Dog Training Nation will be joining forces with Animal Behavior College.
Animal Behavior College offers certifications in the pet services industry. They have programs in dog training, veterinary assisting, pet grooming and cat training.
A lot of my subscribers have been asking for more pet grooming and veterinary care content in addition to my dog training articles. While I can cover dog training no problem, I’d love to provide you helpful content from other industry experts, such as professional pet groomers and veterinary technicians. This is why I think merging with ABC will be beneficial to you.
The quality and resourceful content of mine that you love to read isn’t going away. I will continue to share my positive dog training advice and insights on the ABC blog. In addition, you can find my old and new videos on ABC’s YouTube channel.
Thank you SO MUCH for being a loyal reader of Dog Training Nation! I hope you join me in my new home at ABC!
Dog Gadgets to Entertain Your Dog
As a professional dog trainer, I’m always scanning the dog world for new mental enrichment ideas for dogs, especially when dogs are left alone all day. Thankfully, technology is advancing and now new gadgets and apps are being created for dogs as well.
Food stuffed toys and puzzles are excellent ways to keep your dog entertained. And when they’re combined with technology, your dog will be exhausted when you arrive home from work. Check out my favorite high tech dog toys. Your dog will thank you!
Dog TV Channel
Believe it or not, dogs now have 24-hour access to their own cable channel. For $5 a month, Dog TV will keep your dog entertained for hours. Dog TV was created with the help of several leading dog behavior experts, and it continues to research new sound and visual ideas.
This channel can calm stressed dogs and provide mental enrichment with different sounds. It’s also a great way to introduce a variety of sounds to a puppy, such as a baby crying or meowing cat. Now, some dogs might dislike certain sounds, so it’s best to watch Dog TV with your dog first.
Automatic Dog Treat Dispensers
This is easily my favorite dog gadget ever! There are a number of automatic dog treat dispensers that allow you to visually check in on your dog and dispense treats. Additionally, some automatic dog treat dispensers have timers and can dispense treats throughout the day or during short treat sessions. Pairing this gadget with food stuffed toys is a fantastic way to keep dogs mentally enriched all day long. Check out these automatic treat dispensers; my favorite is Pet Tutor and Furbo dog camera is pretty good too.
For dogs that love playing fetch or chasing a ball, they can now play this game alone in the comfort of their home. iFetch is an amazing automatic ball dispenser that will toss balls through a kitchen or down a hallway for endless fun. Dogs learn how to drop the ball back inside the dispenser to continue the game—no human needed! This dog game will keep your dog’s brain busy while providing her physical exercise. This is especially helpful for dogs that need to lose a few extra pounds. Of course, if your dog is obsessed with fetch and obsessively chases balls for hours on end, then I would not recommend this game.
Why You Shouldn’t Walk Your Aggressive Dog
Yes, this is a very strong statement, but allow me to explain why you shouldn’t walk your aggressive dog in public. As a professional dog trainer, who works mostly with reactive dogs, there’s a reason for this strong position. Of course, it’s a free country and you can make your own decisions, but are your choices making things worse? If you share your home with a reactive dog that displays aggression in public, take a moment and think twice before leashing your dog up.
Do Public Walks Help Your Dog?
Think about this question from your dog’s perspective. If your dog lunges, barks, growls, shakes, refuses to walk forward and displays fearful body language, then your dog doesn’t like public walks. Most pet owners walk their fearful dogs in public, hoping their dogs will overcome their fears.
This is a tough way to change your dog’s behavior; it’s equivalent to asking a fearful person to walk along a bed of snakes, so he learns snakes are safe. When dogs are afraid of people or other dogs, yet are asked to walk amongst them, they are just as terrified. Plus, walking a fearful dog in public will only deepen a dog’s fearful behavior, so she will react aggressively more often.
Change Behavior With Minimal Distractions First
Pet owners wanting to change their dog’s fears is completely understandable, and what’s best for the dog. Start in a quiet environment with a certified positive reinforcement dog trainer, and move at your dog’s pace. Think about it this way: It’s best to teach a fearful person snakes are safe by introducing one snake at a time. Hold the snake far away, while giving the person $100 bills when he chooses to look at it without freaking out.
Pairing good things with scary things works, but must happen in a controlled environment to be effective. Once a dog learns that scary things make good things appear, she will become less fearful—however, this takes time.
Your Dog’s Aggression Causes Ripples in Public
When dogs bark and lunge at other dogs or people in public, it sends out a negative ripple effect. No one enjoys being barked at by a scared dog—not even other dogs. When this happens, dogs, puppies, people and children learn that dogs are scary and learn to avoid them. Soon, they become fearful of other dogs all because a dog behaved aggressively to them once. Yes, it can take one bad situation to scare a dog, puppy, person or child permanently.
Walking an aggressive dog in public definitely makes the situation worse for everyone, especially your fearful dog.
Walking reactive or anxious dogs in public is challenging, especially when strangers and dogs walk over to greet your dog. It’s best not to walk fearful dogs around triggers that scare them because it will only make it worse. Sometimes, avoiding scary triggers is impossible during potty walks though, especially for apartment dwellers and for those without backyards. Due to this issue, a smart individual started The Yellow Dog Project, which has gained popularity within the dog world.
What is the Yellow Dog Project?
The Yellow Dog Project is a movement to help dogs get the space they need during walks. When walking through a public area, it’s nearly impossible to identify a reactive or anxious dog unless you’re skilled in dog body language. If you have a reactive or anxious dog, the Yellow Dog Project recommends tying a yellow bow on your dog’s leash to signal to others that your dog needs space.
In general, the color yellow means caution and to slow down just like police caution tape and yellow traffic lights. When choosing a yellow bow, it’s best to use a larger brightly colored yellow bow, so it’s easily seen from a distance. Of course, if your dog is frightened by the bow, it’s best to introduce it slowly until your dog learns his or her yellow bow makes treats appear.
Does the Yellow Dog Project Work?
The Yellow Dog Project is a fantastic way to ensure strangers won’t approach your dog—that is if strangers understand what the presence of a yellow bow means when attached to a dog’s leash. This idea works best for apartment dwellers who must cross paths with other dogs and people daily due to limited space.
To ensure fellow apartment dwellers learn what a yellow bow means, hold a meeting within the apartment complex with all dog owners, families and children. Additionally, post The Yellow Dog Project flyers in common areas, such as community mailbox locations. If implemented, your neighbors will understand that yellow ribbons attached to a dog’s leash means to never approach the dog.
Try a Yellow Vest
You may find that attaching a yellow ribbon or bow to your dog’s leash may actually draw more attention, causing others to approach your dog since not everyone will know what it means. If you find this to be the case for you and your dog, purchase a yellow vest or harness that states “Do not touch,” “Do not pet” or “Do not approach.” This will make it clear to passersby.
A Word of Caution
When walking a reactive dog, always keep your distance and know when to head home. A yellow ribbon or vest won’t keep a dog safe; that’s the pet owner’s job. If a fearful dog’s behavior worsens during walks in public, then it’s best to stop walks and seek advice from a professional positive reinforcement dog trainer.
Fear Free Pets Announces New Program
When great things happen, it’s pure joy announcing them to pet owners across the world! Fear Free Pets, whose mission is to take “pet” out of petrified, has launched a new program that will teach dogs (and other pets) to enjoy veterinary visits. Drum roll, please! They’ve launched a Fear Free Animal Trainer Certification Program for qualified dog trainers, which is a huge step in the right direction for everyone.
Fear Free Animal Trainer Certification Program
Yes, there are now expert dog trainers who can complete an intense program to learn how to help dogs (and puppies) stress less when visiting the vet’s office. To qualify for this course, dog training experts must earn a national dog training certification first and pass a very difficult entrance exam before enrolling into the program.
Once accepted, dog trainers must complete six lengthy modules and pass assessments along the way. Each module builds upon itself and focuses on reducing stress before, during and after veterinary exams. Once dog trainers complete this course, they become qualified to partner with veterinary clinics to implement fear free practices and offer group courses (or one-on-one training) to teach dogs and puppies that veterinary clinics are fun.
How This Program Helps Your Dog
Before, there were limited resources and loose standards for dog trainers offering stress-free vet visits, leading to questionable results. As a dog trainer, this is why I’m so excited about this massive breakthrough! Dogs (and cats) hate visiting the vet’s office, and pet owners have learned to strongly dislike bringing their stressed pet to see a vet too.
Certified Fear Free Animal Trainers teach puppies to enjoy every aspect of vet visits and exams, and can certainly reduce stress for dogs that already dislike visiting the vet’s office as well. As a professional dog trainer completing this certification program, I find it to be very thorough. It also provides scientific research showing stress is certainly damaging to pets. If your dog hates going to the vet, demand a fear free certified veterinary clinic and partner with a certified fear free animal trainer. Additionally, these folks will ensure your dog learns that vet offices are fun! Find a qualified fear free veterinary clinic and animal trainer here.
Be your dog’s advocate. Choose fear free vet clinics and training!
Why Pet Owners Should Choose Fear Free For Pets
Why Pet Owners Should Choose Fear Free For Pets - YouTube
Why Dogs Hate Riding in Cars & What to Do About It
Csák István/Adobe Stock
Many dogs hate riding in cars for numerous reasons. Some dogs will bark, howl, lunge at the window, drool and even throw up. These dogs are clearly uncomfortable, so they learn to hate riding in cars. Before addressing car riding woes, it’s important to understand exactly what is causing your dog’s discomfort first.
Nausea is the worst, especially when you’re unable to get away from the cause. Motion sickness is extremely common in dogs. It’s best handled with over-the-counter medication, such as Dramamine and Bonine. For correct dosage, depending on your dog’s age and weight, partner with your veterinarian. Additionally, keep your car’s temperature on the cool side and ensure an AC vent is near your dog. Once motion sickness is prevented, it’s time to take short car rides with lots of treats, so your dog looks forward to riding in a car.
This is a common behavior when dogs are uncomfortable, nauseous or unfamiliar with riding in cars. It’s safest for dogs to ride inside plastic crates or secured with a crash-tested harness. Make sure your dog is comfortable first. Ensure your dog has plenty of space to lie down, stand up and turn around inside your car.
Place a soft bed or thick blankets in your dog’s crate or car seat, and provide plenty of cool water. Play soft music, such as Through A Dog’s Ear, to keep your dog relaxed. If your dog has motion sickness, address it immediately. Take short car rides, while your dog licks away at a super yummy food stuffed toy, and soon your dog will love car rides.
If your dog is scared to ride in a car, it’s vital to teach your dog that car rides are fun. Not all dogs enjoy car rides since it’s not natural for dogs to ride in cars. Start slow and reward your dog for jumping into the car first. Once loaded inside his crate, give your dog a food stuffed toy to lick, close car doors and turn on the engine while you’re sitting in the driver’s seat.
In the beginning stages, don’t drive anywhere—just let your dog learn that cars make peanut butter stuffed toys appear. After a few minutes, turn the car off and unload your dog. Practice several times a week. Once your dog will happily relax and lick at his toys, then it’s time to take a spin around the block. Continue to add a bit more distance and time while driving, and always bring food stuffed toys along for the ride. This teaches your dog that good things happen during car rides.
Dislikes Seeing Dogs or People
By far, this is the toughest car ride challenge. When dogs are afraid of other dogs and people, they will bark and lunge when these scary things become visible. Teach your dog to ride inside of a crate, and cover the crate with large towels or sheets to block your dog’s view. Additionally, play soft music to drown out dogs barking or people talking while driving. If visual barriers and soft music don’t work, it’s time to reach out for professional help.
When to Get Help
Motion sickness and restlessness due to unfamiliarity with car rides can be easily addressed with medication and dog training. Scared dogs or dogs that dislike people, that panic when riding in cars, may need additional help from a professional dog trainer and veterinary behaviorist.
When in doubt, seek help sooner rather than later.
Dangers of Protective Dog Behavior
This is a difficult question to answer because human feelings are being used to describe a dog’s reaction. Many pet owners feel their dogs are protecting them from threats. It’s a comforting feeling for humans, but dogs feel frustrated. When dogs growl at people approaching, while sitting in their pet owner’s lap, this is called resource guarding. Yes, your growling dog is protecting his resource, which is you, but protective dog behavior is dangerous that will get worse, if not addressed quickly.
Why Dogs Resource Guard Owners
Guarding valuable resources is a natural dog behavior, but it can cause issues within human homes. Dogs will guard beds, food bowls, high value toys, treats, space and people. Every dog has a different personality, but most will resource guard whatever they find valuable to a degree. Humans are certainly valuable because they put food in dog bowls, provide treats and toys, keep them safe, and can open doors.
Some dogs can bond so deeply with a specific person that they will start to resource guard her from other dogs, people and even children. Sometimes, resource guarding goes undetected until another person or dog enters the home, and then the chaos ensues. Resource guarding should certainly be addressed as soon as possible, as it can result in biting behavior. Plus, no one wants to live with a bully.
How to Change Protective Dog Behavior
While many pet owners feel flattered when their dog resource guards them, it’s important to know this behavior will only escalate, if not addressed immediately. When a dog is protecting a person, he’s reacting to a dog or person approaching the pet owner and himself. Protective dog behavior manifests differently for different dogs. Dogs will either freeze, glare at the approaching person, snarl, show teeth, snap or even bite. It’s important to change a dog’s perspective of people approaching while he’s next to his pet owner.
Make It Rain Cheese
Find treats your protective dog absolutely loves, and then chop them into pea-sized treats. Cheese, hot dogs, baked chicken or diced lunchmeat are excellent examples of high value dog treats.
Have a seat on the sofa (or wherever your dog usually resource guards you), and ask your dog to join you. Then, ask a friend to slowly walk into the room and stop at the entrance. As your friend approaches, ask her to toss a steady stream of treats toward your dog’s mouth. After a few seconds, ask your friend to leave the room. Pairing good things with scary situations will change your dog’s perspective, and soon he’ll learn that an approaching person makes cheese rain from the sky.
Oops, He Barked
If your dog barks at the approaching person, ignore him until he stops. Once your dog stops barking, say “yes” and reward with treats while your friend walks out of the room. Next time, practice with your friend standing a bit farther than last time, and continue having her toss treats to your dog. Dog training sessions should last 2-3 minutes maximum.
When to Get Help
Resource guarding can be tricky to address, so it’s always important to partner with a professional dog trainer who only uses positive reinforcement. If a dog lunges, bites, muzzle punches (hits person with muzzle) and/or snaps at someone, then it’s time to bring in a professional. Timing of treats and distance are critical components of resource guarding, and a professional dog trainer can address issues quickly and effectively.
How to Help a Dog Scared of Stairs
Walking up and down stairs seems like an easy task; however, traversing stairs can be scary for some dogs and puppies. A few stairs are easy to navigate for most dogs and puppies, but it’s when it’s a full flight of stairs that can be downright spooky for them. If you live in an apartment building or have a second floor in your home, it’s important to teach dogs and puppies that stairs are fun and safe. Below are dog training tips to help a dog scared of stairs.
First, Add Non-Slip Rugs
Most dogs and puppies dislike walking up or down stairs because they’re slippery. It takes balance and coordination to maneuver four legs within small spaces that suddenly incline or decline, and coordination has to be learned. To set your puppy up for success, place non-skid rugs in the center of each step and the top and bottom of each landing space.
Decorative stair rugs are available online for indoor stairs. For outdoor stairs, use remnants of rubber-backed rugs. Either way, providing traction is an important step before teaching your dog that stairs are fun.
Walking upstairs is a little easier for most dogs and puppies. They can take their time placing paws strategically to pull themselves forward. While getting your puppy to walk upstairs is easier than downstairs, she may still find it scary at first. This is why it’s so important to teach puppies that treats can be found on each step.
Sprinkle a few super yummy treats on the first step, while your puppy watches you, and stand about 3-4 feet away from the step. Your puppy will likely walk over and eat the treats off the step. Next, sprinkle a few treats on the first and second step, and let your puppy find the treats. She may find getting to the treats on the second step a bit challenging, but she will figure it out and self-reward herself. After a few minutes of sprinkling treats on two steps, end the puppy training session.
Walking downstairs is downright scary for dogs and puppies. It takes lots of balance and courage to maneuver four legs downstairs carefully while gravity is pulling you downward. Practice teaching your dog or puppy how to walk up one or two stairs first. When your puppy is standing on the second stair, sprinkle a few treats on the first stair and the bottom landing spot. If she becomes scared, while walking downstairs, pick her up and bring her down the stairs. Continue practicing daily by adding one or two stairs until your puppy is comfortable climbing up and downstairs.
When Dogs Refuse Stairs
It’s common for dogs and puppies, that haven’t encountered stairs before, to hesitate walking up and downstairs. However, if a dog suddenly becomes scared of stairs, then it’s time for a veterinary visit. Older dogs may develop arthritis, which causes severe pain while stepping up or climbing downstairs. If a younger dog refuses stairs, she may have an injury, congenital issue (hip dysplasia) or torn pad. Some dogs slip when walking up and downstairs, and become afraid to navigate stairs again. If this happens, follow the above recommendations for teaching your dog that stairs hide treats.
Take it one step at a time, and reward all progress.
Help for Dogs That Become Aggressive When Startled
Being startled is a normal response when someone or something surprises you from around a corner, when someone suddenly walks through a doorway, or when you hear a scary sound. When most dogs are startled, they will jolt, bark or freeze, and then recover within a few minutes. However, there are some dogs that will panic and react by lunging forward, charging, barking and growling. These dogs have a difficult time recovering from being startled; it can take hours for them to recover. If your dog is aggressive when startled, it’s time to change her behavior.
Why Some Dogs Lunge or Charge When Startled
No one enjoys being startled; it’s scary and it can cause anxiety if it happens often. If a dog is severely startled, it can dramatically change the dog’s behavior around the thing that initially startled him.
As an example, if a strange dog startles your dog by running up to him during walks, your dog can easily become afraid of other dogs approaching. Think about it from a human perspective: If a scary clown suddenly appears in your living room, you’ll learn to dislike clowns and walk cautiously through your living room for a while.
Many anxious dogs, when startled, will charge forward, lunge, growl and even bite someone when startled. Anxiety is a key component. For some dogs, their anxiety triggers an excessive response when startled. Some dogs will react this way even when startled by their pet owners or family members. When this happens, it’s scary for everyone, including your dog. Think about it this way: Some humans react aggressively and start punching or kicking when startled while others just jump and recover quickly.
How to Change Reactive Startled Behavior
When practicing this behavior, the goal is not to startle your dog. Instead, pair something yummy with previous scary experiences slowly to change your dog’s perspective of this scary experience. Remember, when pairing good things with scary things, your dog learns that scary things make hot dogs appear.
Most dogs startle when someone walks into a room while they are sleeping. If your dog jumps up and lunges in this situation, then it’s time to change her behavior. Be prepared next time; stand sideways (face and front of body turned away from the dog) in the doorway, and softly say your dog’s name or “hello.” When your dog wakes up, toss chunks of cheese or hot dogs toward your dog. Practice this several times a week, and soon your dog will wag gently when you say “hello” or walk into a room.