“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around us in awareness.” ― James Thurber
2014’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week is wrapping up. It’s been a tremendously positive week with so many great messages about safety, prevention, and dog awareness being spread across the nation and world.
The goal that we educators and dog trainers are trying to reach this week is simple, but profound: educate the masses so we can change the statistics. We can do this by teaching dog lovers to become more “Dog Aware” as Jennifer Shryock, Founder of Family Paws Parent Education, explains here. We can change these statistics by changing the way we individually interact with, and think about dogs. We teach our future leaders how to safely interact with dogs, and before we know it, they are teaching their community about dogs. Change begins with educating our youth.
The goal of this week is not to instill fear, to judge, or to place blame on people who unknowingly put their dog or children in precarious scenarios. Rather, it is to help all of us become more aware of our dog, others’ dogs, children and family members, guests in our homes, people and dogs on the streets, and anywhere else you can think of that involves a dog. This week is about educating people on how to be a more “dog aware”, and a responsible Conscious Companion to dogs everywhere, every day of the year.
Dogs are part of our families. They are our companions, our friends. To many, they are our furry kids. But we must remember that dogs are hardwired to be dogs! It’s in their DNA. We must honor this fact buy allowing them to Be a Dog. When we anthropomorphize them, and when we put them on a pedestal and expect perfect, angelic behavior, we do them a great disservice. We aren’t allowing them to be who they are – a dog, with flaws and all.
Instead of assuming that our dog is incapable of inflicting harm to another person or animal, let’s assume for a minute that they are capable of out-of-the-ordinary behavior. What would that mean for you and your dog? Would you begin to take more precautions around kids, other dogs, other people, and other animals? Or would you continue to convince yourself that “my dog would never…”?
Any dog, of any breed, of any age is capable of biting. Anything with a mouth is capable of biting! Acknowledging this fact can only help. It’s merely something to recognize and be proactive about. We prevent dog bites through compassionate, science-based education.
If you or a family member has been bitten by a dog, it’s not something to be ashamed of, or embarrassed about. If you have a dog that lunges at people or other dogs, don’t be ashamed or pretend that it’s not an issue. Ask for help. Find a qualified force-free trainer that understands your needs, and your dog’s specific needs. There’s no need to hide and be embarrassed. We learn from these experiences. Sometimes our worst experiences help others. There is a compassionate community that does care, who will not judge and condemn, and who wants to help parents and families in need, without blame and judgement. But this does come with individual responsibility.
It’s our duty as dog guardians and parents to recognize when we need help. We must also learn how to recognize our dog’s specific canine needs, understand their subtle behaviors, know their thresholds, recognize when they have had enough, set them up for success, and to be their advocates every day. We all “love” our dogs, but true, selfless love is doing what might not be easy or convenient to us. We may have to move out of our comfort zone. We show love to our dogs when we take the time to educate ourselves, so we can truly understanding their nature and their needs. We show love to our dogs by learning how to read them, respecting their boundaries, training them without punishment and fear, being their advocate, and honoring them as dogs.
Dogs can be some of our greatest teachers if we allow them to be. But we have to be willing to learn. When we set aside fears, judgement, and blame, and we choose to focus on creating and participating in fun, compassionate education, we create a safe place for people to come and share their stories. We create a prevention-focused, educated community.
“Over the years I’ve come to appreciate how animals enter our lives prepared to teach and far from being burdened by an inability to speak they have many different ways to communicate. It is up to us to listen more than hear, to look into more than past.” ― Nick Trout, Love Is the Best Medicine: What Two Dogs Taught One Veterinarian about Hope, Humility, and Everyday Miracles
It’s National Hug Your Dog Day! Let’s dig deep into the science of hugs!
I will be the first to admit: Sometimes I want to hug our dog and cats (and other animals) like the Abominable Snowman in the bit from “Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters” cartoon. But I don’t. I know they don’t enjoy receiving hugs as much as I love giving them. And frankly, I would not enjoy it if someone did that to me without my consent.
Been there; had that.
This might sound crazy, but sometimes a hug to our animal companion is more like holding them hostage. Obviously they aren’t really our “hostages”, but we may be unknowingly forcing them to interact with us in a way they would not choose on their own.
Don’t just take my word for it. Do some dog-behavior-digging for yourself:
Have someone take a picture of you holding your animal hostage (I mean, hugging and squeezing them). Then look carefully at the expression on their face.
If I found out that a person I loved to hug only tolerated my touches and squeezes, I would put an end to it. Mainly because I would feel weird now, but I also wouldn’t want to push myself onto someone that didn’t want my affection in that form.
Most people don’t want to hear this, but animals are no different in that way. A lot of animals really don’t want to be manhandled and coddled. Most of them will offer and solicit affection on their terms. And every species has their own unique way of displaying affection. And within each species, each individual as their own preference for affection.
As Conscious Companions, we need to be aware of this.
Let’s look at two dogs receiving hugs from a human. One dog is not enjoying the hug and one is cool it. Spend a few minutes carefully reviewing the two photos below. See if you can identify the emotional state of the dog in each pic.
In the top photo, the dog is leaning (or at least trying to lean) away from the human. His ears are held tightly back, his eyes are more tense with a slightly furrowed brow, and his mouth is closed. While there isn’t anything about the dog’s body language that says he will lash out, it is abundantly clear that the hug is not comfortable or appreciated.
In the bottom photo, the golden retriever is not leaning away from the hugger. His ears are relaxed, his eyes are soft, his mouth is open and lips are not tense, and the tongue is draped out in a relaxed pant. (Yes, even the way a dog holds his tongue is potentially a clue!)
“It takes a lot of experience, it turns out, to be good at reading signs of fear or stress or discomfort on the face of a dog.” —McConnell.
When you take your dog to the dog park, or even just to a friend’s house where she can play with another dog, how do the dogs greet one another? There are myriad ways dogs say hello depending on if they know each other and are reforming old bonds, or are meeting for the first time and feeling each other out as they establish the pecking order. There is face smelling, rump smelling, tail wagging, play bowing… but there is never hugging. Even among the best of friends. In fact, the closest approximation dogs have to a hug as we know it actually means something other than friendship. —Dr. Patricia McConnell, certified applied animal behaviorist,
If you discovered that your animal companion really didn’t enjoy your hug-a-palooza, would you continue to force it on them? I hope not. But what if you learned how your particular pup enjoys receiving and offering affection? That would be a game changer!
The hard truth is simple. It’s not in a dog’s nature to show affection by hugging. Many dogs don’t really enjoy being petted or hugged. They tolerate it.
Many very tolerant dogs, who allow the “kidnap cuddle”, can go from tolerant to intolerant very quickly under “the perfect storm” conditions. We must become dog aware and teach others how to do this as well, especially children.
Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured. Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs. Many bites happen when children are hugging their dog and holding him/her “hostage”.
Studies have shown that dogs who bite children involved familiar children, who were most commonly bitten in relation to food or resource guarding and “benign” interactions such as petting, hugging, bending over, or speaking to the dog.
Although some dogs are not reactive about being kissed and hugged, these types of interactions are potentially provocative, leading to bites. In a study we published in a journal called Injury Prevention, we looked at dogs that had bitten children and found that most children had been bitten by dogs that had no history of biting. Most important here, familiar children were bitten most often in the contexts of ‘nice’ interactions — such as kissing and hugging with their own dogs, or dogs that they knew. ~ Dr. Reisner, Veterinary Behavior & Consulting Services
Different Strokes for Different Species
One of the biggest hangups with hugs is how hard it is for many pet parents to admit to themselves that their dog doesn’t enjoy their hugs. I see this resistance and disappointment with new clients a lot. But here’s the human-doggie deal: Hugs are a natural and primary way for most of the human species to show affection.
Research on primates, especially chimpanzees and bonobos to whom we are most closely related, reveals that hugging is an integral part in giving and seeking out comfort and affection. But it’s not in a dog’s nature to show affection by hugging.
If you watch little kids, tiny little kids who are just barely able to stand on their legs, they wrap their arms around another to express affection, empathy and love by hugging. It’s just so hard-wired into who we are and what we do. And so I think when we tell people that dogs don’t like hugging, it’s like some primal, limbic part of our brain says, ‘You mean my dog doesn’t love me?!’ — Dr. Patricia McConnell, certified applied animal behaviorist
Languages of Love
Just because your pup might not enjoy receiving your hugs as much as you enjoy giving them, does not mean your canine companion doesn’t love you with all of his/her heart. Dogs love us (and their animal companion friends) in their brilliant and beautiful Canid way, while we, as their humans, love them in our primate way.
Dogs and humans are two incredibly different species. But, through the centuries, we have become intimately connected. But thousands of years of co-evolution doesn’t erase millions of years of separate-species evolution.
This is why it’s important to look at the social science of what a hug really means to dogs.
—>Please take a moment to check out this brief and insightful post, “You’re Making Me Uncomfortable!” to understand how uninvited hugs can adversely affect both dogs AND people!<—
Check out this video about Dog Body Language:
Next time, you go in for that monster love hug, ask yourself: Is this dog (or cat) really enjoying the hug? Or is he/she just enduring/tolerating it because they know it will be over soon?
Consider asking them to come over to you, instead of coming into their space.
Next time you see your child (or someone else’s child) going in for the monster hug to the family dog (or cat), please stop the child and show them safer ways to love an animal.
Let’s encourage our pets and other companion animals to offer affection and attention (that we so deeply appreciate), on their own terms.
Below are some great examples of happy hugs, where both dog and human are enjoying the interaction as a consensual canine team 😉
This is a judgement free zone! All comments and feedback are welcome! I deeply understand that most parents and guardians are doing the best with what they have, and what they know how to do. This post is meant to help and educate families living with pets. We would Love to hear from you!
What has been your experience with hugs?
“Recognizing our own mistakes helps us to empathise non-judgmentally with others and helps enable us to understand their issues.” ― Jay Woodman
Education is the key to many things, including safety and wellbeing in our homes. This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. It’s the perfect time to reflect on how we can better understand our canine companions, educate and guide children of all ages, and share what we have learned over the years with everyone we know. It’s also important to set aside judgement and focus on compassionate education.
There is an estimated population of 70 million dogs living in U.S. households right now.
Nearly 5 million (reported) dog bites occur in the United States each year.
Most of these bites involve children.
Children love to kiss and hug dogs, even though these expressions of affection do not translate well in the dog world.
Fast movements can stimulate a dog’s prey drive and/or chase instinct.
Higher pitched voices can sometimes startle a dog and make it fearful.
A dog can be frustrated through rough play or by teasing and a child can inadvertently inflict pain with the pull of a tail or a poke in the eye.
It is also hard for a child to read and understand a dog’s body language, therefore missing vital signals that can put them in harm’s way.
Children are most likely to be bitten in the face as they are closer to a dog’s eye level making it easier for a dog to feel threatened by eye to eye contact.
The majority of reported dog bites occur between the family dog and a family member.
It is unlikely that you will be injured by a dog you do not know.
Dog breed does not predict behavior.
Any resource that lists dogs who are “most likely to bite” by breed are a distraction from preventions that actually work. Visual breed identification is notoriously unreliable, breed does not predict behavior, and there is no standard reporting system for reporting or recording dog bites (nor is there a need for a system). Articles focused on breed are an easy way to get “clicks”. It’s fear mongering, not fact-based reporting. ~Animal Farm Foundation
Check out this graphic from the National Canine Research Council. This graphic puts (reported) national dog bites into perspective. We need to focus on facts, not fear when educating. In rare occasions (0.01%) dog bites result in an incredible amount of physical damage. However, this still means that we need to understand what happened, so we can prevent it! You can read more about this here.
Here’s the GOOD News:We can change those statistics! The majority of dog bites, if not all, are preventable. That’s where YOU come in.
It’s our duty as dog guardians, parents, educators, and family members to teach children how to understand and respect our canine companions. Kids are great imitators; let’s show them what we want them to imitate!
If we want to become serious about preventing dog bites, and rehoming family dogs, we need to encourage and teach appropriate supervision habits at home. This excellent video from Family Paws Parent Education explains the 5 Types of Supervision that we recommend:
Below are a few common questions we often hear from parents with kids:
How do we know when a dog is the right fit for our family?
Does the breed of dog matter?
Are some dog breeds better for some kids?
What should we do to ensure we set everyone up for success?
Look beneath the surface; let not the several quality of a thing nor its worth escape thee. ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Pain is a very common medical issue that can create or exacerbate behavior problems in our animal companions. We must be aware of this. Labeling behavior as “acting out” or “misbehaving” is not going to help matters, especially if there is an underlying medical issue.
Anxiety, aggression, fear, and depression can stem from pain. Growling, hissing, swatting, biting, hiding, and urinating or defecating in unusual places are just a few of the behaviors that you might see when your pet in pain or discomfort. Sometimes these symptoms can be easily overlooked, particularly in cats. Often arthritis is blamed on “old age” rather than very real pain. A cat who is urinating inappropriately in the home may have a painful lower urinary tract disease, rather than a “behavior problem.”
Pain can be very difficult to recognize in many species. Animals have evolved to disguise pain to help them survive. Cats are a great example of this. They are one of the few companion animal species that is both prey and predator.
All species of prey animals instinctively hide their pain so they don’t appear weak, and become an easy target. Domestic house cats may not have any “natural predators” indoors, but they have retained that instinct. If you live in a multi-species household, you can bet that if one animal is in pain or discomfort, they will do their best to hide it from the others. Don’t assume that an animal will rest and stay comfortably still if they are in pain. Many of them will push through the pain and discomfort. Some will even play when they are in pain.
That’s where your job as their guardian comes in! When you learn to become aware of your pet’s daily routines and their subtle behaviors, you will know when something is wrong with them, even when they don’t “show” you. Many animal behaviors go unnoticed until they become annoying, inconvenient, or even dangerous.
Watch them. Learn their routines. Know their behaviors as well as you know yours, your kid’s, or your partner’s behavior and routines. You will be able to better prevent behavioral issues before they arise. This is how we can become a Conscious Companion!
Here are some helpful ways to learn if an animal is in pain or discomfort:
decreased interaction with other pets and family members,
altered facial expression
elevations in heart rate
higher body temperature and blood pressure
Something else to consider is how your pet reacts to being touched – if he/she has increased body tension, or if she flinches in response to a gentle touch, that’s a sign that you need to seek help.
If you see any of these symptoms or behaviors, you should call your veterinarian right away.
Have you ever noticed a subtle change in an animal’s behavior and then later discovered that it was caused by pain or discomfort?
So often we interpret dog behavior through our human thoughts and experiences. But dogs do not communicate using our language. Canine language consists of a large variety of signals using body, face, ears, tail, sounds, movement, and complex expression. If we study the signals dogs use with each other, we increase our ability to communicate with, and understand dogs.
This picture is an excellent example of a dog that is stressed and very uncomfortable. How can we tell? Well, the dog is displaying at least 4 very important behaviors:
1. Licking lips 2. Showing the whites of eyes 3. Panting when not overheated 4. Turning head away
I would even dare to say that the dog might be thinking something along the lines of, “I am not enjoying this! Please make it stop!”.
It’s not just enough to make sure your dog is never left alone with a child; as the dog’s guardian, you must be able to recognize when the dog is uncomfortable or stressed and remove the dog from the child’s presence. This is how we can be a conscious companion.
Please educate others by sharing this with your friends and family! You can learn more about how to understand dog language here.
The Ladder of Aggression: What every dog guardian needs to know
Do you know the subtle signals that dogs give when they are stressed? Did you know that if you don’t help your dog, they can escalate? Here’s a great way to see how your dog’s behavior can escalate into aggression. Think of a ladder with many steps. Each step represents a behavior that dogs will display when they are becoming more and more anxious, stressed and fearful. If the dog continues to reach a maximum level of stress, aggression can result. Aggression is the top rung of the ladder. Since all dogs are individuals, every dog has a different way that he/she responds to stress, so we need to be aware of their individual behavior clues.
How a dog reacts to stress or a threat can be represented as a series of ascending steps on a ladder. These gestures are responses to an escalation of perceived threat only and are NOT expressions of a ‘submissive’ or ‘dominant’ state. The choice of strategy (whether to escalate to a bite or not) will depend on the circumstances (time, target, interactions, previous experience) and on the severity of any underlying physical disease. Pain frequently converts a ‘flight’ response to ‘fight’. – Ladder of Aggression by Kendal Shepherd
The behaviors on the lower rungs of the ladder (yawning, blinking, nose licking, turning head away, etc.) communicate in dog language, “I am feeling worried”, or “please calm down”. The behaviors on the higher rungs of the ladder (growling, air snapping, biting) mean “Stop! Leave me alone right now! Go Away!”
Understanding what dogs are trying to communicate when they are stressed is how we become Conscious Companions, and prevent our dogs from moving up the Ladder of Aggression. This included our felines, too!
I would like to share something else with you: A dog bite NEVER happens out of the blue. Let me repeat that; a dog bite never happens out of the blue.
Why is this important to know? Well, it means that all dog bites can be prevented ifwe learn to recognize the stressors and behaviors that a dog exhibits as they are becoming stressed. Dogs will display specific behaviors (listed above in the image) well before they lunge or bite.
Make no mistake about it; it’s our job, our role, and our responsibility as their guardians to learn these behaviors and recognize these stages. Prevention and safety begins with you! Setting ourselves up for success is how we do this.
Set yourself and your dog up for success! You Are Your Dog’s Advocate!
Avoid situations that you feel might upset your dog.
Avoid people, dogs, and places that have created any of these behaviors in your dog in the past (until you can find a qualified dog behaviorist to help you and your pup)!
National Dog Bite Prevention Week is here! This entire week is dedicated to educating people of all ages about how to becomes more Dog Aware, and increase the safety of kids and dogs. We are focusing on the facts, not on creating fear.
NOTE: There is a lot of information in this post. I recommend bookmarking this page, so you can read through it all when you have time, and so you can reference it when you need it later!
The Humane Society of the United States reports that 50% of children will be bitten by a dog before their 12th birthday. Children under the age of five are most likely to be bitten and most of these bites come from a dog that the child knows; the family dog or that of a relative or friend. Children are most likely to be bitten in the face as they are closer to a dog’s eye level making it easier for a dog to feel threatened by eye to eye contact. Children love to kiss and hug dogs, even though these expressions of affection do not translate well in the dog world. Fast movements can stimulate a dog’s prey drive and/or chase instinct. Higher pitched voices can sometimes startle a dog and make it fearful. A dog can be frustrated through rough play or by teasing and a child can inadvertently inflict pain with the pull of a tail or a poke in the eye. It is also hard for a child to read and understand a dog’s body language, therefore missing vital signals that can put them in harm’s way.
Here’s the Good News: We can change the statistics! And, the majority of dog bites, if not all, are preventable. That’s where YOU come in. It’s our duty as dog guardians, parents, educators, and family members to learn how to read dogs better, and teach children how to learn dog “language” and to teach children to respect a dog’s space. The graphic below from Doggone Safe shows us a few signals that dog display when they are stressed.
Researchers found that “Children from 4-7 years misinterpret dogs’ facial expressions.” They found that a full tooth display from a dog is not an effective way to teach a child to back away and leave them alone. Their research suggests that young children might be interpreting an offensive tooth display on a dog’s face as an expression of friendliness rather than a threat. Given that so many bites are to children, this is an important piece of information. ~ Dr. Patricia McConnell
1. Dogs don’t like hugs and kisses — Teach your kids not to hug or kiss a dog on the face. Hugging the family dog or other face-to-face contacts are common causes of bites to the face. Instead, teach kids to scratch the dog on the chest or the side of the neck.
2. Be a Tree if a strange dog approaches — Teach kids to stand still, like a tree. Trees are boring and the dog will eventually go away. This works for strange dogs, and any time the family dog gets too frisky or becomes aggressive.
3. Never tease a dog.
4. Never disturb a dog that’s sleeping, eating, or protecting something.
5. Teach your kids to Speak Dog, and only interact only with happy dogs! Watch this short slideshow that shows you how to read dog body language, and other safety tips.
Familiar children were most commonly bitten in relation to food or resource guarding and “benign” interactions such as petting, hugging, bending over, or speaking to the dog.
Supervision means different things to different people. To some parents, supervision means just being home, to others it means watching out the window while the kids play with the dog outside while to others it means having hands on and being part of the interaction between the child and the dog. Many dog bites have happened to children while the parents were ‘supervising’. – Jennifer Shryock, Family Paws Parent Education
2. Know signals that dogs display. If you see these behaviors, intervene quickly (but calmly) and redirect the child or dog onto something positive. These behavior signals include:
licking – tongue flicking out or licking his own nose
3. Learn the Dog Behavior Continuum: We hear it all the time, “Kids and dogs should never be left unsupervised”. That’s great advice, but what else should we be doing?? Supervision only works when we know what to look for and when it’s time to intervene. We have to know when a dog is going from “Enjoyment to Tolerance, to Enough Already“and back again.
4. Don’t assume your dog is “good with kids”. All dogs have their breaking point. We all do. Even if your dog is great with kids and has never bitten before, why take a chance? Toddlers, babies, and dogs don’t need to physically interact!
5. Train your dog positively Never pin, shake, choke, hold the dog down, or roll the dog over to teach it a lesson. Dogs treated this way are likely to turn their aggression on other family members.
6. Involve older children with positively training your family dog (while supervising).
Actively Supervise! Supervise your dog around children at all times. If visiting children are bothering your dog (or other pets in the house), put the pets away safely, or send the children home. Be your child and your dog’s advocate. Parents and guardians must be responsible for their dog at all times, without exception, and especially around children. A child should NEVER be left unsupervised with any dog at any time and dog and child should only be together when a responsible adult can actively supervise. This keeps both children and dogs safe.
There’s no better time than now to educate each other about how each of us has the power to keep everyone happy and safe. This week is the perfect time to reflect on how we can ensure our canine companions, children, and others steer clear of unwanted and preventable circumstances. Education is the key to safety and well being for everyone in the home. Please share this to help educate others so we can all work together to keep dogs, kids, and families happy and harmonious 365 days a year!
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. ― Nelson Mandela
Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them. ― John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog
In our family, the evening walk with our dog is our “family time” together. It’s such a great time to bond with our dog, and it’s a great time for us to talk about our day with each other. Our dog gets to spend “happy time” with her people, and frankly, its the highlight of her day! If you are gone all day, I can promise you that the evening walk is your dog’s most exciting time of the day. They do look forward to it, and it’s the very least that we can do for them when they are stuck inside all day, waiting for their people to come home.
However, walks can be very stressful when we are not in sync. One of my biggest pet peeves (no pun intended) is when a dog pulls on a leash while we are walking together. It is incredibly frustrating, and it makes the walk very stressful. The walk ends up being cut short because it’s not enjoyable for anyone. This can also be dangerous for older people, or anyone with physical limitations. If a dog is pulling on the lead, you can literally be swept off your feet! (I know this for a fact.)
Here’s another problem: Dogs need to be walked once a day – at a minimum. Who wants to walk a dog that walks the person?! No one does. If walks are stressful, chaotic, or exhausting, you are probably going to be less likely to want to go on a walk with your canine companion. Avoiding walks because they are stressful is not a productive solution!
So what’s the solution? Teach your dog how to walk politely on a leash.
Dogs love to explore their outside world. Going on a walk is the most exciting (and most stimulating!) part of their doggie day, so their desire to rush ahead of you is very strong. It’s their nature to want to run ahead and seek out all of those incredible scents, sights, and sounds!
Unfortunately, we don’t make ideal walking partners for high energy dogs, since we only have two legs. A dog’s natural and comfortable walking pace is much faster than ours. When a dog has to put the breaks on their excitement by walking calmly by their person’s side, this is very hard for them, especially when the only thing our dog wants to do is RUN and EXPLORE! Our boring, slow human pace can drive them nuts, making them want to get further away from the person that’s holding them back.
Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not pull on the leash while being walked because they want to be pack leader, top dog, alpha, or dominant over their human. There is a much simpler explanation that does not give credence to the myth that dogs are on a quest for world domination! ~ V. Stilwell
Walking calmly next to a person while out and about on a walk, requires a great amount of impulse control. This is often very difficult for some dogs to practice. People often get frustrated and fed up, so they resort to punishment or tools that are downright dangerous.
Tools of the Old School Trade – What to AVOID
There are a variety of tools on the market today that claim to help with leash walking. Be Aware: Some of these methods are outdated and downright cruel.
Choke, prong and shock collars can irreversibly damage your dog. Learn why these collars cause hypothyroidism and other health problems:
FACT: Modern behavioral science has proven that forceful handling such as physical punishment, using choke chains, shock collars, and leash yanking is psychologically damaging for the dog.
I invite you to do a little test:
1. Open your hands with your thumbs touching each other. Place the thumbs at the base of the throat and with the fingers pointing back and surrounding the neck.
2. Now, take a deep breath, squeeze and pull back with all your force keeping your thumbs connected.
3. This is how many dogs feel when they are on the leash and collar and they are pulling.
If you are still keen to continue with this experiment, put a choke chain or pinch collar around your neck, attach it to a leash, and ask a friend to pull and jerk on it periodically. Welcome to the dog world!
Tips for Success, and What You Need to Consider First!
Before you begin, here are a few tips that you need to consider:
Reward: Do you know what motivates your dog? Is it verbal praise, toys, or treats? Once you know what their motivation is, you can use that as a tool for training. Find out what really excites your canine companion and what grabs their attention. If your boss at work gave you sauerkraut when you performed well, but your favorite treat is chocolate, you probably won’t perform well again. Make sure the reward is something that will be worth their effort.
Time Limit: Remember that you don’t need to spend a half hour doing a training session. 5 to 10 minutes is best. Do a training session with your dog two or three times a day. Keep it short! Keep it FUN!
Punishment is Outdated: Positive training is going to produce results faster and is going to last. It’s far better to have a dog do what is asked because he or she wants to do it rather than doing it because he or she is afraid of the consequences if they do not.
Set them up for success: Begin inside! Then you can move outside after both you and your dog have mastered indoors! You want to startin an environment where there are few/zero distractions. Once you have mastered that together you can move the sessions outside. When you go outside, follow the same guidelines: zero distractions, in a boring, small area. (ex backyard, no squirrels, people, or other dogs, etc.). Once you master small, boring spaces, progress to moderately exiting spaces. If that’s too much, take a few steps back, and make the environment less exciting. You want to set your dog up for success in an environment where you are way more exciting than anything else that’s happening. Then you can start to add in outside distractions.
TIP: You will both succeed more quickly if you find a way to tire your canine companion before a training session. Dogs pull, in part, because they’re full of excess energy. So unless you can expend that energy, he or she will find it hard to control themselves. Before training, play fetch in a hallway or your backyard, play a vigorous game of tug, Get crazy with a Flirt Pole, or let her play with her favorite doggie pal first!
High Note: Always end on a positive note (even if you did not see the results you wanted yet)! Ending it on a good note will help you both; your dog will want to do another session with you if she’s having fun, and you will too!
Behavior Bite: We add tension and stress when we pull back on the leash. Not only does pulling back on a dog’s leash prevent the dog from moving freely and naturally, but it creates tension in our dog. Most dogs will resist this pressure on their necks/shoulders (that you have created) and they will pull harder! Loosen up. It lightens the load on both you and your dog!
The videos below demonstrate easy and simple techniques that teach you how to teach your canine to walk politely on a leash. These methods are using positive, force-free techniques:
Victoria Stillwell demonstrates how to teach Loose Leash Training – INSIDE:
Once you have successfully mastered loose leash training inside, you can train again outside:
Positive reinforcement always triumphs over negative consequences.
Set them up for success.
Make it Fun!
Training Truth + Tips for Success: See Beyond The Surface.
Not everything is what it appears to be. Most dogs who lunge on leash are highly insecure. They may look vicious, but behind many frightening Fido faces are dogs that are are experiencing frustration or FEAR.
This is why it’s never recommended to punish a dog that lunges on the leash.
When we yank, hit, yell, or jerk on the leash of a dog that is *reacting*, we are adding fuel to the fire. We are making the situation worse, AND in the process, we are teaching the dog that they should be afraid of whatever it is they are barking, growling, or lunging at.
Our job as their guardian is to do the opposite: We want to teach the dog to focus on something else, and to change they way they FEEL about the perceived threat. Learn how to by clicking on the image below.