Monday, February 1, 2016

Keep Your Dog (and Yourself) from Going Stir Crazy this Winter!

1. Practice Your Training
Frigid winter days are a great time to practice training with your pup. Getting your dog thinking can be just as tiring as a romp at the park. If your dog has mastered the basics, such as sit, down, stay, etc., you can chain them together so that your dog has to do more for his reward. Don’t get too crazy at first – start with two or three commands and build up. For example, try a puppy push-up – ask your dog to sit, lay down, and sit again for a treat. You can also try training your pup a few tricks!
2. Stuff a Kong
This is a good one for when your dog goes into his crate, or when you are leaving the house, and is probably the easiest one to do. Get a Kong, put some treats or kibble in it, seal it with peanut butter, and put it in the freezer until you need it. If you only have one dog, you can give it to her before you leave in the morning, and she can eat through the peanut butter to her breakfast! This is not a good idea if you have two dogs, no matter how well they share and get along when you are there. All bets are off with a high value treat like a peanut butter Kong!

3. Get or make some puzzle toys

Ranging from somewhat easy to difficult, you can find puzzle toys in just about any pet store. You can also make some really fun (and easy) toys if you are the DIY-type. Use your old t-shirts tomake a toy for your pup.

Perfect for strong chewers or tug-of-war fans.

Really easy treat dispenser you can make from a tennis ball.

This puzzle toy is great for rainy days or high energy dogs.

All you need is a water bottle, treats, and a sock.

4. Play “Find it”
Hide your dog’s favorite toys or bone around the house and tell them to “find it.” You might have to help them out at first and lead them to the toy/bone.

5. Play “Hide-n-Seek”

You can also play “hide-n-seek” with people – have one person hide and then have your dog find the person. This is also great practice for the command “come”. After the person hides, they tell the dog to “come” and then the dog gets to go find them! This is especially fun if you have a bigger house with lots of rooms or multiple levels.

6. Go to an indoor agility class

Check out places near you that offer dog training and see if they have an indoor agility class or open gym. Zoom Room is a franchise that has a few locations around the United States, but if one isn’t near you, look around for local trainers with facilities.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Common Behavioral Problems and How to Avoid Them

According to the National Council of Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), over 95 percent of pets surrendered to shelters have had little to no manners training. Many of the common behavior issues that attribute to the owner's decision to give up the pet are easily preventable. It's important to start training early and continue with consistency. The best thing to give a new pet is consistency and boundaries.

Not to worry! We know you want to love on your new pup and give them everything they could ever want! Love and affection is not mutually exclusive from boundaries. There is a proper time and place for each one, so before you snuggle your new pooch try politely but firmly telling them to sit. At the end of the day you both want the same thing anyway: to make one another happy. Here are 3 of the most common behavioral issues and ways that will help you communicate house rules to your new family addition and keep them in their furever homes!

1. Pottying where they shouldn't
Causes: Proper training methods not followed, separation anxiety, or medical issues

How to steer clear
Rule out urinary tract infection (UTI) or other bladder issues, then video record your dog when left alone to rule out accidents due to anxiety.
-Don't give your pet the chance to go in the wrong place! Cut off access to areas where the dog is having accidents. Close doors, leash dogs in the house and/or crate your pup in a correctly-sized space. Crates/pens should be big enough for the pet to turn around, but not too big that the dog can potty on one side and sleep on the other.
-Learn when your pet needs to "go" by logging accidents. Calculate how long the dog can hold it by using this formula: dog's age in months + 1. So, a 3 month old puppy should be able to hold it for 4 hours. Eating, drinking, just waking up, and being active are all things that will increase a dog's need to potty.
-Take the dog to the same spot every time and stand there for a few minutes. Be boring and non-engaging. When the pup has done its business, get excited! Give your dog lots of praise, treats, or go for a walk!

Breaking misconceptions
Rubbing a dog's nose in an accident is the worst correction for many reasons. First, the dog can't connect the accident to the punishment because of the time between the two. Secondly, because the dog doesn't understand the connection, they will only learn to fear you, and no one wants that!
-Use positive reinforcement instead!
-Don't use walks to get your pet to do their business, use them as rewards. Once they potty on your terms, then they can go for a walk!

2. Jumping and excessive excitement
Causes: lack of mental stimulation, boredom, failure to teach dog to settle and earn attention by being polite

How to steer clear
-Exercise, exercise, exercise! Use exercise time to remove excess energy.
-Teach your dog to be polite with tricks like "sit."
-Workout your pet's brain with pet puzzle toys!
-Have your pup do their tricks for non-edible rewards. It's a great habit to make your fur-riend "earn their keep" by doing simple and polite tricks, like sit. So before you let them outside, give them their food, or toss their favorite fetch toy, try asking your pup to sit first.

Breaking misconceptions
-The truth is, dogs love attention. Any attention is attention! Yelling "bad dog!" is even attention that a bored dog may be happy to receive. Attention can reinforce bad behavior, which we call negative reinforcement.
-The key to preventing bad behavior is management while training an alternative, more desired behavior.

3. Excessive barking
Causes: Dog's desire for attention, boredom, fear, anxiety, or instinct to alert owners

How to steer clear
-Socialization classes! Take your pup to socialization classes and groups regularly to help prevent anxiety and fear.
-Politely exclaim "thank you!" after just a few barks and reward with a treat, chew, or toy if the dog stops barking.
-Reward calm and quiet behavior with praise, treats, and playtime.
-Provide lots of positive stimulation, both physically and mentally so your pup doesn't get bored, Keep toys out of reach and rotate them so they are new and exciting.

With discipline from both you and your pet, you can succeed in cutting out these bad behaviors!