Monthly Archives: May 2016

Should I Spay or Neuter My Dog? Dog Trainers in Virginia

There has been a debate as to whether or not you should spay or neuter your dog. Many different groups have a variety of different feelings on this heavily debated topic, each for their own reasons. This can be a very personal decision and one of the most important ones that you can make as a dog owner. By seeing all of the arguments for and against this decision, you are able to make an informed decision that you feel comfortable with.

Breeders and people who show their dogs do not believe that people should wait until the dog is 1.5 years of age before getting this medical procedure. This is for appearance purposes. The breeders believe that the dogs need to keep these reproductive organs until they have developed fully. This is important if you want to show your dogs because they need to have developed and be filled out according to the standard. Obviously breeders do not spay or neuter their dogs so that they can breed and earn their living.

Pet rescue groups, shelters, and pet advocate groups are some of the biggest proponents of spaying and neutering your dogs. This is to help prevent unwanted litters as well as a way to promote responsible dog ownership. Shelters have an influx of dogs that they cannot even help and dogs are often put to sleep because they cannot be adopted. This is something is completely preventable. Some trainers are also for spaying and neutering dogs because they believe that this can help with small issues like the dogs’ ability to better socialize, especially at places like dog parks.

There are also groups that seem to be pretty equally divided on the topic. Veterinarians seem to go either way on the topic. Vets are for this because of it promoting responsible dog ownership. They also recommend against it for reasons such as future breeding and because of health risks associated with the procedures. Dog owners are also pretty equally divided on the topics. In addition to these other reasons, they sometimes do not agree with these procedures because they feel guilty about mutilating their dog in a way that takes away their reproductive organs. Some dog owners prefer not to handle their dogs when they are in heat, adding just another reason to do this.

As you can see, this topic is one that has caused a lot of debate. Whether you decide to spay or neuter your pet is a personal decision. This is one that will take a lot of consideration before you can make an informed decision. The decision to spay or neuter is a personal one. Your veterinarian can help provide you with all of the information to help you make the best decision possible. Remember that there seems to be no right or wrong answer officially and you really just need to consider the individual needs of your family. Dog owners just want their dogs to be happy and healthy and this is just one of many important decisions that you need to make.

If you have more questions about your dog or behavior issues, contact Off Leash K9 Training!

-Nick White
Owner/Founder

http://www.offleashk9training.com

www.facebook.com/offleashk9
info@offleashk9training.com

Preventing A Heat Stroke in Dogs | Dog Training Virginia | Off Leash K9

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Summer is fast approaching, and it’s the perfect time to learn about dogs having a heatstroke. Humans often believe that dogs are fully capable of cooling themselves off by panting. This is not true. Dogs aren’t able to control their body temperature as well as humans. If a dog has a heatstroke, they can easily die. All it takes is for their body temperature to rise above 106.

Signs of a Heatstroke
All dog owners need to be able to recognize the signs of heatstroke.
-Diarrhea
-Weakness
-Rapid panting
-Red or pale gums
-Vomiting (with or without blood)
-Thick saliva
-Dizziness
-Shock
-Coma

Dogs can have a heatstroke at any time. Owners often believe it can only happen in dogs that are in hot cars. This isn’t true. A heatstroke can happen at any time such as hiking, jogging, playing ball, or just being outside in hot temperatures.

What to Do During a Heatstroke

If you think that your dog may be having a heatstroke, you need to get them out of the heat and sun immediately. Here is a list of things to do to help your dog.

-Lower their body temperature by wetting him in cold water. Never use ice cold water because it can cause a very serious reaction.

-Apply alcohol to the dog’s paw pads, ears, and groin areas. These areas respond quickly to cooling techniques.

-Allow access to water and Pedialyte, but don’t force them to drink. Dogs can choke on water during a heatstroke.

When to go to the Vet

Never hesitate to take your dog to the vet during a heatstroke. You can take your dog’s temperature with a rectal thermometer. Once it reaches 103 degrees, you must get your dog to the vet immediately.

The vet will use oxygen and fluids to get your dog’s temperature to normal. He might want to observe your dog overnight for any shock or organ failure. While a mild heatstroke will generally not leave any lasting effects, a severe heatstroke can cause organ damage. If this occurs, your dog will be at an increased risk for future heatstrokes.

Preventing a Heatstroke

There are a few things that you can do to help lessen the chance of a heatstroke.

-Never leave your dog in a hot car.
-Provide open access to water at all times.
-On hot days, wet your dog or let your dog swim.
-Provide access to shade. Avoid areas, such as a beach, that don’t have any shade.
-Don’t use a muzzle; this stops panting and the dog is unable to regulate their temperature.
-Don’t exercise with your dog outside on hot days.
-Buy a cooling pad for indoors. Dogs can lie on the pad to cool down.

If your dog ever has a heatstroke, follow the suggested tips and get your dog to a vet immediately. Despite the small risk of lasting effects, it’s best to be safe and let a professional check your dog.

If you have anymore questions on dog training, please contact Off Leash K9 Training.

-Nick White
Owner/Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

http://www.offleashk9training.com

info@offleashk9training.com
www.facebook.com/offleashk9

Why Does My Dog Eat Grass? Dog Expert in Northern Virginia!

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass

If you are a dog owner, chances are that you have noticed your dog munching on grass a number of times. This is generally nothing to be concerned over. Our dogs’ wild ancestors were scavengers; they would get vegetation if they couldn’t find any meat.

Owners often forget that our dogs are omnivores, and they can crave a variety of food choices. Even if their dog food is high quality, dogs can still have a desire to eat greens. It’s also possible for your dog to crave other green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. Here are some other common reasons why dogs may eat grass.

Upset Stomachs
Many dog owners have noted that their dogs will vomit after eating grass. So, they assume the grass made them sick. Vets generally will disagree with this. They believe dogs eat grass when their stomach is upset.

Researchers believe that when dogs have an upset stomach, they eat grass quickly. The grass tickles the dog’s stomach and causes them to quickly vomit. So, it is believed that dogs instinctually gobble down grass in order to make themselves vomit to relieve their stomach.

When your dog eats grass slowly, it is generally just a sign that your dog enjoys the taste of grass. Healthy dogs know to eat grass differently so they won’t vomit it back up.

Lack of Fiber
Although researchers aren’t positive yet, it’s believed that dogs will eat grass if their diet is lacking in enough fiber. If your dog frequently eats grass, it may be a sign that they need a higher quality dog food. If your budget can’t stretch, try adding raw and cooked greens to their diet. Cook the veggies in chicken stock to make them more appealing to your dog.

Unless your lawn has recently been treated with chemical fertilizers or herbicides, there is little reason to be concerned. Eating grass is a totally normal activity for your dog.

If you have any dog questions, contact us at info@offleashk9training.com.

Nick White
Owner/Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

http://www.offleashk9training.com

www.facebook.com/offleashk9

Is A Dog’s Mouth Cleaner Than A Person’s? Dog Trainers in Northern Virginia

Dog Training Northern Virginia

We all have heard the saying that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth. While it’s a common saying, it is simply untrue. There are a few reasons that this myth has floated around for so long.

At one time, studies were showing that human bites became infected at a faster rate than dog bites. Modern researchers have proven that this is not true. All bites, human and animals, have the same infection rates.

Dogs lick their wounds; some people believed that this meant their mouth had some sort of healing property. This is untrue as well. There are no antiseptic or healing properties in their saliva. The reason a dog licks their wound is to remove any dead tissue; this makes the healing process faster.

If you own a dog, you understand that dogs lick everything. They use their tongues as toilet paper as well as a bath. It’s pointless for scientists to compare the bacteria in a dog’s mouth to a human’s mouth. The strains of bacteria each mouth will have is totally different. There would be no way to accurately compare the two.
The Good News

There is bacteria in dogs’ mouths; they can have dental problems. There are tons of products in stores today to reduce dental problems for dogs such as dog toothbrushes. This is a good practice for preventative maintenance.

The chances of getting sick from dog saliva is very slim. Dogs and humans have different bacteria; chances are slim that one will transmitted that can make a human ill. There is a larger chance of getting sick from kissing another human than a dog.

If you want more information about your dog, behavior, or training: contact Off Leash K9 Training!

-Nick White
Owner/Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

http://offleashk9training.com

www.facebook.com/offleashk9

Why Dogs Do A Play Bow: Dog Trainers in Northern Virginia

play-bow Northern Virginia

There are a lot of unique behaviors that dogs have that can be difficult for us humans to understand. They do things that you may find disgusting, which are actually completely normal to them. Dogs have no actual language that people can tell so they do heavily rely on their body language to help them get the point across. This is why they bark and paw at you when they want something and why they do the “play bow”. Dogs rely on these cues to help them to communicate with humans and other dogs; therefore it can be helpful to understand just what these motions mean.

The play bow is an invitation from one to another that “I am ready to play, so play with me?” This also lets the other dog know that even though they make act in a way that can be construed as aggressive, they are really just playing and do not have cruel intentions. This is important for humans to observe as well, so that they know the intentions of their dog. Dos are playful creatures and they love to play with pretty much anyone who is willing to play with them.

No matter what they are feeling, dogs need to move. They love to play. In fact, play is crucial to pets because it is what helps a dog with their cognitive development as well as their emotional resiliency. Dogs that are playful are believed to have a higher capacity for adaptability, though this is not a capacity in the cognitive area. There is a lot more to the play bow that you may not know about and there is a bit of a darker side to this adorable pose.

The play bow is believed to have some negative consequences. A dog that asks to play is not being a dominant dog. By going into this position to invitation pose, the dog is putting them in a position that is disadvantageous to the dog. This means that the dogs are really seeking out negative neurochemicals in the brain that causes bad emotions. This can be confusing because why would dogs that love to play and be happy, do something that would give them negative emotions? The only real plausible reasoning for this is that these negative emotions actually feel pleasurable to the dog, which is why they continue to do this behavior. They may actually be taking in the emotional momentum of its playmate.
Dogs may seem like simple creatures that you can just rub their belly and feed them to make them happy. Dogs actually have complex emotions and thought processes that humans just do not fully understand. Their behaviors are actually quite fascinating and are constantly being studies. Even something as seemingly simple as a play bow is actually something far more complex. It is always good to keep an eye out for these behaviors to make sure your dogs are behaving in an appropriate manner so that you can correct them as soon as possible.

If you feel that your dog has an aggression issue in Northern Virginia, contact Off Leash K9 Training!

-Nick White
Owner/Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

http://offleashk9training.com

www.facebook.com/offleashk9

Why Do Dogs Shake? Dog Behavior Training in Northern Virginia

Dog Training Blog

Dogs have a variety of different odd behaviors that you may wonder exactly why they do it. One of those behaviors includes shaking. Dogs shake for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes these behaviors can be explained, for instance maybe a dog just dog done swimming and it is cold. Sometimes there seems to be no outward reason for this shaking, leading you to wonder if there is something that is emotionally wrong with your dog. This will be looked at today so you can know how to help your dog in the best way possible.

Dogs have a reflex that causes them to shake things off. When they are wet, they try to shake off the water that is all over them. When two dogs play together and one gets a little rough, the other shakes it off. However, there are sometimes when there seems to be no real reason for this specific behavior. Dogs have difficulty processing certain things in a way that a human can understand. They decompress through this shake-it-off-reflex that can be hard for humans to understand. There is definitely an underlying emotional aspect of this shaking that some may not have really considered. If you ever see your dog stop playing suddenly to shake, they are really just decompressing during the interaction the with other dog to make themselves feel better after trying handle with social pressures. This is the same reasons that dogs seem to shake it off after you show some physical affection to your pets. It may seem like they are rejecting your love but they really just do not really know how to deal with it. They can handle things like belly rubs and treats to show affection but the ways that humans show affection with each other just confuses dogs.

This shaking is very similar to social behaviors experience when they are dealing with social rejection. Dogs, very much like humans, are very social creatures. Things like social rejection is something that people are terrified of and it turns out that dogs are afraid of being rejected as well. Rather than trying to give your dogs a dug or kiss, give them some calming physical stimulation to show love. Any other manner can make your dog that you love them and respect their comfort.

Dogs have a lot of the same emotions as humans do. They can feel social rejection and they can feel love. They can become overwhelmed by the situations around them. Dogs can feel all of this but it is easy to not think of that because they do not have the words to say what is wrong. When you see your dog shaking and there is no reason for this, you should do your best to calm and reassure your dog. You may not understand exactly why your furry friend is shaking but there is a very strong biological reason for that. If you have any concerns about your dog’s shaking, you should consult with your vet or an animal behaviorist such as Off Leash K9 Training to help your dog.

-Nick White
Owner/Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

http://www.offleashk9training.com

info@offleashk9training.com
www.facebook.com/offleashk9

Classical Conditioning vs Operant Conditioning: Dog Training

Classical Conditioning

The operant conditioning technique
This technique involves reinforcement, or punishment, for your dog upon completion of a behavior, a lot like you might train your children.
It’s voluntary, your dog is an active participant in this process whether the behavior is positive or negative. Rather than rewarding your dog every single time it displays the correct behavior, evidence actually suggests it is far more effective to do so at random to ensure that he will always behave that way. We don’t generally think about our dogs in terms of science and psychology, but actually that is exactly what dog training is – scientific and psychological studies have been carried out and highly support operant conditioning training (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/thoughtful-animal/what-is-operant-conditioning-and-how-does-it-explain-driving-dogs/). A lot of the dog trainers you see on television use the operant conditioning technique, and so do zoo keepers and animal handlers. While B.F. Skinner gets the credit for it, he merely expanded on it and popularized it- it was first mentioned by Edward L. Thorndike in the early 1900’s.

The classical conditioning technique
This is probably most associated with Ivan Pavlov’s dog experiment. It’s involuntary behavior, an automatic response. This limits the scope of the classical conditioning technique because it is simply an instinctive response, it’s the basics, but don’t let that put you off. There is value in these techniques just as much as there is in the operant technique (http://www.blongs.scientificamerican.com/thoughtful-animal/what-is-classical-conditioning-and-why-does-it-matter/). http://www.scientificamerican/com/extinction-countdown/lions-vs-cattle-taste-aversion/). Because the idea behind classical conditioning is simply creating an association between two stimuli to garner the desired response it can be adopted and adapted in creative ways. For instance, there is a wildlife conservation that was employing the technique in an effort to prevent the lions from preying on all of the cattle (http://www.scientificamerican/com/extinction-countdown/lions-vs-cattle-taste-aversion/). When you open a packet of dog treats and give one to your dog it will know from then on that that sound means a treat, but the sound can also be created by any packet of food. So, there’s a pretty good chance that when you open a bag of chips, or cookies, your dog’s ears will be quick to perk up at the sound. Your dog takes regular trips to the vet, and he gets there by car in his dog carrier or crate so whenever you get that crate out there’s a good chance your dog might respond poorly as that carrier, regardless of what you have it out for, might mean a trip to the vet. Your dog loves to go for walks and you keep its leash in the hall cupboard, so every time you go to the hall cupboard for your jacket, or to put the vacuum away your dog bounces from wherever he was hiding, excited at the prospect of going for walks. These are natural responses from your dog based on the everyday classical conditioning he is exposed to.

-Nick White
Founder/Owner
Off Leash K9 Training
www.offleashk9training.com
info@offleashk9training.com

Operant Conditioning: What Is It? How Does It Work For Dog Training?

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Operant conditioning is, “a type of learning in which the strength of a behavior is modified by its consequences, such as reward or punishment, and the behavior is controlled by antecedents called discriminative stimuli which come to signal those consequences.”

To break down operant conditioning, there is what’s called the operant conditioning quadrant. This quadrant is made up of: Positive Reinforcement, Negative Reinforcement, Positive Punishment, and Negative Punishment.

Now, as you can see, this quadrant is broken into two categories which is: reinforcement and punishment.

Reinforcement is used to INCREASE the behavior in a dog. Punishment is used to DECREASE a behavior in a dog.

Now, look at negative and positive like math! Negative, you are removing something or taking something away. Positive, you are adding something.

Let’s break down each one…

Positive Reinforcement:
This is doing things such as marker training with your dog, he gives you a desired behavior (sit, down, heel, place, etc), you immediately give him a desirable reward such as a treat, a ball, a tug or praise. Again, positive, so you are ADDING a reward.

Negative Reinforcement:
This is training such as prong collar or ecollar training. Negative reinforcement means something already present is removed (taken away) as a result of completing a behavior and the behavior that led to this removal will increase in the future because it created a favorable outcome. A good example would be the seat belt in your car, your car “dings” annoyingly until you put it on. So, you generally put it on quickly in order to avoid the nagging. Again, negative, so you are TAKING AWAY the nagging.

Positive Punishment:
This involves presenting an undesirable outcome or event following an unwanted behavior. An example of positive punishment is if your dog jumps up on you, then you correct him with an ecollar or knee him off of you. You have given the dog an unwanted outcome following an unwanted action. An easy example of this, would be something as simple as a hot stove. If you touch a stove, immediately after, you get burned. So, this decreases the likelihood you will do it again. Again, positive, so you are ADDING something (adding an unwanted outcome).

Negative Punishment:
This is when you REMOVE a highly desirable stimulus for your dog displaying an unwanted behavior. For example, if you are trying to get your dog to sit or down; however, he is not paying attention, so you take away his ball/tug. An easy example of this would be two siblings get into a fight over who gets the new toy, so the parents simply take the toy away from them. Again, “negative,” so you are REMOVING something (the toy).

A lot of balanced trainers use the entire quadrant in some form or another when training dogs.

If you are interested in having a highly confident, well rounded and amazingly obedient dog, contact Off Leash K9 Training!

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888-413-0896

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10 Tips to Help You Stay Sane With Your New Puppy; Training in Virginia

Puppy Dog Trainers in Northern Virginia

Have a new and untrained puppy? It may be a troubling time or a stepping stone to see if you could handle a child, but either way, there are some tips you should take into account and help you stay sane with your new puppy. The first few weeks are the hardest and we’re here to help you virtually. Continue reading if you want to become a puppy pro in the next 5 minutes.

General training

You can’t go weeks with your puppy without training them even a little bit ad it’s important to think of them as a toddler when teaching them. Repetition is extremely important and the first thing to know when training.

Never have an aggressive energy when training; always use an assertive and calming tone when trying to train your puppy.

Like toddlers, puppies need training gates to understand that they shouldn’t go in a certain area. After a period of time, remove the gate and see if they know not to go in there on their own.

Surprisingly, you shouldn’t show or act extremely upset when your new puppy does something wrong. Like a child, they don’t know your words or commands yet and literally have no idea that they’re doing something wrong. Showing aggression toward them can act backwards on their behavior for when they grow into an adult. Assertive and calming natures with a mix of repetition can show them that they’re doing something wrong without altering their personality over time.

Home obedience classes aren’t bad and nothing something that should be shameful. They’re extremely invaluable and should be done to help your puppy get a head start on proper behaviors.

It’s never too early to start training. The earlier the training is done, the more they know not to do and what to do perfectly when they’re still in their toddler phase. This goes along with our previous tip. When you utilize puppy training at a young age, you’ll have a perfectly poise and well-behaved puppy rather quickly.

Listen to your puppies wants and needs – why are they doing a certain action? Pay attention to their motive when performing a certain action whether it’s because of food, having to go to the bathroom, or simply trying to get snuggles!

By knowing these basic guidelines before and during your puppy’s learning phase, you’ll have a breezy time with your puppy and you’ll be able to enjoy time with them sooner!

If you are interested in getting your puppy trained or your puppy questions answered, contact Off Leash K9 Training!

www.offleashk9training.com
info@offleashk9training.com
888-413-0896

Help With New Puppy: Puppy Advice and Tips in Northern Virginia

Puppy Training Virginia

Being a new puppy owner is exciting, but most don’t realize the work that may go into actually taking care of a puppy or even learning to train them. We have the best tips to help you get started when it comes to training your new furbaby and you shouldn’t take these like a grain of salt as you’ll feel more lost than you expect without preparation during the first few weeks. These weeks are essential in molding the current and future behavior of your puppy.

When it comes to unwanted behavior…

It’s bound to happen but there are plenty of tips to keep in your pocket for when your puppy displays negative behavior.

Buy a spray bottle that has a bitter apple flavor and put it on the normal things your puppy goes for with his chompers. This will make his face go foul and his jaw drop what he’s trying to get away with!

Make sure to look for a plethora of textures when trying to get them to stop chewing on anything other than their toys. This will make them know what textures are what and give them all they need to be satisfied with, rather them wanting to see what texture your shoes or blankets are.

When you want your puppy to make friends…

Getting your puppy to socialize properly may be one of the hardest things you can do, but in order for your puppy to be affectionate rather than aggressive, you want your puppy to be well-socialized yet independent so they aren’t clingy to everything.

Introduce your puppy to ask many other puppies and people as much as possible. A well-socialized puppy is an independent yet affectionate puppy.

Do some research on the breed of your dog. Learn what triggers them more than other things and learn which breeds and environments they work best in. Use this to help amplify their social status and behavior.

Let them become familiar with different types of body and dress styles like beards and glasses so they can differentiate people and learn to accept everyone, and know when to become aggressive if necessary. (if they are a watch dog).

When it’s time to potty train…

Potty training is the most important training aspect with a new puppy and during the first month, all small puppies should be carried to the area they are allowed to go in. Not only does this prevent accidents, but it shows them through repetition where they need to go.

With positive reinforcement, use treats to show them that they did well by doing their business in the right area. This is called a mini puppy-party. Also, we highly recommend crate training, read our blog on that here.

Never scold and become aggressive when it comes to them making mistakes with the bathroom. If they aren’t going in the right area, you’re probably not showing them enough. Use the same phrase like “potty time” to show that this phrase (through repetition) means to go to the bathroom.

Within weeks, your puppy can be fully trained and make minimal mistakes, allowing you to enjoy your time together much quicker than expected. Don’t be afraid to utilize obedience courses, but try your hand at first so the puppy can become comfortable with you, your actions, and your tone of voice.

We also recommend doing many confidence building exercises with your pup, things such as: noise desensitization, object desensitization, touching all their body parts, etc.

If you have a puppy, and you want him to be an amazing/productive member of the K9 community, contact Off Leash K9 Training!

info@offleashk9training.com
www.offleashk9training.com
888-413-0896