We are just a few weeks away from releasing a new book by Sue Sternberg entitled Assessing Aggression Thresholds in Dogs. While the testing protocols in the book will prove invaluable to both shelter workers trying to screen dogs for adoption and dog trainers doing in-home training to reduce problems relating to aggression, the owner who lives with the dog will often be the determining factor as to whether or not the the ultimate outcomes are "successful." In the last chapter of the book, Sue outlines the characteristics of successful dog owners. Most of you who receive this newsletter do these things already (we are preaching to the choir here...), but sharing this list with your clients or dog-owning friends might be about the best thing you can do. If all dog owners followed these guidelines for success, the world would be a better place for both dogs and their human companions!
Successful Dog Owners:
Have their dogs' attention. Attention is paramount - if your dog is looking at you, he cannot see all the things in life that can over-excite him, scare him, make him mad, etc. Successful dog owners never let eye contact go un-reinforced: they smile at their dogs, say "Hi," praise them, give them a treat, tell him he is a good dog, each and every time their dog looks at them. Teach your dog to look up at you as a cue and ask for it as much as you ask for a sit. Ask for eye contact before your dog sees a squirrel, or before he sees a rabbit, or the neighbor's angry, staring dog, etc.
Train their dogs - not just because they want them to sit when asked, but because all training (as long as it is reward based) is communication and the more you communicate with your dog, the more attentive he is and fulfilled. Reward-based training is fun and effective, and teaches the dog that his interactions with humans are not random. The dog can offer a behavior that can be acknowledged, reinforced, and then the human can ask for a behavior and the dog can acknowledge! This promotes more and more attention and eye contact from the dog and better and better behaviors.
Maintain a minimum of ten discrete behaviors they can ask for and their dogs will execute happily and with joy. The core cues: sit, down, stay/okay, come, look at me--plus a handful of various tricks (paw, spin, sit-pretty, etc.).
Spend quality time in nature with their dogs as often as possible. Access to nature is critical. A pet dog is an animal, first and foremost, and needs to be able to access his instincts - sniff and forage and hunt (without killing) and run and just be out in the natural environment.
Touch and handle their dogs, confidently, gently, smoothly, proficiently, lovingly. They feel their dogs, find where they love to be touched and petted, find how hard or soft the dogs favorite depth of petting is, and then use touch as a reward, as a shared relaxation event, as another shared bonding event.
Engage in partnered access to a dog's instincts: Instead of, or on top of basic manner classes, successful dog owners participate in a dog sport. There is agility, barn hunt, tracking, flyball, treibball, among many, many others. My personal favorite all-around dog sport that can fit any lifestyle and dog: Nosework. You don't have to be athletic, nor does the dog, and it inspires great teamwork and allows the dog to hunt, with you, for a Q-tip dipped in special essence oils, so no animals are harmed in this hunt! I recommend, in particular, the NACSW venue as it has built in to its system, an accommodation for all dog temperaments and abilities, and keeps the safety and success for dogs during the training.
See the dog as a teammate in the sport of life. When out in public with their dogs, they are with them 100% - they don't multi-task. When they take their dogs for walks, they watch their surroundings, watch their dog, they don't check texts or window shop. Successful dog owners pre-empt situations so that their dogs seem to feel that the humans are in charge of the territory, and will keep them safe. The most successful dog owners stay on top of their dogs and situations, see events coming before they arrive, and use training and management to thwart bad behaviors.
Understand that training and behavior modification are for life, and that living with a dog is hard work, filled with compromise and honoring the dog's temperament and personality.
Share joy. In this way pet owners build a bond, forge a partnership, earn the admiration, trust and respect of their dogs. Shared joy is play. Shared joy is a hike in nature. Shared joy is engaging in a dog sport together. Shared joy is a quiet, indoor massage. Shared joy is staying connected with dogs via conversation, eye contact, communication and by seeing the relationship as a partnership - each working to enhance the other's life.
Newest books & products:
Gamify Your Dog Training - Training Games for Group Instruction by Terry Ryan.
Teaching a dog training class is not easy. Not only do you need to be a skilled trainer, you need to keep a group of dogs and people focused and motivated. The use of training games to teach new behaviors and improve others is one way to make your classes more successful. Author Terry Ryan is recognized by dog trainers worldwide as the expert in using training games to help improve performance of both canine and human students. The 70 plus games in this new book will get your creativity flowing and allow you to Gamify your training classes.
Welcome Home! Ultimate Training Guide for All Newly-Adopted Puppies and Dogs DVD by Paul Owens. In this brand new DVD, bestselling author ('The Dog Whisperer', 'The Puppy Whisperer') and training expert Paul Owens provides step by step instructions using the same tried and true, positive, force-free, reward-based methods that he has used to train dogs over his 40 year career.
Agility for Starters: From Zero to Hero in 101 Exercises by Connie Sellers. Agility is the fastest growing dog sport and is undoubtedly tremendous fun for both dog and handler! To get to the top takes a huge amount of time, effort and training, so where do you begin if you are thinking about taking up this fast and furious sport with your four legged friend?
Thanks from all of us at Dogwise and Happy New Year!
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