Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Trainer Tips--Barking Dogs

This month's Trainer Tip is being based on something that has touched us close to home recently…barking dogs.

As a dog trainer, a dog owner, and fellow neighbor, I would just like to say that a barking dog is NOT ACCEPTABLE!  That being said, let me elaborate…

Being in a neighborhood with lots of dogs, an apartment building with lots of dogs, and a dog owner myself, I fully understand that dogs can and will bark sometimes.  It is to be expected, it happens.  Many times owners do not know their dog has been barking if he only barks when they are away.  Other times, owners are fully aware and do not care.


Sure, we don't mind a little bark here and there, but there are limits to what is acceptable and what is not.

Acceptable Barking:
*If your dog barks once or twice when you first leave the house or come home, I would consider this acceptable.
*If your dog barks 2-3 times throughout the day for less than a minute.
*If your dog barks at someone that has knocked on your door or come onto your property (not just walking by on the sidewalk).

Unacceptable Barking:
*Allowing your dog to bark whenever, wherever, for whatever reason and as long as they feel like is absolutely unacceptable behavior, not only on the dog's part, but more so on the owner.  As the owner of your pets, you are 100% responsible for their actions.  Allowing your dog to continue to bark and bark is absolutely unacceptable and incredibly rude to the people around you.

*Getting defensive when a neighbor complains about your dog barking is not acceptable.  If a neighbor has taken the time to come and talk to you in a nice and respectful way about the disruption your dog's barking has caused, it is your responsibility to not only listen to their concerns, but to do something about it!
*If your dog repeatedly barks when let into the yard or tied outside.  If you know your dog is going to bark when you leave him outside alone, do NOT leave him outside alone.  Take the time to do some training and take responsibility for your barking dog.  The longer you let a dog engage in nuisance or boredom barking, the harder it will be to train them out of it.

*Excuses.  I'm sorry but there is absolutely no excuse for allowing your dog to continually bark and disrupt the people around you…NO EXCUSE!

Why do dogs bark?
Generally speaking, dogs bark and use other vocalizations to communicate, not only with each other, but with us.  It is our job as their owners to discover what they are trying to communicate.  Many barking problems stem from the dog trying to communicate something that the owner is not getting.

On-going/ Excessive Barking/ Nuisance Barking:
This is the type of barking that dogs build a habit of over long periods of time.  Most of this type of barking comes from lack of something else.  For example, lack of physical or mental activity, lack of socialization, or lack of leadership from the owner.  This type of barking will generally have a pattern to it; a similar series of barks that repeats over and over…and over…and over.  This type of barking is unacceptable and should be immediately addressed.

Barking as a Greeting/ Communication:
Often times dogs will bark at another dog or owner upon their return home as a way of saying hello.  Our dog, Caravaggio, does a sort of quiet howl/talking when we come home.  It's very cute.  This type of barking is acceptable in small doses.
(These 2 puppies are a good example of communication barking between dogs.)

Some dogs will howl along with odd noises like a passing siren or strange high-pitched sounds (like in a song or on TV).  These random howls are acceptable.
Other dogs will howl when left alone.  This howl is generally a sign of distress in the dog, usually from being left alone.  Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety and this type of howling or the nuisance barking listed above can be symptoms of that.  Separation Anxiety can be a very difficult problem to deal with and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Separation Anxiety:
Some simple things you can do to help with separation anxiety include:

*exercise your pet before leaving (a tired dog is a good dog)
*give your pet plenty of things to keep him occupied (a Kong filled with yummy treats
and penut butter, a tasty bone, and/or several types of interactive toys)
*do not make a big deal about leaving and returning
(do not kiss your dog goodbye and tell him how much you will miss him,
this makes it harder for a dog with separation anxiety,
upon returning, ignore your dog until he calms down, 
then reward with calm love and praise.)
Dogs with separation anxiety often get themselves into trouble when left with nothing else to do.  That's why it is so important to do the things listed above, otherwise you may come home to a disaster (example above left).

Generally speaking, a dog that excessively barks is either exhibiting separation anxiety or boredom.  Either way, if your dog is excessively barking, it is your duty as the owner to take responsibility and take action to correct the problem.  Most barking problems can be solved with some simple training and exercise (both mental and physical).  But it is important to recognize exactly why your dog is excessively barking to determine the correct path.  Some dogs may bark to communicate some other problem they may be having, such as a physical (food, water, shelter) or emotional (excited, anxious, or nervous) need.  No matter the reason for the barking, something should be done about it.

Don't become the neighbor everyone hates because you can't control your dog's barking.  Take action!  Be responsible!  Train your dog to be a respectful member of your community.  Your neighbors will thank you for it!

Try this other SGDs blogs for more help:
Choosing an Anti-Bark dog collar.

Also check out an article by Victoria Stilwell, Barking.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Open enrollment for Dog Training Review

I will be opening my final class of the current Basic Manners dog training session for review.
Wednesday November 6th from 5-6p.m.

Anyone who has taken my Basic Manners Level One class or an equivalent in private lessons (or taken with another trainer) may attend.  If you are interested in possible future training and would like to see what a dog training class is like, observation is FREE.

There will be a $25 participation fee for the one hour review class.  You will be joining the current class on their last session and will be incorporated into the class.

Your dog should be familiar with the following to attend this review session:
Food lure
Look/ Watch Me
Stand/ Up
Come when called
Loose Leash Walking
Drop It
Leave It

Your dog must be current on Distemper & Parvo shots.
(Please exercise your dog before the review hour.)
If you are interested in attending this review, please contact Such Good Dogs.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Breed of the Month--Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees

Color:  White, white with gray, reddish-brown, badger, tan markings.
Height:  Males:  27-32 inches/  Females: 25-29.5 inches
Weight:  Males:  110 lbs minimum/ Females:  88 lbs minimum
Life Span:  10-12 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Bloat, hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, elbow dysplasia, osteosarcoma, factor XI deficiency, progressive retinal atrophy, and skin problems.

Coat:  Double coat, weather-resistant.  Dense, woolly, ding undercoat.  Long, thick, flat outercoat.
Country of Origin:  France

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards or more information.

Separating Spain and France, the Pyrenees mountain inhabitants earn their living by tending flocks of sheep, cows, and other livestock.  Although the exact origin of the breed is unknown, the Great Pyrenees dogs have worked protecting livestock in this area for centuries.  This gentle giant is completely reliable with his flock or herd, and is ever sure-footed in the mountains.  Many Great Pyrenees pups are raised within their flock or herd from puppyhood.

The Great Pyrenees is devoted to his family, gentle, and trustworthy.  Bred to be suspicious of strangers, it is vitally important that this breed is properly socialized at a young age and throughout his life.  

I had the pleasure of having a Great Pyrenees neighbor.  She was one of the most gentle and loving dogs I have ever met and got along well with everyone, from adults to children, and other animals.  I feel blessed having known such a fabulous dog.

The breed's desire to patrol his territory may sometimes get the best of him; it is therefore important that the breed be kept on leash or in a fenced area during exercise.  Although the Great Pyrenees is a very large breed, he does not require excessive exercise.  Two to three good walks per day will satisfy his exercise needs.  It is most helpful to find some sort of "job" for this breed to do.  He will be well satisfied to guard the property or family.

The Great Pyrenees's coat will require almost daily brushing.  The coat was designed to protect this breed in all types of weather, and should never be shaved.  The hair around the toes should be occasionally trimmed and extra care must be taken to keep his face clean and wiped free of drool.  

If training the Great Pyrenees for guarding or herding, training will be easy.  In other aspects of training, the Great Pyrenees can be stubborn and requires a persistent and patient trainer.  This breed will not respond to harsh training methods.  Positive reinforcement training is best.