Monday, January 23, 2012

Does Your Dog Bark at Everyone Who Walks By?

If your dog barks or lunges at everyone who walks by the house or while you are walking, then these tips might help. Using a few training techniques to refocus your dog can help stop barking, nipping and lunging at other dogs and people.

Redirect Behavior

If you are walking your dog and he starts staring at another dog or person, (which is supposedly, very rude behavior for a dog. My dog does it all the time.) put him in a sit position and stand directly in front of him so he can't see the dog. He'll try to look around your legs but move with his head and don't allow him to look. Keep feeding him treats, one after the other, to keep him focused on you until the other dog or person is out of his view. If your dog is clicker trained, use the clicker when he is focused on you.

I know this is hard to do if you are pressed for time while on the walk but it really does work. When I take my dog for a walk at a nearby park, I can actually get him to sit while other dogs walk by, then we continue on our way.

As far as barking from the window, that's a tough one. I'm still working on that with my dog but my dog behavior instructor says that it takes two  weeks of calm behavior to break a dog's habit. Try putting something on the couch, so your dog can't see out the window for awhile. If he gets excited while on the
floor, distract him with treats and make him sit, basically the same thing as when you're on the walk.

Work Your Dog

Another thing you can do is practice commands when your dog gets overexcited. For instance, when you see him getting anxious while on a walk or in the house, have some treats ready and just have him sit, down, walk backwards, touch your hand, anything to keep him busy, so he knows you're in charge and have things under control.

Your dog might think he has to protect the house and the people he is walking with when you're outside. He has to learn that the situation is okay and you can take care of things. Hopes this helps.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Teach Your Dog How to Visit

Now is the time to get out the clicker and teach your dog a new trick! It's National Train Your Dog Month, which is the perfect time to think about your pet.

When was the last time you taught your dog a trick? It doesn't have to be a tough one, just something to help you bond with your dog, spend some time together and enjoy each other's company.

Right now, I'm trying to teach my dog how to put his head in my lap and "Visit." He's getting the idea, as long as there's a treat waiting for him!

Teaching Your Dog "Visit"

Have your dog sit next to you and then hold a treat on the other side of your leg, so your dog has to reach over your thigh and get it. As soon as he touches your leg with his chin, click and treat. Do this a few times until your dog gets the idea.

When he is putting his head on your thigh regularly, add the word, "Visit". Soon, your dog will be putting his head on your lap whenever you say the cue word. It's a really cute trick, especially when company comes over and your dog "visits" them.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Is the Martingale Collar Right for Your Dog?

The Martingale collar has been used for sight dogs like the greyhound and whippet for years. Their thin, long necks and heads cause traditional snap collars to slip right over the ears and off the head. This is where the Martingale collar comes in. It is the perfect collar for sight dogs or any dog that slips out of his collar.

Advantages of the Martingale Collar: 

  • The loop design of the dog collar prevents it from slipping off the dog's head.
  • The collar is much safer, preventing the dog from escaping and endangering himself.
  • The collar is dog friendly and more humane. When the collar is connected to a leash, it closes around the actual diameter of the dog's neck. In this way, the closing of the collar does not restrict the dog's throat like a traditional choke chain, or pinch collar.
  • The Martingale collar is perfect for any sighthounds and many sporting and working breeds like: Vizlas, Borzoi, Collies, Australian Shepherds, Greyhounds, Whippets, Boxers, and Pharaoh hounds, to name a few.
  • Most dogs respond to the Martingale better than with a choke collar. It never produces a choke hold on the dog, but gently tightens to fit the dog's neck. There is no pain or constriction of any kind to the dog if fitted properly.
  • The collar remains in position on the dog's neck much better than a traditional flat collar. Because of this position, most dogs will not pull and tug in front of the owner. It is a much better collar for loose leash walking and training.
  • A struggling dog cannot back out of this collar. If the dog is frightened by traffic or loud noises, trying to rear away from the frightening source, he cannot pull out of the Martingale.

All of these facts are good reasons to try the Martingale collar with your dog. The collar is very effective when fitted according to manufacturer's specifications. The basic fitting method is to tighten correctly. When the smaller loop is pulled, the two outer parts of the collar should join in the middle, fitting comfortably on the dog's neck.

The Martingale collars are available in a variety of sizes, colors, patterns and materials. They are sometimes hard to find in pet stores because most people buy traditional flat collars or chains. You could request your local pet store to order one, but it is probably easier to order one online. Most sites will tell you how to measure your dog's neck and each Martingale is adjustable to fit a variety of sizes.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How Often Should I Give My Dog a Bath?

Credit: Mikumistock
In days gone by, dog shampoos were very harsh. They stripped the dog's coat of essential oils and dried out the dog's skin. Current dog grooming products are much milder and actually enhance the dog's skin and coat. Using a gentle dog wash allows pet owners to bathe their dog more frequently, even once every week and is actually beneficial to the dog's health.

Following a few simple dog-grooming steps will keep your dog clean and well groomed, putting a spring in his step and a smile on his face.

Always brush your dog before applying water or dog shampoo to prevent tangles and mats in the dog's fur. Thorough brushing also removes dead fur, flaking skin, and any sticks, leaves, or burrs that your dog might have picked up outside. If necessary, cut out any mats, especially under the dog's belly and behind the ears.

Apply vegetable oil or mineral oil to any sap, paint, gum, or other sticky substances that are stuck in the dog's fur 24 hours before bathing your dog. This will help wash it off more readily.

Choose a gentle dog shampoo with added skin conditioners and detanglers. Today's pet shampoos actually heal skin allergies, eliminate germs and bacteria, and repel fleas, ticks and biting insects. Tear free dog wash is also available at pet stores and makes your dog bath more enjoyable for both of you. If the dog likes the bath, she won't be afraid to get into the tub on the next bath day.

Gather up all the dog bathing supplies before putting your dog into the tub. Have towels, cotton balls, shampoo, a brush if you're using one, and a cup for rinsing, then you’re all set to go.
Fill the tub with warm water and put cotton balls into the dog's ears to prevent water from running into his ear canal. Now it's time to put the dog into the tub. Gently lift him into the tub if he won't jump in on his own. Talk in soothing tones to your dog to keep him calm and wet the dog's coat thoroughly with warm water. Make sure the water reaches all the way to the skin for a complete washing.

Apply dog soap to the fur and scrub until a lather forms. Wash the dog starting from the back to the front to prevent your dog from shaking too much, saving you from getting a shower, as well. A dog usually only shakes when her head and ears get wet.

After shampooing your dog’s whole body, rinse the coat with clean water. Be sure to rinse all the way to the dog's skin, removing all traces of dog shampoo. Any dog soap left in the coat dries and causes itchy, flaking skin.

Squeeze out any excess water by running your hand firmly along your dog's body. Cover him with a towel and gently pat dry. Avoid rubbing the dog's fur too much or mats and tangles will form. Use a hair dryer on low heat to completely dry your dog, if she isn't afraid of it. It is fine to let the dog's fur air dry. Take her for a walk if it's warm outside to help the fur dry quicker.

Source: American Kennel Club, New Puppy Handbook, 2009.