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Never Praise FEAR - by Pet Country Trainer Jean Marcellus PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Saturday, 27 July 2013 12:24

Previously, we discussed how dog owners can unknowingly create separation anxiety. Now we'll explore how owners of fearful dogs, can actually make matters worse - when they think they're helping!

Almost all dogs will startle or show slight fear of new things they're not used to.  It could be different people, other dogs, objects or sounds.  Most well-socialized dogs recover after a few seconds, become curious and want to approach & smell the the target. 

The fearful dog will display a very different picture. The tail will be between the legs & curl up to touch the stomach; the hair on its back may raise, its head may lower, moving back & forth to avoid eye contact.  Its mouth & whiskers may pull back to the point of showing teeth; there may be excessive licking of lips, hiding behind its owner’s legs or struggling to get away. The dog will not move forward or attempt to use its nose to scent.

Why do these dogs become so fearful?

There are many reasons.  Common ones are: they have been taken from their littermates too young, or not have been properly socialized at a young age with different people or other dogs. They might have a medical condition, in which their hearing or sight is compromised. They also might have had a very bad experience with the “target” of their fear.

When owners of fearful dogs see this reaction, they feel sorry for them, and want to comfort them.  This over-reaction may include: petting or hugging the dog; also: picking them up, to remove them from the sitiuation.  NOTE: THE DOG VIEWS THIS AS "PRAISE!"  When you praise your dog, chances are that this behaviour will be repeated; and so the cycle has been created, with the dog’s behaviour getting worse instead of better.

How do we correct this behaviour?

Firstly, we disagree with the behaviour using a verbal cue; a growl sound, “hey”, “aah” or a touch to remove the dog's focus from their target.  We then move them far enough away, so they can eat a food reward.  What you're rewarding is “watch me” - as opposed to the fearful state. Try the approach again very slowly. What you want, is to see the dog using their nose to get the scent of the target.  This is a GOOD thing, reward or praise. Let the dog approach at their own pace; as long as they move forward, praise & reward. It may take a few seconds, a few minutes or even days. Be patient, and you'll both reap the rewards!

 
YOU may be encouraging the dog's Bad Behaviour! - by Jean Marcellus PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Saturday, 01 June 2013 12:18

"Why does the dog destroy things when left alone?!?"  We get that question ALOT! Without even knowing it, YOU might be triggering such events - but don't worry: we're here to help you correct their behaviour (and yours!)

Young dogs or rescue dogs are not to be considered trustworthy.  They don't know the difference between their chew toys & their owners shoes, clothing, furniture or even baseboards. All they know, is that it feels good to chew on something and doing so relieves Stress! 

Why would your dog be stressed when you leave them alone? Most people have a relatively long conversation with dogs as to why they have to leave.  It may go something like this; “I’m so sorry I have to leave you for so long today, I’d really, really like to stay & play with you all day. I have to go to work so I can pay the bills! Sorry!!"

It’s not the actual words the owner uses...it’s their behaviour & 'sound of voice' that triggers the dog’s stress level.  They've now left the dog alone.  On the way by the closet, the dog discovers a shoe; he grabs it because it smells familiar. Being stressed, he begins to chew on it.  In about 5–to-15 minutes the stress is relieved, and they sleep until you return.

When his pack returns, the dog is happy again and runs to the door to greet them!  The owner notices the chewed shoe, becomes upset & may even yell at the dog.  Again, it’s the owner’s behaviour that triggers the dog’s behaviour.  The pup is confused, as that shoe was chewed 2-to-8 hours ago. The dog tries to calm the owner down, by offering submissive posturing. A showing of teeth (a smile), head low, tail low wagging slowly (most call this "the guilty look").

They now have another conversation with their dog in an angry tone “bad, bad dog! Do you know how much those shoes cost me? Why did you do that? Do you not love me; how could you?" Most people do not realize they are about to create what is known as “SEPARATION ANXIETY”. The owner thinks the dog knows what they are being punished for, but he has NO CLUE!

How do we correct this problem?  Click on the "CRATE TRAINING" link from Page 3, September 2011.  That's where you'll learn how & why you should Crate Train your dog, while you're away.  Get your dog or puppy crate-trained and don’t forget to give them something safe to chew on. Make your comings & goings from home quite normal.  Don’t have a conversation with them, and put anything of value up high and out of reach, or in closed closet.

May you always leave, and greet your Dog(s) with great behaviours! smiley Jean

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 June 2013 12:52
 
Proper Footwear when Training - by PCE Trainer Jean Marcellus PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Sunday, 14 April 2013 11:54

A timely tip, for those just venturing outside, after another long, snowy winter:

When Training, it's important that you maintain your balance at all times, so that your dog can't knock you down or drag you down the street!  While flip-flops are comfortable, and slip-on flats or high-heels are fashionable, they really won't help you maintain good balance, or proper control!  Heading outdoors with Man's Best Friend?  Choose RUNNING SHOES OR HIKING BOOTS!

One of the Best shoes for AGILITY TRAINING?  Click here to check out Clean Run.  They also sell agility clothes, training tools, videos, DVDs, books and more.  As everyone here at Pet Country Estate knows: Dog agility is one of the most exciting things that you can do with your dog! It's FUN & FAST!  Dogs love it and so does the crowd! 

For most competitors, it's just a matter of getting a better round than last time, or finally getting that first clear round. Tough to do, without proper shoes.  If your shoes are loose-fitting, or falling off your feet, you will not only lose time, but also risk hurting yourself if you slip & fall.  Remember: you must always train as if it is a competition and compete as if it is training. In other words: try to Train as best you can, so that when you actually compete, you'll both have "FUN!" The right shoes, will give you a great advantage! Now..."WHO WANTS TO GO FOR A WALK!?"

Last Updated on Monday, 15 April 2013 17:45
 
The One-Minute Dog Exam - by PCE Trainer Jean Marcellus PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Thursday, 28 February 2013 22:42

Although not a training tip, "The One-Minute Dog Exam" is a great way to learn what's normal for your dog. While it won’t replace a vet check-up, it will alert you to potential problems - and more information you can provide, the better.

Once-a-day, run your hands over your dog.  Start at the face, across the back to the tip of the tail. Run your hands down each side, to the chest.  Then down their front legs. What are you feeling for?  Lumps, swelling, cold or heat.

Coat condition: dry, brittle, oily or soft.  Is your dog gaining, losing or staying at the same weight?  Also remember to check their nails & footpads.  It's very important NOT to let their nails grow too long, or they'll curl under. (It's not only uncomfortable, it's also hard on the joints)

Be sure to look into your dog's eyes?  Are they bright & clear?  Get to know the normal colour in your dog’s mouth; check teeth to ensure none are broken, crooked or chipped.  Check & smell both ears, so that you know what they should look & smell like.  Then if something just isn't right, you'll KNOW - and have it attended to immediately.

Remember: dogs can’t talk, so we as owners MUST PAY ATTENTION to both their physical & emotional needs.

'Til next time..."May you always be the voice for your dog!" smiley Jean

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 February 2013 23:02
 
Avoiding Anxiety in Dogs - by PCE Trainer Jean Marcellus PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Saturday, 02 February 2013 12:59

How does one avoid creating anxiety when leaving your dog(s) in someone else’s care?  Whether Boarding them or placing them in Doggie Daycare here at Pet Country Estate, dropping them off at the groomer's or someone else’s house, the first thing you should do is take them on a TOUR of their new surroundings!

As owners, you also need to be comfortable with the location and the people who'll be caring for your dogs. Ask lots of questions; make sure you are happy with the answers. Be observant, to see if the other dogs staying appear happy in the environment. Most dogs should be comfortable meeting new people.  If you're hesitant, search out another place!  We recommend you visit more than one establishment, before making a final decision. Next, book your dog for a short visit - so they get to know the people, different smells & sounds.  Bring some treats and reward all positive behaviour. If the dog is unsure, you may have to bring them back a few times, in short increments of time.

Then, when you're BOTH comfortable with the situation, book a longer stay - and you'll be able to leave knowing they're in good hands.  Ask the place of business what they would recommend as a good timeframe.  The most important thing to remember is to act calm when you pass the dog to his/her new caregiver. The less excitement on your part, tells them it's a normal event. If you're stressed, nervous, excited or upset, you're alerting your dog that there's something wrong! (And the Dog, will risk becoming nervous & stressed!)  Remember to keep the experience upbeat & positive!  This will assure them, you're coming back!  Lastly, should you think your dog(s) suffer from Seperation Anxiety, be sure to click on Lexy's Health Tip for more information. 

Til next time: "May your Dogs enjoy meeting new people and visiting new places!" smiley Jean                                        

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 February 2013 15:17
 
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