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What Your Dog Wants

This is another article  Sasha’s vet shared with me that I thought I would pass on.  I have spent several hours on the website that the article came from.  Some very interesting reads:

We love our dogs. To show it, we write magazines and books about them, buy them designer collars and clothes, and feed them diets more nutritious than what we ourselves ate in college. Our dogs go on vacation with us, visit doggie daycares, get massages, go on dates. They get birthday presents, and haircuts more expensive than our own. Some even get their own trust funds. Yes, we definitely love them.

But what do they really want?

Besides steak and bottomless cookie jars and slow cats and bellies full of grass, they probably have a much more doggish list of things that truly make them happy, secure, and fulfilled. But what exactly would those be?

They can’t actually make a list, so we’ll need to do it for them as best we can. It’s a wish list based not upon what makes us happy, but upon what they need as canines living in a human world. Let’s take them one at a time:

Good Health
This one’s a no-brainer; every dog deserves to be kept in top physical condition. You can start by feeding her the best quality food you can, in the right amounts, with special focus on her age, energy levels, and potential allergic reactions. Deciding on the right food can be made easier by the second key factor in maintaining your dog’s health—namely, your veterinarian. In addition to giving vaccinations, your veterinarian will keep tabs on your pet’s overall health, recommend food options, and diagnose potential issues such as allergies, joint problems, disease, and even behavioural problems. Accordingly, be sure to take your dog into the vet at least once a year.

The other key ingredient in maintaining your dog’s good health is exercise. Sedentary dogs gain weight, which in turn affects joint health, and can incite early-onset diabetes. A lack of exercise also creates boredom and pent-up stress, leading to a host of behaviour issues. Avoid this by walking your dog, playing fetch with her, taking her to the dog park—whatever the two of you enjoy doing together.

Guidance
With the minds of two-year-old humans and the physical prowess of Olympic athletes, dogs need direction from us, their elders, to learn focus, control, and etiquette. Without it, they can become insecure holy terrors, without muse or cause. Whether you call it leadership, mentoring, management, or guidance, it’s essential to Fido’s happiness.

A dog who knows the rules will be more at ease than one forced to run the show for lack of human guidance. Truth is, though they aren’t capable of running things in our world, we often put dogs in that position by forgetting that, like kids, they crave boundaries. To that end, be sure to train Fido from day one. Teach rules, manners, and consequences; be consistent, build routine, and praise to the hilt when he minds. The reward will be a sentient, well-behaved, cheerful pet with calm focus, instead of an unreliable and reactive pain in the neck.

The Right Kind of Socialization
Dogs need to interact to feel fulfilled, and to learn basic social mores. But their sociability is not unlimited; in fact, most dogs are somewhat tribal in nature, preferring to mingle with those they know, or with those who pose no discernible threat. It’s why so many reasonably social dogs don’t fare well in big doggie daycares, or at busy dog parks. Dropped into a seemingly chaotic situation filled with strange dogs and people, many dogs can short circuit, stress out, or even act aggressively.

Isolating a dog is just as detrimental. Keeping Molly at home 24/7, without exposure to other persons or pets, can create an antisocial misfit who, when confronted by a visitor to the home or a strange dog on the street, might erupt in fearful fury. This scenario occurs often; we lead busy lives, and sometimes fall into routines that don’t allow for getting the dog out often enough. And when a dog begins to become antisocial, her owner often tends to cloister her away even more, in an attempt to avoid the conflict. This compounds the problem.

Try to get your dog out on a regular basis. Take her for a daily walk, and a weekly trip in the car. Visit the dog park on days that aren’t too chaotic. Trade dogs with a good friend once a week. Don’t force your dog to socialize, but allow her a significant amount of contact with friendly, focused dogs, and with people who understand how to interact calmly and confidently. Always praise and reward for civil interaction. Avoid subjecting your dog to frenetic children, or to unpredictable, chaotic environments. Take into consideration your dog’s personality, too; if she is a gregarious, happy girl capable of mixing it up, then have at it. But if she is a worry wart, consider limiting social time to those few friends she feels comfortable with.

Enrichment
Dogs need to problem solve, investigate and evaluate, and apply their senses, brains, and muscles to some end, to feel that they have purpose. Without these things, they overflow with energy and desire, and eventually burst like a bubble, in the form of misbehaviour. To avoid this, enrich Fido’s life by providing him with stimulating toys, environments, events, and conditions. When he’s left alone, supply him with safe chew toys, and perhaps a treat-stuffed rubber ball. Hide small treats about the home for him to find. Leave the radio on a talk radio station.

To test your dog’s problem solving skills, place an uncooked chicken egg in his dish and watch what happens (limit this to a cleanable area). Leave a scent trail for him to follow by sprinkling a tiny line of allspice or bouillon powder, leading to a hidden treat or toy. Or, simply leave a few pigeon feathers about. Whatever might get your dog

While with your dog, enrich his day by trick training or vocabulary building. Teach him to retrieve specific objects, or play flyball. Attend an agility class. Any experience that inspires him to think, act, and focus will enrich his life, and make for a smarter, better-behaved pet.

Solidarity
Dogs need to feel part of a cohesive, functional team, one with a territory, a mission, a character. Whatever you call it—pack, family, team, or gang—it’s a part of their mindset, and you need to honour it.

As team manager, you should evoke a sense of solidarity, or team spirit. Do so the way a dog would: protect and care for her, participate in group activities with her and other dogs, exude confidence and control, and be a good muse. Dogs who see their owners happily interacting with others will model that behaviour and attitude. If you have multiple dogs, take them all (and other humans, too) out for a group walk of the neighbourhood, to induce that sense of tribal pride. Or, just get down on the floor with them and have a frolicking romp of it.

Earned Praise
If you praise a dog for a behaviour, he will logically repeat the behaviour. But if you randomly give gratis praise, the dog ends up training you instead. For instance, if your dog shoves his head into your lap and you pet him, he’s basically training you to pet him. This role reversal can become problematic, and contribute to increasingly pushy behaviour.

Instead, give your dog what his pragmatic mind prefers: the opportunity to earn praise. Make him sit for a treat instead of just giving it to him. Have him come to you for a pet on the head. This quid pro quo attitude will condition him to respond faster and with more zeal.

Also, avoid consoling your dog during times of fear, as consolation is interpreted by the dog as praise. If he gets scared of thunder and you comfort him, he will interpret this as reward for the behaviour, reinforcing the fearful conduct. That’s how dogs think.

Calmness and Consistency
Your dog doesn’t want you to be an emotional roller coaster. If you are enervated and joyous one day and morose and grumpy the next, you’ll confuse and worry her. She would rather you be a master of calm, as this projects normalcy and safety. So, avoid both ends of the emotional spectrum; no over-the-top, frenetic, schmaltzy outbursts, or gloomy, oppressive, threatening attitudes. Be what your dog needs, a calm, cool inspiration. Also, try to be consistent regarding not only attitude, but consequence; if one day you yell at her for jumping up, but the next praise her for it, you’ll drive her batty. Sticking to the rules and being consistent is what she wants.

By all means, give your dogs gobs of love and attention. But remember that they are problem-solving team players who need more than affection and cookies to prosper. By mentoring them and attending to their dog wants, you’ll get a happier, better behaved dog in return. And you’ll learn a thing or two in the process.

 

This article came from the website http://www.moderndogmagazine.com/

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Weekly Trick – Multitude of Cat Tricks

There are many tricks you can teach your cat if you have good treats and lots of patience.  Try to teach tricks around meal times and give your cat treats, this might be the incentive they need to learn how to shake hands, or wave or sit, just like our furry dog friends.

Using a clicker for training purposes can work with a cat as well.  Taking the time to learn how to use it with your cat can help in the long run and make learning tricks easier.

Here is a page with tricks for your cat to learn.

 

There are several videos showing tricks that cats have learned and how well they perform them.  Know that these cats probably took a long time to learn these with a lot of patience and work from their pet parents.

Kizzy the Bengal cat.  I love this video, it shows just what cats are capable of.  Such a smart kitty!

Kaiser another Bengal cat.  The tricks are amazing, such smart kitties and it’s fun to watch how proud they look after doing tricks.

Athena the Main Coon doing tricks.  Such a sweet looking cat.

If you watch the videos, you will see the way that the pet parents have taught their cats the tricks.  Just use them as a guide to teach your own tricks.  It’s never the same way to teach them and use whatever will work for your cat!

 

Weekly Trick – Bowing

Here is a great trick to teach your dog – how to bow.

It may be a good idea to teach this trick (and many other tricks) in stages.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming for dogs to learn tricks all at once and teaching them in stages can help them to learn and retain the trick.

As always, patience is needed, treats in moderation, and short training intervals.  Have fun and enjoy bonding with your dog!

Here is a video to teach your dog how to bow.  It is not me in the video.

Weekly Trick – Run A Course

There isn’t a video this week for this trick, rather, there are step by step instructions on how to get your dog primed for running a course, agility training, and learning how far to push your dog and when to draw back and allow them to guide the course.

At any rate, here is the article.  It will take time for your dog to get used to this, so please have patience and time, and many healthy treats.  Lots of praise and love will go a long way in order to get your dog to do what you want him/her to do.

Have fun, enjoy the time you get to train and bond with your dog.

Weekly Trick – Teach Your Dog To Ring A Bell

This trick is especially helpful to teach your dog when they want to go outside.  Have a bell on a string by your door, and when your dog wants to go out to do their business, they can ring the bell and you can let them outside.

 

Your dog first needs to learn “touch”.  If you put your hand out in front of your dog, they will (usually) instinctively touch your hand.

Keep sticking your hand out in front of you and every time your dog touches your hand, give them a treat.  After they have that down pat, use the word “touch” as you stick your hand out.

Next, stick out different objects for your dog to touch, every time they touch it, give them a treat and praise them.

Now, bring out the bell and say “touch”.  Your dog should now associate the word with the action.  Give your dog a treat.  The next time, the bell should make noise when your dog touches it.  If you want them to really ring the bell loudly, say “touch, touch touch” or just say it in a more forceful, louder voice.  The bell should be rung louder and the trick is learned.

Here is a video of the trick, it is NOT ME in the video.  Remember to be patient and work at the trick at your dog’s pace.  Sometimes dogs pick up tricks immediately, sometimes tricks take days, even weeks to learn.  Take your time and have fun, learning tricks is a great bonding experience!

Weekly Trick – Teaching a CAT to Give a Handshake

In sticking with the cat theme this week, I have a trick to teach all your kitties out there.

In order to make sure that your cat will be willing to have a learning session with you, make sure you try the trick a few hours before mealtime and have their most favorite treat handy.

Hold the treat out in your hand low enough to allow the cat to sniff it, but don’t let them eat any just yet.

Next stick out your other hand (that does not have treats in it) cupped palm upwards, just above eye level for your cat.  Say to your cat “Shake” or “Give Paw”.  Your cat should put his paw in your hand to actively search for the treat.  If they do not, help the cat by putting their paw in your hand and say your word again as you do it.

If the cat puts their paw in your hand, treat them and give tons of praise and petting.

Continue to do this several times until the cat does it at least four or five times.  Then your cat will have learned a great and entertaining trick!  Space out your training sessions, always do them before a meal, and make the training sessions short.  No more than about 4 minutes.

Here is a sweet video showing the trick in action.  It is NOT ME in the video.  Have fun, be patient and give your kitty lots of praise, your cat will get there and learn this trick if you give them lots of love and attention.

Weekly Trick – Crawl

This trick is great for beginners, both beginner dogs just learning tricks, and beginner humans teaching their dog a trick.

 

It is very simple.  Make sure that your dog knows the “down” command.  Some dogs don’t go into the down position easily, so your dog should know the command “sit” as well.

You should crouch down next to your dog with a treat.  Have a command word ready so that they can learn this trick, whether it’s “crawl” or “wiggle” or what have you.

Now wave the treat back and forth in front of the dog’s face slowly so that they can see it.  At the same time start moving backwards so that the dog has to come to you to get the treat.  Most of the time your dog will try to get up and walk over to the treat, but you want them to crawl, so use your command word to keep them crawling.  If the dog makes any movement, give them a treat and praise them profusely.

Keep on doing this for short intervals, until your dog starts to move forward on his/her stomach, thus crawling towards the treat.  Make sure to give a lot of praise.

Once your dog gets this trick, you can start to stand up and do the trick while you are standing up.  In order to perform the trick standing up, your dog should be able to do the trick easily, moving several feet at a time.  That’s it!

Here is a video of the trick in action.  It is NOT ME in the video.

 

Housetraining a PUPPY

So you decided to add a puppy to your forever family?  Great!  Is he/she potty trained/housebroken?  No?  Well now is the time to teach them proper potty methods.

First and foremost, you will need to be CONSISTENT and PATIENT.  Puppy’s do their business wherever because that is what they do, it’s not something that they know that there is a place to do their business until YOU teach them where you want their business done.

Never ever slap, hit, or rub the puppy’s nose in his business if he goes inside.  There will be mistakes, as it is a huge learning process for any puppy.  In using physical punishment, you are teaching your puppy to be fearful of doing their business in front of you or doing their business at all.  That is not what you are trying to accomplish.

First make sure to choose a spot outside that you want your puppy to use, kind of like having their own toilet.

Have a command word ready when you want them to finish up, something like “Go Potty” or “Hurry up”.

Know that a puppy should be taken outside about six times a day to do their business.  They should be taken outside about 15 minutes after they finish eating.  Puppies do not need to be free fed, they need to have a schedule and you need to be consistent with that schedule.  Talk to your vet about a good feeding schedule and how much to feed.

Always praise profusely when your puppy goes outside.  Also, a puppy cannot physically hold its waste until morning, so you will have to take your puppy outside at least once a night so that they can eliminate.

If you are unable to commit to a schedule like this, perhaps a puppy is not the first choice of a pet.

Dogs are able to handle a different schedule and do not require being let out as often.

There is a great article here about how to successfully train a puppy and then how to teach them to ring a bell every time they need to go out to do their business.

Good luck, be patient and soon you will have a fully housebroken pup!

Weekly Trick – Back Up

Fairly easy trick, as long as your dog knows the command “down”.

You should also have a tennis ball handy and some treats your dog really loves.

First get your dog into the laying down position, while you are holding the ball and the treat.

Next, walk toward your dog a few steps at a time while saying “back.”  Make sure that your dog starts to move backwards a few steps.

Once your dog takes several steps back (it may look like he’s hopping backwards), give the dog the ball and the treat and make sure to praise your dog for doing such a good job.

Always be patient and keep being consistent in trying.  Your dog may get it right away, or it may take time. Don’t practice this trick for more than ten minutes at a time.

Another point to mention, it would probably be a good idea that your dog knows to bring the ball back to you in exchange for the treat.  Some dogs will take off with the ball and not come back, so that’s a point to think about.

Again, I have a video of the trick in motion.  It is NOT me in the video, but it will give you a better idea of what the trick should look like.

 

Teaching Your Dog NOT To Jump

I’m sure we’ve all been there before – our wonderful little doggies are so excited to see us (or any company that comes over), they will jump up on you and scratch at your leg, beg for attention and jump some more.

This is undesired behavior and needs to be nipped in the bud.  There are several methods to stop this from occurring every time you come home or company pops over for a visit.

Method #1 Ignore 

If your dog is in front of you and they are getting ready to jump, the moment their feet leave the floor, turn your back on them.  Dogs crave attention and crave positive attention and when you are not paying attention to them, they start to figure out that if they do the bad behavior, they won’t get any praise or attention from you.

If the dog continues and starts to paw or scratch at your legs, or runs around in front of you to try to jump again, turn your back on them again.

Keep on doing this until the dog decides he/she is going to do a more desired behavior such as sitting.  Once the dog sits or does another desired behavior, praise them emphatically.

If this causes the dog to jump up and down, repeat turning your back on them until they resume the desired behavior and then praise them again.

Repeat until the dog is doing the behavior that you desire.

 

Method #2 Stop

Not my favorite choice, but it will work for some I suppose.

As your dog is jumping up, hold out your open hand palm facing down and push down on their face/nose and say “DOWN” as you gently push them to the floor/ground.  Dog’s noses are sensitive and will not like the pressure you put on it and if you are consistent and do it every time the dog jumps, it should be successful.

 

Method #3 Sit

Make sure your dog knows the “sit” command.  Whenever your dog goes to jump on you, tell him/her to sit.

If they continue to jump, turn your back on them and ignore them.

If the dog sits down, turn around and praise them highly.  If they start to jump again, repeat saying “sit” and if that does not work, turn your back, until they understand they will not get praise or attention until they sit.

 

Method #4 Leash

Not a favorite method of mine, but it will work for some, I suppose.

Take your dog outside, leashed.

If your dog starts to jump up on you, in a firm voice say “NO” (but not too harshly, the dog will wonder why you are so angry so quickly).

With your dog facing you, put the leash on the ground and step on it, so that the next time the dog jumps, he will only get a few inches off the ground.

If the dog does not jump, make sure to treat them and praise them.

 

As always it is very important to be patient with your dog and not to harm them or hurt them.  Give as much positive attention to them when they do something right.  Have some of their favorite treats handy to moderately treat them when they do something good.