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Learn to Earn: Raise the Thresholds

Dogs young and old have thresholds:  duration, distance, and intensity.  Most young dogs have low thresholds and become overwhelmed easily.  This happens when exposed to too much stimuli for too long of a time period, at close range, and high intensity.  These are all relative depending on each individual animal.  When we determine those thresholds […]

Using Food to Reinforce Behavior

Dogs learn which behaviors “work” for them when those behaviors are followed by something gratifying to the animal.  Those actions are guaranteed repeats.  Food is a primary motivator for any animal who is interested in survival.  The deliberate use of food to reinforce behaviors that owners want as habits is highly effective. The challenge is […]

Mental Checkout

We all suffer a few brain blips here and there, and so do our dogs.  If your dog doesn’t respond instantly to your cues, it’s not due to recalcitrance or stubbornness.  He is no longer connected to you and what you two are doing.  He has mentally checked out.   What Are the Telltale Signs That […]

Stays: Sloppy or Reliable

Of all the basic obedience cues, stay is a tough one!  Taught well, it requires a high degree of focus from the dog AND a respectable level of skill from the handler.  Most puppies younger than 5-6 months of age have faster success with “wait” (a temporary hold).  They lack extended focus and need impulse […]

Please Stop Yelling at the Dog

When the dog engages in unwanted behaviors, it is our human nature to shout, “no!” or “stop!”.  Rather than a calculated response, it can be described as a knee jerk reaction.  Sometimes the dog will – at least momentarily – halt the action.  For a while, this, like other positive punishment techniques, can appear to […]

Training or Management: What is the Difference?

When a canine behavior change is in order, there is a choice.  Do we manage the “undesirable” or do we teach the dog incompatible and desirable behaviors to replace those that we don’t like?  Behavior change training programs always include management, because it provides a means of preventing the dog from continued practice of behaviors […]

Observations and Behavior Clues

Our dogs are communicating with us all the time. Some messages are clear. Increased speed of movement indicates excitement.  Some messages are subtle.  Slight stiffening at a certain person’s approach indicates emotional discomfort.  Dogs will always read us better than we read them.  However, a well-practiced “dance” happens when we humans learn to closely observe […]

Everyone has Thresholds. Your Dog Does, Too

It’s fun until it isn’t.  It works until it doesn’t.  He just stepped on my last nerve.  We have all heard these expressions.  They represent threshold boundaries.  Mental places where we no longer function well.  Dogs have threshold boundaries, too.  Puppies can have especially low thresholds due to immaturity, and many adult dogs display behaviors […]

Give that Dog Some Skills

Puppies are learning all the time – moment to moment.  If we don’t intervene and actively participate in this process, our puppies learn what the environment teaches them.  These are often not desirable lessons, especially for fearful animals or those with low emotional thresholds. Dogs need skills to cope with the world, too.  Socialization to […]

Too Much. Too Soon.

Many dog owners are very enthused at the prospect of taking the dog for hikes, snuggling on the sofa, sharing the bed, roaming the house freely, among others.  Around 5-6 months of age, dogs can be reasonably trustworthy with hitting the correct potty place and choosing their toys and chews over personal belongings.  It is […]