Dog Training

How to help my dog with separation anxiety

Dogs are social animals. They have been naturally bred and designed to be this way. They naturally need to be other members. The most important member for a dog is it’s human. Therefore your dog is very attached to you. To separate your dog from you, is the worse situation for your dog. It feels like a punishment to your dog. They feel that they have done something wrong and you are punishing them by separating them from you and leaving it alone.

Dogs come from wolves which are their very far ancestors. There are some residues left from the pack mentality of the wolf in your dog. Pack mentality means safety and assurance for wolves. Without the pack they can’t survive and they may end up dead.

So, therefore, your dog feels the same feelings when you leave it alone or leave it behind. The ancestral instincts kick in and they react. Many dogs when left alone will chew on the walls or doors to get out of the enviroment to find their pack members so they won’t end up dead. It’s literally matter of life and death for them.

So, when it comes to your dog, you need to understand that it is not a wolf but it has some of the traces of the wolf left in it. It is a dog and it is different than a wolf and human. It is something that it is unnatural to be left home alone.

The good news is that you can teach your dog to tolerate it. Which means you need to train it. It will take some time but it is possible to teach it to your dog. You have to start by training you or dog the basic commands to at least intermediate level, and then teach the “wait” command meanwhile. This is an important command to teach to your dog when it comes to leaving your dog longer than  minutes and up to hours, if you have to leave your dog home alone.

In general, I don’t recommend leaving your dog home alone but if you need and if you will, try to teach it and don’t leave your dog more than hours by itself or confined in an area that is not able to go out and do it’s natural business.

You can watch the following videos, to learn more about this topic and also learn how to train your dog the wait command.

 

Basic Obedience Training Your dog at home


Many dog owners need to start training their dog the basic obedience soon. I believe the basic obedience dog training needs to be offered to the pubic for free and it should be available to all at anytime. The basics are what will not only help you develop a basic communication skills with your dog but it will save your dog. Because your dog will have a forever home and you don’t have to get rid of your dog and drop it off at the shelter.

So, here is what you need to do. Watch each of the following video, learn and practice each command with your dog for 2 to 3 weeks and then move to the next command. Try to dedicate 15 to 20 minutes a day to spend teaching and practicing it with your dog. First, make sure to watch the video, learn and understand what you need to do and then practice it with your dog.

Lesson # 1: Sit Command


Lesson #2: Stay Command

Lesson #3: Recall / Come Command

lesson #4: Down command


Lesson #5: Heel command

How to stop my dog behave badly

There are many ways of stopping your dog’s bad behaviour(s). You can use tools like shock collars and there are ways to use force to stop your dog. But also there are ways of using common sense and knowledge. I suggest you to use reasoning and use knowledge when it comes to helping your dog to stop a certain behaviour.

In order to fix your dog’s bad or unwanted behaviour, you need to know what and why that behaviour is developed in your dog in the first place. You need to understand and accept that many dog owners help and cause the dog to develop some of the unwanted behaviours without knowing or acknowledging it.

The main reason why your dog is misbehaving is because, your dog is stressed and anxious. Now, why is it that your dog is stressed and anxious? There are few reasons that cause your dog to misbehave but I will focus on 4 parts of the cause.

First is, lack of information in your dog. Your dog is clueless in some of the things that you may think they should know. They know things that you are clueless in a way as well. They can detect or smell or even sense things that we humans have no idea they exist or are going to happen and yet they know it way before us. They are capable of detecting humans getting even cancer even before we know it. So, they are amazing in many ways but it doesn’t mean that they know everything especially when it comes to living with humans. Us, humans have a hard time living with humans. we’ve created boarders, countries, languages to make it even more difficult for us, to live with, imagine what dogs have to go through to understand how to live with humans. So, they lack the information that humans lack to provide for them. What they are supposed to do and what not to do. You need to provide them for your dog.

Second, is dogs living with humans. The fact that dogs are living with humans is stressful.  Also, because, dogs live differently than humans do and they look different as well, it is stressful and confusing for dogs. So, they get stressed. They need you to teach them how they can live with you.

Third, is the lack of training. training a dog helps you to develop a communication system between you and your dog. Without it, you can teach your dog or give information to your dog. Training a dog helps them to be confident and more relaxed. Lack of training, can cause dogs to develop stress related behaviours. So, you need to at least start training your dog, the basics.

The fourth reason is, dog owner’s lack of knowledge. Dog owners need to be more educated and knowledgeable about dogs in order to have a well behaved dog.  Not many dog owners take the time to learn and educate themselves about dog and their own dog. They depend on luck or other things for their dog to start behaving properly. So, you need to educate yourself about dogs as much as you can so, you can provide information to your dog.

The lack of dog owner’s knowledge about dogs, prevents them to begin training their dogs and that causes the dogs to have a harder time living with humans especially without having any information and knowing how to live with humans. So, all these cause your dog to get stressed and have anxiety which helps them to develop behavioural issues.

So, next time don’t blame your dog for behaving badly. Blame yourself.

What it takes for a dog to learn.

You’ve just acquired your new puppy or new dog. How do you go about teaching them all the commands and wanted behaviours that are necessary in order to end up with a well socialized, well behaved and easily controlled dog?

There are basically two types of behaviour, natural behaviour which means preprogrammed in at birth and learned behaviour which means it is acquired as the result of personal experiences in the environment.

Natural behaviour can be manipulated genetically and will depend on your chosen breed of dog and how strong certain traits were in its parents and grandparents.

This is unfortunately where a lot of pet owners get things wrong. They select a breed based on its look rather than on its likely behaviour, drive and breed. Most dogs that end up with behaviour problems are merely displaying normal behaviour for their breed but in an inappropriate environment!

This means the dog may be in the wrong place at the wrong time sometimes. A dog may be placed with a wrong member(s) who it’s not compatible with. The dog may not belong to that family and that family may be ideal for another dog that really needs them.

This scenario, unfortunately, happens too often. I have seen dogs that have high energy level personalities with humans who have low energy level personalities. I have seen families that are super busy with high energy family members and a dog which has a low energy level personality but is forced to live with the active family.

Most dogs are selected for their looks.  A dog, however, should not be selected based on its looks. When a dog is selected for its looks a lot of things go wrong for the dog and its family. Most large breed puppies grow up from their puppy size and become too large for the owners to handle them.

Most dog breeds are capable of learning common, simple tasks in the training process. The difficulty and problems of a dog not responding to their handlers’ requests happen when the dog and the owner are frustrated by each other and lose their connection. This results in the dogs not cooperating with their owners, which in return, translates to the human that their dog is bad. This all happens because the owner lacks the knowledge of understanding a dog’s natural behaviour.

First, select a dog by what size and breed is best required for your family. Then, you select the individual dog among that particular breed. Let’s say you’re looking for a dog. What dog could work for you? Are you a busy person or a kind of person who needs solidarity and a companion? These are tricky questions.

If you are a person who seeks solidarity then you must be a calm person who will need a calm dog. If you are a busy person or have a busy family then you won’t have much time to dedicate to your dog, so you don’t want a high energy dog either. What you need is a calm dog that will not ask for much.

In both these examples, both families need to have a calm energy breed. Unfortunately, that is not what happens in reality. Due to a lack of time, most busy families lean towards getting a high energy breed. with the idea that just weekend exercise will be enough.  The dog is basically allowed to be apart of the family on the weekends only.

The person who seeks solidarity and is a low energy person tends to pick a dog that is high energy and needs tons of exercise because look wise, the breed is ideal for them.

Lack of knowledge can make you select the wrong breed and the wrong dog for you, which can lead to built up negativity in the relationship and with that energy no one can teach or learn.  Don’t choose with your heart. Choose with your mind.

Learned behaviour is what we are more interested in because we can manipulate the learning process so that we end up with a well-trained dog that has learned to display only appropriate behaviours within its environment. To begin the training your dog you will need two basic ingredients:

Knowledge

This is the most important ingredient in the process. Without it you can’t do anything and won’t have a dog that is balanced and willing to work with you.

You need to have the knowledge and you need to empower your dog with this knowledge. The way you gain knowledge is by learning about the dog breed and the animal itself first. What does it take to live with an animal in a house? Is my dog panting because it’s happy or because it’s hot? Then you need to start figuring out how dogs learn and what you need to do to teach your dog.

You need to know that, today, we use obedience training to teach dogs and build a communication line between the dog and human. There are few systems or training methods that are used to train dogs. To learn about the different training systems or methods refer to my previous article here.

Technique

In order for you to have a good dog you need to be able to communicate with your dog and that happens by starting to build a trusting relationship with your dog. Then, you learn how to communicate with your dog using training which covers the emotional and mental part of the training. The physical part of the training is the use of techniques that help deliver the message and the information you are trying to communicate to your dog.

The use of the leash, the hand signals, the body language, the movements and the energy you use are all part of the technical learning process and using them will improve the training in general.

You will need to learn to practice the techniques properly and consistently.

If you follow these simple yet effective steps, you will have the dog you’ve dreamed of. Dogs don’t come pre-loaded with your expectations. You need to load the information manually into your dog. That means YOU need to put in the work and effort, physically and mentally, with your dog to see and get results.

What it takes to get results in dog training?

There are many methods of dog training and each training method uses different tools, gadgets or ideas for training dogs. As a dog owner you have many choices but which one is the best?

You should probably choose the one that makes sense to you and is the simplest and most realistic. In this day and age of many choices and a fast-paced lifestyle, you are most likely looking for a training system that can train your dog and change the unwanted behaviour in a matter of days. There is no such thing. You are dealing with an animal that has smaller brain than you do but has conscious feelings, emotions and abilities.

Owning a dog should serve as a reminder that you need to pause, step away from your busy life, then focus and pay close attention to your dog. Many people get a dog for companionship but they are not utilized for that reason and eventually it’s forgotten why they got the dog in the first place. Dogs can be and should be a life partner, coach and much more than a just a pet.

My personal experience with regards to dog training started many years ago when I attended my first dog training class with Jonah my Beagle. Just like many other dogs and their owners, we were centered out as being the worst students in the class. I hated the experience and the course itself. It was not fun and we didn’t gain or learn anything.

I was fortunate to be off work for the first few months of Jonah’s puppyhood. I realized that he was learning more the longer I spent time with him. I was able to develop a deeper connection with him. I realized that he was smarter than I first gave him credit for. The off-time allowed me to learn many things from Jonah too; as much as he learned from me. Jonah had started to respond to me as a person, rather than to just treats. As a Beagle it was odd that he was not interested in food so using treats as a training tool wasn’t working with him.

I started to experiment with some of my new ideas, at the same time, educating myself. I came upon Cesar Millan and a few other popular and non-popular dog trainers in my research. What all of them had in common was that the end result of dog training was to create a dog that would listen to commands – like a robot. They all ignored the fact that you need to have a connection with the dog in order to see more positive results.

I strongly believe that training builds a language between dog and owners which allows them both to communicate and connect with one another. I began to wonder if there was a training system out there that was more in line with my thought process at the time. I couldn’t find any so I developed one of my own.

In order for any training method to work, it’s important to understand that it requires you to invest a lot of time towards it. I am not saying that you need to take time off from your work. Just think of it this way. You never learn anything in a matter of seconds. One of my challenges as a dog trainer is always having a difficult time asking a dog owner to perform a new idea, technique or a move.  Whether it is a repetitive move or a new technique, it always becomes a challenge. Not because dog owners are not intelligent but because learning something new for most people takes a long time and requires repetition. I have to (repetitively) correct dog owners for weeks and yet I rarely see results. So, you can’t expect your dog to learn in a day or two either. It takes months of repetitive teaching for a dog to learn a new trick or behaviour in order for it to become the norm regardless of what training method you use.

There are several popular methods of training. Most claim to be positive reinforcement training. The most popular one is treat training. Then there are also clicker/treat training, or using tools like shock collars or choke chains, force/dominance-based training, lifestyle training, etc.

So, to answer the complicated question of which dog training method is the best, I will use a metaphor. Choosing which dog training method is the best is like asking what diet is the best for your dog.

Food has many benefits and it is a necessity for survival just as proper dog training is a necessity for a dog to survive in human society. There are many types of food that you can choose for your dog; kibble, home cooked food, raw food, dehydrated food, vegetarian food.

Now which food is the best food for your dog? It depends on each individual and what they think is the most important. Some people aren’t really concerned about what foods their dogs eat as long as it satisfies their hunger, so they feed their dogs kibble. Other people are health conscious and only want to feed their dogs what is important for good health.

After much research, I realized that kibble is not a healthy or suitable diet for dogs. Firstly, it is full of ingredients that are not ideal or nutritional for dogs. Secondly, kibble is full of chemicals and unnatural ingredients. Thirdly, it is processed food. I began paying attention to what I was putting into my dog’s body. I started educating myself about ingredients and what happens when each ingredient is ingested. I quickly decided I will never feed my dogs kibble. It is a fast food form of diet. Quick to serve with no nutritional values and the fulfillment does not last long.

With other forms of dog diets like raw or home cooked, it takes more time to prepare and feed the dog but the long lasting effects on the dog’s overall health is extremely beneficial.

I didn’t take a nutritional course but there are many legitimate resources on the Internet. I don’t suggest training your dog using on-line information but read up on it just to educate yourself.

Dog training must be addressed the same way and be considered just as important as a good diet for your dog. You need to accept and commit to the idea of training your dog. It has to matter to you. You shouldn’t do it because someone told you to but rather because you understand the importance of it. Training should be part of the regular process of owning a dog and it has to continue throughout the whole lifetime of the dog. I also suggest educating yourself. You don’t need to go to university but you should learn the basics of dog psychology and how dogs learn and then, ultimately, how you can best and most effectively teach them.

Once you accept the importance of dog training, you need to physically do it. You need to invest a lot of time and effort into practicing the training.

I will share two training facts with you that you might not know or perhaps you have not realized. Here is simple fact number one about dog training regardless of the training method you select. Dogs want to please their owners. Therefore they will do anything to satisfy them and always want to do the right thing. Now that you know this fact, I am sure it will make it so much easier for you to approach the idea of dog training.

Fact number two. Since you now know the previous fact, what tools do you think you would need to train your dog effectively? Here are some clues; it is not an object, it is free, it is available at all times and you never run out of it. The answer is, “YOU”. All your dog needs is “YOU”. Being there, putting a lot of time and effort into teaching and training him.

Once you know and understand those two simple facts, you will not need any of the following to train your dog. Treats, shock collars, clickers, choke chain collars, spray bottles, sticks, kicking, hissing, poking, etc.

Using yourself is the simplest and healthiest way to train your dog and using anything but, you can complicate the process of training and the relationship with your dog. I am not saying that using treats, clickers, and shock collars with dogs does not help to train them, but they are not necessary. All you have to do is acquire the knowledge and the techniques to effectively do the training.

Just like your dog’s diet, once you know the damage kibble can do to their bodies and their health, you will never consider feeding them kibble again. So the same applies to dog training. Once you know how dogs learn and what they best respond to, you will never think about using other training tools even though they may work. So invest the time and make a concerted effort to teach and train your dog. It’s simple, inexpensive and the most effective method.

I have taught my dog training system to hundreds of dog owners without the use of treats and gadgets. It is called the play, praise and reward training system and I use you, the dog owner, as your dog’s reward, as your dog’s motivation, as your dog’s mentor. I also teach you to consider and realize that your dog is a valued family member.

High energy, hyperactive dogs

I see many dog owners who are concerned about their dog’s high energy level. Some dogs seem to have lots of energy, but is it high energy or bad habits?

Some dog owners feel that their puppy or their adult dog is high energy and it needs a lot of exercise to drain them out. Most dogs, especially younger dogs are born with healthy, low to medium level of energy. That is the normal energy level that most dog owners are posed but for them it feels unusually high or uncontrollable. Dog owners need to learn and understand that they just need to redirect that healthy and normal energy level to healthier forms of practices.

The fact is what happens following the dog begins living with the human, is what causes the dog to develop hyper activeness. The dynamics that the human offers to the dog will result in developing a hyper dog or even a calm dog.

Understanding that dogs do not have high energy but healthy, happy energy is very important. When dog owners assume their dog is high energy, they automatically associate it with a human who has been on a high caffeinated power drink. So, the dog owners implement the same with the dog. Exercise the dog till the dog has no energy left to physically move anymore.

Most dog owners that I have talked to say something like this; “my dog has so much energy that I need to exercise it till it gets tired, otherwise it won’t leave me alone”. “It keeps bothering me”. “You have no idea how it feels to live with a dog like that”. “You don’t understand because you don’t live with my dog. It is frustrating”.

The reality is that I understand what exactly is going on. What I don’t agree with is why is that a dog owner needs to exercise the dog to the point that it can’t physically move anymore? What is the point of having a dog then? Don’t they want the dog to accompany them in their lives? Isn’t the dog a part of their family and their lives? Why does the dog need to be tired at all the times in order to behave?

Here is a simple question. If a dog is high energy, do you think you need to add more high energy activity? Just think about it for few seconds before you answer it. I’d say yes, if that is what you want which is a high energy dog. But, if you are looking to reduce your dog’s high energy, then you need to provide low energy activities that help your dog to calm down.

If a dog is in high energy state of mind, it means the dog is not very familiar with low energy state of mind and it is not practicing it too often. You need to teach the dog how to reach the new, calm, low energy state of mind.

If your dog is high energy and you add even more high energy activities, it will be as you will be adding more fuel to the fire. You will just get a bigger fire or even more hyper dog.

High energy activities do not help with reducing your dog’s high energy level. They just help to create a fitter, stronger dog and if you happen to have a misbehaving dog, you are going to amplify a bad behaving, fit dog.

One thing that you need to understand is that hyper dogs are not born, they are made. If a dog has no structure in its life, if its five daily essential needs have not been met and its life has not been controlled and guided by its human, obviously it will be behaving differently or sometimes badly. This is the perfect storm for a dog to develop even more bad behaviours including hyper activeness.

High level and long periods of activities like jogging with humans or even walking a dog for long periods (90 minutes to 2 or 3 hours) continuously, playing fetch or “Chuckit” for 30 minutes, attaching your dog to a bike and making it run for a long period of time are some of the activities that I have noticed dog owners use to drain their dogs energy or exercise them.

These activities are not ideal forms of activities if you have a dog that is high energy or hyper. Activities like these will cause long term mental damage such as stress related health issues including cancer and physical damage especially with puppies and large breeds which are growing up.

When most (low or medium energy level) dogs start to especially live with high energy or high activity families, they start to become hyper. Therefore most dog owners knowingly or unknowingly think that their dog needs large amount of exercise. So, they start over-exercising their dog. Now, the dog is being trained and begins to learn in living in high energy state of mind regularly. This is when dogs start practicing bad habits and develop bad behaviours related to hyper activeness.

Most dogs are being over exercised or are involved with high energy activities. Over the past 10 years of my experience working with dog owners, I have realized the most common reason dogs have developed bad behaviours, is related to dogs being over exercised. Not so much with dogs that have low or under-exercised.

To address this issue you need to understand that dogs in general are not naturally high active animals. Just imagine in the wild, animals do not run around like maniacs or go for walks all the times. They don’t advertise their beings to other animals or predators with high level activities. Their lifestyles are very different. They don’t even play with toys. There are no balls, “Chuckit” toy or even squeaky toys that make noise and drive themselves crazy or makes other animals be aware of their presence. Activities and behaviours like these will attract predators. Instead they try to survive and stay alive by being calm and quiet. If they move too fast or run around they will catch the attention of the predators which is not wise. They will be attracting and advertising to be hunted. Animals naturally practice calmness.

But when a dog comes to human lifestyle, the rules of nature are thrown away. Dog owners do everything the opposite of what nature has integrated in them. One of them involves with their dog’s activity or the exercise level. They are mostly exposed in high activities and busy, hyper families that are not relaxed and do not practice calmness.

You need to learn from your dog and listen to their message that they are trying to send while living with you. They are saying to take it easy, calm down and relax.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against exercising or working out. An unbalanced dog does not benefit from physical activities or high energy exercises. They will benefit from the following formula:

70% mental activities (like training, puzzles, games…) +

30% physical activities (like walking, playing with other dogs, obedience training…)

= Healthy, happy balanced dog

Your dog or any dog will mostly benefit from mental activities rather than physical. Dogs with behavioural issues and emotional issues will benefit more from mental exercises which help them to relax. Don’t force your dog to do what it is not comfortable with. Now, ask yourself, will my dog benefit from mental activities or physical?

Do we need to use tools like shock collars, clickers or even treats, force or domination to train dogs?

The question that I always struggle to explain to dog owners is the following:

Do we need to use tools like shock collars, clickers or even treats, force or domination to train dogs?

The simple answer is NO. Dogs are intelligent animals and it is not necessary to use tools to train them or to modify their behaviours. The best things that you will need to use to train a dog is TIME & KNOWLEDGE.

Most dogs can learn the basic dog training lessons quickly and easily without using anything. What I mean is for instance, the basics of obedience commands can be taught to a dog very easily. There is no need to involve tools or even treats. I have talked about why I don’t suggest using tools or treats to train dogs in this article before.

The first ingredient for successful dog training is time.

What you need to do is to spend some focused quality time with your dog to build a healthy relationship to start modifying your dog’s behaviour. All the tools and gadgets are just quick fixes and are for those who want things to be done yesterday. They don’t produce solid results and meaningful relationship.

To own a dog and live with a dog one requires a lifetime commitment to the dog. It means you are investing in quality focused time to be spent with your dog which eventually will develop to a loving and caring relationship. Once you build a healthy relationship with your dog and have taken the right steps of training the basics, I would guarantee you that you won’t need anything but yourself to change or modify your dog’s behaviour and help your dog to get trained furthermore.

Taking the time to build a healthier relationship with a dog will solve most of the bad behaviours. That time could be six weeks or six months or even a year and the reality may be that it may take even longer but every quality moment spent with your dog is a step forward.

Time will heal all the problems where tools, gadgets, force and even treats will cause confusion, lack of trust, stress and damage to the relationship that you are working hard to build and nurture. Don’t rush. Take one step at a time. One day at a time.

What is quality time?

Quality time is not just that the dog lives with human, although it does help but that’s not all. For the time to be considered as quality time, dogs need to be healthy and in a positive, happy mindset. If not, the dog will be stressed and unhappy. For the dog to be healthy and happy, you need to fulfill your dog’s needs.

Having your dog on your lap at all times does not mean quality time. All it means is more time spent with a dog with the power of affection only and not the power of knowledge. What you need to focus on is satisfying your dog’s needs.

Why do you need to satisfy the dog’s needs?

Dogs have needs and because dogs don’t make the choice to live with humans, they are not capable of satisfying their own needs that they desperately need. Humans make the choice of selecting the dog and bringing it to their homes. The dog does not have any ability to make choices other than what the human is choosing for the dog.

Dogs have needs that have to be provided throughout their lives. I call them the “five essential daily needs”. These essentials need to be provided on a daily basis in the following order; exercise, training, socialization, care and affection.

Care and affection are the parts that most dog owners focus on and provide the best for their dogs. But dog owners need to focus on the other three essentials as well.

The second ingredient for success in dog training is knowledge.

For your dog to behave properly and for you to avoid using or depending on tools, you need to provide your dog’s five essential needs.

What that means is you need to educate yourself about your dog. You need to know what to do, why you are doing things that you do and you need to make yourself become an educated dog lover.

Dog training is not the only answer for addressing your dog’s bad behaviours. You need to provide proper amount of exercise, socialization, care and know how and when to use affection. You need to learn how to communicate to your dog and address its unwanted behaviours.

Taking a six-week dog training course is not the solution. It’s a great start for training your dog but it is not the answer. I have learned and realized this after years of working with dog owners. Dog owners have done the same things for years and have failed at dealing with their dog’s issues.