Help your dog with a hand signal

Getting a dog to focus on the handler can be demanding, especially if she is reluctant to give much eye contact. Using verbal commands is the usual way to train a dog, but introducing a hand signal to show the dog what we want is a useful technique to which most dogs respond quite readily. It’s probably the easiest system and most effective way to teach the basic positions, e.g. sit, down, stay, stand.

Use a treat or favourite toy for the dog to focus on and encourage the dog to move into the required position then reward her. When training the “sit”, raise the treat or toy above and slightly behind the dog’s head, keeping your hand a few inches above from the skull. This action will encourage the dog to look up, which means that her tail end has to move into the “sit” position to allow her a better view of the treat or toy.

There is no need to say anything initially, but after a few successful tries, introduce the command “sit” to match the word to the position. Soon you will find that your dog sits without needing a treat or toy to encourage her. Dogs are visual creatures and our language is just a collection of sounds. Keep practicing and you will soon find that your dog looks at you more often, waiting for your next instruction.

Keep training sessions short and make training fun!

EDA Sunday Luncheon

Our first Sunday luncheon of the year was enjoyed by 20 members at The Warren Estate on 17 September. The food was good, service was excellent and the company was even better. The conversation roamed from subject to subject, with a degree of mirth and self-deprecation thrown in. The usually reserved Trevor has achieved cult status with his cool delivery and dry wit!

The PDSA will be the recipients of donations made and I shall post the total raised in the next week or so. I am very grateful to all those who supported the event and to those who have made such generous donations to one of our favoured charities.

Make a date in your diary for our next Sunday Luncheon on 18 November 2018 at The Warren.

Dogs in Hot Weather

PLEASE think of and for your dog: keep them cool. They wear fur coats 24/7!

*Let your dog lie in shade under trees on cool ground or on a tiled floor indoors.

*Hose him off and let him cool or soak in a paddling pool filled with cold water (it will heat up if it’s in the sun, of course).

*Put ice cubes in the water bowl or give one or two to chew on.

*Make sure that he has a constant supply of fresh water available at all times.

*Walk your dog early morning or late evening in the coolest part of the day.

*Pavements can get hot enough to burn your dog’s pads, which is very painful and can leave them permanently damaged.

**NEVER PUT A WET TOWEL ON A DOG – IT ACTS LIKE A SAUNA TRAPPING AIR BETWEEN THE FUR AND WET TOWEL

Try this:  when you next reach your destination, turn the air conditioning off and wait in your car for one minute with the windows closed in full sunshine.  You will stifle, but just imagine being powerless to open the door and get out, or even open a window and you will know what I mean. I now have a brief chat about dogs in hot weather during all my classes and on all behavioural visits, because what I think is basic dog care (and common sense) may well not cross some owners’ minds….

Dogs lose body heat through their pads and by panting. They do not sweat through their skin as we humans do, because they have no pores in the skin to release heat.

Keep your dog safe – keep him out of the sun – keep him at home and don’t take him out in the car unless essential – give him fresh, cool water to drink – take him to his vet if he shows any sign of dehydration or discomfort/lethargy/super fast panting or other signs of distress.

Why Does My Dog: Spin around when greeting me?

Dog spinning / greeting

Do you return home to a dog that spins in circles, jumps up and generally gets very boisterous? It’s a classic example of we humans interpreting such behaviour as the dog being very happy to see us. We emotionally reinforce the behaviour with a show of  happiness and joy that the dog has missed us. We may have bags of shopping, our best clothes on and really not want our dog to get so excited, but by us giving positive reinforcement indicates that we like the dog’s behaviour, so that it becomes a habit.

In real terms, bouncing all over the place indicates that the pent up energy stored during your absence is being released in boisterous, over-excited behaviour. The jumping up on you gives them a sense of control over you, effectively reinforcing control over you now that you have come home.

The best response is to ignore the dog until it calms down, simply saying “hello” serves our need to communicate with our dog – we don’t want to hurt his feelings! Effectively, you’re just saying: “There’s nothing to be so excited about. Calm down and relax.”

 

 

Why Does My Dog: Seem reluctant to go out walking on lead?

Q            Alfie, my collie, seems to be reluctant to go out walking on lead now. He’s 5 years old and used to get really excited when it was time to go for our regular walks. I take him out for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. We used to go to the park, but he was attacked (not seriously) by another dog and since then we have been road walking on lead. Sometimes I have to use treats to coax him to go out. I have had him checked by the vet and he is in good health.

 

A            Collies are high-energy dogs and need lots of exercise as well as mental stimulation. Alfie was happy to go to the park with you, but since he had a bad experience there you (and he) obviously want to avoid a repetition of the incident. Quite often when we take our dogs out for a walk from home, we go the same route so often that it becomes monotonous. Dogs can become bored with treading the same paths, just as we do and need a bit of variety to satisfy their natural instincts. Collies are working dogs and are happy to work from dawn to dusk, so a domestic pet collie needs to be motivated and use up its energy. The outings need to be fun and challenging for you both. Simply by taking different routes introduces more interest and new smells. Practice basic training skills during the walk and maybe find a few other parks where you can play and interact together. A short car journey to new places may be all that is required to rekindle Alfie’s enthusiasm to go out.

It is worth pointing out that if we, as dog owners, do the same things and go the same places day in day out, we too become bored and this transmits to our dogs. Try to introduce new games, teach him to find his ball or a toy that you hide – don’t forget that dogs can find things at all levels so don’t always hide the toy on the ground. Dogs can easily pick up the scent of a toy if it is in a tree or on a fence, for example.

Keep the walks short at first so that you finish with Alfie still wanting more. Instead of him being bored and lethargic, motivate him to want to do things with you. Structured lead walking is an essential ingredient of good dog behaviour, but so too is allowing the dog to run and play. Once a dog knows your rules and boundaries, he will respond with enthusiasm, because if he works well for you, you will want to build your relationship and have even more fun together.

Why Does My Dog: Get So Boisterous?

Q            My puppy Jack Russell is very boisterous and goes mad when I put a collar and lead on her. She’s ten weeks old and bites me when I pick her up. Perhaps I got the wrong breed? Will she always be so aggressive?

 

A            Our approach to puppies of any breed is generally the cause of them biting us. They’re cute and cuddly, so we want to show our affection and give them everything we think they need to make them happy and love us. It’s a sad situation when puppies bite their adoring owners, but all is not lost. I would suggest that you take a step back and let her see that biting you won’t work. It’s her way of trying to control you, just as she would have done with her siblings in the litter. Handling/touching a dog is reward in itself; it is in fact our primary means of giving acknowledgement, praise and affection. It’s really high value to a dog and if we give attention that is not earned we are falling into the trap of reducing our status in the dog’s mind. Expect your puppy to earn everything: her meals, cuddles, playtime etc. Ask her to “sit”, “come” or give you her immediate attention. That will put a higher value on you and what you give her.

Essex Dog Academy offers a puppy home visit that will help you solve any problems you may be experiencing with your puppy, so call Sue today to book – it will make a world of difference to you and your puppy! 

Why Does My Dog: Pull on the Lead?

Q            My dog pulls on the lead; it’s always tight when we’re out on the walk. It’s as if I’m not there, because he takes no notice of whatever I tell him. Even if I stop I’m hindering his progress to wherever we’re going and sometimes it’s such an awful experience I wonder why I bother to take him out at all. Is there something I can do to make him realise that going for a walk with me is a nice experience?

A            A tight lead and a tense dog can produce unintended consequences, such as over-excitement and boisterous behaviour or aggression to other dogs or people. Walking a dog on a loose lead is a pleasure, so the lead should be a reasonable length – 3 to 5 feet (1m-1.5m) – and should be sturdy enough to give you the feeling that you have control. Longer leads or flexi-leads should not be used on the walk; it sends out the message that it’s a restraint and doesn’t allow much if any communication between you and the dog.

Think of the lead as a means of communication, not just as a means of preventing the dog running away. Dogs pull on the lead, because they haven’t been told not to in a manner that they understand especially if you’re tense and anxious. This type of energy betrays your emotion and sends the completely wrong message down the lead. When you decide it’s time for your dog’s walk, from that moment you must take control. A dog that is rushing around, bouncing up and down getting over excited will take that behaviour out with him and immediately you leave your home he takes control.

So, be determined to be the decision maker from the outset. Be calm and send the signal to your dog that until he calms too, you are going nowhere. Of course, this may take some time initially and may even result in you not going out at that time; if that’s the case, put the lead away and wait a while before you indicate that it’s time for the walk. It can be very frustrating, but dogs pick up signals – both verbal and body language – very quickly. Just remember that pulling you around on the lead is a learned behaviour, it’s been normal for your dog to do so, but now with a calmer, more confident attitude you, as the leader, will be giving your dog a clear indication that unless he listens and watches you, he’ll not be going out until he realises that you’re the boss, not him.

Why Does My Dog: Bite Me?

Q            My puppy Jack Russell is very boisterous and goes mad when I put a collar and lead on her. She’s ten weeks old and bites me when I pick her up. Perhaps I got the wrong breed? Will she always be so aggressive?

A            Our approach to puppies of any breed is generally the cause of them biting us. They’re cute and cuddly, so we want to show our affection and give them everything we think they need to make them happy and love us. It’s a sad situation when puppies bite their adoring owners, but all is not lost. I would suggest that you take a step back and let her see that biting you won’t work. It’s her way of trying to control you, just as she would have done with her siblings in the litter. Handling/touching a dog is reward in itself; it is in fact our primary means of giving acknowledgement, praise and affection. It’s really high value to a dog and if we give attention that is not earned we are falling into the trap of reducing our status in the dog’s mind. Expect your puppy to earn everything: her meals, cuddles, playtime etc. Ask her to “sit”, “come” or give you her immediate attention – “watch!”. That will put a higher value on you and what you give her. In addition, ensure that she is adequately socialised with other dogs and people.

Contact Sue at Essex Dog Academy if you need more help on 07867 988 711

Why Does My Dog: Ignore Me?

Q            I give my dog everything she needs: love, care, the best food, exercise – she lacks for nothing, yet I feel there’s a missing link. It’s as if she decides not to hear what I tell her and she sometimes chews things like my shoes or chair legs! I just don’t know what more I can do.

A            Sorry to say so, but it sounds like your dog doesn’t respect you, despite being the provider of everything she needs. Dogs test our limits, treating us as equals and sometimes they are totally perplexed as to what we want of them. We need to be the decision-makers; be decisive and correct unwanted behaviour to enable the dog to have clear guidance. Many dogs are confused by our actions and body language; when they do things we don’t want them to we are often afraid of hurting their feelings, which perpetuates the confusion. We get frustrated, we may shout or get angry, but all this serves to do is perhaps stop the behaviour at the time, not solve the problem. This is the route to long term bad behaviour and the breakdown of communication between us and our dogs.

For a dog to adopt good behaviour, manners and respect for us, we must show sound leadership, just like a good manager does in the workplace. Making calm, measured decisions is essential for any company to function at its optimum level; similarly so, we must be calm and confident so that what we do radiates to our dogs. Assertiveness illustrates that we are in control and your dog will thank you for it. Very few dogs want to be leaders, in fact most prefer to follow, similar to the number of employees in relation to employers. There has to be a decision maker in families, companies, government, schools and of course amongst dogs.

So as well as providing all your dog’s physical needs, go one step further and provide the missing link, that is, make the decisions so that your dog will feel protected and show that you are trustworthy. Set down some rules and boundaries within your home and relationship. Take the grey areas out of your relationship and I am sure that when she knows exactly what you want she’ll give you the respect that she wants to give you and you deserve. She may love you even more!

Dogs in Cars

Dogs in Cars

Most dogs are happy to jump into cars knowing that journey’s end will bring excitement, new terrain and the chance to explore.

Laws have been enacted to safeguard children when travelling in cars, however, no such provision is made for dogs, so here are a few suggestions that may just make your dog’s – and your – journey a little happier and safer.

  • Secure your dog into the car with a safety harness, to ensure that he doesn’t become a missile: Sharp braking can project a dog forward, towards or through the windscreen. It will also stabilise him and help to prevent travel sickness. A travel cage/kennel is useful to help your dog feel comfortable during transit.   An added benefit is that a dog is less likely to bark at other dogs, cyclists or passersby.
  • When going on a long journey, plan to stop regularly to ensure that your dog can be given water and the chance to make himself comfortable. Avoid feeding him before the journey – remember it can take several hours to digest food, more if he’s excited.
  • Always allow plenty of ventilation during the journey and also when you stop. Never leave your dog in an unventilated car, even in cold weather – winter sun heats up cars just the same as solar panels.
  • Keep the volume of your car radio or music to a modest level – remember your dog’s hearing is much more acute than yours.
  • Plan ahead and the journey for you and your dog will be a good experience for you both.