By Kathy Diamond Davis
Author and Trainer
Unwanted barking, jumping up on people, pulling on the leash, mouthing and nipping, not coming when called... how many dog owners haven't had to deal with at least a few of these common canine behavior problems? It's never too late to train a dog, or to work on his or her behavior problems. Bad habits can be broken, good habits can be taught, and most importantly, with a little effort and love, you can make sure your dog stays a happy member of your family forever!
Should the training articles available here or elsewhere not be effective, contact your veterinarian. Veterinarians not specializing in behavior can eliminate medical causes of behavior problems. If no medical cause is found, your veterinarian can refer you to a colleague who specializes in behavior or a local behaviorist.
If you need to change a behavior a dog is doing because of genetic heritage, your best chance is to channel that behavior into a similarly satisfying outlet for the dog’s instinctive urge.
People commonly assume their new dogs who come with unknown histories have been victims of abuse. Though a dog’s behavior may seem to point to it, most of these dogs have not been abused. Whether or not abuse has occurred, the assumption can prevent people from giving their dogs the right support for success in a new chance at life.
With one dog in the family, why not add another one? What are the pros and cons? When is
the right time? Will it change the things you love about the dog you have now?
The adolescent dog, like the adolescent—or teenage—human, has an immature brain in a body that’s nearly the size of an adult. The maturing process happening in the dog resembles the human teenager in several ways, and your dog needs similar guidance during this difficult life stage.
Choosing a dog from the shelter for a successful adoption depends on knowing what you need in a dog, and how to determine which dog at the shelter can fit your life.
Adopting an adult dog into your family has the potential for being much smoother than raising a puppy. There can be bumps in the road, or the dog may blend in smoothly right from the first. Having a good plan will help you integrate the new family member in the happiest possible way.
Fear of other dogs is epidemic these days. People also expect their dogs to meet and greet other dogs they encounter on walks. What is this experience from a dog’s point of view? It’s often said that dogs are social animals, the idea being that they are like the type of humans who enjoy social gatherings. This is not true for all dogs.
Does your dog growl, snap, snarl, lunge or otherwise threaten passing dogs or people on walks? Perhaps the dog has had bad experiences that make this behavior understandable. Yet it's embarrassing, and raises concerns the dog will injure a person or dog. How do you manage the dog safely while working on the aggression?
Does the thought of having someone come into your home make you uneasy about your dog’s reaction? Has your dog put on an aggressive display at a worker or guest? Has someone actually been bitten?
One of the more shocking situations of nature taking its course with our companion dogs is when one of them is sick and another apparently takes advantage of the situation to attack or kill the sick one.
We often value protection (aggression) against intruders, and expect our dogs to make judgments beyond their experience, training or innate ability. Since a dog who bites humans may go months between bites, people tend to downplay the significance of aggression. The fear of losing your dog can also contribute to denial and failure to deal with the problem.
Patterned after horse show jumping, agility courses are made up of obstacles the dog and handler negotiate together. Winning and placing in competition, as well as earning agility titles, depends both on correct execution of the obstacles and on the time it takes to complete the course.
There are similarities in good and bad leaders of dog packs and humans. The same qualities that make a good human leader make a good dog leader. But since dogs have different needs, those qualities will be expressed differently when a human leads dogs than when a human leads other humans.
Another name for arson dogs is accelerant detection dogs, because the dogs work by detecting and alerting to even the smallest trace of petroleum-based fuel. As with other dogs whose work may be used in a court case, the handler’s role is critical to the effectiveness of the dog in finding evidence that can detect a fire’s cause and bring the criminal to justice.
The experience, research, and hard work of assistance-dog training programs, first and foremost the guide dog schools, has brought today’s assistance dogs to a high level of reliability and safety. A disabled person needs a dog who can perform tasks to mitigate the person’s disability while not interfering with the rights of other people. Meeting the challenges involved is not easy, but the miracles that make it possible are an everyday occurrence in many lives.
How can you train a dog if you can't get him to pay attention to you? Are other dogs, unfamiliar surroundings, noise, or even fear distracting your dog? Try these tips!
If you want to consider leaving your dog outside without your supervision—even inside a fence—please research the physical hazards beforehand, along with considering the behavior risks. Many things you can do will reduce the risks, once you know them.
Dogs bark. Too often the barking becomes excessive, costing dogs their homes and even their lives. Solutions to barking problems come from how you manage and train your dog.
The first thing you need to know about helping your new puppy learn to remain quiet in confinement is NOT to go to the puppy in response to noise. If noise does not work, the puppy will eventually give up that method of communication.
Rabbit hunting with Beagles has a long history. American Kennel Club-affiliated Beagle Field Trials have been held for over a hundred years. Basset Hounds and Dachshunds also have field trials where dogs earn titles hunting rabbits.
You are bringing home a dog soon, and this new family member will need a place to sleep. Looking through the huge variety of beds and crates available for dogs, how do you pick the best one?
Decide how your house will be arranged to manage the care of a baby and a dog. Keep in mind the rule on which experts agree: no child under school age should ever be left alone with any dog, for even one second. Set up barriers that will keep your dog in or out of specific rooms.
Whether you are waiting for a planned canine family member from a breeder or scheduling a trip to a shelter to look for one, you’ll want to be ready. It can make the difference between a smooth or rocky start with your new pup, or success or failure.
Dogs beg because people make beggars of them! When a behavior works, a smart individual keeps using that behavior, and dogs are smart. To get your dog to stop begging, simply stop all the humans from responding to the begging by giving the dog food. That may be harder than you think!
There are good and bad training classes. Ask your veterinarian, groomer and people in your community with well-trained dogs about classes to consider. Go and observe any class without your dog before signing up for it. Before, during or after you take your dog to training classes, you may need or want to use the services of a dog trainer or behavior specialist.
Suddenly the birds in the back yard are dive-bombing the dog, and possibly the humans, too. Is this some bizarre real-life reenactment of the classic movie "The Birds?" Some birds are large enough to carry off and eat small dogs, so what can you do?
Reading your dog’s body language is never possible to do with 100% accuracy. Compare this to humans, though. We don’t even come close to being able to read all the body language of another human. Nor do we fully understand another human’s words, even when we speak their language!
People often insist that the new dog they adopt must come to them in puppyhood in order to bond with the family. What people don't understand, though, is that the human in the puppy's early life does not have to be you. It's the ABILITY to bond that is formed through this early experience. Dogs routinely form new bonds with humans at all stages of life.
Does it matter what breed of dog you pick, in terms of the dog’s behavior? Yes, absolutely! Many dog temperaments are neither good nor bad, but are either right for your family or are not going to make you happy. In researching a breed, what factors will help you determine that you’re choosing a dog with the behavior potential for a good match with you?
Do you know the ways a breeder’s decisions and actions will affect your dog’s future behavior? How do you pick the person you’re going to trust to determine your dog’s genetic temperament heritage, and to structure how your puppy will be treated in the critical early weeks?
Most people who breed their female dog one time wind up spaying her and never breeding again. They had no idea until they did it just how much it would cost, what a huge amount of work it would be, how hard it would be on the female dog, and the other problems. It's normal for a third of the puppies to die, sometimes more and sometimes fewer. The whole litter can easily get sick. When a breeder provides proper care to the mother and pups, a profit is unlikely.
The ability of dogs to detect cancer in humans by scent made news again in 2005. A leading medical journal in Britain published the results of a formal study demonstrating that dogs can be trained to identify bladder cancer. The overall average success of the dogs was 41 percent, higher than state-of-the-art x-ray and CAT scan machines.
Carsickness is only one of the problems for dogs riding in a car. Some dogs leap all over the car, some create noise that impairs safe driving. Aggression toward people through car windows is dangerous. In most cases, transporting your dog in a car can be done safely and sanely if you take some basic precautions.
Lots of puppies get carsick in moving cars, but fewer adult dogs. We need our dogs to be able to ride comfortably in cars, and no one enjoys cleaning vomit. If you have a carsick puppy, let’s look at ways to minimize stress and mess, both now and when the pup is older.
When a cat and a dog share your home, do you live in a peaceable kingdom? Or do they “fight like cats and dogs?” The reality could turn out either way, depending on several factors.
Chasing comes naturally to dogs, and is easily encouraged in a puppy when humans laugh or excitedly point out the “squirrel.” Many people find it entertaining to watch a dog chase things and don’t realize how serious it can become.
A nonrestrictive chest harness is the right choice for attaching your dog to a leash in several situations. It’s a good idea to keep one of these harnesses on hand that fits your dog, because some of the uses for it arise as emergencies. Since the straps are usually adjustable at front and rear and the harnesses durable, a good one can last for years and fit a number of dogs.
One dog expert jokingly said the Chihuahua would be a dangerous breed if large. There is some truth to this. These extremely popular toy dogs can have marvelous temperaments or they can be not nice.
To read the newspaper headlines or watch television news these days will scare you about what happens to children around dogs. But how often does it happen? How likely is it to happen to your child? How likely is your dog to do it? Most of all, what can you as a parent, child caregiver, or dog owner do to prevent an injury to a child?
When a parent says, "My child is good with dogs," what does that mean? Should people be pleased to observe that the family dog "will let the child do anything to her"? The huge gap between how dogs and humans perceive child behavior causes ruined dogs and injured children.
Parents want an idyllic relationship between child and puppy growing up together. Good preparation can help make it come true. Sometimes it's better to wait until the children reach school age before acquiring a dog.
Adding a new dog to your family means, in dog terms, adding a new dog to the pack. Dog packs are social units. Dogs are much more the victims of their own instincts than humans when it comes to relationships with their own species.
Parents often think a puppy for Christmas or Hanukkah is the ultimate gift for a child. Perhaps it is—for the moment. Because so many people make impulse decisions to adopt dogs at Christmas or Hanukkah, there are many homeless dogs of all ages a bit later. It’s one of the peak times of year to have a wide range of choices among adoptable dogs.
In its purest form, clicker training uses only positive reinforcement, based on research about operant learning theory. Practitioners argue about the terminology, but it is not necessary to understand all the terms in order to successfully use these techniques in training a dog.
A disturbing problem that animal control workers, animal welfare volunteers, veterinarians and mental health professionals encounter is the person who has become a dog collector.
Learning to come when called has saved the life of many a dog. Many innovative trainers have wonderful twists on this training, and it's wise to get involved in formal training with your dog to learn the skills. Another name for this training is the recall.
“Show dog”! As people see more dog shows on television, the idea of showing the best dog in the world—your own!—can become intriguing. What is it like to be involved with dog shows? How is a show dog different from any other dog?
There's pretty much nothing more frustrating than a dog who is a problem barker. What are some steps you an take to control your dog's barking?
Exercise, training, fun, reward and a wonderful chance to observe and learn about your dog all come together in the cookie hunt game. Watching your dog play the game gives you a peek at how your dog perceives the world, and also an opportunity to observe dog body language. It’s quick, easy, and in many cases will work with multiple dogs at the same time.
Hounds have been developed and refined to hunt the local animals under the local conditions, whatever they might be. Climates, terrain, and the animals to be hunted all vary. Thus the hounds vary, too. Several breeds are eligible for the AKC's Coonhound Bench Shows, Field Trials, Nite Hunts and Water Races.
Trying to act on good advice about training your dog, you confine your new puppy or dog to a crate. But instead of a clean and rested dog when you return to the crate, you find a soiled one. What is happening, and what can you do about it?
Every puppy needs to learn the skill of resting calmly in a crate. This skill will be needed at the veterinary hospital, for traveling, and for restricted activity due to illness. It's also a lifesaver for many young dogs during the destructive chewing stage that starts at several months of age and can last until age 2 to 3 years in some breeds.
Crate-training is easiest in puppyhood, but at times it’s both necessary and feasible to train an adult dog to rest calmly in a crate. It’s important to note, though, that not all dogs can be crate trained. Some will panic and can hurt themselves.
Flying insects, squirrels, cats, snakes, gophers and all sorts of other domesticated and wild creatures can become targets for “crittering” dogs. Some dogs remain calm with the cat in the house and go nuts chasing cats outside—including the cat from inside. Dogs have savaged livestock belonging to neighbors, and are often worse predators on livestock than wild animals are. It’s important to understand that a dog has no way of equating killing with the moral judgments put on it by humans.
Of 70 dogs tested for detection work, typically one dog is found to be suited. Dogs come from vendors, animal shelters, rescue groups, and donations by private owners. They can be of either sex, and must be between 1 and 3 years of age.
What do dogs need from their people on a daily basis? This will vary by breed, age, health, training, and the facilities you have for your dog. Thinking ahead about these “dog days” will surely help when choosing the dog best for you.
Laws against dangerous dogs are creating big problems for responsible dog owners. At the same time, such laws do little if anything to help solve the real problems related to dogs living in human communities.
In many cases, a dog’s ability to tolerate things without becoming defensive can be improved. It is often possible to change a dog’s threshold of reaction by rebuilding the dog’s trust. Whatever the thing is that the dog fears, lower the level of stimulation and give the dog positive experiences of that thing.
The REAL chewing comes after the dog has cut the permanent teeth. These teeth seem to require "setting" in the jaw by hard chewing. Dogs who don't do this chewing may have poorer lifelong dental health. But, the dogs who proceed to firmly set their shiny new teeth with robust chewing may have horrified families!
When considering this problem, realize that digging is a powerful instinct in dogs. What options do you have?
“My dog doesn’t listen!” “When I say ‘come,’ she runs the other way!” “He comes in from a walk and sneaks out of the room to poop where we can’t see!” Are these dogs disobedient? Defiant? Stubborn?
Just as parents with young children must childproof their homes, people with dogs, especially young ones, need to dog-proof the premises. A child will eventually learn reasons to leave certain things alone, but the dog will never understand the value of property or the risk of getting hurt.
What people think is dominance in a dog is usually something else. True dominance in a dog is more often a praiseworthy trait than a problem. Which dog is dominant tends to change according to the composition of the pack or family; evidently, dominance is not the trait it has sometimes been thought to be.
What happens at your house when the doorbell rings? If you have a dog, chances are the sound of the bell is joined by the sound of barking. The dog may make a mad scramble to the door.
Draft and carting tests are non-competitive, and every precaution is taken to make them safe for the dogs. Most actual cart-pulling by dogs these days happens in public settings such as parades, so test rules specifically state that carts can be decorated.
Trained dogs and handlers work in school systems to detect and even more importantly deter the presence of drugs, alcohol, weapons, and explosives. Both law enforcement and private company dog-and-handler teams perform this job.
The word terrier comes from the Latin “terra,” “earth,” because this going-to-ground function is integral to a terrier’s nature. Barking and digging are fun for these little guys and going after critters is natural to them. The AKC earthdog events allow terrier owners to put their dogs to the task they were bred for, and earn titles in the process.
"My dog eats his own poop!" exclaims the shocked human. Or, embarrassed to come right out with it, the human says, "I need to ask about this thing my dog does. It's really strange and disgusting…" The average person doesn't seem to discuss poop-eating dogs with friends and family, so people don't realize it's a common dog behavior.
People tend to be horrified to find their dog is eating feces from the cat litter box. Since the behavior is common even in the most well nourished dogs, the fact that they like the taste is a likely reason.
It might seem that knowing in advance your dog is ill and having the responsibility for this hard decision is the worst way to lose a dog. But for the sake of many people’s emotional health, it may be the best way. It gives you the chance to do loving things for the dog that you will remember for the rest of your life, long after the dog is gone. It also allows you to go through much of your grief while the dog is still there to love. Then the actual loss may be much less traumatic for you.
A dog whose exercise needs are met may rest more calmly at home and be less fretful when left alone. The modern dog-management mantra of “A good dog is a tired dog” is gospel to many people. Exercise can improve bone and joint health. Heart and lung function can improve.
Healthy exercise engages the brain as well as the body. With goals in mind of the behavior you need from your dog, exercise adds zest to learning, while learning adds meaning and interest to the exercise. Combining the two will also allow you to greatly reduce the risk of injuries.
Teaching your dog to give you eye contact is a special training skill. Eye contact is the fastest, easiest, and for many dogs the most humane way to develop training finesse.
Dogs can develop fear of any person, place or thing. Considering that the same thing happens in humans, this isn't surprising. Once a dog has begun to react with fear, correcting the original trigger of the behavior is not always enough to change the dog's habit of reacting that way. The earlier you intervene, the better your chances of relieving the fear.
A dog who has had to defend food from another animal may start defending it from humans, resulting in dog bites. Dogs who would never start fighting with each other for any other reason will often start over food. Too often, the fighting among the dogs extends to other situations if the humans don’t act quickly enough.
It's best to feed at least two meals a day, and to have the dog promptly eat the food. In households with more than one dog, it's best not to let them get into each other's dishes during meals. Your dogs may have cheerfully shared a dish for years, but the slightest change can upset this delicate balance and lead to the bloodbath of the century.
Many dogs are prone to getting out of fences if left outside. The ideal solution is to supervise such dogs whenever they are outside within the fenced yard. In the best-case scenario, dogs never even begin going over, under or through the fence.
Barking at the dog on the other side of the fence, like other barking in dogs, tends to escalate. Neighbors who have to listen to this eventually become unhappy. Teach your dog to come when called in the back yard.
Why do dogs fight? They fight for different reasons than humans do, which to us can be extremely confusing.
Unlike human firefighters, firehouse dogs don’t receive paychecks, and formal records don’t track their service time or daily tasks. All the firefighters stationed at that firehouse contribute to the dog’s financial and other care. Whatever else a particular firehouse dog’s life entails, it will include plenty of companionship.
Fireworks can turn holidays such as the Fourth of July and New Year's Eve into miserable nights for dogs. To some extent this fear is genetic, but it's also learned. Dogs bred and trained to flush and retrieve game for a gunner cope well with these noises, as do police dogs. Some dogs aren't capable of a comfort level with fireworks, but a lot can be done to make this fear less of a problem for any dog.
Guarding food or toys from other animals is a normal canine behavior. Life with dogs in our homes is safer when dogs do not guard their food.
Since dogs don’t use words, a tactic that works on a dog is a “freeze,” when you stop all of your movement. Once your statue-like appearance brings your dog’s attention, the next movement you make will have special meaning to the dog. That’s because the best time to teach anybody anything is when they are interested in knowing the answer. Your dog wants to know why you have turned into a statue and what is going to happen next.
One of the world’s foremost working breeds, the German Shepherd Dog deserves its many fans. The GSD needs a job. The dog will keep busy, and if you don’t teach a job and make it accessible for the dog to perform, the GSD will devise one. A German Shepherd Dog is a way of life.
When an individual, business, or government entity hires a handler to bring a dog and control the geese, dog training and care does not fall to the property owner. Instead, the dog has a trained handler and the full-time work such a dog craves. The dog handler keeps the dog in training, which also results in the most humane handling of the geese and the dog.
It’s important to take every opportunity with any loss to come through it to peace of mind and intact good memories. This is true whether the loss is a human loved one, a job, a disability, a disaster that destroys your home, or the loss of a beloved dog.
What does a dog experience at the loss of a beloved human? Certainly the dog shares the frequent human dilemma at such a loss, that of fear at how life will change without that person. The dog is unlikely to know the person is not coming back but may fear that, especially if the dog has lost a previous home.
Life can change drastically for a dog who loses the companionship of another dog. We don't know how much dogs understand about death, but the experience of having a dog become lethargic, upset, or even ill after a dog companion dies has happened to many dog lovers. It can be heart breaking, just when you are also grieving the loss yourself.
Good grooming conditions dogs to the handling that is so precious in our relationships with them. The natural reaction to being touched is defensive. We learn-and so do our dogs-to enjoy touch only when we have the right experiences with it. Puppies who are cuddled get the right start.
What does it mean when a dog growls? What do you do when it happens?
The dog who barks, snarls, growls, lunges and snaps at anyone approaching the car is such a hazard that soon you'll find yourself having to leave the dog at home. For necessary car trips the dog will require crating, which allows the dog to make a huge amount of noise to distract your driving, but doesn't allow the dog to protect you.
Some behavior in dogs as well as in humans is due to instincts. In most humans and in smart, educated dogs, instincts are modified by thinking, planning and problem-solving. The humans who can’t use their brains to override their instincts and impulses are often found in prisons! Dogs, too, wind up with their freedoms vastly limited if they cannot override instincts that cause trouble for humans.
Why do you do the things you do? Do you know? Are you sure?
The head halter is a popular tool for good reason. Some otherwise difficult behavior problems respond to the use of a head halter with ease. An immediate improvement in safety enables the handler to focus on solving the problem. Out-of-control dogs may relax and begin to learn. Though it’s not the right tool for all situations, the head halter is ideal for some.
Herding dogs need jobs. Misdirected herding instincts can result in dogs herding your other companion animals, family members and guests. People often find the early manifestations of off-target herding behaviors funny, but much less funny as the dog gets more and more vigorous.
When a dog gets hit by a car, everyone feels awful. We need to keep dogs out of the street in the first place. People often ask how to teach a dog to come when called once the dog is running loose in the neighborhood. That is the wrong question. A dog getting loose one time is understandable. When it’s obvious the dog is going to try it, the task is to stop the dog from getting loose again.
Whether you're traveling with or without your dog, boarding your dog or bringing in a petsitter, or expecting company at your home for the holidays, a little preparation can go a long way towards making your holidays safe and calm for you and your dog.
The hound group includes dogs who hunt by sight and dogs who hunt by scent. In both cases, the hound immersed in following that specialized sense will likely fail to hear you when you call. Outside a safe enclosed area with a hound, a leash is a wise precaution. Hunting requires an active dog, and the hounds need their exercise.
Urine marking is a normal, instinctive dog behavior, mostly in males but also sometimes in females. Like a lot of other natural dog behaviors, we need to modify it as one of the fascinating ways that humans and dogs learn to cooperate for rewarding lives together.
When a dog starts having housetraining accidents, it’s easy to believe the dog is acting out of anger or some other defiant motive. That is rarely the case. Let’s look at reasons for housetraining accidents, and methods for improving your dog’s batting average.
Adult dogs, whether they are adopted, rescued, or are coming indoors after living outside, often need to be housetrained. Also, sometimes adult dogs develop housetraining problems later in life.
A list of housetraining basics for puppies or adult dogs. Get your dog off to a good, reliable start!
When a new dog comes home, housetraining starts immediately. Training happens all the time, either training we thoughtfully direct or bad habits the dog picks up for lack of being taught good ones! Housetraining is our golden opportunity to start forming a loving bond with a new dog.
Housetraining is more difficult than most people realize, and it’s much more difficult with some dogs than others. It’s the first complicated task most people teach their dogs, and many dogs lose their homes over housetraining problems. You’d probably be surprised just how common all the housetraining problems are.
While a typical scenario for dog ownership used to be a house on private property that could be fenced, now many puppies have to be housetrained from households with no outdoor area of their own. Until the puppy’s vaccination series is complete, walking around on ground where dogs outside your own family also walk is of questionable safety. This is especially true of tiny breeds.
Small dogs require different care in some respects than larger dogs. Housetraining a small dog can be very different from housetraining a large dog.
Housetraining is sometimes the bottom line for family dogs. People may clean up urine and feces after a dog for months or even years, before something happens that makes it impossible to continue living wit
Whether your dog of several years is aging, or you have adopted a senior dog, housetraining issues for the elderly dog are different from other life stages. Age puts new stresses on the dog’s body and mind.
Dogs humping humans may amuse other humans, but rarely the human who's being humped. Some dogs will hump a toy or sofa cushion incessantly. We accept dogs humping other dogs in the act of mating, but in other situations it can create problems. What can we do about it?
As much as we hope for home to be a peaceable kingdom, some animals will not be able to live together in peace. Before acquiring a new animal, consider the characteristics of the prospective new family member as well as the animals you already have.
Does your dog jump on you or others? It's easiest to nip this in the bud if your dog is a puppy, but even adult dogs can be taught to keep four on the floor.
How many dogs have been relegated to back-yard living because they jump all over family and guests whenever anyone walks through the door? Then when someone goes out to visit the lonesome dog, the jumping is worse because the dog is even more excited to see someone. Only now the dog is dirty, too. Not good!
If you want to keep your dogs off the furniture, your best bet is to start every puppy and new dog in your home with "off the furniture" as the consistent rule.
What does it mean when a dog kills another animal? While it shocks humans, killing is normal behavior for dogs. When dogs do not kill, it’s due to human management. Without humans, dogs would have to kill to survive. When people are unable, unwilling or unaware of how to manage their dogs, kills to other animals become all too common. Understanding how it happens will help you avoid the problem with your dog.
When a dog looks at the smooth floor and stops short--unwilling to walk there--obviously the dog has learned a fear. If your dog’s first experiences with smooth floors are scary or painful, it may be difficult indeed to change the dog’s mind about these surfaces. By acting quickly, though, you may be successful.
The Labrador Retriever has for several years surpassed all other breeds in the number of individual puppies registered with the American Kennel Club. Labradors deserve their popularity, but not for the reasons people sometimes think.
Leashes are wonderful for dogs. Leashes mean getting to go out of the house and yard to all sorts of interesting places. Leashes mean enjoying the outside world, protected from myriad dangers. With a little training, your dog will happily greet the sight of the leash, and walk along on it easily without pulling.
A puppy may refuse to budge while on leash one day, and try to drag you down the street on the same leash the very next day! Dogs who walk well on leash face fewer dangers and have more fun. It's well worth the time to develop this skill with your puppy.
Livestock guardian dogs (also called livestock protection dogs) have proven they can work successfully with all kinds of livestock, but perhaps most and best with sheep. Sheep represent easy prey for wolves, coyotes, stray dogs, and other predators.
Chances are if you have done much dog training, you have used a long line. If this piece of equipment is new to you, learning about it can improve your dog-handling skills, as well as your dog's reliable responses to your cues.
You’re out walking with your dog on leash, and uh-oh, there’s a loose dog approaching. Too many people think it’s okay to let their dogs roam loose, not realizing what a danger this presents to other people, especially those out walking with dogs or young children. How can we cope with stray dogs?
There is a secret to teaching a dog to walk on a loose lead and never pull. Find out this easy and fun method to train your dog!
A lost dog is an emergency. People may get complacent when a dog has been out before and come back, but it’s not safe to count on that happening again. Acting quickly can prevent losing your dog, save your dog’s life, and in some cases save you a lot of money. It’s an emergency.
Words can be wonderful, but they can also cause people to become terribly confused. Nowhere is this truer than in human relationships with dogs.
Keep in mind that coursing if done by humans would qualify in the extreme sport category! The hounds give it their all, with no thought to protecting themselves from injury or overheating. Precautions to protect the dog are the handler’s job, with the strong support of the rules and the other people present.
It might seem then, that using a Bloodhound to find a missing child would risk the child’s safety. Not so. The lost child blessed by early call-out of a man-trailing Bloodhound and handler has a vastly improved chance of rescue. On locating the child, the gentle hound will want only to be the child’s new best friend.
Mixed breed dogs may turn out quite well, depending on their parents. The first-generation cross of two purebred dogs of different breeds is a hybrid, and may possess superior traits in terms of health and intelligence. The “hybrid vigor” as this is called applies only to the first cross of two purebreds, though. Crossing those hybrid dogs produces unpredictability in the health and temperaments of their pups.
Animal-shelter workers' hearts are broken regularly when people give up dogs for the reason "Moving, can't take dog." Dogs are highly adaptable. It's quite possible to meet a dog's needs and live happily together in a home very different from the home you shared before.
Dogs who live together form a pack structure. Often this structure is harmonious, but frequently problems crop up. There are special challenges to training more than one dog, and problems that arise can include disobedience and fighting. Sometimes this fighting is severe.
If having one canine family member is great, wouldn't two be better? How about three when you now have two or four if you now have three? Are there reasons to limit the number of dogs in your family? Let's look at the advantages of living with multiple dogs along with how things change as you add canine companions.
Does it make a difference what name you choose for your dog? Yes, it does. If you know in advance that you will be adopting a dog, take time over the choice of a name. Start using that name when you first meet the dog. Your dog will learn the new name quickly and will more easily learn how things work at your house because the new name signifies a new lifestyle.
The word “no,” like any other word, carries to your dog the meaning it has occupied in the dog’s life, as part of the dog’s history. You might as well say “Gurp” or whatever other odd sound you can spell with letters, for the entire actual meaning no” as a word has to a dog. Whatever sound you utter, the tone of your voice and the body movements you make at the same time will affect how your dog perceives the sound, just as it does with humans.
Some of the Non-Sporting breeds come from working heritages, while others have been historically bred primarily as companions to humans. Sizes, temperaments and grooming needs vary widely. Like all dogs, they are happiest and most successful in life when well-matched with humans prepared to responsibly train and manage their particular characteristics.
Obedience and rally training is an excellent structure for learning to train a dog. It gives you a common language with your dog. Whatever you want to do with dogs, obedience training is a great way to start. The trials give you concrete feedback as to how well you are doing at training your dog.
Do dogs get obsessive-compulsive disorder? We see cases of a dog repeating a behavior over and over, though, with resulting harm either to the dog or to others. We’ll call it “obsessive behavior” here, with the understanding that other terms might also apply. Perhaps the dog becomes addicted to the behavior because of stimulating or soothing chemicals it releases in the body.
Do dogs need to run free? When should a dog be on a leash, and when is it appropriate for the dog to be off the leash?
Old age brings physical changes that can require new skills in order to keep functioning as well as possible. The more you and your dog have learned together in younger days, the easier it is to keep learning throughout life. It’s never too late, though, to create better learning that will improve the quality of life.
You can greatly reduce dangers to your dog and to people around your dog by establishing patterns in how you handle the dog every day.
Getting a dog to eat is one of the most complicated management, health care, behavior modification, training, and communication tasks you’ll ever do with a dog. If you’ve been through this, you’ve surely learned a thing or two. You’ll also have discovered what a lot of time this can take out of your day.
If Pointer or Setter breeds interest you, learn about these special events called field trials that have shaped both the appearance and the behavior of the breeds that participate in them.
Hunting Tests are noncompetitive, with the goal of qualifying rather than winning. The three levels are Junior Hunter, Senior Hunter and Master Hunter. A dog need not earn a lower title in order to enter and qualify for a higher one.
Assisting with police work has put dogs in a position to save many lives. Training is meticulous for control as well as for on-the-job tasks. The police dog is an incredible example of genetics and training combining to consistently produce dogs that help make the world a safer place.
Poodles, including all sizes, currently rank 8th in popularity of AKC-registered puppies, indicating that an awful lot of people are willing to cope with Poodle coat! It also points to the number one job dogs are doing in the world today: companion to humans. No breed does that job better than the Poodle.
Dog waste contaminates the ground and becomes a means of passing intestinal parasites and infections to dogs and people. Your own dog can be repeatedly reinfested by parasites in this way. Picking up the feces prevents a great deal of the contamination.
The first place to take your new puppy or dog when you come home together is the spot you want your dog to use for potty purposes. This means you'll decide in advance where that will be, and make the necessary preparations. Having all in place right from the start helps the dog to form the desired habits as quickly as possible with the least confusion.
Dogs can provide protection in a variety of ways. The critical factor is to prepare and manage the dog to provide the right kind of protection for your situation. Confusing your dog in this matter can lead to true tragedy, in more ways than one way.
A puppy is a baby dog. Like many other species of babies, baby dogs are built to appeal deeply to the emotions of adults. The normal human response to a baby is a deep desire to nurture the young one. This is good for the survival of babies. However, it’s not good for you in making the best decisions about adopting a new dog.
What behavior from a puppy constitutes aggression? Broken skin on a human is one cause for concern. If your puppy breaks the skin on a human—whether someone in the family or not, whether in play or not—be sure to get started promptly with a veterinary behavior specialist or other expert who can assess the situation.
Puppies bite. This is not a form of aggression, but a form of play and communication. It's important to train a puppy not to bite in play or to communicate, as this behavior can become unacceptable and even dangerous in an adult dog. This is a very important lesson for a puppy to learn.
Puppy kindergarten can give you and your pup a great start together. People with limited dog experience benefit tremendously from well-run puppy classes, where instructors explain the mysteries of puppy behavior and teach handling skills. Unlike training classes for adult dogs, puppy classes tend to include instructions in issues such as housetraining and other management.
Does it really make a difference where you get puppy, provided you find the breed you want? Yes, absolutely. If you're not planning to breed the dog to produce winning show dogs or dependable working dogs, it might seem unimportant to seek out a breeder who strives to improve the breed with each litter. Actually, it's vitally important, and ignoring this concern can lead to sad times in your home.
Do you find some dogs pushy? When people use the word “pushy” to describe a dog, it usually means some of that dog’s behavior seems to them to be annoying or even offensive. But what is this quality in a dog? Is it a defect of character? Many dogs were bred to take initiative.
A small dog jumping off a bed or sofa risks injury at any age. Puppies have undeveloped bones, joints and muscles that put them at risk of injury and permanent damage. Hip dysplasia, knee injuries, back problems, and shoulder issues are some of the conditions that can make either jumping up or jumping down harmful to a dog of any size. A ramp can also spare your back.
Much emotion surrounds the issue of re-homing or otherwise giving up a dog. Some people do it casually, while others believe it is always wrong and that any time you get a dog you should be held to a commitment for life. Surely a reasonable way of deciding what to do in any given situation falls somewhere between these two extremes.
The dogs who do this job accompany their trained handlers to school and library programs that help children improve their reading skills. With the help of the dogs, reading programs of this kind can build children’s confidence in their own reading ability and help them learn to love reading.
A retracting lead is useful for many dog owners, and is a good tool when used appropriately. Used inappropriately, it can endanger your dog and others.
Thanks to their great popularity, Retriever Field Trials are likely held close enough to your area for you to attend as a spectator. It’s a great way to consider whether you’d like to participate in such events, or perhaps consider a retriever as a hunting companion. Watching the dogs at the work they’ve been selectively bred to perform also greatly helps to understand their day-to-day behavior if you choose to live with a retriever.
Retriever hunting competition calls for more and more refined performances and judging that can distinguish which of the specially bred and superbly trained dogs will take the prize. By contrast, retriever hunting tests do not pit dogs against one another to determine a winner. Instead, dogs are judged by a standard to determine which dogs qualify.
Retrieving is the best game to play with your dog. It's also both one of the most sophisticated and at the same time valuable things you and your dog can learn together. It's well worth your time, and it's fun, too.
Rewards that one dog finds motivating, another dog may find boring—or even unpleasant. Teaching when your dog feels motivated is easier on both you and the dog. Developing rewards that motivate your dog to learn can be considered the most important part of training.
What happens when a dog roams? A dog running loose will eventually run into trouble, often to the owner’s surprise.
What effect does human roughhousing have on the future behavior of a dog? When is roughhousing a positive thing, and when is it not? What do you want for your own dog?
To keep the family dog safe requires looking at the world with different eyes. A number of precautions in how you train your dog, train the humans who share your home, and manage the dog's environment will be lifesavers.
When you put two dogs of the same sex together in your home, there is always a risk that they will not be able to get along. Sometimes they will fight, and it can be severe. What can you do to solve problems after they arise, or prevent them from happening in the future?
Dogs are scavengers by nature, taking treats where they can find them. It's impossible to explain to a dog that eating a particular item could cause injury or death. As a result, it has become a human responsibility to protect dogs from foraging instincts that might have been useful in the wild but can be deadly to companion dogs.
Schutzhund is a competitive sport in which dogs and handlers use skills for obedience, tracking, and protection. Originally designed to test for the best German Shepherd Dogs to breed for police and military work, Schutzhund titles are still valued for this proving ground.
The mission of the search and rescue dog and handler is to find lost people, alive or deceased. The dog and handler function as a team, and spend a great deal of time training together to prepare. In most cases the team is part of a larger team to provide each dog and handler with the necessary help to become and stay mission ready.
Senior dogs are the best. They know you well, you know them well, they are smart and seasoned and worth their weight in gold. They’re also worth special care to keep them well and happy for as long as possible.
With the right help, most dogs can learn to remain alone calmly for reasonable lengths of time. Conditioning a dog to be able to do this is a real kindness that makes the dog's life more comfortable.
The settle exercise calls for the dog to lie down on the cue word and/or signal. It’s easily taught and helps in teaching the dog to stay, as well as helping to establish your leadership without harshness.
Dog trainers and behavior specialists usually recommend that dogs should not sleep on beds in most households. Yet more often than not, people take it as a given that the dog will sleep on the bed, and in many cases it's fine. How do you know which is best for your family and your dog?
Ideally every puppy would receive a good foundation of experiences for the ability to cope with all kinds of people as an adult dog. Even if the genetics for temperament in your pup are not the best, or your pup has a bad experience when young, a good foundation of social experiences will give the best chance for a dog to have good social skills. If your puppy comes from two temperamentally-sound parents and is lucky enough to avoid any traumatic experiences with humans during formative months, you might never see problems from lack of good early socialization.
Puppies and dogs who have never been to places other than their homes can become unable to cope with going anyplace. This becomes a serious problem when the dog needs to go to the veterinarian’s office, to a specialist, or out for any other reason. Socializing to places is essential for a dog’s mental health and for physical well-being, too.
Umbrellas, big trucks, kitchen appliances, and reclining chairs are a few of some dogs’ least favorite things. When a dog’s aversion to something creates a problem, such as your getting wet while trying to walk with an umbrella, you see the reason for socializing young dogs to things.
Why do we spay female dogs and neuter male dogs? Spay/neuter helps produce healthy and good-tempered purebred dogs. Spay/neuter allows a breeder to remove dogs from breeding who should not be bred . Spay/neuter puts a stop to passing on undesirable genetic traits, while allowing the dog being "culled" to go on and have a great life. A significant reason is that spay/neutered dogs do not produce puppies who join the population of unwanted dogs.
Often people refer to their own dogs or other people’s as being “spoiled.” What does this mean? Of course it depends on who is using the expression. One Miriam-Webster Dictionary definition of “spoil” includes the words “to impair the disposition or character of by overindulgence or excessive praise.”
The most popular breed in America is a sporting breed. That would be the Labrador Retriever. Pointers, retrievers, setters and spaniels make up the sporting-group dogs. These breeds were selectively bred to work in partnership with human hunters. Their work is done off-leash, so the dogs need enough control to do the jobs correctly and to come when called. This control is developed through training, in most cases extensive training.
Teaching the "stay" cue builds your leadership with your dog. It also builds your dog's composure and ability to cope with a wide variety of situations. Stay training can result in a happier dog with a more people-safe temperament when suitable training methods are used.
What is a thief? In the human sense, is a dog capable of stealing? When something of yours is in jaws of a dog, you want it back! How to get it?
At training class, at the veterinarian's office and when walking on leash, some dogs will make a tremendous amount of noise whining. Dogs may also whine when confined to crates or when they are outside and the family is inside. Understanding what the dog is experiencing will help you lower the volume!
Submissive urination is often thought of as a housebreaking problem, but it's really a behaviorial problem. Punishment and harsh training approaches will only make it worse!
Ironically, submissive behavior in dogs is often misread as dominance. Talk about being 100% wrong, aye? Submissive dogs, especially when mishandled, are often called wimps. Wow, submissive dogs just get no respect! Yet they often make the best family dogs. Let’s take a closer look at submissiveness.
Do dogs listen better if you yell at them? How much of what you say does your dog understand? What does your tone of voice tell your dog? Is your voice the only way you talk to your dog? Communicating effectively is an art that deepens every relationship.
When adopting a dog, the two qualities people want more than any others are good health and good temperament. Both are heavily influenced by genetics and are also affected by how the dog has been treated. Experiences have had opportunity to alter the temperament of adult dogs.
Puppy temperament testing is both science and art. Much of a dog’s temperament is genetically based. We continue to learn more ways the behavior is shaped by physical traits, including invisible or subtle ones. Dogs have different structures in their eyes that cause them to actually see the world differently, just as one example.
The muscular, merry, energetic dogs of the terrier group have great appeal. Their sturdy musculature often carries the day in conformation dog shows, garnering a lot of attention for these breeds.
A therapy dog accompanies a handler, usually a member of the dog's family acting in a volunteer capacity, on visits to various settings in order to provide emotional benefits to the people there. If you'd like to do therapy work, understand what's involved.
Fear of thunderstorms is common in dogs, and tends to get worse as they age. It is partly genetic. While some aspects of this problem remain a mystery, we know a lot that can make life easier for thunderstorm-phobic dogs and their families. Best of all, you may be able to help your dog avoid developing this fear in the first place.
If you haven't experienced how tying a dog outside can go wrong, it may surprise you that the United States Department of Agriculture doesn’t allow tie out (they call it tethering) as a permanent method of confinement for dogs under its jurisdiction. The Humane Society of the United States describes tethering as a permanent method of confinement as inhumane. Some localities have laws restricting it.
Timid or shy dogs can become sweet and loving companions. On the other hand, some will be unsuited to life in busy households or with small children, and some may find dog sports too stressful. Sometimes the fearfulness you see in a puppy can turn into aggression as the dog matures.
Veterinary hospitals and professional groomers do a lot of toenail trimming for dogs whose families can't manage the task. It's nice to be able to do this task at home, though, not only to save money but also so that you can trim the nails more often.
The dog’s degree of sensitivity to touch is largely inherited, and is included in temperament tests administered to dogs. For homes such as those containing children or for jobs such as therapy dog work, a dog who isn’t very sensitive to touch would be preferred.
The delightful toy dogs are often tougher than they look. Considering the number of steps they have to take to keep up with humans and larger dogs, many of these little ones have incredible stamina.
Children use toys as tools for mental, emotional and physical development. Toys fill the same functions for dogs. When it comes to your relationship with your dog, toys are your tools as well as the dog's tools. The way you use toys with your dog has a profound effect on the nature and quality of your relationship.
The noncompetitive nature of tracking is ideal for a sport that sparks many people to go into search and rescue or other scent work with dogs. In a real search it takes everyone working cooperatively in order to cover the territory as thoroughly and quickly as possible. Everything that builds esprit de corps among the handlers can save lives, so the AKC is to be applauded for keeping the sport of tracking cooperative rather than competitive.
Training class can get you off to a great start with your puppy, help you achieve specific training goals, and make it possible to manage a rowdy young dog. The class that works for one goal may not be the class that fits another goal, and the class that fits your neighbor’s dog may not fit your dog. How can you tell which class is best for you and your special canine family member?
People tend to have strong feelings about whether or not to use food in dog training. Actually, whether or not to use food is not just a yes or no proposition. The answer is "sometimes yes, sometimes no." Best of all; learn how to use food and other motivators effectively in training so that you can choose the best motivator for each task.
Some dogs don’t require a lot of training to keep them out of trouble, but others need homes where training is a way of life. If you have a dog now, which kind of dog do you have? If you’re thinking of getting a dog, which kind is right for your home?
Trash hounds can be wonderful companions to humans who are as smart as the dogs. Anger and punishment won't solve the problem and in fact can make it worse. Brains and a sense of humor will keep you one step ahead of your trash hound-most of the time!
Since dogs, like humans, have to eat to live, and generally enjoy the process (some of us too much!), food is a primary motivator you can use with a dog who has no training and doesn't even know you yet. You can also use food to improve a dog's opinion of you!
Trainers disagree about whether or not to recommend playing tug of war with dogs. While this game works fine for some, problems result for others. Factors to consider include the temperament of the dog, the temperament(s) of the people who will interact with the dog, the dog's physique and your lifestyle.
Are you getting a new dog and thinking of adopting two puppies at once? Would that double the pleasure? Could they be company for each other when you’re not home? Does it seem a good way to settle competition between human partners or the children in the family over who gets to play with the dog? More dogs, more to go around—does that plan work?
People tend to be upset when their dogs urinate on beds. A dog doesn’t mean this as the insult that humans take it to be, and the dog doesn’t see it as disgusting. Some dogs mark their own beds by urinating there.
Urine marking is not really a housebreaking problem, but can often be cured with the same techniques.
Your veterinarian and the veterinary hospital staff are vital people in your dog's life. A dog who copes with veterinary care with no stress about the people, the handling or the place has a huge advantage in life. There's a great deal you can do to help your dog become this kind of dog.
“Love me, love my dog” describes how many of us feel. Does this extend to taking your dog along on visits to the homes of friends and family? How do you feel about hosting other people’s dogs in your home? It depends, doesn’t it, on just what having that particular dog and owner in your home entails? Many friendships and family relationships suffer over conflicts about visiting dogs.
"Want to go for a walk?" At any given moment there are people all over the world asking their dogs this question. Whether for fun or practical needs, going for a walk is surely the top activity dogs and people do together. It's a misconception, though, that any person and any dog can just snap on a leash and walk out the door in any location and be ready to face the world.
Water is critical to a dog’s survival. Because a dog depends on water for the somewhat inefficient canine body cooling mechanism, a crisis can come quickly. Water is great exercise for dogs with certain orthopedic problems and is sometimes used as part of physical therapy. It’s also a good idea to give your puppy basic baths so that getting into water holds no fear for the dog later.
Other retrieving breeds are related to the Newfoundland and can surely be taught most of these skills (depending on the size and strength of the dog being trained). How many lives might be saved by water rescue dogs, with more of them on the job? Handler and dog work as partners in most of the exercises, though the dog also learns to independently rescue the handler or others.
The popular sport of weight pulling is open to all breeds, but especially suits dogs bred for draft work, such as the Saint Bernard, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Alaskan Malamute, and Samoyed. Weight pulling also attracts owners of physically powerful breeds such as the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Bull Dog.
In considering the differences among dogs, breeds help us understand the physical and behavioral traits typical of the various types of dogs. Choosing a dog with characteristics suited to your family's care-taking abilities makes a safer and happier experience for the dog as well as the family.
Playfulness, high energy and high spirits are qualities we value in dogs. That is, until we realize the dog doesn't have an "off button," or a speed setting dial! You can develop these wonderful abilities with your dog, though, with enjoyable training and sensible management.
The dogs in the American Kennel Club’s Working Group have been bred for jobs. Most are large, strong dogs who have historically worked at tasks such as guard work and pulling carts or sleds. Dogs in this group require structured, formal training, whether to perform their traditional work or to succeed as safe companions to humans. Some can be great, dependable family dogs with proper training.
When it comes to living in a pack with other dogs, dogs are very much the victims of their own instincts. These instincts can be difficult for humans to understand, and often the results of such misunderstandings lead to tragedy for the dogs.
|About the author(s)
Kathy Diamond Davis
Kathy Diamond Davis is the author of Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others and Responsible Dog Ownership, and is a contributor to a number of dog magazines, including Off Lead and Dog Fancy.
Kathy has been an enthusiastic volunteer therapy dog handler since 1985, working with four therapy dogs so far, three now in heaven. Her dog training experience includes obedience trials, tracking, and one dog shown briefly in conformation. "But I gave that all up for therapy dogs," she says.
Kathy is married, and lives in Oklahoma City, which she loves. She currently has three dogs. Says Kathy, "Spirit helps with the writing about problem dogs! Gabriel is a happy and loving therapy dog. Believer is the new kid, beginning her career as a therapy dog and keeping me out there training. All three are Belgian Tervuren, and they all (gasp!) sleep on the bed!"