Friday, December 4, 2015

Redirection--Bad Dog Behaviors turned Good

Many times when a dog misbehaves, people focus on the bad behavior.  Often times when I am called in to help a dog with bad behaviors, people love to tell me the numerous stories about the dog's repeated bad behavior.  This example, that example, oh this one time...  Although some of this information is helpful in deciding on a training program, every single owner focuses only on what the dog is doing wrong.  Instead of focusing on the bad behavior, I like to ask them, "What would you like the dog to do instead?"  

That is the question you should always be asking yourself when your dog presents an unwanted behavior:  
"What is it I would like the dog to do instead of this current bad behavior?"

This is called redirection.

When a dog misbehaves, it is best to apply what we call a No Reward Marker, meaning to the dog..."I do not like what you are doing right now."  

No Reward Marker:

This is what we do when the dog does not do what we are looking for.  Try using an “Uh-oh” (for mistakes during regular training sessions) or “Eh-eh” (for behavioral issues such as barking or chewing).  This will let the dog know that the behavior just performed is not what we wanted.  
For example, for a barking dog, I recommended doing a loud clap and an "Eh-eh" to snap the dog out of the behavior.  Then immediately redirect the dog to a behavior your would like them to do instead.  For example:  go lay on your bed, chew this bone or toy, etc.  You may need to begin by using a food lure to get your dog's attention on you and not the thing that is making the dog bark.

Another Example:  If your dog is chewing on something inappropriate such as furniture (like the dog in the first picture), first mark the behavior with your "Eh-Eh," then redirect them to chew on something appropriate, like a toy, bone, or Kong filled with yummy treats.

Food Lure:
This is something we use to teach many new behaviors and commands.  A food lure involves getting the dog to follow your baited hand into a desired position.  It is basically "attaching" your dog's nose to the food and encouraging them to follow it.

Although it is important to mark bad behavior, it is more important to mark the good behaviors.  We must teach our dog what behaviors are considered good and/or acceptable by us (you and your family).  To mark good behaviors, use a Marker Word.

Marker Word:
Use your chosen marker word:  “Good” or “Yes” (or the Clicker).
This is the word (or sound) that says to a dog, “Yes! That is exactly what I wanted you to do!” and is then followed with a reward.  Rewards do not necessarily have to be food.  Rewards are different for each dog but can include:  toys, bones, petting, praise, and even your calm energy.  

Henry being told "Good!" for doing what he was asked.
When you have successfully redirected your dog's bad behavior to a good behavior, be sure to mark that behavior as "GOOD!"  This is so important.  The more we mark good behavior, the more your dog will want to engage in good behaviors.  Dogs enjoy pleasing their owners, we just have to learn to communicate with them in a way they can understand.  You can achieve this goal by marking your dog's behaviors in appropriate ways.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Breed of the Month--Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard

Color:  White with various red shades, white and brindle, white markings.
Height:  Males:  27.5-35.5 inches/  Females:  25.5-31/5 inches
Weight:  120-200 lbs
Life Span:  8-10 years

Breed Health Concerns:  epilepsy, elbow and hip dysplasia, cardiomyopathy, osteochondritis dissecans, ectropion, and osteosarcoma.

Coat:  Two types:  1) Longhaired:  profuse undercoat/ plain medium-length outercoat,
2)  Shorthaired:  profuse undercoat/ dense, smooth, coarse, close-lying outercoat.
Country of Origin:  Switzerland

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

This breed worked alongside monks to help people through a dangerous pass between what are now Switzerland and Italy, named the Great St. Bernard Pass, after an Augustine monk, Saint Bernard of Menthon.  The monks and their dogs would travel the pass after heavy storms, searching for possible survivors.  The Saint Bernard made a good draft and guard dog for the monks, and used his keen nose to sniff out survivors.  The Saint Bernard's sheer size aided in his ability to push through large drifts of snow.

The Saint Bernard is noted for being able to tolerate rambunctious children.  He is loyal, tolerant, intelligent, patient, and friendly.

Puppies under 2 years of age should be restricted in activity to help protect their growing bones.  After 2 years of age the Saint Bernard needs regular daily walks.

Both types of coats shed twice yearly.  Weekly brushing is important to maintain the coat; the Saint Bernard should not be bathed unless truly necessary.

The Saint Bernard must be socialized and taught proper manners from an early age.  These dogs grow quickly and grow to be very large animals.  The breed can be stubborn at times, but is loyal and aims to please.  Positive reinforcement training is recommended.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Trainer Tips: Introducing your new dog to the cat

I have recently had several clients with new puppies ask advice about how to get the cat and dog to get along.  Here are my thoughts on the subject.

Cats are a Prey animal:

Dogs are a predatory animal, whereas cats and other common pets (rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, gerbils, and farm animals such as horses, goats, sheep, etc.) are prey animals.  For a prey animal to truly become comfortable around a predator, they must feel safe.  In order for the animal to feel safe, you must be in control of the predator, or your dog.  

It's all about Energy:
Animals read other animals by their energy.  Your energy can send signals of intent.  For example, a cat can feel the energy behind a dog's want to chase him.  But if the dog has calm energy of his own and has no intent to chase or harm the cat, the cat can sense he is safe. 
In training your energy is very important.  Ever tried to train your dog when you were angry or frustrated?  Yeah didn't really get anywhere did you?  All animals, including our dogs read us by our energy.  That is why it is so important to remain CALM. 
I often use my calm energy as a barrier to a dog.  This is how you can "claim" something...anything from the cat, to a friend, or the front door.  Your energy, used correctly, can do wonders for you and your pets.

How to be in control of your dog:

Your dog needs training.  I obviously suggest seeking the help of a qualified dog trainer, but many people do train their dogs just fine on their own.  I do recommend at least a Basic Manners class to really get important basic commands down with your dog, and to help socialize them.  Most dog trainers know more than you think.  And a good trainer can offer several solutions to help curb any bad behavior problems.  Remember to seek out a trainer who uses positive reinforcement training methods.  Ask for references and to observe during a class or lesson to see what kind of vibe you get from that person, and how they interact with dogs and their owners.   

To be able to control your dog, you must have a good relationship.  That means giving your dog plenty of physical (walking) and mental (training) exercise.  Once you have established a good bond, here are a few methods to try to get your pets together.

Introducing the Cat to the Dog:

Create a Barrier:

Training the cat to be comfortable with the dog is really just showing the cat that you control the dog, and that you will not allow the dog to harm the cat in any way.

The best time to introduce your new dog to the cat is after the dog or puppy has had plenty of exercise and is in a calm state.  Generally, when a dog first sees a cat (or other household pet), they will be very curious and want to investigate.  This is a good thing.  But we must control HOW they do so.  I recommend creating an invisible barrier around yourself.  I like to use a wall of my own nice calm energy.  The dog is not allowed past this barrier.  The dog must learn to give you space when you ask for it.  If you are uncomfortable or nervous creating your own barrier, use a baby gate.
-----I also recommend practicing setting up barriers with your dog around the house.  Such as the dog is not allowed in the kitchen when preparing or eating food.  Practice your circle barrier (used here) with a toy in your lap before practicing with the cat (or other small prey animal).-----

Place the cat in your lap and hold the cat with one hand.  Make sure you are calm.  Try and stroke the cat calmly in your lap and get the cat to settle.  The other hand will be used to block the dog.  Since you have already started basic training with your dog, your dog should know an "uh-uh" command, meaning "I do not like this current behavior."  This is what you will say when the dog gets to close/ crosses your boundary line.  The more in control of your dog you are and the more calm you are, the easier this will be.  Remember to not stress your cat out too much.  If the cat has reached his point, let him go where he can easily escape away from the dog.  Remember it is YOUR job to protect the cat and make the cat feel that you will keep him SAFE!  Do this only a few minutes (2-10) the first couple times.  Allow your cat to come out and explore is he wants to, and encourage him to do so.  Treats are always nice.

If you are consistent in basic training with your dog, and remain calm during this exercise, eventually your dog will start showing signals of calming down.  Mark these things with your, "Good!"  These signals will include:  backing away, looking to the human more, siting or laying down outside the boundary.  Any time your dog shows these signals, mark that good behavior and reward (toss them a treat).

Impulse Control Approach:
Place your dog on a leash and have several small treats ready.  Have another human hold the cat (or lead of the farm animal) in a calm and comfortable way on the floor or couch.  Basically what we are training here is the dog's impulse to want to go after the cat.  Approach the cat with the dog on the leash.  You want to take a step or two, then stop.  If the dog does not react, praise.  If the dog looks at the cat then looks back to human, praise and treat.  Remain calm.  Calmly move 1-2 steps closer.  If the dog offers good behavior again, praise and treat.  If the dog lunges, barks, or tries to go after the cat, mark the bad behavior with your "eh-eh" or "uh-oh" and immediately move away from the cat a few steps until the dog calms down.  Once the dog and cat are calm, start over.  
The person holding the cat in this exercise should remember to also remain calm and make the cat feel that he is safe and protected.  The person holding the cat should ignore the dog.  If you are doing this exercise with a larger farm-type animal, I recommend the person holding the lead stand in between the animal and the dog, but still ignore the dog.

In the End:
Depending on the age of your pets when they are first introduced, they may never become the best of friends.  But they can certainly learn to tolerate each other and co-exist peacefully.  (The best way to guarantee they will become friends is to adopt them both at a young age and near the same time.)
I have heard several times that this cat and that dog will just never get along.  
It is possible.  Read about one of my stories here.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Indoor Dog Games

For much of the United States, we are moving into colder weather.  For those of us on Hawaii, it means more rain.  Either way it can be much more difficult to get your dog outside for their regular exercise.  But it is still important to keep your dog's body and mind active in some way.  The following are some ideas for indoor games you can try with your dog.

Go Find game:
This is one of my favorite games to play inside with my dogs.  I make my dogs wait in one area of the house while I go out of sight and hide a toy.  (It is helpful if they see the toy and play with it a little bit before hand so they know what they are looking for.)  I then come back to the dogs, who have hopefully been practicing a good "Stay" and release them on their hunt by saying "Go Find."  The search and when the find the toy, praise lavishly and reward by playing with the dog with the toy they just found.  Then repeat.  Make sure you hide the toy is a semi-easy spot when you first start, then make it harder as the dog improves in the game.

Put your toys away:

To begin this game, start by having your dog pick up a favorite toy near the area where they are normally stored.  We have a toy bin for our dog's toys.  Encourage your dog to do a "Drop it" while they are standing over the toy bin or area.  Praise lavishly when the dog does this.  Getting this going can take awhile.  Remember to have patience with your dog and take the time to praise when they do it right.  Now you will have a dog that can clean up after themselves.  How fantastic would that be?

Learn the names of Toys:
According to recent studies, our dogs actually have the intelligence equivalent to that of a 2-year-old child, and are capable of learning more than 200 words.  Exercising your dog's brain is a main component of keeping your dog happy and healthy throughout life.  Start with one toy and add a specific name to it.  Once you have picked the name of the toy, be sure to always use that same name (as you should also do with any cue/ command you practice).  Once your dog seems to have that first one done, start doing the same thing with a second.  Then try and ask your dog to bring you "name" toy.  Praise lavishly when they get it right!

The Cup Game:
This game is a great start in what we call "nose work."  Smell is the most important scent for a dog.  I'm sure you have seen many dogs who are driven by their nose.  Some particular breeds tend to be more scent driven as well, such as hunting and working breeds.  To begin, get three (non-glass) cups and line them up in a row.  Place your dog in front of the cups.  First, put a treat under one of the cups while your dog is watching.  When the dog chooses the correct cup, praise lavishly and let him get the treat.  Start simple and once your dog seems to get the hang of it, start to make it harder by switching the cups around.  Don't forget to praise the dog each time he gets it right.

Interactive Dog Toys:
Dog with Flirt Pole.
There are many interactive dog toys on the market today.  There are toys to chew, puzzles to solve, and toys to chase.  If your dog likes to chase things, a great idea might be what is called a Flirt Pole.  You can purchase online or even make your own (which I recommend).  

Store bought puzzle game.
If you have a highly intelligent dog (those dogs who get into the most trouble tend to be more intelligent and lacking mental stimulation), a puzzle game is a fantastic idea.  Again you can purchase online or make your own using a muffin tin, some treats, and a few tennis balls.  Place a few treats in the tin (not in every hole), then cover them all with tennis balls.  Now you have your own dog puzzle.  This game can also be done with treats or toys and cardboard boxes (if you have more room).

The make your own puzzle game.
Also check out The Whole Dog Journal for more information on many dog puzzle games.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Flirt Pole

If you have a dog that enjoys chasing things or running, one of the best toys you could get him/ her is a Flirt Pole.
A Flirt Pole is basically a long stick with a string attached at the end of the stick, and a toy attached to the end of the string.  There are many you can buy online, but I recommend going to your local hardware store and making your own.  Be sure to put the toy away when you are not using it WITH your dog.  (Or remove the toy at the end and put the rest of it away.)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Bark in the Park Event

Bark in the Park T-shirt.

Bark in the Park Event to benefit Maui Humane Society:

Location, Registration and Start Times

Bark in the Park will be held at the Keopuolani Park in Kahului on Saturday, October 24th, at 9am.

Registration Information: You can register for Bark in the Park and set up your fundraising page here:

Bark in the Park 2015

Participant - 1.5 Mile (One loop) Run/Walk
Participant - 5K (Two loops, 3 Miles) Run/Walk
Virtual Participant - Walk/Run from your location
Keiki - 12 and under

Pre-Race packet pick up will be held at the Maui Humane Society Shelter at 1350 Mehameha Loop in Puunene on Friday, October 23rd from 1pm-3pm.  Online registration will close on Wednesday, October 21st at 11:55PM, but day of registration will be held at the marked registration table in Keopuolani Park from Starting at 7:30am.   Day of packet pick up will also take place at the registration table beginning at 7:30am.

Event Times: Run and walk waves begin at 9am.  The Pet Expo will start at 8am and run until 12 noon.  

Run/Walk Start Times:  Runners and walkers participating in one 1.5 Mile loop will start at 9am.  Runners and walkers participating in the 5K will start at 9:30am.

The Course: Walkway/path along Keopuolani Pkwy.  

Arrival: Registration and packet pick up begin at 7:30am.  If you are unable to pre-register or pick up your packet before the morning of the 24th, it is recommended that you arrive no later than 8am.

Parking:  The park can be accessed by Kanaloa Avenue.  and there are two parking lots on Keopuolani Parkway.  Volunteers will be onsite to direct you.

Awards:  10am
1st-3rd 1.5 Mile Finishers
1st-3rd 5K Finishers

Contests open to all participants:  10:30am
Best Costume
Pet/Owner Look Alike 

Pet Expo:
Stop by the pet expo from 8am-12 noon and check out the cool pet friendly products, services and businesses Maui has to offer.  Such Good Dogs will be there.  Please come check us out!

Maui Dog Agility:  Will be onsite performing demonstrations starting at 10:30am.  

Food and Beverage: will be available for purchase from Tutu's Shave Ice.  Water stops will also be available.

Monday, October 5, 2015

National Walk Your Dog Week

Athena leash training two Italian Greyhounds.
This week marks National Walk Your Dog Week.  To help promote this excellent and necessary activity, I would like to address this blog to why the walk is so important for your dog.
Mom walking Teefus.

A proper dog walk is the most important activity you can provide for your dog.  As pet owners, we control our dog's access to the outside world where many exciting sights, sounds, and smells are.  Your dog wants and needs to be able to explore his/her environment.  

I often come across many pet owners that give various "reasons" for why they feel they do not need to walk their dog(s).  Some of these include:  I have a large yard, walking the dog is too difficult, or they just don't have the time.  

I am here to tell you that each and every excuse you could possibly come up with for not walking your dog I have heard before, and it's all bullshit.  Simple as that.  
Every problem for not being able to walk a dog has a solution.  Similarly, having a large yard for your dog to run and play in is NOT an excuse to not do regular daily walks.  Let's look at some of these "reasons" a little more closely.

My dog has a large yard to run:

Yes a large yard for your dog is nice and I'm sure the dog enjoys doing some activities there, but it is not enough.  Consider the worst cold or flu you have ever had when you were trapped in your house for a week or two.  What was the first thing you wanted to do when you got better?  Get out of the house right?  How do you think your dog feels after weeks, months, or even years of being confined to one area, regardless of its size?  The nature of being a dog is to explore one's environment.  Depriving your pet of this natural instinct will without a doubt cause some sort of behavior problems such as boredom barking, digging, or other destruction.  

The walk is so unpleasant:

I fully understand that walking a dog who does not walk well on a leash can be very frustrating.  However you have no one to blame for this problem but yourself, and no one is going to fix the problem without your involvement and commitment to doing so.  There are many different kinds of helpful tools to use if your dog has horrible leash manners.  Things like an Easy-walk harness or head collar can be useful for many dog owner in teaching them how to properly walk on a leash.  The best thing an owner can do is practice Loose Leash Walking with your dog.  If you are consistent with teaching Loose Leash Walking, you will have a dog that can walk nicely on a leash within a week or two.  It is also helpful to brush up on your Leadership Skills.

I don't have time to walk my dog:
If you honestly do not have the time to regularly walk your dog, you should not have one. It's sounds harsh, but it is true.  Any pet requires a certain amount of time and dedication to care for.  You knew this before you adopted your pet.  If you do not currently have the time (perhaps work has been extra busy or stressful), then be a responsible pet parent and hire someone to help you.  There are many qualified dog walkers and dog trainers who also do walking out there to choose from.  Be sure that anyone you choose will follow the Loose Leash Walking training when talking your dog out.  Remember, consistency is important if you truly want a dog that nicely walks on a leash.

My dog is aggressive when we see other dogs and/or people:

If this is truly a concern for you please seek professional help right away.  A professional positive reinforcement dog training can show you many different ways to deal with aggression.  A dog who has begun to exhibit aggressive tendencies will need extra training and probably currently lacks proper physical and mental exercise.  Although curbing aggressive behaviors can take time, it is possible with the proper training and commitment from the owner.  Your dog is obviously not in a good or happy place if he is lunging, barking, and/or growling at other dogs or people.  If you want to have a truly happy dog, seek professional help as soon as possible.

Need more reasons to walk your dog...

Above all, I hope that you have learned that it is VERY important to walk your dog EVERY DAY!  Our pets give us what we crave everyday by loving us.  Lets return the favor by giving our pets what they truly need to be happy and healthy and stay with us for as long as possible!

"Walks are part of how your dog connects with the outside world," by Debby McMullen. 

"Leash Reactivity--Why does it happen?" by Tom Mitchell. 

Both are featured by Victoria Stilwell's Positively website.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Myth vs. Fact on Spay & Neuter

As someone who has worked in the animal industry for many years, this is a topic that is of great importance to me.  I am a HUGE advocate for spaying or neutering your pet.  Here are some great facts and myths to illustrate why.

MYTH:  It is more expensive to spay or neuter a pet than to take the chance of that pet having a litter.
FACT:  The average cost to raise a litter of six puppies is about $1000 (estimating on the low end).  It is much less expensive to spay or neuter.

MYTH:  My pet should not be fixed because they are purebred.
FACT:  One out of every four pets brought to a shelter is a purebred.  Honestly, there are just too many pets brought to shelters, both purebred and mixed breed alike.  About half of all animals brought to a shelter will be euthanized.

MYTH:  It is best to let your female dog have one litter before spaying.

FACT:  Medical evidence indicates just the opposite.  Evidence shows that females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier.  Many vets across the country now spay and neuter cats and dogs as young as eight weeks old.  Check with your vet about when the best recommended time for this procedure would be for your pet.

A USA Today article cites that pets who live within the states with the highest rates of spaying and neutering also live the longest.  According to this report, male dogs who are neutered live about 18% longer than those who are not.  Even better, female dogs who are spayed live an average of 23% longer.

A large part of the reduced lifespan of non-fixed pets can be attributed to their urge to roam.  This exposes your unaltered pet to fights with other animals, getting hit by cars, and other possible mishaps.
Altered (fixed) pets also have a much lower risk of developing certain types of cancers.

MYTH:  I want my dog to be protective of my family.
FACT:  A dog's personality is not formed by sex hormones but by genetics and environment.  It is also a dog's natural instinct to protect his family and home.

MYTH:  I do not want my male pet to feel like less of a man.
FACT:  Spaying or neutering a pet will not effect the pet's basic personality.  Pets do not have any concept of sexual identity.  Your pet will not suffer any kind of identity crisis or emotional reaction after being fixed.

MYTH:  My pet will become fat and lazy if fixed.
FACT:  The hard truth is that most pets that become fat and/or lazy do so because their owner does not provide proper exercise and/or feeds them too much or a poor diet.

MYTH:  My pet is so fantastic...I want another just like him/her.
FACT:  It is very unlikely that your pet's offspring will be just like your current pet.  Even professional breeders are unable to make this guarantee.  The shelters are full of pets just as smart, sweet, loving, and cute as your current pet that also need homes.

MYTH:  I'll find fantastic homes for each and every single offspring of my pet.
FACT:  You may be able to control the decisions you make with your own pet and their offspring, but you can not control the decisions to be made about these new animals in the future.  Their future owner will control these decisions and may not make the correct decision to fix their new puppy.  This can easily result in even more unwanted animals over-loading the already filled shelters and rescues.

Other helpful articles on this subject:

ASPCA Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter your pet.
11 Facts about Spay and Neuter
American Humane Association Spaying & Neutering

Monday, September 28, 2015

Adding a Second Dog to your Pack

Devo (L) & Caravaggio (R) helping Emmy (middle) experience a balanced pack walk.
Adding a second dog to your family can be a fun and exciting experience for your family and the dog you currently have.  However, some care must be taken in making these decisions.  Below are some tips and recommendations to follow.


If you are having any problems properly training your current dog, please do NOT adopt another dog.  Many times I hear people talk about how they want to get a second dog for their current dog to play with.  This is fine unless you are unable to control the dog you currently have, or unable to properly exercise him.  DO NOT adopt a second dog just to give your current dog something to do.  If you cannot control one dog, you most certainly will not be able to control a second or third.  Instead, focus on training and exercise with the dog you have.


Just because you may like the personality of a second dog, does not necessarily mean your current dog will.  When adding a new dog member to your family, you must first consider your current dog.  Is your current dog friendly with other dogs?  Does your current dog enjoy playing with other dogs?  Even if your current dog is usually friendly, we must still be sure that the dogs will get along.  
Most rescues and shelters (including Maui Humane Society) will allow you to bring your current dog to the shelter for a "meet and greet" with a new potential dog.  This is an excellent idea and I recommend you do this before bringing home a new potential dog.  Allow your current dog to evaluate the possible new dog as well.  Do they seem to get along?  Does it look like they could become friends?  
If your current dog or the potential new dog seems exceptionally uncomfortable or aggressive, this may not be the correct match.  Staff and volunteers may be able to help assist you in helping make this decision.
Everyone involved, including all current family members, the current family dog, and the new potential dog should feel comfortable.


Be aware of your current dog's energy level.  Is your dog low, medium, high, or very high energy?  If you have a current dog that is high or very high energy, it would be best to adopt a second dog that is similar.  If you have a dog who is low energy, he will most be able to get along with another dog with low or medium energy.  Just like humans, dogs get along better with others who have the same interests and energy levels.  One person who is a couch potato will not likely hang out with someone who hikes 5 miles every day.  Energy is important.  Be aware of it.  Also remember to be aware of your own energy when looking at new potential adoptable dogs.  Remain calm and observe a potential new dog's energy and temperament before adoption.

Although it is not something usually considered by most people, gender can be important. I recommend adopting opposite sexes when their are two dogs within one family.  Some dogs have more issues or potential issues with dog's of the same sex.  Adopting dogs of opposite sexes eliminates many potential problems or competition.


The best thing to do is to find a dog that compliments your current dog.  For example if your current dog is a little bit shy, adopt a dog that is more calm and outgoing.  If your current dog is sometimes reactive, adopt a second dog that is more calm and relaxed.  If your current dog loves playing with dogs his size or smaller, adopt a dog that fits into that restriction.  Additional members to the family should always compliment the current members of the family.

Bringing your second dog Home:
Once you have chosen the new member of your family, take it slow.  When first bringing a new dog home, I recommend taking a walk around your neighborhood with your current family dog BEFORE entering the house.  We do this for two reasons, 1) a dog with less energy will behave more calmly, and 2) walking dogs together is the best way to get them to make friends.
After your walk (at least 20 minutes, more if possible), keep your newly adopted dog on-leash when entering the house.  Start the new dog off with an on-leash tour of the house, only entering a new room or space when the dog is calm.  Doing this will reinforce to the new dog that you are the leader in this house and allow your current dog to relax because he sees you are in control of the new family member.

Monitor your dogs:
Be sure to closely monitor your dogs over the first few weeks to be sure everyone is continuing to get along well.  Use a crate or baby gates to separate the dogs when they can not be supervised.
ALWAYS supervise feeding time and when giving any bones or treats to the dogs.  Food can sometimes cause altercations between pets and supervision is important.  Also be sure to monitor play time with both dogs.  It is your job as the leader to set and enforce rules.  You must monitor your dogs to be able to enforce these rules.

Other helpful Such Good Dog's blogs on this subject:
Proper Leadership for your Dog
Trainer Tips:  A Schedule Matters.
Trainer Tips:  What do dogs really want to do?
Trainer Tips Video: Proper Dog Socialization.
Pack Walk.

Other helpful articles:
How to Successfully Introduce a Second Dog Into Your Family by the Barking Lot.
A new member of the Pack by Cesar's Way.

How To Successfully Introduce A Second Dog Into Your Family.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fall safety tips

With several holidays and cooler weather approaching, I would like to share a few 
Fall safety tips for your dog.

Have ID on your pet:

Be sure to keep your pet's identification securely fastened to their collar at all times.

Don't leave your dog outside unattended:
Most of the U.S. is moving into the fall and winter months.  As it gets colder, be sure not to leave your pet out in the cold weather months.

Watch the holiday food:
With the holidays comes all kinds of yummy food.  Chocolates and candy for Halloween and even more delights for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Be sure to put away extra holiday food where your dog cannot get to it.  Also be especially aware of those things toxic to dogs such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic.  
Although you can add left-over food to your dog's regular meal, be sure you are not adding weight to your dog at the same time.  Also remember to avoid giving your dog any food item that may contain anything from the list above or anything that is spicy.  
Be sure to avoid allowing your dog to Beg for food, and mix any left overs in with their regular meal.

Don't forget your dog's needs:

The holidays become a very busy time for everyone and sometimes our dog's regular needs can fall to the side.  Be sure to keep up with your dog's regular physical exercise and mental activities schedule, even when you have company.  All the extra people around can make a dog excited or nervous.  Either way, having a well exercised dog will make the holidays go much more smoothly for everyone.

Halloween night:
If your dog is any way overly anxious, nervous, or excited, I recommend you leave them home during Halloween night.  All kinds of people will be out in all different kinds of costumes and many dogs will be frightened of these things.  If you have any doubts about how your dog may react, it is probably best to leave him at home.  Don't forget to keep the candy the kids bring home out of reach of your dog.

Monthly medications:
The holidays may be a busy time, but don't forget to give your dog all their regular monthly things including heart worm and flea/tick prevention (depending on your environment).

If you live somewhere that gets cold with winter snow and ice, be careful with your pet.  These harsh conditions can tear up a dog's paws if you are not careful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Choosing an Anti-Bark Dog Collar

For this month's Trainer Tips, I would like to talk about Anti-Bark Dog Collars.  There are several options on the market.  Below are some of the options available.

Why use an Anti-Bark dog collar?
Many dogs can develop a barking problem.  Some dogs are very territorial or will bark at random noises near their space.  Whatever the reason your dog is barking, it is important that you use positive reinforcement training ALONG with any bark collar you may choose to help.  The best way to truly stop nuisance barking is to find the real root of the barking problem.  Why is your dog barking?  Once you know this answer, or have a good idea of the things that make your dog bark, you should be doing behavior modification training to address the problem.  Using an Anti-Bark collar can assist you in training your dog.

Wondering if your dog's barking is acceptable or not?  Visit our previous post.

What kinds of Anti-Bark dog collars are there?
There are three main types of anti-bark dog collars...
1.  Citronella Spray collar
2.  Ultrasonic collar
3.  Static Shock collar

Regardless of which option you choose, I would most recommend purchasing a unit that has dual sensors for barking.  This is important because model's with only one sensor may often sense noise from outside or that your dog is not involved in and emit it's spray, sound, or shock at that random sound (or at another dog barking outside your home).  This is unfair to your dog and will set back their training progress.  The point of using one of these tools is to help teach your dog that barking is not acceptable.  When the dog barks, the anti-bark collar releases it's chosen punishment.  If the dog is receiving punishment for not barking, the dog may become confused.  Marking that inappropriate barking behavior at the exact time it happens is very important.

1.  Citronella Spray Collar:

This collar releases a quick spray of citronella when barking is detected by the device.  Dogs do not like the smell of Citronella.  Therefore when the dog barks, the collar releases a spray the dog dislikes to mark that behavior as unwelcome.  Citronella spray is safe for your dog and the most recommended Anti-bark collar.  The spray is not only safe for your dog, but also humane.  It will not cause your dog any physical or psychological damage.  This is a very good thing.

This would be my number one recommendation for an Anti-Bark collar.  This type of collar is not only very popular, but has wonderful reviews on its effectiveness.  A study done by Cornell University found the Spray collar to be the most effective at stopping dog nuisance barking.  It was also the most popular among the pet owners within the study.

-->See also, "Selecting the Best Citronella bark collar."

2.  Ultrasonic Collar:

The Ultrasonic anti-bark collar works by transmitting a high-frequency sound when a bark is detected.  This is a sound is something dogs do not like, but can not usually be heard by humans.  Although this collar seems like a great idea, they tend not to work very well.  Because humans can not hear the sound the device emits, there is no way to see if it helping with training your dog.  Most people who have tried them have had little to no results with them and end up switching to another option.

3.  Static Shock Collar:

This collar works by giving your dog a static shock when barking is detected by the device.  These collars usually have levels of correction that are adjustable by the human, adjusted by the device, or sometimes both.  
This is a type of collar I would NOT recommend.  Shocking your dog is cruel, no matter how you phrase it.  Static shock, a light vibration.  I have seen many of these collars in person and put them on myself using the shocks available, starting with the lowest setting and seeing how high I could go without seriously jumping.  I never met a shock collar where I was not physically hurt nearing the top intensity.  Now think how much more painful those "simple" shocks would be around my neck.  
Shock collars are NEVER a good idea and I encourage you NOT to use them.

Also see our previous post on Shock Collars and Alternatives to Shock Collars.
Another fantastic article that may be helpful:  Why electric shock is not behavior modification
Also try an article by Victoria Stilwell called Barking.
You can also check out How to Train Your Dog Not to Bark by Rachel Sheppard.

Need even more information on how to curb your dog's barking behavior?  
Try Trainer Tips--Barking Dogs.