Socialization Archives - Page 2 of 6 - Canine Behavior Counseling

Stop Puppy Biting, the Best Way!

Posted on Mar 13, 2015 in Child, Dog Training, Pets, Positive Association, Puppy, Rescue Dog, Safety, Socialization, Training | 0 comments


Hand feeding is essential in developing a soft mouth.

As a Professional Dog Trainer, it is my job to teach you how to teach your puppy or rescue dog to have a soft mouth. This goes for your puppy mouthing a human, child or another dog.  

If you have adopted a rescue dog, can you be assured this dog knows not to bite?  

I discuss a soft mouth in all my classes because it is so important and many of you have rescued a dog.  If I approach your tethered dog holding a scarf, glove or toy, will your dog lunge and grab the item along with my hand?  Have you tried  yelling, “no!”  Did yelling teach your dog an appropriate behavior?  Instead of yelling, you can simply walk away the second the feet come off the floor.  Approach the dog again, if his behavior is not appropriate, walk away, repeat until he sits or does not jump, then reward with play!  Rewarding your dog for the appropriate behavior is much faster than telling the dog “no”. 

It is essential that your dog associates all hands with complete trust.  I say this because if your reprimand towards your puppy is too harsh, for example, holding the pups mouth closed with your hands, or sticking your fingers down its throat, or holding your dog down for biting too hard,  you can actually teach your puppy to bite others, just not you.  

Dog Star Daily has a wonderful article on Puppy Biting, please read below.  For the best way to teach your dog a soft mouth,  read more….

More On Bite Inhibition (Because It’s So Important)




Read More

Pets For Vets, Portland Maine

Posted on Jan 27, 2015 in Dog Training, Pets, Positive Association, Positive Reinforcement, Rescue Dog, Safety, Socialization, Training, Veterans | 0 comments


Pets for Vets Portland, Maine thanks Time Warner and Melinda Poore, VP Government Relations for a great evening held at the Inn By The Sea (pet friendly hotel, Cape Elizabeth).  
Judy Moore, PFV Head Trainer and Tom Targett, Chapter Director presented the Pets For Vets Mission and Process to the Legislatures of both houses.  
Raising funds for Pets For Vets, Portland Maine.

Raising funds for Pets For Vets, Portland Maine.

Raising awareness for Pets For Vets, Portland Maine is certainly a noble cause, and the additional funds donated by Time Warner will help several veterans in need.

Our Mission, created by our Founder Clarissa Black:

At Pets for Vets, we believe our country owes military veterans a debt of gratitude. Our soldiers have been brave but many of them have returned with physical and emotional injuries that have made it difficult to transition back to civilian life. Some estimates state that as many as 20% of returning military veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Our goal is to help heal the emotional wounds of military veterans by pairing them with a shelter animal that is specially selected to match his or her personality. Professional animal trainers rehabilitate the animals and teach them good manners to fit into the veteran’s lifestyle. Training can also include desensitization to wheel chairs or crutches as well as recognizing panic or anxiety disorder behaviors.

Needy shelter animals receive a second chance at life while giving our returning soldiers a second chance at health and happiness. The bonds of friendship formed between man and animal have the power to ease the suffering of our troops when they return from overseas. 


To learn more about Pets For Vets or to donate, please view our National Page at:

For updates on matches made in Portland please connect with us on Facebook:

Read More

Social Play Behaviors in Puppies and Adult Dogs

Posted on Jan 18, 2015 in Aggression, Certified Dog Trainer, Dog Training, Pets, Positive Association, Positive Reinforcement, Puppy, Rescue Dog, Safety, Socialization, Training | 0 comments


soft eye, open mouths and goofy body movements express clear play intentions.

Socializing puppies can be confusing. However, science tells us that puppies who are exposed to many different environments in a positive way, grow up to be social, relaxed adult dogs.  Puppies who grow up in an outside pen, and do not experience indoor environments until 8 or 9 weeks of age, will be more fearful and skittish as they mature in a home. While these puppies can often overcome their fears, it takes time and patience.

IMPORTANT:  Science also tells us that puppies who have numerous repetitions of positive associations with friendly dogs, will be able to cope with that one aggressive attack if it ever occurs.  In other words, she will be able to rebound from this one scary incident and still be social towards other dogs.  However, the pup who has not had many positive associations with other dogs and receives an ear tear or neck puncture at your family reunion, may become fearful and even begin growling when she sees a dog nearby.

Puppies under 5 months benefit from socializing with other young pups to improve canine social skills.  These skills are learned in controlled Puppy Classes which incorporate short play sessions with emotional control breaks throughout.  Overwhelming a puppy in a daycare center, or a large playgroup with several adult dogs or even one rough dog can be detrimental to the pups social development.  


Both dogs have clear intentions! Let’s play!

Social Play Behaviors clearly express the puppy’s intentions, such as the play bow, exaggerated and repetitive movements, soft wiggly bodies, lateral or side to side movements, and relaxed wagging tails with open mouths.  Balanced play is when both dogs take turns being on top, incorporate a pause in the play, then continue playing or lie side by side and mouth each others head and neck or the same toy.  Mouthing with a release before the other pup cries is social mouthing, as is mounting which can be a sign of play intentions.  

Chasing behavior in both puppies and adult play groups should be monitored and interrupted often, as over-excitement can create stress in the dog being chased.  Pack chasing should only be allowed for a minute or two, then should be interrupted to reduce conflict.  There is a term called Predatory drift which occurs when the fleeing dog triggers an overly aroused dog to become an aggressive chaser — often resulting in an attack.  This Predatory drift can also occur when a fearful dog uses a high yelping pitch sound. This sound can trigger some dogs to drift into prey mode and violently attack — often with an intense grab and shake behavior.

photo 3

obvious tucked tail, ears back and weight leaning back.

So, how do you keep your dog using good social skills?  Be present during play sessions to ensure your dog is enjoying the play and not just being pushed around or bullied. If you see obvious signs of stress or fear, then call your pup away and end the play session.  Interrupt the play if you see either dog displaying stress signals such as:  tucked tail, stiff body postures, when one dog is always on top, closed mouth with whale eyes, ears back, lowering of body and head, constantly rolling on his back and pilo erection or constant scratching.  Picking your dogs playmates is as important as picking your children’s playmates. So be a good dog owner and keep your dog using good play skills so he does not become fearful or dog aggressive.


Read More

Dog Training vs Management

Posted on Jan 3, 2015 in Aggression, Barking, Certified Dog Trainer, Child, Clicker, Crate Training, Dog Training, Leash Training, Pets, Positive Association, Positive Reinforcement, Puppy, Rescue Dog, Safety, Socialization, Training | 0 comments

Management, as it relates to dog training  keeps everyone safe.  Management,  does not teach your dog a behavior, in fact it often creates frustration and increases arousal.  Using forms of management are useful when you need to prevent conflict, such as putting your dog in the bedroom when guests come over.  Using effective management tools, often buy’s you some time, as you teach and reward an alternative  behavior.  


I will fade the food lure quickly and simply reward when he offers a sit.

For example:  A leash is a management tool used to prevent a dog from jumping on someone.  In this photo, Gambits leash is a form of management, however I am luring this handsome 5 month old pup into a sit and rewarding him.  With some repetition, a person approaching becomes the cue for Gambit to sit if he wants affection or food wether he has a leash on or not.

Another example:  Grabbing your dogs collar when people enter the doorway is a form of management to prevent him from jumping or running out the door.  However, if you teach him an alternative behavior like a sit/stay then you will no longer have to manage.

One more:  Using a crate to potty train your puppy  is a form of management that keeps the puppy safe and prevents him from practicing the unwanted behavior of peeing on the floor.  Immediately rewarding your puppy with a piece of dried liver after each of the 6 or so times he pees in the grass will certainly be reinforcing, so he will repeat the correct behavior to get the same yummy reward!


3 of these pups are under 1 yr and learning to stay.

 In Summary:  If your dog seems overly aroused, barks often, chases anything that moves, is displaying frustration or poor impulse control behavior, is it possible you are simply frustrating your dog through the over use of managment?  

Consider teaching him what to do in each situation and reward him with anything he loves to reinforce positive behavior.  This will make you a proud parent and keep him from getting frustrated, all while building a better relationship!  


Read More

One Behavior You Must Teach Your Puppy?

Posted on Oct 1, 2014 in Child, Dog Training, Pets, Positive Reinforcement, Puppy, Safety, Socialization | 0 comments

To Sit?  That is a nice default behavior, but not the most important one to teach.

To Come?  Great behavior to have consistently for sure!

To Leave it?  Awesome behavior to have, great on walks both on and off leash!


Hand feeding for good behavior.

How about not to bite human flesh?  Sounds pretty important to me! Bite inhibition is the technical term for a dogs ability to control the pressure they use when biting. If you could only teach your puppy or new rescue dog one behavior, please remember to teach him a soft mouth — aka bite inhibition.

How?  By giving your dog appropriate feedback.  Over several days with the following positive techniques, your puppy will learn this life saving skill.

1. Hand feeding daily meals, release the food when your puppy is gentle or licks.  If you feel teeth, wait until he softens, then reward.
Example:  Say your pups name and when he look at you, offer a piece of food.  Say your pups name and “come” offer a piece of food as a reward.  Reward your puppy for coming and sitting 10 times per meal and you will have a solid sit and a softer mouth!


Playing Tug can teach a soft mouth.

2. Play tug, using the rules of tug you can quickly help your puppy learn that when you feel teeth on your skin, playing stops.  Remember, do not drop the toy or you could teach your puppy that biting is how they do get the toy.  Instead, ask for a sit to begin the game, then say “take it” and play “tug” keeping the toy low to the ground.  Next, put a treat to the pups nose and say “leave it” and
exchange with the food while putting the toy behind your back.  Repeat, sit, take it, tug, leave it.


Flat pan cake hands are non threatening.

3. Body handling your puppy with a soft, flat gentle hand.  If your puppy bites your hand, then let your hand go limp, dead like, and wait until the puppy removes his mouth from your hand.  Repeat slowly and gently as your pup learns that hands predict good gentle scratches and massaging.  Some puppies respond if you scream, but some thing you are simply playing, so this feedback may help and it may not as all puppies are different.

4. Allowing your puppy playtime with another friendly dog or in a puppy group.  Playing with other pups will surely help your puppy learn

not to bite too hard, many pups learn to use a soft mouth when playing with their mother, however some pups miss out on this lesson and will therefore learn it while playing with other puppies and of course playing with you.

Teaching your puppy a soft mouth or  good bite inhibition is the ONE most important behavior you need to teach.  Remember, your pup will not stop using his mouth on you and your clothes in 1 day as he has been using it with his siblings for 8 weeks,  be patient and give your puppy the feedback he so needs to be able to live with humans.

What should you not do?  Scare your puppy or teach him that human hands are to be feared, as this tactic will most likely make him want to bite hands more.  Why?  Science has taught us that dogs who are handled in a physical or rough manner are more often to bite later in life.  Science has also taught us that aggression breeds more aggression.


Puppy play group.

If you do not want your puppy to use his mouth to resolve conflict, then please do not use your hands to resolve conflict.  Science has taught us that rough hands on a pup, will create unwanted behavior changes as the pup matures.  Example: Submissive peeing, over the top wiggly greetings, worse mouthy behavior, biting later as an adolescent dog, growly and avoidance behaviors.

For a reference on teaching a soft mouth, refer to Sophia Yin’s Low Stress Handling techniques
Dr. Sophia Yin, Low Stress Handling.  Although Sophia passed away just yesterday, she will always be a source to reference because she educated those of us in the Pet Industry that the emotional well being of the animal is essential to avoiding unwanted behavior changes.

Read More

Five Things You Should Never do to a Puppy!

Posted on Aug 24, 2014 in Positive Association, Puppy, Socialization | 0 comments

When you first bring your puppy home, you will notice they use their mouths to interact with everything around them, including you!  After being separated from their litter mates, puppy’s must learn learn to live in a human home where the rules are quite different.  Please do not expect them to acquire this knowledge in one day or even one week, as changing habits simply does not occur that quickly.  Setting rules in a gentle way will raise a gentle pup.
Reward based training, with clear rules is scientifically the most effective and humane way to train.

Reward based training, with clear rules is scientifically the most effective and humane way to train.

Each month I consult with stressed clients whose now 1 year old pup is biting family members, some even attacking.  Every case has one common history fact: “I was told to do this when he growls at me.”

FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER DO TO A PUPPY: (harsh handling a pup can create aggression in your pup later in life)
1. Never hold his mouth closed when he bites you.
2. Never stick your fingers down his throat.
3. Never grab him by the scruff and hold him down until he submits.
4. Never stare him in the eye until he submits.
5. NEVER use your hands to cause physical pain in any way.

STOP!!!!!  Aggression teaches the learner to be aggressive to others. Social learning is real and present in every home.  Weather you are observing dogs, rats, birds or children, you will see that the environment influences behavior.
Flat gentle hands always, never scruff or biting may get worse as your puppy will need to defend himself.

Flat gentle hands always, never scruff or
biting may get worse as your puppy will need to defend himself.


1. Give your puppy appropriate feedback when he uses his mouth on you.  Give a loud “OUCH” and move away from the puppy for a few seconds.  If he however, is simply mouthing with no pressure, you can ignore him as he is using a soft mouth and many breeds are bred to use their mouths to assist owners in many ways.
2. Enroll your puppy  in an AKC STAR Puppy Socialization class taught by a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, playing with other puppies teaches bite inhibition.
3. Hand feed your puppy as many meals as you can.  Place the food in the palm of your hand under your thumb, if you feel teeth, wait until he licks, then remove your thumb and reward (a task for mom and dad, not children). Try feeding your pup some peanut butter on a metal spoon (this may be necessary for pups with a particular hard mouth.  They will learn to lick as it is more rewarding.

Puppies and children learn together!

Puppies and children learn together!

4. Play tug with your puppy (great for teaching “take it” and leave it”).  Grab a few treats in your hand and begin moving the toy back and forth on the ground say “take it”, when your puppy mouths the toy use a happy pitch, “yes, good dog” after a few seconds of tug, relax the pressure on the tug toy but do not let go, say, “leave it” quickly offer your pup a treat right at his nose.  He will let go and take the treat.  Yea!  you just completed a positive pattern of behaviors you and your dog both agree on!  Repeat the pattern many times and if your puppy ever bites your skin, DO NOT LET GO OF THE TOY,  just give a loud “leave it” and your puppy will let go.  IMPORTANT!!  Do not reward your puppy with food after he just bit your hand:(  This will only tell him that biting you gets a treat.

5. As your puppy grows, he will fall into old habits of using his mouth to grab things that move like pants, skirts, things swinging in children’s hands.  So, be prepared and set your puppy up for success by: using each meal as a training time to help your pup learn good behaviors, use your pitch to help the pup know when he is doing something right, use good timing and always reward your pup with a happy “good dog” when he mouths his toys.  Reinforce the “leave it” cue several times per day as repetition is a good thing.  Be patient, your hands should always be rewarding when they touch another being — always!

Read More