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.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Trainer Tips--The Shade Dog Walk

Hazel & Lucky demonstrating our stop in the shade in hot Lahaina.

Although summer may be coming to a close in many places, not all of us cool off as quickly.  With record summer temperatures all around the world, I want to discuss a quick tip for walking your dog in the heat and sun.

I have a regular dog walking client that lives in Lahaina (pictured above).  For those of you who are not familiar, Lahaina is one of the hottest places in Maui.  It's name means, "land of the merciless sun."  It is usually very hot in Lahaina, any time of the year, and it does not rain often.  Regularly walking in such a hot environment has reminded me of a few things over the last few months.

This is what I call...

The Shade Walk:

Basically this is a very simple way to help you and your dog stay cool when walking in hot temperatures.  It is best to walk your dog during times of the day when it is cooler, however that is not always possible.

The way this works is simple.  Whenever I am walking in the heat and/or sun with the dog(s), we are quickly moving.  There is no stopping to potty or sniff in direct sun.  Once we reach a shady area, we either slow our pace or stop in the shady area to potty and/ or sniff.  I basically power walk from shade area to shade area, then pause or greatly slow down once the shade is reached.

Another quick tip:  Try using an umbrella.
Living on a sub-tropical island I actually use my umbrellas for shade more than for rain.  Although this technique is not especially helpful for you dog, it can help the human immensely.  I am a very fair-skinned person and I do not enjoy lathering myself with sunblock only to sweat it all off.  Using an umbrella is a quick, simple solution to that problem, plus it helps keep you cool.