I Need a Helper Like THIS!!!

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Latin Dancer!

In the Face of Danger

Just watched an excellent 4-minute film called In the Face of Danger.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think you might too!  Danger is the dog’s name, by the way.  I don’t know what Danger’s “checkered past” is, but I think he is a GREAT dog!  Mr. Schaffer and Danger seem to have a great relationship.  You can tell that they really love each other!  It was filmed in the Santa Fe /Los Alamos area (Yeah, NM!) by Allison Otto and the Serac Adventure Film School , and features Outside magazine senior editor Grayson Schaffer’s attempts to teach his dog Danger to become a search and rescue dog for the Los Alamos Mountain Canine Corps.   The short form film is available online now on the OutsideK9 website.   Danger

In the Face of Danger

Avoiding Object and Food Guarding

As a youngster, I was attacked by a dog.  In all fairness, I had been warned to stay away from the dog when it was eating.  But, the path behind him was the most direct route to where I wanted to go and as I was about 5 years old, the savings in time was rather important to me.  I received a warning growl and then was bitten in the face.  I was lucky.  He missed my eyes, but the bite did separate my two front teeth and they stayed that way until I lost them and got permanent ones.  Now, for some people that might have led to a lifetime fear of dogs; but, for me, thankfully, there were no lingering fears.

Guarding food or an object that she considers valuable is not unusual for a dog.  In a pack, it is not uncommon for dogs to threaten each other, but one of them will usually back down and then everything is fine.  If one doesn’t back down, the outcome is determined by the one who wins the fight. dog-notouchy In a home environment, object and food guarding can be dangerous if the dog sees family members as a threat.  Children are the most vulnerable, as they are seen by your dog as equal or lesser members of the pack.  In my case, I was visiting the home of the dog—so I had no pack status at all.

As with all training, it is by far easier to teach your dog these lessons when they are young.  As a puppy, they are dependent on you for everything.  By practicing a few simple exercises you can reinforce the idea with your puppy that you, as pack leader, have the right to take any object away from her at any time.

  • When you are feeding her, take the bowl away from your puppy before she has finished eating.  Then return it after a short time.  Let her know that you have complete and full authority of everything she has or may be given.
  • Repeat this exercise with toys.  Practice giving your dog a toy and then take it away, only to return it later.  If your dog shows any aggression (growling) while playing with a toy, put it away.  Playtime is over for now.  Try again later.
  • If your dog steals an object (as puppies are likely to do) “trade” with her.  Offer her a treat or a toy in exchange for the object you want while stating “Mine”.  You can eventually begin weaning her away from the treat. When she has something that you want, say “Mine” and take it without giving her a treat.  Eventually, she will drop what it is that she has stolen at the verbal command “Mine”.

You can substitute a different command if you choose.  Many people will use the command “Give it” or “Give”.  Which ever command you choose, try to be consistent in using it.

In the beginning, while working on these skills, it is best if only adults take on the job of training.  Once you are getting a consistent positive response from your dog, then you may allow children to begin to take over the role—under your supervision.  This alerts the dog that as pack leader, you recognize the child or children as pack members, and that they have higher status than your dog.

It is far better to establish with your puppy, the idea that you have the right to take or remove any object from her at any time, than to try to deal with a full grown object guarding or food aggressive dog later.  If you take the time early on, you will be saving yourself from having to deal with a much bigger problem in the future.

A New Puppy? Now Comes House Training!

There are very few things that are more exciting than bringing home a new puppy!  Exciting as it is, there will be many things that you will need to do for your new little friend.  One of the most important is to house train her.

You need to realize that training a new puppy is much like training a toddler.

  • You have to be patient!
  • You have to be consistent!   (This is the hardest one)
  • There will be messes.
  • It will take time.

But in the end, it will be well worth your efforts!

Although time consuming, house training your puppy really isn’t that difficult if you just follow a few methods that have been used time and time again by dog trainers and owners all over the world.

  • Get a crate and use it!  Your puppy needs to be in its crate any time that you are not actually interacting with it.  A crate serves as your puppy’s den.  A puppy’s natural instinct is to keep its den clean.  Avoid putting anything in the bottom of the crate like newspaper or towels.  Your puppy will “hold it” as long as she possibly can to avoid making a mess in her den.  It is your responsibility to make sure that she has an opportunity to get out often enough so that she doesn’t have to go beyond what her little body can endure.  In the beginning, try to get her out every couple of hours.
  • A puppy generally needs to potty about half an hour after it eats.  If you have left her in the crate up until dinner time, take her out before she eats and again a short time afterwards.
  • She needs to go out anytime the she wakes up from a nap.
  • She needs to go out every time after she plays.

When you take her out, try to take her to the same location.  The scent from previous visits will often encourage her to go more quickly.  If you add a command such as “Hurry, Hurry”, “Do Your Business” or “Be Quick”; you will help her associate the command with doing her business.  Eventually, you should be able to take her out and have her potty on command.

No matter how wonderful your puppy is or how consistent you are, there will be times when your puppy makes a mistake.  Never punish your puppy for having an accident.  Hitting her or yelling at her will not have the effect you want, as she doesn’t realize what it is that she has done wrong.   Rubbing a puppy’s nose in its mess accomplishes nothing but confusing the puppy.  It will only serve to frighten her.  Try to catch her in the act, sweep her up and take her directly to the spot where you want her to go.  If you find the mistake and she is no where around, clean it up and forget it—she certainly has.  When she has an accident, be sure to clean it up thoroughly with one of the new enzyme cleaners that are available.  That way you won’t have to worry about the scent triggering another occurrence.

Try to avoid using puppy pee pads or newspapers.  They are messy, smelly and generally not something you will want in your house when your puppy is grown.  If you are not going to be around enough to take your puppy out every couple of hours, you probably need to get an adult dog that has already been house trained or wait until your schedule allows you to spend the kind of time that is necessary to house train a puppy.  It isn’t fair to get angry at your dog for making a mess if you haven’t taken the time to properly train her.

The two most important things about house training are consistency and patience.  Having a puppy that is totally house trained will take a few of months—but is well worth the investment of time.    Hang in there, she will eventually get it.  And when she does, what a glorious day it will be!