ponder that next time you see it happen in a forum…….FYI there is a lot worse we have on file.

Food – the hygiene of it.  The number of times I have been told by people that they were told to use ham, chicken or cheese is – well – a lot.  So I want you to think about this for a minute logically – is the food between 0 and 4 celsius to stop dangerous bacteria developing? I hear you say it’s a dog why should it be? Then I would say why do we keep raw food diets for dogs refrigerated? Unless there is so many preservatives and garbage in it that it wont go off and then you really have to ask the question why are you feeding garbage to your dog.  Consider also that when it is not refrigerated every time you reach into your dirty little festy pouch of dangerous bacteria do you or your kids wash their hands afterwards to avoid cross contamination and you getting sick? And are you using Lactose free cheese – because I am pretty sure we are the only species that has the lactase gene to process milk products – it will upset your dogs tummy.

Your Dog is FAT – You need to face the facts – calories in vs calories out.  If you are going to use food make sure you remove the equivalent portion of dinner – this means you will have to ration your training so as to not remove much of the nutrient dense food they NEED vs processed crap they don’t – feed your kids up on junk food and see if they want dinner…….  Overweight dogs are a serious problem and if you do not learn how to get your dogs off treats you will make them fat.

My Dog doesn’t like treats – awesome you will have a skinny dog for life – ask your trainer how to use other methods.

Higher vs lower value treats – There are many types of treats out there – we do our best to use your shop bought ones – the same as you would – but again you will find that you may turn up to a class with beef treats and the trainer has chicken – no wonder the dog will do anything for a trainer right? Much higher value food which makes them look great and you look crap.  Why would you put processed human crap into your dog?  Chances are you probably wouldn’t have bought it as a human.

The fairness test – in a recent study published in the Journal Current Biology – researchers at the Wolf Science Centre in Vienna Austria tested both Wolves and Dogs in a study of fairness with food.  What they found was that if one dog was given a higher value treat for doing the same thing as another dog with a lower value treat than the dog with the lower value treat would stop co operating for its trainer.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/wolves-and-dogs-both-have-sense-fairness-180963638/

So what does this mean for Obedience classes that use food in a group setting – Better make sure you all have the same food or your dog wont want to work for you…….

But again the results don’t apply as indicated in an individual setting at home as there is nothing to compare with for the dog – so in a house environment if used appropriately this would work.

The 21 day dilemma

You have 21 days to create a behaviour and fade off the food before the effectiveness starts to diminish very quickly.  To be able to do this there are various training techniques from clicker, to verbal marking, to simple praise but when you want to “mark” this behaviour you then also have to be very aware of what you are marking and what behaviours you are accepting from your dog to which you are rewarding.  If you get it wrong you are giving a reward for something entirely else.  So when you are teaching your dog as a simple human – how do you mark a behaviour, grab the food – activate the bridge – and reward all within 2 seconds? Remember you only have 21 days and in that time you have to consider everything else above – is it any wonder the average person goes this is just all too hard and gives treats for the life of the dog?

randomization

So when we go to fade out food during the above 21 days – there is an extremely important element that is required to achieve success – and this requires a neat little theory called randomization – it is the reason why humans gamble and it is how we remove dogs off the food.  Only one catch – as a species we are not random – in fact we are one of the most predictable species on the planet – behavior wise we fall into rhythms and routines in an instant – it is why your dog can read you and know what you are doing before you do it – ask your dog when walk time or dinner time is? So if humans are so predictable in our actions – how hard will it be to randomize those actions?  There are a couple of ways and a good trainer will teach you how.

So as you can see whilst food can be an incredible learning tool at the onset for dogs – the problem doesn’t lie with the dogs – but with the ability of humans to be able to do the above.  It is challenging to achieve and I believe personally something that is not suited for a class situation if you want the humans to succeed with their dogs.  The problem then lies that instead of removing food, humans rely on it and don’t learn to create the emotional connection with their dog which should be the next step so that they are the treat not the food.  This is why as an organisation in Obedience we choose to help you develop your emotional connection with your dog using Tactile and Verbal Motivators not food motivators.  Whatever method you choose personally to use – be proud of the fact that you have taken the first step toward gaining control and a rewarding future with your dog.

Life is Full of Decisions – Make an Informed One

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Child Safety

Child Safety – I am not even sure where to start with this one.

I am frustrated – frustrated with humans who don’t care, so this blog may be emotional, it may be a rant, it may be disjointed but dogs are my passion and if it creates a conversation and saves only one child from a bite or worse than I have succeeded.

It is something close to my heart having been bitten as a child by a dog that “was a friendly family dog” over 30 years ago yet I remember it like yesterday. I was a young kid doing letterbox drops when a family dog stalked and bit me from behind.  As a dog trainer and behaviorist now I am determined to minimize this thru our puppy schools to in home training – the hardest burden our team bear is going to the house of where a child was bitten and seeing the aftermath – THIS IS ALWAYS THE ADULTS FAULT!  You as the adult are responsible for the care of both the child and the dog, and the lack of self-responsibility and blaming others is the one of the reasons dog bites happen.

In light of the very unfortunate incidences lately and the many that happen all the time and the fact that idiot keyboard warriors calling for complete breed bans are amassing the dark clouds of doom and journos with nothing better to do then fan flames for ratings I have updated this blog.  I have broken the human component into separate versions of the human

  1. The Knobhead
  2. The Overly attached Owner (Just like the Girlfriend Meme)
  3. The I know how to talk to dogs mate human
  4. The My dog knows what he wants human
  5. Who has time Human
  6. The Uninformed I want to do better Human

So no better way to start than by describing the first instance of human to cause these problems with our dogs – The Knobhead.

1 . Knobheads – that the best way I can explain some individuals who seem to think it is acceptable to rile the dog up and let it bite and mouth them – and in my experience it is the MEN that cause the most issues thru their macho bullshit to have a TOUGH DOG.  Well you aint so tough when it hurts your family or someone else or another animal, which we see daily!! Who suffers? Everyone but the knobhead.  It has to change!  This particular type of human doesn’t care about anyone else but themselves and the image and when it doesn’t go their way has a tendency to use violence on their pet.  I get to see plenty of these (and I mean seriously a lot – it worries me) – usually after it has dragged their wife across the yard while he laughs.

2. The Overly attached Owner – I recently had such a case – the dog had taken over the house and had bitten several family members – the owner was scared of the dog but when the parents tried to step in the response was “but I love him” (cue crying) – at what point do we say right our emotions are in the way of logic – the number of these people in complete denial or who choose (yes choose) to blame every other dog and human for their own dogs behaviour is quite extraordinary.

3. The ” I know how to talk to dogs” human – I don’t even bother trying to educate these people – why because they never call us for help.  They believe they ARE the dog whisperers and the dog will do anything they want at a whisper – these are one of the varieties you see with dogs off lead in an on lead area.

4. “My dog knows what he wants” human – these are the humans who let their dog do ANYTHING because the dog is as intelligent as a human – and will listen intently as you discuss particle physics with them – it knows the appropriate human etiquettes of a bow and a courtesy when someone important walks in – sitting at the table using a knife and fork………LOL I am kidding – this is the dog that jumps on everything and does what it wants – no leads – no restrictions – no order in or outside the house.

5. “who has time” human – Generally these humans leave the dog locked up in small confines – no enrichment – nothing – maybe a visit to the dog park because the human feels guilty – the type of person who pays for other people to train their dog or is delusional enough to think there is a magic pill to fix the problem rather than put in effort (YES EFFORT)

6. Finally we have the last human – the one as a business we will go out of our way for – they want to do better – they may have traits of the above but above all they want to do better.

So as I said before the issue of child safety is now in the hands of those above – feeling safe yet?  Yet we blame the dog expecting it to live in our modern world that is changing so fast that the igen kids have had a 33% jump in suicides – we can’t even look after humans properly, why are we blaming dogs for our screw ups.

I want to point out a scientific fact for you – wolves and dogs fall under the same category Canin Lupis – dogs a subcategory of their wolf cousin Familiaris. They split approx 12000 years ago into their current lineage whereas humans split from chimps 7million years ago and we share 99.8% DNA with them – SO WHY DO YOU THINK THEY ARE HUMAN? Why do we insist on treating them like a human and getting upset when they don’t act like it.

I love dogs more than anything and spend a fortune loving them – they truly are mans best friend but they are another species which think completely differently and act differently.  But as humans we project our thoughts and emotions onto them in such an unhealthy way as to cause them immense stress and anxiety and then blame them as well.  Our Modern life has brought with it a myriad of social issues which are now being played out on our dogs – insecure humans who lack in social skills and the ability to communicate are now relying on dogs to solve their problems rather than seeking professional human help.  Your dog can help you absolutely but please stop using it as the be all and end all and wonder why it plays up.  But I digress – we will save this for another thought another day.

Back to child safety – Over 13000 hospitalizations happen every year in australia from dogs bites and frighteningly this is growing at over 10% per year 75% of those are children aged around 7years old.  That is not your run of the mill bite that is time in hospital.  let me break that down further.  There are approximately 92000 7yo kids in australia.  approximately 2000 kids at an age of 7 end up in hospital every year. and the same for the other close ages approximately. That means your child has a 1 in 46 chance of getting bitten and requiring stitches and ending up in hospital and scarred for life.  I am open to a mathematician giving me the correct answer 🙂

And this is for several years.  The odds of getting hit by a car crossing the road are 1 in 4200 – yet we make so absolutely sure our kids are safe doing this yet not with a dog? Why?

A common reason is they “trust” the dog – we trusted thieves who stole from us, people who kill us, and a whole host of nasties that are the human species! Trust is based on reliability, truth or ability of – yet as humans we cannot trust our own species.  You can love and trust all you want but at some point that can break and understanding the difference between a human breaking that trust and a canine breaking that trust can be life or death.

Let me give you some examples –

A simple example but one that happens all the time – a dog is asleep – the child wanders over to give the dog a cuddle.  The dog wakes suddenly to being encased and feeling trapped and instinctively bites to get released.  It is too late the child is hurt – the parents are beside themselves and the dog gets put down.  Who is at fault? The adults! For not being responsible and ensuring the safety of the dog and child.  Education is such a small thing that can save so much pain it is what brought us out of the middle ages yet so many adults are intent on sending us back.

The next example involves our Knobhead – he is the one who wants the toughest dog – I see them out and about all the time – plays rough with his dog and lets it mouth and bite him – he builds the prey predator instinct in the dog playing tug o war – one of the same method used to train protection dogs only the knobhead doesn’t have the skill or expertise to teach obedience and control in all situations – we get plenty of real life examples every day.  The dog grows up and it starts pulling at the wife/girlfriends dress – he thinks its hilarious and laughs encouraging the dog – tells his mates about how tough his dog is.  Then the bite – first just firm on the missus arm or the small child.  The dog gets away with it because the guy tells them to toughen up – then the growl and the chance at bigger prey over the fence as it passes by.

You see all of this is really easy to fix.

  1. Train the human to understand that they are another species.
  2. Put in place appropriate containment measures to ensure the safety and control of the dog
  3. Put in place appropriate training to contain those drives that the majority of our society do not understand
  4. Do not fall for the social media garbage of an interspecies love fest.
  5. Remember – every dog has its limit just like humans – you just don’t know when it will break.
  6. Get professional help!

Life is full of Decisions – make an Informed one!

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Puppy Schools

Ahhhh – No not all puppy schools are created equal.  In fact a lot of them are just there to make a buck out of you give you the wrong advice and not be of really any help.  They are run by shop assistants who get given a few notes to read – primarily selling vet or store products to you or run by vet nurses who have zero behavioral expertise to back up anything they are saying.  In fact a lot of the horror stories I see are caused by these people because they don’t understand the issues they create or the in-depth psychology behind the canine mind.  I outline a lot of the common issues in other articles.

What should be the purpose of a puppy school?

The purpose should be for the instructor to be able to have the dogs safely mingle in an environment which is controlled and the behaviour is monitored to ensure appropriate play and language learning between dogs.  The instructor should be able to explain to the group at any time what the dogs are doing and the associated behaviors as often humans will interpret actions that are innocent as otherwise, and stop valuable learning for the dog.  It is an opportunity to create the correct neural connections in the brain of the dog in preparation for obedience later on and to teach the human parents how to get their dog appropriately socialized in the human world. It should also be about non biased information as to the best care for your puppy.  It should also cover Child safety and Basic drives and Instincts of a Dog.

If your puppy school separates sizes (like saying short people can’t mix with tall people) or separates breeds (like racial discrimination) or doesn’t allow play of the dogs safely or is more about selling you stuff then I would highly recommend changing puppy schools.

Puppy socialization

Oh my Lord – one of the most infuriating things we have to deal with is where we have a dog that freaks out at the world because the poor owners were told to keep the dog inside till at least 16 weeks of age.  The poor owners then come to us with a dog that is fine inside but an absolute mess the minute it walks out the door.  The reason vets says this is to scare you with Parvo.  Behavioral problems are the number 1 cause of death for dogs.

So here is the medical information straight from the Veterinary governing body.

“Young puppies are very susceptible to infection, particularly because the natural immunity provided in their mothers’ milk may wear off before the puppies’ own immune systems are mature enough to fight off infection. If a puppy is exposed to canine parvovirus during this gap in protection, it may become ill. An additional concern is that immunity provided by a mother’s milk may interfere with an effective response to vaccination. This means even vaccinated puppies may occasionally be infected by parvovirus and develop disease. To reduce gaps in protection and provide the best protection against parvovirus during the first few months of life, a series of puppy vaccinations are administered. Puppies should receive a dose of canine parvovirus vaccine between 14 and 16 weeks of age, regardless of how many doses they received earlier, to develop adequate protection.
To protect their adult dogs, pet owners should be sure that their dog’s parvovirus vaccination is up-to-date. There are titers available that measure the dog’s level of antibodies against the canine parvovirus, but the antibody level may not directly translate to protection if the dog is exposed to the virus.

In spite of proper vaccination, a small percentage of dogs do not develop protective immunity and remain susceptible to infection.

Finally, do not let your puppy or adult dog to come into contact with the fecal waste of other dogs while walking or playing outdoors. Prompt and proper disposal of waste material is always advisable as a way to limit spread of canine parvovirus infection as well as other diseases that can infect humans and animals.”

Bitches should be boosted before mating or immediately before whelping in order to transfer protective antibodies to the puppies.

How does a dog become infected with parvovirus?

The causative agent of CPV disease, as the name infers, is a virus. The main source of the virus is the faeces of infected dogs. The faeces of an infected dog can have a high concentration of viral particles. Susceptible animals become infected by ingesting the virus.
Subsequently, the virus is carried to the intestine where it invades the intestinal wall and causes inflammation.
Unlike most other viruses, CPV is stable in the environment and is resistant to the effects of heat, detergents, and alcohol. CPV has been recovered from dog faeces even after three months at room temperature.

Due to its stability, the virus is easily transmitted via the hair or feet of infected dogs,
NOTE ### human contaminated shoes, clothes, and other objects. ##### Direct contact between dogs is not required to spread the virus. Dogs that become infected with the virus and show clinical signs will usually become ill within 7-10 days of the initial infection.”

So – What the vets don’t tell you is you can walk it inside to your house.

So what should you do

– this is something I like to go  in-depth with at my puppy schools.  You need to get your dog used to our world.  We have conquered the planet to the detriment of every other species so we need to teach them how to cope in our world.  8-16weeks of age is the most CRITICAL period to learn this – after that it is the hard road of desensitization.  So we need to make it as positive as can be – puppies are very resilient – so when they learn to cope now they go well i coped as a pup I can now as an adult – this doesn’t mean it stops as an adult they are always learning – it just makes it considerably easier and nicer.  So take them out to nice and safe places – Bunnings in a trolley – a shopping centre (the worst they will do is chuck you out – meanies don’t like pups) – railway stations to see a variety of humans and their smells. Remember the puppy is following your lead – if the dog reacts adversely to a situation

1. Do not force the issue

– let the dog realize its ok – show them its ok.

2. DO NOT REACT!!!!!!

– unfortunately you are human and you will find the need to nurture, this is the worst thing you can do as you are giving the puppy the sign they are behaving correctly and they will continue to do that in situation again – that can be scary as an adult dog. You need to remain calm and composed – only react when you can a positive sign from your puppy and praise.  The biggest issue I always see is the human putting their emotion onto the dog and then as an adult dog they are a mess thinking it is the correct way to behave in those situations.

3. Always praise a positive response to a situation.

The puppy will learn very quickly if they approach a situation well they get love and praise from the human, not the reverse.

This time period for your pup affects the rest of their life so it is important to get it right – you are the parent of a brand new life – no one generally goes out of their way to intentionally screw it up – so please when you look at a puppy school consider the above.  Remember that google contains all the information on the planet from both dumb and smart people.  You don’t have to be smart to put up information on google.

Finally – Make sure you are informed with accurate information that gives you the control and ability to make an informed decision base on logic not emotional garbage that pushes an ideal to either sell you stuff or make you follow a particular path. And please remember you can love them as much as want but they are a different species and have specific needs and drives that make them unique and make them Canine not Human.

Life is full of decisions – make an informed one.

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Puppy Biting.

Puppy Biting – well where do I start.

First of all this is not an answer to the question but a discussion on methods – always seek professional help if you are having difficulty.

It is one of the most commonly asked questions we get and the answer is not necessarily the one owners like to hear – but I am not here to tell you want you want, I am here to sound out some methods and how they do or do not work.

The first thing to consider before you even think about the end result of biting is the first stage of having a puppy.  The puppy doesn’t have hands to explore the world they have a mouth and sharp little puppy teeth.  The second thing is we bring this adorable little fluff ball into our house – put them on the floor and go here you are all of this is yours now.  And then bitch and moan when the puppy doesn’t do what we want.  It really is quite amazing as a species that we child proof our houses and make sure our babies can’t hurt themselves but when it comes to a puppy with the same mentality, we expect them to think like an adult human and respond accordingly.  I mean seriously why do you think that dogs understand english? it takes you 17 years as a human to figure it out and them some still don’t, yet after 2 weeks interacting with a human you think they understand “stop it”, “don’t do that”,  “how many times do I have to tell you” – stand back and have a look at yourself.  The solution is simple – containment. As a baby we confine them to cots, bouncers, car seats to keep them safe and out of trouble.  The best way to keep your puppy safe is to confine it to a smaller area – I personally recommend a crate that is open and covered and a pen for play area and toileting.  This will stop a good chunk of disasters that happen with puppies as they try to discover the world.  When they are out of the confines they are on a light lead or under constant supervision.  This allows you to correct any misdemeanors as they happen and teach the young pup from an early age about control, rules and boundaries – it will also assist in the process of walking on a lead – this is NOT for a child to do EVER!

Now you have stopped some of the random biting issues of feet, ankles, dresses etc we can start to look at bite inhibition – which is the dog learning to NEVER PUT TEETH ON HUMAN SKIN – EVER!  It really irritates me when people say “oh they don’t put pressure” – it should not happen full stop – because at some point they will lose their impulse control and there will be pressure – a bite.  Not to mention pressure on a healthy adult skin compared to a child or the elderly is completely different.  There are many methods to do this and I do have a good chuckle at some and will explain a few of them here.  We will show in our group or in home training effective methods to do this – note I said show – you cannot explain and get a human to do it correctly via text.

So let me start some of the things I have been told……oh did I tell you it’s because google said?

  • “bite the dog back” – Really? Last time I looked we don’t have a set of good canine incisors nor a mouth big enough to go around the neck of the dog – like eewww why would you.  If this is you just stop! please stop you are not helping the situation.
  • Squeal like a pig or your hurt and turn your back – Ok the next person who says this to you please ask them 2 things first do they understand the concept of prey/predator drives – secondly where did they learn the dog? So the theory behind this is that your dog will not want to hurt you so will stop doing it (cue falling on the floor laughing it doesnt have human emotions) – you are right that your puppy isn’t trying to kill you and it may work for a soft natured dog but try it with an amstaff and see where it gets you.(just ask any amstaff owner they are tuff dogs)  When dogs do it to each other it is a specific language aka dog they are using that’s why it works with puppies between them not humans. They don’t understand you. What a dog will learn by squealing and turning your back is that if I want the human to bugger off all I have to do is bite.  Cue my previous note on prey/predator – this is the drive that causes a dogs instinct to bite and possess (you know the shake and kill little fluffies do so much).  It’s why they sell squeaky toys (it simulates an animal dying) – get your head around that one.  Behaviourly we have to give a dog like any animal the right stimulation – squeaky toys do this – so why on gods green earth do you squeal like a girl and pull your hand away? Are you Prey?  The only time I squeal and run is if I see a spider.
  • This is one of my favourites – Stick a toy in its mouth.  Let me ask you – when a dog sits how do you reward it? with a toy? with food? with a pat? Now how does the dog know that was the right thing? It doesn’t it associated an action with a sound ie the command sit. Now let the dog bite you – give it the sound ow and give it a toy.  What have you just taught your dog?  Now there is a theory behind it – flawed because of a lack of understanding of canine to human its called redirection.  Redirection is a human concept that works in humans – it is supposed to redirect the attention or focus – ie to redirect a childs focus from throwing sand to building a sand castle.  When it comes to a puppy at 8 weeks of age or even older that has the intelligence of a baby why would you think this would work let alone as I described earlier how the dog thinks.
  • Time out – Now here is something that has merit – this is the physical removal of the puppy from the situation so that it gets no attention.  Again there are variables involved with how long and where you do it, it also requires the right timing.
  • Bitter sprays – These can work an absolute treat – just put some on your hand and let the puppy go for it – not all bitter sprays taste the same and you may have to try different ones.  The puppy will find the taste disgusting and not want to chew you – 30 seconds later you can call the pup to you and give them the correct chew item and praise them for chewing it.
  • Peanut Butter – put some on the palm of your hand and teach kisses as they lick it off – once the puppy learns this then you can say kisses when the puppy bites and praise the correct behaviour.

So you have now managed to get thru the first 4 weeks – argh when will they grow up? haha now you have teething – this is where the fun really starts……

Your puppy is in pain as its new teeth come thru and if you have been unsuccessful in the early stages it will be a lot worse now.

So…

  • STOP patting you poor pup on the top of the head and face – how would you like it? did you not notice the teeth come out every time you do it or your pup become hand shy?  Pat under the head!
  • give them frozen carrot or apple to chew on – the cold will sooth their gums and its healthy – just remove the core.
  • Confinement inside is still your friend.
  • Teething was not fun with your child it is less fun with your dog deal with it you are a parent now!
  • DO NOT CLAMP THEIR MOUTH SHUT!!! The dog will learn to hate the hand – expect a child to get bitten as the dog learns to hate hands.

There are many ways to help you thru this period – this is just my thoughts.  Every situation in every house is different as no two dogs are the same – this is why we need to see situations to be able to help you correctly with any training.

Remember your Puppy is looking for a Calm Assertive Leader that is consistent.  If you can’t be this you had better start learning.

Life is full of Decisions – make an Informed one.

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What is Balanced Dog Training?

Welcome to Dogtraining101.  As a dog trainer – myself and my team get asked all of the time what is a balanced dog trainer.  A balanced dog trainer is someone who recognizes that every dog has a unique and individual personality based on its drives and instincts.  They recognize that they are another species and not human and hence require different needs to that of a human.  They recognize that the human also has needs from their new companion.  It is our job to find the best method of training that is suited to meshing both of these together to ensure the success of the relationship between human and canine and that the dog is able to thrive in a loving and secure environment.  We do not rely on one sole method of training and are open to whatever is required to make this succeed.  There is nothing I haven’t seen or dealt with from human aggression to where vets have pumped up dogs on drugs to control simple behavioral issues – in which we get the dogs off the drugs and back to being a member of the household.

This blog is not intended to provide you answers to behavioral issues as every circumstance is different.  The way that humans interpret a situation in their home is completely different to the way we will interpret it.

Should you need assistance please contact us and make a booking – it is the first and hardest step but ultimately the most rewarding.

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