Join our online dog and puppy training class. This is more than a simple do it yourself class. It’s designed for online learning, plus direct one-to-one help as much as needed to help you achieve your training goals.
The class details are here.
If you have additional questions, please let me know any time.
In addition, it looks like the pandemic/COVID-19 is slowly improving. Thank you to everyone who is patiently waiting for in-person private training lessons. If you would like to be added to our current list, you can still sign up now – email me at [email@example.com]. I will be contacting everyone in a first-come-first-serve type of process once I’m available for in-person dog training lessons.
Preventing Separation Anxiety
Whenever a dog’s environment/schedule changes drastically, it is possible for this to lead to separation anxiety: the phobia/fear of being left alone. For anyone that has been home and with their dog more often than normal due to the coronavirus but will be going back to work, make sure to gradually introduce your dog to time left alone again. Go out for very short trips while you leave your dog at home. You can start very slowly, leaving for a few minutes at a time, until it’s for an hour or few at a time. Make it a positive experience by placing some treats for your dog to eat as you leave.
If your dog already has separation anxiety, you’ll need a much more structured and comprehensive approach to solve the problem.
Remove aversive training methods and interactions with your dog. Basically this means don’t do things that scare, hurt, or startle your dog, because these will lead to more behavior problems. See our complete list of methods to avoid.
Increase enrichment activities for your dog – this means supplying fun activities for him to do instead of sitting around all day deciding to do behaviors that are problems for people. Increase your dog’s walks, give him puzzle toys to extract treats from them, play with toys like fetch and tug, allow him to run off leash in safe areas (fenced in), allow him to sniff more on walks, or to find hidden toys/food around your home. Use your imagination and creativity for activities.
This won’t solve all types of problems, but it will for some like boredom barking, or excessive running around the house knocking things over.
Identify the cause of the behavior. Does your dog only bark when other dogs pass by the windows? Does your dog walk fine on leash until people or other dogs appear, and then pull/bark/growl? Does your dog jump on people all the time, or only when excited? Does your dog have a medical issue that is leading to a behavior problem? When we figure out the causes, triggers, or environmental factors that lead to specific behaviors, we can better implement a plan to solve the problem. For example, treating a medical issue, will eliminate the resulting behavior problem. Avoiding triggers, we can prevent behavior from showing up, or we can teach new, calmer behaviors.
Teach a behavior incompatible with the problem behavior. If a dog is jumping on people, then we can teach him to keep his feet on the ground with rewards. If a dog is taking food off the kitchen counter, teach him a down-stay on a soft bed instead. If a dog pulls on-leash, then teach him to walk calmly by your side for treat rewards.
Thank you to everyone that is patiently waiting for in-person dog training lessons. It appears that things are improving with the virus. Hopefully sometime in May, or soon after, everything will be back to normal. As soon as it is, I will contact each of you to schedule your dogs’ lessons.
Convenient Dog Training
In addition, I have online dog training classes you can take from the comfort of your home. These classes are self-paced, with as much help as you need. They are easy to use. Simply go to our website to read content and training plans, and watch videos through YouTube links. It’s that easy. No special technology skills required. I’m here to help through the whole process, and quick to respond to questions.
How Else Can We Help?
Please let me know if I can do anything else to help you and your dogs during this time. If there are any special topics you want to learn about, leave some notes in the comment section. Thank you! I hope everyone is staying safe.
Trainers who use unsafe training techniques (force-training, balanced training consisting of harsh corrections, usually with but not limited to choke chains, prong collars, and remote shock collars), often times spread disinformation. One of these core messages they use to discourage people from using positive reinforcement training methods is the claim that reward-trainers kill dogs. This is an egregious myth.
I personally have never recommended any dog be euthanized, nor do I ever intend to. This is because my dog training works using humane training methods. It works for behaviors that are quick to change and for more challenging, serious behaviors like reactivity, fear, and aggression. In fact, it really is the only type of training that works while taking care of the dog’s mental and physical health to the highest ability possible. Receiving a toy reward, or treat reward cannot harm a dog, whereas correction training leads to physical damage – like destroying the dog’s trachea from collar corrections, or burns from shock collars, or mental harm from fear of punishment.
Many animal shelters and rescues use humane training methods, while euthanizing certain dogs for problems they deem untreatable – this usually means for medical reasons (the dog is too sick and in too much pain), or behavioral reasons (severe forms of aggression, which make it unsafe to release the dogs for adoption and into the community). These are special cases, as these organizations are either limited in funds and staff (and function as an open admissions shelter, so even euthanize due to lack of kennel space at times, or they are limited admission, meaning they don’t have to take in all animals, and thus usually function as a “No-Kill” shelter, which means they have a live release rate of 90+%). So if these are the types of cases they are using to try to push the narrative reward training kills dogs, it is a poor argument. This is more of a resources and policy issue (including factors such as time, staff, qualified trainers working for the shelter, state laws, etc.) than it has anything to do with training methods. It is also ignoring the fact that many dogs have these serious behaviors due to force-training methods and mistreatment in the first place. Here is one example study of many that exist: “Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors.”
In addition, there are dogs with medical issues that cause behavior problems. For example, dogs with brain tumors may end up displaying aggressive behavior. The aggression can not be fixed by any training method. The only thing that will fix it will be to treat the brain tumor – and whether that is possible depends on the specific details of each case. This means treating the cause, not the symptoms that show up in a dog’s behavior.
If your trainer, regardless of what type of training methods he/she uses, tells you to euthanize your dog immediately over the phone without getting all the relevant information, or without conducting an in-person behavior evaluation, then he/she is most likely not qualified to professionally deal with your dog’s behavior problem. And even with those details covered, a second opinion is likely needed. Dogs that have bitten do not have to be euthanized. Good, competent positive reinforcement training can help your dog, and in conjunction with a reward-based veterinary behaviorist, if needed (i.e., the behavior is caused by a pathological condition).
There is almost always an alternative to euthanizing a dog for behavior reasons. Most aggressive behaviors are contextual, so removing the dog from those specific situations or triggers can prevent the behavior from occurring. And doing things to prevent dogs from ending up with dangerous aggressive behaviors in the first place, should be our starting point. Check out these factors that are present in most human fatalities from dog bites, and dog bite prevention information. Avoid correction, harsh punishment, force and balance training methods. Instead use positive reinforcement/reward-based training methods to save dogs’ lives.
By Dan Raymer, CTC, BS
Herron, M., Shofer, F., & Reisner, I. (2009). Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 117 (1-2), 47-54
We have beautiful weather in North Carolina. The greenery is showing up in full spring blooming, it remains relatively cool, and there’s plenty of people and dogs enjoying walks in the neighborhood. Despite the virus shutting down many of our normal holiday places, I’m hoping everyone can find some peace and happiness on this special day. Happy Easter!