Training Not To Pull

trusting paws

by Naomi Heck, M.Ed., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Although the reason for pulling and what rules you must teach is the same for all dogs, some dogs are more of a challenge. My own GSP was one of those “super crazy pullers”. The thing to keep in mind is that law of learning applies to all dogs: Dogs Do What Works. In other words, whatever behavior the dog does that results in getting what he wants, even just a tiny bit of it, will be repeated. The more value the dog sees in the desired outcome, the stronger the behavior, even over-riding any equipment that might cause discomfort.

So for training not to pull, the answer is two-fold. First, use equipment that will mechanically and humanely reduce the force of pulling. I prefer something that controls the head like the Halti for strong pullers. Actually a few years ago I switched over to a Newtrix head halter for my dog because he seemed to be more comfortable in it. The mechanics of how it works is different from the Halti. You can find an explanation here: http://www.newtrix.ca/index.cfm?page=ourProducts It’s a little confusing at first learning how to put it on, but once you practice and follow the directions carefully, it’s not hard.

The second and more important point is to recognize how you are inadvertently reinforcing your dog for pulling. If you take even a single step forward while your dog pulls, he learns that pulling works. Going forward to explore the environment is the most powerful reinforcer there is. It was sure more powerful to my GSP than grilled steak when we were outside.

In training not to pull, the key is to teach your dog that the fastest and ONLY way to move forward is to turn toward you to make the leash loosen so that he feels absolutely no tension whatsoever on his collar, halter or harness. Then and only then will you allow him to continue forward. As soon as the leash tightens again stop and plant your feet so he is unable to take another step forward. This rule has to be black and white, not fuzzy where sometimes pulling works and sometimes it doesn’t. You will have to suspend your walks to really entrench this new rule into your dog’s brain. (Think about how hard it can be for us humans to break a bad habit.)

I used a clicker to mark (click) the precise moment my dog turned toward me to loosen the leash. Then I said “Let’s Go” and took a few fast steps forward until the leash tightened again. (Be very careful if using a Halti or Gentle Leader that can turn the dog’s head. Don’t let the head whip around if the dog suddenly hits the end of the leash. Use a short leash and soften the impact to prevent injury to the neck. It’s another reason why I like the Newtrix design better.) I like using a clicker because it is a much clearer form of communication. It means only one thing and the click sound is like nothing else. Black and white! This training takes a lot of discipline on the part of the human because the slightest inconsistency will impede progress. If pulling works occasionally, the dog becomes a gambler because the payoff is huge!

I highly recommend having someone take a video of you walking your dog so you can observe how you might be reinforcing pulling. Even extending your arm slightly after you stop walking so your dog can stretch his neck forward an inch can be enough to keep the pulling habit strong.

Furry Siblings

My furry sibling, Gypsy has really changed since we’ve moved. She doesn’t destroy the entire house everyday while mum is at work. Although she slips once in a while. Yesterday, mum was home sick and she had just opened a new box tissues. While mum slept, Gypsy decided to decorate Continue reading

Home For The Howl-idays: A Gift Giving Guide For Dog Lovers


 

Home for the Howl-idays: A Gift Giving Guide for Dog Lovers

When the holidays are fast approaching, it can be difficult to find gifts that your loved ones will like. For those with pets, gift giving can be a little simpler, because you can base some of your gifts around their love for their furry friend. The following is a gift guide for dog lovers, and a few for their canines as well, to help find the perfect gift in time for the holidays.

Gifts for Dog Lovers

  1. 101 Dog Tricks: Step by Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog by Kyra Sundance. 101 Dog Tricks features step-by-step instructions on tricks that you can teach your dog. If you have a friend who’s having a tough time teaching their dog tricks, Kyra Sundance’s book is sure to help. There are many benefits to teaching a dog tricks other than just for fun. Tricks help stimulate dogs’ brains and give them physical exercise, which increases owners’ bonds with them.

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DOGGIE HALLOWEEN COSTUMES

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GET READY FOR HALLOWEEN Mommy is getting me ready for Halloween.  We are going to a Halloween 1 mile parade this Sunday.  I’m really excited to see my friends there.  Which costume do you think I should wear?  Mommy likes … Continue reading

My German Shorthair Pointer Brings Me A Gift

My German Shorthair Pointer Brings Me A Gift

A noise in the middle of the night awakens me from a deep sleep.  Simba, my first German Shorthair Pointer, is still asleep with her heard on the pillow next to me.  I feel around for Gypsy, the other German Shorthair Pointer, on the bed and couldn’t find her. I sat up wondering where she went and then remembered that I noticed during our afternoon that her stomach was a little off.  A few minutes after putting my head back down on my pillow, I heard her coming up the steps.  She jumps on the bed and comes over to me to nudge me on the shoulder so that I raise the covers up as she slides in.  Both Simba and Gypsy start snoring and are sound asleep. Me on the other hand, could not get back to sleep.  I tossed and turned for about 20 minutes when my foot came in contact with Gypsy’s cold wet nose.  I moved my foot around wondering why her nose felt so slimy and squishy.  The more contact I made the more I thought it just didn’t feel right.  I tear the covers off the bed and there it was lying next to my foot.  A dead toad stretched out on its back!  I was on my feet so fast that my head spun as I yelled, “EWE! EWE! EWE!” for about 20 minutes.  I couldn’t get myself to pick up his poor little dead body but knew that I had to.  I knew that once I did pick it up, I would have to get rid of it as soon as possible in order not to vomit.  Running down a flight of stairs and across the living room was not an option.  The only other option was sending it to fishy heaven via the toilet.  The rest of the night, I laid in bed wondering if I would have to explain the toad in the trap to a plumber.  Why does everything seem so much worse at night.  By morning all was back to normal, including the toilet.  Gypsy being a German Shorthair Pointer will continue to hunt and bring me gooey gifts.  I just hope it’s not in the middle of the night and under my covers.

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Well Adjusted Dogs

Well Adjusted Dogs

As you know, mum, Gypsy and I moved to a new state.  We drove for hours and stayed in an apartment for one month until our new home was finished.  We finally moved into our new home and mum started her new job a couple of days later.  I could sense that mum was worried about leaving us alone while she was at work.  Mum had a dog walker stop by at noon every day to take us out.  We really like our new sitter.  She takes us to her house and we get to play with other dogs.  It’s lots of fun.  I like to watch from the couch but Gypsy loves to wrestle with the others.  It’s been a month since moving into our new home.  I believe we are all well adjusted.  We are all happy especially mum.  We love our trips to the beaches together especially when we stop at Starbucks for puppacinos.  Here are a few pics of my happy fam!

Help Your Dog Get Through Halloween

How To Help Your Dog Get Through Halloween

by: Bernie Boxer

Halloween isn’t too far away, and you couldn’t be more excited. While others cannot wait for summer or spring, you love fall and the spookiest holiday of the year. That’s why you’re already hanging Halloween decorations, buying candy, and planning out your costume.

Image Source: Pixabay

Although you might love this holiday, your pet dog probably does not. Dogs often have trouble with changes and strangers, and Halloween at your house will bring a lot of both. Between odd decorations and trick-or-treaters ringing your doorbell, how can you help your dog feel safe and calm? Read on for some tips on helping your dog get through Halloween this year.

Why Some Dogs Have Problems
There are several reasons why so many dogs have problems with strangers and noise that comes with Halloween. Pet Place lists a few of these, including:
● Some breeds were made to bark at strangers or even attack them, so some dogs are predisposed to get upset during Halloween. Likewise, some are bred to alert others when noises are made.
● If your dog was neglected or hurt by strangers as a puppy, then they can “learn” to be upset with the chaos of this holiday.
● A rescue dog in particular can have issues with anxiety that can appear as aggression or fear when facing strangers or loud noises.
Plus, Halloween only happens once each year. It’s not like your dog can learn to live with it.

Besides people and noises, dogs can sometimes be confused about decorations, especially any that are electronic or animated. A skeleton that waves its arms around is great, but it can confuse your dog — and a confused dog can react aggressively or just retreat to their room. And as PetMD reminds us, Halloween candy is definitely not good for any dog.

Dog-Friendly Decorations & Treats
You want to enjoy Halloween with your pet, but what can you do to help? Since your dog is likely watching you eat treats, you want to make some pet-friendly Halloween treats for your dog. Some examples include:
● Yogurt popsicles made with peanut butter and banana.
● You can do the same with pumpkin instead.
● Make or buy dog treats, especially versions or flavors that you haven’t given your dog yet.
● No-bake coconut dog treats.
● Make popsicles with a variety of fruits but use a bone as the popsicle stick.
● Bake muffins with pumpkin flavoring and some sugar on the outside.

As for decorations, don’t get any that move around on their own, as those can give dogs anxiety. Instead, focus on immobile decorations like placing things on walls. Be careful about lights if your dog likes to chew as they can try chewing on the wires.

Tips For Trick-Or-Treaters
You’ve made some dog treats, and Halloween is finally here! Now comes the hard part — getting through the trick-or-treating. Redfin explains that you will want to keep your dog inside at that time. Don’t even take your pet for a walk, as there are likely just too many people, sounds, and smells in the neighborhood. Even the best-trained dog can make mistakes when overstimulated.

As kids come to your door, you’ll want to keep your dog in a safe space inside. Although your dog might want to say hello, keeping your dog in a quiet, secluded place in your home is often the best way to keep everyone safe and calm.

Make Halloween Great For You Both
You’re sure to have a great Halloween this year, and with a little planning and effort, you can help your pet dog have a great time as well. Make some treats for your dog, and when the kids come around for candy, keep your dog in a safe spot. After all, Halloween should spooky, not stressful.

BernietheBoxer.com

Happy Howl-o-ween

Happy Howl-o-ween

by BernietheBoxer.com

DOGGIE HALLOWEEN COSTUME

Hiya!

I’m Bernie and I’m a Boxer. My parents are at work so to keep my paws out of trouble I thought I’d reach out. Hi! Or woof, woof, as I like to say.

I know Halloween (or Howl-o-ween, as me and my four-legged buddies call it) must be close because my dad, Adrian, started decorating our front porch. Truth is, I love Halloween just as much as he does. Thankfully, he never forgets to include me. Last year, I was Batman and this year I’m going to be Captain America!

This is just a friendly reminder to be sure to include your four-legged pals in your Halloween plans. Otherwise, we feel left out and lonely.

Simba’s 10th Birthday

My 10th birthday was spent in the backyard while a bunch of men took our furniture out of the house.  After they stole all our furniture, mum put me and Gypsy in the car.  We each had a little space to sit in.  It seems that she tried to save some boxes, our food, and Gypsy and my favorite beds.  The rest of my

birthday was spent in the car driving to what mum said was “New home”.  When we got to ‘new home’, there was my birthday present from mum.  A brand new squeaky alligator.  Gypsy and I played with it for a long time until mum went to sleep.  The next day, mum took us to the biggest bathtub I have ever seen.  It was gigantic! I couldn’t see the other end.  Mum put her feet in the water and called me and Gypsy over but no way!  We know what that is, BATH!  We found these

big round toys that mum called horseshoe crabs.  We cautiously sniffed them out.  Gypsy was braver and tried to pick one up.  Mum wouldn’t let her play with the horseshoe toys.  I guess they must belong to other dogs.  I was a great birthday weekend!

A Dog’s Purpose-Review

A Dog’s Purpose Review

My son bought me the novel “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron from Amazon for my birthday.  I am almost at a loss for words in trying to describe this novel.  The first word that comes to mind is “emotional”. Emotional only if you’re a dog lover.  If you’re not, you wouldn’t be reading it anyway.  As I read through the pages, they made me smile, contemplate, laugh out loud (in public), and cry out loud like a puppy spending the first night in a crate.  As I sobbed, Simba, my nine year old German Shorthair Pointer, would rush over to console me as she usually does when she senses a change in my emotions

This book has changed the way I look at my two dogs. It is as if I am watching them through different eyes.  I find myself wondering if Simba could be my “Bailey”. Of all dog’s that I have had in my lifetime, Simba is very different.  She has always been connected to me in more ways than physically. GSP parents know about their Velcro dogs.  German Shorthair Pointers are referred to as Velcro dogs for good reason. They never leave your side. The world comes to an end when I close the bathroom door for some privacy. I’m not sure if she thinks because I watched her doing her business as a puppy, that she needs to watch me too. Even when I’m in the shower they both take turns poking their head in to make sure I haven’t been swallowed up by the drain.

GSPs are sensitive dogs to begin with, but Simba has always been in tune with my emotions. She runs around wagging her stubby short tail carrying as many toys as she can fit in her mouth when I’m happy or excited. She slowly approaches to watch over me when I’m sad. First she puts her nose real close to my face and waits (maybe she’s nearsighted) then she lightly nudges me with her nose. Finally, she lays up against me laying her head on me. I will admit that feeling the weight of her head is always somehow always comforting, like a hug. She has also mirrored my ailments and personality. She’s a true tom-girl. She also suffers from stress, IBS, and allergies. One thing she doesn’t mirror is my anger but knows well enough that mum needs space. It is the only time she keeps her eye on me from afar rather than beside me.

Simba’s one year old sister, Gypsy, joined the family at eight weeks old just like Simba did but the connection between her and I is different. It doesn’t go beyond being the normal Velcro dog. I love her immensely and she loves me but she is oblivious to my inner thoughts or emotions. After reading “A Dogs Purpose”, there may be an explanation to the difference between my two pups. Simba maybe a dog with a purpose.

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