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Dogs & Kids: Introducing your Dog and Baby, Part 2

This week’s post is by our guest writer and dog trainer, Deborah Rosen of Good CitiZEN Dog Training, which has franchises in WA State, Denver, and Florida.

In the last blog post we discussed the need to take great care when introducing a new baby to your family dog. These may be precautionary measures since many dogs take a shine to children and will not behave badly; however, even the most socialized of dogs may have difficulty with a new baby and it’s always best to put safety first.

There are often things that children do, naturally, that may provoke anxiety and reactivity in dogs. A child may start crying, emit a scream if excited or upset or even throw something from a high chair or crib that could be viewed as hostile to your pup. While it is difficult to know what might irritate a dog, it’s best to get a “jump start” on desensitizing him before trouble presents itself.

dog baby cropBabies are Good Things!
Always start with the dog and baby at a safe distance from one another. The instant the dog observes the baby, be ready with a treat and effusive praise. It’s important to deliver the treat and praise quickly since dogs have a limited attention span. Wait patiently and allow the dog to look at the baby without prompting. Once again, deliver the treat and praise as an “unexpected surprise” to the dog.

What the dog comes to quickly understand is that the baby is a “predictor” of good things. This simple exercise results in the dog feeling that the baby is a terrific new addition to the family. In the mind of the dog, we are creating a positive connection to the baby, or what we call a “conditioned emotional response” of the most pleasant kind. Now it’s important to do this at several different times during the day. Start when everyone is in a good mood and do it many times until the dog looks at the baby and then, automatically, back at you for his or her treat. It’s important to keep this going. As the baby starts to emote, as babies often do, keep treating and praising the dog.

Crying Babies – not so bad!
Once you have done this multiple times and moved to a distance much closer than where you first started, you may begin the exercise when the baby is not so happy. A crying or screaming baby can irritate and arouse much deeper and darker instincts in a dog. It is important when working with a crying baby to have two people present – one to work with the dog and another to administer to the baby.

shutterstock_111940151Start the process again, first at a safe distance (8 – 10 feet) and then slowly, moving closer. Allow the dog to look at the baby and then interrupt the look with a high-pitched happy praise and a high-value treat. Once you have repeated this many times at a distance, you may begin to slowly move closer. By doing this slowly and repeatedly, you are helping the dog to understand the baby, although upset and crying, is not a threat or a thing to be viewed negatively. You are helping to turn an otherwise unpleasant occurrence for the dog into a more positive experience.

Even if you have no concerns about your pet dog, doing these exercises will help instill in the dog the right set of emotions and skills needed to withstand the onslaught of the new addition to the family. And, it’s still best to never leave a dog and a baby alone. Although it’s hard to imagine our beloved pet doing anything that might harm a child, it’s always best to be safe!

 

Deborah Rosen_small About the Author

Deborah Rosen is President and Founder of Good CitiZEN Dog TrainingⓇ, a dog training franchise business based in Tacoma, WA. Deborah is known within the industry for her innovative ZEN dog-training methodology and her commitment to using positive and progressive techniques to teach clients the science of canine behavior. Deborah is now spreading her training philosophy of “peaceful living with your dog” from coast to coast through her Good CitiZEN Dog Training franchisees. In addition, Deborah also authors blogs, magazine articles, and is working on a book. For more information about Good CitiZEN Dog Training, see www.goodcitizendog.com.
 

Dogs & Kids: Introducing your Dog and Baby

Guest blog post by Deborah Rosen, Dog Trainer and Owner of Good CitiZEN Dog Training.
 

shutterstock_191635586In the last few blogs, we’ve been discussing the best ways for dogs and kids to interact, especially when first meeting. What has not yet been addressed is a discussion of how to best introduce dogs to new babies. And, once the baby is inserted into the family unit, what are the best practices for daily interaction with the family dog?

You may be surprised to know that as a small child, I was actually bitten by a dog. This is a common occurrence that can be avoided. My unfortunate experience, combined with what I now know as a dog training professional, has heightened my understanding of how to keep children safe from potential bites – and also how to keep the family dog safe from losing its place with his or her beloved family.

 

 

Help! My Dog Doesn’t Like Babies!
Over the years, I have had many panicked calls from clients telling me “we’re expecting our first child and the dog seems to be scared of or reactive to babies.” They describe a variety of different behaviors such as a low growl, raised hackles, baring of teeth or even a snap at the unassuming baby. The dog is actually giving a loud warning, “I do NOT feel comfortable – make this go away!”

I will typically ask the owner to describe the dog’s history of socializing with kids and newborn babies and, invariably, the owner tells me that the dog had no prior experience – there were simply no kids around.

If this case, it is best to take the side of caution and start very slowly, if possible, before the baby is born. By exposing the dog to some of the noises made by a newborn baby like crying, screaming, giggling or even gurgling sounds, you may at least be able to partly habituate the dog to some of what he or she might hear when the real thing arrives. Play a tape of a baby crying. Start low and, over time, raise the volume.

To some dogs, the baby may appear as an annoying intruder and could trigger anxiety. To other dogs, the crying and helpless baby may seem extremely vulnerable. Without the right early exposure, to include positive and corrective feedback, it would be easy for a dog to mistake a newborn for the young of any animal. Never forget that a dog is an animal, and, as well adapted as we think they pet is, when confused or upset he or she will behave in ways that harken back to being in the wild.

beagle baby cropDon’t Leave Babies and Dogs Alone – even for a minute!

That said, never leave a baby alone with a dog, even one that has been with you for a very long time. If you must leave the room, even for a short time, either take the baby with you or secure the dog in a crate for everyone’s safety.

Tune in next week for additional tips on about baby and dog interaction. I will take you through a desensitizing process that can help a dog adjust to a newborn child and some daily practices to keep things moving in the right direction.

 

Deborah Rosen_small About the Author

Deborah Rosen is President and Founder of Good CitiZEN Dog TrainingⓇ, a dog training franchise business based in Tacoma, WA. Deborah is known within the industry for her innovative ZEN dog-training methodology and her commitment to using positive and progressive techniques to teach clients the science of canine behavior. Deborah is now spreading her training philosophy of “peaceful living with your dog” from coast to coast through her Good CitiZEN Dog Training franchisees. In addition, Deborah also authors blogs, magazine articles, and is working on a book. For more information about Good CitiZEN Dog Training, see www.goodcitizendog.com.
 

 

Halloween Night and your Dog: Tips to Keep Fido Calm this Holiday

Halloween and Dogs – not the best combination!

While Halloween is something that many families look forward to and enjoy, this is a holiday fraught with potential problems for dogs.
   “What costumes to wear?”
   “Who will take the children around the neighborhood?”
   “What candy should we get this year?”
For most families, these are the usual questions posed around this fun holiday. Another question is “What the heck is going to happen to the poor dog?”

shutterstock_153544523Halloween Hell

Just think about it. On a good day, most dogs are “set off” by an occasional doorbell ringing, someone coming to the door, or a person randomly walking past the house. On a bad day, a postal carrier or UPS delivery person will come to the door and the family dog intercepts this “intruder” with hackles up, incessant barking and possibly some lunging when the door opens.

On Halloween, we have kids of all ages and sizes arriving in scary costumes and masks, carrying strange objects to hold candy, and screaming “Trick or Treat” in a cacophony of sounds enough to make any average dog a little crazy! To a more reactive or young dog, this may feel like an onslaught and trigger underlying reactions you have never seen before or prefer never to see again.

On top of everything I just described, the whole purpose of the holiday, for those appearing at the door, is to receive food. It may be before the dinner hour or after, but most dogs are hungry all the time and believe me on this one, can smell the goodies through the wrappers. That said, the appearance of so much food may also trigger some “resource guarding” behaviors. Wrapped together, like a beautiful piece of candy, this is a set-up for the dog and one that might put an otherwise well-behaved dog into a world of trouble.

cinnamon eating bully stickSet for Success

If you feel the dog can handle the activity, in advance of Halloween, take out some masks and start your desensitizing process. Start by ringing the doorbell, and if the dog barks, discourage her with an “uh, uh, quiet” said in a deep, firm voice. Ring again, and, the second after the ring, be ready with a treat. Deliver the treat and a praise like “Good Job” said in a very happy voice. Have everyone walk around the house for a while with his or her masks on. Do this every few hours every day before the holiday.

On the day of the holiday, make sure the dog gets a great deal of exercise. In fact, if you take the dog to daycare, make an appointment for Halloween and leave the dog most of the day so when he returns he is thoroughly exhausted! A tired dog is a less reactive one.

If you have a very reactive dog, it’s best to put her in another room, with music or a TV on with something to do. Give the dog a marrow bone or a bully stick to chew on. It’s best for someone to stay with the dog, but at the very least, check on her often and make sure she is not freaking out.

Keep Halloween a happy holiday for everyone, including your best furry friends!

 

Deborah Rosen_small About the Author

Deborah Rosen is President and Founder of Good CitiZEN Dog TrainingⓇ, a dog training franchise business based in Tacoma, WA. Deborah is known within the industry for her innovative ZEN dog-training methodology and her commitment to using positive and progressive techniques to teach clients the science of canine behavior. Deborah is now spreading her training philosophy of “peaceful living with your dog” from coast to coast through her Good CitiZEN Dog Training franchisees. In addition, Deborah also authors blogs, magazine articles, and is working on a book. For more information about Good CitiZEN Dog Training, see www.goodcitizendog.com.

Dogs and Kids: Introducing a New Dog into your Home

This is the 2nd post in a series by Deborah Rosen of Good Citizen Dog Training.

Last week’s post, Dogs and Kids: What you Need to Know, addressed items to consider when thinking about getting a dog for your family.

Get off on the right paw!

As promised in the last blog entry, I will now address some of the proper steps to take when introducing a new rescue dog or puppy to his or her new family. By taking these few easy steps, you will give your new fur baby a much better chance of succeeding with each new member of your household, especially with the children.

On the very first day the dog is due to arrive at your home, arrange for each person in your household to be present, even if they have all met the dog before. Ask each one to step outside the house where the dog will feel less confined and be more apt to feel less threatened.

Tuesday awaiting treatTake Things Slowly

Have each family member stand at least 5 feet from the dog. One at a time, have each adult and child call the dog’s name without looking directly at the dog. If the name has not yet been selected, a noise or a whistle will work just as well to simply get the dog’s attention. The second the dog looks at the individual, pop a very tasty treat in his or her mouth and say “good job” or “good dog.” Do this with each person, one by one. By doing this, we are telling the dog (in a way he can really understand) that the person he just encountered is a “very good thing”. And, by doing this with each person, you are helping the dog understand he has nothing to fear.

Assuming the dog had no difficulty with step one, move to the next step by having each person come up to the dog, one at a time. As they do, tell them to approach the dog sideways without giving the dog eye contact. It’s important, especially with small children to be very clear and concise. “Don’t look at the doggy yet.” Have them present the dog with an open palm and let the dog sniff. Quickly drop a treat in the child’s hand and let the dog take the treat. Do this over and over several times, and if the dog is comfortable, proceed to the next person.

shutterstock_79959028

Do this process over and over until the entire household is introduced without giving eye contact. If this process goes well without incident, start again with everyone now facing the dog squarely and looking directly at him. Once this process is complete, it’s time to go inside the house.

 

Check back next week for next steps to when introducing a new dog to your home.

 

 

Deborah Rosen_small About the Author

Deborah Rosen is President and Founder of Good CitiZEN Dog TrainingⓇ, a dog training franchise business based in Tacoma, WA. Deborah is known within the industry for her innovative ZEN dog-training methodology and her commitment to using positive and progressive techniques to teach clients the science of canine behavior. Deborah is now spreading her training philosophy of “peaceful living with your dog” from coast to coast through her Good CitiZEN Dog Training franchisees. In addition, Deborah also authors blogs, magazine articles, and is working on a book. For more information about Good CitiZEN Dog Training, see www.goodcitizendog.com.

Dogs and Kids: What you Need to Know

This week we have the pleasure of introducing a guest blogger:

Deborah Rosen, Founder and Owner of Good CitiZEN Dog Training!

 

dog kid Just like in the movies.

 
Like Travis and Old Yeller, Timmy and Lassie, Rusty and Rin Tin Tin, dogs and kids have been put together for as long as we can remember. Because of how this is portrayed in the media, we often jump to making assumptions that kids and dogs are made for each other like apple pie and ice cream. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

When you see disclaimers in pet classifieds saying a particular dog is not “kid friendly” you will know these dogs were either not well socialized as puppies or became fearful of children for a variety of reasons. Certainly, these are dogs to stay away from as you look for a new furry family member. What you may not realize is that many rescues come without historical information. It is for this reason that I advocate for adopting either a well documented socialized older dog or a puppy to incorporate into a family with younger children. There are many puppies available through rescue organizations as well.
read more…

BBS Product Spotlight: Anxiety Solutions for Your Dog

September means back to school for over 75 million students around the country and over 7 million education personnel. With students and teachers out of the house, quite a few four-legged friends are facing a quieter, less active day-to-day routine than they’ve become accustomed to over the past few months. For those pups who suffer from separation anxiety, this means more than just fewer belly rubs a day. Dogs who experience extreme stress from being left alone or drastic shifts in their daily routine can exhibit physical side effects ranging from excessive chewing, barking and urinating, to more upsetting signs like diarrhea and vomiting. To help these pups deal with change, Best Bully Sticks offers a variety of anxiety solutions for your dog:

Animals Apawthecary Tranquility Blend: Reduce your dog’s stress – and thus your stress – with this glycerine-based herbal relaxation formula by Animal Essentials. Ideal for dogs and cats, this made in the USA pet product contains certified organic extract of skullcap herb for alleviation of nervous tension, valerian root and passion flower for their anti-anxiety properties, and oat flowering tops for additional soothing and relaxation. With a sweet taste and alcohol-free formula, this 1oz bottle contains a big sigh of relief inside.

The Anxiety Wrap: The Anxiety Wrap is a pressure wrap designed to lessen fear and anxiety in dogs through maintained stress-relieving acupressure. The first of its kind on the market, the wrap targets acupressure points on the dog’s body with a light pressure to release a calming effect. Featuring adjustable elastic bands for customization to each individual dog, the wrap relieves stress without inhibiting the dog’s ability to use the bathroom, eat or perform other daily activities. Available in sizes mini to large, and accompanied by a 100% satisfaction guarantee and free online support, the Anxiety Wrap is a great way to relieve anxiety without the use of medication.

Bach Rescue Remedy: Bach’s Rescue Remedy is all-natural stress relief for dogs. Safe and gentle, this alcohol-free formula helps reduce your pup’s tension and restores emotional balance. Recommended by vets worldwide, this soothing remedy includes cherry plum, clematis, impatiens, rock rose and Star of Bethlehem. Available in a 20ml bottle, this made-in-the-USA product is mixed together to help your dog overcome emotional stressors such as separation anxiety, adjusting to new surroundings, and visits to the groomer or vet.

 

For additional help with separation anxiety or during other stressful times, also consider giving your dog an all-natural bully stick to gnaw on for tension relief!

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BBS Training Tip #5: 4 Dog Tricks Every Dog Should Know

Summer is a great opportunity to spend more time outdoors with your dog. It’s also a good time to make sure dog is up to par on a few basic but very important commands. Whether you’re headed to the beach or going for an afternoon stroll in the neighborhood, BestBullySticks wants to make sure you’ve got the right tools to have fun while keeping your dog safe.

Many of the tricks we’re reviewing use a clicker. If you haven’t heard of a clicker before, we recommend checking out our previous posts on dog training where we discuss how clicker training works.

Good Behavior and Safety

It may sound strange, but learning commands and tricks can help keep your dog safe. Teaching a dog new tricks helps them maintain focus on you. If you’re able to keep your dog’s attention, especially in a busy places like the beach, you’ll have no doubt about whether or not your dog will listen to you at a critical moment.

First things first — if you are going to use a clicker, you need to first train your dog to respond to the clicker. Luckily, this is a very simple task. Clicker training relies on the use of positive reinforcement and treats. Lots of treats! BestBullySticks recommends owners use low-calorie treats like our tasty Lamb Lung Treats as a training aid.

  • Step 1: Click and give your dog a treat
  • Step 2: Repeat 15-30 times (This will build an association between click and reward)
  • Step 3: Always follow through with a treat. Consistency is key for clicker training! read more…

BBS Training Tip #4: Dog Training Methods Part 2

Last week BestBullySticks tipped off our discussion on dog training with the first installment of our Training Methods blog series. In today’s followup post to Training Methods Part 1, we’re delving into specific training methods.

Origins of Modern Dog Training

Modern dog training developed dramatically during the 20th century. Most notably, advances in psychology furthered dog training and led to the creation of new training methods. BestBullySticks recently talked about this fascinating evolution in our post on The History of Dog Training.

In recent years, older training methods have been labeled overly aggressive or unnecessarily physical. In some instances this may be the case— BestBullySticks encourages all dog owners to use their discretion in the matter. Just be sure to avoid any training methods that are outright abusive. There are many factors to consider when training your dog — refer to our post on How Dogs Learn to gain some more insight into what your pup has on his mind!

Corrective Training

A training system that would fall into this category is the Koehler Method. The cornerstone of the Koehler Method is to let dogs make their own mistakes. In doing so, it gives the owner the opportunity to provide consequences for both desirable and undesirable behaviors. The punishments of the Koehler Method are generally more physical, sometimes advocating “alpha rolling,” where a dog is pinned on his back to assert dominance.

It should be noted, this “alpha rolling” technique, while still used today —and even by big name trainers— the “natural” action it is supposed to mimic is an action where submission is actually given, not forced.

Dominance-based training methods like the Koehler Method rely on the theory that dogs are in fact wolves and there are hierarchies in their pack with an alpha-figure at the top. However, the Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) has argued against this idea of aggressive-submissive positions. Additionally, attempting to physically exert dominance could cause your pet to lash out. read more…

Dog Care 101 Tip #214: Caring for Senior Dogs

As we near the end of “Adopt a Senior Dog Month,” we at BestBullySticks wanted to set aside some time for a very special group of dogs — seniors. For aging canines, there are special considerations that need to be kept in mind. Keeping a keen eye on behavior and general health in addition to some fine tuning in diet is all that’s needed to maintain healthy living into the senior years. Old age comes at different times for different breeds, though. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to not only identify aging, but also how to properly care for your dog as a senior.

Expectations

Knowing what to look out for is half the battle. If you’re able to spot signs of health complications early, there’s a good chance the damage can be minimized. Here are some common health issues to watch out for:

Graying: Of course, there’s nothing dangerous about going gray, but it is a good indicator of middle-age and early seniority. It should be noted, some dogs go gray early despite still being quite young.

Vision & Hearing: Inevitably, vision and hearing deteriorate with old age. For vision, some signs to watch out for are increased clumsiness and cloudy eyes. Cloudy eyes, which are often harmless and a normal process of aging, are the product of lenticular sclerosis. This is sometimes confused with cataracts — a clouding of the lens inside the eye — which is very detrimental to sight. If a clouding of the eyes occurs, make sure you promptly pay a visit to the vet. read more…

Dog Care 101 Tip #202: Playing Tug-of-War the Right & Safe Way

Recently there has been a lot of question about the nature of playing the classic dog game tug-of-war. Some say it brings out aggressive tendencies in dogs; however, BestBullySticks.com believes if you have a well-behaved dog that listens, tug-of-war is a great way to not only bond with your dog but also get your dog’s mind and body working. Here are a few ways to make sure tug is always a positive experience for you and your dog.

1. Teach your Dog to Listen
Before you play tug with your dog, make sure your dog can listen to commands. In particular, the “drop it” or “release” command is good for tug. This will help you stop the game easily if needed.

2. The Right Toy
Making sure your dog has the toughest tug toy out there is a must. Flexible yet durable enough for tugging, most good chew toys are made of rubber. A comfy handle is important, too. Check out our Rope-Tug Toys for sturdy, long lasting dog tug toys.

3. Where To Play
The best places to play tug are open areas free of clutter. Playing outside is a great idea, too.

4. Signs for Aggressive Behavior
Most likely your dog will get excited while playing tug. And why shouldn’t they?! They’re having fun! You might notice your dog growling, too. This is perfectly normal as tug is the resemblance of a predatory behavior. As long as your dog’s tail is still wagging, and the growl isn’t threatening, then play can continue. read more…

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