• Problems

    Breaking Bad Habits

    Often, my job consists of providing training on breaking a dog’s bad habits. Usually, these habits or behaviors start from a young age when the dog or puppy is purchased or adopted. The behavior continues because the dog gets something out of the behavior—attention, food, fun, or an outlet for excess energy. For a while, the family either tolerates the behaviors or even unwittingly rewards the behaviors. By the time the family has finally had enough, the bad behavior has become a bad habit.   Bad Habits  If a dog does something once, it may be a coincidence; if a dog does the same thing twice, he is starting to form a habit.  Each time the behavior is repeated, the habit becomes more entrenched. Habits are difficult to break–for both humans and canines. It takes humans a full 30 days to break…

  • Problems

    Barking

    Dogs bark, some more than others.  The issue is not that your dog barks, the issue is why he is barking and how to get him to stop barking.  Who Goes There?  If your dog barks when someone comes on his property, this is called territorial barking.  They bark to let you know someone is there and to warn intruders not to come any further.  Unfortunately, this type of barking is necessary.  An intruder is not going to risk your little dog nipping him and leaving his DNA in your home; it’s just easier to go to your neighbor who doesn’t have a dog.  You can’t teach your dog not…

  • Problems

    Learned Disobedience

    I am working with a young German Shepherd Female who the owners classified as ‘stubborn’.   I have discovered that not only is she anxious but she has learned to be disobedient.  Her anxiety is a direct result of not knowing who the Alpha, or top dog or leader is. (The Alpha is the leader of the human and/or dog family pack.  The Alpha can be you the human [preferable] or because nature hates a void, one of the dogs might step in and become the Alpha.)   My client’s German Shepherd is constantly challenging the other dogs but when they correct her she immediately becomes submissive.  Instead of her owners reprimanding the behavior, they are leaving it to…

  • Problems

    Jumping

    Some clients tell me that they love coming home because their dog greets them excitedly by jumping and barking. They feel this proves their dog’s love for the family. But in a natural setting, dogs don’t bark, yelp, or jump on pack mates in a burst of affection. Dogs that greet their owners in this way are trying to communicate. But rather than professing undying love, they are probably trying to tell you that they are lonely and bored; their needs as a dog are not being met.   This excitement is your dog’s way of burning off the excess energy that has been building throughout the day. Don’t be disappointed by this…

  • Problems

    5 No-No’s in Dog Behavior

    As a dog trainer and behaviorist, I constantly see behavior which ruins your training or will create a dog that will always be a handful:  #1:  Unruly Behavior in the Veterinarian’s office:  Yes, it can be a stressful place for your dog.  But it is no reason to throw your hard work out the door and allow your dog to jump, sniff at other dogs or bark.  I never allow my dogs to go up to another dog at the Veterinarian office, you don’t know if another dog is sick and how he is going to respond.    How to create a calm situation:  Practice your training at your Veterinarian’s office.  When you…

  • Problems

    Separation Anxiety

    The term separation anxiety is used to describe a condition that manifests through a wide range of distress behaviors across a broad spectrum of intensities ranging from mild to catastrophic.   Distress behaviors include, but are not limited to, vocalization, house soiling, extreme agitated activity, and destructive behavior, such as chewing or scratching.   Ultimately, the goal in addressing separation anxiety is to train your dog to feel comfortable in your absence. As with all training, improvement will be incremental. Initially, you will need to set easily achievable goals. Gradually, you can raise your expectations as your dog’s confidence and independence grow. When your dog’s anxiety is reduced, the behaviors caused by the anxiety will be minimized and possibly even eliminated altogether.  Reducing separation anxiety can be a…

  • Problems

    Mouthing

    Puppies usually start to play with each other at about 2 ½ weeks old.  Initially they are crawling on each other and biting; as their mobility increases the wrestling and biting increasing.  As they get older they will begin barking at each other to initiate play, sometimes even baring their teeth.  Once toys are introduced, stealing or grabbing of toys and getting everyone to chase you is the new game.  But that game usually ends in a tackle with biting and fighting over toys.  This is how dogs play!  Teething  Teething is more likely to involve chewing on household items whereas play biting is a form of social play.  If he…

  • Problems

    Vocalization

    Vocalization  Beth Bradley  Almost all of us have seen one of those humorous videos where dogs appear to be talking. The whining and howling on screen may give us a laugh, but in real life, a noisy dog is rarely entertaining. Vocalization occurs for a variety of reasons. It may be a response to stress (good and bad), an acknowledgment of correction, or an indication of anticipation, drive, or excitement.  While it is important to understand the reasons behind vocalization, it is even more important to respond appropriately. And most often, regardless of the cause of the vocalization, the appropriate response is to NOT RESPOND—at least not with your voice.    For example, a dog’s growling and whining may be the result of anxiety…

  • Problems

    The Long Cold Winter and your Dog

    Even though the temperature is cold outside, your dogs still need exercise and training.  Many dogs begin to exhibit negative behavior in the winter because their owners do not want to go outside to exercise and play with their dogs.  Many send the dog into the yard to ‘entertain” themselves, but really, they are not doing anything but waiting for their owners to interact with them.  Behavioral Problems in the Winter Months:  I have seen many types of unusual and/or negative behavior arise in the winter that were not there the season before and usually go away once the temperatures rise and you and your dog are able to get outside for some fresh air and exercise.  To their…