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Lessons Learned: How to Have Happy Holidays with the Hound

shutterstock_113454991This week’s post is by our guest writer and dog trainer, Deborah Rosen of Good CitiZEN Dog Training, whose franchises span from coast in coast in WA State, Denver, and Florida.

 Every year Deborah shares her list of helpful tips for the holidays, also known as “how to stay out of the emergency Vet Clinic” with your favorite canine companion! Make sure your holidays stay positive and mishap free, this year and every year!

 Tip #1 – Stow presents until Christmas morn!
Young dogs have energy to burn and enjoy exploring novel things. So, DO NOT put holiday presents under the tree until it’s time to open them. We love to display presents, but keeping them hidden beats the disappointment of a present destroyed before it’s been opened. And it’s certainly better than making a trip to the emergency vet to surgically remove whatever was ingested. No harm, no foul!

shutterstock_154188704Tip #2 – It’s All About the Food, Bout the Food, No Begging!
We know feeding the dog from the table will encourage begging. And, there’s nothing worse than a dog begging at the holiday table. And an occasional bit of turkey or holiday fare should be no big deal. But, if you multiply that bit by the number of people likely to be present you’ve got a serious problem. Of course, no one will admit to slipping the dog just a little tidbit. The only one who knows is the poor puppy with her belly stuffed with rich foods she’s not accustomed to eating. End result? You’re up with a sick dog and your merry holiday is now a wretched one involving you cleaning the carpet in the middle of the night. Good times!

I suggest the following with just a tad bit of mocking. Hang a sign above the dining table that says, “Human Food is for Humans Only!” When queried about this tell your guests that if the dog gets sick in the night, each person at the table will receive an immediate phone call to come help with the cleanup. Problem solved – on with the merriment!

shutterstock_124417567Tip #3 – Exercise and a little training!
Whether it’s raining, snowing, cold, or sunny and warm, exercise the dogs before your guests arrive. A dog that has not been attended to will be much more difficult to handle when your guests arrive. Dogs that jump up on guests will jump more if not given any exercise.

Better yet, do some advanced training leading up to your holiday event. Have someone ring the doorbell and insist that the dog “sit” at the front door before opening it. If the dog does this fairly quickly, deliver a treat along with a verbal praise. If necessary, put a leash on the dog and step on that to prevent the dog from jumping. Practice this every day for a week leading up to your event and, along with a good long walk, you’ll have a better chance of guests arriving without incident.

Tip #4 – Keep the licks and kisses coming up roses!
Are you a household with a variety of pets – perhaps cats? If so, the holidays are a busy time and the pets are often neglected while cookies are baked and presents are wrapped. Remember, if you do not attend to the kitty litter, the dog will! Whether the dog is hungry or well fed, cat poop (known in the dog training world as “kitty rocha”) will attract many dogs and your guests may be the unfortunate recipients of a kiss delivered shortly after feasting on kitty rocha. Eck! Do everyone a favor and put “clean the litter box” on the “to do” list for the day the guests arrive.

Tip#5 – Tidy Fido will make guests happy!
Store a dog towel by the doors where the dogs go in and out. When your guests arrive in their holiday finery, nothing will make you feel worse than having muddy paw prints all over your guests’ new clothes. People are good-natured, but why put a damper on the holiday by “muddying” things up? Attend to your dog’s comings and goings and wipe their paws when they come inside, especially when you live in wet areas like in the Northwest.

shutterstock_107786723Tip #6 – More About the Food, Bout the Food, No Trouble!
By now everyone knows that certain foods will make dogs sick. Chocolate, raisins, grapes, onions, and garlic are some of the common foods that most people know will make dogs unwell.

Here are some others that are more obscure, but very dangerous, if consumed by dogs. Macadamia nuts and nuts, in general, may be toxic. Raw bread dough is another food that can make dogs very sick. According to the ASPCA’s website, “the warm, moist environment of the stomach provides an ideal environment for the yeast to multiply, resulting in an expanding mass of dough in the stomach.” The stomach may become so distended it becomes difficult for the dog to breathe. Keep bread dough that is rising in a safe place where the dog cannot reach it.

Christmas labsWhile you are preparing your holiday foods, it’s best to give dogs something to do. A frozen marrowbone or a bully stick or a stuffed toy is something that will keep most dogs occupied and happy and not looking for things that might make them ill.

 

In general, the holidays are a time when family is home, people are happy and the family dog is enjoying attention from everyone. By taking a few precautions and making time for a bit of extra training, the holidays can stay happy and healthy for everyone!

Feliz Navi-Dog!

 

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, 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.
 

 

Your New Dog: Settling in at Home & Crate Training

We hope everyone had a fun and safe Happy Howl-o-ween last week!

This week we continue our Dog Training series with guest writer, Deborah Rosen of Good CitiZEN Dog Training.

 

shutterstock_80168479

Home prep is a really critical piece of the puzzle when bringing home a new puppy or older dog.

Most folks know that a great deal of preparation goes into bringing a new puppy into your house. It is important to make the house “puppy safe” by closing off parts of the house with baby gates, or limiting access to cabinets where the puppy can get into food items or other things that might pose dangers. It is helpful to do the same thing when bringing home a puppy or an older rescue dog. By preparing the house and setting things up for a “successful experience,” you are limiting the chances for your dog to get into a world of trouble.

Be Safe, Not Sorry

Anything and everything you value (expensive rugs, electronics, shoes, breakables, favorite children’s toys, etc.) should be removed and put in a safe place and introduced later. When you bring home a young untrained dog or even an older dog with a checked history of training and socializing, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you have children with stuffed animal toys, put them out of sight. A new dog that comes in and immediately start destroying your family’s favorite possessions will quickly fall from grace.

shutterstock_1393388Acquire a Crate – Begin Crate Training

Assuming the dog was receptive to everyone outside the house, we can proceed to engage with the dog inside the house. Instruct children to stay as calm as possible. Coming into a new home can be a frightening experience for a new dog. Dogs do not change very much, and any shift in their living situation can provoke stress and anxiety. While kids of various ages will be difficult to control, setting up “Rules of the House” with the children concerning the new dog will help them to understand how to maintain a calm demeanor until the dog is well situated. Also, by introducing a crate, a dog may go to his or her crate when things get too boisterous with children playing and making a great deal of noise.
read more…

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.

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 #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…

Dog Care 101 Tip #200: Indoor Winter Play Ideas for Your Dog

Cold. Wet. Rainy. Snowy. Being outside in winter weather can tend to be miserable and staying cooped up indoors isn’t always so much fun either. The same is true for your dog; outdoor playtime might decrease dramatically or indoors your pup may not be stimulated enough. However, BestBullySticks.com thinks winter months can force us to be creative with our day-to-day routine. We’ve come up indoor playtime activities for the winter months because, after all, your dog still needs exercise. 

Hide & Seek
Throw a treat to your dog and while they’re gobbling it up, run and hide in a different part of the house. Your dog will want to come find you if you have more treats and will tire your pooch out in the process. Use small, low calorie treats like Fruitables or Purebites.

Scavenging & Dinner Games
Remember your dog is a scavenger by nature and enabling these characteristics can stimulate both mind and body. Use a puzzle food bowl or a hollow dog toy like a Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Snoop with frozen food to challenge your dog while he eats. You can also hide treats around the house and have your dog track down their location.

Indoor Agility Course & Training
A homemade agility course can test your dog’s navigation skills and stimulate brain and body. Use chairs as weave poles, using a broomstick over a couple buckets or holding a hula-hoop in your hands as a jump can make for a fun and rousing playtime. Winter can also be a great time to have dedicated training time with your dog. Want to teach your dog to high-five, shake or roll over? Use your regular outdoor playtime and substitute it for training. Your dog will emerge into Spring as a well trained pooch! read more…

Dog Care 101 Tip #199: High-Five Trick Dog Training

Yes, your dog is cute. But how cool would it be to give your dog a high-five?! “Good Boy, Fido!” followed by a head pat can quickly become “Good Boy, Fido! High-Five” followed by interspecies coolness. What’s more awesome than that?

BestBullySticks.com knows once your dog has mastered standard training commands and a few tricks, your dog will not only be the cutest and best behaved at the dog park, but the most talented as well! 

Teaching the High-Five Trick

Need: Training Treats, Training Treat Pouch & a Clicker

If you’re not familiar with clicker dog training, read up on it here. Also, your dog must have the “sit” command mastered before teaching this trick.

Step 1
Have your dog sit in front of you. Place a desirable treat in your hand and make a fist. Let your dog sniff your hand to let them know the treat is there. Move the hand with the hidden treat above your dog’s head, just out of reach. Have the clicker ready in your other hand. read more…

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