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Happy Life Dogs If you want the perfect companion dog, I am a dog behaviorist that can help you achieve that result. Dog Training

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05/15/2022

I think the biggest mistake dog owners can make is to treat dogs like humans. The human race can be such a kind, compassionate species that we tend to look at our companions as furry humans, when in reality they are canines and have a very different thought process. This is what differentiates mankind from other species in pack societies; there must be a specific order, from the leader down to the last follower. Everyone has a place. The leaders are the strength of the pack, while the followers need the leader to guide them and keep them safe. Dogs have an instinct to constantly test the being above them and an instinct to know they will always be tested by the being below them. Instinct tells them that if there is not a strong leader in charge, their life and the lives of the rest of their pack are at stake. This primal instinct keeps the pack secure and happy.
Dogs instinctually crave rules to follow and limits as to what they are allowed to do. When dogs live with humans, the humans become the dog's pack. For the relationship to succeed, humans must become the dog's pack leader. Too often the humans in the pack only give the dog love and overlook the other needs of the dog. While dogs enjoy being given affection, it does not satisfy the animal and it is not what makes them well balanced, stable minded, secure and happy. You need to provide proper emotional stability in order to achieve this and showing you have an orderly pack with rules to follow is what the dog needs. Giving your dog affection is important for the human and enjoyed by the dog, but must be done at the correct times.
Similarly, when a human shares its affection with a dog that is in any other state of mind but a calm, submissive one (for example, aggressive, obsessive, shy, skittish, fear or hyperactivity, etc.) and you give it a hug or pat on the head and tell it all is OK, it is comforting to the human but intensifies the dog’s current state of mind. You are telling the dog it is OK to feel that way. While a human feels they are comforting the dog, the dog sees it as approval of their current state of mind. If your dog has a traumatic experience and you show it affection during that time by trying to comfort it, you leave it stuck in that state of mind. Later when your dog faces this traumatic situation again and you comfort the dog, this intensifies the situation even more. Your actions are creating the problem. Dogs do not see comfort and affection in the same way as humans. Dogs are always looking for a strong stable being to rely on.
If you show weakness to your dog, the dog instinctually takes over the role of leader whether he wants to or not because there must be a strong leader and order in a dog's pack. If the dog does not feel he is strong enough to handle the role of leader it can be very stressful or even terrifying for the dog to have such a heavy burden of responsibility. Humans often give the dog mixed leadership signals, which throw the dog off balance, confusing his psyche and causing many of the psychological/behavioral problems we see in dogs today. Mental tension and energy build up within the dog, which lead to many common canine problems: eliminating in the house, obsessive or neurotic behaviors, chewing on themselves, being overly excited, barking excessively, not following their owner’s commands, running off, getting into the trash, destroying things in the house, obsessively digging, chewing the furniture, tail-chasing, scratching, aggression towards other dogs, animals or humans, snapping, biting, growling, and becoming just plain uncontrollable. Whatever the problem is, it is more likely than not, traceable back to the way the dog is treated. The good human knows their own mind and communicates clearly to their dog.
Overt affection is also the number one cause of separation anxiety. In a pack, only the leader is allowed to leave; however, the followers never leave the leader. If your dog is instinctually seeing you as its follower and you leave it, the dog can be so mentally dissatisfied it will often take its frustration out on your house or itself.
On the same note: when a dog is constantly leaning on you, putting his paw on you, using his nose to make you pet him and always feeling the need to be touching you in some way, this is not your dog loving you. It is your dog displaying dominant behaviors. In the dog world, space is respect. A dog that is constantly nudging you and leaning on you is not only disrespecting you, it is being the dominant dog.

Dogs pick up on the energy of their humans. They can tell if you are hyper, nervous, scared or calm. You will be able to communicate successfully with your dog if you use your body’s energy rather than excited words. For example, if your dog does something wrong and you yell and scream or hit the dog, it confuses the dog. This is not the way a pack leader corrects his followers. However, if you approach your dog in a very self-assured and calm manner to correct the dog at the moment he is doing the unwanted behavior with an assertive voice correction or a touch to their neck, your dogs will understand this because you are mimicking the way dogs correct one another—with calm, self-assured body language. If you want your dog to do or stop doing something, you need to first convince yourself it will happen. Stay calm and self-assured as your dog will pick up on your emotion. Remember, the dog must be doing the deed at the moment of correction in order for you to successfully communicate.
A dog does not possess the same reasoning skills as a human. Dogs do have emotions, but their emotions are different from humans. They are simple creatures with instincts and their emotions lack complex thought process. They feel joy when they know you are pleased, they feel sad when someone dies. However, they do not premeditate or plan ahead, feel guilt and do not dwell in the past or future. They live for the moment.
Because a dog lives in the present, it is much easier to rehabilitate a dog than a human. If you begin treating your dog in a very self-assured manner, giving love at the right times and correcting at the right moments, you can change your friend into a happy and mentally stable dog.

05/11/2022

Dog Tip of the Month: Feed your dog after the walk. This way, your friend will connect food with work. In other words, they will feel they've "earned" their food reward. This keeps them humble and happy. Also, it's better for digestion. Bigger dogs tend to bloat if fed right before strenuous exercise.
It's also wise to make your dog wait 15-30 seconds before inviting them to eat. Put the bowl on the floor and ask your dog(s) to sit or wait before releasing them with a word or gesture. I prefer an obvious gesture (pointing at the food - hand sweep towards the food) to indicate they are allowed to eat. This reinforces you as the pack leader and provides structure for your dog.

04/15/2022

I've had several questions about food as reward lately so I'm going to repeat an earlier post about this subject. Almost all of us use praise, toys or food as rewards. However, when we rely on treats, we are often unaware of when they SHOULDN'T be used. Following are a few useful ideas. 1) Don't use food when your dog has just finished doing a behavior you don't like or completed a command after numerous requests or actual intervention on your part. If you ask your dog to "Sit" four times and finally push his rear end down, don't reward failed obedience. Dogs look for patterns and they repeat behaviors that result in food. 2) Don't use food if your dog gets over-excited. Some dogs start jumping, whining, barking and basically turning off their brains. Use treats minimally with these dogs or not at all. 3) Don't use food when your dog is afraid. This does not reassure - it reinforces the fearful behavior and you'll see more fear, not less. Many scared pups won't even accept food, so don't force the issue. 4) Don't show the dog food and then give a command. This is a bribe. Keep the food in your pocket or out of sight until the command has been obeyed. In the earliest stages of teaching, you can use a treat to maneuver your dog into the right position but once he understands, you should phase out the treats.
You can start now to progress from constant treats(every time the dog performs) to variable treats (every other time, every third time) to random treats (only occasionally). This will save you money, prevent your pup from becoming a "treat hound" and prevent chubbiness in later years. Also, remember on heavy-treat training days, cut down a bit on the amount of kibble/food your dog usually gets for dinner and don't forget to walk your dog to burn off those extra calories.

04/04/2022

Lately, I’ve had several clients express a lack of confidence in the slip lead or training lead. They are fearful they will injure their dog’s neck or throat because of the constant pulling of the dog. Some have even returned to the harness they used before – even though it was unsuccessful preventing the original pulling. The harness can be a great tool if you want your dog to pull you. For example, if you want your dog to pull you around while you ride your bike or use rollerblades.
A harness is also a safe option for dogs with pushed-in faces that restrict breathing, such as pugs, dogs with trachea or throat problems, such as Pomeranians and Yorkshire terriers and dogs with elongated, overly slender necks, such as Greyhounds, may have to avoid certain collars, such as slip collars.
The first step before selecting any collar should always be to talk to your veterinarian. He or she can take your dog’s medical and breed background into account and make sure you are keeping your dog safe! If your dog suffers from extreme issues on the walk, I recommend consulting a dog behavior specialist in your area for guidance.
The slip lead is generally a safe option as it provides instant correction and swift release. If your dog is easily distracted by squirrels, other dogs or just a strong gust of wind, the collar allows for quick corrections to get your dog back on track.
Give a quick, firm pull sideways (or upwards) on the leash. If you pull straight back, your dog will pull against you. Instead, by giving a quick tug to the side, you knock him off balance and get his attention. Always keep your dog’s safety in mind when giving corrections! If you are unfamiliar how to use the tool, feel free to contact me or ask someone at the store for help. If your dog pulls consistently and sounds like she might be choking, step forward one step, quickly apply a single tug, then move away from the source of hysteria.
If you place the collar on the lower part of the neck, you are actually helping your dog to pull you around. Watch an Alaskan sled dog pulling a load. The harness fits at the shoulder around the base of the neck, because the lower part of the neck is where dogs have the most control and where all their pulling strength is concentrated. If you put it at the top, your dog will be more sensitive to your movements and react to what you are trying to communicate. Keep your dog’s head up. Remove her nose from the distractions on the ground. This way, her focus will be on you and the migration ritual.
No matter what collar you use, pay attention to your energy. The leash is a form of communication. Without a word, you are telling your dog where to go, what speed to walk, and when to stop. Take note of your body language. Stand up tall with your head up and your shoulders back. Walk like a pack leader! This energy will flow through the leash and be communicated to your dog.
I'll try to cover more walking tips in future posts now that our weather is (hopefully) improving.

03/08/2022

Most dog owners know that the best time to socialize their pup is when they are, in fact, a puppy. Dogs are at their most sensitive — and receptive — between three and twelve weeks of age, so the earlier that you can get your dog socialized, the better. After twelve weeks, it can be difficult to get a puppy to accept anything new or unfamiliar.
Whatever the reason your dog wasn’t socialized as a puppy, it doesn’t mean he has to be relegated to a life without dog friends or free play with others. Below you’ll find several tips on how to socialize adult dogs.
Walk your dog daily — and introduce them to other dogs
Dog walks are great opportunities for your four-legged friend to see and possibly meet other dogs and people, as well as practice proper behavior when out and about.
Why? Well, for one reason, you’re just bound to run into more social situations when you’re out on a walk than when you’re at home. But walks are also wonderful for socializing dogs because they’ll have less pent-up energy due to the exercise and should be calmer and more submissive.
Remember not to pull back on the leash or yell at your dog if they bark or otherwise act up, because this increases their excitement level, makes the experience negative and makes them associate that feeling with other dogs. Your energy will impact your dog’s perception of the situation so if you’re scared/unsure, your dog will be too.
Instead, maintain calm-assertive energy and distract them with a correction, whether it’s a sound you’ve trained them with, a quick tug of the leash sideways, or touch. When all else fails, you can always calmly walk away. . If planning to “introduce” dogs, try to arrange nose to tail meetings rather than face to face as this type of meeting is far more social to a dog.
Use a muzzle when other dogs are coming over or even on walks.
If you know that your dog barks or growls at other dogs, it can help the experience to use a muzzle.
Obviously, this prevents the danger of biting or attacking, but it can also make both dogs calmer so they’ll be more receptive to meeting and have a more positive experience. I recommend a Funny Muzzle because its amusing appearance goes a long way towards making other owners calm as well.
Safely expose your dog to different social activities
Don’t rush things, but if you can introduce your dog to one new activity a week, it will go a long way towards helping them socialize and remain calm and well-behaved. Using a leash and muzzle helps in this regard, as does making your dog an observer at first.
For example, instead of just taking your unsocialized dog into a dog park and hoping for the best, you can expose them slowly by walking them around the outside of the fence and letting them see the other dogs play and have fun.

03/04/2022

So you're afraid your dog will run away; bolt out the front door, car door and never be seen again. Let's address this issue. The minute you bring your dog home, you must set boundaries. YOU enter the house first, YOU tell the dog what rooms/areas are accessible without permission, YOU enforce those boundaries with appropriate rewards/corrections. Always invite your dog with word or hand gesture to enter/leave the house, car, back yard etc. When teaching, keep the dog on a leash to prevent failure. One good remedy if your dog does bolt out the door is DON'T chase him. Call his name in a happy voice (the one you always use when calling him) once or twice, then hide behind any object - tree, post, car etc.
Be patient - this may take a little while. If your pup doesn't return in a couple of minutes, then you can WALK to where you see him. Offer a treat and call again in a happy voice. Don't lunge at the dog or grab for his collar. If you do, you're starting to play "Canine Keep-away" - the best dog game ever. Move slowly and remain relaxed. Present the treat but don't actually give the reward until the dog is leashed. Prior training - including recall - is the best gift you can give your dog; a lifetime of safety. If you have questions, I'm always happy to help.

02/06/2022

A dog that’s spinning in circles, jumping up and down, or barking and yipping is not a happy dog. These are all signs of over-excitement. The dog has excess energy and the only way her brain knows how to deal with it is to work it off physically.
Unfortunately, people often interpret these signs as happiness. Many also tend to think that it’s cute when a dog acts like this and wind up unknowingly encouraging the behavior. Curb your dog’s excitement and you’ll be preventing misbehaviors in the future.
An overexcited dog is not happy. A calm dog is. Here are a few steps to keep your dog from being constantly over-excited and to be calm, submissive and happy.
Don’t Encourage Excitement. The most important thing to remember when your dog approaches you with excitement is that what you do will determine whether such behavior becomes more or less frequent. The worst thing you can do is give affection or attention to an excited dog. This is just telling him that you like what he is doing. He’ll learn that being excited gets a reward, so he’ll keep doing it. The best way to react to an excited dog is to ignore him. Use no touch, no talk, no eye contact. If he tries to jump on you, correct that behavior as well.
Reward calm behavior. This is the flip side of the first tip. When your dog is in a calm, submissive state, then you can give affection and attention, which will reinforce that state. If your dog is treat motivated, then reward his behavior when he is calm. Through a combination of ignoring excited behavior and rewarding calm behavior, you will help your dog to naturally and instinctively move into the calmer state.
Wear your dog out. A tired dog is a calm dog. More exercise is better.
Engage the nose. Scents like lavender and vanilla can help calm your dog down, especially if you associate them with times when the dog is calm — like having a scented air freshener near her bed. Be sure that your dog doesn’t have any allergies to particular scents and ask your vet for recommendations on the scents that work best at calming dogs down. Don’t overdo the scents. Dog’s noses are 200 times more sensitive than humans. A little scent goes a long way.
Most importantly, your dog cannot be calm if you aren’t, so you need to check your own energy. When you have to correct your dog, how do you do it? Can you stop the unwanted behavior with just a nudge or a quiet word, or do you tend to shout “No” at him over and over? If you’re in the second category, then you’re contributing to your dog’s excitement. Here’s an image to keep in mind: two soldiers in the woods. They’ve come to a clearing and see the enemy ahead. One of them starts to move forward. How does the other soldier stop this? Not by yelling. You’ve probably already pictured the move in your mind — an arm across the chest or a hand on the shoulder, without saying a word. Dogs are hunters, so they have an instinctive understanding of this kind of correction. If the group came up on a deer in a clearing and the Pack Leader barked to tell them to stop, the deer would be long gone and none of them would eat. The leaders stop the pack with nothing but their energy and body language.
If your dog is naturally high-energy and excitable, it can take a while to see results with these techniques. The important part is that you remain consistent in using them and don’t give up. Chances are that your dog didn’t become a hyperactive wild child overnight, so you’re not going to undo it overnight. But you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll start to see a change once you commit. Consistency is the key to success.

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Edmonds, WA
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