It’s the Most Bitey-est Time of the Year!

I’m letting you in on a little dog training and behavior industry secret – the time period between Thanksgiving and New Years is my busiest season for aggressive behavior calls! If you think about it, it really isn’t that much of a surprise. Lots of food everywhere, schedule changes, visitors and vacations are a recipe for canine stress. Fortunately, with just a little advanced planning, you and your canine pal can have a happy and peaceful holiday season.

1. If your dog is a little shy or uncomfortable with visitors, then your dog really does not want to hang out with all of your family and friends during holiday activities. Make arrangements for your dog’s care in a dog daycare, kennel, or just confine your dog to a quiet part of your home away from visitors during holiday events.

2. Watch your dog and give him breaks in a quiet area. Even the canine social butterflies can get overwhelmed.

3. Be aware of triggering guarding behavior. Dogs that may growl when given a bone or other item, have easy access to food during the holiday season. Be aware that even if your dog does not guard from you, he may guard from a visitor who tries to remove something from the dog’s mouth. If there is any possibility that your dog would resource guard, the middle of a holiday party is not the right time to try to modify the behavior. Instead put your dog away.

4. Don’t put your dog in situations he can’t handle. Large family gatherings are not a good environment to try to address dog behavior challenges. If your dog doesn’t like other dogs, it’s ok to say no to canine visitors.

5. Pro-actively address your dog’s behavior concerns with a professional trainer. Ideally you contacted a qualified professional as soon as you noticed that your dog was exhibiting some fearful, anxious or aggressive behavior. Realize that behavior problems like aggression take time to address, so do go ahead and call a qualified behavior consultant or trainer now but realize that no, the aggressive behavior will probably not be addressed in time to include your dog in your aunt’s huge family Christmas party.

Use common sense, be pro-active and realistic, and think about what your dog needs so both you and your dog can enjoy the holiday season! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Your First Walks with Your New Puppy

New puppies are so much fun. Owners are often excited about having a new puppy and have had dreams about taking them out for long walks in exciting places like Old Town, Great Falls or other DC area parks. Many puppy owners are aware of the importance of early socialization and they start walking their puppies in new places right away. They quickly find this is not so easy. The puppy may pull in random directions or sit down and refuse to move entirely.

While exploring new environments is an important aspect of puppy socialization, walking on a leash in a suburban or urban area is hard for a puppy! Sounds of traffic, unfamiliar objects and other dogs can overexcite or frighten a puppy and instead of socializing and exercising, the walk in a new place can terrify or overwhelm the puppy.

Start by building a great relationship with your puppy in a quiet, calm environment. Encourage your puppy to follow you without the leash inside your home or in a securely fenced yard. Try running and then kneeling and rewarding with whatever rocks your puppy’s world – praise, toys, petting or kibble. Use funny voices, act silly and play with your pup when your pup catches up with you.

Most puppies need time to get used to wearing a leash and collar in a boring setting, such as indoors inside a home or in a fenced in enclosure. If you have a fenced yard, that is a great first environment for your puppy to learn to relax with a leash on. Then you can play the fun “follow me” game while your pup is dragging the leash. After you have tried that a few times, you may be able to try a short walk in an easy location. Easy locations for most puppies is a quiet outdoor natural environment like a grassy field or park.

9 week old smooth collie puppy learns to get used to the feel of a leash in a quiet outdoor setting.

9 week old smooth collie puppy learns to get used to the feel of a leash in a quiet outdoor setting.

Ok, so I can hear my clients who live in busy urban areas saying, this is not realistic for me. Nope it’s not, and if you live in a condo or apartment, you will need to get creative. More than likely just taking your puppy downstairs in your building is going to be a lot for your puppy. Try to make these experiences as low key as possible, have great treats, favorite toys, bring a towel that smells like your pup’s mom with you. Be ready to stop and allow your pup to explore and build confidence at his own pace. If possible borrow a friend’s backyard to let your pup explore or take your pup to a quiet grassy area or park near you.

Avoid pulling, dragging or otherwise forcing your pup to move. Puppies that are stopping and sitting or lying down on walks are almost always doing this because they are afraid. Instead, act cheerful, happy, confident and wait your puppy out. Many times doing nothing allows your pup to relax and start to explore at their own pace. Bringing some yummy treats can often help as well as fun toys and, most importantly, a relaxed and happy attitude yourself. Relax the tension on the leash, puppies tend to fight leash tension and many pups will take a step forward towards you when they feel the tension relax. Look where you want your puppy to go instead of turning and facing your puppy and pat your leg to encourage your pup to come along with you. You can also try kneeling and seeing if your puppy will come towards you.

Sulu, a smooth collie puppy takes it all in at a local garden center. It is important to allow pups to build confidence and explore new environments at their own pace.

Sulu, a smooth collie puppy takes it all in at a local garden center. It is important to allow pups time to build confidence and explore new environments at their own pace.

If you have a friend with a confident, healthy (currently vaccinated), friendly adult dog try to set up some play dates. Then you can ask your friend to walk your pup’s new confident canine friend while you and your puppy follow. This strategy can be especially helpful in very challenging urban areas.

Some puppies seem totally fearless. While these pups may not need slow confidence building in new settings, these puppies often benefit from a little work on self control. So rather than letting your fearless party puppy jump on every person and dog that passes by, work on some manners right away. Step on your pup’s leash so your pup can comfortably stand but cannot jump up. Reward the puppy for checking in with you before letting the puppy greet another dog – and of course make sure that the other dog is friendly with puppies before letting your social butterfly say hello. Remember seeing a lot of movement in your puppy means your puppy is excited but it does not necessarily mean your puppy is “having fun.”

Do choose locations for your first walks very carefully. Dog parks, crowded pet stores, locations frequented by dogs of unknown vaccination status and situations likes fairs, the school bus stop (or any location where your pup will be mobbed by a group of excited children), firework shows, Halloween festivities are not appropriate for young puppies. Imagine if you were the same size as your pup and someone put you in the same situation. If it would scare or overwhelm you, it probably would do the same to your puppy. Sometimes just changing the time of day can make a big difference. For instance, a short visit outside of a shopping center on a Tuesday morning before 8 am may be perfect while the same location on Saturday at noon can be too much.

Don’t freak out. The vast majority of clients that I see who are worried about their puppy’s behavior on walks have nothing to worry about. A pup that is cautious one day may very well be exuberant and sassy the next. Dogs are not trained to walk nicely on leash overnight. Training a dog to walk beautifully on leash often takes months of ongoing training and practice – especially in a complex environment with a lot of distractions like the DC metro area.

Remember that the world is brand new to a young puppy. Consider what human beings are doing at the same comparative age. Do not expect leash walks with a young puppy to look graceful, but do work towards having them be fun for you and your puppy. This is the age when your puppy is learning how he feels about you. If your walks with your puppy are turning into battles, you are risking damaging your relationship with your pup. Back up, make things easier, revisit your location and time of day.  Bring your cell phone and take lots of cute pictures. One day your pup will be all grown up and leash walking like a champ and you will miss the time when you had to stop your walk every two feet because your pup was fascinated by a bumblebee.

 

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Getting out of your breed (or mixed breed) box

It is not unusual for me to hear, “I’m a (fill in the blank with random breed) person.” Many times owners have chosen a breed that is a good fit. However, I also do see owners who choose a breed that they have fallen in love with that in reality does not actually fit their lifestyle. They may have grown up with that particular breed, or they love the way the dog looks, or simply out of habit they keep getting the same breed over and over.

I used to say to people “I’m a husky person” because I loved – and still do love – the way Siberian huskies look. I had two huskies, one a purebred and the other a mix and loved them both. However, the truth is, that is not a good fit for me. Siberian huskies, like most nordic breeds are very independent. I love dogs that can perform well in activities like rally and obedience. While certainly huskies can be trained, they tend to be easily distracted and it can be difficult to obtain reliable performance. A husky is a great breed for someone who appreciates their independent spirit, it is not as great a breed choice for a control freak like myself.  It took me a couple of huskies and a lot of time to step out of my Nordic breed box and collies have been a perfect fit for me.

I sometimes see people who are stuck in their breed box and the results are frustrating for both the dog and the owner. The hard reality is that some breeds are just flat out not good matches for seniors or people with health problems. Active, energetic, powerful dogs require athletic, active owners. I have not met a pet owner who changed their lifestyle and started jogging daily just because they got an active dog – but I have met pet owners who spent a lot of money in dog daycare and dog walkers in an attempt to meet their active dog’s needs. Similarly, if it is important to you to have a dog that can peacefully go to the dog park on a regular basis, a terrier or a guard breed is probably not a good bet (though yes there are exceptions – but again the key word being exceptions).  More often than not, the breed someone has in their 20′s and loved, is not the right fit for the same person in their 50′s, 60′s and 70′s.

This goes for mixed breed dog owners as well. Because temperament and behavior are strongly influenced by genetics, it is hard to predict how a mixed bred puppy will mature. Some owners don’t mind because they do not have specific goals for their future dog, however, if an owner really wants to stack the odds in their favor of ending up with say, a therapy dog candidate for example, then a purebred dog from a breeder with a long history of breeding successful therapy dogs is a safer bet.

If you are in the process of thinking about your next dog and you have always had a particular breed or mix, take an objective step back and look at your choices. Was your choice the best fit or do you need to look outside your box?

 

 

 

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Off Leash Training

Dream of taking your dog on a long hike in the woods off leash or for a run on a beautiful beach? He stays close to you, comes when you call him right away, and you are both having a great time. Sounds fun right? Well for many dogs and their owners this could happen with training and a great relationship. However, here’s the real scoop on off leash control: not all dogs are appropriate to be trained and worked with off leash. Individual dog’s temperaments, training and maturity all play a role in a dog’s behavior.

To some extent, common sense is involved, dogs that have a history of exhibiting aggression to people or dogs really don’t belong off leash in areas that are not physically fenced in and they also don’t belong in dog parks or other similar uncontrolled settings. It’s not responsible to put other people and other dogs at risk and it’s a liability to boot.

Maturity plays a big role when it comes to off leash control. Because adolescent dog behavior is difficult to predict, most dogs between the ages of 6 months and 2 1/2 really cannot be trusted off leash – not even if you are a fabulous trainer.  I often have puppy owners tell me, hey my 8 week old puppy is wonderful off the leash. Well, yes, at 8 weeks even independent breeds like huskies tend to stay close. Don’t assume that your dog is going to behave the same way at 4 months, 5, months or age 1. Young puppy behavior and adolescent dog behavior are two completely different things!

Genetics plays a big role in off leash behavior as well. Sight hounds, terriers and nordic breeds may not always reliably come when called when there are distractions like deer, rabbits or other similar things. This does not mean you should not train your independent breed not to come when called, in fact the opposite is true. You will want to work on training your dog even more in case you accidentally dropped the leash or your dog managed to get out of your yard. All dogs should be trained to come when called, however, if you have a breed or individual dog who may not come when called don’t put your dog in an unsafe situation.

Now I can hear clients in my head “but I knew a Jack Russell Terrier that always came when called when off leash in the woods.” Yes there are exceptions to every generalization made about a breed. But the key word here is these individuals are the exceptions.

Even if your dog is a member of a breed that tends to stay close, that does not mean that your individual dog has the right temperament characteristics to safely hike in the woods off leash. There are a wide range of temperaments within each breed. Some individual dogs may be able to be worked with off leash safely with relatively little training while others may require years of ongoing training. The owner’s willingness to spend time training the dog, genetics, individual difference and the environment are all important factors in off leash control.

Some owners resort to harsh tools such as electronic collars. I routinely receive calls when dogs ignored the shock and chased the deer or dog anyway. I’ve even worked with members of “easy to train” breeds who ignored an electronic collar correction in the face of a very strong distraction. Additionally, there are behavioral risks to using shock collars and dogs that are appropriate to train for off leash control can be effectively trained to come when called via reward based methods without taking a behavioral risk.

Remember that your relationship with your dog is what is most important when it comes to off leash behavior. In fact, the dog I grew up with, Inky, was nearly always off leash and I did not formally train him. He had a naturally low-key temperament and was very closely bonded to our family. He did not actually come when called that well, but he never left far away from us either. His tendency to stay close to us was more a result of his genetics and our relationship, than it was a reflection of training per se.

Of course, do obey local leash laws. In most public places in Northern Virginia and the DC metro area dogs are not permitted to be off leash. Also choose your locations carefully, just because your friend’s farm is a great place for your dog to run off leash, if there is a lot of wildlife, it might just be too risky. No one has 100% control of their dog. Ultimately, as you think about working your dog off leash, keep in mind that your dog’s safety is what is most important, dogs can have lots of fun on a long leash and in fenced in areas too.

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Warm Weather Fun in NoVa

I’m always telling my clients that the more they find ways to include their dogs in their lives doing activities that both they and they dog would enjoy, the more likely that their training efforts will stick over time. All too often, people mention “the dog park” as the main place they go. There is a whole world outside of the dog park and as I’ve written before, the dog park is not the right fit for all dogs.

As you think of ways that you and your dog can both have fun, think about what really is fun for your dog. If your dog loves interacting with lots of unfamiliar people, urban activities, farmers markets and other crowded environments would be great for him. If your dog tends to be overwhelmed in crowds then hiking a quiet trail or visiting some gardens during a non-busy time may be more fun.

Here’s a short list of places to go and things to do that may be fun for some dogs and food for thought as you think of what you and your dog would like to do:

Parks – there are so many of them, look at the “off the beaten path” trails such as Scott’s Run Nature Preserve, Balls Bluff Regional Park and hey, if you are a Northern Virginia native, fess up, when’s the last time you went to the Bull Run Battlefield - it’s beautiful out there! If your dog does not like crowds, Mason Neck park  has quieter trails and beautiful water views. We love Great Falls National Park but it can get crowded, going really early or during the week is the best way to beat the crowds.

Historical sites – Mt. Vernon is dog friendly. No you can’t go into the house but you can tour the grounds and gardens. Because you know your dog’s complete education is important to you, you and your pooch can learn about canine life at Mt. Vernon via a special tour for dog owners.   On beautiful weekends go really early to find parking.

Shopping – Many of shopping venues have dog friendly shops. You’ll often see a water bowl outside of a shop’s door as an indication that the store welcomes dogs. Old Town Alexandria is well known for having many pet friendly shops, but you will see dogs out and about in Reston Town Center and the Mosaic Development in Merrifield as well as many parts of Arlington. These areas are crowded so these can be fun for very social and confident dogs but are no place for retractable leashes, excitable dogs or for a dog that has fear or aggression issues with dogs or people.

Many restaurants have outdoor eating areas all over Arlington, Vienna Town Green and Church St., City of Fairfax and Clifton. Again these are for the confident dogs that love people and tolerate other dogs in close proximity.

Out of the box-what about fruit picking at Hollin Farms or a winery on a weekend? The National Arboretum is a gorgeous place to visit and I’m sure I’m not the only DC native who only recently realized it was there.

So much to do, so little time. Now of course, make sure your dog is super well behaved and you are equipped with water, and clean up supplies for your dog. We want to keep encouraging dog friendly venues and well-mannered pooches and considerate owners are a big part of making sure that happens!

Any other ideas? Please chime in, I’m always looking for fun stuff to do in the area with my own dogs and to recommend to my clients.

 

 

 

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The Power of Silly!

The coolest thing about my job as a dog trainer is that every dog is different. There are those dogs that the usual routine doesn’t work for. Then we have to get creative. Some of those challenging canine pupils have helped remind me that sometimes, you just have to get silly.

Most pet owners quickly realize that their emotions are contagious. This can make changing behavior and training challenging for a new dog owner who is confused about the technique – now both dog and owner are confused. Fortunately, once you become aware of this, the solution is simple, blow it off and act silly. Laugh, be happy, training a dog isn’t a chore. Change gears, make funny noises, sing a goofy song. I promise, your dog won’t think less of you.

Acting silly can be especially helpful for fearful dogs, or for convincing dogs that hey, this really is a fun thing to do. With puppies, acting silly is a great way to build confidence and get your puppy to follow you around. It’s easy, in an enclosed space, use a happy tone of voice and encourage your puppy to follow you around.

You do not have to be super loud, crazy or hectic to be silly. You just need to convey happiness, fun and joy to your dog. Your version of silly may not look the same as the other person’s and that’s ok. The important piece is whether you feel happy and your dog feels it too.

For some people acting silly can actually be hard. Set yourself up to be relaxed when you practice if this is the case. Realize you probably won’t master this in training class or a public venue so practice it at home. Think funny thoughts, do funny things and go with it. You really need to feel happy as you do it. May be using a fun dog toy will help you get into it. Dogs are masters at reading our emotions! I know this sounds goofy but this is an important skill. All the great dog trainers I know of are naturals at silliness and they can do it anytime, anywhere. You’ll see silly playful behavior at many competitive venues by top performers – often just a few minutes before they get in the ring and right after.

Now am I saying acting silly is all it takes to fix hard core issues, absolutely not, but it can make a big difference. Also all too often, silliness is completely forgotten about…and what’s the fun in working with your dog if you aren’t actually having fun!

 

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100% Reliable

Every so often I’ll have a new client request that they would like their dog to be trained so he listens to them “all of the time.” Usually they don’t really mean that literally, they mean they want their dog to respond more reliably. Often they have a teenage dog that is behaving in a bit of an annoying way and they would like their dog to improve. However, sometimes the owner really wants their dog to do something all of the time. For instance, come when called off leash 100% of the time. This is where my job becomes harder.

I’ve trained dogs to really, really high levels. I’ve trained service dogs for people with various types of disabilities, I currently compete with my dogs in rally obedience and I’ve competed in AKC obedience as well and scored very well (first place ribbons are pinned up around my office). I deeply love my dogs, and work with them nearly every day. They are super highly trained –but in spite of all this, I would not claim that they would respond 100% of the time to a particular cue. Why? Well, because they are dogs, not machines.

Here’s the reality, even highly trained dogs are not infallible. This is why there have been legal questions about the use of narcotic detection dogs, and even a few news stories about bomb sniffing dog errors and occasional false alarms. I am not saying that working dogs are not wonderful at these jobs, but just like people who may be wonderful at jobs they are trained to do, occasional mistakes can happen.

Does this mean that a pet dog cannot be trained to be amazingly obedient, of course not. Simply put, we need to be realistic. We can’t expect a dog to live up to a standard that we, ourselves, could not live up to.

Ultimately, while great training is impressive, developing a great relationship is even more impressive and it involves more than just training. A great relationship requires understanding and being empathetic to what your dog feels, needs and wants too.

 

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Enjoying your Wild and Wacky Teenage Dog

Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager? I’m sure you can think of many times when your parents thought (or even said) “I never thought you would ever do anything like that!” In thinking back on my teenage years, I really hope no one holds some of the things I said and did against me permanently – especially some of my 80′s hairstyle and fashion choices.

Just as our teenage period is both fun, wacky, awkward and sometimes just plain old “yeesh!” this is true for our canine companions as well. The one really nice part when it comes to dog ownership, is that unlike for human parents who deal with their children’s adolescence for years, for dog owners this all happens comparatively quickly.

Individual dogs mature at different rates but for most dogs, they are “teenagers” at about 5-6 months and fully mature close to age 3. I can hear my clients with teenage dogs gasping –”is it really that long?” Well, yes and no. The toughest part for most pet owners is right around that one year mark. And many times, by 1 1/2 the most challenging period is over. But each dog is an individual so these time periods are generalizations. I’ve certainly met canine “late bloomers.”

For teenage dogs, just like their human counterparts, adolescence is a time of experimentation. Teenage dogs often push buttons, may seem to have “forgotten” their previous training, and often exhibit new behaviors like jumping up. Statements that start with the phrase “my dog would never” are almost always proven incorrect during adolescence so do use your crate, leash, baby gates and supervise your teenage dog or be prepared to replace that expensive rug.

“Doesn’t he know better by now?” my clients often ask. Short answer, “no.” It really is the owner’s responsibility to manage their dog safely and prevent unwanted behaviors, or those annoying behaviors will become life long bad habits. And absolutely, training is very important during adolescence. Just remember to be patient, realistic and understanding. You will want to keep your practice sessions short and fun. Provide lots of outlets for your dog’s energy and be ready to go back and do refreshers on the basics.

Now, lest I put a total damper on dog ownership, I have to say more and more I’m completely loving teenage dogs. It’s important to enjoy this period. Have a sense of humor about it. Yes, it might be embarrassing  to have the dog you worked so hard training completely blow off a basic like “sit” in front of visitors. But one day, when your teenage dog is an elderly senior dog who has an unsteady gait, you will remember the days when he would leap and bound and decorate your work clothes with muddy paw prints and you will smile.  Just as your dog became an adolescence surprisingly quickly, dogs become seniors much faster than we want them to too.

Enjoy your canine wild child this New Year!

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A Barking Nuisance

Fairfax County is adopting a new sound ordinance that impacts pet owners. Barking is normal dog behavior, but excessive barking can be a nuisance and may create problems with neighbors. There are a number of strategies that can help keep the peace:

1. Supervise your dog if you leave him in your yard. Yards in Northern Virginia are simply not large enough-and the sound of a bark will carry. There are lots of other reasons to supervise your dog when he’s outdoors including for his safety but in terms of barking, supervision allows you to redirect your dog and interrupt unwanted barking.

2. Provide interesting activities for your dog to do in your yard. Set up some agility obstacles for fun, hide toys and treats, rotate the toys you leave available.

3. Block your dog’s view of the street and passers by if possible.

4. Use tools that help dogs be calmer and quieter. A body wrap such as a Thundershirt may help some dogs be quieter. Soft classical music may also help.

5. Exercise your dog, the cliche about tired dogs also can apply to barking.

6. Examine why your dog is barking. Is he tired? Stressed? Anxious? Frustrated? Some dogs are just more likely to bark than others but sometimes there are underlying reasons. If your dog has a behavior problem, separation anxiety or another issue, find a qualified behavior consultant to fully address the underlying cause.

I empathize with people who complain to me about barking dogs. I have three collies – a breed known for being vocal. I do not just use one strategy to keep the barking to a minimum. I find I often have to do a combination of providing exercise, rotating toys, supervising my dogs and interrupting them and bringing them back indoors if they bark. I also manage indoor barking by closing shutters and blinds to windows if there is a lot of activity in my neighborhood.

Notice one thing I do not do–I do not resort to an electronic bark collar. There are behavioral risks of using collars like this and having lived with multiple members of a very “barky” breed for well over 15 years now, I’ve always found other, gentle, less risky and effective ways to manage barking.

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Welcome Home!

Woohoo! You are so excited and happy, you just adopted a new dog! Time to celebrate, throw a party, take your dog out on the town to meet all of your friends right? Wait–not so fast. Getting a new dog is so exciting and your friends and family are sure to want to meet him. However, the period of transition to a new environment is really hard for the dog. Even if your dog is coming from a “bad” situation into a wonderful new home with you – he doesn’t speak English. Your dog has no idea what’s going on and just knows his living situation has changed dramatically. Take it slow! You will find that your dog’s behavior changes quite a bit over the first few months after adopting him/her. Here are a few quick tips for those first weeks with your new pet:

1. Don’t assume anything about your new dog. Yep, nothing. You are still getting to know your dog and he’s still getting to know you. Even if your dog came from a foster home where they told you that he loved all the other dogs and was house trained this does not mean that these behaviors will automatically transfer over to your home. I get calls all the time when new adopters tell us, “why does this dog growl at other dogs when he loved dogs in foster care?”  There are many reasons why this might happen but the simple reality is that takes time for a dog to show it’s true temperament and personality. Most rescue organizations do not have the resources to have dogs temperament tested by a qualified and experienced behavior professional. Even if the dog has been temperament tested, no one can guarantee that the temperament observed in the challenging shelter environment will hold up over time.

2. Keep things low stress and low key. Complex environments and situations (i.e. lots of people, traffic, animals) are stressful for most dogs. For the first few days in your home keep routines simple. For instance, try a walk in a quiet park or play in a fenced in backyard, just one or two visitors. Take safety precautions, we receive many phone calls when the new dog slips out the yard or front door the first day or week after being adopted.

3. Incorporate strategies that help dogs relax. Soft classical music, the scent of lavender, long lasting chews or dog toys that can be filled with dog food (i.e. KONG) may help some animals relax.

4. Supervise. Take your dog outdoors to relieve himself/herself very frequently. Do not assume your dog knows not to chew up furniture or not to house soil. Prevent problems rather than react to them. Your dog is under stress from the transition to a new environment and is still learning to trust. Yelling and getting angry are never good training strategies but can certainly do lasting damage to a relationship with a dog that is still getting to know you.

5. Create a warm, supportive and relaxed home environment. Yes, dogs do pick up on the emotions of people around them.

Many times adopters call me and share with me their plans for their new dog. They want it to become a therapy dog, an agility dog or visit the local dog park. It’s great to be excited about your future with your new dog, but keep in mind that your dog may have different ideas for what he/she enjoys. Not all dogs enjoy interacting with lots of unfamiliar people, running up and down obstacles or playing with unfamiliar dogs. It’s much better to view your first weeks with your new dog as an exciting opportunity to learn about what your dog would really enjoy doing.  Respecting your dog’s needs is a surefire way to start building a terrific relationship with your new dog.

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