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Showing posts with label training tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label training tips. Show all posts

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Understanding Dog Psychology - Help Your Dog, Help Yourself




Understanding dog psychology - help your dog, help yourself, all three are intertwined. When we understand the profound ways that we affect our dog’s mind and behaviour we step into a world of positive growth, for our dogs, for ourselves. What we get right. What we misinterpret. What we get completely wrong, and how to better understand and direct ourselves - so we can better understand and support our dogs.

To Be Consciously Aware is Essential
I see and hear the term ‘dog psychology’ used everywhere – on dog trainers’ and behaviorists’ websites, on professional group discussion boards I participate in. The word ‘psychology’ has become a trap, a catch-all, a regurgitation of misconceptions about dogs - a disaster that needs to be fixed, for the sake of our dogs, and ourselves. For the most part dog’s do exactly what their human tells them to do…

Thought Streaming on Auto Pilot - Working Against the Greater Good
Most of us move through our typical day surrounded, and yes flooded by visual and audio stimuli which we observe casually, without depth, without deliberate conscious thought - we are on auto-pilot. We ‘see’, we talk, we react on auto-pilot. When we do this to excess we fall out of the good habit of deliberate, conscious choice – this has a serious impact on our ability to connect within ourselves to direct our thoughts, and our communication.

For the majority of us our default state is an emotive-reactive state where we forget to be truly observant and present. We default to a state were logic is absent, and omission is enabled – meaning we do not consciously see, feel, sense many of the details that surround us. This is also how many of us habitually communicate – from a state of surface awareness

When Auto Pilot Becomes a Healthy Default State
Auto-pilot is advantageous when it includes the habit of being aware, alert, and observant – this is a healthy state of normal.

When Auto Pilot Fails Us and Our Dogs
When auto-pilot is comprised of unconscious stream of thought and reactivity you become just what you don’t want your dog to be – inattentive, unfocused, flooded and reactive. An undesirable state of normal.

Observation is a Foundation to Understanding
The typical dog is an observant being with an acute ability to perceive what we are really communicating, which is often very different from what we ‘think’ we are communicating while we are on auto-pilot. Some dogs have heightened sensitivity (HS). A dog with HS has a level of perception that exceeds the average dog’s already perceptive senses. Heightened sensitivity is an asset that can be leveraged to achieve a deep bond with us, when it is understood and properly utilized. When heightened sensitivity is not recognized, not understood it becomes a serious disadvantage as you will seriously misinterpret your dog’s mind and behaviour. Does your dog have HS? Do you have HS? Read more about HS here.


Breaking Away From Our Self-Induced Limitations
Our disconnected out-of-touch, and unobservant default state is further enabled by our cultural beliefs as humans – i.e. dogs cannot express emotions as humans do. Dogs have less value as beings than humans do, etc.

We Need to Acknowledge There is More
Dogs have a full range of emotions, they also have the muscular facial structure to express those emotions. Have you ever thought you saw your dog smile, but you dismissed the ‘notion’ as ‘ridiculous’? Well, the fact of the matter is that dogs do smile - read more here.  Dogs feel and express joy, surprise, sadness, grief, and everything in between. Dogs have empathy. Dogs react to stimuli much like we humans do – based on nature and nurture. Each individual (whether canine or human) has a unique combination of inherited traits, and acquired traits shaped by environmental influences. You are an environmental influence on your dog. Environmental influences help to determine how we and our dog’s react, and adjust to various situations. Do you foster ‘good’ stress reactivity in yourself or your dog, or bad stress reactivity? Find out more here.

Dogs form habits and associations to situations much like humans do – changing habits and associations in dogs and humans requires a similar approach.

And How About Diet?
Optimal function of mind and body is supported by a truly good diet and health care regimen. A combination of highly processed ‘food’, and chemical-dependent health care is not supportive of optimal brain and body function. ‘Pet’ store shelves and most veterinarian practices peddle highly processed ‘food’ that contains multiple listed and hidden toxins, and carcinogens which also disrupt our dogs’ normal, healthy serotonin levels, thyroid and other glandular levels. If you are not well informed about what constitutes a good diet you are an easy target for psychological manipulation by the pet food, veterinarian, pharmaceutical, and supplement industry. When we make uninformed choices we adversely affect our dog’s psychological state as we fail to properly support mind and body.

Training for Us – The Road to Positive Change
While a dog needs some support to change his/her habits the dog is already a good communicator. We need the training to better our communication skills, our awareness, and our insight in order to support conscious observation. This is how we change our default state, and by so doing gain the opportunity to provide true, logical and consistent leadership to ourselves and to others.


Our dogs offer us a gift – it is the gift of learning. We can choose to decline the offer, or we can rise to the challenge, and work hard to become better beings.

You can’t fool a dog. And that is the truth.

Additional Assistance - Holistic Health and Wellness Service
If you require additional support, and guidance - contact me to discuss your requirements. I will determine the appropriate course of action for your situation and I will let you know the applicable fees. I offer consultative services to clients around the world...
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice - information and payment here >>. 
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans - information and payment here >>.
Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services
  • In-Person sessions - information and payment here >>.
  • On-Line consultation and sessions - information and payment here >>.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

How to Crate Train Your Puppy, Dog - Tips for Success




Introduce and familiarize your puppy or dog to a crate the right way your dog will not fear or take a disliking to the crate. The crate will not be associated with anxiety and stress…

Introducing, Familiarizing Your Dog with His/Her Crate 

Encourage Your Dog to Explore the Crate On His/Her Own
When first introducing your puppy or dog to a crate, leave the crate door open and  allow your dog to explore the  outside and inside of the crate. Provided you are grounded in your own emotions - i.e. you ‘feel’ that the crate is just another item of furniture in the house, your dog will have no reason to have an adverse reaction to the crate - your dog will be supported in normalizing the existence, presence  and use of the crate. 

Your dog should use his/her nose to sniff the crate, explore both the inside and outside of the crate at his/her leisure. You can put a favorite blanket or toy in the crate to further encourage your dog’s curiosity and normalization of the crate. Don’t make a big excited fuss over the crate - high pitched voices, excited energy etc. Remember that you want your dog to associate the crate with ‘normal’, calm, grounded - relaxed. Don’t wind your dog up, instead quietly - from a place of inner warmth just enjoy watching your dog explore. 

Closing The Door For The First Time
If you feel uncertain, nervous, guilty, anticipate reactive behaviour etc. your dog can sense how you feel and your dog will not be comfortable with the closing of the crate door. Why should he/she be comfortable if you are not? If you want your dog to be in a certain state-of-being you must be in that state first. Dogs love pure logic because they are insightful communicators. Once your dog has entered the crate you can close the door - provided you think of closing the door as normal. It is up to you to lead - you can create normal  or you can create stress.

If you anticipate that your dog will panic, will be uncomfortable, and will not like the crate - you are directing your dog to panic, be uncomfortable and not trust the crate. Dogs are literal beings - not because they are simple-minded nor stupid but instead because they are very aware communicators.
Once a dog has found a crate to be a normal, comfortable place, leave the crate door open when the crate is not in active use - this way the dog may choose to use the crate as a place of rest even when you have not directed him/her to go to the crate. 





Letting Your Dog Out of His/Her Crate

To Let Your Dog Out of The Crate…
The same principles that apply to closing the crate door apply to opening the door - normalize. When you go to let your dog back out of the crate, make sure you are grounded (calm, normal) and that you are not in a hurry. If your dog is excited - just breathe to direct your dog to calm. Don’t speak, don’t obsess about your dog’s state, don’t argue or plead - just breathe and clear your thoughts. Don’t open the door until your dog is calm. Dogs understand how to pressure and dogs are persist - if you want calm you have to work for it -  direct from a place of pure logic.

When your dog is calm, place your hand on the crate door handle - but don’t open the door yet.  If your dog’s excited state is initiate or further heightened when you reach for a touch the door handle, take your hand off of the door handle. Once again help your dog calm. When your dog is calm your hand can go back to the handle.

Open the door a little - if your dog escalates to excitement gently close the door and start again. When your dog calms open the door slightly - don’t ‘guard’ the opening. If you feel the ‘need’ to guard you are inviting your dog to compete with you for the opening. Don’t create a competition.

Just because you open the door does not mean that your dog should push his/her way out through the door. Indicate to your dog to sit. Do not allow him/her to ‘bolt’ out of the crate.

Stand in the space created by the open crate door - occupy the space with a comfortable grounded stance - one leg slightly in front of the other. When your dog is calm, release the space by moving to one side of the open door and then use your hand to draw his eyes up to you and then use a hand gesture to indicate that he/she can now step out of the crate. Then cue him/her to calm once more by taking a deep breath as he/she exists the crate.

Time to clean my face and wake up!


Don’t Wind Your Dog Up
When you come home don’t create an environment of high energy, intense excitement - just be normal. Do you want your dog to jump all over you, whine and bark, be anxious when you leave and arrive? Learn how to great your dog with selfless love by greeting in silence.

Dogs With High-Level Anxiety
Determination, presence of mind and patience is required to affect change. Work on your own self-control, and self awareness first. Follow the steps above and do not allow emotion - yours or your dog’s to rule. Staying grounded takes practice - it is not reasonable to expect your dog to be grounded and calm when you are not.

Don’t Allow Your Dog to ‘Own’ His/Her Crate
It is important to teach your dog that that he/she does not own his/her crate. The crate is a ‘common’ space - a space that is not singularly owned - it is a shared space.

I have worked with dogs that were allowed to ‘own’ and guard his/her crate to the point of extreme aggressive-reactivity - should anyone (human, dog, cat) approach the crate. It takes skill and knowledge to reverse this behaviour and while I can do so, it is better to avoid creating the situation in the first place.Save yourself and your dog the distress...

Don’t use a crate as a place of ‘punishment, don’t use the crate in anger. Doing so creates many issues including aggressive reactivity.

Not For Punishment
A crate should NEVER be used as a means to ‘punish’ a dog. In-fact when working with your dog you should never seek to punish. Dogs do not require punishment. Punishment simply serves to destabilize a dog. Punishment creates insecurity, fear, the need to react defensively, to shut down - psychological damage which can also result in physical damage. A dog requires fair, logical, respectful mentoring.

Make Sure the Crate is the Right Size for your Dog
Your dog should be able to comfortably stand up and turn around in his /her crate.

Location Matters
Never place a crate in a location that:
  • Gets overly warm
  • Where there is a cold draft
  • Where the air quality is poor
  • Where lighting is harsh
Should You Cover the Crate?
Covering the crate can lead to expectations that are not met and the end result can be increased anxiety for you and your dog. Some people, trainers and behaviorists included believe that by covering the crate they will moderate or even solve a dog’s crate-anxiety. Covering the crate may simply serve to reduce air circulation and therefore reduce air quality. When I work with a client whose dog is suffering from crate-anxiety and the crate is covered, one of the first things I do is remove the cover. Then I teach the client how to resolve the root cause of the anxiety.

A Comfortable Place
The dogs in my own pack lie in their crates when they feel like it. They are allowed to lie down wherever they like in my house – including on couches. Sometimes they prefer a crate. No one dog in my pack owns a crate – they all share the spaces in the house including crates. Why do they choose the crate? The crate is a space of comfort and calm and all of the crates in my house are comfy – they are lined with dog beds and some have pillows too.

Even dogs who are capable of escaping any crate – like my dog Sarah (German Shepherd X Husky) will accept being in a crate when coached and mentored the right way. Sarah is a wily, intelligent and resourceful canine who spent the better part of her first year as a stray – wiliness meant survival. Sarah can open any type of crate door handle/lock and escape at will - however if I put her in a crate she will stay in it. My control over Sarah is not based on physical force - no amount of physical restraint can stop a determined dog from attempting to and escaping from a crate, room etc. My control over Sarah and my client’s dogs is based on self-restraint, self-awareness, self-discipline, respectful and logical communication - true leadership.

I work with dogs that have extreme separation anxiety - including cases where a dog has suffered severe injury while chewing through and escaping from for his/her crate.

Hate The Crate?
Many people think that their dog’s reason for extreme behaviour is that he/she ‘hates’ his/her crate.

Not so.

In the majority of cases it is the human that:
  • Accidentally enables an existing condition of insecurity (i.e. in the case of an adopted dog), or;
  • Creates the insecurity in the first place. Returning the situation back to normal requires that all aspects of the situation be addressed - human and canine.
Is Crating Cruel?
A crate can be a place of great cruelty...
  • A dog should not live his/her life in a crate
  • A crate, as noted further above should not be used to punish a dog, dogs should not be punished - dogs need coaching and mentoring - not punishment.
A crate can be a place of comfort, support...
  • A crate can be an amazing tool to help a dog learn to transition from a state of insecurity to a state of normal, grounded, confidence. 
  • A crate can be a place to help the healing process - after physical trauma or surgery
 A place of positive support or negativity - it all depends on the human.

Additional Assistance - Holistic Health and Wellness Service
If you require additional support, and guidance - contact me to discuss your requirements. I will determine the appropriate course of action for your situation and I will let you know the applicable fees. I offer consultative services to clients around the world...
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice - information and payment here >>. 
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans - information and payment here >>.
Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services
  • In-Person sessions - information and payment here >>.
  • On-Line consultation and sessions - information and payment here >>.