Tag Archives: resource guarding

The Puppy Sessions

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We see lots of puppies and we want to see more puppies, and we want to see them earlier.

Waiting for your puppy to be finished his or her vaccinations or waiting until the nipping and the accidents and the chewing are driving you bonkers is too late to start your puppy’s education.

Book a puppy-session NOW and make sure that everyone gets off on the right paw!

What happens during a puppy session?

We talk about all the things that you can start to put in place so that puppy raising is easier and your puppy becomes a great, easy to live with, companion dog.

1. Social Experience

Not only must puppies know how to be dogs, but they must also know how to fit into human society – and that’s tough!

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We emphasise:

  • socialisation is not about your puppy learning to greet, play with and love everyone
  • socialisation is about your puppy learning that other people, dogs, animals and related goings-on are so normal that they’re not even worth getting worked up about
  • socialisation is about ensuring puppy has mostly positive experiences in social interactions
  • socialisation is about puppy learning how to behave appropriately in social situations

We will teach you how to teach your dog to greet politely, to manage their excitement and to teach others how to greet your puppy appropriately so your puppy doesn’t become over-whelmed, and learns that social greetings are positive, enjoyable and safe.

How to use your hand-link-a-Kong to teach all this:

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Teach puppy that people approaching makes a treat appear so that puppy learns that approaching humans are safe and so that puppy learns to focus on their own people when someone else is approaching:

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Puppies must get to play with other safe, healthy and appropriate dogs and puppies too.

We emphasise:

  • puppy doesn’t get to greet and play with every dog they see
  • to play with other dogs, puppy must be calm and responsive
  • play sessions must be short
  • humans supervise and actively shape puppy play behaviour throughout
  • play will be interrupted regularly for re-focus and calm, down-time

Teach puppies to be comfortable with collar grabs so that they can be restrained when needed:

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Off leash puppy activities must never be a free-for-all! 

2. Exposure & Experience

The world is a new, exciting and often scary place for puppies. As their new guide to the human-world, in which they will live, we want to gently and carefully expose them to all the things we want them to be able to cope with later on.

Think of the dog you want in two years time…you are preparing for that NOW!

We emphasise:

Hair dryers and vacuum cleaners don’t have to be scary, if they are introduced properly and early on:

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While your puppy is on vaccination hold (and beyond):

  • play Follow Me! so that you puppy learns how to walk politely, without a lead, before you are going on walks

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  • set up a couple of odd things everyday, in a new place in and around the house for puppy to explore

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Remember, when you start walking your puppy out and about, increase the size of their world very gradually (from the house to the street on the first day is plenty, and around local streets is lots for the first week) and take your time, stop with puppy and allow them to explore in their on time.

3. Mental Exercise

Puppies are active and inquisitive so let’s channel that energy, so it doesn’t become a people-problem and so that puppy is an active learner and problem solver.

We emphasise:

  • no food bowls for puppies!
  • training puppy throughout the day, working for their regular food

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  • using their brains (and noses) to work out how to find food and toys

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  • getting them hooked on chewing their chew toys and not your furniture, shoes or belongings

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  • allowing puppies to try things out, to experience a little frustration and even stress, and recovery

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And lots more ideas here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

4. Nipping & Bite Inhibition

All puppies do it, and most people are bothered by it.

Puppy nipping is important for puppies though so we put exercises in place to make sure puppies have an acceptable outlet for this behaviour, but preventing it from becoming to much trouble for people.

There are different schools of thought on this and lots of diverse advice.

We emphasise:

  • keeping interactions with puppy brief and low-key so puppy doesn’t become over-excited (they will often express that with mouthing and nipping)
  • making sure puppy has lots of down-time, settling and sleep (over tired puppies are like over tired toddlers…)
  • diverting puppy behaviour and using treats & toys so that we don’t need to restrain, physically manipulate or position puppy
  • redirecting teeth onto suitable toys
  • yelping and withdrawing for 5-10-count if we feel hard teeth
  • moving away from puppy 20-count timeout if they turn into a landshark
  • teaching puppies the rules of play with people
  • making sure puppies have lots of opportunities to play bitey-face games with other appropriate dogs

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5. Management

You already know all the behaviours that puppy is going to do that you are not going to like – squealing when left alone, chewing your belongings, toileting in the wrong places, and that’s just for starters.

So, if you know they’re going to bother you, why are you allowing them to happen?! Prevention is key.

Never allow puppy to practice unwanted behaviour so that they never learn to establish unwanted behaviours.

We emphasise:

  • night-time training so puppy never develops distress at separation (prevents sleepless nights too!)
  • crate training for toilet training
  • crate training for settle training
  • crate training for self-control training
  • crate training chew-toy training
  • crate training for night-time training
  • …see where we are going with this…?

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6. Passive Training

This is lazy training, and really effective too! Puppy isn’t doing the wrong things all the time so catch him doing the right behaviour and reward that with food rewards, toys, play, attention or access to things he wants.

We emphasise:

  • rewarding puppy any time you notice he’s quiet, he has four paws on the floor, he’s keeping the leash loose and he’s showing calm focus
  • rewarding polite behaviour

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  • rewarding puppy when he’s doing nothing

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  • using lots of different types of rewards

Teach your puppy how to be a good human trainer like here, here and here.

7. Parking your Puppy

More lazy dog training, while puppy learns to chill out and be calm.

We emphasise:

  • use a specific mat or bed so puppy learns that means it’s settle time
  • lapping and chewing on stuffed and lined Kongs help puppies relax

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  • practicing parking and settling in lots of places, with your puppy’s calm-mat, will help puppy become a great companion who you can bring anywhere

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8. Resource Guarding Prevention

It’s normal, natural, necessary dog behaviour (humans do it too!) so let’s set up our puppies so that they never feel the need to make people go away from them, when they have stuff.

We emphasise:

  • making sure puppies have their own place where they can eat, chew, play and hangout undisturbed
  • puppies learn that when they have stuff and people come near, awesome things happen

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9. Handling

Puppies and dogs will be handled, sometimes in invasive ways, throughout their lives. Remember, anything we want in our dog in two years time, we need to start working on right now!

We emphasise:

  • gentle handling of puppy everyday

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  • calming, massage helps to settle puppy
  • pairing handling and manipulation with yummy treats helps puppy to become comfortable with this in lots of situations

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  • practicing at the vets and groomers too, before puppy needs it
  • giving puppies choice in how much and how far is enough

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10. Toilet training

Toilet training requires time, patience, supervision and management.

We emphasise:

  • regular toilet breaks – every 1-2 hours during the day
  • more regular breaks after eating, drinking, napping, or any sort of excitement
  • clean up accidents with biological washing powder (with enzyme action)
  • supervise free puppies – if they have any accident it’s on you I’m afraid
  • don’t scold puppy – step up supervision!
  • free time is for empty puppies only – so crate puppy, supervise closely and only allow out and about after toileting
  • bring puppy to a toileting area and be boring – this is a business area, not for fun
  • calmly praise puppy while he goes, and reward with 3-5 high value food rewards once he’s done
  • then have a little game or fun interaction with puppy so that he doesn’t learn he is just ignored after appropriate toileting
  • have patience – we give children years for toilet training and most puppies will need months of structured toilet training before they are reliable

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11. Obedience behaviours

The most important thing to understand here is that obedience behaviours can be taught at any time, but all the 1-10 stuff above MUST start NOW.

So, although we might introduce some obedience stuff, it’s not the main emphasis of your puppy’s early education at all.

Teach puppy to play tug, with rules, so that you are also teaching him some self-control and to give up items, even when excited:

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Teach puppy to leave forbidden items by teaching him that “leave it” means to come away from that thing and reorient to his person:

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Teach puppy that only polite, calm behaviour gets him what he wants:

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12. Troubleshooting

We spend some time answering your questions and  developing a program that works best for your puppy, you and your family.

  • diet
  • parasite control
  • vet and groomer visits
  • grooming
  • neutering
  • training classes
  • great puppy resources
  • and all the other questions new puppy owners will have too…

And this is just the beginning of your’s and your puppy’s education…

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Do you know someone with a new puppy or soon to get a new puppy, or even someone thinking about maybe considering a new puppy?

Let’s get puppy-ownership off to the best start with a puppy session!

Weekly Woof from the Web

It’s time for your weekly roundup of the best woofs from around the web!

Here are some great ideas for homemade entertainment – let the fun & brain games begin: DIY, Six DIY food puzzles and Recycled Enrichment

Off leash dogs storming your dog, who may not welcome the space-invasion, is a common complaint and a common contributor to your dog’s discomfort; here’s one strategy to try when you can’t get away.

Here’s a nice straight forward canine communication resource and the answer to a more specific signaling puzzle: Do you know what the dog twist behaviour means?

And there is no more important application of an understanding of canine signaling, than when children and dogs interact. Here’s what to do: I Speak Doggie and here’s How not to greet a dog

Resource guarding is normal, natural, necessary dog behaviour that may cause problems within groups of dogs living together: How to prevent resource guarding in multiple-dog household

Some excellent ideas for exercises for attention building around distractions here.

Remember, dogs don’t work for free (just like you and me!) so don’t think that he should do it because he loves you!

Need some training inspiration? Check out this awesome training!

Pulp Fiction fan? Talk about inspirational training: Pulp Fiction

It’s a fact; humans are powerless against puppy head tilts…check out these GSD puppies and prepare to surrender!

Think Outside the Food Bowl!

Part 1: We Really Don’t Like Food Bowls

Feeding time is an exciting and important part of your dog’s daily routine but just because it’s routine doesn’t mean it needs to be boring.

The key is enrichment; protocols that you can put in place, simply, to provide your dog more appropriate outlets for natural, doggie behaviour.

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Why enrichment for pet dogs?

‘Natural’ behaviour

The “wild”, that idyllic place that’s considered the model we should mimic even though in actuality it is a dangerous, dog-eat-dog place, has nonetheless caused the evolution of a wide range of feeding behaviours that take up plenty of an animal’s energy and keep them busy.

Animals will naturally work for their food, with or without your help (or knowledge!):

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Contrafreeloading

Animals  are compelled to carry out behaviours, even if the goal of those behaviours e.g. food, is freely available.

This is referred to as contrafreeloading – animals often prefer to work for access to food, even when food is freely available.

Sounds counter-productive, but perhaps not!

Check out this smart pup, passing by a bowl of free food to activate a food dispenser:

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Natural Puzzlers

Dogs also appear to experience that ‘eureka’ feeling when working on challenges – working on a puzzle is rewarding to dogs, even if they don’t solve the puzzle successfully (i.e. get the tangible reward such as a food treat).

Dogs are natural-born-puzzle-addicts!

Ian & Irene work on puzzles for the first time, in puppy class; they work harder relative to the value of the food reward – they are in it just for the fun:

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“Problem” Behaviours

When animals don’t get the opportunity to engage in enrichment and are lacking outlets of natural behaviour, they can develop all sorts of difficulties.

At the very least, those behaviours that dogs are compelled to carry out will become a problem for us – dogs need to chew, dogs need to chase, dogs need to sniff and track.
And you might not like the outlets they choose for those behaviours.

All the puppies learn to settle themselves in a busy class with the help of a food puzzle and lapping & chewing, which helps dogs to chill:

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Think of all the things your pup can’t do if he is chilling out, working on a food toy?!

Dogs that are unemployed, become self-employed…

With all that free time on his paws, your dog may also engage in other behaviours that become a problem for you such as barking, digging, escaping, jumping up, being obnoxious.

It is not easy to live with a self-employed dog because the jobs they choose for themselves are usually not particularly preferred by humans…

First step, ditch the food bowls.

Why do we HATE food bowls?

  • food bowls do very little to encourage interaction between dog and owner
  • food bowls do little to teach the dog that good things come through their owner
  • feeding from a food bowl wastes hundreds of reward opportunities by presenting them for free all in one go
  • your dog would probably prefer to work for his food than get it for free
  • modern pet feeding practices encourage a sedentary way of life for our pets
  • there is a limited range of behaviours demonstrated so dogs will need to display them in other ways (which may cause problems for people)
  • chasing, chewing, tracking and using their brains are important for dogs and modern feeding practices often don’t encourage any or much of that

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Food bowls are human convenience devices – toss food in bowl, leave on floor, dog eats….dog is fed and my job is done.

But feeding your pet can be soooo much more…

Dogs come with  predatory behaviour, built-in

Dave Mech, the wolf guru, outlines canid predatory behaviour in a sequence of behaviours called, not-surprisingly, a predatory sequence. These are behaviours that are innate in all dogs and to greater or lesser extents in different types of dogs and individuals.

The dog predatory sequence might look something like this:

track – stalk – chase – grab – hold – bite – chew – dissect

These are the behaviours that your predatory pet needs to do – provide acceptable outlets otherwise he will find his own, and you might not like that.

Watching dogs play with pals gives you an insight into just how relevant these behaviours are for even modern, pet dogs. A good proportion of normal play behaviour will be feeding related with games of stalking, chasing, take downs, neck biting, and of course enjoying being chased too!

You will see your dog practicing these behaviours in other non-real-life scenarios too – give your dog a tissue or soft toy and watch him chew and dissect it, throw a tennis ball or play tug and flip the switch, turning on those in-built behaviours.

But feeding behaviour isn’t just about feeding…

Dogs engage in all sorts of feeding related behaviour, and many activities revolve around feeding.

Dogs enjoy actively scavenging for food and, let’s face it, non-food items – they will devote plenty of time to this sort of activity and often learn to do it when their owners are not watching…!

Although dogs prefer their own space when eating (not big on sharing!) they have evolved plenty of behaviour for negotiating social contact around food.
For the most part, this can cause trouble for us living with modern dogs, but it can be easily managed, with the right guidance.

Competitive interactions, that may lead to resource guarding and even social facilitation have been shaped over millions of years and generations, and despite a few hundred years of pretty intense selective breeding modern dogs still show these behaviours strongly today.

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Digging/burying and hoarding behaviour may be employed by many dogs, often much to their owner’s disgust (especially the green-fingered owners). Some dogs appear really bothered when they get something quite special, carrying it from place to place, vocalising, difficulty settling…
This may be frustration related at not having a safe place to work on their treat or indeed at not being able to stash it away for a rainy day.

Grass and plant eating can cause concern for many owners. But for the most part where this behaviour isn’t excessive or too intense, it’s probably nothing to worry about and a normal part of canine behaviour.
However, where dogs do this a lot, or try to, and/or where there has been any changes to this behaviour have a chat with your vet as soon as possible.
Intense eating of grass, plants or other non-food items (behaviour called pica) may be linked with gastrointestinal upset and stress.

And you thought feeding was just about putting- food-in-a-bowl…

 

In Part 2 we will be looking at things to get started enriching your dog’s life!