Stores, businesses, and outdoor venues are increasingly inviting friendly dogs to attend. This is a dog owner’s dream come true. All too often we experience just the opposite: NO DOGS ALLOWED. Seriously, who would go to a park and not want to take their dog?!
But should you take them? Some situations are not ideal for all dogs and some events may be ideal for none. Planning to evaluate the outing and your dog’s skill level can help to ensure you, your dog, and the general public all have a wonderful experience.
Evaluate the Outing
1. Ensure there will be cool areas off the hot pavement for your dog to walk. Concrete is always cooler than blacktop but on high heat index days it is probably best to leave them at home.
2. Crowd size? Big crowds or unruly gatherings are a danger to your dog. He or should could be stepped on and have every reason to bite when in pain—but you are responsible for keeping your dog safe from people and people safe from your dog.
Evaluate Your Dog
3. Taking your dog out in public is precisely how you socialize them to become great community canine citizens. Setting your dog up for success requires that this be done gradually. Your first outing should be to a pet friendly store or quiet outdoor restaurant during low traffic times. Expect the first year of outings to require your watchful eye.
4. Have a training plan such as walking in the heel, getting treats for investigating a scary person/thing, and a down stay. This requires obedience to be learned and practiced at home first. Keep it fun with treats and fade them as your dog transforms into a social butterfly!!
War dogs have altered every aspect of dogs as we know them today. They have influenced the winning of wars, and ultimately, affected countries powers’ and borders as they stand today. War dogs have been used for direct combat, messengers (before electronic communications), detection, and as walking weapons. They naturally filled the role as companion and compadre to the men and women training, caring for, and fighting with them.
The ultimate sacrifice goes back thousands of years. Ancient civilizations bred large, powerful, and highly specialized dogs to serve as warriors. One of these breeds, known as the Molossur Dog, was a killing machine. Weighing in at 300-400lbs, he was fitted with spiked armor and deployed in groups to attack the enemy. I can’t imagine the terror.
Boxers are believed to be a descendant of the Molossur dog! At a historical attraction in Rome, Italy you can find a to-scale statue of this impressive dog. The power is captivating. Fortunately, these dogs have been bred down (in size and temperament) but the relics of ancient wars dogs exist among us today in our popular bully type breeds such as the Boxer and English Mastiff.
The training of military dogs has become highly specialized. MWD’s are the elite of the elite. Very few dogs are cut out for this type of work. No pet dog would survive for a day under the environmental stress that a MWD endures as routine. With costs reaching $150, 000 per dog, research and training methods have undergone great scrutiny and are making great advancements.
When soldiers come home they may have a new type of warrior on their side; a Service Dog. Veterans suffer visible and invisible wounds and Service Dogs are here, once again, making history doing what they do best. Service dogs assist veterans in a variety of ways from retrieving dropped objects to helping break social barriers, bringing light into an otherwise dark reality.
Support our fallen heroes, humans and animal, by recognizing the ultimate sacrifice so many have made.
Pretending to toss the ball and looking on as the fooled dog searches for it can be entertaining for the human but no so much for the dog. The human-canine relationship is built on trust and your dog trusts you. He trusts that you will throw the ball when you make the throwing motion.
Joking around is a very high cognitive function, one the dog does not possess. The dog is incapable of understanding a joke. Therefore, we cannot joke with him. When we do play a joke on him he interprets it with the cognitive functions he is capable of.
Cooperation is a social skill that dogs are generally very good at. Domestication and modern-day breeding selects the most cooperative dogs. We have dogs that work for humans finding drugs or explosives, searching for the tracks of lost humans, and mitigating disabilities for human partners. If dogs were not highly cooperative they would not be existing and flourishing in these roles.
What happens when the dog’s partner is not cooperative? Imagine the K9 Handler does not throw a toy when his K9 dog detects a drug odor or no joyful petting and excitement when a Search and Rescue (SAR) dog finds the lost child. The dog will be expecting his toy or reward and will be terribly confused when he or she does not receive it.
Do this enough times and the dog will no longer work.
This happens because the dog is expecting you to cooperate with him. He did his part – the work – and now expects you to do your part – give the reward. If you fail in holding up your part of the bargain he or she is not going to want to work or interact with you because you are not trustworthy.
Lose your dog’s trust and you have damaged your relationship.
Play fair to build a better bond!
Kids are fast moving, loud creatures nose height to most dogs. Kids can be scary and overwhelming for even well socialized dogs. While they can make great companions, rules need to be in place and adults need to supervise all interactions to prevent to all too common tragedy. Learn how to prevent dangerous situations...
Fearful Dog Behavior and body language of the dog can tell us if they are sacred of the child. Look for the dog trying to escape, slinking away, leaving the room, cowering or otherwise trying to avoid the kid.
Stressed Dog Stress signals from the dog include yawning, ears pinned back, lip licking and looking away. When you see these behaviors, the dog is trying to tell you that he is under stress and needs a break. The reason we are concerned about stress signals is because dogs can growl, snap or bite when they are under stress.
Growling or Snapping The appropriate sequence of increased stress or aggression is the growl, then the snap, and if that has not worked, the bite. There are many situations where the dog can skip the growl and snap and go right to the bite. This happens when dogs have been punished for growling, experiences pain, or feels they cannot escape. Growling is often barely audible in the beginning stages so listen carefully and be ready to respond if you think you hear a low growl.
Inexperienced Dogs They may have not been actively socialized with children or they may have had unpleasant early experiences with kids. These dogs pose the greatest threat because most bites are fear-based. Children the dog needs to be socialized with include all ages; infants, toddlers, youth, pre-teens, and teens. Ideally socialization with kids should start at birth with early handling and continue well into maturity, at least one year of age.
Unruly Children Yes, children must be provided with clear and easy to follow rules for their safety. They must also have an adult actively supervising them to ensure they follow the safety rules and receive intervention when rules are broken. Children should never tease a dog, never approach a dog’s food or toys, not pull the tail/fur, not run or scream, and offer a closed hand below the dog’s nose for the initial sniff. Most importantly, teach your child to ALWAYS ask if they can pet a dog before going up to the dog.
Lack of Control This can result from a few factors. First, has the dog had any obedience training? If it is a large dog or one that jumps up kids can easily be hurt. Dogs not on a secure collar and leash are also out of control – how will they be stopped and pulled away from a kid if they do give a warning growl?! Scan your environment before introducing the dog and child. More than one dog or one child is not a very controlled greeting situation.
With all this work and effort, you have done your part. Do not hesitate to tell a visitor, dog walker, family member or friend that their dog is not permitted to be out with your child, off the leash, or unsupervised. Not only are you protecting your child, but you are also helping to prevent a bite which will most likely lead to that dog’s death through euthanasia.
Getting Started Learning how to hold the clicker, leash and treats is a bit tricky but becomes more natural with practice. It is worth the effort because, once “loaded”, it becomes a very powerful tool to use in training. The sound, a sharp ‘click’, is paired with a treat over the course of 4 days until the dog is convinced that when he or she hears a ‘click’ a treat is sure to follow.
The clicker is more powerful than the word “yes!” because the sharp sound is processed in an ancient part of the brain -the amygdala- and so it does not require any thinking. The word “yes!” requires thinking and is not as captivating as the automatically processed click.
The Word “Yes!” is great for when a clicker is not available. “Yes!” is also great for when you are training out in public or around other dogs. The clicker cannot be used when other dogs are in hearing range because they learn that the click is irrelevant.
The clicker is used for introducing new behavior. Once you have introduced the new behavior and put it on verbal cue you can stop using the clicker and reward the dog intermittently with the word “yes!”.
Experience supports the use of the clicker for introducing new obedience behaviors and complex tasks. While it takes 4 days to load the clicker, the payoff is well worth it!
Trainer’s Tip: Brush up your clicker timing by throwing up a tennis ball and clicking at its apex!
Human Rules for Playing Tug
Playing tug does not make a dog aggressive. It will raise his or her arousal level so this game is not a safe choice for dogs with aggressive tendencies such as possession aggression or dominance aggression. For all other dogs, this can be a safe and fun way to play and blow off excessive energy.
You Always ‘Win’ Winning the tug game by getting it out of your dog’s mouth is not necessary. He cannot play tug without you and that naturally puts you in control. Dropping the tug toy and walking away ends the game. It is okay if your dog still has the toy; only you can make it come alive! By stopping play, you have exercised control of the game.
You Initiate Tug Anytime your dog makes you do something, he or she is exerting control over you. This generally is not a problem for most dogs, but for some it may be. Be in control of games and play by ignoring your dog’s request to play which is usually a soggy ball or rope dropped on your lap. Instead, choose when you want to play and bring the tug to your dog and start the game.
No Teeth Teach your dog polite and safe social skills by prohibiting any tooth to skin contact. When this occurs, drop the tug immediately to end the game. I add a verbal punisher too, such as “No Sir!”.
Teach “Out” Teaching your dog to drop a toy on command helps to make playtime easier and safer. It also adds in a bit of mental exercise for your dog since they must do a little work to get the tug back or chase the ball again. Start training with a toy your dog really loves and let him take it. Say “Out” and offer a treat. He will have to out the toy to take the treat. Give him the toy back or let him take it again and repeat. Soon the word “out” will result in your dog spitting out the toy to get ready to take the treat!
Next time you buy a toy, do your dog a favor and get blue or yellow!
They can see color, two shades, blue and yellow. Bright orange toys look grey in the (grey!) grass and the dog is probably using his ultra-powerful nose to locate it. Dogs have decent vision but really “see” with their noses more than their eyes.
It is hard to imagine “seeing” odor or scents because they are invisible. We can understand our dogs better when we can envision life the way they see it. Special matches that produce smoke are used to help dog trainers and handlers learn the behavior of odor, that is, the way odor flows and where it goes. I believe that this is a powerful way for all dog owners to better understand their dogs.
Dog’s noses are so powerful they can detect a single bed bug!
Human Remains Detection dogs, also known as cadaver dogs, have been known to locate a single drop of human blood. Search and Rescue dogs (SAR) save lost hikers and missing children by locating their scent.
Understanding how powerful odor is to your dog can help you to resolve behavior problems. If a trained dog can smell a single drop of blood, can you imagine what a full trash bin smells like? Thankfully most of us do not have a keen sense of smell! But for your dog this smell drifts and fills the room, calling him to come and get it. This clearly developed as a survival mechanism to help the dog locate food sources.
A dog who gets in the trash bin is not a bad dog, he is simply a DOG!
The dog is born to detect and locate odors to survive. If you don’t want your dog to get in the trash, store the bin in a closed closet or under the kitchen sink. Punishing a dog for getting into the trash is the equivalent of punishing him for eating. If you come home to find trash on the floor and then punish your dog you will be teaching him to fear you and is absolutely inappropriate.
Go for an “Odor Search Walk”
Get your leash and take your dog outside. Rather than walk him, follow behind him as he is led by his powerful nose.
Where did your “Odor Search Walk” lead you? Tell us!
Have you traveled with your dog? Tell us about your best adventure and where you went!!
Pets Not (always) Allowed
How will you get there ? Car, bus, train or plane? The best opportunity to bring pets along is if you are driving to your destination. Buses and trains prohibit pets except service animals. Amtrak does now allow one pet in a carrier in the cargo hold, nothing to get excited about though because the carrier must be size XXS! Air travel is trickier yet. If the dog fits in a XXS carrier (i.e. under your seat) travel is relatively simple. Call the airline ahead, reserve the pet space, pay the small fee, and get a health certificate within 10 days of travel from your veterinarian. Larger sized dogs and short-faced breeds have many more challenges in the airways. Crates 36” and up only fit in the jumbo jets which can only fly into or out of major airports – JFK, ATL, CLT, SFO, LAX and others. Heat is a very real danger to air traveling pets and most airlines restrict travel if the temp will be above 85. Short-faced breeds are especially sensitive to heat and airlines may not permit them to travel at all because they cannot efficiently cool themselves through panting.
Accommodations ? Pet friendly hotels and camping resorts are not as common as you would think. I have had great luck with Red Roof Inn and they are frequently found along most major highways and have great rates. Reserve ahead as pet friendly rooms may be booked as travel season increases. Plan to alter your travel path or destination to fit your dog’s needs. Some KOA campgrounds permit dogs but have breed, size, and vaccine restrictions and requirements. Plan early, be flexible, book early, and get all the necessary vet care and health certificates needed before the start of your awesome adventure.
Attractions ? As a rule, expect that your pet cannot be left unattended in any hotel, campground or other accommodation. This means every activity must first consider your dog. If they can’t be left unattended and can’t sit in the car because it is above 60 degrees, they must go with you everywhere. Choose restaurants with outdoor seating and call ahead to ensure your well-behaved dog is welcome outside or get fast food in the drive through when all else fails. I always carry dry snacks in the car and often sandwiches for the times we cannot find a pet friendly restaurant. Lunch in a park or on a hike with your dog is wonderful and no restaurant experience could ever compare. Always carry water and a dish for your buddy and snacks or their meal. Sightseeing may be limited to dog friendly attractions, but hey you have a dog and love getting active with him! Parks, hikes, swims, so much to do in beautiful summer weather. Beware of the heat when walking; keep the paws on grass if possible. Concrete is always cooler than pavement when in a pinch.
Ready, Set, Travel ! With a little advance planning you can be sure to have a successful and worry free vacation with your dog. I couldn’t think of a better bonding experience and your dog will love all your attention and special one-on-one time. Happy Travels!!!
Interactive toys are the hottest item on the canine market. And are they pricy! Then when you give it to your dog they either chew it up or ignore it and never play with it. We have ‘field tested’ just about every dog toy at Appalachian Dog Training LLC and we know how to get the best value out of interactive dog toys.
1. Buy only durable toys. Hard rubber or very hard plastic toys prove to be the strongest. No toy will last forever, and you should toss toys that are getting chewed or have broken parts. Choose the larger sized toy for your dog when multiple sizes are available but make sure the toy can be pushed around, picked up and carried.
2. No free access to interactive toys! Dogs can become bored or frustrated when the treats are gone and chew up the toy in search of more treats. Only bring the toy out when you can supervise your dog and take it back when the treats are out.
3. Use smelly treats to stuff inside of toys. Small round training treats work well. For dogs not needing extra calories or motivation, use dry kibble. The toy could be used to feed ½ of your dog’s daily feeding amount.
4. Training Tips - help your dog learn how to use the toy! The first 1-4 times you give your dog the interactive toy be ready to teach him how to use it. This will help him become interested because if they try to play with the toy and do not get a treat out in the first 3 tries they are likely to move on.
Training Tips Step by Step: The first three times the dog interacts with the toy (sniffing it, touching it, pushing it, nosing it) he must get a treat. This is where you come in and act as your dog’s companion. Be ready with a handful of treats and when your dog sniffs it, touches it, pushes it, or noses it toss a treat onto the toy.
Training Hint: the treat must come from the toy, not you. Tossing the treat too far or asking the dog to come to you to get it will not create this idea that treats come from this super cool, new toy. If you want to get even more technical, teach the dog to interact with the toy in successive steps. This means to treat the dog 3 times for looking towards the toy, then treat 3 times for sniffing the toy, 3 times for touching the toy, next treat 3 times for nosing the toy, and finally treat 3 times for pushing the toy (or whatever action he will be required to do to get the treats by himself). This plan is successive because you are successively making it more difficult while still ensuring your dog can get it right and have fun!
Dog live and learn in the moment. They have memories and emotions but we can only communicate in present tense. We cannot explain yesterday or tomorrow so we must be ready to communicate clearly and spontaneously.
Clear rules such as always or never are well understood. Sometimes or maybe rules cause confusion because the dog is left to figure out when they can do something and when they cannot. Rules and commands must be clear, concise, and consistent.
Asking a dog to “down” or “lay down” sound like different commands to the dog. Similarly, telling your dog to “get down” is unclear. Use a different command such as “OFF” to distinguish between lying down and getting OFF the kitchen counter.
Timing is key in communicating with your dog. Rewards must come the moment the behavior is displayed. When teaching SIT, a treat and verbal praise is given the moment the rear touches the floor. If you were to walk to the counter to get the treat, the dog would be standing when you returned and would associate standing with getting the treat.
Clicker training is utilized because of the effectiveness of the timing and sound the clicker provides. The clicker marks the exact moment a behavior occurs. It helps you to recognize when the dog has achieved the behavior you are training for and communicates to the dog, “Good job! You got it right and a treat is coming!” This allows you a moment to get your treat and give it to him for doing a great job. Use the word YES! when you do not have a clicker handy to say "great job buddy, you got it right, and a treat is on the way!"
Communicate with your dog by providing frequent feedback. We often get focused on what our dogs and puppies are doing wrong and walk around saying “No, no, no. You can’t have that, you can’t do that, you can’t go there, no, no, no!” A dog is not going to give up on life and go sit in the corner for the next 10 years. He or she is an active living, learning creature.
When your dog is lying quietly go to him and give a nice pet or give him verbal praise or a happy YES and treat. Yes, your dog will jump up and stop being calm and quiet for a moment but the more you tell him that he is a GOOD BOY the more he will repeat the behavior he was doing when you said that. Start doing this and you will find more often your dog lying quietly or chewing his bones instead of your furniture.
Communicating by providing feedback to your dog helps him to feel less isolated. Imagine if you were transported to Italy and knew no Italiano. Now imagine no one speaks English and so they just ignore you. Most of the time. When they do decide to talk, they are yelling NO, making angry faces, slamming doors, and forcing you to go outside on the porch all alone. That would be a very sad world for a very social animal.
Be your dog’s best friend, be his translator in this foreign world.
Katie Weibel, Master Dog Trainer. Providing training for companion, service and working dogs, sharing knowledge and expertise.