Archive for April, 2010

Getting a pack of dogs under control in Doggie Boot Camp

Rusty, the Long Haired Dachshund is an absolute delight. His tail never stops wagging and he is always game for a pat on the head or a romp in the backyard. Unless you take him away from the house, than the tail goes down and he is very nervous. You are right when you say that he has trust issues. The first couple of days were focused on getting him to listen. Walk on a loose leash, sit stay down stay etc. Yesterday we started taking him places. We went to the pet store in the morning and evening.

I am a guy I Don't go shopping!

Rusty, "Guys Don't Go Shopping!"

He also tagged along to the training center.  I am glad to say I see a vast improvement from morning and night. In the morning in the pet store the first guy he saw he tried to run in the opposite direction. During the whole session in the store he wouldn’t take treats from me or anyone else. He did much better in the evening. He took treats from me and after 5 minutes from strangers. He wouldn’t come to the people, but didn’t run away if they approached. My goal is to take him to a couple of cities today.

Lucky is an absolute delight, once he relaxes. Another words realizes that you are not going to hurt him than he is fine. He went to the pet store in the morning as well.

Did I Hear a Squeaky Toy

Did I Hear a Squeaky Toy

He did a little better than Rusty, but he still needs a lot of socialization. He did great in regards to the obedience commands. He will also be going to downtown Royal Oak and Birmingham today.

Brody, is a very interesting case. He is willful, determined and yet gets all nervous if corrected. The first session which was to teach him to walk on a loose leash he promptly laid down and didn’t want to move. This is called passive resistance or passive aggressive. Bold dogs will keep trying to go ahead on the leash. Passive dogs will sit down or lay down. Dog’s with an active defense will lung at you or attack the leash. Normally I can get a dog to walk on a loose leash in 2 to 3 minutes, but because poor Brody is so sensitive. I broke this down to two short little sessions with him. He is now walking perfectly on a loose leash. I took him last night to the training center and pet store. He did fantastic.

I'm Bored.

I'm Bored.

Today’s plan is to take Rusty and Lucky to Royal Oak in the morning and Birmingham this evening. I will be bringing Brody with me to a client’s home to continue to work on his obedience. I also want to start working with all three together and so this evening I am planning to walk all three on a loose leash through the neighborhood.

April 30, 2010 at 1:59 pm 1 comment

Solving Submissive Urination

Mattie a 7 month old Australian Cattle dog mix has a tendency to submissive urinate. She is a very active puppy who wants to run in 10 different directions at once and will try to jump all over you. If you try to pet her she will submissive urinate. Because she is so excited when she sees people some may say that she is peeing because she is excited (excitable pee), but it is still submissive urination. Think about this Mattie is so excited to see you, but doesn’t know how to properly greet you. Another words she is saying Hello Hello, but is thinking. “I am so happy to see you, but I don’t know how to greet you so, don’t hurt me.” It is at that moment that she pees. So what we need to do is teach her manners.

First we had to teach her not to jump.

Want a Kiss

Want a Kiss

Initially this was hard, because she is so cute people liked it when she jumped. The next step was to train her. This gives us tools and her an understanding of what is appropriate behavior. She learns very quickly and because of her sensitive personality the training needs to be more positive. The first lesson she constantly would pee even though I was using lots of treats. Every time I would pet her, some times when I would give her a cookie and even once when I praised her. By the second lesson she only peed once and this is when I first put the leash on her. By our third lesson she didn’t Submissive Urinate at all.

She now walks on a loose leash, sits and will stay, do a down stay and also comes when called if she is on a leash. Before we started training she was very nervous and hyper. Her eyes were always darting trying to look in 20 different directions at once. I call this looking for direction nervousness. In fact one of the reason I love doing what I do is that so many times when I first start working with a dog I see this behavior.  Often even after one session I see a dog who is relaxed and calm.

See I can be Calm!

See I can be Calm!

When you look at the dogs eyes you see serenity and peace. I can use this present economy as an example. Currently everyone is a little nervous. We never know if this Friday is the day. There is no trust; if you can’t rely on anything there is also no security. If the company you work for is very solid you may feel a little more secure and calmer. I will continue to work with her for several reasons. First to insure that she has 100% stopped submissive urinating. I also want to make sure that when she gets adopted it is a forever home.

April 29, 2010 at 1:53 pm Leave a comment

How to Help Shy and Insecure Dogs.

Nina initially was a little on the shy side. We are not sure of her back ground, but Nina has trust issues. Think about this, if you trust someone or the situation you are in. You will do what is asked of you knowing that you will be safe. Nina had plenty of love to give but was always diligent to insure her safety. She needed to be in control. As stated before the first thing I did was gently teach her that she could trust in my leadership. This was accomplished by making her learn to walk on a loose leash. The next step was to teach her a static exercise like sit and than sit stay followed by down stay. It has taken many repetitions before she felt comfortable enough in me and her situation to sit.

Nina originally wouldn't even sit for a cookie.

Nina originally wouldn't even sit for a cookie.

Remember initially she would not even sit for a cookie.She is now doing sit stay and I am able to get over 15 feet away. The next step was to do the down and because we have already developed a trusting relationship she learned this very quickly.

Today we worked in different environments. It was the first time training occurred away from the facility and she did well. Of course with new distractions she initially thought that she didn’t have to listen.

Nina on Front Lawn Doing Down Stay

Nina on Front Lawn Doing Down Stay

The most important part is that she was very confident in herself. With shy or nervous dogs you want to take things slowly, so her first outing was just walking through the neighborhood.  Even when big trucks rambled by she stayed calm. I can’t believe that she is the same dog.

Buster as stated earlier will be the most challenging. It is such a shame, because he is an actual gem of a dog. It is so sad that he didn’t have a better start in life. He actually acts like a wild dog. I am so pleased that I have started noticing remarkable improvement in him. In the past when you would walk with him, he would constantly lean on you to insure you wouldn’t leave him or take him were he was afraid to go.

Walking Perfectly

Walking Perfectly

At our last session he walked perfectly by my side and never once leaned on me. Bless his heart he even did several automatic sits.

Yeah, I can sit!

Yeah, I can sit!

We also tackled something a little scarier, the down. For dogs like Buster the down is a challenge for two reasons. First is because to do the down he has to submit. I don’t care who you are. Even the shyest quite person doesn’t want to submit. The second reason is that it is harder for him to run away. As a trainer it was hard to get Buster to do a down, because he won’t take treats. I even brought several different types of lunch meat. So I simply kept placing him gently in the down and after about the 10th time he started going down on his own. Than came down stay and if you remember the first time that we did sit stay, Buster was like Velcro. I could barely get 2” away from him before he would panic. I know that down stay will be just as hard. Its okay I would rather take baby steps and slowly build his confidence than have him shut down. Believe it or not by the end of the session I was able to get over 6 feet away.

April 24, 2010 at 1:20 am 1 comment

Second Training Session with Buster, Gus, Nina and now Mattie


Wednesday training session:

It is amazing how each dog (just like people.) have there own individual personality and how this affects how they learn. This is why it is so important to socialize and train a puppy right from the start.

Buster is an absolute gem. He is loving, wants to please, but afraid to do anything. He would rather just lean on you if you are close. Control you by putting his paw on your foot. If he can’t be right next to you than he would rather lie down in a corner or run from you. If you go to him, he will show you his belly (submit) and than not want you to leave him. He is very needy of reassurance and love. So I spent most of the session working with Buster. Because of his insecurities and fear he has a problem with sit stay. He will now sit, but stay! Buster thinks, “If I have to stay and Bonny leaves me, than I can’t run away.” I call these dogs Henny Penny dogs. They think the sky is going to fall on their heads and so they want to run and hide. If you can get these types of dogs to do a sit stay with you away from them. Then they start to trust you, trust the circumstance they are in and trust themselves.

Buster doing a sit stay

Look at me I can Sit and stay with out you by my side!

By the end of our session I was finally able to, not only get her to stay at the end of the 6 foot leash but; have the leash on the ground and be about 10 feet away.

Gus on the other hand decided that he didn’t want to do anything. Last time he would sit and stay. This time when I said told him to sit he acted deaf. He even struggled with stay. His session was short and we quit as soon as he completed this simple task.

Nina is making remarkable improvement.  She seems to have gained more confidence. She is more trusting and more willing to sit on her own. We worked on sit stay and she did great. We also worked on having her come to me and sit. She was very receptive.

Today I also had a session with Mattie. Mattie is an Australian Cattle Dog mix. Who is about 7 months old and is all puppy.  She is just one happy go lucky dog who wants to run, play and JUMP.

Can you come out and play

Can you come out to Play!!

Mattie was spayed last week so my training was short. She was taught to walk on a loose leash by my side (heel) and we worked on her jumping. Of course I had to yell at the people who are taking care of her as they will pet her while she jumps on them. Dog training often involves more people training than dog training.

April 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm 1 comment

Training Three Rescue Dogs, Nina, Buster and Gus

I have been asked by Michigan Animal Adoption Network to work with some of the dogs that just arrived in to their program.

Having Fun With Gus

Having Fun With Gus!

To be honest I am very excited to be given the opportunity to make a difference. What amazes me most is that for what these dogs have been through, they are so loving.

Nina is a Lab mix that was surrendered up. She is very sweet, loving and sensitive. She must have missed the proper socialization when a puppy, because she is a little on the shy side. Nina also is afraid to make a mistake and if she can’t control her environment doesn’t trust that she won’t be hurt.  When we had our first lesson, which is to teach her to walk on a loose leash she did well, but refused to sit even with cookies. Her thoughts, “If I place my rump on the ground I can’t run away.” If you tried to massage her into the sit she would snap her head back, (not snap or bite, but just turn her head.) Yesterday we had our second lesson.

Nina Happily Doing Sit-Stay

Nina Happily Doing Sit-Stay

My biggest goal was to get her to sit. I started the lesson by again working on her leash manners. Than we worked on sit. Because I made her walk perfectly on a leash (taking more of a leadership role), she was more trusting of me putting her into the sit. By the end of the session she sat and stayed.

The plan for our next session is to mostly work on sit stay. This is one exercise that helps to improve a dog’s self-confidence. If a dog is afraid of something often times you can put them on sit stay by the perceived scary thing. The dog is doing something they know (sit-stay); they receive praise and maybe a cookie. Life is good.

Buster Proudly Doing a Sit

Buster Proudly Doing a Sit!

Buster is a Labrador Mix and will be our toughest challenge. He has had a rough go of it the past 2 years living on the streets of Detroit. Apparently he was also used as a bait dog by the local dog fighters. He had numerous dog bites on his face and head. Despite all this he has a great personality. All he really wants to be is loved and he will give back that love unconditionally.

Buster’s biggest problem is that he is afraid of everything and initially everyone. My initial observation was that he would prefer to be left alone and the only way he felt safe was next to his brother. He would rather just keep running away from you instead of go to you. The good part if he feels threatened he wont attack. Once again this dog would have made someone a great dog.  He acted like he had never been on a leash before in his life and either just freezes, standing still or tries to run in the opposite direction. The first lesson consisted teaching him to walk on a loose leash. The session had to kept positive, upbeat and short. The second lesson we continued were we left off and added sit. He is struggling with sit. It is okay if I melt in your arm, but if you make me sit than I can’t run away. This is going to be a slow go for Buster. I did manage to get him to sit but STAY. Well you take a baby step away from him and he panics. I will need to work quite a bit with Buster, but if we can get him to be half the dog that he should have been. I will be grateful. He deserves it.

Gus Doing Also Doing a Sit-Stay

Gus Also Doing a Sit-Stay

Gus an Akita/Shar Pei mix Buster’s big brother has the most even tempered personality. Not much bothers him and he takes everything in stride. What a great dog. Like a typical Akita or Shar Pei he is very serious and stubborn. You have to convince him that what you want him to do was his idea. At the first lesson he did great walking on a leash. The second lesson we did sit and stay. I was able to have him do a sit/stay from across the room. I will have allot of fun working with Gus. Continue to check out the training process on these three lucky dogs.

April 8, 2010 at 8:26 pm Leave a comment

Tucker’s Second Week of Rehabilitation

Tucker’s second week of rehabilitation.

The most important thing for Tucker was make him comfortable in the presence of other dogs in an environment with lots of stimulation. On Monday we went to the Village of Grosse Pointe.  He did great!

Tucker and I hanging out in Grosse Pointe
Tucker and I hanging out in Grosse Pointe

Through out the week besides accompanying me to client’s homes & the training center. We went to pet stores, several times to downtown Royal Oak & Partridge Creek.

Fun Day at the Mall

Fun Day at the Mall

He did great. Never did he show any signs of being anxious. On Saturday I took him to the pet adoption at the pet store. He was awesome!

It is so wonderful to see how confident Tucker has become. No longer do I see any signs of nervousness, anxiety or fear. Once again Tucker’s aggression was just a symptom of his lack of confidence. Once his anxiety got to the point that he couldn’t deal with the situation at hand, he would react. His aggression didn’t happen over night. Initially there was some time between Tucker feeling safe enough to deal with a situation and having an anxiety attack. Eventually he was always on guard. Tucker was also allowed to act out in his guarding role at his Foster Mom’s house. He would bark at people walking by, whenever anyone came over, at the mailman etc. By allowing a dog to bark it indirectly is telling them that it is their job to protect. For Tucker it was also a sure fire way for people to leave him alone.

Time out for Play

Tucker having some fun with one of his friends

Once again much was done to try to socialize him and teach him basic obedience commands, but once he started guarding, it gave him some tools to protect himself. Of course the barking and aggression was dealt with but not by strong enough measure. If this was an emotionally sensitive dog that can be corrected by a verbal correction or quickly redirecting than Tucker would have been fine. Tucker being part Border Collie is physically and emotionally insensitive. He has insecurity issues from not being properly socialized, but deep down he is still insensitive.

When I first starting working with Tucker the first thing that I did was is stop the guarding. This was accomplished by correcting him when he barked in the crate, when people came over, in the car or on a walk. Once he was quite we could than work on building up his confidence. His fear of being corrected for acting out on his fears was higher than the fear itself. He would always get rewarded for being good whether he was told he was a “good boy” or given a treat. Treats were only given in the situations were he accustom to barking or guarding. Out in public, people gave Tucker treats. Tucker learned, “People are wonderful”.

Amanda & Tucker

Amanda & Tucker

This morning Tucker went back to his foster Mom, Amanda. We met at Partridge Creek so that I could show her exactly what she needs to do. She is a very good listener and I think she will do a good job keeping up on the training. We will keep you posted and let you know who the lucky people are that will adopt Tucker. If you are interested by all mean contact me. Tucker is a great dog that had a ruff start in life.

April 5, 2010 at 9:04 pm Leave a comment


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