Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Don't Blame the Trainer!

Often I hear folks tell me their dogs' were "ruined" by a trainer, who used approaches that were not comfortable for either the dog or their human.  I agree whole heartedly that certain dog training approaches may or may not work for each individual dog and person.  But what I don't agree with (and here is where I will put on my flame suite!) is the owner blaming the trainer completely.  Remember folks, you are your dog's voice and only advocate.  If YOU don't speak up, he certainly can't, except in behavior that could be construed as aggressive or fearful.  When you working with someone, it's your responsbility to know what kind of trainer you have hired.  It's also your responsbility to stop this person from doing something you are not comfortable with.  I know, I know, folks always say "well, I trusted him, he was the expert not me".  But it doesn't take experience to know that what is happening to your dog (or might happen) isn't right for him.  You know your dog better than anyone else, and as a trainer I actually trust that you'll be able to tell me if you think he can or can't handle something.  If you say he can't, we'll come up with a way that he can!   You, not the trainer, have your dog's lead in your hands.  Be sure before your trainer takes your dog that you know what is going to be happening.  I love to take student dogs for demo.  I'll ask the owner if I can, and let them know I won't be harming their dog in anyway and what we'll be doing.  The owner has the right to say no, although I usually get the leash tossed at me before I even get through my schpeel!  It's always fun to see your dog out with the trainer learning!

So do your homework before you hire someone or pay for a class.  As them to explain the Why's and Wherefores of an exercise if you're not comfortable with it.  Sometimes I will push your dog harder than you will, and it's good that I do.  Folks will always say "I can't believe he did that"!!  So be your dog's advocate, be sure you know what your trainer will be doing before you start classes and enjoy being with your dog!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Dangers of a tied out Dog

A dog that is tied up outside is a dog at risk.  Restraining a dog from being able to do it's natural instinct of flight or fight will always result in a problem.  Dog's don't do well on tie-outs, plain and simple.  It's not natural for them and it will always play with their brain, and for some in not such a good way.  Yes, your dog may seem ok on it, watching the world go by in the front yard.  But your dg is VERY aware of his/her limitations, which include just how far he can go on his lead.  Space within that circle is all his to take care of as he sees fit.  Most often we hear of dogs that when approached on a tie out will be calm until you step inside his circle.  Then the trouble can insue.  It could be just a lunge and bark, or a full blown bite.  In the dog's brain he knows he can't run away, and since his world has shrunk to just this circle, he will defend it and himself with whatever means he thinks he should.  The other backfire of this is that often the dog will take to resource guarding inside the house as well, over toys, bones, beds, etc.  He practices "claiming" his space every minute of the day he is tied out, and is very good at barking at things as they walk by. 

Does this happen to every dog?  Of course not, just like people dogs have different coping skills.  But know that being tied out for time anylonger than 20 minutes is just plain hard for a dog.  They will accept it, but will not truly like it.  A fence yard it the safest place for your dog.  He can run and play without the worries of someone coming into his space.  Invisible fences are ok, but I like to see them looped so the dog cannot get from the back yard to the front yard unless he goes out with you.  Never want to "loose sight" of your dog in your yard, so keeping them in one area or the other is much safer! 

Enjoy those pups!