Years ago, when I took my very first dog training class with an excellent dog trainer, Janet Bennet, there was a lady with a small dog and during class she had conversations with her dog rather than plainly telling him, “Sit.” To say that I smiled about this exchange between the two of them would be an understatement, but I know now that that is the worst thing you could do with your dog.
Yes, you should use words to teach your dog commands, but dogs don’t need a story of why you want him to do something. To be effective at communicating with your dog, use your body language, tone of voice, intention, and energy. And if you have a fearful, sensitive, excitable, or shy dog, the least you talk to him, the better for both of you because you will not be frustrated and he will learn at his own pace. So, let’s leave our talking for the trainer you are communicating with about your canine companion and start communicating properly with your dog. Stay safe!
Anxiety in dogs is something that pet parents have a hard time dealing with or recognizing for that matter. These are some of the signs a dog will exhibit when anxious: pacing, drooling, barking, destroying things, nipping, etc. I always recommend for pet parents to have a vet do a physical exam to rule out any medical condition their dog may be experiencing, and once they get a clean bill of health we could start addressing the anxiety in their dogs.
Charlie, a GSD mix, had a lot of anxiety when we got him from the SPCA in Annapolis, MD. By the way, most dogs from shelters are very anxious, it’s rare to find one that is not. Our Charlie went from screaming murder at the top of his lungs any time: we left the room; we exited the car; we went to a new place, etc. How is he doing now? Way better and still working with him, but understand this, your dog’s anxiety will disappear with time if you are consistent with the following:
Walk him! Yes, this gets a lot of that anxiety and pent up energy out of them
Don’t talk too much to your dog. Use your body language, energy and intention instead
Start working with a trainer on basic training and behavior modification
When you are overwhelm, walk away, take a deep breath and work with your dog once you are on a relaxed state of mind. No, you cannot drink wine. Sorry!
The above is just a few of the things you could do to start dealing with your dog’s anxiety. Charlie is super smart, he is a GSD mix after all, but I am still working with him and I have seen amazing results. Don’t despair, be consistent and your dog will one day bring you joy rather than stress. Enjoy your week!
A few pet parents have asked me how do I manage a multi-dog household and this is what I tell them:
Exercise is the #1 ingredient and the most important of all. If your dog is tired, chances that he will have the energy to get in trouble highly decreases. He can run, walk, hike, etc.
Each dog needs to have his own area for eating. If you use a crate, great!
Never leave your dogs loose in the house while you are out running errands
Manners! Dogs have manners so there will be no pushing, pawing, steeping over one another, etc.
Do your best to spend a few minutes with each individual dog
I have Abby and Charlie as my dogs and demo dogs, but I also get my clients’ dogs that stay with us for short and extended times so I make sure that my pack gets along with each other. Now, aside from what I listed above, you, the pet parent, have to practice being a zen person. What is that? A zen person lives peacefully and has a sense of bliss. Yes, this may be the hardest part for most of us to do, but this is good for our dogs, and for us as well. Any questions? Stay safe.
To say that Abby and Charlie were given lots of food, treats, naps, and freedom since November of last year would be an understatement. Let me start from the beginning. Once November came around, my body went into holiday mode so the kids, Abby and Charlie, for the most part did what they wanted. And after 3 months of that, we were about to pull our hair out, and so Cynthia and I decided that they needed to go back to having exercise, structure, a job, etc., in order to keep our sanity.
How are they doing? I’ll tell you in a future post. For now, what I’d like to convey is that whether you are a pet parent, or a pet parent and dog trainer, like me, we all-at one point or another-end up relaxing the rules we should have for our dogs, and as a result they drive us up the wall. Now, rather than feeling frustrated, angry, and discouraged-all these are negative feelings-we could instead look at how we remedy this situation and get to work. So with that in mind, let’s get to work. Stay safe!
Let me start by thanking you all for your wonderful ideas about what to do for Charlie’s birthday. I went along and did what you suggested: long walks this past weekend; extra food and treats; and plenty of rest. He loved it! May the future bring many birthdays for Charlie and lots of food! Stay safe.
Happy New Year! Sorry for the delay. Let’s give you a run down of what we did this past holiday. We ate a lot-as expected-both humans and canines; we slept and took naps; we did walk, and added playtime for Abby and Charlie in order to stay consistent and active; and-wait for it-we realized that we’ve given too much freedom to Charlie so after the holidays-meaning now-Charlie and Abby-will be doing some needed behavior and training. Anyway, that’s a post for another day.
Charlie-more than Abby-certainly took it to heart when we said nap time. Regardless of what you did, I hope that you enjoyed your holiday and your family. What did you do this past holiday? Stay safe and bundle up!
All dogs, just like us people, have quirks and issues, and our Charlie is not the exception. Early on, we figured out that Charlie disliked having his paws handled so we try to handle his paws, gently, every single day. Some pet parents would say to let it be, but if the time comes when I have to get something out of his paw; trim his nails, clean his feet, etc., he would lose it because he is not used to it therefore we’re working on desensitizing him and this is where we are so far:
Wiping his paws every time he goes out for a walk and to do his business. Keep in mind that he goes out at least 6 times a day. When we are about to pick up his paw, we touch it so he knows that we are about to pick it up and he could switch his weight. He is about 71lbs. so he is a big boy. By his body language, he is getting more comfortable when we handle his paws.
Trimming his nails is a huge endeavor that takes two (2) people, yes you read it right, to accomplish. One of us does the trimming while the other one is brushing and massaging him, and making sure that he is not able to see this horrible nail cutter. On this one, we still got a long way to go.
Food is what we are using to help us desensitize Charlie to handling his paw therefore right before we put his dish down we ask him to give us his paw. This way he connects food, something he enjoys and loves, with having his paw handled.
Dogs hate having their paws handled as many of you pet parents know so if you have a Charlie of your own, I would suggest for you to work with an experienced trainer to avoid hurting your dog or yourself. Keep working with your dog and stay safe!
I believe that all pet parents speak dog-some are quite fluent while others are just learning-even if you think otherwise. Once we have lived with a dog for a while, we figure out her likes, dislikes, and quirks. In the above picture, all of them are in the traveling mode. Easy to see and figure out.
Roxie and Charlie (from left to right) wearing a Gentle Leader or Halti.
What do you think about the above picture? Come on, give it a try! They are both alert and relaxed. This is the body language and state of mind that you want to see in your dog. Anyway, dogs do not come with a manual, and even if they did, dogs are individuals so that manual will only get you so far. My advice to you is to enjoy your dog. Celebrate the little victories when you can, and don’t be too hard on her and yourself when she is not at her best behavior. And when you really don’t know what to do with her, hire professional help. Stay safe.
Let me start this post by saying that there is no such thing as a perfect dog. I could see pet parents red with anger, but allow me to explain. Just like humans, dogs are a work in progress, and that’s ok. But I believe that there is such a thing as the perfect dog for you, the pet parent, and that is a completely other post for the future.
I decided to post about Charlie’s progress, but it dawned on me that I should also post about Charlie’s antics. Why? I want pet parents to know that they are not the only ones feeling lost, frustrated, overwhelmed, etc.
This past weekend we took Abby and Charlie to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD for a nice long walk, and well this is where our odyssey started.
During our walk, we introduced Charlie to water, and being the Sheprador that he is he seemed to enjoy it. We continued our walk, and brace yourself, he saw a squirrel, and although he is doing better when seeing squirrels, he lost it. He barked, pulled, whined, etc. In other words, he put a whole Broadway production for us. I had to hold on to that leash for dear life. Then, after a short period of walking nicely, he saw a bird and wanted to go after it, but with less intensity than with the squirrel. We finished our walk, almost an hour long, gave them water, and put them in the car.
Charlie is a little over 2 years old, and there are times when he walks beautifully even if a bird-he ignores birds for the most part-or squirrel show up, and there are other times like our outing this past weekend when he just goes bananas. What I am trying to say is that your dog will drive you nuts and he will certainly keep your life interesting and unpredictable, but take my word for it when I tell you that this too shall pass. One day, your crazy dog will be a well-behaved dog, and you would say to many people, “My Charlie is the perfect dog for me.” Yes, you will! When? It depends on the dog. Our Abby calmed down around 4-5 years old. I’d say Charlie has another 1-2 more years of craziness in him.
Dogs are not perfect, but who would want a perfect dog? It would be boring. Until your dog matures, he will-many times-misbehave and surprise you. You are just going to have to have patience, be consistent, and remember that life is full of surprises, and so is your dog!