Tails of a Dallas Dog Trainer (Smarterpups.com)

Fixing a Problem Behavior
September 21, 2009, 8:36 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Bolting is a behavior in which the dog dashes in, out or across a restricted threshold (i.e., doorway, curb). The solution for bolting is typically teaching the dog where the boundary to the threshold is and then the rules at each threshold.

There are several common boundaries that a dog owner will want the dog to be aware of and respect. The most important one is usually the front door. A dog bolting out the front door can run away and/or get hit by a car. Another important boundary is the street. Since most dog owners want their dogs to accompany them in the yard, teaching the dog not to run in the street is an important step toward keeping him safe. Owners may also boundary train a dog to not enter certain areas or rooms of the house.

Treatment Plan for Bolting

There are four components that need to be addressed when treating bolting.

• • • •

1) Positive Reinforcement of Alternate Behaviors

2) Management of the Problem and Setting the Dog up to Succeed

3) Consequences for Bolting

4)Consistency in Dealing with Bolting

These four components are called the Treatment Plan. The Treatment Plan must be followed consistently to eliminate or curtail the behavior.

Positive Reinforcement of Alternate Behaviors

To assist the owner in solving this problem, you must first make the dog aware that there is a boundary. Pick obvious markers to help the dog know where to stop. Curbs, the sidewalk, doorways, trees and shrubs are all good visual cues for a boundary. Small flags stuck in the ground are also good boundary markers for flowerbeds. For the first few days of training, have the owner walk the leashed dog over to the boundary and develop a habit of stopping at that boundary and turning away from it. The owner should not give a verbal cue since you want the dog to respect the boundary whether the owner is there to give a cue or not. Teach the owner to be consistent and praise the dog each time she leads him away from the boundary. Until the dog is boundary trained, he should never be allowed to cross the boundary. Make sure the owner understands to set up the boundary perimeter so the dog cannot cross it even when no one is present. To accomplish this, the owner may use baby gates, keep doors closed, give the dog only supervised access in the yard, etc.

Management of the Problem and Setting the Dog up to Succeed

On-leash Sit-Stays at the boundary are an excellent way to show the dog that owners and other family members may cross the boundary, but he may not. Have the owner give lots of treats and praise for successful Sit-Stays on his side of the boundary. Instruct the owner to bring the dog up to the boundary line, stop and put him in a Sit-Stay. The owner should then cross the boundary line and then return to the dog who should still be sitting on his side of the boundary. Have the owner do this all along the boundary line for several days. Make sure the owner rewards the dog for remaining outside the room or boundary. Eventually have the owner leave the dog for longer periods of time in a Sit-Stay position on his side of the boundary. The owner should return periodically to praise and treat the dog for staying on his side of the boundary. This will make it clear to him that the way to get attention is by remaining on his side of the boundary. The owner must remember not to ignore the dog when he is staying on his side of the threshold. She can gradually reduce the attention she gives him there. After each Sit and Sit- Stay, make sure the owner always walks the dog back away from the boundary line. This teaches the dog to walk away from the boundary.

When the owners see that the dog is anticipating stopping when they approach the boundary, have the owner begin to give him a little more leash to allow him to approach the boundary more freely. Be ready to stop him quickly if it appears that he is not going to stop and then quickly ask him to Sit, then release him and back away from the boundary line. Help the owner to practice this exercise for a few more days. Set the dog up with a variety of distractions so the behavior of not crossing the boundary is generalized. When the owners get the same anticipation with various distractions as they did without the distractions, they can advance to booby-trapping the boundary line.

Consequences for Bolting

After about a week, instruct the owner to give the dog less guidance and allow him to make some mistakes. Have the owners use a long-line and stay back a bit from the boundary. The owners should keep a long-line on the dog until they are sure he will be repelled away from the boundary no matter what the distraction. When they start to test the dog to see if he will stay out of a particular room — even when the owners are elsewhere – assist them in setting up a motion sensor that will “shriek” the instant the dog crosses the boundary, repelling the dog away from the boundary.

Booby-trapping the boundary is critical so the dog can learn that even if no one is present, he must respect the boundary. Devices such as shaker cans, whistles, squirt guns, static mats or upside-down carpet runners can also be used. The owner will need to have other people hidden in the forbidden area equipped with some of these devices in order to surprise the dog when he starts to cross the boundary. Remote devices, such as motion-sensor shriek alarms, static mats and upside-down carpet runners are automatically triggered when the dog crosses the boundary and usually are the better choices for boundary training.

Consistency in Dealing with Bolting

Consistency is critical when working to curtail or eliminate behavior problems. A good trainer must help his or her clients understand that the majority of behaviors we humans label “problems” are self-rewarding behaviors for the dog. Simply put, most dogs truly enjoy engaging in these “problem” behaviors and will not miss an opportunity to partake in them. It is for this reason that consistency plays such a crucial role in treating the behavior. The Treatment Plan must be followed consistently in order to achieve success.


Do I need another dog ?
September 7, 2009, 8:42 pm
Filed under: General | Tags: , , , ,

This weekend started as it does every other day with Jase the Weimaraner. Staring at me from 3 centimeters away. Jase is a grey weim with a biological clock to rival citizen and rolex. Between 5:28 and 5:33 Jase will lean his head on the bed reminding me he needs to go out. The three other dogs don’t stir until the back door is opened. Then in a blur you will see two more weims and a puggle fly by.

To recap there are four dogs. Jase and Jack (Jack is a puggle, pug and beagle mix) were the original two. Torro is the most recent “foster failure” (horrible term, get back to that later) and Princess the foster dog.

So as the crew is out finding the perfect spot then wandering back inside to their individual pet beds, I began to think I couldn’t imagine having a house with only one dog. There is a blood oath you sign when you get a dog whether you know it or not. You agree to feed, walk and play with them at almost any expense. There was no mention of the learning curve that happens when you bring that dog home.

You slowly realize you can’t be selfish. If your sick your dog still needs a potty break. If you have to work late your dog still needs to be fed. If you want to pick up an head to cancun you need to plan for a kennel .

You may want another dog due to the perfectly obediant one you saw at the dog park or you saw that puppy while running errands over the weekend. When it comes to having multiple dogs there are some cons, higher bills for one. By the time you supply annual vet visits, heartworm prevention, flea prevention, food, collars, leashes, treats and time you have spent almost between 500-875 dollars. That is for the essential stuff. Heaven forbid you have something go wrong!! I strongly suggest pet insurance for animals without any pre-exsisting conditions.

Too many times people get a dog to fill a void. You want to leave the house more and you know you will have to walk the dog so….. Think how cliche that sounds. Just like that gym membership you bought as a new years resolution and you never even saw it in march that same year. This solution is right up there with my marriage is failing and my kids think I am a jerk, wouldn’t it be great to have a dog I could go camping with to leave the house. Your desire for a dog has to be balanced and fair to everyone involved. If you have a fluid daily routine a second dog could turn your world upside down.

Some people go as far to acquire a dog In a time of depression or loss. We have to be very careful to provide the dog boundries and training and not let the dog be a cuddle buddy and think he runs the house. The other things to consider would be is my current dog trained to their potential. I am the first one to admit I don’t own Lassie, Benji or even Bingo but I am confident my dogs can make good decisions and worst case they will respond when spoken to.

So on with the positives. Dogs are pack animals and are calmer and at ease with another dog around. IF…..and this is a big if, you picked the right partner in crime. Try to bring the possible new dog you choose home for acouple hours. Spend some time with this dog if he is going to live his entire life in your family. You now have a built in work out patner and the current house dog or leader will actually show feeding and housebreaking rules. I feel that training two dogs can be a breeze when the first one knows the routine. I have noticed with stubborn or unruly dogs can turn a 180 much faster when you bring a well behaved dog with you. It sets them at ease to see barking won’t always get what you want and laying down will always earn me affection.

Dogs can bring out the best in us. Yet if you are irritable, over worked and in need a life change then adding a dog to the mix is not in the cards right now.

Make sure you can come home clear your head then greet the dogs. Make sure they don’t get excited when you come home. We as owners have to pick our battles. Do you want that warm fuzzy when you get home and your dog or dogs come running up to you wanting and needing you? Or would you rather walk in see them
raise their head to acknowledge your home and let you change into comfy clothes and come when called. If you don’t let your dogs jump all over you them they will less likely jump on others.

Last of all when considering getting a second, third or fourth dog please consider the source. Please do your research on the breed. Make sure the dog is good with kids if you plan on having them. Double check how big they will get to avoid apartment landlords from freaking out. Check with the breeder or rescue on what care they provide for their dogs. Please ask to see multiple dogs. Please make a decision with you head and not your heart. Please DO NOT buy a dog from a pet store or breeder that supports puppy mills. I personally will NEVER purchase another dog that did not come from a shelter, rescue or certified breeder. To clarify certified breeder I have my own list I look for. I don’t just want to see the mom and dad of the litter. I want to see their blood lines. I want to see where the stay and sleep. I want to see what they eat and how they are fed. I want to make sure this breeder treats dogs like I would and not just an income.

When working with a rescue please be honest about your situation and they will do their beat to find you the right dog. If you didn’t mention you have a 2 ft tall fence then we cannot help suggest a better way to exercise your dog.
I had mentioned a foster failure earlier. One thing you can do for a rescue is foster a dog. Every rescue needs foster parents. You get to bring a dog into your home where you will feed them and provide a roof until the rescue can find them a home. This is a great way to interview the perfect dog. Ortherwise you find them the home of their dreams.

Torro was a dog who was found as a stray. He was bumped across three shelters to avoid being put down. He had very few teeth due to poor choices in food, mostly rocks. He had a hematoma ear due to lack of care. now he is so greatful to have a home we waits to be called and sleeps in his kennel as not to be in the way. We had fostered 7 other weims this year prior to Torro. When Torro walked into the house it was a different vibe. We have two alpha males between Jase and Jack. Well as alpha as a 30 lbs puggle can get. Instead of the posturing and pacing that would happen Jack and Jace laid down and watched as Torro had his first meal. Torro had created a very calm feel in the house. The two had found thier calling. Instead of taking time to dismember the next toy their time was spent making sure Torro knew where they had to pee outside or how we had to sit to get affection. There were many a discussion on if three dogs would be too much yet this one dog single handedly stole our hearts and brought much needed peace to our house.

Hello world!
August 27, 2009, 5:31 pm
Filed under: General

Today is day one of Blogging this is a new concept for me, yet no different then the normal day checking facebook and updating twitter.  I am sure there will be a variety to topics to discuss in the coming days just due to dog training’s normal operation.  I am very confident the appearance of the site will change over the next couple days.  I will make sure to update the blog on a daily basis.  Here are some of the topics i can for see in the next couple weeks.  Please feel free to give an suggestions for topics or changes you would like to see.

Head over Heart, picking the right dog for your family.

Puppy Mills and the way we can help.

What methods work, I HAVE TREID EVRYTHING (ps no you haven’t)

When my dog is Lonely, should i get him a brother or sister.

How come my dog has the same taste for nice shoes I do???