A Dog’s Separation Anxiety and Boredom Buster

A Dog’s Separation Anxiety and Boredom Buster

Simba and I have written many times about the separation anxiety that Simba suffers especially when she was younger and Gypsy’s boredom issues.  Simba has exhibited separation anxiety through numerous different symptoms.  These included IBS, hives, destruction, uncontrollable licking the air, etc.

These are just a few pictures of my life with my GSPs.  Now we all know that GSP’s need lots and lots of exercise or they become destructive but I assure you that these guys were getting their exercise.  The destruction on Simba’s part was due to separation anxiety and for Gypsy it was and still is at times due to boredom. I am so excited about having found an item that has pretty much eliminated the destruction by these two beauties.  It is the Interactive Treat Dispensing Pet Toy.  Before I came across this magical ball, Simba would follow me to the door whining and barking.  They would both try to squeeze of the door as I tried leaving for work in the morning.  I would come back after a long day at work to find some of the above sights.  Augh!  Now, right before I head to the door I fill their Interactive Treat Dispensers.  Gypsy waits sitting up tall in the living room and Simba whines next to me because she believes it’s taking me long.  They each get their own Interactive Treat Dispensing toy.  Sometimes, Simba’s ball ends up under furniture and she impatiently leads me to it by sitting their making little yelping sounds.  I’ll walk up to her and she squats down to show me where it is.  They look forward to this time so much.  It has made leaving so much easier for me.  Yesterday I was so surprised.  I gave them their Interactive Treat Dispenser, ran out and forgot my coffee.  I cringed since I had to go back in and worried it would throw them off.  Well, it was like they didn’t even notice I had ran back in, passing right next to them.  They didn’t stop rolling around and chasing the treat dispenser around the kitchen and family room.  I have tried other treat dispensers in the past, however, after the treats were gone they would move on to chewing up the dispensing toy to pieces.  This was has lasted two years now.  It has worked so well for me that I have decided to start selling it myself and spread the word.

Buy it HERE!

 

Training Not To Pull

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by Naomi Heck, M.Ed., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Although the reason for pulling and what rules you must teach is the same for all dogs, some dogs are more of a challenge. My own GSP was one of those “super crazy pullers”. The thing to keep in mind is that law of learning applies to all dogs: Dogs Do What Works. In other words, whatever behavior the dog does that results in getting what he wants, even just a tiny bit of it, will be repeated. The more value the dog sees in the desired outcome, the stronger the behavior, even over-riding any equipment that might cause discomfort.

So for training not to pull, the answer is two-fold. First, use equipment that will mechanically and humanely reduce the force of pulling. I prefer something that controls the head like the Halti for strong pullers. Actually a few years ago I switched over to a Newtrix head halter for my dog because he seemed to be more comfortable in it. The mechanics of how it works is different from the Halti. You can find an explanation here: http://www.newtrix.ca/index.cfm?page=ourProducts It’s a little confusing at first learning how to put it on, but once you practice and follow the directions carefully, it’s not hard.

The second and more important point is to recognize how you are inadvertently reinforcing your dog for pulling. If you take even a single step forward while your dog pulls, he learns that pulling works. Going forward to explore the environment is the most powerful reinforcer there is. It was sure more powerful to my GSP than grilled steak when we were outside.

In training not to pull, the key is to teach your dog that the fastest and ONLY way to move forward is to turn toward you to make the leash loosen so that he feels absolutely no tension whatsoever on his collar, halter or harness. Then and only then will you allow him to continue forward. As soon as the leash tightens again stop and plant your feet so he is unable to take another step forward. This rule has to be black and white, not fuzzy where sometimes pulling works and sometimes it doesn’t. You will have to suspend your walks to really entrench this new rule into your dog’s brain. (Think about how hard it can be for us humans to break a bad habit.)

I used a clicker to mark (click) the precise moment my dog turned toward me to loosen the leash. Then I said “Let’s Go” and took a few fast steps forward until the leash tightened again. (Be very careful if using a Halti or Gentle Leader that can turn the dog’s head. Don’t let the head whip around if the dog suddenly hits the end of the leash. Use a short leash and soften the impact to prevent injury to the neck. It’s another reason why I like the Newtrix design better.) I like using a clicker because it is a much clearer form of communication. It means only one thing and the click sound is like nothing else. Black and white! This training takes a lot of discipline on the part of the human because the slightest inconsistency will impede progress. If pulling works occasionally, the dog becomes a gambler because the payoff is huge!

I highly recommend having someone take a video of you walking your dog so you can observe how you might be reinforcing pulling. Even extending your arm slightly after you stop walking so your dog can stretch his neck forward an inch can be enough to keep the pulling habit strong.

Training Dogs Afraid Of Loud Noises

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by Naomi Heck, M.Ed., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Training Dogs Afraid Of Loud Noises

Hi there! I love the blog!
I recently got my 8 month old female GSP “Charley” from her board and train program. She has received e-collar training for every command. The e-collar is not a punishment tool, but a communication tool. She is amazing in the house – no accidents, knows how to place/down/heel/sit/stay/come/off/etc. She has been introduced to agility and will start scent games and snake avoidance in the Spring. She plays fetch well and also has met my nieces and nephews this weekend for fun time in the backyard. She even did great while one nephew played the ukulele in the back yard. She does great off leash on hikes and while doing training at the training center we visit each week for polishing classes. We will be starting doggie day-care once a week this week! She really is so sweet and amazing…
However…. My problem is that she absolutely is fearful of getting on the leash to go for her morning and afternoon walks that last anywhere between 20-45+ minutes. It’s like she knows it’s coming and cowers/pouts. I try to put the leash on and just walk in the backyard/house and she’s totally fine, but going through the front door is a chore. The first couple days we had her she was exposed to some fireworks on a walk that were very very loud and ever since then she is pretty skiddish about loud buses/diesel trucks/construction noise near the house. Inside the house – fine. Backyard – alright, looks around at super loud noises and then proceeds to keep playing. We live in a busy neighborhood with lots of distractions and new houses are going up each day. I am doing my very best to remain calm yet assertive and even give her treats when we pass an object that gives her the shakes. Her whole body trembles. It’s really sad and makes me feel terrible because she NEEDS to go walk to get pushed through some of these issues, but I can’t help but think I may be making everything worse. 🙁 Sometimes she tries to run/escape away from me, but eventually settles back in with a “come”. It is taxing as I know she needs her walks along with some off-leash fun in the yard and neighborhood dog park, but the walks are difficult to start. I also know she is only 8 months old and has only been in our home since Dec. 29th. I’m running out of new ideas.
Do you have any suggestions to help her emotional state? Is there something else I should try? I really want the best for our GSP. Again, thank you for the blog. 🙂
Rachael from Texas
Hi Rachel,
When doing behavior modification for fear, it is crucial that you understand that Charley’s behavior is not voluntary and she is not being stubborn or defiant.  Fear is a survival state and is thus treated differently than regular training.  If food is used, it plays a different role(that of creating a positive association rather than as a reward for a voluntary behavior that is offered by the dog).  Charley has clearly demonstrated a deep fear of going for a walk.  The fear starts with the leash, then going out the front door, and peaks outside.  This is a classic example of a negative association created with a scary experience and the events that led to that experience (which now are predictors of something scary.   If you press to get the leash on her and coax her to do something she is afraid of (even when you try showing her there is nothing to fear), you risk sensitizing her to the situation and making her more afraid.  What is desired is de-sensitization, which must be done gradually to be effective.  A good explanation of the concept can be found here- https://positively.com/contributors/counter-conditioning
It would be best to enlist the help of a force-free trainer that is knowledgeable in science based behavior modification to help you design a program to help Charley overcome his fear.  Make sure the trainer does not employ any kind of flooding technique  (making a dog “work through” scary situations) because of the risk of overwhelming and sensitizing that I mentioned.  You can do a search for a trainer near you through this site – https://apdt.com/trainer-search
My advice to you would be to temporarily suspend your desire to take Charley for a walk and find ways to exercise her with games and enriching mental activities (lots of examples can be found on Youtube).  Start with desensitizing very gradually (without eliciting avoidance) to the act of leash clipping leash (with professional guidance).  If she runs away at the mere sight of the leash,  that would be where you would start, not with attaching the leash to her collar.   If she is not afraid of car rides, try taking her to a different neighborhood or a park for walks, but only if she enjoys it.
Fear is best addressed with a willingness to make her sense of safety be your top priority.   Being assertive is counterproductive because this is not a disobedience issue.  When an animal (or person) is so afraid that she trembles, the mind is not in a state to learn.  Survival mode has kicked in and that primal state will overshadow “logic” or obedience every time.  That is why helping her feel safe while you train in small baby steps is so important.    http://somuchpetential.com/the-value-of-empowerment-to-our-pets/
Hope this helps steer you and Charley in a positive direction.  ?
Naomi

Older Dog Potty Training Tips

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by Naomi Heck, M.Ed., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Older Dog Potty Training Tips

We just received the following letter from one of our readers.  This is not the first on the subject on potty training an older dog so I decided to post it.

Hello,
Hello German Shorthaired Pointer Greatdog GSP, hope you can help us with a potty training issue we have encountered with our newly rescued German Wirehaired Pointer.  We rescued an 18 month neutered male German wirehaired pointer 10 days ago and we have been following your website with interest, as it has been very helpful in settling our new dog down. I have attached a doc which explains the help we are looking for in helping our new adolescent dog potty outside. We would be very grateful if you could perhaps give us some pointers as to how we could best approach potty training an older dog as what we have been doing doesn’t seem to be working.

Dog history

The dog we adopted, Breac, is an AKC registered neutered male German Wirehaired Pointer, age 18 months old.  He was born, Aug 2015 and at age 4months, our new dog was purchased from the breeder and brought home to live indoors with a family with three kids (age 9, 12, 18) and their two dogs. The dog has always been “a handful” and needs daily exercise. Family fed him 5 cups quality dogfood daily. Dog let himself out of the house into the family’s 18 acre property on a regular basis as the door handles pulled down when he stood on them. He is VERY prey driven. Continue reading

TRAINING NOT TO PULL

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by Naomi Heck, M.Ed., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

TRAINING NOT TO PULL

Training Tips For Fear Of Men

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by Naomi Heck, M.Ed., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

BEHAVIOR ADJUSTMENT TRAINING (BAT) FOR FEAR OF MEN

 

 

Clicker Game-Targeting

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by Naomi Heck, M.Ed., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Barking-Sassing

BARKING-SASSING

by Naomi Heck, M.Ed.,CBCC-KA,CPDT-KA

 When your dog starts his “back-talking” at you, just turn and leave the room withoutDog talk. further talking.  Do it immediately (at the first bark), and resist the temptation to repeat your command or “reason” with him.  Go into another area and close the door behind you if possible to make your point clear. After 20 seconds, come back to him for another chance.  Repeat as needed.  Every time.   And abide by my 10 to 1 Rule – Reward good behavior 10 times more than you correct bad ones.  Teach him what to do instead of barking at you, and reward that replacement behavior more frequently than you would like for 7 straight consecutive days.  Pretty soon, he’ll change his mind when his old behaviors do not pay off or aren’t fun anymore.

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by Naomi Heck, M.Ed., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

DEFENSIVE BEHAVIOR AROUND FOOD

DEFENSIVE BEHAVIOR AROUND FOOD

When your little puppy is busy eating out of his bowl, walk up with a spoonful of canned food or a cube of cheese.  Quietly drop it into his bowl and walk away.  This teaches him that approaching, bending, and reaching toward his food predicts wonderful things.  Never harass a puppy that is eating or chewing a bone with the purpose of teaching him that you really own it.  That is the quickest route to later aggression problems.  This is a preventive exercise.  If your pup already shows defensive behavior around food, contact a positive reinforcement trainer right away for personalized help.  Don’t wait, this is an emergency.

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by Naomi Heck, M.Ed., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

BRINGING HOME A NEW PUPPY

BRINING HOME A NEW PUPPY

Puppy Quick Tip #1

When you bring home a new puppy, the list of things to do and buy can seem image of german shorthaired pointeroverwhelming.  But there is one thing that should take priority over everything else.  Procrastination is not an option; the clock is ticking and the window of opportunity will close before you know it.

By the age of 3 months, your puppy should have happily met 100 people of many ages, colors, sizes and shapes.  Spread this out in small doses rather than overwhelming your puppy at a big party.  Your breeder should have started this process for you well in advance of adoption.  Your pup should also meet a variety of friendly vaccinated dogs of different breeds and sizes.  Avoid public parks where diseases can lurk.  Choose greeters carefully; one scary experience can scar a dog for life.

Don’t stop socializing after puppy class is over; continue happy meetings with unfamiliar people and gentle dogs at least once a week for the next 3 years until your dog reaches social maturity.  This is the best gift you can give your puppy and will last a lifetime.