Aggression Modification

never tell a dog off for growling

My first choice with most clients is this: changing the dogs’ opinion of each other through counterconditioning and desensitization (CC&D).

CC&D for intra-pack aggression involves changing your dogs’ association with each other from negative to positive. The easiest way to give most dogs a positive association is with very high-value, really yummy treats. I like to use chicken – canned, baked, or boiled, since most dogs love chicken and it’s a low-fat, low-calorie food.
Here’s how the CC&D process works:

1. Determine the distance at which your dogs can be in each other’s presence and be alert or wary but not extremely fearful or aroused. This is called the threshold distance. If one dog has a greater threshold hold distance than the other (often the case), work at the greater distance.

2. With you holding Dog A on leash, have your helper appear with Dog B at threshold distance “X.” The instant your dog sees the other, start feeding bits of chicken, non-stop. Your helper will feed chicken to her dog, too, the instant he notices your dog.

3. After several seconds, have the helper step out of sight with Dog B, and you both stop feeding chicken.

4. Keep repeating steps 1-3 until the sight of the other dog at distance “X” consistently causes both dogs to look at their handlers with a happy smile and a “Yay! Where’s my chicken?” expression. This is the physical presentation of the dogs’ conditioned emotional response (CER); each dog’s association with the other at threshold distance “X” is now positive, so they can deliberately look at you to get their chicken, rather than staying intensely focused on each other.

5. Now you need to increase the intensity of the stimulus by increasing the length of time Dog B stays in sight. Continue to feed chicken when they are in view of each other, occasionally pausing to let them look at each other again, and immediately feeding chicken when they do.
6. When length of time seems to make no difference to either dog – you’re getting a consistent “Yay, where’s my chicken?” response regardless of how long Dog B stays in view, increase the intensity again, this time by increasing Dog B’s movement. Have the handler walk back and forth with her dog, still at distance “X,” slowly at first, then with more energy, even adding in some other behaviors such as sit, down, and roll over.

7. Now you’re ready to start decreasing distance by moving Dog A a little closer to the location where the Dog B will appear. When you obtain consistent CERs from both dogs at each new distance you can decrease the distance a little more, until both dogs are happy to be very near each other.

8. Then return to your original threshold distance and increase intensity stimulus by having Dog B move around more and more, as you gradually decrease distance and obtain CERs from both dogs along the way, until they are delighted to be near each other.

9. Now go back to your starting distance and increase intensity again, by having both dogs move more naturally as the distance decreases, offering CERs at each new distance before you come any closer, until they can be within six feet of each other, moving around, still relaxed and happy about chicken.

10. Finally, find ways for your dogs to engage separately in mutually enjoyable activities together. If they both enjoy car rides, take them for a drive, but be sure they are seat-belted or crated far enough apart to avoid any tension. If they love hiking, take them on “parallel” walks, one with you, one with your training partner, with humans between them at first, and eventually with dogs between humans when you’re sure their emotions are appropriate. Parallel swims, for dogs who love the water, can work well too.

When you feel the dogs are ready to finally interact with each other again, be careful not to undo all your hard work. You might first let them greet each other through a barrier, such as a baby gate or exercise pen.

Changing Bad Behavior

It can be frustrating when your dog misbehaves. A dog’s actions often don’t make sense to humans, and it can be hard to understand why a dog behaves in a destructive fashion.

Let’s discuss the causes of bad behavior and methods for correcting it.

Changing Bad Behavior

If you have a dog that is behaving badly, you need to correct the problem, but to do that, you need to understand your dog’s behavior. First and foremost, remember that dogs are pack animals and your dog sees themselves as part of your pack. If you allow your dog to continue their detrimental behavioral, they will think that they are the alpha dog, and behavioral problems will persist.

How many times have you uttered the words, “No! Bad dog!” only to find that it has no effect on your dog’s behavior? That’s because punishment doesn’t work. Most of the time, dogs don’t understand what they’re being punished for.

Changing dog behavioral problems isn’t quick and easy; it can take weeks or months to achieve. The most important thing to remember is that any attention rewards your dog, regardless of whether that attention is good or bad. If you are trying to change levels of dog obedience, always remember that punishment doesn’t work.

The key to changing behavior is not to allow your dog to be rewarded for it. Instead of yelling, give your dog the chance to succeed, and reward them when they triumph. For instance, if your dog is jumping up, tell them to lie down—and when they do, give them a treat. This is the type of dog training that will eventually stop obedience issues.

Also remember the old adage, “a tired dog is a good dog.” It’s true! A tired dog is less likely to exhibit behavioral problems, so make sure that your pup gets plenty of opportunities to run and play. Exercise is important for all dogs, as it helps them use pent up energy, so they’re less likely to direct that energy toward unwanted behaviors.

 

What Is a Dog Behaviorist?

If you are having trouble with a misbehaving dog, one option to get them back on the right track is to consult a dog behaviorist. These specialists try to find triggers for a dog’s mischief by examining their environment and noting factors that may lead to bad behavior.

 

Dog Behavior Training Tips

Did you know that behavioral problems are the number one reason dogs are surrendered to shelters or euthanized?

 

Here are some training tips for common behavioral issues:

Inappropriate Chewing. Dogs explore their environment with their mouths, so chewing comes naturally. Chewing on its own is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can help relieve boredom and stress, and it can help keep your dog’s teeth clean. The key is to get your dog to chew appropriate items. So, if you find your dog chewing on your shoe, redirect their chewing elsewhere, like to a chew toy or rope. It is also important to praise your dog for selecting the appropriate chew toy.

Digging in the Yard. The activity of digging is extremely rewarding to dogs. Your dog may dig because they caught a scent in the air or simply want to release some energy. If you don’t want your dog to dig holes in your yard, redirect their digging activities. Give your dog a sandbox or section off a portion of the yard where it is okay to dig. Reward your dog with treats and toys to make this new digging spot more exciting than their previous point of interest.

Begging at the Table. Consistency is the key to stopping poor behavior, so it is important to make sure that no one in the family feeds the dog at the table. Try to distract your dog from your family’s mealtime by giving them an appropriate activity, like enjoying a food puzzle.

Barking at the Doorbell. Your dog might bark at the doorbell because they are anxious or excited about visitors. Some dogs believe that their barking is what makes you open the door, so by barking they are attempting to train you. Redirect your dog’s attention from the doorbell, and try to get them to sit quietly on the doormat and wait for you to open the door.

Urine Marking. Dogs urinate on different items and places to mark their territory or to leave messages for other dogs. When you catch your dog urine marking in the house, interrupt the activity with a “no” and take them outside immediately. When you get outside, make sure to reward or praise your dog for urinating outdoors. Also, to prevent your dog from continuing to urinate indoors in the same spot, use an enzyme cleaner to remove the scent.

Ways to Keep Your Dog Active During Winter

Ways to Keep Your Dog Active During Winter

Cold, rain, snow, and ice can complicate our dogs’ exercise and training plans – but winter weather shouldn’t cancel them!

It can be very challenging to keep your canine family members happy during the ravages of winter. Even those who live in the warmer southern states may face long stretches of forced idleness from winter rains. Without ample enrichment activities, weeks and months of short, dark days can turn even a calm canine into a hyper hound.

Fortunately, the ever-creative modern dog training world has come up with countless ways to keep our dogs happy in inclement weather, so that dogs and humans can spend more time snuggled together in front of the warm fireplace and less time worrying about frostbite or drowning (see “Winter Warnings,” next page).

adorable animal canine cold

KEEPING ACTIVE IN THE WINTER

One of the best ways to stave off your dog’s winter crazies is to provide her with a wide variety of enrichment activities. Some are easy and can be implemented immediately, while some take a little more investment in time and resources. Let’s start with easy:

Indoor Fetch. If there’s only one of you and your dog will fetch, you can stand at the top of the stairs and toss her ball or toy to the bottom, have her run down to get it, run back up to you. If she will chase it but not bring it back, have a laundry basket full of toys or balls, call her back, and just keep throwing new ones. When you have thrown them all, go down the stairs, collect them, and bring them back up. If you don’t have stairs (or she can’t do stairs) use a long hallway. Get added benefit by putting barriers across the hall for her to jump over as she runs back and forth.

Jump the Jumps. When I was a wee child, I used to take broomsticks and mop handles and lay them across chairs all around the house, and then run with my Rough Collie, Squire, as he sailed over my makeshift jumps. You can do the same! If you prefer, you can get sections of PVC pipe at a hardware store. Start with the poles on the ground and use a treat to get your dog to walk over them, then trot over them.

When she is ready for more, use poles to make low X-shaped jumps before you use straight poles to make higher jumps. (Note: Young puppies shouldn’t jump until they are old enough not to be harmed by the repeated impacts. Check with your vet to make sure jumping is a safe activity for your pup.)

Round Robin Recall. You need at least two humans and a dog who loves to come when she’s called for this game. The larger your house and the more humans (within reason!), the better.

Put Billy (B) on the third floor, Janey (J) on the second, Mom (M) on the ground floor, and Dad (D) in the basement. (If stairs are not safely carpeted or dog has trouble with stairs, put all humans in different rooms on the same floor.) Each human has yummy treats and a toy that the dog likes for reinforcement when the dog arrives. Write up a random calling order and give each person a copy to ensure two humans aren’t calling her at the same time, and let the fun begin.

Be sure each person has a fun party with the dog when she gets there! This not only burns off dog energy, it gives the kids something to do, and it helps improve your dog’s recall.

huskey sled reverse

Ball Pit. For this one you need a kiddie wading pool and a generous supply of non-toxic, sturdy ball-pit balls. Put a towel down to cover the bottom of the pool (so the sound doesn’t startle your dog), fill the pool with balls (no water!), and let the fun begin! If your dog doesn’t take to it immediately, toss treats and favorite toys into the pool and let her – or help her – dig for them.

Snuffle Mat (and other food toys). Interactive food-dispensing toys are a simple solution to many dogs’ winter blues. We particularly like “snuffle mats,” where you bury treats in the cloth fingers of a textured mat and let your dog go to it. If you have a dog who wants to eat the mat or, in contrast, just isn’t interested, there are many other options, including treat-dispensing toys your dog pushes around, and puzzle toys she has to solve to get the treats. (See “Play with Your Food,” WDJ April 2019).

Flirt Pole. This is simply a sturdy pole with a rope fastened to one end and a toy fastened to the rope. You can make one or buy one. To play, stand in one place and swing the toy around for your dog to chase. (You can also practice “Trade” to get the toy back once your dog has grabbed it; see “Trade Agreements,” WDJ February 2017).

Woody chases the Tail Teaser with typical intensity. Be careful about baiting your dog into too many tight turns with these toys if she has knee or other joint issues.

If your dog tends to bodyslam you (or your kids) while playing this game, stand inside an exercise pen for protection while your dog chases the toy around the outside of the pen.

These toys are available in better pet supply stores and from online sources such as Chewy.com and Amazon.com. Outward Hound makes one called the “Tail Teaser” and sells it with an extra replacement toy for about $13; Chewy.com also sells one called the Pet Fit for Life Plush Wand Teaser Dog Toy for $11.

Nose Games. Scent work is surprisingly tiring, and because most dogs love to sniff, it’s also very satisfying for them. It’s also usually an easy game to teach. Have your dog sit and wait (or have someone hold her collar). Hold up a treat, walk six feet away, and place it on the floor. Return to your dog, pause, and then say “Search!” Encourage her to run out and eat the treat.

After a few repetitions, let her watch you “hide” the treat in an easy spot (on the floor behind a chair leg, etc.). Return and tell her “Search!” Gradually hide the treat in harder places, then multiple treats, and eventually have her in another room while you hide treats. This should keep her quite busy and tire her out nicely. (For much more information, see “How to Teach Your Dog to Play Nose Games,” WDJ September 2019.)

Treadmill. Now we’re getting into activities that require more investments in time and resources. First, of course, you need a treadmill. Be sure to get one that is safe to use with dogs. Dog-specific treadmills generally are smaller than human products (some are made just for small dogs!) and have appropriately sized siderails (for safety, to keep the dog from falling off on the sides).

You will need to do a very gradual introduction, associating the machine with treats and toys until your dog is very comfortable being near it, and then on it, before you even think of turning it on. Be sure not to overdo the exercise; check with your veterinarian about how much exercise is appropriate for your dog to start with and how you should increase the time (gradually!).

Cognition Training. Those winter shut-in months are a perfect time to experiment with cognition training for your dog. You don’t need a lot of room, and this brain exercise is surprisingly tiring. You can teach your dog to imitate your specific behaviors (see “Copy That,” October 2013); explore choice (see “Pro-Choice,” November 2016); learn to demonstrate object, shape, and color discrimination and even read! (see “Are Canines Cognitive?” October 2017), and much more.

Indoor Parkour. If you really want to get creative, you can set up an indoor parkour course for your dog, made out of household items. After you’ve taught your dog each of the various obstacles, put them all together into a complete course. Here are some suggestions for obstacles that you can train your dog to navigate:

Laundry Leap: Get a laundry basket that’s an appropriate size for your dog, and teach him to jump into and out of it.

Hoop-De-Do: Best use of a hula hoop ever! Hold it up for your dog to jump through, or wedge it between a chair and a wall for a fixed jump.

Sweet Roll: Roll up a carpet runner and let your dog unroll it with her nose. (Teach this one by placing treats inside the rug as you roll it so she finds them as she unrolls it.) This would be especially fun if you had a red carpet that your dog could unroll for special guests!

That Was Easy: A smack of the paw lets your dog share her editorial opinion. These buttons are available from Staples stores and its website – or you can find a variety of wonderful talking buttons online.

Go ’Round: A simple orange traffic cone makes a perfect loop-stacle to send your dog around the bend in a different direction.

Walk the Plank: Place an eight-foot long 2×8 board across two low stools and let your dog walk the plank! Increase the level of difficulty with narrower planks.

Tunnel o’ Chairs: If you have a smaller dog, start by teaching her to crawl under one folding chair, then add a second chair, then a third, eventually making your crawl tunnel as long as you want it to be!

Whatever your fancy, there should be some activities here that you and your dog can enjoy together when the weather outside is frightful. Stay warm, stay safe, and have fun!

Do Dogs Need Grains in Their Diet?

Sharing an Article, that I thought would be interesting, for my readers

March 06, 2019 – Article by Dr. Primovic – DVM

Pet owners commonly question, “do dogs need grains” in their diet. In this article we will review what is a grain, types of grains, if dogs need grain, and what food is best if you are feeding your dog a grain free food.

First, just exactly what is a grain? Per the dictionary, “a grain is defined as a hard dry seed that is small and attached to a fruit layer.” Many grains grow in crops and are harvested from producing plants. Two common categories of grains are cereals and legumes.

Depending on your location in the country and world, you may be more familiar with some grains than others. The most common grain as it pertains to dog food are the cereal grains. Types of cereal grains include maize (corn), various types of millet, sorghum, fonio, barley, oats, rice, rye, spelt, wheat, wild rice, triticale, and teff.

Other kinds of grains include buckwheat, chia, quinoa, kiwicha, lentils, chickpeas, common beans, lentils, lima beans, fava beans, soybeans, runner beans, pigeon beans, peanuts, mustards, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, flax seed, hemp, poppy seed, and lupins.

The most common grains used in dog foods are barely, buckwheat, corn, rice, oats, and quinoa.

Grains in the diets of humans are considered healthy and full of protein, vitamin E, iron, and linoleic acid. Some grains are promoted in people as being very healthy. For example, quinoa is commonly referred to as a “super food” due to its high quantities of iron, protein and fiber. However, this is not necessarily true for dogs.

 

Do Dogs Need Grain Free Dog Food?

There are several opinions and theories from experts as they relate to different aspects of feeding grains to dogs. They include:

Filler Theory – Some believe that grains are dog food fillers and are not optimal to feed for good canine health. Grains are less expensive than proteins such as beef or chicken and therefore pet food companies will manufacture dog food with large amounts of grains to keep the prices down.

Natural Theory – In nature, dogs do eat some grains. Access to grains stems back to when dogs hunted and killed prey to survive. Dogs would eat the meat, bones, organs, and contents of organs such as the stomach and intestine. The prey that dogs kill was commonly herbivores whose intestines and stomachs contained grains. Grains are not a majority component of a dogs diet but it was a natural part of their diet in small amounts.

Good Grain Theory – There are some grains that are better than others. Some grains such as quinoa are even considered a “super food” due to the high nutrient properties of protein, iron and fiber. Some grains can be good for dogs in small quantities.

Allergies Theory – Some experts believe that grains create allergies in dogs. On the other hand, some disagree with this theory. The reality is that grains can cause allergies but grains are not the most common cause of canine allergies. The most common food that causes allergies in dogs is beef. Other common food allergens include dairy, chicken, fish, eggs, and milk.

 

Do Dogs Need Grains?

Pet owners commonly ask if dogs need grains in their diet. The answer is no. Dogs do not need grains in their diet. Dogs are carnivores. Dogs require a balanced diet formulated to meet the needs of your dog’s life stage and condition. Dietary requirements for dogs can vary according to age, activity levels and medical history. Although dogs don’t need grains, whole grains can provide protein, amino acids, and vitamin E.

Many dry dog foods based on grain as the primarily ingredients including soybean, corn, or rice. Many dog foods list these grains as the first ingredient. Some better brands of dog food list meat or fish as the first listed ingredient. Higher quality dog foods generally cost more but dogs eat less of them that helps to balance out cost.

 

What Dog Food Should I Feed My Dog?

The most important factor when choosing dog food is to choose a food that is AAFCO approved and formulated to meet the needs of your dog. AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). It is a voluntary membership program that indicates that the dog food manufacturer has confirmed to AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles. Check the dog food label to ensure the food conforms to these standards.

When choosing a food for your dog, consider nutritional needs, life stage, activity level, body condition, and underlying medical conditions. A puppy has different needs and requirements as compared to a senior dog. A working dog has different needs than a nonworking lap dog.

Feeding a grain free dog food or a quality food that does not list grain as the first ingredient are both good options for dogs that do not have food allergies.

thanksgiving

 

Could It Be Canine Dementia?

I personally experience this with my Teal’C 

MY Heart still aches

Symptoms

dementia.jpg

 

Dog owners are usually the first to notice that something is wrong or different with their dogs. Common symptoms to watch for include pacing, turning in circles, staring into space, or seeming lost and confused. In many cases, the dog’s temperament changes. Dogs who have been generally friendly may begin to show aggression – and typically aggressive dogs may become unusually friendly!

Dogs experiencing an onset of CCD may also start to have difficulty navigating stairs or seem confused about how to get around furniture. CCD may also lead to dogs isolating and seeking out less attention, or generally become more fearful or anxious.

Veterinarians use the acronym DISHAA to describe typical symptoms of CCD. This stands for:

Disorientation – Examples include getting lost in familiar places, doing things like standing at the hinge side of the door waiting for it to open, or getting “stuck” behind furniture.

Interactions – Changes in how or even whether the dog interacts with his people. He may withdraw from his family, and become more irritable, fearful, or aggressive with visitors. In contrast, the dog may become overdependant and “clingy,” in need of constant contact.
Sleep – Changes in sleep patterns (such as being wakeful or restless in the middle of the night), vocalization at night.

Housetraining – Increased house-soiling and/or a decrease in signaling to go out are common. Or a dog goes outside for a while and then eliminates in the house right after coming inside, or soils his crate or bed.

Activity level – Decrease in exploration or play with toys or family members, and/or an increase in aimless pacing or wandering.

Anxiety – Increased anxiety when separated from owners, more reactive or fearful to visual or auditory stimuli, increased fear or new places.

Recently, the letter “L” was added to the end of the acronym:

Learning/memory – Decreased ability to perform learned tasks, decreased responsiveness to familiar cues, inability/slow to learn new tasks.

Dylan Fry, DVM, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (DACVIM), a neurologist at NorthStar VETS, also notes that it’s important to watch for new compulsive behaviors (such as pacing) from your senior dog, as these, too, could be symptoms of CCD. If your dog is exhibiting any of the above symptoms or has developed a behavior or personality change, it’s a good idea for your dog to be seen by a veterinarian so you can discuss your concerns about CCD and rule out any other conditions like arthritis or other pain, vision, or hearing changes that may cause similar symptoms.

The Dog Nanny

How to Stop Your Dog’s Annoying Humping Behavior

How to Stop Your Dog’s Annoying Humping Behavior
Dog humping is mostly triggered by stress. You can eliminate the stress and modify your dog’s behavior with these simple tips.

Female dog humping pillow
A client’s 13-year-old Pomeranian, Scooter, loves to hump his purple stuffed bear. We find it harmless, so we don’t try to stop him, though, honestly, he doesn’t get that many opportunities to practice the behavior. His intimate bear-time is limited because their Corgi, Lucy, shreds stuffed animals in the blink of an eye, so Scooter only gets his bear  when Lucy isn’t around, which isn’t all that often. But there are many dogs whose mounting behavior is more disturbing – because it embarrasses their humans, offends observers, or worse, distresses the person or other animal who is the unfortunate humpee of the moment.

Scooter’s purple bear could care less. Other dogs, and humans who are the target of the behavior, may be intimidated, antagonized, or even injured by the overbearing attentions of a dog dedicated to mounting. I was once on the receiving end of a Boxer’s persistent mounting while conducting a behavior assessment at a shelter. This dog was so big and strong that he actually was able to pull me to the floor of the kennel – a frightening and potentially very dangerous situation, had there not been other staff there to rescue me. And I don’t get taken down by a dog easily!

Dog Humping isn’t About Sex
Mounting behavior is most commonly not about sex. Oh sure, if you have a female in season and an unsterilized male dog mounting her, then yes, it is clearly about reproduction. But in today’s polite society, many dogs are spayed and neutered, and unspayed females in season are usually kept safely at home by her responsible owners.
Still, it’s common to see dogs mounting other dogs, humans, toys, other objects, and even “air-humping” – seemingly having their way with some invisible, imaginary subject. And it’s not limited to male dogs; female dogs also hump objects, people, and other dogs.

Like many canine behaviors that we humans find annoying, inconvenient, or embarrassing, dog humping is a perfectly normal behavior. And like other such annoying, inconvenient, and embarrassing behaviors, it’s perfectly reasonable for us to ask our dogs to stop, or to at least reserve the behavior for times or places that are considered more appropriate by the human family members.

So why do dogs hump? Reproduction aside, the most common reason dogs hump things is in response to stress, anxiety, and/or excitement. A trainer friend of mine tells of a friend coming to visit – a friend who lives far away, visits rarely, and who is well-loved by my trainer friend’s dog, a pit bull-mix. Roscoe was so deliriously happy about the friend’s visit that he made a full air-humping circuit of the living room before he could settle down enough to greet the guest politely. Our first Pomeranian, Dusty, would mount the sofa cushions if I took the other dogs out and left him inside. The stress of being left behind triggered the cushion-humping.

The stress and excitement of meeting other dogs is a classic cause of mounting, and one of the reasons you are highly likely to see the behavior on display in dog parks. Brief bouts that involve mounting of other dogs in canine social interactions – as long as they don’t lead to bloodletting or oppression of the mountee – are acceptable. Mounting of human body parts is not acceptable, nor is mounting that leads to dog fights.

There can also be underlying medical causes of canine mounting and masturbation. These can include urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, and allergies that cause itching of sensitive body parts. In these cases, the dog is merely trying to relieve the discomfort caused by the medical issue. We had an allergy-prone Scottish Terrier who, in the middle of allergy flare-ups, would do push-ups on the living room carpet to scratch his itchy private parts.

Attention-seeking can be yet another reason why dogs hump. Some dogs have learned that a really good way to get their humans to engage with them is to climb on for a little ride. Remember that for many attention-starved dogs, negative attention (“Bad dog, stop that!”) is still better than no attention at all. And if some humans find the behavior amusing, positively reinforcing it with laughter and encouragement, the behavior is all the more likely to continue.

How To Stop Your Dog’s Humping
So what do you do with a dog who mounts inappropriately? The first step is a trip to your veterinarian to rule out – or treat – any medical conditions that may be causing or exacerbating the behavior.

Meanwhile, do your best to manage your dog’s environment to prevent, or at least minimize, the behavior. If he aggravates other dogs at the dog park, limit his social engagements until the behavior is under control. If he persists in annoying your guests, keep him leashed, crated, behind a baby gate, or in another room when company visits, so he can’t practice the unwanted behavior.

The longer your dog has practiced his mounting behavior, the harder it will be to change. It’s logical that the sooner you intervene in your dog’s unacceptable mounting, the better your chances for behavior modification success.

Neutering is another obvious first step. A 1990 study found a 50 percent improvement in mounting behavior in 60 percent of dogs, and a 90 percent improvement in as many as 40 percent of dogs following castration. (While both male and female dogs may engage in mounting, it is more often a male dog behavior problem than a female one.)

A 1976 study determined that within 72 hours of surgery, the bulk of hormones have left the dog’s system. Since mounting is partially a learned behavior as well as hormone-driven, the extent to which neutering will help will be determined at least in part by how long the dog has been allowed to practice the behavior. Neutered dogs may still hump after surgery, but the odds are greatly reduced.

dog humping behavior

Female dog humping human
Dog-on-Dog Mounting
You will need to work harder to convince your adult, well-practiced dog than a young, inexperienced pup to quit climbing on other dogs. Additionally, there’s more potential for aggression with a mature dog if the recipient of unwanted attentions objects to being mounted. With both young and mature dogs, you can use time-outs to let your dog know that mounting behavior makes all fun stop. A tab (a short, 4- to 6-inch piece of leash) or a drag-line (a 4- to 6-foot light nylon cord) attached to your dog’s collar can make enforcement of time-outs faster and more effective (and safer) when you have to separate dogs.

Set up your dog for a play date with an understanding friend who has a tolerant dog. Try to find a safely fenced but neutral play yard, so that home team advantage doesn’t play a role. If a neutral yard isn’t available, the friend’s yard is better than your own, and outdoors is definitely preferable to indoors.

When you turn the dogs out together, watch yours closely. It’s a good idea to have some tools on hand to break up a fight, should one occur. If there’s no sign of mounting, let them play. Be ready to intervene if you see the beginning signs of mounting behavior in your dog. This usually occurs as play escalates and arousal increases.

When you see the first glimmerings of mounting behavior, try subtle body-blocking. Every time your dog approaches the other with obvious mounting body postures, step calmly in front of your dog to block him. If you’re particularly coordinated, you may be able to simply lean your body forward or thrust out a hip or knee to send him the message that the fun’s about to stop. This is more likely to work with the younger dog, who is less intense about his intent to mount. Be sure not to intervene if your dog appears to be initiating appropriate canine play.

If body blocking doesn’t work, as gently and unobtrusively as possible, grasp the dog’s tab or light line, give a cheerful “Oops!”, then happily announce, “Time out!” and lead your dog to a quiet corner of the play yard. (The “Oops!” is what’s called a “no reward marker – sort of like the opposite of a reward marker such as the click of a clicker. It lets your dog know that the thing he is doing at that moment is not going to be rewarded.) Sit with him there until you can tell that his arousal level has diminished, and then release him to return to his playmate. If necessary, have your friend restrain her dog at the same time so he doesn’t come pestering yours during the time-out.

Keep in mind that the earlier you intervene in the mounting behavior sequence, the more effective the intervention will be, since your dog hasn’t had time to get fully engaged in the behavior. It’s vitally important that you stay calm and cheerful about the modification program. Yelling at or physically correcting your dog increases the stress level in the environment, making more mounting behavior – and a fight, or aggression toward you – more likely to occur.

With enough time-out repetitions, most dogs will give up the mounting, at least for the time being. With an older dog for whom the habit is well ingrained, you may need to repeat your time-outs with each new play session, and you may need to restrict his playmates to those who won’t take offense to his persistently rude behavior.

With a pup or juvenile, the behavior should extinguish fairly easily with repeated time-outs, especially if he is neutered. Just keep an eye out for “spontaneous recovery,” when a behavior you think has been extinguished returns unexpectedly. Quick re-intervention with body blocks or time-outs should put the mounting to rest again.

Dog-on-Human Mounting
This embarrassing behavior is handled much the same way as dog-dog mounting. One difference is that you must educate your guests as to how they should respond if your dog attempts his inappropriate behavior. Another is that some dogs will become aggressive if you physically try to remove them from a human leg or other body part. It works best to set up initial training sessions with dog-savvy friends who agree to be human mounting posts for training purposes, rather than relying on “real” guests to respond promptly and appropriately, at least until your dog starts to get the idea.

For your average, run-of-the-mill human mounting, ask your guests to immediately stand up and walk away if your dog attempts to get too cozy. Explain that it is not sexual behavior, but rather attention-seeking, and anything they try to do to talk the dog out of it or physically restrain him will only reinforce the behavior and make it worse. You can also use a light line here, to help extricate your friends from your dog’s embrace, and to give him that oh-so-useful time out.

If the behavior is too disruptive, you can tether your dog in the room where you are all socializing, so he still gets to be part of the social experience without repeatedly mugging your guests.

If your dog becomes aggressive when thwarted, he should be shut safely away in his crate when company comes. Social hour is not an appropriate time to work on any aggressive behavior; it puts your guests at risk, and prevents all of you from being able to relax and enjoy the occasion.

If your dog becomes growly, snappy, or otherwise dangerous when you try to remove him from a human, you are dealing with serious behavior challenge. You would be wise to work with a qualified, positive reinforcement-based behavior consultant who can help you stay safe while you modify this behavior. The program remains essentially the same – using time-outs to take away the fun every time the behavior happens, but may also involve the use of muzzles, and perhaps pharmaceutical intervention with your veterinarian’s assistance, if necessary.

Dog-on-Object Mounting
Dog owners are often surprised to discover that some dogs will masturbate. Our diminutive Dusty, pillager of the sofa pillows, discovered early in life that if he approaches someone who was sitting with their legs crossed, the person’s foot was just the right height for him to to stand over a raised human foot and engage in a little self-pleasuring. As soon as we realized what he was doing, we squelched that behavior by removing his opportunity; we’d put both feet on the floor and that was that.

There’s really no harm in canine masturbation, as long as the objects used are reasonably appropriate (i.e., dog toys, as opposed to your bed pillows!), and it doesn’t become obsessive. Removing an inappropriate object or resorting to cheerful time-outs can redirect the behavior to objects that are more acceptable, such as a stuffed dog toy.

If your dog practices the behavior to the degree that is appears obsessive – a not uncommon problem in zoo animals, but rare in dogs – then you may need some behavior modification help. A behavior is generally considered obsessive when it is causes harm to the organism or interferes with his ability to lead a normal life. For example, if your dog is rubbing himself raw on the Berber carpet, or spends 20 hours a day having fun in the bedroom, you’re looking at obsessive behavior.

There are behavior modification programs that can help with canine obsessive-compulsive disorders, and they often require pharmaceutical intervention, especially if the obsession is well-developed.

The “Say Please” Program
In addition to specific behavior modification programs for mounting behavior, a “Say Please” program can be an important key to your ultimate success. No, we’re not suggesting you allow your dog to do inappropriate mounting if he says “please” first; a Say Please program requires that he perform a polite behavior, such as “sit,” before he gets any good stuff (like dinner, treats, or petting, or going outside). This helps create structure in his world and reminds him that you are in control of the good stuff. Since a fair amount of mounting has to do with stress, and structure helps reduce stress, “Say Please” is right on target.

Eliminate Your Dog’s Stress
Because stress is a significant part of mounting behavior, the more stressors you can remove from your dog’s world, the better. Learn to recognize signs of stress in your dog and reduce the stressors in his life.

“Good Manners” classes are also of benefit. The better you and your dog can communicate with each other, the less stressful life is for both of you. If he’s trained to respond promptly to cues, you can use the technique of “asking for an incompatible behavior” to minimize mounting. If you see your dog approaching a guest with a gleam in his eye, your cue to “Go to your place!” or “Leave it!” will divert him. He can’t “Down” and mount a leg at the same time. Nor can he do push-ups on the rug if he is responding to your request to “Sit.”

If you start early and are consistent about reducing your dog’s stress, removing reinforcement for your dog’s inappropriate mounting, and reinforcing alternative/incompatible behaviors, chances are you can succeed in making the embarrassing behavior go away.

The Dog Nanny

Holiday Safety for your Dog

hurray before santa get here

The holidays are all about family, friends, fun and food – but sometimes it’s easy to forget about holiday safety for your dog. We all want our dogs to be part of the celebration, but there are some important guidelines to follow. Keep your dog safe this holiday season – no one wants their holiday celebration to end up at the veterinary emergency clinic!

No table scraps! Just because we humans like to indulge in the feast does not mean it is good for our dogs. Rich, fatty foods can seriously upset your dog’s stomach and even be toxic. Most dogs love food and especially yearn for “people food”. Dog experts have discouraged the feeding of table scraps to dogs for years because of the potentials for toxicity, obesity and general poor health. While healthy, well-balanced diets can be prepared for dogs using human food, it is essential to feed the right foods. Know what foods to avoid so you can prevent poisoning and keep your dog healthy. If you suspect your dog has ingested a toxic food, seek veterinary attention immediately.

It is especially important to keep your dog away from the following dangerous foods:

Grapes and Raisins can cause irreversible damage to the kidneys, possible resulting in death.

  • Ingesting as few as 4-5 grapes or raisins can be poisonous to a 20 pound dog, though the exact toxic dose is not established.
  • Signs of toxicity include vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, abdominal pain, decreased urine production (possibly leading to lack of urine production), weakness and drunken gait.
  • Onset of signs typically occurs within 24 hours (though they can start just a few hours after consumption)
  • Your vet may start by inducing vomiting, or the stomach might be pumped (gastric lavage). Treatment involves aggressive supportive care – particularly fluid therapy and medications

Onions can cause a form of hemolytic anemia called Heinz body anemia, a condition that causes the destruction of red blood cells. Kidney damage may follow.

  • Toxicity may occur from similar foods such as garlic and chives.
  • It is not clear what quantity of onions is poisonous, but the effects can be cumulative. Poisoning can result from raw, cooked and dehydrated forms. Avoid feeding table scraps and any foods cooked with onions (including some baby foods). Check your ingredients!
  • Signs are secondary to anemia, such as pale gums, rapid heart rate, weakness and lethargy. Other signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody urine.
  • Treatment: blood transfusions and/or oxygen administration may be necessary, followed by specific fluid therapy.

 

Chocolate and cocoa contain a chemical called theobromide that can adversely affect the heart, lungs, kidney and central nervous system.

  • Pure baking chocolate is most toxic, while milk chocolate requires a higher quantity to cause harm. A 20 pound dog can be poisoned after consuming about 2 ounces of baking chocolate, but it would take nearly 20 ounces of milk chocolate to cause harm. Ingestion of cacao bean mulch can also be toxic.
  • Signs include excitement, tremors, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rate/rhythm, drunken gait, hyperthermia and coma.
  • Your vet may induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage. Treatment includes administration of activated charcoal and aggressive supportive care with fluid therapy and medications.
  • Caffeine is quite similar to the toxic chemical in chocolate. It can damage the heart, lungs, kidney and central nervous system.
  • Commons sources of toxicity include caffeine pills, coffee beans and coffee, large amounts of tea, and chocolate.
  • Signs typically begin with restlessness, hyperactivity and vomiting. These can be followed by panting, weakness, drunken gait increased heart rate, muscle tremors and convulsions.
  • Your vet may induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage. Treatment includes administration of activated charcoal and supportive care with fluid therapy and medications

 

Macadamia nuts, while generally not considered fatal, can cause your dog to experience severe illness.

  • The actually toxin is not know, nor is the mechanism of toxicity.
  • Ingestion of just a handful of nuts can cause adverse effects in any dog.
  • Signs include vomiting, weakness, depression, drunken gait, joint/muscle pain, and joint swelling.
  • Onset of signs typically occurs within 6-24 hours.
  • Dogs are typically treated symptomatically and recover within 24-48 hours. In-hospital supportive care may be recommend for dogs that become very sick.
  • Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener most often found in chewing gum and candy. In dogs, it stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin, resulting in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Xylitol ingestion can also cause severe liver damage.
  • As few as two pieces of gum can be hypoglycemia to a 20 pound dog. A pack of gum can cause liver damage.
  • Signs of toxicity can occur within 30-60 minutes and include weakness, drunken gait, collapse and seizures.
  • Your vet may induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage. The affected dog will likely need to be treated intravenously with dextrose (sugar) and monitored closely for 1-2 days. Many dogs improve with supportive care if treated early enough, though liver damage can be permanent.

Alcoholic beverages contain ethanol – a seriously toxic chemical compound that causes central nervous system and respiratory depression.

  • Uncooked yeast doughs also produce ethanol.
  • Even small amounts of ethanol can cause toxic effects.
  • Signs include sedation, depression, lethargy, weakness, drunken gait and hypothermia (low body temperature).
  • Ethanol is rapidly absorbed into the system, so it is important to seek medical attention quickly. It is not usually helpful to induce vomiting. Treatment includes aggressive supportive care with fluid therapy and medications.
  • Under controlled circumstances, alcohol is used by veterinarians as an antidote for antifreeze (ethylene glycol) poisoning.

 

Apple seeds, cherry pits, peach pits, and plum pits contain the toxin cyanide.

  • Signs of cyanide poisoning include vomiting, heavy breathing, apnea tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmias, coma, skin irritation.
  • In some cases, antidotes are available. Other treatments include oxygen therapy, fluids and supportive care.
  • Also take note that the leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Also, the fat content is not healthy for dogs.

Moldy or rotten foods can cause many problems for your dog, some more serious than others. Any food that seems “past its prime” should be kept out reach. Be especially careful to keep your dog away from trash cans.

  • Botulism, often from garbage, can cause paralysis, slow heart rate, constipation, and urine retention. An antitoxin is effective only if poisoning is caught early enough.
  • Rotten fruit produces ethanol, causing the same effects associated with alcohol or dough ingestion.
  • Moldy foods contain toxins that may cause muscle tremors, convulsions and drunkenness.
  • Therapy depends on the toxin. Your vet may induce vomiting. Sometimes, treatment includes activated charcoal. Supportive care with fluids and medications is often necessary.

Certain foods, while not considered toxic, can still be unhealthy for your dog. Avoid any foods that are high in fat, sugar or sodium. These foods can contribute to indigestion, obesity, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and more. Dairy products may be difficult for dogs to digest. Corn cobs and bones can cause GI obstruction. Cooked bones may splinter and break easily, risking GI damage.

Like people, too much junk food can cause poor condition and decreased energy.

Remember that your dog is smaller than you and may be sensitive.

What seems like “just a bite” for you is more like a small meal for your dog.

If you want to feed homemade food, seek advice from your vet.

You may wish to meet with a nutritionist for diet recommendations.

The Dog nanny website

 

Dog-On-Dog Household Aggression

A challenge of having two or more dogs in the same house is the possibility of needing to defuse fights between your dogs. If your dog is suddenly aggressive to your other dog, or attacks other dogs in the house seemingly for no reason, here is how to get your two dogs to get along.

ddb halloween ball

GET YOUR DOGS TO GET ALONG: OVERVIEW

  1. Manage your dogs’ environment so that they don’t have the opportunity to antagonize each other.
  2. Identify your dogs’ stressors and eliminate as many as possible to keep them further from their bite threshold while you modify behavior.
  3. Seek help from a qualified positive behavior professional if you are in over your head. An aggressive dog is a serious matter!

 

Knowledgeable dog people are quite aware that not all dogs get along with each other, despite the fact that canis lupus familiaris (domestic dog) is a social species. Hey, we humans are a social species, and we certainly don’t all get along! Dog on dog aggression is unhappily common in our world. As a professional behavior consultant who works with aggressive dogs, I probably see more than my fair share of it. By far the most difficult and most distressing presentations of tension between dogs are interdog aggression cases: dogs in the same family who aren’t getting along with each other.

 

How to Stop Dogs Fighting in the House

Sarah Richardson

I’ve had a spate of these clients in recent weeks. Even our own dogs, don’t always get along seamlessly, and seem to have experienced an increase in relationship tensions this winter. I can’t give you a tidy explanation as to why, but I’m beginning to put more stock in the explanation jokingly offered by my colleague, when she called it “snow aggression.”

 

Why Do Dogs Fight?

 

 

Why do dogs attack other dogs in the house? Far from a case of dog sibling rivalry, when one dog attacks the other in the house, the reason is stress. With the very rare exception of idiopathic aggression – at one time called “rage syndrome,” “Cocker rage,” or “Springer rage” and grossly over diagnosed in the 1960s and ’70s – aggression is the result of a stress load that pushes a dog over his bite threshold.

You can compare it to incidents of “road rage” in humans. When you read about the man who pulls out his .38 revolver because someone cut him off on the freeway and blows away the unfortunate offending driver, you can bet there was more going on for him than just a simple traffic violation. This is the guy who was likely laid off his job, lost his retirement investments, had his wife tell him this morning that she was leaving him, and just got notice in the mail that the bank is foreclosing on his home. Getting cut off on the freeway is simply the last straw – the final stressor that pushes him over his “bite threshold.”

So it is for dogs. When tensions increase between Cadbury & Cersei, I need to look for possible added stressors in their environment that are pushing them closer to, and yes, sometimes over, their bite threshold. From that perspective, “snow aggression” is a real possibility: with recent snowfalls here, the resulting decrease in exercise opportunities as well as higher stress levels of human family members who aren’t fond of snow (guilty!) can be stressors for the canine family members.

To resolve aggression issues between your own dogs, you’ll want to identify not only the immediate trigger for the aggression – fighting over a meaty bone, for example – but also everything in your dog’s life that may be stressful to him. The more stressors you can remove from his world, the less likely it is that he will use his teeth – the canine equivalent of pulling out a .38 revolver.

 

Common Stressors for Dogs

Stress in dogs can happen anytime and be anywhere. Remember that it’s the sum total of a dog’s stress that push him over his bite threshold, so the more of these you can identify and get rid of, the more you’ll ease tensions between your canine family members.

When I sit down with a client for an interdog aggression consult we create a list of all the stressors we can think of for the dog or dogs in question.

After identifying stressors, we discuss possible strategies, assigning one or more strategies to each of the listed stressors. These strategies are:

 

 

– Change the dog’s opinion of the stressor through the use of counter-conditioning and desensitization.

– Teach the dog a new behavioral response using operant conditioning.

– Manage the dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor.

– Get rid of the stressor.

– Live with it (most appropriate for low-level stressors). Next, I help the client make a management plan that will go into place immediately, to help defuse the tension until she is able to start work on behavior modification. Then we create action plans for two or three of the stressors on the list, starting with the one the client is most concerned about – in this case, the dog on dog aggression.

 

Here is a sample list of stressors we’ve put together:

 

STRESSOR                                                            STRATEGY

The other dog                                                    Change the aggressive dog’s opinion of the stressor through the use of counter-conditioning and desensitization (CC&D).

Passers-by outside the living room window

Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; manage dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor (i.e. close blinds, close off dog’s access to that window)

Threats to resources (food/toys)               Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; use operant conditioning to teach dog a new behavioral response

Doorbell ringing                                                Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; use operant conditioning to teach dog a new behavioral response

Car rides                                                              Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; live with it (most appropriate for low-level stressors)

Trips to the vet                                                 Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; live with it (most appropriate for low-level stressors)

 

STRESSOR                                                            STRATEGY

 

Nail trimming                                                     Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; use operant conditioning to teach dog a new behavioral response; teach dog to scrape his nails on an abrasive surface

Thunder                                                               Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; manage dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor; live with it (most appropriate for low-level stressors); possible use of an appropriate anti-anxiety medication

Fireworks                                                            Change dog’s opinion of the stressor through CC&D; manage dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor; live with it (most appropriate for low-level stressors); possible use of an appropriate anti-anxiety medication

Arthritis                                                                Manage dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor; ask your vet whether pain-reducing medication is appropriate

Recurring ear infections                                Get rid of the stressor: explore medical treatment and your dog’s diet (ear infections can result from dietary allergies)

Underground shock fence                           Get rid of the stressor

Prong collar                                                         Get rid of the stressor

Use of physical and harsh verbal punishments    Get rid of the stressor

Owner’s stress                                                  Manage dog’s environment to minimize exposure to the stressor; get rid of the stressor

There are many other possibilities. My clients usually list 10 and 20 identified stressors. Be sure to include things that may cause even mild stress. The more stressors you can eliminate, the better.

 

 

 

Food Aggression in Dogs and Other Stress Triggers

It’s often relatively easy to identify the immediate trigger for your dogs’ mutual aggression. It’s usually whatever happened just before the appearance of the hard stare, posturing, growls, and sometimes the actual fight.

Tension over resources is a common trigger. Dog #1 is lying on his bed, happily chewing his deer antler, when Dog #2 approaches. Dog #1 tenses, signaling to #2 Dog, “This is mine and I’m not sharing.”

In the best of worlds, #2 defers by looking away, saying in canine speak, “Oh, no worries, I was just passing through.” When things go wrong, however, a fight breaks out. Dog #2’s approach was the trigger for #1, even if #2 had no interest in the chew item. Perhaps Dog #2 failed to notice or failed to heed #1’s warning. Remember that resources include more than just food; a guardable resource can also be a high-value human, a coveted spot on the sofa, or access to a doorway. The stressor in these cases is obvious: the dog is anxious over the possibility of losing or having to share his treasured possession.

Other triggers may be less obvious. If a dog is in pain, but not showing it, the mere proximity of a packmate who has inadvertently bumped her in the past could be a trigger. Dogs can be notoriously stoic about pain, especially slowly developing arthritis, or unilateral pain (where you may not see a limp). The undiagnosed arthritic dog may become defensively aggressive in anticipation of being hurt by a livelier canine pal, trying to forestall painful contact in what looks to the owner like “unprovoked” aggression.

“Status-related aggression” can result when neither of two dogs in the same family is willing to defer to the other. Note that this type of aggression is more about deference (or lack thereof) than it is about dominance. A truly high-ranking member of the social group, like our Male Dogue De Bordeaux Tarkas, doesn’t engage in scuffles – he doesn’t have to!

When you have identified your dogs’ triggers, you can manage their environment to reduce trigger incidents and minimize outright conflict. This is critically important to a successful modification program. The more often the dogs fight, the more tension there is between them; the more practiced they become at the undesirable behaviors, the better they get at fighting and the harder it will be to make it go away. And this is to say nothing of the increased likelihood that sooner or later someone – dog or human – will be badly injured.

 

How to Stop Dogs From Fighting

 

  1. Dog Aggression Counter-Conditioning

My first choice with most clients is the first strategy listed above: changing the dogs’ opinion of each other through counter-conditioning and desensitization (CC&D).

CC&D for intra-pack aggression involves changing your dogs’ association with each other from negative to positive. The easiest way to give most dogs a positive association is with very high-value, really yummy treats. I like to use chicken – canned, baked, or boiled, since most dogs love chicken and it’s a low-fat, low-calorie food.

 

Counter-Conditioning Your Dogs to Get Along:

  1. a) Determine the distance at which your dogs can be in each other’s presence and be alert or wary but not extremely fearful or aroused. This is called the threshold distance. If one dog has a greater threshold hold distance than the other (often the case), work at the greater distance.
  2. b) With you holding Dog A on leash, have your helper appear with Dog B at threshold distance “X.” The instant your dog sees the other, start feeding bits of chicken, non-stop. Your helper will feed chicken to her dog, too, the instant he notices your dog.
  3. c) After several seconds, have the helper step out of sight with Dog B, and you both stop feeding chicken.
  4. d) Keep repeating steps 1-3 until the sight of the other dog at distance “X” consistently causes both dogs to look at their handlers with a happy smile and a “Yay! Where’s my chicken?” expression. This is the physical presentation of the dogs’ conditioned emotional response (CER); each dog’s association with the other at threshold distance “X” is now positive, so they can deliberately look at you to get their chicken, rather than staying intensely focused on each other.
  5. e) Now you need to increase the intensity of the stimulus by increasing the length of time Dog B stays in sight. Continue to feed chicken when they are in view of each, occasionally pausing to let them look at each other again, and immediately feeding chicken when they do.
  6. f) When length of time seems to make no difference to either dog – you’re getting a consistent “Yay, where’s my chicken?” response regardless of how long Dog B stays in view, increase the intensity again, this time by increasing Dog B’s movement. Have the handler walk back and forth with her dog, still at distance “X,” slowly at first, then with more energy, even adding in some other behaviors such as sit, down, and roll over.
  7. g) Now you’re ready to starting decreasing distance by moving Dog A a little closer to the location where the Dog B will appear. When you obtain consistent CERs from both dogs at each new distance you can decrease the distance a little more, until both dogs are happy to be very near each other.
  8. h) Then return to your original threshold distance and increase intensity stimulus by having Dog B move around more and more, as you gradually decrease distance and obtain CERs from both dogs along the way, until they are delighted to be near each other.
  9. i) Now go back to your starting distance and increase intensity again, by having both dogs move more naturally as the distance decreases, offering CERs at each new distance before you come any closer, until they can be within six feet of each other, moving around, still relaxed and happy about chicken.
  10. j) Finally, find ways for your dogs to engage separately in mutually enjoyable activities together. If they both enjoy car rides, take them for a drive, but be sure they are seat-belted or crated far enough apart to avoid any tension. If they love hiking, take them on “parallel” walks, one with you, one with your training partner, with humans between them at first, and eventually with dogs between humans when you’re sure their emotions are appropriate. Parallel swims, for dogs who love the water, can work well too.

When you feel the dogs are ready to finally interact with each other again, be careful not to undo all your hard work. You might first let them greet through a barrier, such as a baby gate or exercise pen.

It’s useful to desensitize both dogs to a muzzle over the period you’re desensitizing them to each other (in separate sessions), so the first time you’re ready for them to actually interact together you can muzzle them and be confident they can’t hurt each other.

The more intense the relationship between the two dogs, the more challenging it is to modify their behavior. The more negative interactions they’ve had, the more injuries, the longer the tension has been going on, and the stronger their emotions, the longer it will take to reprogram their responses to each other. If they were good friends at one time, it’s likely to be easier than if your dogs have always tried to fight each other.

Remember to seek the help of a qualified positive behavior professional if you don’t feel competent and confident about working with your dogs on your own.

 

 

  1. Operant Strategies to Combat Dog Fights

The second option is to teach your dogs a new operant behavior in response to each other, using the “Constructional Aggression Treatment” (CAT) procedure developed by Dr. Jesus Rosales-Ruiz and Kellie Snider at the University of North Texas.

In daily life, dogs learn to offer aggressive “distance increasing” signals in order to make other dogs go away. Every time this works, the “go away” behavior is reinforced. The CAT procedure teaches the dog that calm behavior can make the other dog go away, and as a result, the aggressive dog can ultimately become friendly and happy about the other dog’s presence.

A variation on the operant approach is the “Behavioral Adjustment Training” procedure (BAT) created by trainer Grisha Stewart, MA, CPDT-KA, CPT, at Ahimsa Dog Training in Seattle, Washington. BAT is similar to CAT, but uses a variety of environmental reinforcers rather than the location and movement of the other dog exclusively.

As in CAT, the BAT procedure reinforces behaviors other than aggression in the presence of the other dog. In this case, however, your repertoire of reinforcers is larger, including the use of food reinforcers and having the “subject” dog (the aggressive one) move away instead of the other dog.

If one or both of the dogs are ready to do battle on sight, they must be strictly managed and kept separate from each other except when you’re doing your controlled modification procedure with them. If the aggression is more predictable and situational, the dogs can be together as long as you can manage and prevent the trigger(s) from causing conflict.

 

  1. Aggressive Dog Stress Trigger Management

What does it mean to “manage your dogs’ environment to minimize exposure to his stressors”? Simply put, it means making changes to your dog’s environment in order to keep your dogs away from the stimuli that stress them.

If the dogs are stressed by each other, of course, the first task is to keep them separated, through the assiduous use of doors, fences, baby gates, crates, and tethers. Smart positioning can help; locate the dogs’ crates or tethering area out of the other dogs’ sightline. Take them outdoors to potty separately, and separate them well before feeding time, to reduce tensions that arise when everyone is jostling to be fed first.

 

Next, try to minimize your dogs’ exposure to other stressful stimuli. For example: Say one of your dogs goes over threshold when she sees the mailman approaching your house through the living room window, and her barking display of aggression seems to agitate your other dog. Installing shutters on the window might work (to block your dogs’ view), but closing the door to the front room (to keep the dogs as far away from the sight and sound of the mailman) would be even better. Or you could move your mailbox to toward the sidewalk, instead of next to the front door – the farther from the house, the better. Be creative!

 

More Management Tools: Stress-Reducing Strategies for Dogs

There are a host of other things you can do to lower general stress in your dogs’ environment.

Exercise can be immensely helpful in minimizing overall tension. Physical activity uses up excess energy that might otherwise feed your dogs’ aggressive behaviors, (a tired dog is a well-behaved dog). Exercise also causes your dog’s body to release various chemicals, including endorphins and norepinephrine, helping to generate a feeling of well-being; an exercised dog is a happy dog! Happy dogs are simply less likely to fight.

Even the food you feed your dog can have an impact on his behavior. Poor quality protein can interfere with a dog’s ability to make use of the serotonin that occurs naturally in his system. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep, and also affects memory and learning. Foods containing high-quality protein can contribute to your dogs’ behavioral health and physical health.

Basic training enables you and your dog to communicate more easily with each other (which is less stressful for both of you), and helps your dog understand how his world works, which reduces his stress. A good training program emphasizes structure and consistency, both of which make a dog’s world more predictable. Predictability equals less stress; unpredictability is stressful.

If you’ve ever had a massage, you know how calming touch can be. Dogs aren’t that different from us; you can calm and soothe your dog with physical touch, both through canine massage and TTouch. Combine your calming touch sessions with aromatherapy, by using a therapeutic-quality lavender essential oil in an electric nebulizing diffuser in the room while you massage your dog. Then you can build your dog’s “ahhh” association with the lavender scent to help him be calm in more stressful environments, by putting a few drops of essential oil on a bandana that you tie around his neck or on the bedding in his crate.

 

Other environmental stress reducers include: Comfort Zone (also known as Dog Appeasing Pheromone, or DAP). This is a synthetic substance that is supposed to mimic the pheromones emitted by a mother dog when she’s nursing puppies. Available through pet supply stores and catalogs.

– Through a Dog’s Ear. This set of audio CDs consists of bio-acoustically engineered soothing classical piano music, which has been shown to reduce dogs’ heart rates.

– Anxiety Wrap. This product helps dogs (and cats) overcome their fears and anxieties using the gentle technique of “maintained pressure” – similar to the effect of swaddling for a human infant.

 

  1. Remove Your Dog’s Stress Triggers

Sometimes you’re lucky: it’s easy to either get rid of your dogs’ stressors or just live with them. Stressors you could get rid of easily include choke, prong, or shock collars (even those used for electronic containment systems); physical or harsh verbal corrections (punishment), and treatable medical conditions. Without these present in their environment, the dogs’ stress level will decrease.

We all have some stress in our lives, and it’s pretty near impossible to get rid of all of it. Just because you’ve identified a stressor for your dog doesn’t mean you have to make it go away. You probably don’t have enough time in your schedule to address every single thing on your list. As you look at your dogs’ list of stressors, the ones they can probably live with are those that don’t happen frequently, that cause only a mild stress response, and don’t appear to escalate over time. You can also refrain from eliminating your dog’s “fun” stressors, such as squirrel-chasing sessions. If you make your way through the rest of your list and still have time on your hands, you can always address the “live with it” items later.

 

Veterinary Checkup Required

A complete medical work-up, including a full thyroid panel, is indicated for any significant behavior problem, especially aggression.

Any medical condition that causes your dog to behave out of sorts is a massive contributor to stress. Trying to modify aggression while your dog suffers from an untreated medical condition is akin to pushing a behavioral boulder uphill.

 

You must rule out or identify and treat any medical contributors to your dogs’ behavior in order for your dogs to fully benefit from your modification efforts.

 

Last Resorts for Aggressive Dog Training

Dog on dog aggression in the home can feel overwhelming. In fact, it can be dangerous if fights erupt regularly and you try to intervene. Many times an owner has been bitten trying to break up fights between her own dogs. The stress that the constant tension generates can damage the quality of your own life, as well as your dogs’ lives.

When a situation feels beyond your ability to cope, your first best option is to find a qualified positive behavior consultant in your area who can help you implement appropriate management and modification procedures, to keep everyone safe and to start making change happen in your dogs’ mutual relationships.

A consultation with a veterinarian who is well-educated in behavior, or even a veterinary behaviorist, should also be on your list, not only for that all-important medical workup, but also for the consideration of psychotropic behavior modification drugs, if and when appropriate, to help your dog’s brain be more receptive to your modification efforts.

If you feel you’re done your best and peace isn’t in the cards for your pack, it’s okay to admit that some dogs will never get along, and you have had the misfortune to adopt two who don’t. If that’s the case, your options are:

– A lifetime (not just a temporary measure) of scrupulous management

– Rehoming one of the dogs

– Euthanasia

 

Some trainers say, “Management always fails.” In truth, management does have a high risk of failure, perhaps with potentially dire consequences. The risk is even higher if there are children in the home – not only because they’re more likely to forget to close doors and latch gates, but also because they are at greater risk of injury themselves if they are in the vicinity when a fight happens. Still, I know of several dog owners who have successfully implemented lifetime management protocols for dogs who didn’t get along, and felt that their own quality of life, as well as that of their dogs, was above reproach.

 

Rehoming can be a reasonable option, especially if the dog being considered for placement has no other significant inappropriate behaviors, and if he can be rehomed to an “only dog” home, or one with dogs he’s known to get along well with. Of course, it can be challenging to find an experienced, appropriate home for a dog with a known aggression behavior problem, but it may be possible, particularly if he’s otherwise wonderful.

No one wants to think of euthanizing an otherwise healthy member of their canine family. Still, if you’ve done all you can reasonably do given the limits of your abilities and resources, and you’ve not been able to create a safe environment for your family and one of the dogs can’t be rehomed, then euthanasia is not an inappropriate decision. It will be terribly painful for you, and you may always feel guilt and regret about not finding the solution to the problem, although perhaps not as much guilt and regret as you would if one of your dogs badly injured or killed the other, or worse, a person.

Here’s How to Pick the Right Dog For Your Family

DDB Puppies Log

 

You’ve determined the source from which you want to acquire your next dog, or at least identified which sources are the most likely candidates for you. The next question is how. How do you decide which dog is the right one?

Let’s assume the family has come to agreement about breed, or at least variables like size and type. If you’re purchasing a pup from a responsible breeder, she will guide you in selecting the best pup for your circumstances and dog-owning goals. If you want to show or compete, she’ll have a good idea which of her pups are best suited for that. If you want a family companion, she’ll identify which pups in the litter are best suited for that role

On the other hand, if she thinks your situation is totally unsuited for her breed – an active Border Collie or vocal Sheltie in a small apartment – she’ll tell you that too, and then decline to sell you a puppy. Take her advice to heart, rethink your adoption choice, and don’t just go get a puppy of the same breed from a less responsible source.

If you’re adopting from a good shelter or rescue, they will already have performed behavior assessments on your pool of prospective adoption choices, and will help you make an educated selection. If you’re doing a private adoption or looking to a group that doesn’t assess, you’ll want to do your own assessment to explore a few behaviors before you adopt. Ideally, you will share your home with your new dog for the next 10 or more years, so make sure he’s the dog you really, really want, not one you just felt really sorry for at the shelter.

If you are a novice dog owner, we recommend taking along a more knowledgeable friend, or a behavior/training professional who offers pet selection services, to help you with your decision. If you are reasonably knowledgeable about dogs and dog behavior, you should be able to determine at least some basic important qualities about your prospective adoptee on your own.

Things to look for include:

Does the dog happily approach to greet you? A fearful dog is probably not well-socialized, and it will take a lot of work (behavior modification) to help him become “normal.” Love is not enough! Unless you are very skilled in training and behavior and ready to commit to a significant behavior modification program, we suggest you resist the temptation to rescue a shy dog, and instead adopt a friendly one. Friendly dogs need homes, too!

Does the dog play well? He may or may not play with toys (some dogs need to be taught how to play with toys), but will he follow you and romp a little with you? Does he get too aroused while playing, mouthing you, jumping on you, and unwilling to calm down when you’re ready to stop? Does he have a playful world view, or does he seem very serious? Again, a playful dog will be easier to train and bond with; a serious one may be more challenging to motivate and interact with.

Is he easily aroused? Most pups bite some, as they explore their world with their mouths. But adolescent dogs and adults should have learned that putting teeth on humans isn’t acceptable behavior. If the dog in question gets over-aroused easily, to the point of hard biting, non-stop biting, biting clothes, or growling, snapping, and snarling, he’s a good one to avoid.

If the dog will take treats, can you get him to sit? Put the treat right at the end of his nose, and slowly move it back over his head. If he jumps up to get it, whisk it out of sight for a second, then try again. When he sits, say “Yes!” and feed him a bit of the treat, then try again. If he starts offering sits for your treat after a few repetitions, you have a solid-gold winner. If it’s difficult to get him to sit, and/or he doesn’t seem to get the idea after several repetitions, he’ll be a more challenging dog to train.

Try holding him close and looking at his teeth a few times in a row, then (carefully!) hugging him. If he resists restraint and becomes aroused, pulling away from you, perhaps even using his teeth, he probably won’t be a warm, cuddly dog – which is fine if that’s not what you want. Probably not a good choice for kids, though, who tend to want a lot of physical contact with their canine pals.

Speaking of kids, the dog will need to meet any human youngsters in your immediate family, and should absolutely adore them. Any reluctance on the dog’s part to engage with the kids should rule him out as an adoption prospect. Dogs who live with kids need to love them, not just tolerate them. You should also introduce your adoption prospect to any dogs you currently own before making a final commitment to adopt. Again, ideally you’ll see joyful acceptance on both sides of the canine equation. Anything less is a sign that behavior work might be necessary to keep peace in the pack.

The Dog nanny website

Bonding with Your Puppy

DDB Puppies Log

When a puppy is born, it knows nothing of the world around it. However, it knows enough to stay close to its mom and her milk bar. The only important task for the pup during the neonatal period is to maintain a degree of physiological balance. Nursing and sleeping are about all the pup is capable of at this stage.

After a week or ten days of hanging around “the great one,” the pup’s eyes and ears open and it begins to process information about the world outside. Reflexes and mother’s care have brought the pup thus far, but increasingly, know-how, including the establishment of proper relationships with others, becomes necessary for continued success in life. The first and most important relationship a pup makes is with its mom.

If a pup is separated from its mom, she will retrieve it. If it cries, she will attend to it. If it is hungry she will feed it. The pup’s trust and reliance develop quickly as mom invariably finds a way of providing for the youngster’s every need.

This mutual interaction brings satisfaction and relaxation to both the mother dog and puppy. A strong bond develops and the pup no doubt feels at one with its parent. For pups, mistrust of unfamiliar individuals begins to develop around 8-10 weeks of life and is a reflection of the pup’s strong bond with its canine family.

The original bond a pup has with its mom is the most important one it will ever have. If, when the pup cries, its mom routinely responds, it will develop confidence. If she grooms it regularly, its nervous system will positively sprout. If she’s always right there when the pup turns around for assurance, it learns trust. Well-tended pups have higher (what might be called) self-esteem, are smarter, and seem to regulate their emotions better. A “functional” pup – one that can make its own way in the world – is the end result.

Over time, a pup’s relationship with their mom progresses from one of hopeless devotion to a more voluntary affair. Their association becomes more like an enjoyable friendship between two individuals who seek each other’s company for the pleasure it brings. Somewhere along the development road, usually between 3 and 6 weeks of age, pups develop relationships with their siblings and begin to learn social etiquette from their playful interactions.

But an interpersonal cataclysm lies in waiting for most young pups. At the relatively tender age of 8 weeks, most pups are adopted by well-meaning humans, who try their best to make the pup’s transition from it mom and littermates as painless as possible. But strangers are no substitute for the pup’s own family. Some early separation distress is almost inevitable and will be witnessed by the pup’s new family as whimpering and whining, especially at night. Ill-informed friends advise, “Let the puppy cry. He’s got to learn. You don’t want to make a rod for your back, do you?” Nothing could be further from the truth.

At this stage, you (the parent stand-in) must meet all the pup’s demands, just as its mom did. This way, you keep the pup on the right track of intellectual and social development. One of the great spins-offs is that the pup will re-attach to you, its new great provider, and will turn out every bit as confident and self-sufficient as its real mom would have liked.

A researcher at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine set out to explore the nature of the human-animal bond between young pups and their new human caregivers. A child psychologist by profession, this researcher used a modification of the “strange situation” (SS) test employed in child psychology to plumb the depths of the bond. The setup was as follows:

Young pups and their owners were introduced to a novel environment. The environment was enriched with toys and food.

After a set time, owners were asked to leave the room for a prescribed time.

Pups’ reactions were monitored.

Owners were then asked to return to the room.

Pups’ reactions to their owners’ returns were monitored.

Three categories of puppy responses were noted to the SS test.

  1. The pup willingly left its owner’s side to explore and entertain itself with the toys lying around. When the owner left, it hardly paid any attention, remaining absorbed in its activities. When the owner returned, the pup did not pay much attention to them.

 

  1. The pup hesitated before leaving the owner’s side but eventually played with the toys. When the owner left the room, the pup ran to the door to follow and stared at the door for a short time before resuming play. When the owner returned the pup greeted its owner enthusiastically before returning to play.

 

  1. The pup never left the owner’s side either to explore the novel environment or play with the toys. It acted distraughtly and whined or whimpered when its owner left the room. The greeting on the owner’s return was exuberant.

 

The first category of response (1) indicated that the puppy had not developed a proper bond with the new owner (under attachment).

The second category of response (2) indicated that the pup had a healthy bond with the new owner (normal attachment).

The third category of response (3) indicated that the pup was overly dependant on the owner and foreshadowed future separation distress.

Pups in response category (1) had not developed a bond with their owner because the owners had not spent enough quality time with the pups.

Owners of pups in response category (2) had most likely played their cards just right, by paying their pup attention when attention was due, providing the requisite social experiences, and protecting them from lengthy periods of time alone.

Owners of pups in response category (3) likely overindulged their pups when they were around but, for whatever reason, had left them unattended for overly long periods, either at night or when they went to work. This “emotional roller coaster” experience seems to set the stage for separation anxiety and general lack of confidence.

Imprinting, an elemental form of bonding, occurs most readily during a sensitive period of development. If the time and circumstances of an initial introduction of animals is appropriately staged, it is quite literally possible to have a lion lie down with a lamb. With this in mind, it’s almost child’s play to have a dog bond with a cat – subsequently learning to be accepting of cats in general.

All you have to do is arrange for benign introductions to occur during the sensitive period of development. The sensitive period for such learning to occur in dogs is between 3 – 12 weeks of age. During this time period, owners can engineer all kinds of useful friendships between animals of the same or different species.

As many owners already know, dogs don’t just bond to their moms or to their human owners. They can also bond with other dogs. So powerful can such bonds be between one individual and another that they may show separation anxiety or frank depression if separated.

This is not a bad arrangement until longterm separation through illness or death becomes inevitable. In such cases, dogs must be trained to develop new bonds with either other dogs (a new puppy, perhaps) or new human acquaintances. In severe cases, antidepressants may be needed to help such formerly bonded dogs around this sharp corner of life.

If all has not gone according to plan for a pup, by way of bonding experiences in early life, all is not lost. Many dysfunctional dogs who start out overly dependent on their human caregivers can be retrained to develop confidence in themselves, they can be trained to be independent i.e. to stand on their own four feet. It’s damage control, sure enough, but it works. Whatever people say, you can teach and old(er) dog new tricks, though it often takes considerably longer.

The Dog Nanny website