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Positive Reinforcement and Positive Punishment

Many dog owners have heard the term “positive reinforcement training”.  This method of dog training emerged from animal science/behavior studies several decades ago.  Progressive dog trainers started “crossing over” from positive punishment to positive reinforcement methods in the early-to-mid 1990’s.  Advances in animal science and understanding canine behavior and cognition led to these effective and […]

Mind the Mouth 2: Disturbing Stimuli

While dogs can’t verbalize, they communicate a great deal via their mouths.  A relaxed dog often has an open mouth that resembles a smile.  This same dog is feeling less at ease when he closes his mouth.  A dog who usually takes food gently from your hand, then becomes grabby, is telling you that something […]

The Fear Factor

On an emotional continuum, dogs can range from cautious, but curious to timid/shy, where the animal needs time to warm up to an unfamiliar person or process stimuli before feeling relaxed.  Behaviors always reflect the internal state of the dog.  At the fearful end of the continuum, a dog actively flees/avoids or engages in aggressive […]

Life Skills: Independence Training

Independence training helps to produce an emotional state in a dog, where he is completely relaxed in his environment.  He trusts his people and is capable of consistently engaging in calm, quiet activities – without soliciting participation from his humans.  As soon as possible, puppies and young dogs can learn to balance their social natures […]

Mind the Mouth: Handling by Humans

Puppies and adult dogs use their mouths to play and explore the world. They also use their mouths when their mental state moves over a threshold of mindfulness. Nearly all very young puppies place their mouths on human body parts and our clothing. Owners typically refer to this behavior as “nipping”. It is important to […]

Crates, Gates, and Playpens: Limit Access to Space

When it comes to behavior management strategies, limiting your dog’s access to space plays a large part.  More space in your home sets up for more exploration and potential trouble.  Dogs are opportunistic scavengers who investigate with their mouths and enjoy problem-solving.  Teaching your dog to accept containment and, ultimately, value his “space” is well […]

Attention Hogs

Many dog owners enjoy the abiding presence of their canine friends. They follow us as we move about our homes and calmly and quietly watch us perform daily tasks. These dogs are interested in sharing space and, simply, being near us. They are not looking for direct engagement or extended interaction. Fearful dogs often look […]

Bored Dog Toolbox

Boredom is a top-ranking source of stress for dogs. Because puppies and young dogs spend lots of waking hours seeking mental engagement, boredom also sets up for problem behaviors. Owners can channel their dog’s energy into constructive, safe, and appropriate activities with knowledge and preparation. Cold weather months can mean a stressful change for dogs […]

Proactive vs. Passive Housetraining

A proactive approach is the best option for fast and reliable results in a housetraining (potty training) program. With a proactive program, the owner takes leadership responsibility for setting the dog up to “hold it” and go when access to the preferred potty place is provided. With a passive program, the owner places this responsibility […]

Puppy Nipping and “Zinging”: What’s Going on Here?

Adding a puppy to any household brings plenty of new demands on the family’s time and energy. Understanding this early phase of life and maintaining realistic expectations keep everyone on an even keel. A sense of humor helps, too. Stress in a New Environment Moving from a breeder’s home/facility or foster situation and into your […]