Tag Archives: dog behavior

Campaign to ban Cesar Millan’s The Dog Whisperer from Italian TV

Campaign to ban Cesar Millan’s The Dog Whisperer from Italian TV

22 October 2009
Italy trying to ban Cesar Millan Dog Whisperer

Members of the APBC have provided information and resources to concerned pet behaviour counsellors in Italy following the broadcast of The Dog Whisperer featuring Cesar Millan on Italian TV.

 
The Italian pet behaviour counsellor Laura Borromeo contacted members of the APBC after just three episodes of the controversial show were aired. She is developing a campaign that aims to educate the public that there are alternatives to Cesar Millan’s methods.
 
 
The Italian ASETRA web site represents the Society for the Ethological Studies of the Relationship between Animals and Humans and it is denouncing Millan’s methods with dogs: http://www.asetra.it/?Comunicati_Asetra
 
The Italian veterinary web site ANMVI is warning vets and owners about how dangerous and abusive Millan’s approach is towards dogs. They announce that they are taking steps to stop the show from being broadcast: http://www.anmvioggi.it/10262/12-10-09/la-veterinaria-disapprova-il-metodo-millan
 
There has also been coverage in the local Italian newspapers too where the headline message is equally clear; “Stop Millan – the veterinarians say he is educating people in the wrong way.”
 
Laura Borromeo is taking advice from lawyers so that a strategy can lead to the program being prevented from being broadcast.
 
Dog owners, dog trainers, pet behaviour counsellors and vets all have a choice in how pets are treated. The APBC believes in promoting the best in pet behaviour and it is clear from experience and research that some of the methods used by Cesar Millan can lead to an increase in dog aggression and behaviour problems. That’s why the APBC chooses to use better ways to train pets. There is a choice.
 
Graham Thompson
APBC Provisional Member.

Copyright 2009 APBC

Pet Dog Training 101, training stand, often neglected!

Josef Standing ~ he was a beautiful dog!

Josef Standing ~ he was a beautiful dog!

September 29, 2009

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Boudicca reliably sits 80-100%.  Recently I wanted to train a new behavior; I realized her sit was too good!  Over the months, I’ve allowed her “back” cue to include sitting (scooting) and never reliably trained and/or proofed stand.  It was not easy to reverse this; it took several days feeding her entire meals training. 

We broke training sessions up to no more than 10-minute sessions, throughout the day and used a clicker (reward stand only) and some prompting using previously trained behavior i.e. hand cues.  In this first demonstration, I’m not using treats, she’s already doing a pretty good job at standing, backing up and staying. 

Note, during the demonstration and without prior training (thought) I realized I didn’t have a cue for relaxed walking versus heel/sit, required in formal obedience and/or rally training contexts.  This just means it’s necessary to maintain heel/sit, heel acts as a directive cue in this case.  When we are relaxed and walking, I could easily using a standard pet dog cue “let’s go” indicating she has a choice, either she can sit or stand when we stop, but she still has to walk nicely on lead (no pulling). 

The purpose of this demonstration emphasizes the importance for teaching all three behaviors, sit, down and stand.  In addition, stay and distance is added to each behavior once the dog is reliably responding at least 80% (8 out of 10X) when cued/asked for each basic behavior.

If you’re wondering why we might need to teach a dog to stand (duh moment), stand can be effectively used when dogs are not under reliable recall is one example, keep this in mind when training.  Keep in mind; this is not an example of a reliably trained behavior.  It will require at least 1000 repetitions. If you prefer using positive reinforcement, rather than risk harming the relationship you are developing with your dog, it will be worth all your effort.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlLtE4uS_DI

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

Sarasota, Florida 34277

http://responsibledog.net

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

 Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat 2009

 

 

 

Considering drives and motivations when training dogs 8-)

Boudicca...doing what dogs do!

Boudicca...doing what dogs do!

 

 

Septempber 19, 2009

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

Considering drives and motivations when training dogs

 

 

The following two youtube videos demonstrate dog training using toys as rewards.  When training dogs, I like to think about what dogs do naturally, some more than others.   Dogs expressing parts of the prey drive not intended would be considered faults.  Border collies for example don’t naturally express “eye” they need the right environment to express that characteristic.  Without it, they probably wouldn’t make a good working and/or herding dog.

In this first video, Boudicca is demonstrating learned behavior take and give (release).  Training this behavior should be included in all puppy training. Rules are essential to maintain training new behavior during the acquisition phase, but also for maintaining already trained behaviors.  Note, how I emphasize my cues, hand signals and body language.  When we lack this type of consistency we can expect inconsistent behavior from our dogs.  However, this is not the same quality of precision one attempts to achieve in show obedience trials, however providing clear cues for behavior is essential, otherwise even pet/companion dogs may become anxious and frustrated.  Make sure you watch for my mistakes. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ik_9vaeq-MY

In this second video, Boudicca is demonstrating how we can train dogs using parts of their natural prey drive using an internal reinforcer, rather than external.  This would be especially helpful for some dogs who might naturally express that behavior given the right environment. 

In the previous video, I used a variety of objects to generalize the behavior.  In this second video I get her started with my goal behavior, catch.  I then add the distraction, dropping a ball at my side, she should stay focused on me not the other object.  I pre-selected a soft bone shaped toy to use as the throwing object, this helps her catch a large object and express the kill bite part of the prey drive. 

The purpose for training this type of behavior not only teaches bite inhibition further but includes impulse control and cooperation.  When dogs willingly trust us to release objects, from their jaws and teeth and willingly retrieve objects to us, demonstrates very desirable manners and skills every owner should want for their dog. 

Note, how I continually use toys as rewards rather than food treats.  I use food treats to get a desirable behavior but move away from them to life rewards, especially play behaviors sooner than later!   When you consider internal and external motivation and drives, I’ve found incorporating rewards in training that stimulate internal motivations rather than relying on external motivators might be necessary for some dogs.  Teaching dogs to rely on food treats for good behavior can be compared to how we use food to satisfy unmet needs, resulting in eating disorders. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RAQqSv_VWU

 

Responsible Dog and Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Combining Art and Science for Training Animals

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

P.O. Box 15992

Sarasota, Florida 34277

941-966-1188 

http://responsibledog.net 

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/ 

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/ 

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/  

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

Coyright Responsible Dog & Cat  2009

Housetraining ~ Do Dogs Learn to Wait? Wait for What?

Boudicca
Boudicca

Joyce Kesling, CDBC

This post is actually a sequel of sorts to Housetraining, using a signal to indicate need to eliminate.  The main point is dogs have the cognitive ability using simple associative learning to learn to “hold it” given the opportunity to learn housetraining correctly.  Keep in mind, since dogs, owners and environments where they live are not all the same, it may be necessary to adapt these basic ideas, to fit your personal lifestyle, rather than relying on some sort of standard procedure.  

The responsibilities for housetraining a dog can be overwhelming…especially when the dog’s owner is clueless or just plain LAZY.  In this case, seriously, thinking about owning a dog should be considered, it is a long-term commitment, and the responsibilities of pet ownership should be given the same consideration as having and raising children. 

Considerations for owning and raising a new puppy

Occasionally calls to board recently purchased puppies are received.  The new owners failed to consider upcoming vacation plans, when they need to be home housetraining!  It does not happen often, but it does, and caught off guard, I forget to quote double what I charge for boarding a housetrained dog.  Why, I’m going to need to devote twice as much time and energy into taking care of an untrained puppy. 

This is just one of many considerations potential pet owners should consider before purchasing puppies.  Consider what you and/or your families’ schedules and demands are for the next few weeks or months, before rushing into a decision that you will live with for 10-15 years; that is if the dog is provided patience and training preventing them from ending up in a shelter/rescue because you failed to train them properly! 

The housetraining process has many variables, sometimes determined by breed, size, and temperament.  However, your success depends on your understanding the correct process, your dogs physiological development, cognitive abilities (learning), reasoning for confinement and close supervision, but most of all, how you contribute in teaching your dog to wait for you to provide them opportunities to eliminate in the right location. 

Breeders Responsibility – Before you bring your puppy home!

Puppies around 8-12 weeks, generally the time we bring them into our lives are at a critical stage in their development, both physiologically and mentally.  Some of your puppies housetraining actually begins at the breeding location.  This is why we encourage potential puppy purchasers to look carefully at whom and where they purchase their puppy.

Selling puppies before the age of 8 weeks is questionable; some breeders and dog experts suggest 12 weeks might be a more appropriate age to sell puppies.  This could present problems because the socialization period would overlap with ongoing breeder care and responsibility; so you want to make sure the breeder you select has done some if not all of the following no matter what age your puppy is at time of purchase.  This will help in housetraining, when you bring your new puppy home.

  1. Individual puppies should spend time in a puppy pen with an open crate.  This allows the puppy to begin learning where they sleep and where they eliminate.
  2. Each puppy should get one-on-one time with as many humans as possible
  3. Puppies should be isolated in a kennel for short periods of time (nap time), to prepare them for separation
  4. Breeders should begin introducing puppies to desirable substrates for elimination i.e. grass, crushed shell, sand, dirt, clay, concrete, anything but what is found inside a home!
  5. Puppies should be fed in individual bowls eliminating competition and possibility for developing food aggression later.

The time between 6-12 weeks is essential in developing a stable emotional temperament and affective tone.  This is the period most responsible for the development of social and emotional deficits.  This is why it is ill advised to remove puppies from their mother and littermates prematurely and why breeder selection is more important.

 We have now reached that point, you have done your homework, you have qualified and purchased your new puppy from a good breeder, you have selected the right puppy and breed for your lifestyle, and they have now entered your world.  It is completely up to you and/or your family to successfully finish the job of housetraining, teaching your puppy to “learn to wait” for you to provide his/her elimination opportunities!

Physiological Considerations

A little about your dog’s physiology

According to Lindsay (2001), “numerous conditioned and unconditioned digestive reflexes are triggered as soon as a bite of food is taken into the mouth.”  He says, the “internal alimentary reflexes function under the influence of classical conditioning” and external physiological conditions are controlled voluntarily through instrumental conditioning.  He further suggests, through proper training and conditioning the ability to control the external muscles associated with elimination are regulated by “cortical inhibition” and “for urination to occur, the external sphincter must be voluntarily relaxed” which can be “strongly influenced by instrumental learning” and why using appropriate training methods are necessary for achieving successful house training.

The following sections demonstrate “learning to wait” is simply not a stimulus response based on a learned location and/or substrate.  It is not the location and/or substrate the dog should ultimately associate with elimination. 

Certainly preferred locations and substrates are part of the overall association.  However, for the dog to learn effectively and reliably based on a real “need to go” versus an “adventure outside” is the association and connection with you and established cue! 

If you have not read Housetraining, using a signal to indicate need to eliminate you may not fully understand the explanation and its importance to successful housetraining a new puppy and/or adult dog not reliably housetrained in the first place!

Shortly after writing that article, I read another article on housetraining that prompted me to initiate a dialogue with the author.  The author suggested, the “[s]impliest [simplest] explanation is that they [dogs] are developing surface and location preferences for elimination and as dogs develop better muscle and nervous control over bladder and bowels they can choose when and where to relieve themselves.” 

This next section should provide a better explanation for how dogs learn the housetraining process, based on simple associations, but include more than simply “surface and location” stimuli to cause elimination to occur. 

Elimination Communication (EC)

In Housetraining, using a signal to indicate need to eliminate, I suggested housetraining dogs required the same kind of attention parents would give to potty training a child.  After my dialogue with the other author, I did some research on potty training children, to my surprise, my Google search turned up articles on a fairly new child potty training concept called “natural infant hygiene” or “elimination communication.”  The concept was inspired by “traditional practices of diaperless baby care” commonly used in third world countries and some natural based cultures. 

The author of a recent blog posted The Evolution of Potty Training that uses his recent experience training a new puppy with his current experience using elimination communication training his child. 

Elimination communication has four components, timing, signaling and body language, intuition and cueing.  All four components can be applied to housetraining dogs, but given some human work requirements and schedules, time allotted away from work for puppy owners versus stay at home parenting and parental leaves certainly raising a puppy will require some adjustments. 

Let’s address timing first and similarities

In potty training human babies, mothers learn when their babies need to eliminate based on feeding schedules and activity.  Proper housetraining puppies require the same considerations.  We learn through observation when puppies are more likely to need opportunities to eliminate.  For puppies, elimination is usually necessary first thing in the morning with the last opportunity before kenneling at night.  Other frequent times occur after eating and drinking, during playful activities and after napping during the day.  Initially new puppies may need to go out during the night, but this subsides as the puppy’s biological clock adjusts according to their physiological development. 

Puppies’ development for this process occurs more rapidly than their human counterpart that may take as long as 2-4 years depending on the individual and method used.  So consider yourself lucky if your only responsibility is training a new puppy!

Signaling and body language

An interesting association made concerning human parenting and using elimination communication is those who use this process suggest they become more attune to the needs and associated signals communicated from infants, suggesting this enhances the bonding process between mother and child.  To facilitate this type of training mothers must carry their infants around making these associations easier to recognize thus respond.

Training puppies requires we keep constant attention and supervision as well and watching for any signals of elimination behavior.  For dogs, this often includes sniffing, circling, whining, odd facial expressions and in some instances heading toward locations where the dog eliminated in the wrong location.  This should not occur if you are managing your puppy correctly! 

Contrasting, child elimination communication, we suggest puppy parents use short-term confinement using kennels, exercise pens that may include an open door kennel, naps (down time) scheduled throughout the day (used for impulse control), tethering via a lead to us and/or anchoring your puppy to a heavy object but remaining in close proximity to your location.  This allows us like humans parenting children to keep a watchful eye on our puppies and getting them outside before they have a chance to eliminate in the wrong location, setting them up to succeed.

Intuition

Mothers using the elimination communication suggest the “close nurturing relationship” helps them know when it is necessary to get the child to the potty location.  This is simply an unconscious knowing through observation and establishing the bond between mother and child that allows mothers to notice subtle behavioral change that may indicate specific needs.

This is not at all unlike dog owners who have established close attachments and secure bonds with their dogs.  However, this does mean we have to be in touch with our dogs and since dogs live in the moment, we need to learn to be equally observant of their behavior. 

Cueing

Communication elimination or natural infant hygiene used around the world requires a two-way communication between mother and infant.  The communication is formed using classical conditioning.  Human mothers having learned to recognize signals from the infant their need to eliminate is then paired using a verbal sound or cue, generally in human culture “shhh” or “sss” is used, some parents may use different signals for urination and defecation.  Other cues may also be associated with the elimination process such as holding the child in specific positions and locations.  In some instances, the child may eventually learn to signal the parent using the verbal cue.

There are some key differences however between teaching communication elimination between human children and dogs.  One of the most distinct differences is that dogs often learn through improper housetraining procedures and unwitting owners to use cues simply to get outside to play!  I doubt human parents experience this behavior, but it happens often enough with dogs, so dog parents need to be savvy enough to out think their dogs behavior.  This is where rewards, consequences, and confinement help establish successful housetraining for dog owners. 

Finally, the ability to “hold it”

Just like human children, dogs also go through stages of physical development that increases one’s ability to control their bodily functions.  This development occurs much faster in dogs and explained previously in “physiological considerations.”  The same occurs with human children who learn the “ability to retain” but at a human infant’s developmental pace and growing consequence of their awareness. 

Dogs possess the cognitive ability to associate and learn to control their sphincter muscles through similar conditioning as human children learning when/where access for elimination is available and by conditioning an associative cue to the process. 

Potential problems and why I don’t recommend using doggie doors!

Housetraining issues are common and second common reason dogs end up in shelters aggressive behavior is number one!  Often the client is using doggie doors!  Do you really think after all this discussion, puppies still know to take themselves outside to eliminate, and that only outdoors is the acceptable potty location, without your help and guidance in the beginning? 

Do you understand now how parents successfully use the same strategy to train infant children?  Dogs need your help just as much as human children require parents to be there, observing their signals, body language, and teaching cues associated with elimination, how is your puppy going to learn if you’re sitting on the couch learning how to train your puppy from the “dog whisperer” while assuming they understand what a doggie door means!

A couple of facts

  • Female dogs are just as capable of marking as males; an earlier issue of Journal Veterinary Behavior suggested this behavior does exist.  Thus, owners must be aware of their dog’s elimination habits through close observation; this means YOU need to be present!
  • When owners use doggie doors before their puppies elimination behavior is reliably trained, dogs may run in/out for all kinds of reasons, responding to noises, playing, perhaps even following you out there, but this doesn’t mean your dog understands without your guidance what she/he is supposed to do there!  Lack of supervision and being present when your dog eliminates can explain why so many owners using doggie doors end up with dogs that never reliably learned where the proper potty areas are located. 

My experience

Being a professional dog trainer, certified in dog behavior, I can reliably say that in all the years before becoming a professional in this industry, I never relied on dog doors to provide access for elimination purposes.  My dogs were always taken out on lead.  I think it is important dogs are supervised and their elimination behavior observed.  The only other option provided for my dogs is a securely fenced yard and still under my supervision. 

Sources:

http://www.responsibledog.net/house_training.html

Housetraining, using a signal to indicate need to eliminate

http://scienceblogs.com/primatediaries/2009/08/the_evolution_of_potty_trainin.php

http://www.naturalfamilyonline.com/5-diap/42-natural-infant-hygiene.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/11/opinion/11small.html

http://www.parentingscience.com/infant-toilet-training.html

http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Elimination-communication

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Combining Art and Science for Training Animals

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

P.O. Box 15992

Sarasota, Florida 34277

941-966-1188

http://responsibledog.net 

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat  2009

 

Is the study of animal behavior being marginalized when used as a marketing tool?

Dog Behavior Counseling

Dog Behavior Counseling

I found a website yesterday, specializing in dog boarding. What alarmed me was they stated, “our camp counselors” are, “certified in dog behavior.” When I inquired, which I did, I was told they go through an in-house training program lasting a couple of weeks or less!

The problem I see with using the designation “certified in dog behavior” is, it makes the study of animal behavior, appear to be no more than friendly dog advice obtained from anyone, while marginalizing the very individuals who can and are educated to help the most. This is a disservice to the dog owner and the industry. 

This should be a concern for the public, as well as those who are degreed individuals, specializing in animal behavior.  Aside from the obvious differences, between those who actually studied behavior at universities, there are some of us who have spent a great deal of time studying on our own, taking courses on-line and/or using qualified mentors, that may include veterinarians who themselves specialize in behavior.

What I’m wondering, is will the careless and continued use, eventually inculcate the public, into thinking that understanding and treating behavior related problems, can be accomplished by anyone referring to themselves as a “behavior expert.” I can see it now; these “camp counselors” will be delivering advice on how to solve anxiety problems and aggression. This marginalizes those of us who are qualified, and it most definitely affects the welfare of dogs.  The alternative is referring owners to qualified individuals who really can help 

Given the fact that most dogs end up in shelters because of behavior problems I view this as a serious problem for the public.  If unqualified individuals continue providing uneducated advice, rather than referring dog owners to someone, who is qualified, through appropriate and acceptable training, we will continue to see more and more dogs in shelters.  

The alternative is our communities and dog related businesses, need to seek out qualified individuals and refer pet owners to them.  In turn, these professional behavior consultants will utilize dog day cares, dog walkers, and other dog trainers if they fit into the behavior modification program, designed by the behavior consultant, and fitting that individual dogs needs. 

The needs of the family and dog must be addressed first; this means the behavior consultant identifies the underlying problem/conflict as defined by the family. This means bringing the family together in agreement how best to solve the problem, then putting together a plan that works for the entire family, to solve the problem and/or conflict, as well as making sure the dogs needs are met as well. 

A good place to find qualified behavior experts are these organizations, the International Association of Behavior Consultants www.iaabc.org , the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists www.veterinarybehaviorists.org/ , the Animal Behavior Society www.animalbehavior.org.

When your business uses the right individuals, it creates a win-win situation for everyone, most of all you are ensuring the pet gets the best care possible.

Much of the problem is there are no regulations in the dog training, or dog behavior industry, so businesses are not required to seek out professional  behavior consultants.  So those of us who specialize in the behavior industry need to educate businesses about these differences, otherwise,  the continuing result will be, more and more dogs, will either be given up to shelters or euthanized out of frustration, and potential dog owners , will be less likely to purchase and/or adopt dogs in the future.

In these uncertain economic times, I increasing get frustrated when I see dog organizations including shelters and rescues, dog boutiques, and large box pet stores, dog trainers and veterinarians not specializing in behavior, give little attention where they refer clients. 

This has an impact on the welfare of pets, your clients and/or customers.  Often owners are so frustrated over the unresolved problem they eventually give up and relinquish their pet. 

As a founding member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants www.iaabc.org , it has always been our goal to “assist and educate owners and handlers of companion animals to prevent problems and to interrupt the cycle of inappropriate punishment, rejection, and euthanasia of animals with behavior problems that are resolvable.”

I keep a complete resume posted on my website www.responsibledog.net .  It is a chronological compilation www.responsibledog.net/certifications.html   of my on-going training and behavior background. I publish and keep it updated so potential clients and/or others interested in my services, am apprised of my education and skill level. 

Many of the seminars, workshops, conferences and private/semi-private mentoring sessions I attend, commonly referred to, in all teaching environments, are continuing educational units (CEU’s). I am meeting minimum standards suggested by the Journal Veterinary Behavior (2006, 1, 47-52) for dog trainers.  So, if someone calling themselves a behavior specialist/behaviorist is unable to provide up to date certificates of continuing education, related to the field of behavior, then you should look elsewhere, not only for your own sake, but also for the pet you care so much about.

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Combining Art and Science for Training Animals

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

P.O. Box 15992

Sarasota, Florida 34277

941-966-1188 ~ 941-587-2049

 

http://responsibledog.net

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/

 

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat  2009

Fetch and Retrieve

Boudicca Fetch and Retrieve
Boudicca Fetch and Retrieve

 

 

 

 

 

Fetch and Retrieve

I happen to love teaching dogs fetch and retrieve for a couple of very important reasons.  The first is this behavior is a building block for cooperation and what better way to teach a dog cooperation than getting him to willingly run after something, bring it back to you and then relinquish it!  The second biggest reason is providing an outlet for dogs who commonly love to chase things, what better way to redirect predatory behavior than through interactive play with our pets.  

Unfortunately, not all dogs get this training early in life.  Studies show that dogs learn this behavior best beginning when they are 9 weeks old.  However, this does not mean we can’t train this fun behavior, it just means we might need to put forth a little more effort.  Also, I tend to think all dogs are capable of learning this simple game so don’t get discouraged just because your dog isn’t a natural born retriever. 

You may also encounter other contributing factors that explain why dogs may be reluctant to play the game; some may be included in the following list. 

  1. Motivation
  2. History involving inadvertent punishment, i.e. punished previously for picking up a shoe
  3. Lack of early learning
  4. Never introduced to toys
  5. Distractions 

However, this doesn’t mean we should dismiss our dogs ability to learn this new skill, but rather we will just work harder to make it possible, keeping in mind we will gain ground in small increments that may be dependent on your individual dog. 

How we approach this training will depend on your dogs’ previous history and all the things I have already pointed out.  If we are beginning with a dog with little interest, we need to begin with the most basic step.  

Toys first 

If your dog already has a good history of playing with and interacting with toys, you may be able to skip ahead to the next level of learning.  If your dog lacks a good history of playing with toys or even you, it might be necessary to begin at the most basic level.  The idea is getting your dog in a playful mood and need to begin with an introduction to toys! 

The following is a short list of suggested toys

  1. Balls all types and materials and large enough to not be swallowed
  2. Rope toys – great for tug of war
  3. Hard rubber toys such as Kong toys and similar products
  4. Interactive toys such as Buster Cubes, stuffed Kong items, hollow stuffed marrow bones and similar products
  5. Soft Toys – I love soft toys, but unless you are familiar with how your dog interacts with soft objects I consider them to be given only under supervision to avoid swallowing any of the materials contained in them
  6. I like to suggest having a large sampling of toy types including different materials and textures – dogs love novelty and keeping toys put away keeps them more interesting
  7. Safe chew items – ask your behavior consultant or professional trainer for suggestions

This is a very limited list and a very small sampling of available options.  For more suggestions, ask your behavior consultant or trainer.  

Beginning basics – Grade School 

  1. Using one of your dog’s toys begin by rewarding any interest in the toy – if you are using click and treat, you will c/t every time your dog goes near the toy – this is shaping your dog toward the target behavior, your goal
  2. Throw the toy – your dog may chase it, if so c/t
  3. Tease him with the toy – this is my personal favorite
  4. Play peek-a-boo – hiding it behind your back
  5. If it squeaks, taunt him with it, this works great for terriers
  6. Reward any attempt to interact with the toy
  7. When he starts showing interest – put the toy away
  8. Never get angry or frustrated – always keep the activity upbeat and fun

Identifying the chain

Before we can begin, we first must identify the chain of behavior required in fetch and retrieve.  The following are the most basic steps in the behavior.

  1. Give – release item
  2. Take it – go fetch item
  3. Recall – return to you 

The behavior is performed using the following sequence, but is learned by back chaining.  

  1. Dog is in front position or along side of you using a wait cue
  2. Object is thrown
  3. Dog is cued to take it
  4. Dog returns (comes) to you
  5. Dog gives item to you 

Take it  

We first teach the dog what take it means as follows:

  1. Begin by offering your dog a treat, when he takes it c/t – do this about 8-10 times
  2. Next using 8-10 treats, offer him the treat, when he gets ready to take it, click and say the cue take it
  3. Once he is actively taking items in his mouth using the cue I like to begin introducing new items so the dog generalizes the behavior
  4. Maintain the excitement by keeping the retrieving objects put away in between training sessions
  5. Keep your training sessions short, upbeat and end when the dog is still successful 

Recalls – Sit – Wait

Recall, Sit and Wait should be part of your everyday training so this paper will not cover those training procedures.  If you are not familiar with these training procedures, ask your behavior consultant or training professional for the applicable handouts.  

Give (Release or Drop it) 

This behavior is the opposite of take it and trained as follows: 

  1. Begin first by offering a favorite toy to your dog
  2. When he takes it and has a firm hold, ask him to give or release offering him a treat at the same time
  3. The smell of the treat should immediately entice him to release the object
  4. When he releases quickly give him the treat repeating this 8-10 times
  5. When he is actively giving up the object, introduce the cue at the same time you offer the treat repeating this step 8-10 times
  6. Practice using different objects so he generalizes the behavior with many types of items, you may want to switch from using a treat in exchange for another similar toy or the exact same toy
  7. If you can’t get him to take a firm hold on the toy, you may have to shape this behavior separately 

Secondary basicsAchieving higher levels 

Once we have the foundation behaviors take it, give and recalls firmly in place we can precede to the next higher level of performance.  Remember good training is done slowly and not proceeding before the dog is ready.  Every dog will advance at their own pace and according to how much effort we put into their training, so don’t get discouraged if this takes more time than you expected, believe me it works or I wouldn’t be writing this.

  1. Start in low distraction environments this will prevent ruining any of our previously trained behaviors
  2. Make sure your dog is motivated and ready to play
  3. Rev him up if necessary
  4. Have plenty of treats
  5. Begin first by asking your dog to sit and wait
  6. Toss the toy a short distance away in front of the dog
  7. When you are ready ask him to take it
  8. Once he has taken the object in his mouth, using your recall encourage him to come using a happy tone of voice
  9. If he comes back, ask him to give offering him a treat at the same time
  10. Repeat this 3-5 times using the same distance
  11. Slowly increase the distance adding 5-10 feet depending on the dogs willingness and success at playing the game
  12. Repeat the behavior 3-5 times at every distance increase – you may even want to add additional repetitions
  13. If the dog shows any reluctance go back a step using a shorter distance and using more repetitions
  14. Use “slow dining” to reward excellent behavior
  15. Quit while your dog is successful
  16. Practice this every day slowly increasing the distance and repetitions necessary while building up the time spent performing the behavior
  17. Remember keep a smiley face on no matter how awkward your dog may seem

Slow dining is a form of jackpotting coined by Terry Ryan.  What this means is rather than quickly rewarding for good behavior, slow things down and give multiple treats or prolonged praise making it last at least 15 – 30 seconds.  This makes the reward more appetizing and furthers the bond between you and your dog. 

Oh, those difficult dogs! 

So you think you have one of those difficult dogs, well don’t get discouraged, here are a couple of helpful ways to get those less than willing retrievers to playfully go along with us. 

  1. If your dog has taken to a particular toy, duplicate it and when you throw one, present the other enticing him back using this as a lure or bribe if you want to call it that, either way the object is to get your dog to learn *how* to be more cooperative and how much fun this new behavior is!
  2. If necessary use a long line – tossing your dogs favorite toy, when he firmly has it in his mouth gently reel him in but not pulling, calling him in your happiest tone of voice encourage him to come and when he arrives make sure you reward him for his good behavior.  

Responsible Dog & Cat

Training and Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling, CDBC

Sarasota, Florida 34277

http://responsibledog.net 

http://responsibledog.wordpress.com/ 

https://k9psych.wordpress.com/

http://k9psych.blogspot.com/

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948

                                                             Copyright Responsible Dog & Cat Rev A 2005 – 2009

Florida Dog Boarding, Kenneling, Dog Sitting Services

Bad habit picked up at the kennel!

Bad habit picked up at the kennel!

Boarding, Kenneling, Dog Sitting Services

How does one choose the right service and what considerations should be evaluated?

With all the choices available for boarding, kenneling, dog sitting, some even coming with fancy names like bed and breakfasts, doggie spas, motels and hotels, it might seem like an overwhelming choice for the average owner in selecting the proper boarding facility. However, in spite of luxurious claims compared to a bare bones facility, the most important consideration should be providing a safe, secure, predictable environment, with friendly and competently trained staff.

Before you make your decision, you should visit the facility; your visit should be welcome if not encouraged by management and staff. I consider it an important part of the decision making process. This provides the owner a visual representation where their pet will be kept and viewing outdoor areas used for potty and play.

Any questions and concerns should be answered to your satisfaction; because it is important while you are away that you feel comfortable, knowing your pet is being cared for properly.

 

Depending on the specific environment you choose, it should be a priority to evaluate the kennel staff experience and expertise in normal dog behavior, training, and general knowledge concerning dogs and cats.  Ask how much training the staff has received, where and for how long. Beware of franchise establishments their staff has little to no experience believe me, I inquired!

If you choose to board in a facility-offering dog daycare or interactive activities including other dogs, it’s even more important the staff is sufficiently educated in normal dog behavior, dog communication, recognizing behavior problems and emphasis on aggression.

What are bare bone considerations when selecting a kennel?

  • Cleanliness is the most important feature you should consider. This should include proper sanitation procedures preventing spread of contagious disease. See important information concerning fecal matter below.
  • All accommodations including kennels, crates, outdoor-indoor runs or private rooms should be clean and odor free and pets should appear clean and well cared for.
  • Check designated potty areas and outdoor play areas. These areas should be free from accumulated fecal matter and depending on substrate routinely cleaned.
  • Ask how fecal matter is disposed of. Kennel facilities should take responsibility how fecal material is treated and disposed. See important information concerning fecal matter below.
  • Exercise should be a concern, ask how often it’s provided. Some kennels offer extra exercise opportunities at additional costs.
  • Ask to see the outdoor toilet areas your dog will be using, how often access is provided. Normal dogs need toilet breaks at least every 6 hours, the only exception during normal sleeping hours.
  • Providing natural daylight is a plus, good air circulation and proper ventilation decreases risk of spreading disease.
  • Consider the number of staff compared to number of animals. A greater number of staff versus animals may indicate more individual attention. This depends on the environment provided, dogs kept in outdoor-indoor kennels, runs, or cages don’t usually get much attention.
  • Ask about veterinary care procedures in case of an emergency.  Personal preferences should be discussed with the kennel owner.
  • If your pet requires medication or other treatments, make sure the kennel staff can accommodate your pet needs.
  • Grooming services are often required in kennels.  Sending pets home clean or freshly groomed is a plus. You want to make sure the groomer is sufficiently trained in proper grooming procedures. Providing dogs with baths and grooming requires two completely different amounts of skill.
  • Make sure someone lives on the premises; fires or other natural disasters do occur.  Kennels often do not provide this protection.
  • Ask if the owner carries liability insurance, especially for this type of business
  • Make sure you include emergency information or instructions; this should be included on the boarding intake form.

What you should know and consider when boarding, using a pet sitter or swanky spa!

When boarding includes socialization privileges

A well-socialized dog could be characterized by how readily it interacts and plays with other dogs. However, dogs will be dogs! In most cases, if there are altercations, they are often minor, but one cannot be careful enough when allowing a group of dogs to interact. If you decide to board your pet in this type of environment, make sure the staff have good working knowledge how dogs communicate, meaning they can read dogs well and have the ability to handle multiple dogs while keeping every one safe.

Often these kinds of businesses include behavior assessments, however, future behavior is not always predictable and there is always a chance that dogs may not get along with specific dogs. It’s best in these environments that numbers be limited by the effectiveness of staff, and sometimes alternating dogs in smaller groups, giving consideration to size, breed and personality can help provide safety while still providing interaction and socialization opportunity.

It’s your responsibility to make sure your dog is safe so your decision should include evaluating the level of expertise concerning animal behavior when boarding your pet in these types of environments. If the staff is not sufficiently educated in normal dog or cat behavior, and specifically aggression, how to manage it, recognize it and modify it, then you should be concerned about your dog’s welfare.

When boarding you don’t want your dog learning bad habits, proactive owners are concerned in preventing behavior problems and it’s not uncommon when dogs return from kennels poor habits have developed resulting from insufficient housing, management, exposure to dogs with bad habits and generally poor care.

Is stress a consideration during boarding?

“Stress occurs when any demand is placed upon a dog that requires the dog to change or adjust” (Lindsay, 2000). For stress to occur events or situations do not have to be unpleasant, rather any biological or psychological demand placed on an animal is capable of producing stress. There are certain amounts of healthy stress animals are capable of adapting to, however chronic stress may lead to stress-related medical conditions. This is an important consideration when making your decision on how, where and under what conditions you board your animals.

Stress-related hormonal changes occur during separation in a number of species. Tuber and colleagues (1996) studied dogs and found a “differential glucocorticoid (cortisol and corticosterone) response” occurs during five conditions of separation.

1. Alone in a novel environment
2. With a conspecific (another dog) in a novel environment
3. Alone in a familiar environment
4. With a human in a novel environment
5. With a conspecific (another dog) in a familiar environment.

The results of their study showed dogs left alone in novel environments had the highest level of cortisol output with the lowest level occurring in home kennels with a familiar conspecific. However, dogs tested in novel environments with a human companion had significantly lower cortisol levels when compared to dogs kept in the novel environment with a conspecific. These results lend support when considering your decision concerning your dog’s welfare when kenneling or boarding.

What exactly does Your dog prefer?

According to these studies, dogs prefer the company of humans even in novel (unfamiliar) environments compared to dogs kept/left in home environments even with a familiar dog!  This means, you need to consider your dogs stress levels when using a pet sitter who drops by on occasion sometimes no longer than 30 minutes.  Compared to a kennel alternative that meets your dogs needs for socialization as well as human contact, it’s almost a no brainer.

Things you might want to include for your pets comfort

• A favorite bed, blanket, toy may help your pet feel at home.  Other dogs can destroy these items, unless provided under privately managed housing.
• Send your own food – pets can get stressed away from home, abrupt changes in diet can cause gastrointestinal upset that may include vomiting and diarrhea, you don’t want to stress your pet more than she/he needs to be. 
• You may want to include any special treats or chew items, make sure the kennel accepts these as part of their overall care.

Why is disposing fecal matter so important?

If fecal matter is not removed regularly (immediately), dogs will not continue to potty in designated areas. During housetraining, teaching the dog proper locations should be of utmost priority. Dogs will not continue to use designated potty areas contaminated with fecal matter, instead moving to other locations within the yard. When we remove feces, our dogs will continue to use designated areas, providing ideal housetraining. 

Additionally, feces should be removed because it creates a foul odor, is unsightly to humans, and presents a public health hazard.  The public hazard comes in the form of Toxocara canis, which is larvae deposited in dog stools that become mature and infective after two to three days. During the summer months, it is even more hazardous when the sun dries the fecal matter allowing wind to carry it, contaminating everything in the area.

Additionally, feces provides an excellent breeding place for flies, according to Dunbar (1986) “a single dog fecal deposit” provides for the proliferation of up to 588 flies! (Yuk) These mature flies then spread not only the toxocara larvae but also other infectious disease. These flies find their way into our homes, carrying these infectious agents. The best prevention is clean up fecal matter before flies have the opportunity to lay eggs. For owners, this is easily done using plastic bags, tying them up and disposing of them. When considering a boarding facility, you should ask how this material is being processed. You want to ask, because you don’t want to expose your pet to unnecessary illness or disease.

Lastly, this a responsible dog owner’s duty, not only does ignoring this responsibility cause potential public health problems, it does not promote good pet management and consideration of neighbors!

Health and Vaccination Requirements

All dogs and cats should be healthy and free of disease contagious to other animals. Pet owners who have pets with medical problems and currently being treated and stable should advise the kennel owner or staff prior to boarding to ensure the kennel staff could accommodate your pets’ needs.

Many products are available for treating fleas, ticks or other external or internal parasite, your pet should be treated prior to any scheduled boarding. Some kennels will treat dogs or cats if any external parasites are noticed and charge you for the treatment.

Some kennels may require health certificates or proof of vaccinations from your veterinarian. Because some veterinarians do not routinely vaccinate every year for DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza and parvovirus), your dog may not have all the vaccinations a kennel or boarding facility may require. It’s best to ask what an individual kennels policy is concerning vaccinations because “there is no generally accepted rule regarding vaccinations in dogs.”

FYI – Information concerning vaccination protocols

Among the veterinary community there is developing a “diversity of opinion” concerning which vaccines should be administered, frequency and safety of administering vaccines as well as their protective value.

The veterinary community attempting to individualize immunization programs has divided vaccine protocols into Core and Non-Core groups. Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs, Non-Core are recommended for dogs at risk, due to lifestyle, or exposure to infectious disease. Core vaccines are determined by infectious ability and transference to other dogs and humans.

Due to vaccine safety risks, this debate is of concern, the benefits of vaccination are well recognized, there are reports of “injection-site tumors in cats, vaccine associated autoimmune disease in dogs” and vaccine reactions occurring after booster administration.  This causes concern whether or not vaccines should be administered to all dogs and if annual booster administration is necessary for continued protection.

Recent publications suggest current vaccination schedules do not address effectiveness of vaccines protective immunity, saying, “depending on the infectious agent… protective immune response may persist for years” after vaccination questioning the continuance of boosters.  However, no published data substantiates any “uniform standard” concerning the duration of any vaccine-induced immunity with the exception of rabies.

Finally, Non-Core vaccines should be considered based on risk assessment for individual dogs, taking into consideration the dog’s history, environment and infectious agent of concern. Some Non-Core vaccines include Canine Bordetella, parinfluenza, Leptospira, coronavirus, Giardia, and Borrelia (Lyme disease). It is suggested vaccines that do not present risk to a dog be excluded from any vaccination protocol; clients should rely on their veterinarian to guide their choices, what is best for their individual pet.

References

Dunbar, Ian & Bohnenkamp, Gwen. Behavior Booklets – Housetraining Supplement.
CA: James & Kenneth. 1986.

Mansfield, Philip, DVM. (2000). Vaccination Issues of Concern to Dog Owners.
Retrieved from: http://www.scwtca.org/pdf/bmarch/28.2Mansfield.pdf#search=’philip%20D.%20Mansfield%2C%20D.V.M

Responsible Dog & Cat
Dog Training and Dog Behavior Solutions

Joyce D. Kesling
P.O. Box 15992
Sarasota, Florida 34277

www.responsibledog.net
941-966-1188 ~ 941-587-2049

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948
© Responsible Dog & Cat Rev A 2005-2009