Last week we introduced the Kong toy as a great tool to provide mental exercise. Food- and treat-stuffed Kongs are excellent enrichment! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Photo by Nora Kuby
Dogs who are fed kibble can have the kibble stuffed into a Kong toy which is hung from a tree branch or other sturdy object (have the bigger hole in the Kong facing upward), so that the dog must leap into the air and knock at the Kong to release his meal.
Alternatively, kibble can be mixed with just a spoonful of canned food, yogurt, cottage cheese, or other healthy “wet” food and spooned into the Kong, then the entire Kong can be placed in the freezer. The dog must then work extra hard to remove her frozen meal when the Kong is delivered. Multiple Kong toys can be stuffed with the dog’s meal portions…
In our last blog, we discussed how to deal with dogs who jump up in a friendly manner. Most dogs who jump up on people do so out of excitement or greeting. However, there are also other reasons why dogs may jump, and it’s helpful to be able to discriminate between friendly jumping and these other reasons. Let’s discuss some less common reasons that dogs may jump up on people.
While jumping is generally friendly, some dogs will also jump on people as a way to communicate. The character of this behavior is very different. Communication can have a couple different goals. Sometimes, dogs will jump as a way to communicate their discomfort with your proximity. Other times, dogs will jump up to ask you for help. So, how can you tell the difference between friendly jumping and jumping as communication? It’s all about context.
Why I’m militant when it comes to dogs being on leash in a building
Why I get extremely frustrated (and cry) when an elevator incident happens
Here is a post from Your Dog’s Friend that details how much time and effort we take in management the safety of OTHER dogs in the building in order for us to take the elevator with Knox. We only take the elevator between 7:30am to 7:35am on weekdays; if we’re late, we take the stairs from the 28th floor. In the evenings, we only take the elevators between 6:45pm to 7:00pm to avoid evening dog traffic.
If you have a reactive dog in an apartment building or condo, you are probably anxious every time you take your dog out. You never know what will be around the corner or down the hall, and there’s usually no means of escape. This handout will provide some tips for living in such close quarters with other dogs. Consistent practice will help make these strategies habits, instead of hassles. A few safety measures will also help you feel more confident and less stressed when you are with your dog in public areas of dog-friendly buildings. Read More
In January, we made the decision to join a reactive dog class because we were at our wit’s end with his lunging, barking, and all-round embarrassing behaviour.
As a reactive dog owner, you’ll reach a couple of dire moments of “I just can’t do it.. I want to give up.” Some may reach points of “positive reinforcement isn’t working so I’ll use punitive and aversive methods instead. I saw it on TV/read the books so it must work!”
We can reach training burn-out and when we do, it feels like nothing is working right and everything is horrible.
Again, it’s not a matter of effectiveness; hitting, poking, and pinning your dog will stop a behaviour momentarily but it doesn’t stop the reason why it happened in the first place.
All methods take time to perfect, the patience to be consistent, and the practice to be efficient. If a non-aversive, scientifically tested (and constantly researched!) method can be used with animals of all sizes and species, why opt for the aggressive, outdated and disproven methodology?
The biggest fallout I’ve experienced with Knox using reward-based communication? An excited dog that offers too many good behaviours when I don’t communicate. This is coming from a dog that used to communicate frustration by nipping hands, arms, feet, and your head, or destroying anything close.
It’s true that there’s no one-size-fits-all method with training, which is why understanding the science behind behaviour, learning and modification is so important. It uses a simple model that can adapt to all animals. Pinning, choking, and rolling assumes one thing: respect comes from dominance and you have to fight to get it.
A pediatrician is attempting to examine an infant. He holds the stethescope to the tiny chest but the baby won’t stop squirming. It’s difficult to get an accurate listen. The doctor informs the mother that the baby can’t be allowed to run the show; he needs to show her who’s boss. He slams the baby on her back, places a hand around her neck, and nearly chokes her until she lies still. Does this sound absolutely crazy? Of course it does, because it is. Now replace the words pediatrician with veterinarian and baby with dog. Although the species is different, the dynamic is the same. The difference is that treating dogs this way is all too common.
The story that was partially responsible for inspiring this blog involved a nine-week-old puppy who had been nearly choked by the family vet. Unfortunately, there seens to be an endless supply of similar…
Just like people, dogs have many different levels of tolerance for other dogs. Most puppies and adolescents (up to about 12-18 months for most breeds) will enjoy most of the other dogs they meet. It is normal for adult dogs to be less interested in meeting and playing with new dogs. Just as we no longer play with new friends on the swings at the park, adult dogs may no longer want to meet a new bunch of rowdy dogs at the dog park. Most adult dogs prefer to hang out with other dogs they already know and like.
Below are the common levels of dog tolerance: Dog Social: This is a dog who truly enjoys the company of other dogs. These dogs generally get along with all other dogs and can tolerate even very rude behavior. This group includes most puppies and a small percentage of socially…
Before I start this post, I want to preface it by saying I am now a 100% non aversive trainer and have been for some years now. I can’t remember the last time I shouted at a dog other than my own (which was a long time before I knew any better) and don’t even say “No” any more, rather I may repeat the cue to give the dog another opportunity to respond.
If any of you have read my first post, you will know that I came from a background of traditional dog training. I took my young Dogue de Bordeaux to a sports dog club, where the use of choke chains and prong collars was common place and shock collars were sometimes seen.
I re-blogged a post by the wonderful Nicole Wilde yesterday discussing whether or not some dogs need a heavier approach to training meaning more physically aversive techniques. The answer to that is no, they don’t and I agree wholeheartedly with Nicole’s well educated opinion on the matter. It got me thinking about the term “Red Zone Dog” which has been popularised by Cesar Milan on his show “The Dog Whisperer”
I want you to imagine that you are frightened of something. You have also learned that screaming and shouting and acting like a crazy person generally makes the thing you are scared of go away. You also have no ability to rationalise things. Your screaming usually works either because the scary thing wants nothing to do with your insanity or that the scary thing was going to go on it’s merry way regardless of how you act. Now, lets say the scary thing is getting closer and closer. Having learned that…
Last year, on the drive home from our annual vacation in Bar Harbor, Maine, our 11-year-old Brittany, Vinny suddenly and inexplicable awoke from a sound sleep and began to tremble, pant, pace, and obsessively lick at the sides of his travel crate. When I crawled back over the seat to find out what was wrong, Vinny’s eyes were “squinty” and he avoided looking at me as he continued to lick and pant. Mike immediately pulled over to a rest area and we got Vinny out of the car. As soon as he was on the ground and moving about, Vinny relaxed, looked at us calmly, gave each of us a nice Brittany hug, and off we went for a little walk. Perplexed, we thought that maybe he had to eliminate (nope, no urgency there), was feeling carsick (no signs), or had a bad dream (who knows?). Within less than a minute…