What is Aggression?
Dogs are naturally very social animals. They’re also highly intelligent, emotional creatures who have complex personalities. But sometimes, even well-meaning dogs develop belief systems that detrimentally impacts the way they think, feel and that makes them act aggressively toward humans. If this happens, it may be necessary to become involved in helping your dog to change the way they perceive their world, how they make decisions, figure out who they are in relation to the family, resulting in behaving more appropriately.
What Causes Dog Aggression?
There are several factors as to why dogs may act aggressively:
Classification of Aggressive Behaviours
The two most common types of canine aggression are affective aggression and predatory aggression (Carlo Siracusa). Affective aggression is provoked by a threat stimulus with a goal to intimidate a potentially dangerous individual. Where predatory aggression looks more like stalking, may have no vocalization, and the goal is to hunt and kill prey.
Other Types of Aggressive Behaviours
Territorial Aggression When a dog is territorial, it means that they are aggressive when another human or animal approaches what they perceive as their “territory”. In some cases, the boundaries of their territory can change suddenly. Territory aggression can include protecting your backyard, to your front door, or even your couch. This form of aggression is the most common form of aggression in dogs, but it is also one of the most easily dealt with. A multi-pronged program delivers aggressive behaviour reform and shows you and your dog ways to shift the role of the dog from a protector to a calm relaxed family member.
Resource Guarding Aggression | Possessive Aggression Resource guarding is a pretty complex issue and a serious one too if not dealt with immediately. Canine aggression when guarding a person, place, food or thing; is a threatening behaviour with the purpose of keeping something away from another individual, such as a person or another animal. Dogs may guard food, toys, the place where they sleep, even you (possessive aggression). If your dog is guarding a particular item, it is often a good idea to get a professional to work with you and your dog to understand what is behind the resource guarding. Many times we see old-fashioned training methods used by the human caregiver that reinforces the dog's need to establish guarding behaviour, such as taking food away from the dog. This can be a tricky behaviour but it is important for human caregivers to take accountability because resource guarding aggression is a learned behaviour. No dog is born with a tendency to guard items.
Pain-Related Aggression | Irritable AggressionOne of the most overlooked forms of aggression in dogs is pain-related aggression. Rather than the dog expressing his/her pain directly, pain-related aggression is an indirect way of communicating that something is hurting or bothering them. Remember that dogs too can have a headache, stomach ache or another painful condition; they just can't tell us. In most cases, pain-related aggression will be triggered by stimuli like a person or animal that is unaware of the pain. Emotionally heightened events like visitors, other dogs, or loud noises combined with pain can cause irritability and aggression. People that have a dog who may be suffering from pain-elicited aggression should see a Vet for blood tests to validate if the aggression may be related to pain or other medical conditions.
Frustration Aggression | Redirected Aggression Many of our cases involve frustration-elicited aggression. Often it begins with mouthing and then turning into painful bruising to full-on puncture bites. Many people mistake frustration-aggression for 'rough play'; however, frustration aggression is a form of aggression where a dog cannot reach the target of its aggression or arousal and therefore changes its focus to another object, person, or animal with aggressive responses. It can be very painful and undermine a trusting relationship with a dog when it becomes unpredictable behaviour. Frustration-elicited aggression is cyclical in nature. Once the dog becomes frustrated it focuses on what it can reach, possibly you. As you work to avoid the painful mouthing, the dog feels the frustration of not being able to release his emotions and so the cycle worsens the aggression.
Social Aggression | Social Conflict Aggression A social conflict is a form of aggression typically directed toward a family member or animal which is motivated by internal conflict. In social psychology, conflict is an interpersonal relationship that is characterized by open displays of disagreement, hostility, and/or antagonism. In biology, conflict occurs in the context of relationships between species. Conflict aggression is a type of destructive behaviour: the destruction of social relationships and the damage of social bonds between dogs and their family unit. Developing a strong and trusting relationship between you and your dog is a key element in changing aggressive behaviours in canines.
Fear Aggression | Anxiety AggressionFear is a basic emotion that can be experienced in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. A dog's response to fear can vary from mild signs of distress to complete panic. Fear-motivated aggression like this is a consequential behavioural problem that can lead to escalation of dog bites from Level 1 through Level 6 (Dunbar) or even health problems. Fear-motivated aggression may be the result of a dog's genetic makeup, it may have been caused by past behavioural problems or it may be caused by a combination of both. Fear-related aggression is often the result of a dog's perception of a threatening situation, rather than of any direct threat of physical harm or of being harmed.
Can an Aggressive Dog be Cured?
Aggressive dogs are not born; they are made. Yes, it is possible to cure an aggressive dog. Every case is unique, just like you are and just like your dog is, but aggression is curable. In most cases, it comes down to your commitment to helping your dog, your energy and your time as well. They can be supported to change the way they process information and respond to become less aggressive and even friendly. By applying an in-depth understanding of canine aggression and human-dog dynamics to understand how the dog interacts with different individuals, we uncover the root causes and key contributors. Further, examining of the dog's environment and activities help to gain ways to undo long-held fears or anxieties effectively. Aggressive behaviours can be changed.
If you have been reading my channel for long enough, you would know that I am a big advocate of fear-free, force-free and positive reinforcement methods. With these techniques, built into our unique program, we've helped many people get their dogs to thrive and become cooperative partners.
Will a Dog Outgrow Aggression?
Puppies, less than six months of age, learning to control their mouths or experiencing teething pain is not a pathway to aggression. Dogs between 6-months and 18-months, who are showing canine aggression, will likely need some gentle guidance from a professional, to guide you to guide your dog to develop healthy beliefs.
Should Aggressive Dogs Be Put Down?
Aggression in dogs is a major problem. In fact, it is so common that there are many misconceptions about aggression in dogs. Canine aggression is a form of fear or anxiety-based beliefs. Aggressive behaviours occur if a dog has been traumatized, whether from being frightened by another dog or a human. Aggressive behaviours must be dealt with immediately, but the solution includes patience, time, energy and professional support. Behavioural euthanasia is the last resort for dogs with aggression. We help people make an informed decision when considering hard choices and it is based on each individual case.
How Do I Calm an Aggressive Dog?
If your dog is aggressive, you may be hesitant to take him out in public for fear of others' safety. Your dog's safety is important, too, of course. If your dog is aggressive, it's important to know what to do to keep him safe and you safe. And you want to be able to enjoy your dog. A baseline of safety and control is essential to making you and your dog happy and cooperative partners outside. A plan is equally important if you are to enjoy your dog's company. Sadly, many people whose dogs are aggressive are often at a loss as to what to do. One problem is that they are not sure what is triggering the aggression. Sadly, many trainers are not well-versed in dog psychology, like we are here at PivotalChange.ca. This makes it difficult to gain traction in achieving solid calming techniques. In our program, we teach you how to plan and integrate calming cues before events occur. We teach you how to communicate effectively, meaning your dog understands and responds predictably. We work with you on your voice; an often overlooked training tool. You learn when and how to change your voice pitch and frequency, adjust your posture, and learn how to be a good partner to calm your dog.
Why Is My Dog Suddenly Aggressive Towards Me?
Sudden aggression usually requires you to look at consider a few paths: Is the dog sick or in pain? Is the dog reacting to a change in your life? Has the dog just been through an upsetting event? Has the dog just had surgery or on a new medication?
These answers may not be immediately intuitive to the underlying reason; however, we often find clues to the cause for sudden aggression lies in these answers.
Can Aggression Be Trained Out of a Dog?
Not without you being part of the solution. Accountability for owning a dog with aggression is the number one starting place for supporting your dog's recovery from aggressive outbursts. In our successful case experiences, it's rare not to see the human caregiver changing their mindset, approach, and habits to achieve a happy and healthy dog, even in the case of health-related aggression.
Do You Believe That a Dog is Dangerous Because of its Owners or Because of its Breed Nature?
A dog can be described as dangerous if unpredictably aggressive only after being assessed by a professional who can accurately read the dog's signals prior to an attack. Owners, or caregivers, can be contributors or the root cause of aggression. Breed, however, is rarely the reason for aggression. Genetics can be. Meaning if a breed is being bred for a genetic predisposition it can be related to the nature of the dog ... but not the breed itself.
Can Anxiety Medication Help with Dog Aggression?
It depends on why the dog is aggressive. In our extensive success in changing dog's aggressive behaviour, we've found that context is everything. Our program provides a Clinical Behaviour Vet Report to support Vets, if and when medication is required. If medication is required, please note there are 92 different types of psychoactive medications and it really does come down to your dog's individual case.
What Can I Do If My Dog Becomes Aggressive With Me and My Husband?
Call a professional immediately and manage your expectations. Most aggression cases are not solved quickly. They've taken time to develop and will take time to resolve. In the short-term, do not respond with aggression, nor hire a professional who is not positive reinforcement-based. It is inarguable and scientifically proven that aggressive training styles do not work and worsen a dog's aggressive behaviours. Gentle and compassionate methods should be your first question to a professional supporting you and your dog.
Can Vigorous Walks Daily Eliminate Aggression?
No, nor will exhausting the dog. Depending on the case, it could worsen the underlying emotions leading to aggression. That is not to say a well balanced exercise routine is not a critical part of a healthy life for any dog.
Will Neutering an Adult Dog Really Lower Their Aggression?
If you’ve asked this question you likely are already questioning this long-held belief. In 2018, a study came out that rocked the Veterinary world; however, don’t be surprised if your Vet is still using old research. Our cases still show many Vets recommending surgery to support lowering aggression. "...There was no significant relationship between aggressive behavior toward familiar people, strangers or other dogs, and (a) gonadectomy status or (b) the dog’s age at gonadectomy" (Farhoody, 2018)
There are many ways to deal with dog aggression and our program has a 98% success rate - better than others using fear and force-free and positive reinforcement. We hope you enjoyed our blog on the issue of dog aggression and that you were inspired by answers to check us out. If you would like to know more about dog aggression and some of the solutions we offer, we invite you to complete an assessment at PivotalChange.ca and set up a 30 min. phone consult with us. We hope you will get in touch and we look forward to hearing from you!
Check out our latest... "Why Our Clients Love Our Dog Behaviour Programs"
When your sweet loving puppy suddenly bites you or your loved ones, there can be an instinctual reaction of offence and betrayal; however, understand why a puppy bites and how to manage biting events will help you to learn critical concepts in taking your pup into adulthood, psychologically and emotionally sound. It is rare for young pups to be exhibiting truly aggressive behaviour, but if you are concerned best to go to your Vet and rule out any pain (outside of adult teeth coming in) and any medical issues.
The first thing to clear up is a dog is not a wolf. The behaviours shared between a wolf and a dog are dormant under ancient genes, and a dog's DNA has evolved to seek and need human companionship. Second, a puppy who bites is not trying to be dominant. This is a falsehood perpetrated through sensationalized programming. Dominance does occur between dogs but is widely misunderstood when considering the relationship with the dog's human. Consider that a dog is 'manipulative' if a label is needed. It is not bad in a dog, as it is based on instincts to survive, not subvert. A puppy who bites, plays, cuddles into a bed to sleep is figuring out this new world with a solid need to experience and learn and have its needs met.
Is your puppy's nipping a sign of aggression?
If a dog growls, snarls and lunges systematically at everyone approaching it, and then goes still awaiting for a response we classify this a 'displacement behaviour'. It doesn't make sense in the context.
A puppy who lunges and bites ankles of a running child is in context, as the puppy is thinking it is a game of chase and is innocently not understanding. Puppy biting is easy to go a little crazy during playtime. Many caregivers are confused at assessing a puppy's ability to understand that the biting hurts. They put too sophisticated cognitive and social abilities on the puppy. Let's look closer at this example. The running child is chased by a puppy who nips at his heals. The child screams 'ow!' and starts crying. You come running and yell at the puppy. Suddenly, the puppy cowers, looking up at you with crescent eyes, and it is interpreted as they are sorry. This is not true. In fact, the puppy is trying to calm 'you' down and these are called appeasement signals. A puppy is not capable of feeling guilt although this is widely misconstrued through Youtube videos of the 'guilty' dog. There is no scientific evidence that a dog experiences guilt. There is plenty of scientific evidence of reading a human and responding in a way to try to calm them down.
How do I train my puppy not to bite?
Puppies less than 8 weeks old learn with their littermates; biting too hard makes them unpopular. A puppy who doesn't pay attention to their playmates' yelps is ignored until they learn to play with less bite strength. Puppies mouth are filled with 28 razor-sharp teeth. It is 12 to 16 weeks when tiny little adult teeth come, all 42. This process is painful!!! Puppies want to interact with you, just like their early experiences with their littermates. Chewing on things, including you, helps ease the pain, but milk-teeth, those sharp little razors, are not fun and often lead to punctures. The puppy is also unaware of their bite strength. Whether the dog is teething or trying to engage with you in some fun, training a puppy to not to hurt you is a must. Note we are not saying to stop your puppy from biting. We are saying we need to teach it 'mouth control'. Puppies who learn mouth control are less likely to grow up into adult dogs who bite. Your goal is to teach moderation. The way to reach this goal is to observe and set out a training plan.
When the bite strength is too strong, a sharp 'ow' can be given, but caution on teaching children not to yell or scream 'ow' as yelling is consider force. Modern science has done away with any force or punishment as it has been proven to have long-term impact on behaviour. Scaring a puppy is easy and at the very least, if intentional, cowardly, while caring and nurturing a puppy is hard work and takes commitment. In some pups, an 'ow' may get them more aroused, because they don't understand the meaning. If this is seen, don't keep trying to make it work. Stop. Instead, place yourself away from the puppy. Behind a babygate is perfect to protect you from puppy bites. Once the puppy calms down, come out and immediately engage in a frozen toy or a plush toy that is long and extended away from your hands. If they do settle down and play make sure you provide lots of praise to build up your communication and relationship.
If the puppy is teething, make sure they have access to a lot of frozen toys. Rope toys soaked in chicken broth is our go-to favourite...and not just one. Let's pack your freezer with them for everyone in the family to grab with your puppy's gum's are sore. There are many other frozen toys designed explicitly for a teething puppy. Stock up on them for a wide variety to engage your puppy in novel items. Look for different textures, different flavours & smells (bananas, peanut butter, sweet potatoes), and odd shapes. This is also excellent mental stimulation proven to also calm your puppy down - a win-win.
Communication is key. You and your new puppy don't have clear communication nor trust. You may be bonded, but there is a lot more that needs to happen. Trust is critical to building with a puppy to ensure psychological soundness as the dog matures. Every interaction must make your relationship positive. Anything negative and your role is changed in your pups life, and you will likely require professional behaviour support later in the dog's life.
Exercise and Sleep. A puppy needs exercise aligned with their energy level and lots of sleep. In many puppy biting cases, we find the puppy doesn't sleep enough. Dogs need 15 hours of sleep, according to Dr. Denenberg, Veterinarian Psychiatrist. There is a lot we understand about sleep and behaviour and a lot we don't. Many studies are underway to dig deeper into the relationship between sleep and dogs behaviour. Our experience suggests observing the puppy, chart their sleep patterns and behaviours, and see if longer sleep helps.
Predicting biting events. Many clients tell us of the 'witching hour' at night or when the kids come home. As caregivers, we can expect and get ahead of the biting behaviour without reacting with our own heightened emotions (which negatively impacts our relationship).
How do I stop my puppy biting visitors?
A few tips about greeting when your puppy is still learning bite inhibition:
Keep greetings low key.
Think warm, calm and friendly, not joyous excitement.
Have long frozen toys or plush toy at the door that visitors can hold away from their hands and play with the dog as a greeting.
A short note about 'tug of war'. We don't want to 'win' 'tug of war'. That is an old fashion training construct around dominance/alpha. It simply doesn't stand up to today's science. Let the dog win regularly. It is, after all, just a game. And, it makes you more fun to be around.
Toys that extend away from the hands is best for a teething puppy. Long plushy snakes, long ropes or a flirt pole. A flirt pole is a long pole with a toy at the end and are a perfect option to play fun games of chase without getting your hands nip. Use it on a grassy surface for good grip and no slips.
How do I stop my puppy biting my clothes?
Make sure your puppy has a structure routine, enough sleep, regular feeding times and subsequently regular pee/poop times. Poop-stress is a real thing. Many puppies will become anxious and unsure of what to do, as their new little bodies feel the pressure to relieve themselves. Biting your clothes or you may be a signal of your pup needing to poop.
Stop the activity you are doing if the pup is biting your clothes. Consider it a signal that your puppy needs something. Go through a checklist: hungry? thirst? overtired? needs to play? Depending on your evaluation you may need to ask your dog by redirecting them to their water, their bed, a snack or a calmer way to play. With adequate structure, observation and planning your puppy will stop biting your clothes.
When will my puppy stop biting me?
It takes a few weeks to help your puppy understand the pressure they are using with their mouth hurts. You must be very patient and gentle. Anything harsh breaks the bond with your dog, and subsequently, behaviours will worsen over time. Any use of force, even yelling, can create long-term behaviour issues. As soon as their adult teeth come in around 5-6 months, the biting tends to decrease. If the dog is appropriately supported and taught, it evolves into gentle 'mouthing' to engage with you.
Regular attention to the bite strength is a good idea as enthusiasm can sometimes reduce the dog's ability to regulate the bites.
Our practice uses fear-free, force-free and positive reinforcement to create voluntarily well-behaved cooperative family dogs and prevent fear aggression in puppies through private programs to teach you to guide your pup. If you are concerned with your puppy biting, your abilities to help your puppy learn, and want the best private training for yourself and your dog, then please reach out. Proper one-on-one modern training is a huge benefit to you for life and avoids later behaviour issues such as fear aggression, frustration aggressions and people aggression and other aggressive behaviour.
Dr. Brain O'Hare would say, "It’s not about how ‘smart’ dog or a ‘dumb’ dog is" as some dogs are just better at some things than others. But can we make our dog as smart as possible? You know, develop them to their fullest potential. Yes I believe we can and here's how.
Dog intelligence is a dynamic process made up of experiences. In puppyhood, the brain is creating all these amazing neural networks and to make a dog smarter is to nurture the development of denser networks. Think of a tree's roots in the ground. The root ball is like the brain of the dog and during puppyhood, we want the root ball to become as dense as possible, architected to provide the maximum chance for supporting the dog throughout their life and maximizing the dog's potential. (1,2) Ideally, its best to begin young, however, don’t think that your adult dog’s ‘smarts’ are fully developed. Even older dogs can create new connections and new pathways in their brain.
As you consider what you need to do to give your puppy every advantage, you want to know that brains are the only organs shaped by experiences; reorganizing themselves and changing physiology (3). When we consider planning to maximize a dog’s brain development, we want to plan a life full of adventures, exploration and relationships. Consider providing a wide-variety of active learning engagements for puppies through to adulthood. Different environments, interactions with things, relationships with other animals, other dogs, and other people. Also, think through engaging all the senses including scents.
With our own dog Sunshine, we planned her experiences. As a puppy she was exposed to numerous adventures in the country-side, and puzzles that engaged all five senses. We also had the advantage of exposing her to many types of dogs, big and small, furry, long-haired and short-haired, and introverts and extroverts. She's observed highly reactive dogs and assisted with very timid dogs, We guided her to make judgment calls about other dogs. And her potential for reading and responding to various dog types has made her to be what I consider highly versatile in dog-to-dog language (and very helpful in assisting changing the behaviour in dogs)
Also consider exercise before teaching your dog new things. We know in the brains of a human child, exercise before a test improves scores (4). And given that we are finding so many parallels between dogs and human brains, it is no surprise that a puppy, exercised first, allows for greater focus, key when teaching them important skills between puppyhood and adulthood.
1 – Reference is from findings by Ross A. Thompson, PhD, professor of Psychology at the University of California, “Lower circuits in the brain must be built before higher circuits, and advanced skills must be based on basic skills”
2 - Brain Plasticity and Behaviour in the Developing Brain
Bryan Kolb, PhD1 and Robbin Gibb, PhD1
3 - Pat Wolfe, EdD, educational consultant and co-author of Building the Reading Brain says, ""The brain is the only organ in the body that sculpts itself through experience," says Wolfe. She adds that we now know experiences actually change and reorganize a (…) brain structure and physiology"
4 - Åberg MA, Pedersen NL, Torén K, Svartengren M, Bäckstrand B, Johnsson T, Cooper-Kuhn CM, Åberg ND, Nilsson M, Kuhn HG. Cardiovascular fitness is associated with cognition in young adulthood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2009;106(49):20906–20911.
Every dog has an innate intelligence. Intelligence is the ability to collect knowledge and apply it. Cognition is "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the sense." and cognitive abilities varies in every dog based on their exposure and intelligence. Self-confidence plays an important role in intelligence. Confidence is the basic belief within the dog that it can do what is needed to produce the desired outcome.
Intelligence, Cognition and Confidence are well intertwined. Providing cognitive games not only helps develop intelligence, but supports rehabilitating several behaviour problems
Your dog loves these games because it builds up their own self-awareness, allows them to stretch their mind, and provides a sense of overall well-being.
What happens when a dog is unable to use his intelligence or lacks the confidence to believe he can do something? There are several problems that can be manifested. Some severe, like over-excitement (jumping, barking, destructiveness), and at the least, boredom (apathy, depression).
What are Cognitive Games?
Dogs like puzzles they can solve. Since each dog is unique they will like different types of puzzles and activities. Cognitive games types for Dogs include:
1. Key Skills – Learning and applying a new skill to achieve a goal e.g. Rally Trials (Obedience Obstacle Course) or Treat Kong’s
2. Pathway – Figuring out a physical path to achieve a goal e.g. Agility Training, or a game of Hide-and-Go-Seek
3. Cunning - Using/building skill to achieve a goal by evasion e.g. Toy Chase
4. Sequential Games – Developing body memory to carry out a series of actions to achieve a goal.
5. Nose Games – Using the dog’s ability to smell to achieve a goal e.g. Scent Training, Snuffle Mat, Shell Game
6. Coordination Games – Similar to 'Key Skills' above, Coordination games focus on specific body parts working together to reach a goal e.g. Stacking of Rings
7. Vocabulary Games – Building your dog’s vocabulary beyond cues to include colors, objects, context and even emotions. Games would ask the dog to determine differences.
There are many types of cognitive games and this is not the entire list. What is important is that your dog will be good at some games and not so good at others. We want games that your dog both enjoys and that builds confidence. If your dog is not good at a game, we simply end on a good note and move on.
Practical Workshops for students of the International School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour (theISCP.com) and members of the Muskoka Dog Social Club are available to learn how to set up cognitive games, create your own and to enrich your dog's life.
Many clients I work with have no rules for their dog. None. Some have too many where the structure is so rigid the dog is depressed and acting out. I suggest at least 5 rules where you’re asking for cooperation from this delightful member of the family. Puppyhood is where to start right with setting rules and enforcing them.
My 12-week year old has a good grasp of the word ‘no’, meaning she knows when I am asking her ‘not’ to do something. That does not mean she always obeys - hah! She is finding her own ways of doing things and unfortunately, the consequences. As a force-free behaviourist my role is to bring ‘Sunshine’ into this world as a good citizen in our community. Also, that Sunshine is independent, able to make good choice for herself and others, and self-reliant.
You may think, “Hold-up. What? Does that sound too much like a Human?” Well it does on purpose. Dogs have the same capabilities emotionally and cognitively as a 2-yr. old child - scientifically proven, and it makes sense to modernise our obedience training and include ways and means to enable sound mental and emotional reasoning in our dogs.
Back to ‘No’.
To reinforce ‘No,’ I first have to be asking her to stop doing something - like Biting. She needs to understand this. This is important. She needs to truly understand and practice self-control. These are very hard things to grasp for a puppy - patience is mandatory. All dogs learn from testing what a request means, meaning, if I say ‘no’ to jumping on the table, I can count on the fact she will need to jump on it several more times and in several more situations before she understands and cooperates.
Once I am positive she understands what I am asking her to stop doing something when I say ‘no’, and she still does it, then she is disciplined. Biting is the same concept. One of my key rules for Sunshine - no painful biting. Once I have provided every opportunity to chew anything but me, make my hands very still, and have said ‘no’ only then does discipline follow. I provide two strike-outs, allowing the dog to rethink if they want to continue. If the dog decides not to continued they are praised because I want to positively reinforce the behaviour I want.
Force-free discipline looks just like a time-out for kids. Proactively you know which room in your house is suitable, especially for a Puppy who chews anything. Ours is our bathroom. I always have a timer on hand. I put my puppy in the bathroom away from the family. To put ‘Sunshine’ into the bathroom, I pick her up, but you can lead a dog in as well. I do not yell, and picking her up is done calmly and lovingly. My ‘Sunshine’ is placed in the bathroom, the door is shut, and I set the timer for 2 mins. Not 1 and not 3, but 2 minutes. One minute is too short, three minutes is too long and ineffective. To a dog, being away from you is tough. Sunshine will whine and even howl a little. In 2 minutes, we open the door, no fuss, no drama. Sunshine comes out. Has she learned? Not necessarily, but I have started to provide good information to help her make good choices in the future when I say ‘no’. For sure she will try again because she is learning. I love when they try again. It means I am on the right track. The dog is figuring out what is acceptable and what is not.
There are nuances to this method, so feel free to message me about your particular puppy and I will help you out.
All the best,
Whether it is your dog who needs protection or your dog who is causing the problems, knowing how to read what is ‘play’ and what is not may make all the difference. Never truer than a dog park environment where dog-strangers meet, and ‘play’ is often misunderstood by new or misguided dog owners.. By reading signals during play means you can turn a potentially lethal situation into a simple intervention.
Take this quiz and see how savvy you are about these situations that can occur between dogs in a dog park:
1. You observe your dog is chasing another dog, and the dog in the lead has its tail between its legs and is running low to the ground. You decide to direct the lead dog to you to protect it (Right or Wrong).
2. A yelp is heard but neither dog stops their activity. You decide not to stop their play (Right or Wrong).
3. Dogs are playing when one steps away from the play and gives a full body shake. The other dog does not notice and starts a playful charge. You decide to intervene to stop the charge (Right or Wrong).
4. One dog is playing with another dog, when suddenly it sits or lies down. The other dog jumps on top of her and begins tugging her fur to get her back into play. You decide to stop their play (Right or Wrong).
5. One dog growls and moves away from another dog who is play-bowing. You decide not to intervene and let them work it out (Right or Wrong).
6. You observe your dog looking at you, with its head angled away from a dog trying to engage in play. You decide to encourage your dog to make friends (Right or Wrong).
7. Two dogs have been playing well. Then you notice one dog is actively biting the legs of another dog, full teeth exposed and snarling, and the other dog has it head turned facing the other dog, air-snapping and trying to bite the other dog. Vocalization of growling can be heard loudly. You encourage the play to continue (Right or Wrong).
8. One dog is on its back and another dog is on top. The dog on the bottom is air-snapping (meaning snapping its teeth together but not biting anything) and grabbing onto the top one’s harness, with its back legs flailing in the air. The dog on the top is biting the cheek of the dog on the ground. There is no noise, outside of panting and soft growls. You decide to stop their play (Right or Wrong).
9. Two large dogs, who are part of a sibling group, are chasing a small dog they have just met. You decide to remove the small dog and stop their play (Right or Wrong).
10. Two dogs are meeting, and one dog will not allow other dogs to sniff it’s back-end (doggie-polite greeting), has its ears back and a low growl can be heard. You decide to intervene and stop the introduction (Right or Wrong).
There are many more situations like this that must be monitored at the dog park. Staying attentive and being knowledgeable on dog signals at play can save the life of your dog and others. Never let a good conversation, or listening to music, stop your attention to dogs at ‘play.’ Your dog is counting on you to see and understand what is happening and to protect him/her.
Here are the answers: 1. R, 2. W, 3. R, 4. R, 5. W, 6. W, 7. R, 8. W, 9. R, 10. R.
Please let me know how many you got right, and which surprised you. I will respond with the details and why the answers are the way they are.
All the best,
Lately I've been giving a lot of thought to 10 minutes. We spent 10 minutes gawking at a Moose. We spent 1o minutes meeting a dog who had just bitten an employee. We spent 10 minutes sorting and putting on laundry. Yet, 10 more minutes with your Dog can lead to amazing things.
For example, I can spend 10 minutes writing one of the most powerful tips that will fundamentally shift your relationship with your dog. Interested?
First, some background. I was recently asked about how to stop a cute little puppy from running away with family member's pants. Then, I was also asked how to stop a dog from bugging his elderly cat sibling when the sibling was resting. And on another call I was asked how to stop a dog from barking at the neighbors. All of these problems had slightly different solutions, some were short, some were long. But all started from the same place, a neat little trick I call the power of "AND."
In the few minutes it takes to read and absorb this trick, and the a few moments to think about it and practice it - the power of 10 minutes to shift your relationship with your dog will become clear.
Second, it is important to realize that dogs who know they can make you happy are mentally healthier than dogs that are regularly confused, or believe you are very rarely happy with them. So if you don't praise your dog on a steady basis for coming when called, sitting when asked, or simply lying down under your desk quietly when working, they likely don't know they make you happy.
If you need to find things to praise your dog for, think about what you do like. I hear, "I like it when my dog curls up on his bed, when I am reading," or "I like it when my dog comes to me when I call his name." A quiet, calm, "good settle" with a smile on your face, when a dog finds his place under your desk can be the start of letting your dog know you like when he is there. A scratch on the neck every time your dog comes when called, shows your dog he is making your happy.
Third, saying 'No!' to your dog digging up your garden, or jumping on the counters is not a powerful choice to curb your dog's behaviour. It says I am unhappy with you with no instructions on how the dog can make you happy. There is no alternative path given to the dog except to stop what he is doing and let's face it, taking his paws off the table doesn't make you happy. You didn't want him to do it in the first place.
The Trick is found in the power of "AND." Next time a "No!" comes flying out of your mouth as your pants are dragged up the hallway by your playful pup try the power of "AND." Here's how to do it. Any behaviour you want to stop, say "No AND...." ask them to do something that makes you happy. In the pant-pulling puppy case, it would be "No AND look here is a teething rope, please take it away and chew it, that would make me happy." For a dog who is bugging the elderly cat, it is "No AND would you sit. Oh what a good boy, that makes me happy." For a dog barking at a neighbour, it is "No AND can you lie down for me. Wonderful. Thank you that makes me happy," and so on.
The power of AND is a 10 Minute lesson that will deepen the power of your relationship with your dog. A happy dog is a dog who knows that they can make you smile.
We will be having a clinic on the Power of "AND" at the Muskoka Dog Social Club which is only 10-minutes from Hwy. 11 - you could have been here by now. The social club has wide-open, secured park-like settings made for dogs, with lovely outdoor seating, and an indoor activity centre for inclement weather. It's for Dogs and their People and boasts great evenings under the stars, and only 10 minutes from home.
When working with dogs and their owners, we often ask them to have on hand three sets of treats, each with varying levels of enjoyment for the dog. The lowest value treat is likely to be their dinner kibble - yummy, but not highly scented, with a dry crunch. The second, mid-level treat may be diced carrot or apple cubes - lovely, moist, crunchy, low calorie, but not smelly. The third and most highest value is a moist, highly scented treat about the size of a pea. But buying high quality treat can be challenging both in price and finding a moist, pea-sized, smelly treat. So we like to provide this easy under $10 recipe which produces about 80 rewards.
Here's how we recommend investing $9.28:
You need a package of ground meat, around $6.00 and two cans of sardines or anchovies, approximately $1.44 a can. Add in one egg, about $0.40. Mix together and press into a well-oiled cookie pan. Cook the meat tray in a 350 degree oven, until well cooked. We don't burn it, but we dry it out - approximately an hour, but keep an eye on it. Once it is out of the oven, you should be able to move the cooked meat slab onto a cutting board and cut it into pea size pieces. You can freeze, if you make several batches. We have never counted how many we can get but would hazard a guess that we have over 80 pieces, depending on how you choose to cut it.. One other note: we recommend you open the windows - it can really stink up the house, but your dog will love it.
We are often asked, why anchovies/sardines? The reason is simply to make the treats more smelly. Since dog's taste buds are not as advanced as ours, but their noses far more advanced, we rely on their amazing ability to smell, to attract their attention and create deeper pleasure sensations in their brain.
Any questions, we would love to hear them, just send them along to Sparky@executivepetservices.ca.
How Would You Like to Trade Your Old Dog Training Equipment for Great Discounts?
We want to swap great discounts on our most popular services for your choke, prong or shock collars or any other qualifying pet gear.
We are participating in “Project tRade” and customers can earn up to 15% off our most popular behaviour modification services and emotional healing remedies simply by giving us old pet gear* you have laying around. It couldn’t be easier!
What is “Project tRade”?
Project tRade is the Pet Professional Guild's (PPG) international advocacy program that promotes the use of force-free pet training equipment by asking pet guardians to swap choke, prong and shock collars (and any other devices that are designed to change behavior through pain or fear). Because we want all pets and their guardians to experience the huge advantages and long-lasting effectiveness of force-free training and pet care, we will give you great discounts on our most popular, effective, fun and pain-free behaviour training & emotional healing remedies in exchange for your old gear.
How Would You Like to Trade Your Old Dog Training Equipment for Great Discounts?
We want to swap great discounts on our most popular services for your choke, prong or shock collars or any other qualifying pet gear. By participating in “Project tRade” you can earn up to 15% off our most popular behaviour modification services simply by giving us old pet gear* you have laying around. It couldn’t be easier!
What is “Project tRade”?
Project tRade is the Pet Professional Guild's (PPG) international advocacy program that promotes the use of force-free pet training equipment by asking pet guardians to swap choke, prong and shock collars (and any other devices that are designed to change behavior through pain or fear). Because we want all pets and their guardians to experience the huge advantages and long-lasting effectiveness of force-free training and pet care, we will give you great discounts on our most popular, effective, fun and pain-free training and pet care services in exchange for your old gear.
Effective, humane animal training and pet care methods are the foundation of any animal’s healthy socialization and training and help prevent behavior problems. Since a wide variety of equipment and tools are commonly used when training pets, the pet-owning public needs to be aware of the potential problems and dangers some equipment may pose.
Specifically, the use of collars and leads that are intended to apply constriction, pressure, pain or force around a dog’s neck (such as ‘choke chains’ and ‘prong collars’) should be avoided. Distinguished veterinarians and behaviorists worldwide are joining the discussion and calling for the elimination of such devices from the training efforts of both pet owners and professionals.
What Do the Experts Say?
Respected veterinarian and thyroid expert, Dr. Jean Dodds, recommends against choke or prong collars "as they can easily injure the delicate butterfly-shaped thyroid gland that sits just below the larynx and in front of the trachea. These collars can also injure the salivary glands and salivary lymph nodes on the side of the face underneath both ears"
Bestselling author and canine behaviourist, Jean Donaldson, says: "These devices (choke and prong collars), when they work, do so to the degree that they hurt. With the advent of modern methods and tools they are irrelevant."
According to veterinarian and veterinary behaviourist Dr. Soraya V. Juarbe-Diaz: "Using punishment to stop behaviours is not new. Notice I said 'stop' rather than 'teach' -- I can stop any behaviour but I am more interested in teaching my students, animal or human, to choose the behaviour I want them to perform because they can trust me, because I do not hurt them and they are safe with me, and because the outcome is something they enjoy."
The PPG thus encourages all pet owners and pet professionals to embrace modern, scientifically based, training techniques and tools, especially the latest generation of no-pull harnesses which are free of the risks posed by traditional collars and offer far more benefits. So swap your gear and help create a kinder world for you and your dog and pet..
To learn more just visit PetProfessionalGuild.com.
*qualifying pet gear = prong collars, shock collars, pinch collars, choke chains, citronella collars and the like.
Speak to Sparky about the discount codes for each of our packages and Emotional Healing services and products.
To understand Force is to understand why trust is easily broken between a dog and his caregiver. It can undermine a dog's progression into adulthood, undermine cooperation, and lead to abandonment. Even if you have never used force on your dog, others' may have. Well-meaning family members, and even professional caregivers using outdated information, may have used force on your dog. Your job is to protect your dog, and provide gentle guardianship. It requires you to recognize the signs of force, educate those who have used it, and protect your dog at all cost.
The Tell-Tale Signs that Force has Likely Been Used
A dog who has been trained or disciplined with force is recognizable. He cowers with fast movements, at hand gestures, or raised voices, with his ears flat against his head, and his tail curled down. He shows ‘crescent eyes’ (meaning the white shows in a crescent shape under his irises). The dog’s natural curiosity is lower than normal as is his confidence. He avoids people, glancing at where at person is in position to himself, and looks worried, with eyebrows pinched tightly together. When you see these signs in combination, it is likely force has been used.
What is Considered Force?
Force is shouting, pulling, and pushing. At it’s worse, it is hitting, kicking, slapping, straddling a dog, shaking a dog by the scruff of his neck, hitting your dog on his nose with a rolled up newspaper, and/or pinching or kneeing any part of his body. Force is also training collars, including; shock, prong, choke, and citronella collars. Any type of force is to be avoided and for good reasons:
If you currently use force, and would like to explore how to use force-free methods for long-term results and a happier dog, there are several resources regionally and nationally to support you. Check out the following sites:
'Sparky' Smith is a Canine Behaviorist and Practioner, educated through the International School for Canine Psychology & Behaviour, earning her ISCP.DIP.CANINE.PRAC.