Category Archives: Dog Training General

Why Is Play Combined with Obedience Important? Should You Play Tug With Your Dog?

 

Throughout history, up until now; people have often suggested that powerful relationships are established through play. By analogy, studies have shown that a competitive games can affect dog-human relationships, in a positive way.

There was a Rooney and Bradshaw study done on this idea/fact in 2002, let’s look at the study in deeper details:

The study had fourteen Golden Retrievers, each were experimented to two games: 20 sessions of a ‘tug of war’ game which the Retrievers were allowed to win, and 20 experiments which the Retrievers lost; the relationship with the experimenter was then assessed. There is a factor which is most closely corresponding to the conventional dominance, which is Confidence; however, confidence was not affected by the treatments. The Retrievers/Dogs scored higher for obedient attentiveness after play treatment regardless of whether they won or lost the experiment/game, and also, the demanding scores increased with familiarity of the experiment person. The top ten most playful Retrievers/Dogs scored much higher for playful attention seeking after winning the experiment rather than after losing the experiment. In conclusion, the dominance dimensions of the Dog-Human relationship seem to be unaffected in regards to the outcome of the repetitive ‘tug of war’ game experiment; however, effects of games can also be modified by the different presences of the play signals, and, games/experiments may also be assumed to be a greater significance for small population of ” potentially dominant” dogs.

If you have more questions about training with your dog, find an Off Leash K9 Trainer in your area:

http://offleashk9training.com/

info@offleashk9training.com

Quicker and Stronger Behaviors Reinforced Using Variable Reward System | Off Leash K9 Training

Dog Training Variable Reward

 

In the 1950’s, a man named B.F Skinner described a powerful cognitive quirk, called A Variable Schedule Rewards. Skinner’s experiment/study observed that lab mice reacted most voraciously to random, variable rewards; when the mice would press the lever, sometimes they’d get a small treat, other times they’d get a large treat and then at other times they’d get no treat at all. The mice that received variable rewards seemed to have pressed the lever compulsively, where as, the mice that received the same treat every time seemed to have pressed the lever more freely and controlled. The same principle applies for humans…

Here is a interesting example/reality; have you every spoken to a person while he or she is playing a video game, trying to engage with them and ask them questions, but all you get in reply is a mumbled “yea, ,mhm, ok, whatever”, then you have seen this mental state. The person playing the game is so attached to the game that they will almost agree to, or do anything in order to get rid of any distractions that is coming their way and do whatever it takes for them to keep playing the game. That is why it seems as if, and is believed that variable rewards seem to keep the brain occupied and providing new habits coming its way. Our brains are never satisfied, therefore always in search for the next reward, which is why we state this transcendental state as “fun”. Recently, a neuroscience study has shown that our dopamine system works at such level that it always requires and is in search for new desires rather than provide us with rewards for our hard efforts.

Even though this stressful, hardwiring mental state pains us at times, it has kept us alive for decades as species.

Why does this work?

Well there isn’t a correct, proofed answer; but it has to do with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is very closely connected with ones’ desires and habits. Receiving rewards increases ones dopamine levels in the brain, which then motivates and encourages them to do what they did in order to get that reward (rats with no dopamine receptors tend to struggle to build habits). Studies and experiments have shown that unpredictable rewards/treats tend to cause a greater increase level of dopamine.

Let’s briefly look at how variable rewards have been applied in such areas like casinos and other gambling games.

Researchers have shown a study that dopamine levels in ones brain varies most in situations where they are unsure about wether they are going to be rewarded or not, such as when gambling or playing the lotto. Dopamine has been known for a long time as a important role in ones system in how we experience rewards from variety of different natural sources such as food and sex. “Using a combination of techniques, we were actually able to measure release of the dopamine neurotransmitter under natural conditions using monetary reward,” said David Zald, assistant professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University. This research is a way of understanding what happens to ones brain during an unpredictable reward situations, such as gambling.

The team studied the people under three different situations. Under the first situation, the individual chose one of four cards and knew a monetary reward of $1.00 was possible but did not know when it would happen. During the second situation, individuals knew they would get a predictable reward with every fourth card they selected. Under the third situation,
individuals chose cards but did not receive nor expect any rewards at all.  Zaid and his team found that over the course of the study, dopamine  increased more in one part of the brain in the unpredictable first situation. In contrast, the receipt of a reward under the predictable situation did not result big increases in dopamine.

In summary, when faced with unpredictable positive responses, our internal instinct is to automatically try and to make it predictable so we can control the outcome. However, once it is predictable,  it often times loses its’ appeal. This is the same reason that people love to play video games and spend hours per day doing so; however, once they beat the game or master the system, they rarely play that game anymore (and move on to a new one).

“The most interesting thing we found is that there were areas that showed increased dopamine release during the unpredictable condition,” Zald said.

To make this very simple to understand, I like to look at it like deer hunting.  If every single time you went out to hunt, you actually got a deer (fixed ratio, 1:1), you wouldn’t be very motivated because you know it will always be there.  If you knew that you had to wait for 4 hours and then a deer would appear (fixed interval: 4 hours) then you would not be motivated for the first 3.9 hours, because you know it will not appear anyway.   If you know it will appear only on day 3 (fixed ratio) but could appear at any time on day 3 (variable interval), then you would only be motivated to really pay attention throughout day 3!

Then, we have the reality of hunting, which is the primary reason it’s so addictive and men/women every season spent countless hours and days in their tree stands.  It’s because it works off of a variable ratio and variable interval “reward” schedule.  What this means is that the deer could show up on ANY day and ANY time; however, as all hunters “know,” you feel confident that if you “put your time in,” the reward will come.  This is why we stay highly motivated to “hunt” every year, and now you understand why something such as a detection dog stays highly motivated to “hunt” for the odor, as well.

With keeping the hunting scenario in mind, please refer back to the quote earlier, “In summary, when faced with unpredictable positive responses, our internal instinct is to automatically try and to make it predictable so we can control the outcome.”

Can you think of how hunters also do this in hunting?  What do hunters do in order to make the variable ratio/variable interval much more easy and predictable (fixed ratio/fixed interval)?  They use trail cams, they use doe urine, and they use bait.  This is to try to maximize efficiency and minimize effort, which is the same thing dogs do, as well.  However, as noted above (casino, hunting, playing video games, etc), once it becomes 100% predictable,  motivation and interest usually declines.

If you have any questions about making your dog great, find an Off Leash K9 Trainer in your area:

-Nick

http://offleashk9training.com/

info@offleashk9training.com

 

Why Positive Reinforcement Only Does Not Work | Off Leash K9 Training

The Problem With ‘Fad’ Training

Nobody likes to hear that they are, in any way, failing those we care about. Whether it is children, pets or ourselves, the thought that we are teaching self-destructive habits to anybody is truly heart breaking. It’s no wonder, then, that as soon as some new article comes out about healthy living, you can guarantee a swarm of interest as everyone jumps on the band wagon.

The same can easily be said of our canine friends, whose method of training has become big business over the past few years. Naturally, this has led to a number of fad regimes which in many ways can paint an unrealistic – and often dangerous – picture of how to train an animal.

Purely Positive Reinforcement

Marketed as the only humane way to train an animal, the exclusively positive reinforcement approach to dog training has its roots in marine animal parks. Here, in front of thousands of applauding fans, animal trainers are shown to reward the animals – normally dolphins and killer whales – with short whistle bursts and treats for every good deed.

In many ways, this follows the same psychology of clicker training. Eventually the animal will associate desired behavior with rewards and begin to act on cue for their handlers. The sad fact of the matter is that while this would seem to be a great way to train an animal, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes.

1. Isolation

These animals are isolated in sterile, distraction free enclosures all day, every day. The only time they are mentally challenged and encouraged to socialize is during the short periods where they are engaged by their trainers. It’s hard to imagine what this would be like for an intelligent animal, but this form of captivity will obviously promote a very response behavior.

2. Starvation

In the wild, killer whales and dolphins are defined by their hunting prowess. Often hunting in packs, their natural survival instincts encourage co-dependence on one another in order to survive. This instinct is exploited by the training programs, which encourage starvation for the periods of time that the animals are not in training. This encourages co-operation with the trainer and natural competition to try and out-do any other animals in the area, with the added benefit of making it seem to the audience that trainer and animal share a mutual and inseparable bond.

To see how the negative effects of how this form of training can impede an otherwise intelligent animal, I highly recommend looking up the tragic story of Tilikum, the killer whale that was involved in the death of three people, including two trainers. This was the subject of the CNN documentary film Black Fish (2013).

The worst thing about it is it doesn’t even seem to be completely effective. Anyone who has ever been to SeaWorld and the like will know that quite often, many animals will simply refuse to participate. This is often played for laughs, but goes some way to highlighting the negative results this form of training ends in. This says nothing about the extreme levels of stress many of these animals will feel on a daily basis, between isolation, starvation and performance anxiety.

While the idea is encouraging, there sadly is no such thing as a purely positive method of training, even for dogs. To achieve just the appearance of positive reinforcement, marine trainers use punishment regularly to condition the animal into the correct level of conditioning. There have even been scientific studies that prove denying a dog an anticipated treat will often cause more psychological stress than a moment’s correction, which goes a long way to describing the brutal levels of punishment that must be felt by the killer whales of SeaWorld.

Force Free

An odd choice of language, as the idea behind not using force to train a dog goes against even using a collar and leash. Holding a dog back from sprinting off the moment you leave the house requires more than a degree of force, as does withholding treats for misbehavior – which forces a response from the dog.

I have found these sort of paradoxes again and again when looking into the supposed ‘force free’ method of training, it would seem there is little more to this than an emotive title to appeal to the dog loving community. It seems shameless, and I would challenge you to look these methods up and see if you think there is more to this than a business proposition and a beneficial way of training your pets.

In all honesty, there are going to be weaknesses and limitations in every form of training in one scenario or another. A trainer that retains an open mind, rather than doggedly (pun intended) pursuing a fixed ideology is one that will greatly benefit the lives of you and your dogs. They will be able to remain flexible, approaching different challenges from multiple angles and reach the core of the problem, without losing integrity in the face of defeat.

Don’t get me wrong, positive reinforcement is of course a wonderful thing when training dogs. It can encourage and modify behavior without the need to unnecessarily harm and punish them, however there are some occasions when this is simply not enough. A balanced approach will encourage trainers and dogs to work together to find a solution to consistent misbehavior, without the need to overindulge or psychologically punish the dog.

Anyone who truly cares for the welfare of our dogs will understand that being fixed doggedly to a single method is only going to encourage laziness and misunderstanding in the wider community. Of course we all want the best for our dogs, but appealing to the empathy of dog owners just feels like a grab for profit, without regard to the feelings and behavior of our pets.

If anything, the only thing a trainer truly needs to grasp is open-mindedness in a sea of confusion. They must hold the emotional needs of the dog highest and, what’s more, keep their integrity while so many others fall short.

If you have more questions about your dog, contact us!
http://offleashk9training.com or info@offleashk9training.com

 

What Is The Most Aggressive Breed? Dog Aggression Training | Off Leash K9 Training

 We do dog aggression training regularly in Northern Virginia (our Headquarters), we often times get asked, “What is the most aggressive breed?”

The answer may surprise you!

There are so many dogs that get put to sleep on a regular basis as a result of their aggressive behavior. This is because there are a lot of people that think that these dogs are inherently aggressive. The problem is that studies show that breed has very little to do with aggressive behavior, rather it is generally as a result of  owner-dependent factors. This fact came from a study on some of the breeds most associated with aggression, including the Pit Bull and Rottweiler.

Studies completed by the University of Córdoba took a look at the inherent traits of the dog and the owner-dependent factors and noticed that these owner-dependent factors were generally the culprits to aggression. According to researcher Joaquín Pérez-Guisado, these factors include not bringing the dog to obedience training; being a first-time dog owner; failure to use correction when necessary; over-spoiling or pampering the dog; purchasing the dog as a present for someone else, impulsively, or as a guard dog; or not spending enough time socializing the dog. To put this into further perspective, the study concluded that over 40% of the dominance aggression that dogs display is actually related to a lack of authority of the owner, who likely never took the dog took the time to do obedience training and structure with their dogs.

The breed of a dog has very little to do with the aggression that they display. Researchers studied a nearly even mix of male and female dogs, totaling around 711. Some of these were pure-bred while others were mix-breeds. This large group of subjects showed that there are some dog-related factors that may cause aggression, including being male, specific breeds, or being around 5 or 7 years of age. While these can be factors, it was also shown that human-related factors were much more likely to cause problems.

However, there are things that you can do in order to minimize and even eliminate this aggression. The owner must handle the undesirable behavior appropriately and work hard to re-establish your pack leadership and control. This is why on many dogs, it is imperative to find a trainer who uses the quadrant of operant conditioning, so you can correct the unwanted/negative behaviors before they become out-of-control.

If you have more questions about your dog displaying aggressive or dominant behavior, you contact an Off Leash K9 Training Center about your dog’s behavior.

-Nick White

http://offleashk9training.com/

info@offleashk9training.com

888-413-0896

Why Is My Dog Starting To Become Aggressive? Dog Aggression Training in Northern Virginia

We deal with dog aggression regularly in Northern Virginia.  Your dog may have been such a sweet little puppy. They were behaved and well-mannered. That was until they were not. One very common question for animal behaviorists is why their dog suddenly starts showing aggression. This problem is especially common between the ages of 1 and 2. These dogs are also dogs that never go through the proper training, which makes them more susceptible to this aggressive and undesirable behavior. There are many reasons why your dog will “suddenly” start to show signs of aggression and that is the topic that will be discussed today.

First of all, the importance of training cannot be understated. If you want your dog to behave in an appropriate manner, training is the best way to do that. You should go through a training course with a trained professional who has the tools to ensure that your dog is properly trained.  You can find a certified Off Leash K9 Trainer near you here ( http://offleashk9training.com).  Through obedience training, your dog will learn that you are the alpha dog and the leader of the pack.   They also learn structure, discipline, rules, and good decision making.

Another reason that a dog may suddenly show aggression is because it was allowed to happen at a gradual pace. For instance, maybe your puppy growled at something and or showed another sign of aggression and you encouraged it because you felt your furry friend was just protecting you. However, rather than encouraging this behavior it should be stopped because it shows your dog that aggression is a good thing. You need to correct this bad behavior right away before it assumes its behavior is desirable.

A final (and most common) reason for this aggression could be due to a lack of socialization. Dogs need to socialize with other dogs just as children need to be out with other children. Dogs can learn desirable traits from other dogs, making them very useful training tools. These dogs need to be dogs outside of the household because socialization with others in the pack does not really count. Making playdates with dogs that belong to your friend or taking it to a dog park to play with all of those other dogs can really make a huge different in your dog’s behavior.  Being well socialized with a wide variety of dogs and people are both highly important.

It is never too late to correct your dog’s behavior. It is far more difficult to correct a dog’s aggression as it gets older but it can be done. If you find your dog is starting to show aggression, you should not wait to correct it. You need to contact an Off Leash K9 Training location that has the tools to really help these problems. A regular dog trainer may not be capable of helping you with this aggression issue. The behavior specialist will usually start with some rehabilitation before moving onto some obedience training along with behavior modifications. You need to get help before something bad happens, like a dog shows aggression like biting to another dog or a human. You can help your dog get better with the right help on your side.

http://offleashk9training.com

info@offleashk9training.com

 

Why Do Dogs Hump? Dog Training in Northern Virginia | Off Leash K9 Training

Dog Humping, Dog Training Northern Virginia

 

This is one of the many dog training issues we deal with in Northern Virginia.

You may notice your dog humping something or everything and wonder why your dog does it. Part of you wants to laugh and post the video but other times this can be an incredibly embarrassing situation. Whatever the reason is, knowing the reason that they do this can be very helpful to you to as a way to get the solutions for this problem. This will take a close look at the reasons behind this embarrassing problem so you can fully understand why dogs hump.

While you may think that humping is a solely sexual act, there are actually quite a few reasons for why this happens. One reason for this is because it is a sexual act. You may think that only unneutered males do this but the fact is that all dogs are capable of this act. Male or female, fixed or not, your dog may hump another dog. This is the most obvious reason for this type of behavior.

Another major reason for this is because they are playing. Play behavior can very closely resemble sexual behaviors. When they are playing, you will not notice things like erections or ejaculation as you would when they are humping for sexual reasons. What you do need to worry about is when a dog that is poorly socialized starts displaying this behavior. This means that the dog does not know how to play properly, so it gets aroused during playtime. If you notice this is happening to your dog, you should plan more playdates to learn how to better socialize.

There is also a social component to humping. A dog may mount or hump another dog as a way to show their power and control over the other dog. Dogs, as you likely know by now, are a species that absolutely relies on a hierarchy. The dogs rely on a hierarchy so other dogs know who the boss is. If a dog is humping another one, she could be sending the message that she is the top dog.

There could also be something emotionally wrong with your dog. A dog may hump because they are feeling over-emotional at the time. If they are feeling overly stressed or emotional, they may hump you, a toy, or some other object that is around the house. If the dog is allowed to continue to do this as a way to relieve this stress, this can turn into a compulsive act. A compulsion can interfere with the quality of life that your dog has so you really need to stop this behavior.

A final reason for this could be for medical reasons. Some of the medical problems can include skin allergies, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, and priapism.

There are a few things you can do to help. Fixing your dog may not eliminate the problem but it will certainly reduce the risk of this happening. You can also distract the dog if you notice that they are about to start humping. Another thing you can try is to put your dog in a time out away from anything else for a few minutes. Finally, you can try use your dog’s training by yelling a command.

If you are having issues with your dog humping, we can give you full control over this!

Contact us at:

http://offleashk9training.com

888-413-0896

info@offleashk9training.com

 

Pit Bull Makes Debut As New York Police Dog | Pit Bull Dog Training

 

Pit Bull Training

 

 

Anyone who has ever watched my Facebook Live videos know that I LOVE Pit bulls and I’m a huge advocate for them, so, I was very excited to see this!

If a survey was given to answer the question of whether or not a Pit bull might make a good police dog, many would surely find it of no surprise that the majority would answer “no.” It’s no secret that a preconceived judgement persists against Pit Bulls and their aggressive natures.

However, the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, along with a large handful of trainers and rescuers, would beg to differ.

The sweet-hearted cinnamon-colored canine Kiah was taken in by Brad Croft, operations director of UniversalK9, an organization that prides itself on training young dogs and police force members to breed successful relationships and thus develop successful K-9 units. Brad Croft came across Kiah when she was a young, abandoned shelter dog. Though recovering from a skull injury brought on after being hit with a hammer, the sweet and timid nature of of Kiah caught Croft’s attention.

Croft was quoted at the moment of meeting this young pup, describing his incredulity and just how miraculous it was that she had survived the head injury. However, what impressed him even more than her physical resilience was her emotional one. Without fearing that she was holding any sort of grudge, Croft was willing to give it a shot and took in this young pit bull with the intention of training her as a police dog.

Though the start of Kiah’s training was difficult, it became clear rather quickly that that resilience Croft saw before was well-matched with potential. She began to quickly catch on to her training, and by the end of the eighth week, Croft termed her as a “gifted” dog, noticing her fervor and hard-working personality. It was during this time that the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department contacted Croft, asking for a furry addition to their team. Since then, Kiah has kept up the hard work with her team and her partner, Officer Justin Bruzgul, as a detection dog for the narcotics and missing persons department.

This 85-pound friend of the Poughkeepsie P.D. and of Croft has down well and her hard work has paid off. On Thursday, Kiah is scheduled to receive the ASPCA Public Service Award in New York City and will make history as the first ever pit bull police dog to do so.

The ASPCA Public Service Award, according to ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker, will recognize Kiah, as it has with dogs before her, for her heroism and service. In addition to this however, the award will also act as an honor for the individuals, organizations, and teams that have worked for and alongside Kiah and others like her. According to Bershadker, this is an award that highlights the connection that exists between these people and the beloved animals.

Since rescuing Kiah, operations-director Croft has partnered with the Animal Farm Foundation to continue to train and place pit bulls like Kiah into police departments all over the United States. The small step taken for Kiah will continue to make a difference.

-Nick

www.offleashk9training.com

facebook.com/offleashk9

Food Aggression Training | Resource Guarding | Northern Virginia | Off Leash K9 Training

Food aggression training northern virginia

 

We deal with food aggression training in Northern Virginia (our HQ) on a pretty regular basis.

There are many different behaviors that our dogs do that maybe you do not really know how to interpret. They are communicating in their own way and as a responsible dog owner, it is your responsibility to figure out what they are trying to tell us. Dogs have specific body language that tells us what we need to know. The problem is that people do not always understand these cues that they are giving us. One big cue is resource guarding, especially their food bowls. If your dog resource guards, this is going to be important to deal with.

The first question that you may have is whether or not this is a problem your dog has. There is a simple test that you can do to help find out. You need to prepare your dog’s food bowl and then take the bowl to the center of the room. You need to call your dog to you, so you can make sure that your dog is really excited about the food. If your dog is not excited about the food bowl, this will not work. You should be very careful when doing this test as food is very important to them. You need to watch your dog for any signs of aggression that may put you in harm’s way. To perform the test, you need to put your bowl on the floor without saying anything and walk at least 8 feet away from the bowl. While looking directly at your dog, you need to move towards him quickly. When you do this, make sure that you pay attention to your dog’s body language as you do this.

To be clear, the only appropriate response from your dog at this moment is to ignore you and continue eating without changing his speed of eating the food or his posture. This means that your dog does not have a problem with resource guarding. However if you notice any change especially the speed of eating,  or cutting his eyes so you can see the whites of his eyes, your dog may have a problem. It is obviously even more worrisome if your dog snarls, growls, or lunges at you.

There are things that you should and should not do when you come across this situation. You should watch your dog’s reaction and when you see them guarding, stop approaching him and move away until he looks comfortable again. You can try again to see how close you can get before he starts to guard. You can toss treats at your dog as you approach to positively reinforce your approach. You can also put your treats in your dog’s bowl to show that you are not a threat. After this works, you can begin doing things like petting him while he is eating and giving a treat to reward him. You want your pet to be okay with you near his food. You should never take your dog’s food bowl away, as this validates the dog’s fear and worsens the behavior. You should also never continue to approach despite these warning signs from your dog, as this can cause him to become aggressive with you.

If you are having resource guarding issues with your dog (food, toys, etc), contact an OLK9 trainer near you: http://www.offleashk9training.com/contact/

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OffLeashK9 or call 888-413-0896

 

Bringing Home A Christmas Puppy? Off Leash K9 Training | Dog Training Blog

Getting a Dog for Christamas

Bringing your Christmas Puppy Home
So, you’ve finally chosen the perfect dog for you and your family, and it’s time to bring them home to experience the good life. Before deciding this, realize, that you are giving someone a life to take care of daily, for the next 12-15 years. You are giving them a big commitment! Keep that in mind, first.

What’s the first step? It’s not a complex thing, but necessary nevertheless.

Establish the Ground Rules
If there’s one thing dogs value in life (aside from companionship of course), it’s stability. Dogs value consistency in their lives, and that means establishing a routine for them. To do this you need to talk through the major points of note with your family. Will your dog be allowed on furniture, or allowed to eat leftovers from the dinner table? We recommend no to both of these. Will it be house trained indoors or outdoors, and where will it sleep? You need to establish these things before ever bringing your dog home, so you can provide it with a clear set of rules and routines the moment it walks through your door. Having conflicting standards or rules will just confuse your dog as to what is or isn’t acceptable behavior in the long run.

The First Forty-Eight Hours
Like anyone in a new social situation, dogs tend to be pretty nervous when they first become a member of your family. You are all new to your dog, new people that it has never interacted with before, and just like the new kid at school, it’ll take a little time for your dog to get comfortable with your family. Of course it doesn’t take dogs nearly as long to acclimate to new people, but even so you should give it at least two days, and in that time you don’t need to parade your new pet around your neighborhood or the dog park or anything. Let it get used to the nuances of you and your family before doing anything else.

Introduce Your Pets
If you already own a pet before bringing home your new one, you may need to perform some scent mingling. This is a process in which you make your new pet believe it is already familiar with another animal, such as your already resident pet. To do this, you’ll simply want to take a towel, rub it on both your family’s hands and your existing pet, and then rub it on your new pet. You’ll then want to go in reverse and rub it on your current pet and your hands again. After that you’ll want to perform a similar exercise with a brush, brushing your current pet first, then your new one with the same brush and back again. This will help mingle the scents of your pets and your family and make your new pet more comfortable in your house from day one.

Select a Vet and a Trainer

The sooner you start with these the better. You should schedule a visit to the veterinarian within two days of acquiring your new pet, and if you so choose, a trainer within a week. You should make these visits consistent and routine as well, so your pet can know when to expect them. You can see all of our locations throughout the United States here: http://www.offleashk9training.com/

Select a Dog Food
Dog food is designed to cater to all of the health needs of its consumers, but most dog food is designed for certain types of dogs, either by weight or breed or something similar. You can use www.dogfoodanalysis.com to find the ideal dog food for your new pet, but you should also find out what your dog was eating before it joined your family: picking a similar food type will make its transition even easier.

You’ll also want the transition to be gradual, so you’ll want to mix old and new food over the course of a few days until you settle completely on the new one. Over the course of a week, you should spend two days apiece serving ¾ old food and ¼ new, to ½ and ½ respectively, then to ¼ old and ¾ new, before simply changing over to the full new diet.

Dog Supplies
There is no truly right way to procure dog supplies, but you know you’ll need them. Now some of those supplies are mandatory in almost any situation, such as a leash for outdoor walks. But other supplies that may be needed depend on how your dog lives within your household. Will they sleep in a crate or simply a dog bed in the room somewhere? Will they ever ride with you in the car, and therefore need a special seatbelt? Those are variable supplies, but you’ll definitely need dog food, treats, bowls, and in most cases, dog bags.

Love, Trust, and Respect

If you know absolutely anything about dogs, you know they need love, trust, and respect over all else. You need to provide those things as soon as your dog arrives in the home, and this includes housetraining them yourself. There are different ways to go about housetraining of course, but no matter what you do, you’ll want to keep the dog within your line of sight and in the room with you when you are home, and you’ll want to have a sectioned off area for the dog to occupy in your absences. You can watch our blog on housebreaking your dog:https://youtu.be/8cjM-bGcu1Q?list=PLuVmbfjlkcMLfFf5fN-G1hd4dsI-BYRyz

Establishing these things will help teach your dog the aforementioned values that are important to its life. These first couple of days are also the best time to get to know all of your dog’s quirks. By the time this training period is over you should know a thing or two about what your dog does and doesn’t like, and take note of how well it has acclimated to your family and your rules. After this though, you’ll want to stick to the guns of your rules, and not cut too much slack: dogs are smart, and they’ll figure out what they can get away with if you let them. But with a firm and loving hand, your new pet will become a valued member of your happy family.

If you have more questions about your dog or training, please contact Off Leash K9 Training at:

info@offleashk9training.com
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Everything you need to Know about your Dog and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dogs

At our board and train facility in Northern Virginia, we always get a lot of questions around Thanksgiving. You may not naturally consider your family pet to be a major part of Thanksgiving as a holiday, but your dog can be a source of stress or setbacks if you don’t know how to take care of them during a busy holiday time. After all, there are a lot of things going on around this time, whether you are traveling away for the holidays or planning to host the dinner. Taking care of your dog in these situations is important.

Traveling Away
First off is the most obvious aspect of this situation: is your dog coming with you or staying at home? Regardless of the answer to that question, it’s important to make sure that their vaccinations and ID tags are up to date. You should also pack their food in clearly labeled and measured bags, have the vet records on your person, and ensure that your dog has access to a few of its favorite toys whether they are staying home or coming with you.

If your dog is coming with you, these are the specific things you should concern yourself with: make sure the arrangements you’ve made for your destination allows dogs, have a backup plan if they don’t, and make sure you pack bowls and a simple mat for your dog. Just in case, you should also learn the location of a few local vets in the place you’ll be flying to.

If your dog will be staying home during the holidays, especially if you’ll be boarding them, you’ll want to keep these things in mind. You need to make your reservations early, and drop your dog off at the boarding house several hours before closing time so they can acclimate to the environment. There could also be a pretty long check-in time, so you’ll want to get it handled with plenty of time available. A launder mat for your dog to use will probably be a good idea too.
If you’ll be using a pet sitter instead, check your references first, and try to go for an insured or bonded sitter. Make sure you book them early, and make sure they have contingency plans even as you do.

Hosting
If you’ll be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner instead, there are some things you should keep in mind for that situation as well. You’ll need to prepare your dog for guests, including other dogs that may be brought to the party. Clearly, you’ll need to brush up one your dog’s manners, including obeying commands. You may also want to keep your dog on a leash if you know they are rowdy, and ask some safety questions. Is your dog comfortable with everyone who is coming, including their dogs if they come too? Always be on the lookout for stress signs during the gathering, and have a plan in case that happens. Of course, you should let your guests know that your dog will be there in the first place.

If you have guests that will be bringing a dog, let them know what rules you expect that dog to follow beforehand. Introduce the dogs outside of the home first, and keep in mind the potential for hostilities between two dogs, which are often triggered by infringement on food, toys, personal space and especially uneven affection.

The Holiday Feast
We all know that a big part of Thanksgiving is the food. But keep in mind that your dog wants it just as much as you do, if not more. You may need to consider your dog’s behavior during mealtime, and whether or not food should be shared with them.

As far as behavior is concerned, it’s all about the commands your dog knows how to obey. Whether you have them sit at your side during dinner or to some other out of the way spot within the house, both are good options. At Off Leash K9 Training, this is what we use the “place” command for. You may also want to consider teaching your dog to refrain from immediately eating anything dropped from the table, though that’s a whole different lesson in willpower. As you will see on our YouTube channel, we do food refusal training.

As for sharing food, remember that what is good for you is not necessarily good for your dog, even if your dog acts like it would be. Fatty foods, grapes, onions, sage, and many other Thanksgiving foods are very dangerous for your dog to consume, and of course, bones are an entirely bad idea. Even if you have a small dog and the bones seem big enough for them, don’t do it. Bones like that aren’t the same as the ones you might buy from Petco, and the dinner table bones are extremely vulnerable to cracking and splintering, which could lead to choking or other health hazards. If you are going to feed your dog, don’t let them see you procure the food itself: if they notice that it came from the table, they are likely to stick around or worse. If you want to feed them something healthy, stick to ice cubes and carrots at most, and when all is said and done, secure your trash cans so your dog doesn’t have a field day with your garbage. As long as you keep these things in mind, your family, including your dog, can have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

If you want your dog to be well trained for all of your holiday guests, contact us at Off Leash K9 Training!

http://www.offleashk9training.com
info@offleashk9training.com