Crate training your puppy

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t have a bedroom? A space that is just your own where you can escape to relax by yourself when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed? No doubt this lack of privacy and personal space would bring a lot of anxiety and unease into your life. Your dog is very similar to you in the sense that they too crave a space to call their own. Dogs are naturally denning animals, which means they enjoy sleeping in dark enclosed spaces. This makes a crate the perfect way to fulfil this natural denning instinct in your dog as well as to give them a space that is all theirs where they can go to relax. Crating your puppy also has the added bonus of making potty training much easier! Dogs naturally do not like to go to the bathroom where they sleep, so the crate is an excellent tool for getting your puppy on a proper potty schedule.

Crate training is one of the most important things you can do with your puppy, and it should start the first night they’re home. When done right, crate training will create an association of calmness and safety with the crate for your puppy. Trust me when I say, while they may protest their first two or three times being alone in their crate, your puppy is truly craving the shelter and protection the crate provides and they will soon learn to love it!

The most important thing to remember when crate training your puppy is, say it with me, you get what you pet! So if your puppy screams and cries when you first put them in their new ‘bedroom’ (and chances are they will!), please do not console them in any way shape or form. The best thing you can do for them is to completely ignore their protests and let them figure things out on their own. Don’t speak to them or pet them because, while you may see this as you comforting your crying puppy, they will see this as you rewarding and reinforcing their anxious behaviour and this will create a very negative association with their crate.

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If you brought your puppy home in a travel crate, they will already have had some exposure to a crate prior to their first night in your home. Even still, their first night in your home is going to be the most important interaction with their crate because it will set the stage for every other night moving forward. If your puppy screams and cries in their crate and you give in and let them on the bed that first night, they have just learned two things. Firstly, the crate represents panic and anxiety. And secondly, all they have to do is scream and they will be let out of their crate. So put in some earplugs and get into your most calm assertive mindset – this may be a long night.

Remember that this is going to be your puppy’s first night away from their mom and siblings, so along with being in a new place and being exposed to a crate for (likely) the first time, they are also without their family for the first time in their short life. Understandably, this is going to create a lot of stress and anxiety for your puppy, so it is completely natural for them to cry their first few nights with you. Don’t panic! Remain calm and assertive and always remember, you get what you pet.

I recommend keeping your puppy’s crate in your room at least for the first few nights as complete isolation may be too overwhelming for them right away. If you were planning on keeping them in a different room of the house, wait three or four nights until your puppy is completely comfortable with their crate before moving it into its permanent location outside of your bedroom.

After taking your puppy out for one last potty break before bed, lead them to their crate on leash to begin the introduction. Using the leash, apply light pressure to guide them into the open door. Do not drag your puppy into the crate – you want the decision to enter this new space to be their own. Keep the pressure constant and firm until they willingly walk into the crate, then relax tension as they enter it. Once your puppy is in the crate, do not immediately shut the door behind them. If they try to exit the crate, use either your body or the door of the crate to block them. Be patient! This is brand new for your puppy, so take your time and don’t rush this process. Once your puppy is calm and relaxed in their crate (ideally they will be sitting or lying down), silently close the door.

Once again, if/when your puppy cries in the night, do not let them out or pet them or speak to them in that baby voice we humans love so much. Ignore the behaviour and remember it will pass, no matter how endless the noise may seem now. Like most puppies, Sprout cried her first night in the crate but by her third night with me she walked right into it without me even having to tell her. It is now one of her favourite places in the house and she is comfortable in any crate I put her in whether it’s at daycare, in the car, or even at the vet!

Crate training isn’t just limited to bed time! In order to ensure your puppy is completely comfortable in their crate, I recommend crating them both when you are home during the day as well as when they are home alone. This will give your puppy some time to rest and recharge on their own, as well as prevent them from getting into things they shouldn’t or having accidents in the house!

So remember, no matter how hard your puppy may fight you the first night they are in the crate, it is actually the best thing for them and for you! Breathe deep, invest in some earplugs or headphones, and wait it out. I promise your puppy will thank you.

Thanks for reading and happy crate training. Don’t forget to stay tuned for next weeks Puppy Blog!

Claire

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Always judge a Dog Trainer by their dog

Anyone can be a so called “dog trainer.” You, your grandpa, or the crazy cat lady down the street. The truth is the industry itself is not regulated. This is a scary thought. It translates to there being no standards in how to properly educate humans to have successful relationships with their dogs. It also means any tool or technique can be used, or abused, to condition a dog.

My number one tip I’d like to share with all of you to know whether or not a trainer is actually any good is to look at their own dog. How does it behave? Is it a robot, just acting out commands? Does it know how to be calm? Is it hyper and constantly alert? Does it seem anxious or uneasy? Does it bark nonstop until it gets a reward like a treat or ball toss? Is it friendly with other dogs? Does it pull on leash? Does it actually listen to the trainer? Can the dog be good with a different handler? My point is, does the dog behave in a way that you want your dog to behave? That is the most important question.

Buye10671486_963644933661364_6444139759428768389_nr be ware if the dog shows any problem behaviours, especially those you are trying to fix in your own dog. To me it’s even more suspicious if the dog isn’t even at a training class. As a trainer myself, Carmen (my dog) is my BIGGEST asset and a huge marketing tool. This makes it sound like I pimp my dog out, when in fact I don’t. I do take my dog everywhere with me though, especially to classes I teach, and have people comment on how social, calm and well behaved she is (notice I didn’t use the word “Obedient”). Carmen is my demo dog in showing how to do things properly. She is proof of my own training methods and consistently doing exactly what I instruct clients to do with their dogs. Think of it like this, you wouldn’t hire a fat personal trainer, or a dentist with bad teeth. You’d want someone who is truly good at what they do because they practice what they preach.

Here are 5 more tips to ensure you pick a qualified dog trainer.

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New Year’s Resolutions For You and Your Dog

New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black backgroundIt’s a new year meaning a new beginning. A chance to make change, to start a new. Perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn, a new skill you’d like to acquire, or an old habit you’d like to kick. Maybe you’d like to paint, speak a different language, workout, or learn to cook. Why not make this year’s resolution one that includes your dog? What could be more motivating and rewarding than working with your dog to achieve a personal goal?! Your dog will definitely keep you accountable that’s for sure. So make this the year you keep your resolution and include man’s best friend.

Here are my suggestions to make your 2015 the best year ever with your furry friend!

1) TAKE YOUR DOG NEW PLACES. This was my resolution last year for me and Carmen. I even took Carm all the way to California with me! Try going somewhere new each week. This can be trails, parks, pet stores, or even just different neighbourhoods. This is a great way to learn cool spots in your city, socialize your dog, give her mental stimulation, and tire her out. I’m sure you and your dog are bored with the same old walk around the block. Why not make walks more FUN! Change it up a bit by switching spots. Even travel together. My dog sure loves an adventure, I’m sure your dog would too!

Here are some of the dog friendly places we’ve found together in KW:

DOG PARKS – There are several dog parks for off leash romps (Kiwanis, Bechtel, McLennan, and unofficially Snyder’s Flats).
TRAILS – There are trails a plenty all along the Grand River which are great for on leash strolls. There’s also Breithaupt Park, Idelwood Park, Pioneer Tower Natural Area, The Iron Horse Trail, and Forest Height’s Community Trail. Parks like Victoria Park, Waterloo Park and Bechtel are also great spots to go with lots of sights and other people walking their dogs as well.
STORES – Pet stores like Ren’s and Pet Valu are some of Carmen’s favourite spots to go. But what you might not know is Chapters, The Uptown Shops Centre, and The Patch (in Cambridge and Waterloo – I’ve never had them turn away my cutie) are also pet friendly.
***Please only visit stores and dog parks if you are confident you can manage your dog without issue around people and pets. Please don’t ruin pet friendly spots for the rest of us if your dog is not ready for that environment. Home Depot was pet friendly until recently when an employee got bit by a dog. Know your dog and what she can handle.

2) Make 2015 the year you BECOME YOUR DOG’S TRUE PACK LEADER. To be Pack Leader, you’ll need to make sure to adequately exercise your dog daily, provide structure/discipline, and then reward with affection. Why not get everyone in your house on board with making changes to ensure your dog’s needs are all being met. Print off the rules and put them on your fridge so it’s in plain sight and everyone can be consistent in applying the rules.

Here are some examples of rules:

The dog must be walked for at least an hour a day
The dog eats after the family eats
The dog is not allowed on furniture
etc.

3) IMPROVING ONE’S HEALTH is a popular resolution. Why not make it a priority not just for you but also your dog. This could be a goal to loose 5 pounds together or increase your activity level. They do say a dog is the best personal trainer. Why not take up running or biking and bring along your buddy. Guaranteed it will make exercising more enjoyable. If you are trying to limit your calorie intake in 2015, you can easily do the same for your dog as well. Pay attention to food portions and just how many treats you may be giving Fido. Obesity in dogs is a huge problem (pun intended lol), but the good news is it can be easily fixed. Eating more organic and less processed foods will be a big help to you both to be your fittest selves in 2015.

Here’s to making 2015 the best year for you and your furry friend 🙂

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Dealing with separation anxiety

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It’s Monday morning and after a lovely weekend together you are running late for work so you quickly give the dog a 10 minute jog around the block, feed him and tell him “mommy will be back soon” while giving him lots of hugs and kisses as he jumps up, spins in circles, and tries to squeeze through the door with you. Sound like your morning?

By far the most common issue among my clients is separation anxiety. This problem behaviour can develop at any time with dogs and can be tricky to fix. Issues like aggression can often be remedied faster than separation anxiety, which can be deep routed.

So why do some dogs develop this anxiety? There are several reasons but a main one is that it is unnatural for pack members to just up and leave on their own. Dogs in the wild migrate together and don’t just venture off independently. We typically worsen this already foreign behaviour by making a big production of leaving in the first place. We caudal and baby talk to our pets right before leaving not recognizing that the dog is already in a stressed state of mind. We rarely tire out our pups before leaving and almost never make sure they are relaxed once we go. Instead we blow kisses and pour affection onto our dogs when they are already anxious therefore rewarding the behaviour. What’s worse is we do the exact same when we return home. A dog who has not been properly exercised and is left in a stressed state will of course try to release some frustration by chewing baseboards or singing a song that never ends for your neighbours.

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Here are my 7 helpful tips on what you can do to help curb your dog’s separation anxiety.

  1. Make sure your dog sees you as the pack leader. A dog who thinks he is in charge will be stressed when pack members are out of sight because he feels out of control. He worries that he cannot protect and provide guidance which leads to him act out. You and everyone in your family need to be the pack leader. Kids actually make great pack leaders as they don’t over think things and act instinctually.
  2. Exercise your dog well before leaving. Guess what? A 10-15 minute walk around the block doesn’t work. Take your dog somewhere new and take 45 mintes to an hour to truly work them out. Imagine being locked up all day with nothing to do when you are programmed to work. You’d get pretty bored and anxious too. Give your dog something fulfilling and fun to then leave them tired afterwards. Save the 15 minute walk for when you return.
  3. Feed your dog before you step out. After dogs eat they need to rest in order to digest. This is a natural way to help them into a calm state before you go as they will tire and sleep while you are gone (assuming you already fulfilled their exercise requirements)
  4. Make sure your dog is calm when you go.  Putting your dog on his bed or better yet in a crate in a calm state will make leaving a breeze. They’ll be asleep and forgot you even left in no time. Do not rush this step, make sure the dog is fully calm and not just lying down.
  5. Desensitize your dog to things like grabbing your keys or putting on your shoes. Carry your keys around with you and jingle them and put shoes and a coat on 20 minutes before actually heading out.
  6. Do not make leaving and arriving home a dramatic occurrence. Remember Cesar Millan’s rules: No touch, no talk, no eye contact. Just act as if all is good and calmly leave. When you come home wait until your dog is calm and settled to show affection. If you build up emotions about coming and going your dog will always be stressed about it.
  7. Resist the urge to get another dog to keep yours company while you are gone. Chances are the new dog will develop the same separation anxiety and now you’ll just have 2 dogs destroying your house. Any time you have problem behaviours with a dog it is never ideal to add a new pack member until those issues have been resolved. Putting that stress on another dog is not fair and it is unlikely either dog will achieve balance.

Back To School Doggie Blues

dog-boy-reading-300x230It’s that wonderful time of year again where the kids go back to school and everyone’s routine has changed. Your schedule is packed full with little to no time to even take a breath. You’ve got to pack lunches, get the kids to school, drop the kids off at soccer practice, pick them up, feed the family, and then ahhhhh sit down on the couch for a few minutes before going back to bed and doing it all over again tomorrow. Sound familiar?

Fall is a busy time of year! It’s among the craziest for us at The Dog Haus as we constantly get last minute calls from clients begging us to take their dog because they have absolutely no time to exercise their mutt and he’s chewed the couch…again!!!

Being so busy often means dog walks come last on the “to-do list.” Unfortunately for our pets this is not only frustrating but stressful. Suddenly everyone in the pack leaves for hours on end all day long and the dog is all alone with nothing to do. With so much stored up energy, they wander around, bored as hell, only to find a shoe that smells just like you so they carry it around and feeling frustrated release their excess energy by cDog-Chewing-Shoeshewing it to bits. This is not a blatant screw you, but pretty much the only way they have to burn energy and at the same time sooth themselves. When this happens, take a good hard look at how little time you may be spending with your pooch. I still remember when I first got Carmen she would go through the garbage any time she felt she didn’t get a long enough walk that day. It was sad and hard for me to realize that I really shouldn’t punish her whenever she did this, instead I took her feedback and would do better the next day. Keep in mind that dogs have very few means to communicate with us. Any time you notice some bizarre or naughty behaviour, pay attention to what may have changed in your dog’s life. Did someone move out and go to college? Did your work hours change meaning you don’t walk the dog as long? Are you too tired to take the dog out at night when you get home? Your dog is speaking up to say his/her needs have not been met lately.

Some dogs experience depression and anxiety when the kids go back to school and their routine changes. It’s important that you not neglect your dog during this busy time so here are my suggestions to help you through this change.

  1. Tire your dog BEFORE dropping kids off at school and going to work. Better yet, walk your dog to school with the kids instead of driving – my personal favourite because I love getting two birds stoned at once 😉 plus it’s good for the environment!
  2. Use time with the dog as a stress reliever for you both – we all need to take time to relax which we rarely do. Come on a Meditation Walk with me to learn more on how to do this (next one is September 9th, 2018 10am at Hillside Park).
  3. Have fun together and play some games! Being with your dog should be rewarding to you both and play is a great way to bond.
  4. Redo some basic training – with everyone out of the house separation anxiety often creeps up. The best way to avoid this is to remind your dog of who is leader so that he doesn’t stress while you are away. It is also a way to provide mental stimulation and tire out your dog. You can always sign up for Dog Haus Training Essentials to learn more on how to be your dog’s leader and provide them with the exercise, discipline and affection they need.
  5. Bring your dog to The Dog Haus or another dog daycare that has full day training and socialization for your dog. That way your dog is out of the house so he cannot destroy things and is being fulfilled by getting exercise, socialization and mental stimulation.
  6. Hire a dog walker. If you are unable to walk your dog pay someone else to do it. Having a backyard is not enough. Dogs need to be walked everyday, without exception!

The difference between “obedience” and “behaviour”

Exhibit A: Can your dog sit? Lie down? Roll over? Shake a paw? Play dead? And do other cool tricks?

Exhibit B: Does your dog wait patiently for food? Greet other dogs nicely? Not pull on leash, or jump on people, or go crazy when the doorbell rings?

Which would you prefer Exhibit A or B? Which is more practical behaviour in real life scenarios?

I’ve always wanted a dog I could take anywhere and would know just what was expected from her – almost telepathically as if we were psychically connected. Only 4 years ago I earned the trust and respect of a former street dog and accomplished exactly what I wanted in terms of training. Carmen is well liked by everyone and pretty much welcome everywhere, even technically places she’s not permitted to go, like cafes, clothing stores, patios, and even my mother’s house.

I never cared much about teaching Carmen cool tricks. What good is knowing how to play dead if you don’t know what “stop” or “come” means, which are actually life saving commands that every dog should know? I wanted a dog who listened in order to keep her safe.

10450098_10101687927611911_4538909660453309248_o It’s rather simple. Training to me is having a dog that looks to you for guidance on how to behave in every circumstance. Just like how we raise our kids, I want a dog who knows how to behave properly even in an overwhelming environment or when there are bad influences around. More over, I expect that even when I am not present. Behaviour is engrained, whereas obedience implies there is someone there to give the command. An obedient dog may “sit” and wait 2 seconds before you reward them with a treat, or throwing a ball or even receiving a pat on the head, but the mind is still active, typically in an excited or anxious state. A well behaved, balanced dog, will sit calmly and wait without fixation on what comes next. An obedient dog may know the basic commands but the question is do they follow them because they robotically know to go through the motions to get the reward? Obedience training focuses on the body. Is the body doing what I asked? Rarely do we look at the state of mind of the dog behind the action. Behaviour looks at both the body and the mind, and only rewards calm energy.

I’m sure you’ve all seen it at the daycare when we wait for the dog to sit before taking them out to the yard, but pay close attention next time. We wait beyond that, until both the body AND mind relaxes. That is what we reward with play!

Just remember: A calm dog is a balanced dog and a balanced dog is a behaved dog. And just like Carmen, a well behaved dog is welcome any where!

That’s my style of training. Want to learn more? Contact me for behaviour based training that will work for you and your dog.

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DOG GREETINGS 101

Imagine this, you’re walking your dog down the street and you see someone else approaching with their pooch. Without realizing you tighten up on the leash and reel your dog in. As you get closer you notice the other owner does the same thing, tightly wrapping the leash in a death grip with one hand as his extremely excited dog lunges forward to see yours. As the dogs meet you nervously instruct your pup in a high pitched voice to “be nice.” You stand there and ask the stranger what the dog’s name and breed is while the dogs greet face to face then wrap around getting tangled in each other’s leashes. Suddenly after a few moments there’s a nasty sound and you have to separate the otherwise “friendly” dogs. Embarrassed you abruptly leave, scolding your naughty dog. But what really happened?

Encounters like this aren’t unfamiliar to most dog owners. All too often we unintentionally set the dog up to fail in these situations. We allow our dogs to do the exact opposite of what they should do in proper greetings. We bring the dogs to meet face to face, usually in extremely excited states, with tension on the leash and linger for a long period of time. So let’s take a look at how greetings should be done.

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Dogs shake hands by sniffing each other all over and should start from the back and work their way to the front. Sniffing butts isn’t rude, it may not be how we say hello, but to dogs it is completely natural. Allow your dog to briefly smell that area of it’s new acquaintance so that he can gather the information he needs, like age, breed, health, sex, and so on.

Dogs should meet in a calm manner not overly excited or boisterous. When excited dogs meet, they tend to jump up on each other and it usually escalates very quickly to something unpleasant. Even the best of doggie friends can get carried away and clash with over the top greetings. Likewise a dog who is tentative and nervous about meeting another dog will not have a pleasant experience either. Wait until your dog relaxes and do not force him into a situation where he is not sure how to handle himself. Calm and confident is how you want your dog to approach.

dogs-meeting-for-the-first-time-by-aresauburnThere should never be tension on the leash when dogs are face to face. When the leash is pulled tight, the dog’s body leans forward communicating to the other dog he is staring directly in the face that he wants to challenge. This is when you will get a fight between the dogs. Always keep your dog beside you to keep him out of “protector” mode and so that you can pull sideways not back to remove him from a sticky situation. If there is tension on the leash this communicates to your dog that you are tense so his natural reaction will be to protect. Relax and your dog will too.

Don’t feel the need to stop and say hello to every dog. If for whatever reason you have a bad feeling, keep on walking. Especially if you are working on socializing your dog and greetings are difficult for him make sure you are comfortable with all introductions as it is very important that the dog has good encounters. Be up front with people walking their dogs and speak up on how the dogs should be introduced if you are going to allow them to say hello.

It’s important to not stop for too long and instead to keep moving, dog greetings don’t need to be lengthly. Dogs can smell from a fair distance away so they don’t need to stand around smelling each other for minutes on end. When this happens is when dogs tend to get nasty. It’s like that long awkward hand shake or close-talker at a party that makes you feel uncomfortable. No one likes that, so dogs will react in only one way; because they can’t run away as they are on leash the only other option is to fight. Introductions should be cut short so this doesn’t happen.

Remember that dogs communicate vocally at times so if there is a loud commotion but no one got hurt don’t just assume your dog is aggressive and stop allowing him to say hi. Reflect on the encounter and see what you could have done differently.