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Resource Center: Training Articles and More

TRAINING/BEHAVIOR ARTICLES


(One of our past foster dogs, "Harlan," in his Thundershirt, 
with the Luvin Labs Foundation (www.LuvinLabs.com) who has been adopted!)

Article #I:
Stopping Dogs from Jumping Up

Most dogs I see have a similar issue that their owners are not fond of, and that is jumping up. While it’s natural for dogs to jump up, we find it very annoying when our pet continues to jump up on us, as well as our guests. There are many ways to stop the jumping-up problem, if you are consistent in breaking the dog from the habit.

Why Dogs Jump Up
Dogs will jump for several reasons. Some just have that “springy-ness” in their nature, and some have learned the behavior. Dogs in general jump as a display of excitement, and they also tend to want to be close to our faces. Since our faces are up high, it results in the dog jumping up on us to say hi. If you watch your dog around other dogs, especially new dogs, he/she will probably be very “facial;” they will lick or sniff the other dog’s face.

Effective Methods of Stopping It
1. 
I would first suggest you have a special tug toy or ball ready at the door or by your dog's crate, so as soon as you get home, you can immediately start playing with the dog with the toy instead of him having to jump up for attention. This should be a “special toy” that the dog only gets to play with you for a few minutes when you arrive home. This is giving the dog something active and productive to do with his excitement when you get home, instead of jumping up on you.

2. Secondly, the very effective method you can use to deter your dog from jumping up is a more physical method, and that is to leash the dog as soon as you get home, then step on the leash before the dog jumps up. Then you can bend down to pet the dog, so she has no reason to jump up, since you will be at her level. Take “breaks” to stand up from petting her, still stepping on the leash, then bend back down to pet her. If she does try to jump up, she won’t physically be able to because of the leash. This is more-so a type of punishment when the dog jumps up, so save this as more of a last-resort method to stop your dog from jumping, and Always praise and pet the dog when she’s on the ground.

3. Lastly, time-outs are quite effective for the dogs who the above techniques don’t seem to work for. When using time-outs for jumping, begin with the first methods above. If the dog keeps jumping up, take him directly to a time-out. This can be in a small room or bathroom, or in a crate, for five minutes. Then let the dog out, and let him try again. Have a toy or ball ready to re-direct his playfulness once you let him out of the time-out. If he jumps, he immediately goes into time-out. Remember to only keep him in the time-out for a very brief time, and to always pet/play with the dog as soon as all four paws are on the ground.

With all of the above techniques, you must always remember to give the dog the attention he/she wants when all four paws are on the ground. If you simply ignore the dog when she jumps, and when she’s down, she will just try to be more persistent in getting your attention. Praise and reward for the behaviors you do want, and your dog will quickly learn how to get the attention he/she wants by behaving correctly. With consistency of everyone (family members and guests alike), the dog will learn how to get love and attention without muddying clothes, knocking children over, and angering guests.
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Article #II:
The Common Confusion Between "Dominance" and Aggression

I hear all the time that people have an "alpha dog" in their pack or that their dog is "dominant." However, this is a Huge misconception, and I encourage you to read this section of Wikipedia's information on this. People actually ask me a lot, for example, "who is the alpha dog in your pack?" and my answer is always this: "I am." My dogs' heirarchies after my leadership role in our "pack" has no significance to me whatsoever. There are entire books dedicated to this subject, but this is a fairly short (and fantastic) explanation of how these two terms are confused; as they are not the same thing. Read on:

Dominance and Submission
From
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_behavior

Properly socialized dogs can interact with unfamiliar dogs of any size and shape and understand how to communicate.It is believed by some that dogs establish a dominance hierarchy through aggressive play and roughhousing along a continuum of dominance and submission, although the concept of social hierarchies in dogs is unproven and controversial. It is important for successful socialization that puppies participate with their littermates in learning to relate to other dogs. Dogs learn to successfully relate to other dogs by keeping the peace, rather than by constantly fighting to reestablish this hierarchy.

Although dogs are commonly characterized in terms of their dominance (e.g., "Fido is the alpha."), there is some controversy as to whether dominance is a stable personality trait.

In wild wolf packs, displays of dominance have been observed to include "licking up," which involves essentially begging for food; "pinning," in which the dominant dog appears to threaten another, which shows submission by rolling over; "standing over"; territorial marking; and more passive expressions of body language, including holding the tail and ears erect, looking directly at other dogs, circling and sniffing other dogs, growling if the other dog moves.

Submissive displays mirror dominant displays and include adopting a posture that is physically lower than other dogs, such as crouching, rolling over on the back and exposing the abdomen, lowering the tail (sometimes to the point of tucking it between the legs), flattening of the ears, averting the gaze, nervously licking or swallowing, dribbling of urine, and freezing or fleeing when other dogs are encountered.

In wolves, recent research has indicated that dominant behaviors have been misinterpreted as personality traits that determine the inidividual's place in a linear hierarchy in the pack. In contrast, Mech (see recent research, below) argues that packs are family units, and that the "alpha" of a pack does not change through struggles for dominance. Rather, he argues that the family unit serves to raise the young, which then disperse to pair up with other dispersed wolves to form a breeding pair, and a pack of their own. This model undermines the popular conception of dominance in wolf social behavior.

Research on canine familiaris has also questioned whether dominance is a personality trait. Svartberg and colleagues (2002) gathered behavioral data from 15,000 dogs of 164 breeds in attempt to identify major personality traits. In an approach similar to those used in humans, the authors performed a factor analysis of their data, and identified five major traits: "Playfulness," "Curiosity/Fearlessness," "Chase-proneness," "Sociability," "Aggressiveness." A similar analysis by Goddard and Beilharz (1985) revealed two major factors in social behavior: "Confidence," and "Aggression–dominance."

These studies suggest that dominance, per se, may not be a personality trait. Rather, underlying personality traits such as aggressiveness, confidence and curiosity may affect the prevalence of dog behaviors that are viewed as dominant.

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Article #III:
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!

As a Professional Dog Trainer, I see a lot of dogs, with a whole variety of problems. There are many different ways to solve the various behavior issues that I come across with these dogs, but there is always one common solution that helps these behavior issues: More exercise.

In general, dogs need at least 45 minutes of rigorous exercise every day; and that means running or playing; not just walking. This suggested exercise amount obviously varies for every dog… some may not need as much (older or calmer dogs), while some (younger or energetic breeds) may need even more. However, the best indicator of how much exercise your dog needs is simply your dog herself. If the dog starts exhibiting destructive behavior, for example, it is almost always directly related to lack of adequate exercise.

Here are just a few ideas for exercising your dog:

- Doggie Day Care
- Playing fetch (Sarge’s favorite!)
- Dog parks
- Long jogs
- Runs
- Playing hide-and-seek or chase
- Play-dates with a friend’s dog
- Tracking – Dogs follow a scent trail to find people (or treats!)
Agility – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_agility
- Lure coursing – Smaller dogs chase a pretend “rabbit” around a course
Flyball - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flyball
Field trials – (Created for retrievers!) Dogs find and retrieve birds- fake or real
Herding - http://www.e-trainingfordogs.com/HerdingMaster.html
Rally obedience (Not necessarily showing; more fun-style training)
Dock jumping – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dock_jumping

Not all areas have all sports, but things such as agility and flyball are fairly common and easy to find. Please contact me for more information on local dog sports, how to get your dog involved, as well as if you have any questions regarding dog behavior or training. Email me at AriesDogTraining@hotmail.com.

Remember… “A Tired Dog is a Good Dog!!”

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Article #IV:
Puppies!!!

Everyone loves puppies, and there are tons of advantages to getting a dog at a very young age, such as building an early bond, not having to work the dog out of previous bad behavior habits and/or negative experiences, and just being able to start from the beginning with the dog. However, puppies come with many puppy problems (which is why there are hundreds of books on puppies), and every puppy takes time and patience to train them to be the great, well-behaved dog everyone wants. Today, I’ll summarize three main points about owning a happy, well-behaved puppy, and those are: Socialize, Supervise, Exercise.

Socialize Your Puppy
Puppies need Lots of socialization. This is what makes them smart, social, confident dogs, that do not have fears of people, objects, or new noises and things. Since puppies don’t have all of their shots until mid-puppyhood, it’s best not to take them places where they can pick up diseases, such as parks, dog parks, etc. until they are fully vaccinated. You can however expose them to all kinds of things by taking them for car-rides, letting them meet lots of new people, bring healthy dogs for them to meet at your house, taking them to puppy class, and more.


Supervise Your Puppy
The main, biggest mistake I see people make with puppies is that they let their puppy wander too much without supervision. To ensure that your new dog isn’t getting into something toxic or chewing up your new couch, they Must be supervised 24/7. If this isn’t possible, take them to doggie day care (when they’re old enough), put them outside (assuming it is puppy-proofed), or baby-gate them in the kitchen or a space where they cannot destroy anything too important. Supervision is also key with housetraining, because if you’re always watching the puppy when she’s inside, you can take her outside before she’s about to have an accident. Supervision will guarantee that the dog doesn’t start bad chewing habits, fault in housetraining, or get into anything deadly, which can be anything from swallowing a super ball, to eating a deadly house plant. Always, always, always watch your puppy, or put them somewhere safe.

Exercise Your Puppy
Lastly, it’s very important to exercise your puppy. Just as the first post emphasized the importance of exercising your dog, puppies are no exception. Puppies are fairly easy to wear out (depending on their age), but this will prevent a lot of unnecessary destruction of your house and yard if you can tire your little one out. A lot of people are worried about over-exercising young dogs, but this really is nothing to be concerned about. What’s important is that the puppies get a lot of mental stimulation, and exercise on flat ground. What we don’t want is dogs under a year old (especially large-breed puppies) jumping off of things, such as couches, beds, outdoor things, etc. This is where dogs can hurt themselves and cause permanent injuries. Yet if you can wear your pup out by runs, jogs, play, and so on, this is what will keep him happy and out of trouble.

Puppies are one of the reasons I have a job, so I know they’re a lot of work. But be patient, keep up with them, and they will be more than worth it in the end.

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion"

-Unknown


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 Article #V:
Canine Nutrition

For most of us, we truly want the best for our dogs, but we unknowingly feed them very unhealthy foods. I would like to give you the basics on what should and what should not be in your dog’s main diet, so your dog can start living a longer, healthier life.

When considering what food to buy for your dog, you should always:

  • Read at least the first five to ten ingredients on the bag
  • Do not be solely influenced by commercials or dog food packaging 
  • Do not be reassured by that foods with names such as “healthy formula” or “smart blend” etc.; these are often inadequate foods that are trying to get your attention and appear to be healthy. Read the ingredients.

The main ingredients that you do not want in your dog’s food are:

  • By-products (as this can be any part of an animal)
  • Artificial colors/flavors (we shouldn’t eat them either)
  • Corn or wheat (these are used as “fillers” and are not nutritional)
  • Soy/soybean meal (again- fillers that can be compared to eating cereal)

Ingredients that you do want in your dog’s food:

  • A true meat source as the first or second ingredient
  • (Meat meals are fine; such as chicken meal, etc.)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • A good grain source such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, pea protein etc.

(For examples of better, high-quality dog foods, research brands such as Petcurean, Natural Balance, EVO, Wellness, Blue Buffalo, etc.)

Hopefully this will give you the basics, so you can start to look for good-quality ingredients in your dog’s food to keep him or her healthy. They will thank you, and you will have a healthier, happier dog.

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 Article #VI:
Finding the Perfect Obedience Class


    I’d like to talk about how to find a great, productive, beneficial puppy class that’s fun for both dog and owner. There are many facilities offering doggie classes… how do you choose the best one? Here are seven lucky tips to help you find an obedience class that’s perfect for you and your dog.

1. Fun
First things first: whether for an adult dog or a puppy, an obedience class should be fun. You should want to go, and so should your dog. If after a couple weeks of class your dog is obviously not excited to be in class, and you find it to be a drag to go, then it’s a bad sign.

2. Previous Clients
If at all possible, when looking for an obedience class, ask for some referrals of previous clients that have taken the class. This isn’t always available, but check into it. Also ask around (friends, people at dog parks, etc.) if they have attended or heard anything good or bad about the class you’re looking into.

3. Humane Treatment
This is very important, yet is often over-looked, simply because a lot of people thing that certain types of training are “to be expected” or “how all of the classes are.” This is not true. You as a person should be respected in the class, as well as anyone you’re with (friend, children, partner, parent, etc.), and your dog should be respected. Training should Always be fun, and there should never be anything even resembling punishment in class, unless it’s absolutely called for. If you feel uncertain about a training method used in class or suggested, don’t hesitate to either speak up (your classmates may feel similarly), or don’t use the method suggested.

4. Number of Commands
This shouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker for a class you’re looking into, but when searching for an obedience class, you might want to ask what kind of commands the class teaches. “Sit” and “down” and “stay” will obviously be in all of them, but some classes offer more (such as “wait,” “leave-it,” etc.). Some classes will offer a much wider variety of commands than others. Also, while you’re asking about commands the dogs will learn, ask what the typical class size is. One trainer for 15 dogs is not going to be a successful class, while one trainer for six dogs is going to be much better.

5. Training Methods
Another over-looked idea in the obedience class world: consider the methods that the trainer uses to teach the dogs in your class. There are thousands of trainers out there, all with their own styles and methods. What is important to you, however, is that the trainer is capable of using different methods for individual dogs. Not all dogs are the same, and not all training methods should be the same. The trainer’s methods should be generally positive, variant for different dogs, and always have a purpose. If at any point you don’t understand why the trainer suggested a style of training, simply ask.

6. Behavior Help
Again, not all classes offer this, but you should certainly look for a class (and trainer) that offers behavioral advice for your dog as well as teach the basics. Not all behavior problems can be solved or helped simply by verbal advice, but the trainer should be more than willing to answer any behavior questions you may have, and maybe even discuss in class common behavior problems.

7. Your Overall Impression
Lastly, trust your instincts on your overall impression of the class. First meet the trainer of the class you wish to join, and ask if you can watch a class before you join. Once you have joined your chosen class, observe your fellow classmates and, more importantly, the other dogs in the class. In an ideal class, there will be low stress, it should be fun, minor behavior issues should be addressed, and the class should be making considerable progress on the commands it aims to teach.

Use these tips in your search of a dog/puppy obedience class, and you will find a great class that is right for you and your dog. If you have any further questions, feel free to email me at AriesDogTraining@hotmail.com.

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Article #VI:
Canine Communication: The Bark
Inspired by and quotations from: Inside of a Dog, by Alexandria Horowitz

As a Professional Dog Trainer, I am very good at determining what a dog's body language and communication is telling me. This is partly because it is my job to read the language and help the dog-owner bond/communication, but it is also for my own safety. In my profession, I meet hundreds (if not thousands) of dogs, and I have to be able to understand what the dog is telling me when I first meet him or her, or if we're in a training session (private or group setting) and a situation arises. You could research for years the meanings behind dogs' communication, but for now, here are some bullet points to know about certain "barks," from a great book by Alexandria Horowitz, called Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.

What are you barking at?
According to researchers, the book describes dogs having three distinct barks: Stranger barks, isolation barks, and play barks. Experimenters analyzed the spectograms of thousands of dog barks, and found that the three different situations produced quite different-sounding barks from the dogs.

Stranger Barks
- Lowest in pitch
- Less variable (meant to send a message)
- Can be combined into "superbarks" - for a long period
- Found to be aggressive by listeners

Isolation Barks
- Higher frequency
- Variable in pitch
- Sound "fearful" to (human) listeners
- Can have intervals of quiet in between

Play Barks
- High frequency
- Occur more often than isolation barks

Everyone knows what their dog's certain barking (or whining or howling or growling) typically means given a certain situation, but really listen to your dog... do you know what he or she really wants (or doesn't want)?

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 ("M.A.C." the Sphynx kitten, and "Savs," my Miniature Schnauzer)

 

     
Looking for a good veterinarian? Try...

  • Aztec Animal Clinic (SE Albuquerque area - 265-4939)
  • Southwest Veterinary Medical Center (Westside, Dr. Daniel Levenson) - 890-8810
  • Rio Grande Animal Hospital (Candelaria and Rio Grande) - 344-5353
Looking for boarding? Try...

  • Beck N Call: (SE Albquerque) www.BeckNCall.com
  • Canine Country Club & Feline Inn: (4th Street near Paseo) www.CanineCountryClub.com
   
   

  
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