Newsletter – June 2018

TAKING THE LEAD

NEWSLETTER

Issue 12 – June 2018

  1. Physical & Mental Stimulation – how to get it right.
  2. Try to Fade the Use of Treats over Time
  3. Recognise an anxious dog – it may not be what you think
  4. Amazing Facts About Dogs That Will Make You Smile
  5. Lights, Camera, Action!
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    1. Physical & Mental Stimulation – how to get it right

Just as we humans are individuals, so it is with our dogs, so not “one size fits all” is required when looking at your own dog/s.

A lack of physical stimulation can definitely lead to nuisance behaviours in a dog, along with health problems as it can in our own “couch potato” humans.  Most dogs have been bred to work, from herding breeds to hunting breeds & that includes our small dogs, even the dainty looking Yorkshire terrier was bred to hunt rats!  So therefore we need to give them an out let for physical stimulation as tired dogs chew less, bark less, sleep more & are more relaxed.

When we think about physical stimulation we automatically think of walks, but that’s not the only physical stimulation available.  If your dog is sociable it may include a fun game with other dogs (but be careful – you don’t want to over socialise as then your dog will prefer other dogs company to yours and your recall goes out the window!).  Playing with you at home or on walks is also great physical stimulation.  This might be playing with toys or even “hide n seek” at home, on a walk or in the office.  But what if you are giving this and still your dog seems full of energy and won’t settle very well?  Then it needs more “mental stimulation”.  Similar to us humans doing a crossword, a puzzle, playing chess or reading a book.

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to mentally stimulating your dog as so many mental stimulation toys are on the market these days.  Many of them use food as a game, so instead of feeding all your dog’s meals in a bowl, have some fun and stuff in a Kong, a treat ball or other dispensing food toys that the dog has to problem solve to get the food out.  Try to set it up easily to begin with so as not to frustrate your dog, by making it easy so he/she gets a payoff for trying you will see he/she will soon problem solve very easily and can then make it a little harder.

For dogs that are not food motivated, you could try “Kong Squeezz Jels” which are a type of squeaky toy, hide them in a room and encourage dog to find them.

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2.Try to Fade the Use of Treats Over Time (Excerpted from Chill Out Fido! by Nan Kené Arthur)

Once your dog knows a behaviour well, and can perform it in many locations and with many distractions, you can fade the use of your marker signal and rewards. In other words, you don’t need to click and treat every time your dog sits for you. However, it’s also important to pay off every now and then to keep your dog in the game and gambling. “This time might be the time the reward happens, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, just in case.”

Here’s an example of how you can fade the use of treats when using a verbal marker while teaching a behaviour like “sit”:

Ask your dog to “Sit.”

As his butt hits the ground, say, “Good boy,” give a treat (praise and treat paired together) and release him with a release cue such as, “All done.”

Ask your dog to sit again, but just say, “Good boy,” without the treat (builds anticipation of the treat), and release him.

The next time, give the treat after your verbal praise (score!).

Ask for the sit once again and give the treat again after your verbal praise (score again!).

Use just the verbal praise for a couple of rounds, and so on until you are only using treats occasionally but still getting good responses from your dog.

You can also add in other rewards that your dog likes, such as asking him to sit and when he does, saying “Good boy,” and throwing a ball or playing a little tug. You could also open a door, pet him, or allow him access to something like the car if he enjoys car rides. These are called “real life” rewards, and anything your dog wants or likes can and should become a reward as you progress in your training.

Reducing the use of food rewards should be a goal, but always be ready to go back to using more or better treats when you add more distractions, duration, or distance to a behaviour – at least until your dog has a clear understanding that this is the same training as before, just in different context. If a well-trained behaviour falls apart when you go out into the world, that’s information for you. It’s time to help your dog by going back to food – usually a high value reward.

Once your dog demonstrates that he can stay focused on the task at hand, you can switch to a lower value food as long as you maintain the successes you achieved with the high-value food in that same location or with the same distractions.

Once you have decided to use fewer treats, bear in mind that never using treats again would be like asking yourself to give up ice cream, cake, or other goodies. There is nothing wrong with using food to reward your dog, just use it to your advantage – to help him get better with his skills. Sometimes it is fun to give your dog a treat, just like it is fun for us to get unexpected rewards. Also, if your dog does something really amazing that you would like repeated, then food is the best pay check you can give him to keep him in your employment.

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3. Recognise an anxious dog – it may not be what you think

People aged 45-49 and children below the age of four were the most common groups to be attacked by dogs last year, they cannot voice an opinion such as “please leave me alone your frightening me!”, they cannot send you a solicitors letter, all they can do is express themselves in there body language, such as;
Suddenly freezes and holds her body rigid

 

 

 

Submission (to switch off hostility)

Lowering body, whites of eyes showing

Calming Signals

Lip licking:

Yawning out of context: 
Turning head away from you:

 

To learn more about Calming Signals get book “On Talking Terms with Dogs”

In the above picture note how the ears are back & whites of eyes are showing – this dog is fearful, it should not be reprimanded for these signals or else it will no longer show them and just bite!  Speak to a qualified Behaviourist.

If the dog is a stranger to you, don’t assume “all dogs like me” and just go up and pet it, ask the owner first and if it’s playing/eating/resting/sleeping leave it alone, you wouldn’t want to be petted at such times, nor does the dog.

The majority of dog bites occur in the home environment, by dogs that the victim knows. Young children are more at risk due to them not understanding the dog’s body language (more often the adults don’t either!).  This is why it is so important when getting a puppy you go to a reputable breeder, make sure that you see the parents of your puppy and check that they are friendly with people & children (preferably bred in home environment). Aggressive tendencies can be inherited. Socialise positively & make sure everyone understand the rules – not just your dog.

“Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not strive to be ‘leader of the pack’ and problems are not caused by ‘dominance’. Misunderstandings arise when owners do not make their rules understandable for dogs, or break the rules in the eyes of the dog. If adults and dogs sometimes struggle to understand each other, imagine how strange child behaviour must appear to a dog! Consistency is key – develop clear routines and rules – both child and dog should understand what is expected of them in each situation and the ‘rules’ should not change depending on the day of the week (for example, is your dog allowed to jump up, yes or no?).”

 

“Make sure that the dog always has access to a ‘safe’ place away from the child, such as a bed in an area that doesn’t have people coming/going. Dogs do not like to use aggression, they would rather walk away from something that they are concerned about but often do not have this opportunity. Children may frighten the dog without realising and the dog may resort to biting if it feels trapped and unable to escape.”  Don’t leave dogs and children alone, they should be supervised when together, it only takes a second for a child to pull a dogs tail or stick a crayon in the ear, use a baby stairgate if you cannot supervise.

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4. Amazing Facts About Dogs That Will Make You Smile

  • Dogs prefer to poop in alignment with Earth’s magnetic field
  • Dalmatian puppies are born nearly completely white.
  • A Dogs sense of smell is around 10,000 times stronger than a humans
  • Dogs have at least 18 muscles in each ear.

    Finally………….

    5. Lights, Camera, Action!

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