Do you look like your dog?


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Do you look like your dog? It’s interesting to think how many people get animals that actually resemble their owners.

Blonde owners choosing blonde puppies, people with certain facial characteristics picking dogs with big eyes, smooched in noses, long noses, extra furry or no hair at all. It is fascinating how many people subconsciously want a dog that looks like themselves.

According to Dr, Workman from Bath Spa University “Psychologists asked 70 people to match 41 dog owners, found through the Kennel Club, to their breeds. They were correct between 50 and 60 per cent of the time, when chance suggested that they should have a success rate of around 33 per cent”.

Now the physical traits can be attributed to some circumstance. Large men might tend to large breed dogs and petit women might prefer small breeds due to the ease of dog. For example, a larger built man or women can handle a heavier build dog breed and might enjoy the power behind the dog.

However when studies were conducted pertaining to personality traits and dog choices there was not a significant difference in the results.

But if you are not sure if this dog lookalike phenomenon is true, head over to a best in show contest or just mossy on down to your local dog park and observe. You might be finding more similarity than you think!!!!

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When did dog walking become a science?


I read a great article pertaining to walking your dog. In New York, an article ( http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/14/a-dog-walker-to-make-you-feel-almost-like-you-are-there/ ) was conducted to see if people trust or feel comfortable with dog walkers.

Are they actually coming in and walking the dog? Are the dogs actually going outside? These high tech New York walkers have decided to go above and beyond giving their clients “pee and poo” alerts, photos of their dogs walking and full updates on their dogs day including trackers to detect how far your dog has gone that day. However, even with all the extra bells and whistles what happens when your dog walker encounters a behavioral problem?

Many dog walkers don’t understand how to treat or correct behavioral problems while on a walk. As a trainer, fixing dog walking problems is only one small step in correcting an undesired behavior but how does this stay maintained? What happens when the trainer has fixed the problem and the walkers still walk the dogs unable to maintain and fix or even understand why the problem occurred. This is a question that arises a lot in the animal training world. For example, your dog starts barking and growling at other dogs randomly during the walk. The walker might pull the dog along to continue the walk or in some cases give the dog attention for undesired behavior. It is hard to expect them to know that behaviorally this only strengthens the undesired behavior trainers work so hard to get ride of. The same works for dogs pulling on leashes or not walking on walks.

Maintaining behaviors is tough probably the toughest part of training. Trainers can get you on the right track but remember it is up to you to maintain and observe your dogs behaviors in the future!!

Don’t let small problems become expensive training lessons.

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How to prepare for the Fourth of July


The Fourth of July is approaching quickly and if you have pets it is important that you prepare for the festivities.

Remember during the day if you bring your dog to a parade or party bring lots of water. It gets hot in Miami and dogs dehydrate quickly. Look for shady spots to sit around and keep all of your dogs info on their collar for safety reasons.

Fireworks:

This is one of the busiest times for veterinarians. So this Independence Day if your dog is a new addition or if your dog has a history of fear from loud noises be aware of your dog. Here are some great ways to prepare yourself this holiday!

1) Know where you are going to be! If you are going to a friends house make sure your dog feels comfortable there. If they are not familiar with the location, try to visit the residence before hand. Making your dog as comfy as possible is important. Comforting your dog during this time is not behavioral incorrect, so hug away!

2) Walk your dog before hand. Getting rid of extra energy will help with anxiety your dog has.

3) If your dog has a history of fear pertaining to noises then ask your vet for some calming medication. This can be vital if your dog is a concern!

4)If you cannot be with your pup than hire a pet sitter or take them to a doggy day care.

5) Set your dog up for success. Prepare your dog ahead of time for noise desensitization. Play music in your house that is calming and gradually increase the volume and tone of the music. When you play the beats reinforce your dog for being calm if they are uncomfortable then lower the volume or change the track to something more calm . This is a gradual behavioral change so this is great technique for next years Independence Day or even hurricane season .

Being prepared this Fourth of July is the best thing you can do for both your dog and your own peace of mind. So have fun and be prepared!!

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How do you train your dog?


How do you train? Do you use treats, toys, praise, all three or neither. Many trainers have multiple opinions on the right methods of reinforcement.

Purely positive reinforcement (PP):
This is the sole use of treats for training. Treats are great in training because they are the primary reinforcement for dogs (R1). Treat training is very effective, quick and of course positive. However using only treats can become a problem because you will have to use treats to get behaviors and people don’t always have treats on them and it can be expensive.

No treat training:
You will hear some trainers talking about no treat training. The theory behind this training technique is using praise like a clicker or the word “good” and that is enough of reinforcement for your dog. No treats just behaviors based on trust and a strong bond. But there is a down side. Training behaviors can take much longer and the duration of the trains will be shorter. Also it requires more work and patience. Not everyone has that time!

Variable positive reinforcement training:
Variable training is the use of multiple primary and secondary reinforcements (R2) between treats, praise , toys, or positive behaviors to train. The benefits of this is one uses treats in the beginning to get the behaviors quickly and once your dog has the an understanding of the behavior you start reinforcing them variably fading the treats. One time with a toy play , next time with love and praise and tactile and the next time with a behavior they enjoy like going for a walk. For example if you want to maintain the sit behavior but you don’t want to use treats every time and you have used toys already. Ask your dog to sit before the walk. Your dog sits and then they get rewarded with a walk. No treats needed and your dog will be able to maintain the behavior. The con is that some people argue that fading treats is a waste of time.

Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT):
This is a whole other form of training where the reinforcement comes from removing a negative feeling. This is used for fear or aggression issues not for sits and downs. For example your dog is afraid of other dogs. So you have a dog come down a street, your dog notices the dog and then the fear kicks in. You ask the helper dog to back up until your dog is comfortable and that is the reinforcement. The removal of the fear. Every time you do this you bring your dog closer and closer and if the improve they get rewarded by the removal of the negative stimulus. This method is helpful to stop undesired behaviors.

No matter how you train your dog, stand by your method. Understand why you reinforce the way you do and know all the different methods of reinforcement. You might realize , like I have, that all these methods have their pros and cons. This is why I use all of these methods in my training. I train with treats, toys, praise the use of a bridge (the word “good”), tactile , bat and redirection training. All to provide the dog and the client with a well rounded training experience.

So next time you have a trainer ask them what method of training they use and why. It is always interesting to hear peoples different opinions on training.

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What to do before you get a dog?


Getting an animal is such a great experience. But like anything worth having, buying a dog should take some research. This is how to prepare yourself for your furry addition.

First I always advice people seeking a new dog to consider adoption. There are so many dogs in rescue homes and shelters that need adopting. Many that were abandoned or mistreated that need a nice home. You can get a pure breed or mixed breed there and you would be saving a life.

Now if adopting a dog is something you would consider for a later date and this time around you prefer a dog from a breeder make sure you take precaution.

1) See the parents of the puppy you want to adopt. See if the parents are unruly, hyperactive, aggressive, calm, quiet or loving. The parents are very telling about how your puppy may behave in the future. Family history is important!!

2). Check out the credentials of the breeder. Are they experienced? Do they practice safe breeding methods ( ie unrelated healthy dogs with good health records). Are the parents AKC certified or not? Do the pups look healthy and are they all at least 8 weeks old before bring sold off. This is important because a breeder that cares for there puppies health would allow the pups to ween for 2 months before being taken home. Some people never see the puppy they want or the parents. They just buy online and expect a great dog. Be weary!!

3). Ask about shots and vaccinations. Most breeders will have given the litter their first 2 rounds of shots plus a possible fecal exam. This is important to know so you puppy is up to date.

4) Before getting your dog, set yourself up for success. Have a vet picked out and prepare your house. This is important for you as we’ll as the dog! Have a pen for you puppy to play in with puppy approved toys to chew on and a little bed. If your dog is small you can put pee pads in the pen away from the bed so your dog can learn to pee in the right spot. A crate is also a great idea and crate training for puppies. This is easier for puppies than adults so get them prepared now. You know how your house is set up. If you live in a high rise with your tiny Yorkshire Terrier than pee pads will be a must! If you have a back yard in your house then plan to start training outside even think about a dog door before your dog arrives. This way they dog learns everything at an early age.

5). Finally ask yourself if this is a good time for a dog. If you traveling constantly and never home maybe a dog should be a thought for later.

Dogs are great companions. They give unconditional love and affection but they are not a walk in the park ( no pun intended). Puppies take time to learn new behaviors, new environments and new people. But if you do a little research before your next dog the arrival of your new dog will be much smoother for both you and your new best friend!

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