How-to-Stop-Unwanted-Behavior

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

How to Stop Unwanted Behavior

1. Stop focusing on correcting or punishing bad behavior. Saying “No!” or squirting your dog with water might relieve your frustration but it can maintain or worsen your dog’s bad behavior. Corrections are deceiving. They momentarily suppress unwanted behavior so it seems to have worked. But if your dog does it again, it didn’t work at all! If you correct your dog often, you can diminish his willingness to listen and cooperate.

2. Choose a behavior your dog can do that will replace Continue reading

Older Dog Potty Training Tips

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

Older Dog Potty Training Tips

We just received the following letter from one of our readers.  This is not the first on the subject on potty training an older dog so I decided to post it.

Hello,
Hello German Shorthaired Pointer Greatdog GSP, hope you can help us with a potty training issue we have encountered with our newly rescued German Wirehaired Pointer.  We rescued an 18 month neutered male German wirehaired pointer 10 days ago and we have been following your website with interest, as it has been very helpful in settling our new dog down. I have attached a doc which explains the help we are looking for in helping our new adolescent dog potty outside. We would be very grateful if you could perhaps give us some pointers as to how we could best approach potty training an older dog as what we have been doing doesn’t seem to be working.

Dog history

The dog we adopted, Breac, is an AKC registered neutered male German Wirehaired Pointer, age 18 months old.  He was born, Aug 2015 and at age 4months, our new dog was purchased from the breeder and brought home to live indoors with a family with three kids (age 9, 12, 18) and their two dogs. The dog has always been “a handful” and needs daily exercise. Family fed him 5 cups quality dogfood daily. Dog let himself out of the house into the family’s 18 acre property on a regular basis as the door handles pulled down when he stood on them. He is VERY prey driven. Continue reading

Dog Training – Brushing Teeth

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

Dog Training – Brushing Teeth

DOG NAIL TRIMMING

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

NAIL TRIMMING WITH CHASE

PLAY BITING

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

PLAY BITING

Play Biting A young puppy plays with his littermates by wrestling and nipping. If he nips too hard, his siblings will yelp and walk away. If the puppy nips Mom too hard, she will either get up and leave or correct him. Thus a puppy starts learning that his behavior affects others. Spending time with mom, littermates and other friendly dogs at a young age is vitally important. Puppies that have learned to inhibit their bite strength early in life might be less likely to cause injury with their teeth as adults. Although no one can guarantee an animal’s behavior, it is wise to be proactive. It is very difficult if not impossible to teach an adolescent dog to reliably have a “soft mouth” during Continue reading

Changes In Aging Dogs

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

Time Flies

For thousands of years, dogs have been selectively bred to be in tune with our emotions, actions, and words.  Because they are like us in so many ways, it is easy to mistakenly attribute human motivations and feelings (like jealousy, spite, and guilt) to their actions.  That is called anthropomorphizing, and every dog owner I have come across does it to some extent, includingGerman Shorthaired Poindexter me.  Our dogs are beloved family members, as attested by the number of dog toys that I see in clients’ homes and the fact that many of us share our beds with our dogs.  I envy pet owners who live in places where dogs are welcome almost anywhere (like Germany, as described by my brother-in-law who was stationed there).

The love we share with our furry kids makes it especially difficult to watch them grow old and feeble.  Several years ago I went through this heart-wrenching process for the 5th time with my Labrador Retriever Rosie who died at the age of 14.  Now my German Shorthaired Pointer Chase is approaching his 8th birthday in 2 weeks.  Where has the time gone?  Although he is just entering his golden years, I can’t help but lament how unfair it is that dogs don’t live as long as humans.

Chase running in snowI remember the days when Chase’s non-stop energy had me wishing he would get older and settle down.  But in the past year, I have noticed definite changes in his behavior that makes me a little sad, such as:

  • Increased sensitivity to distant fireworks and thunder.  I had made it a point to desensitize him to those noises from puppyhood well into adulthood.  Last summer, he showed more fear than usual on the 4th of July and during storms.  So our routine when it happens is we run upstairs together with a Thundershirt™ and a bag of beef jerky or cheese.  We camp out together in my walk-in closet and he enjoys a relaxing massage.  He eventually falls asleep.
  • Increased sensitivity to cold.  With the current cold spell here, I send Chase outside wearing 2 coats and booties.  He stays out longer and seems friskier when wearing his silly outfit
  • Sleeping a lot more.  He doesn’t follow me around the house as much as he used to becauseweather blues he is just too comfortable being a couch potato.  Maybe his bones are getting creaky like mine.  I give him joint supplements with his meals and watch for signs of arthritis.  So far, so good.
  • Occasionally being “clingy”.  Sometimes when I am brushing my teeth, he sits next to me, leaning his full weight against my legs. If I don’t brace myself, I lose my balance.  This is a fairly recent development.  At first I thought he was afraid.  But now I think it is his way of telling me he needs to go out.  He used to dance around in front of me when he needed to pee, but now he thinks that’s immature (I’m anthropomorphizing, of course).

Older dogs often need to be protected from rambunctious youngsters.  When Minnie (my 8 month old rescued mix) and Chase play together, I watch closely for signs that Chase has had enough so I can intervene on his behalf.  I really should have gotten a second pup 4 years ago when Chase was more playful.

Aging produces changes in the brain and body that can affect behavior.  For example, a dog’s refusal to obey previously well-executed commands may actually be due to discomfort or cognitive changes, not stubbornness.  Of course, it could also just be due to insufficient training.  Sometimes issues that were not serious enough to be noticed or promptly addressed when the dog was younger can get exacerbated later in life.  It is best to investigate further rather than jump to conclusions.

Consult with your veterinarian if you notice behaviors that are out of character for your dog.  More serious age-related behavioral changes to watch for in senior dogs include separation anxiety, noise phobia, aggression, house soiling, pacing, changes in sleep patterns and disorientation (like getting stuck in corners or behind furniture).  Those are common signs of Canine Cognitive Disorder, similar to Alzheimer’s disease in people.

From what I have read, the average life expectancy of the German Shorthaired Pointer is 12 to 14 years.  Longer than some breeds and shorter than others, but nevertheless way too short.  The older my Chase gets, the more grateful I am for every moment that we spend together.

 

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HOUSE-TRAINING YOUR GSP

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

 

 

Housetraining Your GSP:

Common Myths and Misconceptions

 

Indoor accidents are an inevitable part of raising a puppy or rescuing a dog.  I am currently going through this with my own puppy, and it is not fun.  But this too will pass (pun unintended).  When owners ask me about house-training issues, the following questions and complaints are the most common:

I take my dog outside every hour, and he still goes to the bathroom inside.  Taking a puppy outside every hour on the hour is a common recommendation.  Unfortunately, your pup has not read the manual.  Even our own body doesn’t behave like clockwork.  Puppies often don’t Continue reading

10 TOP ITEMS YOU NEED FOR A PUPPY

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TEN TOP ITEMS YOU NEED BEFORE YOU BRING HOME YOUR NEW PUPPY

 

There are necessary items that you must have at home before you bring home a puppy or a new adult dog for that matter.  Life would have been difficult when I brought Simba home if I had not been prepared.  Simba, like my children when they were babies, was a very active puppy.  I was glad that a friend gave me ideas of what I would need ahead of time because Continue reading

MEALTIME FUN

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

Mealtime Fun

How did your feed your dog today?  If your GSP is anything like my Chase, he practically inhales his food at mealtime as though he is starving, then a short time later is begging for more.  What a wasted opportunity, not to mention risky because GSPs are at risk for getting bloat (gastric dilation volvulus) which can be deadly. With a little creativity and not much effort, it is easy to provide your dog with a fun and healthy way to meet his natural urges to hunt and chew.

Before I got my puppy Minnie a few months ago, I have to confess I got lazy and often fed Chase from a bowl.  Now that he is becoming a senior, he lost interest in excavating food from his classic Kong toy, especially if it was frozen.  Why should he work so hard when it is always provided on a silver platter (bowl)?

But with the puppy came the need to prevent boredom and anxiety when I had to confine her and leave home during the day.  So I gathered all of Chase’s food dispensing toys that were gathering dust.  I would exercise Minnie (and Chase, of course) thoroughly before crating her with several food stuffed toys and a bully stick to chew on.  After a satisfying meal and chewing session, she would fall asleep.

The highlight of every morning is watching Chase and Minnie happily going from toy to toy with tails wagging, hunting for breakfast.   This keeps them busy while I shower and get dressed.  Chase loves this routine as much as Minnie.   He’s a lot faster at getting at the food, so I need to make sure he doesn’t eat Minnie’s portion, too.  To challenge Chase even more, I will sometimes hide the toys throughout the house.

The pet product industry has come a long way since the classic snow-man shaped Kong toy was introduced in 1976.  It became a huge hit with dog owners who were tired of chewed up shoes and furniture. The selection of interactive dog toys online and in pet stores today is mind boggling. The toys range from very easy to very difficult depending on your dog’s skill and determination.  Here is a photo of just some of my stash I’ve collected over the years:

Fun meals

Back Row (L to R):  Kong Wobbler (for dry kibble); Classic Kongs stuffed with layers of canned food + kibble + peanut butter + cheese (can be frozen); Tug-a-Jug (holds kibble and is loud on hard floors);  Kibble Nibble; Squirrel Dude; and Twist and Treat (purple ones are all by PetSafe).

Front Row (L to R):  Nina Ottosan Dog Tornado; beef shin bone stuffed with a mixture of kibble + canned food + grated parmesan cheese;  unknown brand from a clearance bin, filled with kibble + canned food + broken dog biscuits; 2 more unknown brands, wide mouth hard plastic bottle filled with kibble + biscuits +c heese cubes + apple chunks; and for dessert, a JW Pet Hol-ee Roller stuffed with a large Milk Bone and a Zuke’s beef filet.

GSP- CHASE GETS A NEW SISTER

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

Chase Gets a Sister!

Sorry I missed posting last month, and I am late this month. I am once again a new mom. No, not to a human baby, but to a 14 week old puppy named Minnie that I adopted about 2 months ago. She appears to be a lab-Australian shepherd mix. I considered getting another GSP, but I wanted some variety. Maybe next time.
MinnieMinnie and I had a rough start together. The day after I brought her home she developed kennel cough, which is the canine equivalent to the common cold in humans. It is caused by a variety of viruses and is highly contagious. Rescued dogs that have experienced the stress of kenneling and long transports are especially susceptible. Puppies have underdeveloped immune systems Continue reading