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Training 411

posted March 15th, 2011 by
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Q&A by Mary Green

Q.

My dog Henry is a 35lb fox Hound  mix that can make a running leap  to the top of our 6 ft high privacy fence,  which is made of 3″ cedar boards.  from  the top he jumps to the other side and  roams the neighborhood for about 30  minutes and then jumps back into the  backyard. I am afraid he may get hit by  a car or picked up by animal control on  one of these sojourns. Do you have any  training methods to break this habit? I don’t like the idea of using an electric  fence wire to detour him.

A.

  You’re absolutely right; Henry could  be very much endangered because  of this behavior.  The electric fence (hot wire) is a pretty harsh deterrent, so I am happy to  suggest some less aversive ideas.

It would help to know why Henry is leaving the  yard.  Initially, I would ask you if he is neutered.   If he is intact, he may be leaving the yard to  go looking for love. Next, I would ask if he has  enough to do in the yard. If he is spending a  lot of time outside alone, he may be rather  bored.  Are you doing any sort of enrichment for  him? You can create an interesting backyard  environment by using some of the food delivery toys.  A trip to the pet supply store will give you  some ideas of things such as Buster Cube,  Kibble Nibble, Kong toys, etc. If he can hunt in  his own yard, which provides some nice activity,  he may be less likely to wander. Are you taking  Henry for walks in his neighborhood?  He may  need the exercise and mental stimulation that a  walk can provide.  

There is a product called Coyote Roller, which  is a fence topper that rolls so an animal cannot  get a grip and propel himself over the fence.   Check their website at www.coyoteroller.com.  I  suspect you could fashion a similar design out  of PVC pipe!

There are some  anti-jumping  harnesses on the market.  My experience has been that a pet  owner will put the harness on the dog, and  still leave him unattended in the yard. He then  proceeds to chew the harness up!

How about providing Henry a window to the  neighborhood?  Cut out a small section of your  fence, place screen or other wire in it, and make  a frame around it.  Having a small place to look  through is much more comforting than looking  between the slats of the privacy fence!

Q.

My little dog, Zula has decided  that if she doesn’t want to go  outside she will play hide behind the  couch. She also will not come when called  from outside (unless it’s freezing).  I know  that I have spoiled her and it’s my fault for  always having a cookie when I call her. She will only come if she thinks I have  food now. I was thinking about leaving  the leash on her and giving it a pop if she  doesn’t come. Do you have any ideas?  I’m  afraid to do more harm than good!

A.

You’re right – a pop on the leash does  not generally inspire the dog to come  when you call her. Punishment like that can  make a dog very wary of coming to an angry  owner. Our approach would be to play some  games to get her to come when you call her. At K9 Manners & More, we call this one “Catch & Release”.  Pick a time to practice when Zula  does not need to go out, or come in.  Have some  treats in your pocket, or otherwise hidden from  the dog. Call Zula, and as soon as she looks  toward you – toss her a treat! If she comes all  the way to you, she gets the treat. You praise  her, pet her, and let her go about her business.

When she gets interested in  something else, call her again. If she  doesn’t come all the way to you, toss the treat – gradually getting it close enough for you to  touch her.  Don’t require the dog to sit or do  any other behavior – just a treat for coming. Practice multiple times/day. Catch – release. After about 3 days, do the same thing in the  yard. Periodically go ahead and send Zula  outside when you call her, but only about one  third of the time.  

We also play “Hide and Seek.”  It’s pretty simple – you hide and then call your dog.   She has to  find you to get the treat. If her stay is solid, you  can put her on a stay while you go hide.  If not,  ask a family member to distract or restrain the  dog while you hide. If you can, practice inside  and outside – if you are out of sight, the dog  becomes curious about where you are and will  find you!

Another strategy is to leave the leash on Zula  inside and outside. If she hides, ducks away, or  darts, you can snag her with the leash. If you  have a plain old slip leash from the vet, these  work well. Just loop it through her collar.  You  need to be carefully supervising, though, so  she cannot become snagged on something or  entangled and injured!

Home for the Holidays – or Home Away From Home?

posted November 15th, 2010 by
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Are you thinking about travelling with your pets for the Holidays? Are your out-of-town family members planning to bring their pet to stay in your house? These experiences can be Norman Rockwell painting-worthy, or turn your family into the Griswolds!

Are you contemplating travelling with your pets? Careful consideration and pre-planning can make the trip much less stressful.

How are you travelling?
If you are flying, can your pet travel in the cabin? If he can’t, can he fly safely as cargo? Will my pet be comfortable flying? What will happen if we don’t make our connections?

Be sure you are aware of the airline regulations for flying pets, and the necessary paperwork, and health certificates you need in order to fly an animal.

If you are driving, is your pet prone to car sickness? Is there enough room for everyone to ride safely? In the vehicle, your pet should be secured in a crate, or secured with a pet seat-belt. Is your dog used to going potty while he is on a leash? You must have your dog on leash at any rest stop. It would be disastrous to lose your dog at a potty-stop. Is your dog comfortable in the car alone? You may need to leave him to take your pit stop, or eat a meal. If he isn’t OK alone, who is going to stay with him? And is it cool enough to leave him safely in the car?

Where are you staying?
Are you staying with friends or relatives? Are your hosts going to welcome your pet? Is their household animal friendly – and animal safe? Consider where your pets will sleep, and go outside. Will you have to leash-walk, or if the yard is fenced, is it safe and secure? What about their animals – are they friendly with visiting pets? If your hosts don’t have animals, it may be quite a challenge for them to welcome yours! Wagging tails and joyous spinning can break decorations. And then, there’s the shedding!

Are you staying in a hotel? Staying in a pet-friendly hotel can be great fun, provided you plan ahead. Bring a blanket or sheet to put over the bedspread so your dog can lie on the bed. Don’t leave your dog unattended in the room unless you are certain he will be quiet! If you must leave, give the front desk your phone number in case they need to reach you. Be sure you take your dog to the designated area for pottying, and pick up all solid waste and dispose of it in an outdoor waste can or dumpster.

What should you bring?
Be sure to have an adequate supply of your pet’s food and medications. You may wish to bring water from home, or purchase spring water rather than give your dog tap water from a different source than he is used to, which can cause gastric upset. It is always a good idea to have a copy of your dog’s vaccination record with you. You may have to show proof of his Rabies vaccination in some states with quarantines (like Texas). The Rabies tag itself is not sufficient proof. Bring a couple of your dog’s favorite toys, or his bed or blanket to help him settle into a new environment.

Are your houseguests planning to bring their pets?
Again, pre-planning is the key.

Are the visiting pets crate trained? Where will they sleep? In general, it is much easier to travel with pets that are crate trained. Their crate becomes home away from home, and they are happy to sleep in the comfort of their own bed. If your guests don’t use a crate, ask them to bring a bed or mat from home for their pet to sleep on.

Is your yard safe? Are there any areas where a dog could escape through your fence? Make any repairs needed to ensure the safety of your houseguest. Is there a chance a visiting dog could open your gate? You may need to lock the gate during a visit.

What about your children – are the visiting dogs friendly with kids? Have your kids learned how to properly meet and greet pets? There are some very good resources available to educate children about pet safety. The American Kennel club has numerous age-appropriate resources on their website at www.akc.org/public_education/resources.cfm.

If your pets don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for visiting animals, you may need to utilize dog or baby-gates and keep the animals separated. Try to keep to your dog’s normal schedule as much as possible. Feed each animal their usual diet – and don’t feed anyone table scraps!!!

If you decide it would be better not to travel with your pets, get reservations made ASAP with a reputable kennel facility. Pet sitters, veterinary clinics, and boarding kennels fill up extremely fast around the holidays.

Woofs and wags and Happy Holidays to all, from your friends at K9 Manners & More

Story by Mary Green

TRAINING 411

posted October 15th, 2010 by
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BY MARY GREEN

There’s a new puppy at my house! “Cinder,” a border collie, has come to join my family, and I find myself facing the same problems as every new puppy parent. This column is all about how I faced the challenges that Cinder brings to my life.

Q. At what age should a puppy leave his mother for his new family?
A.The AVMA (American Veterinary Medicine Association) says that puppies can leave the litter from 6 to 10 weeks. There is a huge difference developmentally between a six-week-old puppy and a tenweek- old puppy.

Cinder came home with me at eight weeks of age. For me, that was the optimal time. She had visited the veterinarian and received her first vaccines, she had been dewormed, and she was doing well on her commercial dog food. She had a great head start on crate training and house training, too!

Q. How do you crate train a puppy?
A.Start by making the crate a “happy” place. When you first introduce the puppy to her crate, put some really yummy food in there. Don’t close the door – just let her go in and explore, and leave when she wants to. Cinder liked having a couple of toys in her crate, and a puppy Nylabone®. Also in her crate, she gets a Kong® toy stuffed with her food and a treat.

By starting Cinder in a small travel crate, I was able to move the crate around the house, so she wouldn’t be isolated. I took her for car rides – always in her crate! At night, I placed the crate close to my bed, and if she was fussy, I tapped on top, or wiggled my fingers through the openings to distract her. I made the hard and fast rule that I never took her out of the crate while she was fussing. She had to be quiet for at least three seconds in order to be let out!

Crate training Cinder significantly aided her house training. Every time she came out of the crate, I immediately took her outside. If it was nighttime, I did not allow her to play. Once she had done her business, I took her back in, and put her in the crate with a biscuit. In the daytime, going potty outdoors meant that she had a period of freedom in the house (supervised, of course). If she did not eliminate, I put her back in the crate and gave her another chance 10-15 minutes later. She quickly learned to potty outside!

Q.Are dogs and cats natural enemies or can they get along?
A.They can get along and often do! Cats can often be overwhelmed by puppies or exuberant dogs. Be sure that initial meetings are well controlled to prevent any aggression from the dog. The cat needs to feel safe and secure, so she might be up on the back of a chair, or in a carrier if she is accustomed to one. Give each animal a really yummy treat when they meet each other. Another great tip is to rub each of the animals with a towel, then ‘introduce’ them by way of smelling the other towel.

Q.How do you introduce the puppy to other animals in your home?
A.First and foremost, do not traumatize the puppy! A traumatic encounter during early social development can have a lifelong effect on her behavior.

I was careful with Cinder’s introduction to my other dogs. I placed her in her crate and allowed each one individually to sniff her through the crate, and for her to see and smell them safely. Next, one at a time, I leashed the adult dog and allowed Cinder to come up to them, or retreat if she wanted. My dogs are quite well socialized, and my approach would have been different if they were not dogfriendly!

The other border collies (Bonnie & Kindle) accepted Cinder quickly, but don’t have a lot of tolerance for her puppy behavior. They are serious in their games, and are so fast and physical, that Cinder couldn’t participate until she got bigger.

Parker, my boxer, is the one who plays the tolerant Uncle to Cinder. He thinks she is the coolest thing ever! He has been a good role model for her, and accompanies her on her many adventures.

Q.How do you introduce the puppy to the children?
A.There aren’t children living at our house – just a couple of old folks! But I wanted my two-year-old grandson to safely meet Cinder. Puppies jump around, jump up, scratch and nip. This behavior tends to arouse children just as much as puppies! I started out by holding Cinder in my lap and allowing my grandson to pet her if he wanted. I made sure that they were both gentle. Soon, he was tossing around her toys and she was going after them. The first encounters were very brief – I gave Cinder lots of treats to ensure a positive association about children.

At K9 Manners & More, we like to use the “Two Hands” rule when puppies are meeting people. That means, the puppy can not have more than two hands on her at a time. This helps the children learn to take turns, and not overwhelm the puppy.

Q.At what age do you begin training a puppy?
A.The day I bring her home! Even if I don’t realize I’m “training,” the puppy is learning. I want to be certain she is learning the right things, such as what to chew and where to potty. On the website www.dogstardaily.com, there is a free book that you can download titled “Before You Get Your Puppy.” This is a fabulous resource for new puppy owners!

Every day, for a couple of minutes at a time, we work on her basic good manners – sit, down, come, stay off; even tricks. I reserve a portion of her kibble to use as reinforcement.

Cinder joined puppy kindergarten class once she was ten weeks old. Puppy kindergarten class is a great opportunity to gain socialization with other puppies, and strangers – especially children and men. There needs to be supervised off-leash socialization time, where the puppies can enjoy romping, but are not allowed to be bullied – or become a bully!

It has been a few years since I’ve raised a puppy. I had conveniently forgotten how busy they are – how much supervision they require – and how much they love to chew! Eventually, I will enjoy the result of the time investment in Cinder’s early training as she develops into a wonderful companion.

Mary Green
Mary Green, Certified Pet Dog Trainer, is the owner of K9 Manners & More in Broken Arrow. She is a consultant for the Tulsa SPCA, trainer for TheraPetics Service Dogs of OK, and is a monthly guest on the KOTV Noon News. www.k9-manners.com

Training 411

posted April 15th, 2010 by
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By Mary Green

Q. How can I stop my dog from running the fence with the neighbor dog and barking her head off?

A.If she is doing this when you’re not home, it’s going to be pretty difficult to stop. Any time bad behavior happens when there’s no one around to intervene, that behavior is likely to continue. Somehow, the environment may need to change. Is it possible to keep the dog inside, crated or confined, in your absence? If not, you may need to modify the outside environment. Maybe put up a kennel run for confinement. My mom had a great setup where she installed a second fence several feet inside the perimeter fence. That way, the dogs were not so close to the neighbors and they were less likely to run the fence. Other options would be to devise interesting things for the dog to do while she is outside – a sandbox filled with interesting things to dig in, food delivery toys, or bones with filling. If she is doing this while you are home, you will have to go outside, and redirect her attention to you, or something else to do. If she persists, you may need to bring her in to curtail her barking. Try to figure out why the dog is barking in the first place. Does she have enough stimulation? Is she getting out of the yard, going for walks, going to doggie school, or having other activities? Living in the yard is pretty socially isolating for a dog, and they may bark for attention, or out of boredom. If she is particularly fond of the neighbor dog, and just wants to play, maybe you can arrange a play time for both dogs in your yard. Be sure that they are friendly! My friend Daniele has a perfect setup: a gate between her yard and the neighbor’s so that Lucy and her friend Patches can have regular playtime. Labrador retrievers Kanali & Sundance visit in the corner of their yards (their owners call that “coffee talk”) and then their owners get together for playtime. Being able to socialize with friendly dogs is a key part of a dog’s welfare.

Q. I have a nine-month old golden retriever that I would love to take on more walks, but she pulls terribly on the leash, and will bolt away after a squirrel or a bird. And, if she sees another dog she can practically jerk my arm out of the socket! Any suggestions?

A.I would first work on loose leash walking. There are some good videos online that show how to teach loose leash walking. Check out Dog Star Daily (www.dogstardaily.com) for some ideas. Pulling on leash is a hard habit to break! It is very rewarding to the dog to be able to pull his owner along for the ride, making it not so very enjoyable for the owner. Loose leash walking can be taught very effectively using a lure and reward method. Equipment can help you manage the dog as he learns how to walk politely with you. In our classes at K9 Manners & More, we have found that the Easy Walk No Pull Front Clip Harness works very well to inhibit pulling without putting pressure on the dog’s neck or nose. The leash attaches to the chest strap and guides the dog by gentle pressure on his shoulders. We also see good results with the Halti and the Gentle Leader head halters, where the leash attaches to a ring under the dog’s chin, and allows him to be guided without choking. Once your dog is more controllable, you will be better able to manage the distractions. If another dog is approaching you on a walk, you might want to cross the street. Encourage your dog to glance at that dog, but walk on by. If you’re observant, you can tell the very instant your dog spots a squirrel or bird. Her ears will pitch forward, and she’ll raise her head and stand tall. At the very first indication, say her name, and get her to turn toward you. If she won’t give you that much attention, just drop a tidbit on the ground and tell her to ‘find it.’ If her nose is on the ground, she’s not lunging toward the other animal. Teaching a ‘leave it’ skill is also very handy.

Q.Are dogs and cats natural enemies or can they get along?

A.They can get along and often do! Cats can often be overwhelmed by puppies or exuberant dogs. Be sure that initial meetings are well controlled to prevent any aggression from the dog. The cat needs to feel safe and secure, so she might be up on the back of a chair, or in a carrier if she is accustomed to one. Give each animal a really yummy treat when they meet each other. Another great tip is to rub each of the animals with a towel, then ‘introduce’ them by way of smelling the other towel.

Mary Green, Certified Pet Dog Trainer, is the owner of K9 Manners & More in Broken Arrow. She is a consultant for the Tulsa SPCA, trainer for TheraPetics Service Dogs of OK, and is a monthly guest on the KOTV Noon News. www.k9-manners.com

Training 411

posted January 15th, 2010 by
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By Mary Green

Q. Sassy is a 6 year old dachshund, and is an only child. Any time someone comes to our house, she acts like a fool. She growls and barks at people, and charges after them. I’m afraid she is going to bite someone.

A. Isn’t it funny how sometimes a dog’s name becomes a behavior trait?
“Sassy” sounds just that! If she has acted this way all of her life, and has not bitten anyone, it’s unlikely that she will – under the normal circumstances you describe. She is certainly rehearsing some bad behavior, though. Generally speaking, the longer a behavior has been going on the harder it is to change. Dogs make aggressive overtures (like barking and charging) to let people know they are uncomfortable. These stay-away-from-me signals indicate “don’t pet me,” and Sassy may be saying “Intruder Alert!” Dogs even do this with people they have seen many times. While we may understand why they act this way, it’s not really acceptable for the family dog to threaten guests in your home. So, what might you do? Put Sassy in the crate when people come over. If she has not been crate trained, you may be able to confine her in a bedroom, or another out of the way place. You need to be sure that someone can’t accidentally open the door and let her out! Settle her down in there with a stuffed Kong toy, or a favorite chew toy.

• Always have Sassy on leash when people come over. Keep hold of the leash or attach it to your belt loop. Be sure that Sassy stays close to you, but please don’t pick her up and hold her face to face with people. She should stay on the floor.

• Have special treats for Sassy when company comes over. As soon as someone enters, you give Sassy a really special treat. Make it
something yummy that takes her a minute to eat. If she’s chewing and enjoying a treat, she isn’t barking. Don’t ask your guest to give her a treat, let it come from you. You’re just making a positive association between the person entering and her getting a great snack. In time, she will associate the people coming over with something she really loves, even if she’s not crazy about company.

• Be cautious of well intentioned friends and family that say “she’ll be fine,” or “all dogs like me!” Often that’s the person that pushes the dog’s buttons the wrong way, and gets bitten!

Q. Our boxer Sadie bolts away every time she can. If you’re standing at the door, she will practically knock you down to get out. If the kids leave the door open, she is gone in a flash. And, once she’s gone she is impossible to catch. How can we train her to stay at home?

A. I’m not sure if the real issue is training her to stay at home, or teaching her to come when she’s called. Not coming when called is one of the biggest behavior problems we see at K9 Manners & More. And, it’s a behavior problem that can cost the dog’s life. Getting enough exercise is critical to a dog’s wellbeing. Be sure that Sadie is going for leash walks in the neighborhood. A brisk walk is very beneficial for mental stimulation as well as physical exercise. Sadie can enjoy the sights and smells of the world that way. When she is confined to her own territory, she can become almost starved for new information! That can contribute to bolting.

Teach Sadie to get back and stay back away from the door. She can stay on a rug, in a hallway, or other area adjacent to the doorway, but needs to stay out of the entry way. One of our trainers taught a dog to go sit on the staircase when the doorbell rings! To start this, tell the dog to “get back” and toss a treat where you wish for her to go. As she goes for the treat, move into her space, tell her to sit, and reward her with another treat. Gradually practice until you are able to open the door without Sadie moving.

Teaching a dog to come when called, reliably, every time, takes lots of practice. It’s so important to be really generous with praise and rewards, and it needs to be something the dog really likes! You begin practicing inside your house, from room to room. You practice outside in your fenced yard. We use a technique we call “catch and release” where you reward the dog for coming to you, and then you release her to go about her business, and then call her again. Don’t practice in any off-leash area unless you can be 100 per cent certain Sadie will come to you.

If Sadie has bolted and is racing away from home – don’t chase her! Try instead to cheerfully call, “Let’s go for a car ride,” or “Sadie, do you want a cookie?” Be really silly and run the opposite direction when Sadie looks at you. Go to a neighboring yard and pretend to be very interested in their garden. When she gets curious about what you are doing, run home and let her chase you. Instead of chasing Sadie, let Sadie chase you! It is never a good idea to scold or punish your dog for running away, once you catch her. She needs to know it’s always safe to come running to mom or dad.

Mary Green, Certified Pet Dog Trainer, is the owner of K9 Manners & More in Broken Arrow. She is a consultant for the Tulsa SPCA, trainer for TheraPetics Service Dogs of OK, and is a monthly guest on the KOTV Noon News. www.k9-manners.com

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE CHOCOLATE…

posted November 15th, 2009 by
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STORY BY Mary Green

THE HOLIDAYS ARE UPON US! We are so busy with decorating, baking, shopping, traveling your pets’ safety can be the last thing on our list. Keeping the “furry” family members happy and safe during the Holiday season should be as important as Grandma’s sugar cookies!

RULE NUMBER ONE SHOULD BE: PETS SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN AS PRESENTS!

AS YOU DECk THE HALLS, THINK ABOUT WHAT MIGHT BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR PETS.

TINSEL - while not toxic to animals, can cause intestinal obstruction or even present a choking hazard.
THE CENTERPIECE of the Holiday decorations, the Christmas tree, presents particular challenges to be pet-safe. Dogs find lights and cords tempting to pull on, and cats have a particular penchant for climbing the trees, both of which can cause the tree to come tumbling down. OTHER HAZARDS TO CONSIDER ARE:
GLASS ORNAMENTS - hang them high on the tree. Consider instead hanging nonbreakable wooden, metal, plastic or resin ornaments on lower branches.
BUBBLE LIGHTS – they contain ethylene chloride which can be lethal if ingested.
ANGEL HAIR – not the pasta, but the spun glass, can cause irritation to your pet’s eyes and skin.
RIBBONS AND BOWS ON PACKAGES – can be a choking hazard or cause intestinal obstruction. And please don’t put ribbons around your animal’s neck. This could cause serious injury or even death.
TREE STAND WATER – may contain harmful bacteria which could give your pet a very upset tummy.

While Poinsettias often get a bad rap for being toxic to pets, there are many more seasonal plants that are very dangerous if your pet ingests them. Ivy, HoLLY, AND MISTLETOE all are very toxic and can be lethal if consumed. Cedar, balsam, juniper, pine and fir are moderately toxic. CANDLES are a particular challenge, and if lighted, should be well out of reach of pets. It is too easy for a pet to knock them over and cause a fire hazard, both to themselves and your home.

Using caution and a common-sense approach to decorating for this holiday season will help keep your pet safe and happy!

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