Why is my Dog Lunging on the Leash?

Posted on Sep 17, 2014 in Aggression, Leash Frustration, Leash Training, Reaction | 0 comments

Do you own a dog that does not act “normal” when he sees another dog on leash? 

IMG_3146

Learning good emotional control takes practice.

Many dogs do not have good coping skills to greet another dog when confined by a leash.    You may describe this type of dog as fearful, hyper vigilant, aggressive, reactive, out of control, barks all the time, rude, pushy, anxious or even clingy.  Dogs who exhibit these behaviors are cruelly labeled and often given up on, but the truth is that these behaviors are your dog’s way of begging for some help.  If your dog is displaying these emotions he is clearly not a calm dog, and therefore not a balanced or content dog.  Unbalanced dogs are riddled with emotions they cannot control, which make them difficult to live with and own, but these are the dogs that need us the most…..

With effective behavior modification programs, these anxious reactive dogs can thrive in our homes and communities.  Having a plan to keep them safe, predictable exercise routines, desensitization tools, healthy nutrition, doggie Zen and possibly medication, these dogs will love us unconditionally.  Just look in there eyes and help them feel safe, always..

If you have taken on the task to raise a dog with fearful reactive behaviors, know you are not alone.  I personally have three dogs who each have different levels of fears and often use distance cues with humans and dogs.  I understand your stress of owning an unbalanced dog….  Even my family members have called them names, not truly understanding my dogs level of stress. I feel an enormous amount of empathy for these animals as I see in their body language how much more worried they are then other dogs.  I have spent hours counter condition their fears to various stimuli and I work very hard to have a plan each time I take them in public so I can set them up for success.  I manage for safety, continually counter condition their fear emotions to positive ones so they know what to do in different situations and cherish each calm moment we have together.  My two females came to me with bite histories and have each received their Canine Good Citizen Certification from two different trainers.  One has gone on to be Therapy Dog International Certified, so do not lose hope and celebrate each small daily success!  
Thinking through arousal...

Thinking through arousal…

Using the right balance of tools, your dog will one day be able to think through his arousal so you can reward him and not be frustrated with him.

Read More

Dog Aggression and Communication Signals

Posted on Jul 5, 2014 in Aggression, Barking, Certified Dog Trainer, Clicker, Crate Training, Dog Training, Leash Frustration, Leash Training, Pets, Positive Reinforcement, Reaction, Reactive, Rescue Dog, Socialization, Training | 0 comments

Why is my dog so aggressive to other dogs?  This can usually be diagnosed with a detailed history: no play ever, hereditary, mother was sick or a guarder, or over socialized with aggressive or rough playing dogs.

Cycle of On-Leash Aggression (created problem from humans), as described in the Culture Clash, by Jean Donaldson, “The Bully dog” is often kept away from other dogs for long periods of time, he is usually rude with crude behavior brought on by a super motivated greeting as a result of deprivation when meeting other dogs, and has poor social skills.  The owner is alarmed by intensity and tightens the leash and get’s too excited or nervous when interactions occur.  High arousal, lack of social skills, scuffles with defensive dogs can occur.  Barrier frustration such as windows, fences and leashes can increase the dogs frustration which makes you want to “correct” the behavior,  which = punishment  which = more Aggression = total isolation.

I believe dogs need time to express their intentions before they greet unknown dogs.  Personalities among dogs differ as much as a classroom full of kindergarteners, therefore, expecting your dog to like every dog they meet is not that simple. Some dogs are very soft and have appropriate greetings, these are the dogs who are able to visit the beach and off leash parks without incident. 

 
Helping your dog greet new dogs much slower will give your dog important and necessary information about the other dogs intentions.  To the left, you see the brown dog in the middle of this pack at a local park.  He is standing quite still with head lowered, visible tension in his jaw, mouth closed, low tail, ears back and a his hair beginning to stand up on his back.  He is very uncomfortable about being so close to a strange dog and was called away quickly to avoid any conflict.  This particular dog’s behavior tells us humans that he needs a much slower greeting with new dogs.
 
In this photo to the left , this beautiful girl has just seen a new dog and is reading the other dogs intentions and clearly expressing hers as well.  Note the open mouth and soft eyes, lowered tail which is in motion and she is beginning to offer a play bow.  While she is expressing intentions that she does want to greet the new dog, she is very excited and the other dog is a bit alarmed by her intense need to visit.  After about 30 minutes of walking near each other, this girl and the other dog became play mates as you will see in the video below. 
If you have a new puppy, please keep him/her safe and find nice friendly dogs to socialize with.  Your dogs friends will influence his/her behavior! Just like you were influenced by those you visited with as an adolescent.  So, know who your dogs friends are and watch for signs of fair play between the two and you let’s try to prevent aggression from spreading.  
Read More

Aggression in Dogs

Posted on Feb 25, 2013 in Aggression, Barking, Dominance, Leash Frustration, Positive Reinforcement, Reaction, Training | 0 comments

Canine aggression will always be an interesting topic discussed among dog lovers.  We know conflicts are normal and it is our job as humans to teach young children how to cope or resolve conflicts with other children and adults.

We humans are taught to resolve conflict by using our words at a young age, often through examples by our parents, teachers and grandparents.  Yet, many teenagers and adults have difficulty coping with conflict and may find themselves in a yelling or physical situation.  Having someone who loves them and are willing to help them change their behavior in very small steps is a blessing and a must for them to be successful.

If you find yourself the owner of a dog showing aggression, take a deep breath and first realize that changing behavior is difficult and will take time.  Many animals use whatever defensive mechanisms they have  to scare threatening intruders or scary stimuli away as a mechanism to feel safe.  Cows may only be able to kick at their aggressor, chickens may claw and use their beaks to peck or bite a scary stimuli.  Cats are known for their hissing, arched back and fast clawing as a way to say “back off.”

Our furry canine friends also use what works for them which is often rapid barking, growling, show of teeth, lunging or snapping to scare off anything that they are afraid of.  If your dog is getting into scuffles at a park or daycare, please do not take him there anymore.  Aggression is a defensive mechanism that dogs will use to keep themselves safe or gain resources.  If your dog learns that aggression works, then he will continue to use it and even get good at it.

Now, avoid putting your dog in situations where he is showing even the smallest amount of aggression as you want to change this behavior right?  Then eliminate the possibility of practicing an unwanted behavior.

  • Make a list of the triggers that set him off, even those that put him into a heightened arousal or anxious state.  
  • Make a list of the alternative behavior you prefer your dog do.
  • Start slow and set your dog up for success.  For example if your dog barks at kids 20 feet away, then keep him 60 feet away for now.
  • Know what motivates your dog and be GENEROUS with the reward when he offers the alternative behavior.
This is just the beginning, breathe, really take a big breath as your tension is not helpful to your dog in any way while helping him feel safer.  Make your plan and remember your entire day is a series of habits or sequences of behavior just like your dog.  So, your plan should set your dog up for success just for today as we will be taking this one day at a time.  Stay tuned for more tips on changing your dogs behavior.
Read More

Who is Training Who?

Posted on Dec 5, 2011 in Aggression, Positive Association, Puppy, Reaction, Rescue Dog, Training | 0 comments

Have you ever thought about how your dog has 2 trainers in most situations?  It is true, both you and the environment are influencing your dogs behavior.  Any stimuli in the environment (sounds, smells, people, dogs, objects, etc.) can effect your dogs behavior.

Relaxed, Positive Energy 

Knowing how to use Classical and Operant Conditioning methods is the key to setting your dog up for success in many different environments. Classical Conditioning is how your dog feels about something and Operant gives your dog an alternate behavior to choose.

The key to remember is that your frustration can play a big role in how your dog feels about any given stimuli.  Patience, practice and a positive attitude will help you achieve success with your dog.

When you become the the primary means of delivering all rewards to your dog and learn to reinforce all of his good choices, then YOU become the most influential to your dog, not the environment. This is such a simple thought, but so important to helping any dog over come obstacles in the environment.

Read More

Feisty Fidos – Leash Lungers

Posted on Nov 9, 2011 in Aggression, Reaction, Training | 0 comments

Many of you have seen or owned a dog that is reactive or barks at other dogs when on a leash.  This behavior often gets a dog surrendered to a rescue group because it is very difficult to walk.  Unfortunately, many clients have said “I wish I had met you sooner, then I would not have given up my last dog.” As someone who works with many rescue groups, this breaks my heart as I know many pet owners are not aware of the training we do with reactive dogs.  

Below is a video of Eva, a pet dog who was very reactive on a leash when she saw a strange dog.  After one session of our Feisty Fido class, she is much calmer when she sees a dog.
Everyone has a specific goal in mind for their dog.   Maybe it is to earn a Canine Good Citizen Certification, or walk past a dog on the street, or be able to attend a class with other dogs.  What ever your goal know that changing behavior does not happen overnight, but we at CBC have the tools to help you change your dogs behavior in a positive successful manner!
Read More