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If You Think Your Dog is Dominant, Watch This!

If You Think Your Dog is Dominant, Watch This!

Do you think your dog is dominant? The Alpha? The boss? Then watch this video because it just isn’t true. It’s about respect and respect goes both ways.

“Your dog doesn’t respect you. Don’t you dare let him get away with that. Grab that collar and show him who’s boss.” Have you heard that before? What do you think when you see this video?

You see how my dog is barking and running around, not paying attention to me? Or so it seems? What the real problem here? Is it that she doesn’t respect me?

I’m Dr. Carolyn Lincoln with Play to Behave and you can find out more about me at playtobehave.com. I’m a veterinarian, professional dog trainer, and agility competitor. You’re watching Ray and me when we were new at agility. Well, we’re still new at it, and it’s my job to tell Ray where she goes next. I can’t just use words, I have to use my body language, and it’s not easy to do. Especially with a dog at her speed.

But she’s not dominant over me. She is respecting me. How do I know that? Because I’ve already been through this with another dog, where I was told repeatedly in the early years that I was learning that she didn’t respect me. But she did everything I asked at home. She waited whenever I told her to wait, she always wanted to be with me, and she was extremely affectionate.

So, why–and her name was Pepper–why would Pepper bark and jump at me when I was on the agility course with her? Because I wasn’t telling her what to do and she was frustrated. She didn’t know what to do, all she wanted was for me to tell her what to do. I have to tell her, and it’s hard when you have a fast dog because you have to think and react faster than they do. We can’t just use words because words aren’t very meaningful to dogs. It’s all about the body language. It’s the speed I’m going, the location I am, the direction I’m facing. There are many things I can do to tell my dog where to go next, and this isn’t about disrespect.

If you really care about your dog, you need to respect them as much as you want them to respect you. You need to look at the environment, look at everything around you, understand why your dog is doing what they’re doing. Think about their health. Could there be something that’s bothering them? They can’t hear you, they can’t see you, they’re in pain… there’s a lot of reasons dogs don’t behave the way that we expect or the way that we want them to. You need to build your relationship based on understanding, communication, and trust, and once you do that, you’re going to get the behavior that you want.

Your dog wants to please you in the worst way. They’re born that way! It’s a rare dog–there would have to be something terribly wrong with them for them to not want to do whatever you’re asking. But if you don’t teach them what it is you want, if they don’t understand you, or if you’re hurting them, ruining the trust that you’re building together… then, yeah, your dog is not going to listen to you. I’m Dr. Carolyn Lincoln with Play to Behave. If you want to learn more, go to playtobehave.com. Have a good time with your dog. Go enjoy them, love them, and have happy times training together. I hope you’ll come back and see me again.

 

10 Guidelines For Introducing Your Family Dog To A New Dog

10 Guidelines For Introducing Your Family Dog To A New Dog

I got a question about introducing your new dog to your old dog.

Here are some things to consider:

1. Every relationship is different

Every relationship is different for us and for your dogs too. Let your dogs get to know each other in their own time and on their own terms. Coaxing or forcing them to be together can really backfire. Don’t worry if it takes them even days to start to connect. Just let them approach each other when ready.

2. Use indoor fences and/or crates

Use indoor fences and/or crates to reduce the stress and give each of your dogs space. While they may stay on separate sides of a room, they still know your other dog is loose and can approach. Let each of your dogs have their own space to rest most of the time. They can still see, smell and hear your other dog when one is crated or behind a fence so even if it doesn’t look like it, they are getting to know each other.

3. Use Dog Appeasing Phermone (Adaptil)

Phermones are one way that animals communicate and wonderful for us, there is a synthetically made phermone for dogs that gives the message that your dog is safe. The phermones used are ones given off by the dam (mother dog) when she is nursing her puppies. It promotes a feeling of security, safety and relaxation. It may not work for every dog but it is worth the test.

Adaptil, a dog appeasing phermone, has research and data to back up it’s effectiveness and while it is not 100%, it helps with a majority of dogs. If you choose another brand, make sure it has the data to show that the concentration level and formulation works well.

This product is recommended by Veterinary Behaviorists, Veterinarians and other dog professionals. It is odorless, won’t stain and comes in a variety of formulations, including as a spray, as a collar, as wipes and as a room diffuser.

4. Limit Your Dog’s Time Together At First

Give your dogs about an hour together, at most, the first couple days and then you’ll need to use your best judgement to increase that amount of time but better safe than sorry – do it slowly.

5. Give Your Dogs The Space They Need to Adjust Slowly

If your dogs play well together right away, then great! But you’ll still want to give them space to adjust slowly.

6. Expect That Your New Dog’s Personality Can Change

Your new dog may take 3 weeks and sometimes more, to really settle in so that you will see their full personality. Just keep that in mind.

7. Be Prepared That Children Can Add A Different Dynamic

You may have wonderful children but most children add a lot more energy to the environment depending on their age and activity level, so your new dog will need more rest than if you lived alone or in a home with adults only.

8. Take Some Safety Precautions To Prevent Your New Dog From Running Away

If your new dog is not a young puppy, and if they miss their old home, it is easier for them to wander off than a puppy would. Finding your new dog after they wander or run off, can be heartbreaking and exhausting. so take some safety precautions, such as:

  • Use a crate in the car (well, this is always wise but even more so with your new dog!)
  • Double leash your new dog: Attach one leash to the collar and one to a harness so if one slips away, you still have hold of your dog.
  • Always keep high value treats with you just in case you need to encourage your new dog to come out from hiding.
  • If your two dogs want to play outside or you want to release your new dog for exercise, please use a fenced yard – not an invisible fence because your dog may just go right through it – use a physical fence.
    • A “no-climb fence” is a great option. We love ours! It is a split rail fence about 3 feet high with a strong wire fence securely attached to it. That same wire fence is also buried about 6″ below ground to prevent your dog from digging out AND just as important, to prevent other animals from coming into your yard….. like SKUNKS! Well, skunks can climb but it’s a pretty good deterrent.

9. Each Of Your Dogs Need Special Time With You

Really important! Each of your dogs need special time with you, so use that time in these ways:

  • My motto is “Train One, Treat Both”: Just do this a couple minutes 2-3 times a day, especially at first.
    • Keep one of your dogs behind a fence or in a crate, while you do training exercises with the other one.
    • When the one being trained gets a food reward or praise, so does the other dog – eye contact, congratulatory words and a treat if you are using them.
    • The one not being trained is being rewarded for patience and doing this provides a positive association with the other dog.
    • Eventually, you’ll be able to do this with both loose but one on a bed or a mat waiting patiently.
  • Walk them separately at first and later, occasionally so they get that special time with you.
  • When you are home, you can also spend time separately in different rooms.

10. Beware Of Power Struggles And Dog Fights

There may be a power struggle between your dogs. If you run into this trouble, it can come up even months after you bring a new dog home, so make sure to follow the above instructions. Know that there is no easy way to help you in a single blog but in general, you want the dogs to work this out for themselves. Here are some helpful guidelines:

  • If there is any reason, at all, for a safety concern, then your dogs MUST be safely separated and/or supervised. There are some dogs that just won’t ever get along. If this is your situation, PLEASE get help from a qualified professional.
  • First, keep your food and your children’s food out of reach when you have more than one dog, just in case they start to guard or jockey for that resource.
  • Similarly, if one of your dogs keeps taking something like a toy or bone from the other dog, please don’t try to even it out! Let them work this out as long as safety is not an issue. This is common for one dog to claim all the resources at first and sometimes, later on occassion. They do not have to share like we make children do so in school. Sometimes it helps to have several of the same toy but again, this depends on the dogs.
  • Please do not break up a fight using your hands! People get serious injuries because your dogs are no longer in a state where they realize they are or could hurt you. This is especially important to teach children.
  • If you must break up a fight, first try to startle your dogs by making a loud noise, knocking over a chair or anything that may make them stop. If that doesn’t work, you can use a pole like a broom handle to try and separate the dogs or push something between them. Some people will tell you to grab their tails but all I can say is that each and every situation is different. I’m sure you love your dogs but please, safety first so you just can’t reach in and pull them apart without a real risk of injury. I could tell you many sad stories.
  • Practice with your children so they know what to do if a fight does break out between your dogs. They should come and get you! Or if home alone, call for help from a neighbor. I’m not sure if calling 911 would be a good idea but the police have access to help. There is a lot more to say about safety with dogs and children. I am not covering it all here.

Having two dogs or even more can be incredibly enriching for you and for your dogs and while it is common for homes to have more than one dog, personalities vary and it is important to be respectful of that with your dogs. Then have some fun!

Please put your questions below or join me on my facebook page, Play To Behave and ask me there!

Happy Training!

A Perspective on Relationships and Our Hearts

A Perspective on Relationships and Our Hearts

I believe we can have a magical relationship with our dog* that rewards our soul with joy, love and refuge. We can find affection and companionship in a creature so unlike ourselves and create a bond that compels them to do everything in their power to please you, if you let them. Your dog will share your adventures and comfort you in sadness all with a loyalty that is remarkable. Your dog may travel hundreds of miles to find you and when pushed, lay down their life to protect you. These are all the things a dog wishes to be for you.

I also believe this magic doesn’t happen sometimes because of us. We can do better as stewards of our dogs. We can adjust our expectations and accept them as individuals. We can communicate with them in their own language and give them the confidence they need to achieve their potential and be the best they can be. We can give them a strong and loving relationship, which is what they value most and frankly, deserve. We chose them.

Achieving this begins with our perspective and how we contribute to the relationship. Get those right and your dog will be the best they can be.

I can help you create the magic.

But sometimes, their best or yours, isn’t enough and the relationship is a struggle or even a failure. When this happens, you need support.

You just found it. Here.

Welcome to Play To Behave where you will get help, news from the “behavior” front, learn about new products and hear some personal stories and “confessions” of my own. We are going to be great friends. <smile>

*NOTE: I will only mention dogs for simplicity, but in almost all of what I write, I also mean cats. Cats were my first love and are my “second language”. I will always have and love both.