Category Archives: Dog Behavioral Issues

Does Using Shock Collars Hurt Your Dog?

Will Shock Collar Hurt My Dog?

We always get ask if we do shock collar dog training at our location in Northern Virginia.  We do not like the term “shock collar” and in fact, it’s incorrect.  The collars do not “shock” they provide a very low level contraction of the muscle, just like stim pads that physical therapists use.

Many people have their opinions on different training techniques; however, there have actually been numerous studies on on the usage of training collars and their affects (long term and short term).

Two separate studies on dog behavioral coaching techniques and their positive and negative effects was completed in 2001, both under the name Christiansen e-collar et al study (2001). To differentiate the two studies, one was “2001a” and “2001b”.

In the first study, Christiansen e-collar et al study (2001a) the study looked at three separate breeds of dogs when confronted with domestic sheep. The three breeds of dogs included in this study were Elkhounds, hare hunting dogs and English setters. There were a total of 138 dogs observed and tested in this study. There were two separate tests involved in this test study and in both, electronic collars were used to attempt to deter attacks on the domestic sheep. The first test, defined as a path test, involved observing each individuals’ dogs’ reactions. There were obstacles placed in the way of the path to the sheep, this test was designed to determine how a dogs’ behavior changed when attempting to “hunt” the sheep when confronted with a confusing path. The second part of this test was a “free-roaming” exercise. It was a test to determine that dogs’ reaction to the sheep in order to predict hunting motivation and attack severity. The results of the tests showed that younger dogs showed high amounts of hunting motivation and persisted in more frequent attacks on the sheep than did older dogs. Throughout the duration of this test, shocks were administered not to damage the hunting abilities of the dogs but to determine the learning capacity of the dogs when it came to observing their behavior.

The second study, Christiansen e-collar et al study (2001b) retested many of the same tests that were completed in study one, 2001a. The study also used the same dogs as tested before. In the exact same test to study 2011a, the free running dogs were again fitted with the shock collars to deter them once the test dogs came with one or two meters of the sheep. The results that were recorded showed the learning ability of the dogs over time. Dogs who had been shocked previously in the study of 2001a showed an increased hesitance towards hunting the sheep. This result was recorded numerous times in study 2001b. The study was able to conclude that through learned training with the electronic electronic collars, over the course of two years, researchers were able to significantly alter the observed behavioral patterns of the dogs effectively training them to not hunt the sheep without compromising their natural hunting instincts.

An even more important finding from the two 2001 studies was that there were no real documented effects on that of the dogs. While the corrections did cause cortisol level changes in the dogs, over time as the dogs were conditioned, this halted. The study then was able to accurately claim that electronic collar training is an effective and safe method that can be used to train dogs. However, at the conclusion of the study, the researchers do make note that electronic collar training should be done with care and that only trained and skilled professionals should attempt to have such effects on dog behavior and learning techniques.

If you are interested in making your dog amazing, fixing their behavioral issues, and building their confidence, contact Off Leash K9 Training!

http://www.offleashk9training.com or 888-413-0896 or info@offleashk9training.com

Nick
Owner/Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

My Dog Bit Someone Unexpectedly! Dog Bite in Northern Virginia

As the highest rated dog trainers in Northern Virginia, we deal with a wide variety of people and dogs on a daily basis. We are known for our high-level of obedience training; however, one common issue we also deal with is aggression in dogs (towards people and other dogs).

When dealing with aggression, the owners are almost always in a frenzy, stressed, and find themselves and their dogs hiding away from people and society. One thing that we commonly hear in aggression cases (mainly with people) is, “There was no warning sign, he just jumped up and bit the guy.”

What they are saying is, “There were a lot of warning signs, but none “I” noticed.” Once we really start breaking down the incident (how, what, where), then we can generally easily formulate a “why.”

Say for instance, a scenario that we may hear is, “I had a friend come over, out of nowhere, he jumped up and bit him.”

*Note, I say “him” because my experience shows me that generally dog bites tend to happen more on men than women*

I almost never find a dog bite to be “that” cut and dry. All dogs have what we refer to as a “bite threshold;” meaning, under what circumstances does it take for me to react with a bite. If you think about it, many people have this same “fight or argue threshold.” You do, I do, and every one of your friends and family have this. Think about this for a minute to help you better understand what I mean.

Do you have a friend who gets upset far quicker than you? Do you have a friend or family member that the smallest thing can set them off and they are ready to fight or punch someone? Do you have a friend or family member who can take A LOT of abuse (physical or mental) and they still keep their composure and remain calm?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you now see that EVERYONE has a different amount of “pressure” before they react in a certain situation, some it takes very little and some it takes an enormous amount. Also, you see that people react DIFFERENTLY once this threshold is met. Welcome to your “threshold.”

Now that you understand the point I am trying to make (if you did not initially), dogs have this same threshold for reacting and HOW they react, just like with people.

So, you see the chart I illustrated below? This is to give you an example of how a dog doesn’t normally “just bite” someone. Generally, when we actually break down the event, the dog’s background or temperament, and the sequence of events that led up the bite, we can see what actually occurred.

Again, to jump back to the initial call or email that, “I had a friend come over, out of nowhere, he jumped up a bit my friend.”

After discussing their dog with them, we are able to see what “actually happened.” So, here is an example conversation below:

“Well, Rex can sometimes be shy/sketchy around new people. He also has growled at us on rare occasion if we push him off the couch or try to take his ball. He has also growled at the vet when they clip his toenails or mess with his paws. However, Rex has never bit anyone! I cannot believe he would do this!”

Then, I begin to break down the series of events that took place which led up to the friend being bit.

“Rex was laying on the couch, had his ball between his paws, and was just laying their playing with this ball and Mark (stranger) walked in, sat down on couch beside of Rex, and started petting him. Then, he went to move Rex’s paw so he could throw the ball for him and that’s when Rex just bit him out of nowhere.”

Do you all see what just happened? It was a bunch of minor events that normally gets a reaction out of Rex; however, all of these events came together in one scenario in order to create “the perfect storm.”

He didn’t like when the stranger came in (gave him anxiety), then he sat down next to him on the couch (which owner acknowledged he can be territorial), then he moved his feet WHILE Rex had a ball (again, both things the owner knew Rex doesn’t like).

Again, this is a very generic scenario; however, this is generally what dog bites break down to. For the severity of the reaction and the bite, I would recommend reading my blog on “How Fixable Is Your Dog’s People Aggression?”

So, it is YOUR responsibility as a responsible pet owner to find out what (if any) your dogs triggers are, get them addressed, and ensure that they never come together to create “the perfect storm.”

If you need help, contact us at:

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

Northern Virginia Dog Bite

My Dog Is Aggressive Towards People: Trainers Dealing with Aggression in Northern Virginia

Dog Trainers for People Aggression

At our Northern Virginia dog behavior training facility, we deal with dogs who are aggressive towards people on a regular basis.

One thing that everyone asks is, “Can you fix my people aggressive dog?” That’s a very tricky question to answer until we really start working with your dog.

First, you must understand WHY your dog has aggression towards people: abused at a young age, lack of socialization at a young age, or bad breeding (genetic predisposition)?

I would say about 90% of the cases is lack of proper socialization at a young age; unfortunately, this is sad because this is the EASIEST and most preventable thing to do with your dog (that is 100% free and cost-free). We will discuss proper socialization and desensitizing your dog to “trigger points” in a different blog.

We (as in Off Leash K9 Training) do have a classification system that tells us the likelihood of being able to completely fix (or address) your dog’s people’s aggression.

We base this system NOT on the number of incidents your dog has had, but the “severity” of the incidents. This is the grading scale assuming that your dog has no medical issue.

Level 1 Aggression:
-Growls and barks at people, but has never actually put teeth on a person.

Level 2 Aggression:
-Growls, barks (not necessary), and has put teeth on someone but has never actually punctured a person’s skin

Level 3 Aggression:
-Growls, barks (not necessary), and has left 1-3 shallow puncture marks on someone. *Shallow punctures meaning not deeper than half the length of the dog’s K9 teeth*

Level 4 Aggression:
-Growls, barks (not necessary) and has left 1-4 deep puncture wounds in a single bite. *Deep punctures meaning deeper than half the length of the dog’s K9 teeth*

Level 5 Aggression:
-Growls, barks (not necessary) and has left multiple Level 4-type wounds on a person.

Level 6 Aggression:
-Has severely wounded a person (long hospital stay due to the dog bite) and/or even killing a person.

Dealing with Level 1 and 2 Aggression: This is the easiest type of aggression. At our K9 Training facility in Northern Virginia, we work with this on a daily basis. We are almost always able to completely fix this, give your dog amazing obedience, higher confidence, and stop their reactivity to people. What this tells us is that your dog may be reactive towards people; he/she has learned GREAT bite inhibition (which we will talk about in another blog).

Dealing with Level 3 Aggression: This is still very workable from a training and “fixability” perspective. We have a lot of steps that we will go over with you in order to get this issue fixed and bring the level down until it’s a level zero. This means that your dog has SOME bite inhibition.

Dealing with Level 4 Aggression: This is where it starts to get a little tricky. This is where we will ask about the specific situation and story behind the bites. Generally, with a level 4 aggression biter, it is workable with the family and people living with the dog (assuming the dog did this with someone in the family). Generally, would not recommend this dog interacting with anyone outside of the people working directly with the dog on a daily basis. This is a dog who has A LITTLE bite inhibition.

Dealing with Level 5 Aggression: Okay, at this point, you have a dog that we would classify as a dangerous dog. Your dog has NO bite inhibition whatsoever, and we would say that they are not be trusted around people.

Dealing with Level 6 Aggression: Your dog is a VERY dangerous dog and training would not help whatsoever. Your dog could never be trusted around anyone and would recommend this dog being put down for public safety.

So, if you have a dog in the level 1-3 zone, this is definitely workable, trainable, and more than likely completely fixable.

We would say that level 4 can generally be managed and controlled and a good possibility of fixing this behavior.

If you have a level 5 biter, we would never trust this dog around people; however, we can give you control over the dog. Depending on your specific situations with a level 5, depends on what course of action should be taken with this dog.

If you have a level 6 biter, training would not even be a viable option for your situation.

Hopefully this blog on dealing with your people aggressive dog will help you in having realistic expectations from training. Also, it will help you realize exactly how severe your issue really is from a professional training standpoint.

If you are at a level 1, 2, 3, or 4, I would HIGHLY recommend getting training as soon as possible, as it is very possible (with time) for your dog to move up the aggression scale.

I would also recommend reading our other blog on dealing with people aggression.

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-Nick White
Owner/Founder
Off Leash K9 Training

The Purpose of Exercise with Your Dog! Dog Training in Northern Virginia

Dog Exercise Northern Virginia

The Purpose of Exercise with Your Dog

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we talk about the importance of exercise with your dog on a daily basis. Some people get a dog, thinking that walking the dog will provide good exercise. If you are a couch potato, taking your pet for a short walk twice daily will be good for both of you. However, it is important to note that a 20 minute leisurely stroll doesn’t count as exercise. Just as humans need to increase the heart rate to count as exercise, your canine friend will do better if the exercise is at the cardio level.

Just as you would for a person not used to exercise, you need to start slow with your pet. If you are not accustomed to walking with him twice daily, start with that. You can move up the level to chasing a ball or a Frisbee which gives the dog more activity and may even challenge you to extend your range of movement.

Your veterinarian may be able to give you some ideas about exercising the canine companion. Some people participate in steeplechase-type activities where the dog is required to complete an obstacle course of challenges. Regardless of the activities you choose, participate in them with your pet. Look for activities that will challenge him in various ways. Include all the major muscle groups and activities, such as jumping, running, and even swimming if that is an option.

Challenge the mind as well as the body. Intersperse basically physical activities with games such as hide the food. There are a number of toys on the market that challenge the dog to figure out how to get his kibbles by moving puzzle pieces, or other brain stimulating activities.

Exercise for your dog helps to manage weight. Every excess pound on a small dog can shorten his or her life. Exercise improves digestion so that he feels better and gets more benefit from the food that he eats. A dog that isn’t getting enough activity may become lazy and sluggish, further deteriorating its health. Challenging activity often prevent behavior problems such as excessive barking, chewing and jumping on people. The goal in exercise should be to have a canine pet that is happily tired at the end of each day.

You can read more about this on my blog “The importance of physical and mental stimulation.”

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The Difference Between Correcting and Redirecting a Dog’s Behavior

Dog on Counter Northern Virginia

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia we always go over the concept with owners on the difference between correcting an issue and redirecting an issue.

So, I will attempt to give a few scenarios for you to help determine which action is more appropriate for your dog/issue.

Excessive Barking:
-I would “correct” it with the word “off.”

Counter Surfing:
-I would correct this behavior with an “off.”

Jumping on People:
-You can correct if actively jumping (using “off”)
-You can also redirect by having the dog sit before the person approaches, and having them be greeted while in the sit

Sees Another Dog and Pulls on Leash:
-We would redirect the behavior by continuing on with the heel and correcting back into a heel.

Gets excited when someone comes to the door and rushes the door:
-For this, we would redirect the behavior by using something like the “place” command.

Reacts negatively when people/dogs walk by:
-I would redirect this into a sit, place, or heel.

Essentially, if you really break it down, I would correct when it’s just you and your dog and your dog is doing something unwanted.

I would redirect the behavior anytime your dog is doing something based off of distractions (people, dogs, cars, etc).

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Introducing 2 Dogs On A Leash: Dog Leash Training, Northern Virginia

dogs on a leash northern virginia

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, one of the situations we have to address on a daily basis is dogs properly greeting another dog.

In order to do a proper introduction, there are some key elements that should be adhered to:

First: Before you let the dogs approach, do NOT assume the other dog is friendly with dogs (or people).  This sounds like common sense, right? You would be surprised.  We train over 65 dogs per week at our facility, many of the dogs are coming to us because of dog aggression, people aggression, etc  We always warn the people leaving, “Do not go up to this dog coming in or let your dog go up to him.”  People see a Golden Retriever, Lab, etc and just automatically “assume” that it’s friendly.  Always ask!

Second: If the owner does give the approval, both of you should do a controlled approach to the each other’s dog. Do NOT just the dogs drag you to each other, remember, you need to show your dog that “you” are in control of the situation.  Put them in a heel and stop them (and make them sit) just a couple feet from each other.  If you are not able to do this drill, then first you must address your dog’s obedience training.

Third: “Break” (release) your dogs and let them start to sniff each other, you should try to keep minimal to zero tension on the leash.  If they feel tension on the leash, this could actually add tension and stress to the dog and make the situation worse.

Fourth: Watch BOTH dogs’ body language!  You should be looking for any aggressive signs from either dog.  You can read about this in detail in my blog on “Dog’s Body Language.”

Fifth: Try to keep the dogs moving a little and slowly around each other. Again, stiffness in dogs can be because of tension or stress.  So, try to keep them moving a little bit, also, this ensures that there is no tension on the leash.

Sixth: I always recommend “one-on-one” approaches with other dogs.  I would never let 3, 4, or 5 dogs meet all at once.  It would almost be impossible for you to control this situation.  You would almost have a “dog park” scenario with multiple dogs, and you can read the blog to see why I think dog parks are a horrible idea.

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I Need To Correct My Dog’s Behavior:Northern Virginia Dog Trainers

Aggressive Dog Training Northern Virginia

On a daily basis, we hear, “I need to correct my dog’s bad behavior.” If you look at our YouTube Channel you will see literally hundreds of dogs performing flawless obedience.

People contact us daily and say things like, “Your obedience training looks really amazing; however, I just really need to correct my dog’s (insert any behavior issue here). So, can we just work on this or fix this, I don’t care that much about the obedience stuff.”

I always tell people, “I have never in my life seen a dog that was amazing in obedience that had a lot of behavioral issues.” So, they completely go hand-in-hand. Doing a structured obedience training program with your dog will naturally fix many issues; additionally, your trainer can show you how to fix those specific issues while doing the obedience.

Additionally, when using a balanced approach of training (e-collar, prong collar, chock, etc), I am a HUGE advocate against using any of these devices just to “correct” a behavior. This is NOT the proper way to use any of these training tools. By doing this, your dog learns to associate the training device as strictly a punishment, and they will grow to hate/fear it. The dog should learn that these are training tools which gives them freedom, confidence, and a balanced approach of training. They should not learn that they are strictly used for a punishment/correction; unfortunately, this is how many people improperly use these training devices.

So, do not approach training in order to try to correct a specific behavior, you should approach training in order to have a well rounded, confident, happy, and obedient dog. I talk about this more in-depth in my blog post on “Do no make training a last resort.”

At our dog training in Northern Virginia, people find out on a daily basis that our obedience program naturally fixes their dog’s issues; however, we can also address specific issues while doing our dog training program.

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How To Stop My Dog From Chewing Things: Dog Training Northern Virginia

Dog chewing northern virginia

A common question we get at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia is, “How Can I Stop My Dog From Chewing Everything?”

The first thing I have to get you to realize is that your puppy is not doing this out of malice intent.  I hear all of the time, “I cannot believe he chewed through the cord of my flat screen TV.”  Keep in mind, your dog does not know that it’s a 65″ flat screen TV cord that he chewed through, he thought, “Here is a rope to chew on…”  So, for your sanity and your puppy’s well-being, keep that simple fact in mind. 🙂

The good news is, there are a lot of things you can do to mitigate this behavior:

1. “Puppy Proof” your house! It’s always funny to me that when people have a baby, they go through all of these lengths in order to baby-proof the house.  This is done so the baby doesn’t hurt himself or get into something they shouldn’t.  However, nobody does this for their new puppies!  So, “puppy proof” your house!  If your pup is in a room, put up all the shoes, cords, etc.

2.  In my book, “Raising the Perfect Dog: Secrets of Law Enforcement K9 Trainers,” I recommend that the average dog should be in the crate when not directly being supervised until about 1.5 years old.  It drives me crazy when I hear (weekly), “When I got home, my dog had destroyed my couch!”  I always say, “How old is your dog?”  They usually respond with something like, “6-months old…”  What do you expect?!  Would you leave your 2-year old home alone and expect them not to get into anything? No.  I say “average” dog because some dogs can be faster than this, and some slower (just like kids).

3.  You have to teach your pup what is his and what isn’t his.  This is done be exchanging/redirecting.  Anytime your dog has something that he shouldn’t (shoe, cord, sock, etc), tell them “No” and remove it and then exchange it with something that they CAN have.  This is how the dogs learn what is theirs and what is not.  Often times, owners say, “NO” and just remove the object and that’s it.  So, the dog never really learns what they CAN play with.

4.  Obedience Training: This is probably one of the most important and effective things you can do in order to get your dog on the right path.  As I say, “I have never seen a with zero obedience training that was an angel in the house.”  This gives them confidence, correction, discipline, structure, and pack leadership.

5.  Mental and Physical Stimulation: Remember, “A bored dog is a destructive dog.”  If you do not give your dog a job to do, they will become self-employed.  A self-employed dog will always cost you money.”  Work with your dog on obedience, detection, protection, exercise them, etc.  All of these things will greatly reduce your dog getting into trouble around the house.

If you follow these easy principles and steps, you should notice a great reduction in your dog’s chewing/destroying behavior.

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Solution to Dog Barking in Crate – Dog Training Northern Virginia

dog barking northern virginia

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we always get asked about problem solving for their excessive barking dog.

Seemingly, often times the dogs are displaying this behavior while locked in their crate/cage.  Generally, this is a common sign of Separation Anxiety; additionally, many of these dogs try to Escape Their Cage, as well.

One of the most important things to do is never let your dog out of the crate “while” they are barking or whining.  If you let your dog out of the crate while they are actively barking or whining, you have just taught them, “When I bark and whine, this door opens.”  This is one of the biggest mistakes that owners make on a daily basis.  We realize that an excessively barking dog can be very annoying; however, you must wait them out.  Just wait until they are quiet, “then” let them out. You want to reward the positive behavior, not the negative behavior.   Again, if you let them out while they are barking, you have just taught your dog that barking is what releases them from their crate.

Solutions:

One of the biggest solutions for this behavior is obedience training.  At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, this is a very common behavioral issue that we deal with almost daily.  Utilizing whichever dog training method you have been using, correct this behavior.  By giving the dog a correction when the negative behavior is displayed and rewarding the positive behavior, your dog quickly learns to outweigh the pro’s and con’s of the situation, just like a person does.  For example, we use the “off” command at our dog training facility, “off” is used to correct any unwanted behavior (barking, jumping, digging, etc).

A very simple solution for an excessive barker is getting a No Bark Collar.  These are amazing devices that work wonders for  dogs (and their owners).  The one I recommend is the Sport Dog SBC 10R or the Einstein Bark Collar.  A bark collar is a collar that your dog wears that automatically corrects them when it picks up the dog barking (vibration and audible detection built-in).  When the dog barks it gives a subtle correction, if they bark again, a higher level correction, and then it repeats.  These collars work amazingly well for some of the worst barkers.

Bark collars are a win-win for everyone! It’s a win for the dog because they cannot bark, and by them not being able to bark they cannot get themselves worked up and frustrated.  It’s a win for you because you (or neighbors) do not have to deal with an excessively barking dog for prolonged periods of time.

So, if you have a dog who is constantly barking and driving you and your neighbors crazy, look into getting obedience training and a no bark collar for your dog.  You will not regret it.

 

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My Dog Listens To My Husband But Does Not Listen To Me

Dog Heeling Northern Virginia

 

 

Every single day at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia we hear people say, “My dog listens to my husband (or wife), but he doesn’t listen to me.”

So, what we immediately begin doing is asking them questions to see “why” the dynamic of your relationship is the way it is.  Generally, this dynamic among owners and the dog has a lot to do with pack leadership.  Ask yourself who is the strongest member of your pack at your house; meaning, which one of you are the strictest on the dog, makes him have the best manners (make him wait before he eats, make him wait at the door, doesn’t let him drag them around on the leash, etc).  These small yet simple things generally have a lot do  with how your dog sees you in the pack structure.  “Generally” we hear females saying “He listens to my husband better than he does me” much more than we hear males say this.  Generally men are harder on the dogs and more strict, and women are generally more cuddly, loving, gentle.

Another major factor that can make a big difference is who spends the most amount of time working with the dog? During our obedience training lessons in Northern Virginia, we tell people on a daily basis, “You and your spouse should both be practicing this training at the house.”  What we see all of the time is if there is just ONE person that trains the dog, over the course a few weeks the dog will listen to that person flawlessly, and not so much the other person.

This is because the dog sees that just one person if correcting them, enforcing the commands, doing all the pack leadership things that are built into the training, etc.  So, the dog simply learns, “I have to listen to and respect this person; however, not so much this other person.”

The analogy I use on a daily basis is that it’s just like children.  Think about it, if the dad is disciplinarian of the household, and the mom is the pushover, which person does the child listen to the best? Welcome to the world of how your dog thinks and acts, as well.

So, if you find that your significant other has more control and respect out of your dog, start working with them on obedience training and pack leadership, and you should soon see a shift in the dynamic of your relationship.

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