Blog Dog Training ~ Speaking Dog the Bark Busters Way!

Sunday 11 December 2016

Christmas: Keeping your dog safe

Christmas is fast approaching again, so we would like to remind you of some important things to consider when preparing for the Festive Season with your dog.

Many dried fruits are poisonous to dogs so don’t allow them access to grapes, the cheeseboard, or any Christmas cake, Christmas pudding or mince pies.

Your Christmas dinner and the lovely big turkey that has been roasting all morning will be very tempting to your dog, but be careful about allowing him to partake in this meal. Onions, including leeks, and onion powder that may be found in stuffing mixes, can cause liver damage or a rare form of anaemia in dogs. This applies to both cooked and raw onions and leeks. Additionally, gravy can be very fatty, salty and too rich for your dog, so keep him away from the gravy boat and don’t allow him to lick your plates clean!

Salt can be dangerous to dogs as they cannot process excess quantities. Especially in an older dog, too much salt can cause kidney damage. So please watch out for the bowls of salted treats and make sure they aren’t easily accessible for your dog.

At Christmas, there will be quantities of sweets and chocolate around your house. Chocolate is very tempting for dogs but it can be a lethal temptation for them! Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include hyper-excitability, vomiting, frequent urination, diarrhoea, rapid breathing, weakness and seizures. If you discover that your dog has eaten chocolate and is displaying these symptoms, contact your vet immediately. Store chocolate well out of the way of your dog, and make his Christmas treats be something more natural for dogs. Also, discarded sweet wrappers can be very tempting too. Sweet wrappers can get trapped in the stomach and digestive system making for a very sick dog, and the need for an operation to remove them.

Never be tempted to feed your dog the cooked bone from a joint or the cooked carcass of a roasted bird. Cooked bones can cause internal damage as they splinter.

Make sure alcoholic drinks are out of the way of your dog. Your dog may be tempted to sample the contents of a glass left on the floor or a low coffee table.

Please be mindful that, if you are drunk, your dog may not recognise you instantly as he normally does. He may be fearful of you and back away or growl at you. Try to keep your voice calm and neutral, don’t rush to touch him, and allow him to work out that it's really you.

Please do ensure that Christmas decorations are out of reach of your dog, especially a puppy who will be interested to sample the delights of tinsel, baubles and Christmas tree lights. Also, if you’re in the process of toilet training a puppy using paper in the house, don’t leave wrapped presents under the tree as it is likely that the puppy will use them as a toilet. Don’t reprimand your puppy for mistakes like this…he is learning.

Please ensure that any small parts of toys, and any batteries are always out of the reach of your dog. If he swallows a battery, please seek veterinary advice. If you are going to buy presents for your dog, please ensure that they are toys manufactured specifically for dogs. Buy dog toys from a reputable pet shop or manufacturer and go for quality rather than quantity.

Dogs often love visitors and all the extra attention they bring. However, please ensure that your dog doesn’t become overwhelmed with attention. Particularly watch his interaction with children, and create a safe space for your dog to retreat to if things become too much. Don’t allow anyone to approach your dog once he has gone to his safe space. You may have to be firm with visitors, but you are responsible for the well-being of your dog, and you need to be sure that he won’t be pushed to his limits. Also, if you are holding a party, ensure that alcoholic drinks and party food are not left lying on the floor where your dog can help himself…you could end up with a very poorly pooch! Very often, dogs do not appreciate loud music so be mindful of this and allow him to go to his safe space, or turn the music down.

Please think twice before letting off fireworks to celebrate Christmas. Fireworks are one of the main complaints we hear from dog owners; they can cause extreme anxiety to dogs as they don’t understand the loud bangs. Doing without the fireworks will be appreciated by both your dog and those that live in the area.

If you prepare yourself, and try to view the Christmas wonderland of your home through your dog’s eyes, we are sure that you will be able to enjoy a safe and happy Christmas with your pet.

Thursday 8 December 2016

Meeting your dog's needs

As we all know, if you are a dog lover, owning a dog can be great fun and rewarding for all members of the family. However, the joy of owning a dog also brings with it a commitment from you that will last around 12 years or even longer. During that time, you will face challenges, frustrations and financial demands that may put a strain on your pockets, your relationship with your dog, and sometimes even your relationship with other members of your household!

With a view to minimizing any potential challenges and frustrations, we would like to offer some advice on how to ensure that your relationship with your dog is the best that it can be, so that you have a happy, healthy, well-behaved dog who will, in turn, offer you years of loyalty and joy that only dogs can bring.

Firstly, when choosing a dog, ensure you have some knowledge of the breeds available to you. Choose a dog that is most likely to fit into your lifestyle by reviewing their potential size, cost of feeding, amount of exercise they are likely to need, and ensure that you have sufficient room in your house and sufficient levels of income, fitness and time to be able to accommodate their needs.

Having considered these factors and decided which breed of dog is right for you, you will be on the right track for bringing into your home a dog who will be easily loved by all members of the family. Your dog will be a positive addition to your life providing you ensure that you are fulfilling his/her basic needs. Our Bark Buster trainers meet hundreds of dogs every week in their homes where their behavioural issues are causing their owners stress, tension and frustration. One of the first things we will explain to you is this; a big step towards a better-behaved dog is to ensure that their four basic needs are being addressed.

Feed your dog a good quality food. Do your own research and do not be persuaded by high-profile television advertising. Feed the best food you can within your budget, and consider visiting the independent comparison website where you can view most of the available dog foods and compare their ingredients, ratings and price. Also worth remembering is that, just like humans, dogs can fail to thrive, or even develop behavioural issues if fed a constant diet of low quality, processed food. Don’t be afraid to add in some fresh vegetables, fish, meat, and even some fruit. Again, do some research on what to feed and what to avoid before you start doing this.

Dogs are sociable animals that thrive in family units (or packs). Once they live in your home with you, then is what they perceive as their family unit; you become their pack. They won’t view you as humans who are naturally in charge in the human world…they simply see you as other members of the unit. Just like you, they instinctively know that the unit needs to be safe, but unlike you, they won’t automatically think that, because you are the adult human, you oversee the safety. In the dog’s eyes, for the family unit to be safe, there needs to be a leader. If your dog doesn’t see you as a leader – if he can train you to respond to his demands, yet ignore your commands, then he will start to regard you as a weaker member of the family and will feel it is his duty to step up and take charge of safety and security of the family both inside and outside the home. This can lead to many problems including nuisance barking, aggression towards other dogs or people visiting, poor leadwork, and poor recall. So, to give your dog a feeling of safety, it is important that he regards you as a good leader who he respects and feels he can depend upon for consistent and wise guidance.

If you decide to own a dog, you have a duty to ensure that your dog has a warm, dry, safe shelter protected from all elements. In the UK, most dogs live inside our home, unlike their counterparts in other countries. Clearly this naturally means that, as a dog has access to the house with the humans, he will have adequate shelter. However, some dogs, especially nervous dogs or those in households with young children may appreciate a small, dark space of their own where they can take themselves away from the family hullabaloo, and relax. Your Bark Busters trainer will happily explain to you the benefits of creating an indoor pen for your dog who may benefit from a smaller space within the house where they can retire and safely relax.

Every dog needs to be trained for them to live harmoniously with humans. This doesn’t mean that you need to turn your dog into a machine, or that you need to be a dog trainer to own a dog. However, you should ensure that you can train the basics. You Bark Busters trainer will be able to help with this. Training can also be fun and entertaining for your dog. By using his brain, he is using energy. Playing with your dog, and training him provides him with mental stimulation and builds up your bond. He learns how to respond to your commands, and learns that the correct response brings praise and reward. By learning through positive interaction, your dog will be much more responsive to you. He will also be mentally tired after a training and play session and this will help to alleviate potential problems of an under-stimulated, under-exercised dog who could become destructive.

By ensuring that you meet your dog’s needs, you can avoid many of the potential behaviours that can harm our relationships with our dogs, and look forward too many years of happy dog ownership. Also, don’t forget that, by meeting his needs, you will have years of unconditional love, someone also pleased to see you, and someone who always wants to go out with you and be in your company.

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

The Festive Season & Dogs

It’s that time of year again! Christmas is fast approaching, and the season for after-work drinks, get-togethers and parties is about to begin. Obviously, we all want to enjoy this time of year; but do spare a thought for your four-legged friends as they don’t understand the changes that may occur in your routine and your behaviour. We’ve put together some advice for you to ensure that you keep your dog safe, comfortable and happy during your seasonal celebrations.

If you are going to go out with colleagues after work, your dog may be home alone for much longer than usual. This could result in him missing his dinner time, or being unable to get out to toilet. Try to arrange for somebody to call in to feed him and let him out. If they are willing, they could take him out for a short walk too, or stay and play with him for a short while. Don’t ask someone who is a stranger to him though…make sure your dog has met them before and is comfortable with them coming into the house. You may ned to plan this in advance.

However much we enjoy our nights out we should remember that we still have responsibilities towards our dogs. Returning home drunk means our body language and demeanour can change considerably and your dog may be confused. In extreme circumstances, he may not recognise you and may growl or even bite you! You should make every attempt to communicate with your dog as normally as possible to ensure that he recognises your voice tones. Dogs rely on scenting to know who's approaching and this can be masked with the smell of alcohol. This coupled with the swaying walk of being drunk can cause your dog to become very confused and he may not recognise you. You should also ensure that you are not too inebriated to let him outside before bedtime, and that you can check that gates aren’t open to enable him to escape.

Also, please remember that it would be unfair to reprimand him for jumping up at you and knocking you over. He may become excitable because events are not as they usually are. Remember, it’s not his fault he’s knocked you over…it’s because you are unsteady on your feet! Also, if he has had a little toilet accident, don’t punish him. He could have been left alone for a lengthy period so it's better to clear up and forget about it. If your dog has chewed or destroyed something in your home, and this is not his normal behaviour, don’t assume that he has done it for spite – dogs don’t think like that. He may have become stressed by the amount of time he has been alone.

When you own a dog, lying in bed nursing a hangover sadly isn’t an option unless you have another member of your family willing to take on the morning duties. Your dog will wake up at the same time as he always does, want to be fed and let out. Don’t punish him for this as he won’t understand what's wrong.

House parties are great fun for humans, but this is not the case for all dogs. Your dog may be sociable and love parties, meeting new people, and being fussed by visitors, however, do try to keep an eye on what he may be eating and (more importantly) drinking! People who don’t own a dog may think it fun to feed your dog from the buffet, but they don't realise that it may be harmful to him. People will also place glasses of alcohol on the floor beside them whilst they are chatting – be vigilant about this, as your dog could become very ill from drinking alcohol. If you have a dog who isn’t that sociable, and is likely to become stressed by lots of people in the house, make sure you have a safe place for him to retire to, away from the party. Ensure that nobody enters his space without your permission – so don’t put him in a bedroom where the coats are being stored! Were somebody to get bitten it would spoil your party and your relationship with that guest. It could cost you a lot of money too! If possible, let him go and stay with a relative or a boarding kennel where he will be properly looked after and kept safe.

If you are out walking your dog in the evening, then you may come across drunken revellers in the street. Their noise and antics may unsettle your dog. Try to keep your pace, take a wide berth, don’t automatically tighten the lead and simply walk past them in a clam manner. This will give your dog the message that you aren’t worried, and he doesn’t need to be either.

It’s a difficult time of year for dogs; dark nights, Halloween, fireworks, all bring different levels of anxiety for different dogs. If you can do your bit to try to reduce the stress of the party season for your dog, you’ll be doing him a real favour and we’re sure you’ll be happier too.

Monday 5 December 2016

Destructive Behaviour in Dogs

Dogs who seem intent on destroying the contents of your home and garden can be very difficult to live with. As humans, we find it difficult to understand why our dogs choose to chew chairs, tables, stairs, carpets, skirting boards and walls; some dogs will tear up and chew carpets and vinyl. These can be very expensive habits for any owner to tolerate, and may even result in a dog being rehomed.

So why do dogs chew the fabric of our homes? There can be many and various reasons why your dog is behaving in a destructive way.

It could be down to boredom…if you don’t interact with your dog and don’t ensure that he has sufficient mental stimulation and physical exercise, he may look for other ways to entertain himself.

It could be due to stress…when does the chewing occur? If it is when you are away from the home, it may be that your dog is stressed and anxious about being left alone.

Diet can also have an impact…although we can see no nutritional value in a carpet or chair leg, your dog’s diet may be lacking in some nutritional components that the dog is trying to obtain from other sources.

Digging up your garden can also be caused by boredom, or by a diet deficiency.

Your Bark Busters Home Dog Training therapist will talk to you about addressing your dog’s basic needs including diet, entertainment and education, and safety. For your information, we have produced a separate article covering these needs and how you can ensure that you are meeting them.

If your dog’s destructive behaviour is caused by boredom, then ensure that he is receiving enough attention, positive training and mental stimulation. Once this type of stimulation is sufficient, your dog will be tired and able to relax and sleep. However, there will still be times during the day or the evening when you may want to provide your dog with something that will entertain them whilst you are busy doing other things. For these times, you may want to consider a  GameChanger™ dog toy that you have stuffed with something healthy and tasty or a Kong which you can freeze to entertain for longer. Licking the frozen contents out of the Kong will keep him occupied for hours. There are also many brain training games for dogs on the market. These will keep the dog mentally stimulated as he tries to work out, and follow the procedure for extracting the treats from the toy.

These forms of entertainment for your dog are also effective If your dog tends to be destructive only when you are away from the home. But, where this is the case, it is also worth trying to discover why your dog is so anxious about being left. Occasionally we meet dogs who are too stressed to engage with food or mental stimulation whilst their owner is absent. Sometimes we need to try other things to try and reduce the anxiety that a dog is feeling. These may include providing a covered pen area to create a small dark space for a dog to relax in, ensuring that he isn’t left either with the full run of the house, or any places in the house where he might feel threatened, like the front window or front door. For dogs who behave in this way, it is never a good idea to allow them access to the hallway or landing where they may feel that they are on guard duty. Remove his exposure to as many outside noises and sights as possible by closing blinds, and leaving the radio on so that outside noises are muffled. Also, start to try to separate from your dog from time to time whilst you are in the home, by putting him into the kitchen, or into his pen so that he becomes accustomed to not being with you permanently. Start with just a few minutes and gradually build up. Don’t make a big fuss about leaving him and, when you allow him to be with you again, give him some mild praise for his achievement.

There is nothing to be gained from rushing in and shouting at a dog who has chewed the carpet whilst you’ve been out at work. He won’t know why he is being shouted at! Instead, take steps to try and avoid this type of behaviour either by trying some of the ideas mentioned above, or employ a dog walker to come and take your dog out whilst you aren’t available, try spraying your furniture with bitter apple spray to discourage him from wanting it in his mouth.

If destructive behaviour is something you don’t seem to be able to stop, you may need to call in a professional to help you ascertain the reasons for it. Your local Bark Busters therapist will help you to see what is going on for your dog, and why he behaves in this way. Finding out the dog’s motivation for destruction is the key to ending the problem, and will ultimately prove much less expensive than constantly needing to replace the furnishings.

Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.

Manage off lead dogs

Lee Hardy, Bark Busters Home Dog Training Derby:

I’ve been training dogs, as a Bark Busters trainer, for over 16 years. I have come across all kinds of breeds and all kinds of issues. Dog owners who call on me for help want their dog to be well behaved both at home and in public, whilst retaining their spirit and love of life. They want to be able to walk their dogs without fear of embarrassing or dangerous incidents. This means that they will be working hard to train their dogs in public spaces. Much of the outdoor work they do will involve their dog being on a lead whilst they perfect their training. What I find is that their attempts to practise are often disrupted by a situation beyond their control.

Without doubt, the most serious challenge to owners and their dogs comes from approaches by off-lead dogs. It is the number-one frustration for many dog owners. They ask me how to handle approaches by dogs off-lead, who persist at encroaching into theirs, and their dog’s personal space causing, at best, chaos or, at worst, a confrontation or fight. My advice to them is to remain calm and to call to the other dog’s owner to “come and get your dog!”. Expletives are tempting but not to be advised if an owner-confrontation is to be avoided! Clearly, I want my customers to be able to get themselves out of a difficult situation with the minimum of stress and confrontation possible, but they may well be panicking as their dog is reacting to the unwelcome approach from an uncontrolled dog. An adrenalized owner trying to control an adrenalized dog is the last thing that a dog trainer wants. It can be a recipe for disaster, set training back by weeks and undo lots of hard work!

When you see a dog on lead in a public space, the chances are that the dog is on his lead for a reason. You must remember that not all dogs are sociable. Some may be nervous or even fearful of other dogs, and these are states of mind that can cause aggression. I rarely see aggression from a well-balanced, confident dog – they don’t feel the need to protect themselves. I can also state with absolute certainty that a dog off-lead is far more likely to be attacked when approaching a dog on-lead. This is because the dog on the lead cannot escape. He has lost the ability to run away, his ‘flight’ option, and only has the ‘fight’ option available to remove the perceived threat!

You may cheerfully call out that your dog is “friendly”, “only wants to play”, or “just wants to say hello”. I can say with certainty that the people on the receiving end of this unwanted approach, don’t care about your dog’s friendly personality; they simply want him out of their space to avoid conflicts.

If your dog won’t listen to you when off-lead, and rushes up to any dog he sees, then he should not be off-lead. With new legislation in the UK, your dog is "out of control" and consequences could be dire for both you and especially for your dog. You must have control of your dog in public spaces at all times. As a good dog owner, not only is this your moral responsibility, in consideration of other people and their dogs, it is now also your legal responsibility. If either you or the other dog owner were to be injured during a dog fight, inadvertently or not, the consequences can be catastrophic both legally and financially.

I understand that you want your dog to enjoy time off the lead, and to have exercise, but you must train your dog, ensure that you are always in control and ensure that he will come to you when called, no matter what the temptation. Responsible dog owners that are out and about doing this very training don’t deserve their hard work to be undone by those who allow their dogs to be out of control. If you need help it's important to call a trainer.

Until you have complete control, if you see a dog on a lead, please be considerate and put your dog on a lead too and help to ensure that all dog owners and their dogs, whatever their temperament, or however far along with their training, can enjoy public spaces.

If you feel I can help you with this, you can call my team on 0808 100 4071 who will discuss your needs and explain my service without obligation.

Alternatively, please do visit my website where you will also find lots of helpful information.

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