Category Archives: Dog Training

The Holidays & Bite Inhibition

Well now, the end of the year clump of holidays has passed, but there are always more around the corner – after all this past Sunday was National Chocolate Cake day. And bite inhibition is always a good topic for discussion.

Funny, as I drifted off to sleep at my mother’s one Thanksgiving evening, it made me giggle how much our family holiday experiences are much like the struggle our dogs go through figuring out what and when a nip or gnashing of the teeth is allowable. And that’s not even taking into account the whole trigger-stacking aspect of the holidays.

So, where do we start with all those little nippers in our house? First we need to remember that our dogs use their mouths as humans use their hands. You know that even though your momma taught you better, the urge is strong to reach out and touch the arm of the person in the velvet jumpsuit.

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… oooo … velvety … 

Then there is speaking their language. As we start working with our pups we want to start by using their language, the language of the litter ~ it’s a yipe (high-pitched) and then a pull away from the offender. I have also started adding a “how could you” look on my face as I have seen pups use it on each other.

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Okay, it’s the look I saw a couple of cute playful pups, who got the wrong end of Ruby, give her – the total look of hurt and disbelief was priceless. Oh, and not really Ruby’s fault as they were told to not approach – I know my girl!

 

Remember part of pulling away from your pup means taking your attention away. “You bite. We stop playing.” When you take your attention away, do it in a calm manner. This goes back to that old idea that even bad attention (getting scolded) is still attention and since being part of the pack (being with you) is of the utmost importance to them.

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We also need to make sure we are giving them plenty of appropriate things to chew on. My personal favorite is bully sticks – be sure to look for the low odor variety. When your pup is romping with you and starts gnawing on a limb, grab that chew toy and stick it in his mouth. Talk sweetly and praise them profusely while they’re chewing on that item you gave them.

Finally we have to make sure our pups are getting plenty of activity, both physical and mental. I like the way my fellow trainer and friend MH put it …

“Enrichment, mind-exhausting games… snuffle mats, muffin tin game, food scatters, hunting games. R- [i.e. negative reinforcement] just by leaving the situation when it occurs. More mental stimulation. Extra physical stimulation.”

I hope everyone has survived and even enjoyed the holidaze. Time to settle back in to our daily routines and take some time to snuggle the ones we love.

A Blogger’s Update

Well, I’m sure you don’t want to hear the boring stuff from the last three years, but I do feel I need to catch you up on a few things.

Ruby is now eight years old. I think she’s gotten a bit grumpier in her old age. She really has no tolerance for rambunctious puppies. She gets to go to the office with me on a pretty regular basis and absolutely adores all the attention.

Tic Tac has become the most amazing cat and he and Charlie have a wonderful bond. His most endearing trait is each evening he insists on laying in Charlie’s arm like a little baby. He’s now nine years old.

And then there’s my “heart” dog – Khayla Jane Money Pittie. Everyone is surprised when I tell them she’s twelve years old. Her exuberance when she welcomes me home each evening includes flying up and launching over all three steps of the porch. She and I can spend hours and hours cuddled up and napping together on the couch. We’re thinking of creating our own sport around this.

My day job is with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in the Performance Events department. It’s data entry and a whole lot of customer service in the different field sports, like hunt test, lure coursing, herding, etc. It’s only seven different sports types, until you count up all the variations by breed groups and then it grows to eighteen. I work with a great group of people, but it does make for some interesting internal dialogue because I have such a strong shelter dog background.

I have also become a full-fledged trainer for Teamworks Dog Training, LLC. Who would have thought the girl afraid of dogs most of her life would be a dog trainer… with nationally recognized letters behind her name? Woot! Woot!

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A part of me never would have thought I would be a part of this dream team of dog trainers.After all, I spent most of my life afraid of dogs and when I did get my first introduction to dog ownership and training it was about dominating and negative reinforcement. Ugh!

Working for Michele at Teamworks has opened my eyes to real dog training. Robin took me in as her assistant and when I was ready sent me on to Christi’s “finishing school.” I  owe a big thank you to these two ladies.

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I continue to take classes with my girls and learn, learn, learn. I love this journey.

Yes, My Dogs Were Bored

Here I am again … looks like I’m going to need to post a quick update as it’s been almost three years since my last post. In the meantime, let’s talk about what is going on with my dogs being “bad” the other day.

I came home Tuesday night to shreds of cardboard and paper throughout the house. I should have taken a picture, but like most people my immediate response was to clean it up. I didn’t get all of it, so I had Ruby sit next to a few remnants for a photo op. She looks guilty. She’s not feeling guilty, she’s just uncertain about why she was asked to sit in that particular spot. I’m usually more relaxed about the exact spot of the sit and she’s never comfortable when the phone is pointed at her.

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I didn’t scold Ruby or KK. I thought about scolding Charlie as he’s at home with them most of the day, but it wasn’t his fault either. What we can tell from the randomness of the mess is that our dogs were bored. And with that I decided it was time to come up with real plans, that include toys and activities, that tire these pups out.

We immediately switched from food bowls to snuffle mats. Snuffle mats are these wonderful fleece craft projects that you sprinkle treats and kibble on. The food settles into the folds of the mat and your pup has to root around for them. It feeds into their want of sniffing things out, and working for their food works their brains. That work is a good thing as working their brains will tire them out as much as a romp in the yard.

#snufflemats

Side bar: Although I had great plans to make my own snuffle mat, my friend Monica was making bunches of them. You can order one from her by emailing her at mustloverotts27520@gmail.com.

Tonight I will embark on the next step: cleaning up all chewable stuff that isn’t for them to chew on. You can’t blame your dog for chewing up your fancy new shoes if you leave them out. Listen to your mom – “put your stuff away!”

I’ll be back to post more as we build on the no-boredom plan. What are your favorite games, toys, activities for burning off that “puppy” energy?