Your family (maybe just you) has hopefully planned this day for awhile. Important decisions were made on where to get your new adult dog from. Breed generalities may have been studied. Family members have been consulted on what kind of dog they wish to have. Puppies have been decided against for many valid reasons. The day has arrived to pick up your new canine companion and future best friend. I want you to be aware of some common mistakes that may make your lives harder than they need to be.
Cities can be hard places to visit with your pets, in this case our dog, Shana. As it is, Shana has never really warmed up to crowds of people especially with dogs. I do train a lot with Shana, but city area training somewhat limited due to automobile troubles. Nonetheless, Shana is trained to an extent, and we felt it would be far more stressful to have her with a strange pet sitter. Cities are consumed with noises, crowds, and actually far more wildlife than you might see in the country on a daily basis. One thing did not think of is the amount of harmful objects that can be on the ground during your exploring in the city, especially off main roads or those that tourists know of. The cars drive aggressively, which can be a danger to you and your dog, if you don't take that into account. Often there are celebrations going on to attract the tourists and their money as well (in our case we went to a Jethro Tull Concert on our last evening). This post is about a few things that I learned, and a few things I considered while getting Shana ready in the short-term for our trip.
The place command is one of the first things I start to teach with many dogs. This command combines a send away, a stay, a stay within a barrier, impulse control and calming exercise all in one. Additionally, this can be the very start on walking on leash with a puppy or dog. Some dog owners and trainers may only utilize the stay portion, but I feel the send away portion is very valuable as time goes on. Let me explain a little bit about this very useful exercise.
As I write this, the new training dogs coming in have been frequent now, and our business is heating back up for the summer. This is a really stressful time for Shana at home as always. Being a dog trainer's dog is not fun for all dogs. At the same time, we have been working regularly on Shana's impulse control and reactivity around other dogs. She has been doing really well, but today she has clearly had enough of this. We are currently in the Middle of Week 6 on a Thursday. I haven't taken many videos, so I am going to go over what we have been doing to date.
Play training focuses on the reward of play for engagement, enthusiasm, and motivation of the tasks, obedience, behavioral change, and relationship being formed. It sounds easy, right? The dog does this, and then we go and do that. The knowledge of the impending reward of continuing the game increases the likely hood of the behavior and/or performance that you want. In theory, it is easy. In practice, you can make mistakes that I would rather others avoid if possible.
In 2011 I came across a YouTube video of a trainer, Mike Ellis, who is a well known sports dog trainer. I hadn't heard of him, as he wasn't a fixture in pet dog training or AKC obedience. What he was doing absolutely blew me away, and he was having a seminar in RI the next week. I paid the very reasonable price to attend with a non working or audit spot (means you don't bring a dog to work and be coached), as all the working spots were filled. The seminar was called "Focus and Drive". This was the beginning of my play training journey. I am going to do a series on play training on this blog for the next few weeks (or more).
On Sundays, I am going to try to blog and post (on our Facebook page) Shana's training progress. Normally I am training Shana because:
This fall though, we are taking a trip to Boston, and staying in a very fun dog friendly hotel across from Fenway Park. Shana has only been to a city a few times in her life. City distractions are very different than the distractions she sees in a small town (and some of those still can scare her or put her on defense drive). So now I have a specific goal that I am training for.
Avoidance behaviors in dogs are simply a step towards the end result of practiced impulse control and behavioral modification. Some dogs will not even seem to take this step, and usually that is become they are confident with an even temperament. An example of avoidance behavior is a dog that looks in the opposite direction from a dog they would like to bark at. Avoidance is simply the step taken to practice impulse control over a trigger that used to make them react, hide from, or leave the area entirely.
Fearful dogs behaviors can range from freezing and avoiding to reactivity and aggression. In any case and no matter what the owner knows of the dog's history, fear and insecurity holds the dog back from having their best life. Dog's need more than a safe home, food, and affection to enjoy their life fully. There are many ways their needs can be met, but fear can intrude on those activities that make their life rich. Activities like:
Author, Robin Rubin
Owner and Head Dog Trainer in Maine, Robin Katherine Rubin, started her Maine dog training business in September 2004. Our dog training facility is located in Southern Maine in York Beach and we help families enjoy their dogs more, making sure they listen reliably and resolving unwanted behaviors.