February 23, 2012
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Something that always comes up when dog owners ask for help with any kind of unwanted behavior is the question of who has to change the most — their dog or themselves?
I had asked some visiting nieces to tell me about their dog, Buddy. They all agreed they loved him very much but that he was stubborn and not too smart.
It might be surprising to you many dogs have never been taught what it means when you say their name. We use so many different word sounds and clapping sounds in addition to what their “official” name is, it’s a wonder they really know their name at all.
In my experience, a wrong response is usually based on lack of understanding or lack of practice with positive and timely feedback.
In family dog class and puppy class, one of the first things we teach is the importance of giving plenty of feedback to our canine buddies in the form of tasty treats delivered immediately after a behavior such as “sit” is accomplished.
The stages of grief are very distinct, regardless of whether it’s the loss of a person, a pet or possibly a catastrophic business loss.
We humans are pretty good at visualizing the end of a sequence when we want to accomplish a task. If we're knitting a sweater, we picture the end product. If we're building a house, we can see what it will look like when we're done. I think we tend to think our dogs can do this, as well.
I read a fascinating article in the Feb. 12 issue of the Craig Daily Press written by Professor Jimmy Westlake, who teaches astronomy and physics at Colorado Mountain College, Alpine Campus. The article is titled, “Behold the Dog Star.” Of course, the “dog” part of the title caught my attention, but there’s more to it than that.
Head Start Puppy Training class is underway, and we have some very nice youngsters attending, but this class has typical “mouthy” puppies. I don’t mean they are rude or talk back. They greet everyone with mouth open and teeth engaged.
It was “them” kittens that started it; my dog, Stuart, helped to finish it.
Lately, it seems, we’re hearing a lot of people saying they want their dog to be perfect, which can mean different things to different people, but I find myself cringing a bit when I hear it.
Have you ever stopped to really think about the many roles your pet plays in your life? What things does she do that you’ve not seen other animals do? What spot does she fill that no other one can fill? Have you grown personally as a result of being the steward of her life?
I had originally thought to write this article about the new and myriad dog toys on the market now. However, Christmas always makes me feel like wrapping up in a quilt near the wood stove and reading a book.
For some reason, the catchy melody and easy-to-remember words of this song have stayed with me since early childhood, when I watched television on our bulky black-and-white TV. Maybe the words just made sense to me. The song is titled “Accentuate The Positive,” and here are the words to the first verse: “Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative. and don’t mess with Mr. In-between.”
Having a “once in a lifetime” doesn’t mean that no work is involved or that no effort has to be put forth.
Trick-or-treat on Halloween, that very special night full of ghouls and goodies, follows the behavioral principles of the science of consequences. What does this have to do with dogs? Everything.
I am in the process of recertifying for my Certified Professional Dog Trainer/Knowledge Assessed credentials. It occurred to me it might be of interest to know what it means to earn this certification as well as what it takes to maintain it.
Making assumptions with regard to canine behavior can be a dangerous proposition.
We finished the last (sixth) lesson of our Head Start Puppy Training Class in Craig a few days ago. It was so warm and still outside that we decided to set up class on a basketball court at Colorado Northwest Community College’s Bell Tower Building. The building sits on a hill overlooking Craig and the Yampa River.
Don’t stop training your dog. I believe the very act of getting too comfortable with the level of training you have put in on your dog is responsible for many an unhappy dog/human relationship.
A beautiful relationship is foremost when we’re working with our pet dogs, and relationship is about give and take and learning to listen to and speak the other’s language.
My husband Ron and I had our last day with Beretta, our 14-year-old whippet. It was several weeks ago. My husband had been nursing Beretta along through waning health for a couple of years. Finally, Beretta stopped eating and could not easily walk or stand. It was time.
The very uniqueness and adaptability of our beloved canines allows for a myriad of interesting relationships. It’s important to look at the whole picture when evaluating what we might think is “good or bad” behavior.
In training animals, raising one's voice can do more harm than good.
Pets need to feel empowered in order to thrive.
Awareness and a leash can prevent an unpleasant encounter while walking your "friendly dog."
Distracted training methods lead to disjointed training results.
We left off in Part 1 with a general overview of experiences that puppies have during the first 12 weeks of life. Within this period of time, there are important sub-plots.
You see them all around town — people are out with their dogs, running, biking and visiting with friends. Your heart aches. You can’t take your dog out because he barks and lunges at other dogs and might start a fight. He’s your dog and you wish he was like those other dogs that get along. You can’t just give him up.
I’m so glad that dog owners are thinking about the importance of socializing their new puppy or adult dog. Here’s some specific information about socialization.
I was thinking of the ways that dogs are giving us reasons to be thankful for the part they play in enriching our very existence. Doing research on this topic made me realize that I would have to write a book, so I’m touching on a few areas and leave some stories for future articles.
Another side of a lost dog finding his way home is our behavior. That’s right. Here’s some things that we as a community of dog-loving people can sometimes do that interferes with returning a dog to his family.
In the Oct. 5 issue of the Denver Post’s cartoon section, I found a little gem that spoke eloquently to one premise of understanding dog behavior; the importance of looking at the environment surrounding a specific behavior.
Last year, I wrote about how Halloween might be experienced through my dog Stuart’s eyes. It probably seems pretty weird to a dog to hear the voice and scent of their owner but to have them be totally unrecognizable in costume. Another side of this holiday experience is the fun of putting costumes on our dogs.
We all (and that includes you) lost a shining star in the world of animal behavior on Sept. 29. Dr. Sophia Yin's star fell way too soon from the galaxy made up of so many other dedicated and knowledgeable veterinarians, animal behaviorists, consultants and trainers.
In a previous article (“Identity theft”), I wrote about different types of identification that would be helpful if your dog was lost. One summer, about 35 years ago, I lost my Irish terrier, Finn. My husband and I were out of town. Throughout a period of three days, Finn was spotted by friends whom he knew, but he kept running.
The saying, “A tired dog is a well-behaved dog,” addresses an important aspect of daily exercise. But it seems we are only appreciating a small part of the capability of our dog’s brains. Dogs are ready and able to interact with us in so many ways. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet.
It’s summer, so it’s time to sit at an outside cafe with friends. This, of course, means with your wonderful doggie companion, as well. This always has been a goal and a special pleasure to share with my bull terrier, Stuart.
We all seem to fancy certain breed types for specific reasons that speak to us emotionally and visually. We also love our mixed breed dogs for the characteristics we see in them that endear them to us.
There are many ways that this can happen. Some folks think that catching their new puppy or adopted dog in the act of making a mistake and “spanking” him is the way to teach him what the rules are. He might think about what he just did if your timing was immediately after the accident. Or, if you’re late in spanking him, you may have disciplined him for something totally unrelated.
Would you think that a credit card could be a useful first aid tool? Did you know that choking is the No. 1 trauma killer in dogs? Do you know what the normal temperature of your dog is? These are just a few of the topics covered in the K9 CPR and first aid program that was presented by Paramedic Eric “Odie” Roth at the Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs on May 17.
You may have a dog that suffers from thunderstorm phobia or may know someone whose dog does. This is a very upsetting problem for owners and dogs and can be the cause of serious injury to some dogs. Here are some actions that veterinarians, researchers, behavior professionals and laypeople have found that may help.
I occasionally run across the sad scenario of one family member standing to the side watching the others engage and teach the family dog. They sometimes say to me, “Our dog doesn’t like me.”
When asked why he robbed banks, a notorious bank robber was often quoted as saying, “because that’s where the money is.” I happened to think of this while watching our neighbor’s cat walk up and down our driveway bordered by large rocks, hunting for field mice. He has come back every day with great hunting success. This location has become a big payoff place for him. It’s kind of his “mouse bank."
I was at a dog obedience training seminar about thirty years ago that was presented by Milo Pearsall, an American Kennel Club obedience trial judge who also was a well known trainer and author.
Have you ever considered hosting a foreign exchange student in your home for a year? If so, you kindly thought about what he or she would need to feel welcome and at ease the moment they walked through your door. I believe that bringing a dog into our home is very much the same situation. Here are some things I think are essential to help your new companion get a great start.
Buying or adopting a “trained” dog in the hopes that all of the work is done for you is a nice idea. My experience sometimes tells a different story.
Years ago, while my husband and I were visiting friends, something happened. Our friends were avid coin collectors and had amassed quite a large collection. They were showing us some of the rarer and more interesting coins and left them on a table when we went out for dinner. Upon returning, we found the coins scattered across the living room floor. Many were missing. Yes, the more valuable ones were among the missing.
This is the story of a horse called “Clever Hans" that took place in the early 1900s. Hans was owned by a retired mathematics instructor named Wilhelm von Osten. He lived in Berlin and was in his 60s at the time of this scenario.
A few weeks ago, I met three young men from the United Kingdown who were bicycling around the world. Yes, you read that correctly, around the world. They were sitting outside of McDonalds working on their bikes after eating “double orders” of food. I was fascinated by their journey and asked them many questions.
After a life enriched with outside activities and basking in the sun all summer long, our dogs can start feeling all pent up and bored, too.
I’ll bet every dog- and cat-owning family has their special Christmas traditions. Our family did, and much of it revolved around sparing the beautiful heirloom ornaments on the tree, not to mention the tree itself.
We’ve all seen dogs tied up in front of stores and restaurants downtown. They are tethered, and their owners are not there to intervene on their behalf.
You’ve worked hard to teach your dog to greet people nicely at the door. No more paws on shoulders. No more shredded clothes. He’s sitting politely and waiting to be petted. Now, that job is over. Or is it?
Well, it’s upon us. Halloween might be a most confusing night for dogs. I can only imagine what is going through my dog Stuart’s mind.
I had asked some visiting nieces to tell me about their dog, Buddy. They all agreed they loved him very much but said he was stubborn and not too smart. They said he didn’t respond very quickly to a couple of cues, namely “come” and “sit.”
Did you ever think about how much pressure a dog-loving society might be putting on the average dog owner? There seem to be specific expectations placed on dog owners that relate to dog social skills and play.
My friend often calls me with questions about problem behavior. For a long time, we seemed to play tug of war between the love she feels for the dogs and dealing with the behavior with which she was struggling.
I was in the park helping a new puppy owner get started on the path to raising the dog of her dreams when two families with children approached and asked if they could pet her puppy. Hooray for parents who are teaching their children to ask permission before petting a dog.
In my lifetime, I’ve seen the world of dog and horse training evolve from one-size-fits-all, punishment-based training to a gentler science-based approach to learning and behavior.
I’m always deeply and profoundly touched by the powerful connections people have with their dogs. After a dog dies, it's hard to know whether to get a new dog right away. The truth is, there’s not one right answer.
For dogs as well as humans, it’s difficult to learn new skills in a new or distracting environment. I often ask, “Can you imagine trying to learn algebra while attending a Broncos game?”
Have you ever considered what it might feel like to be taken to a place where no one speaks your language or understands your culture yet expects you to conduct yourself by an unspoken set of rules? I often ask this of new pet owners.
“Here I am, over 60 and raising my first puppy.”
You may have a dog that suffers from thunderstormphobia or know someone whose dog does. This is a very upsetting problem for owners and dogs, and it can be the cause of serious injury to some of our favorite canines.
In the United States and some European countries, using soft direct eye contact is considered to be a sign of attentiveness, honesty, confidence and respect for what the other person is saying.
A young woman stopped me in the grocery store inquiring about training her “crazy” dog. Now, I don’t train dogs in the grocery store, but I did try to dispel a common misconception about how we perceive dog behavior problems.
Dogs are so good at reading our body language and are quick to learn the consequences of their actions. It’s how they survive. Labels such as “stubborn” can get in the way of understanding the real problem. Dogs know what works for them from past experience.
Giving a reinforcing food treat to your dog when he does what you have asked is one way of giving immediate feedback that he can understand.
People tend to think that a dog trainer’s dog is perfect. Dog owners who see trainers walking their dogs around town might think, “I wish my dog would be well-behaved like that one.” The reality is that many of us have dogs that are challenging, but trainers have the skills and take the time to train them. Over-the-top dogs require a lot of supervision, management and constant and consistent training. My 6-year-old English bull terrier, Stuart, is such a dog.
We’ve all heard it said, “A wagging tail means a friendly dog.” It’s risky to live by this statement because there’s more to the story.
The topic of hugging dogs comes up so often and has such important repercussions that it’s worth addressing again and again.
When I trained my first dog not to pull while on a leash in the 1950s, the only equipment we used was a choke chain and a six-foot leash. We now have so many choices of equipment that is effective and gentler on our dogs and us.
A friend recently shared a concern with me about her high-energy puppy. She said she was worried that she might “slip up” and the pup would learn something she didn’t want her to learn.
Thankfully, our equipment and methods for teaching dogs have changed dramatically since then. We now have so many more choices of equipment that are effective and gentler on our dogs and us.
Well-meaning but misinformed dog owners who let their dogs run loose may call out, “Oh, don’t worry. He’s friendly!” We hear it every day.
Dogs are all the same species, but their temperament, emotional makeup and attachment can be as different as with any two human beings.
We rarely tap into the fullness of a dog’s mental capacity during his or her lifetime. And, as with humans, it’s beneficial to start learning early and continue perfecting new skills throughout life.
As humans, our bodies can betray attempts to mask our intent. For dogs, body language is their primary form of communication.
Have you wondered why some dogs bark day and night in your neighbor’s yard? Have you thought there could be a connection between the breed, age or temperament of the dog as well as his environment?
Freedom alone can create an out-of-control dog. He may be headed for the animal shelter if he doesn’t get help. His freedom needs to be balanced with some rules and leadership.
Young? Athletic? Home alone? Bored? No, this isn’t a young adult looking for a date. It may be your dog.
Frequently we ask new pet owners why they got a dog. They often tell us that the new dog is “for the kids” or “to keep my other dog company.”