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Jul 28

Socialization Is The Key To A Well-Adjusted Dog

Posted by Bark to Basics

The Importance of Socialization 

‘Tis the season of new puppies coming home! Over the past 13 years I have been lucky enough to work with many pups as they are welcomed into their new homes. Lots of clients call asking for help with potty training, play biting and the basics. While these are all very important in having a well-behaved companion later in life, an even more important training area is often overlooked – socialization.

I’ve not only seen the cute, wiggly, happy puppies over the years, but also the serious problems that occur later in life with dogs who are not properly socialized while they are developing. Between the aggression, reactivity and fears I’ve worked with in my client’s dogs, and rescuing two of my own who were severely undersocialized early in life, I know just how important socialization is for pups.

When you bring your puppy home (yes, even before all their shots!) it is imperative to get them socialized with new things (think bikes, cars, kids, other pets, and humans of all shapes, sizes and ages). Your vet will guide you on when it is safe to bring your puppy out in the world, but in the meantime you can bring the world to him in the form of visits from friends and family and their healthy, vaccinated dogs. Have newcomers greet your puppy with a favorite treat or toy, and if you encounter something she finds “scary” stop and give her time to check it out (tossing treats near the object helps too)!

Socialization

  • Socialization is imperative to having a happy, well behaved and well-adjusted adult dog.
  • Without proper socialization young pups can grow up to be dogs with fear and territorial aggression and anxiety.
  • The key window for socialization is between 4-14 weeks of age. Talk to your vet about your puppy’s vaccine schedule and what is safe at each stage.
  • You have a great opportunity to socialize your puppy now to help him to become the best puppy he can be!

Puppy Developmental Stages

  • From four to twelve weeks, your puppy’s interaction with people becomes more important. They learn to play with littermates, develop social skills and bite inhibition and begin to understand social boundaries and hierarchy.
  • At eight to ten weeks, your puppy can experience real fear involving everyday objects and experiences. Positive reinforcement with new experiences is important during this stage.
  • At nine to twelve weeks your puppy’s social skills with others advance, and he will begin to investigate his surroundings more. This is a great time to start training.
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Jun 28

Firework Tips!

Posted by Bark to Basics

Fireworks & Fearful Fido 

Many dogs, young and old, are terrified of the fireworks the 4th of July holiday brings and with a little planning your dog can be ready for the grand finale.

  • Desensitize and counter condition your dog. Buy a fireworks CD and begin playing it each day. Start with the volume low and play during meal and play times. You can also give your dog a treat each time a firework explodes on the CD. During the grand finale be sure to have many small treats ready so you can reward your dog rapidly. Each day turn the volume up a little more. It is important to use high value treats, not the usual kibble or dry biscuits, during this training. Try pea size pieces of chicken or cheese.
  • If your dog is crate trained and happiest in his den use the crate while playing the CD in preparation for the real thing (you can also use a small room). On the 4th leave your dog in her safe space with a peanut butter stuffed and frozen Kong or another tasty and long-lasting treat. Close windows and leave the radio or TV on to help drown out the sound. Try an herbal anti-anxiety blend such as CBD OilAnimal Essentials Tranquility or Dog Appeasing Pheromone spray or plug-in to help her relax.
  • If you don’t feel your dog can stay home alone during the show ask a friend or relative to watch your dog or take him to his favorite doggy daycare for playtime. If your dog absolutely panics each year when the fireworks start another option is to plan a trip to a quiet area for the day to avoid the noise. No matter where you spend the 4th make sure she has ID tags on and is in a secure area before the start of the fireworks. A large number of dogs run away on this holiday when they become afraid.
  • Some dogs are incredibly afraid of fireworks and have an extreme reaction such as trying to break through doors and windows or destroying the house. Counter-conditioning can be a slow process with these guys and it may be best to see your veterinarian for medication to get him through the day.
  • Remember it is easiest to teach a puppy not to fear loud noises instead of waiting for a fear to develop. Acclimate him to loud noises, starting where he is calm and can hear (but you aren’t too close to the sound!) and reward each time the sound occurs. Use high value treats.

A little prevention now will go a long way to ensure your dog is celebrating alongside you for years to come.

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May 11

Check Out the Spring/Summer Newsletter!

Posted by Bark to Basics

Tackle Excessive Barking, Crate Training and More! Check It Out Now!

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Mar 20

Teaching a Solid “Stay”

Posted by Bark to Basics

Teaching your dog the “stay” command gives you more control in many situations and is a great safety tool as well. The key to teaching stay is patience! Some dogs, especially puppies, would rather do anything than hold still!

  • Ask your dog to “sit” or “down”. If your dog doesn’t know “sit” or “down” teach those commands first!

 

  • Use sit-stay for short periods of time – think at the curb, while chatting with a neighbor while on a walk or checking out at the pet store. Use down-stay for longer duration stays like in the house with your pup in his place  (if you missed how to teach “place” check out last month’s newsletter)!

 

  • With your dog in position say “stay” and hold your hand out away from you, palm flat like you are telling someone to stop. After a few seconds of holding the position say “yes” and reward your dog. Remind her to “stay” and repeat.

 

  • Gradually increase your distance from your dog, how long you ask her to stay between rewards and the distraction level. At first you will want to increase one component at a time. For example, if the house is quiet and you are only two feet away ask her to stay in place longer. If you are walking across the room reward more frequently.

 

  • Incorporating toys is a great way to challenge distraction level. Start by holding a low value toy while she stays, progressing in distraction level to squeaking the toy, to tossing it in the air, all while she holds her position.

 

  • When the session is over approach your dog, say “free” and encourage him to get up. Be sure to use your release word at the end of each “stay” session, and do not use the word unless you are done!

 

  • You can also use the “come” command to release your dog. However, a mixture of the “free” and “come” command to release works best to avoid your dog anticipating you calling him before you are ready.

 

  • If your dog gets up say “no” and have him go back into position and try again. If he breaks three times in a row that is a sign that you are making it too hard for him. Go back a step.

 

  • Keep “stay” sessions short and fun, stopping before your dog becomes bored. For high energy dogs or puppies several three-minute sessions per day is more effective than one long one!

 

  • “Stay” is a great command to combine with “place”. Simply send your dog to his place before asking him to “stay”.
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Feb 18

Teach Your Dog To Go To Her “Place”

Posted by Bark to Basics

Teach Your Pup the “Place” Command 

Teaching your dog the “place” command can be helpful in a variety of situations – controlling your curious pup when you need a moment to relax, encouraging polite door greeting behavior, a safe spot for shy dogs when strangers visit, or even giving her a place to stay when she accompanies you to a pet-friendly restaurant. An added bonus is that many dogs will naturally gravitate to their place on their own once they learn the command.

  • To start, pick a bed or blanket you will use for your dog’s place. You can have more than one in different areas of the house if desired.
  • Put the place in a location where they can be close the action of the family but tucked out of the way. A corner of a room or next to the couch works great.
  • Get your pup’s attention and say “place” while pointing to the spot and walking towards it. Reward when she gets on her place and lays down (you can give her the “down” command at first if needed.)
  • Repeat sending him to his place until he is going to the spot and laying down without the “down” command.
  • Once she starts to get the idea, start mixing it up. Walk towards the place from different directions and stop a few feet before the place so she learns to continue to the bed on her own.  This will allow you to send her from across the room in the future.
  • Next, move the place around to different areas of the room. This will help solidify the “place” being the bed or blanket, no matter where the place is in the house, or out in public. This is also a good time to increase the level of distraction around your dog when asking him to “place”.
  • Once you and your dog have mastered the “place” command, work on sending her to her place and having her “stay” there until released.

Check out next month’s newsletter for tips on teaching a solid “stay”!

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