KD http://kdmathews.com Coaching for Dog Owners Mon, 17 Sep 2018 19:03:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://kdmathews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/cropped-KD-Logo_Final-1-BW-32x32.png KD http://kdmathews.com 32 32 105289661 KD’s 3 Pillars of Dog Ownership – Essential Concepts http://kdmathews.com/kds-3-pillars-of-dog-ownership-essential-concepts/ http://kdmathews.com/kds-3-pillars-of-dog-ownership-essential-concepts/#comments Wed, 23 May 2018 18:03:28 +0000 http://kdmathews.com/?p=1534 The post KD’s 3 Pillars of Dog Ownership – Essential Concepts appeared first on KD.

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You can and should, have the best relationship possible with your dog.

It’s my job to teach you how to do just that.

As a teacher, outlines and the framing of information into understandable chunks and concepts is key.  Having been working with pet dog owners for many years, along with substantial experience in the field of education,  I have had great success helping dog owners make sense out of life with their dogs.

All of dog ownership falls under the steadfast support of 3 Pillars.

This is it folks.

I can’t call it my “secret”, because, well, I plan on telling everybody I can all about it!

 

JUST 3 WORDS

I have identified what I think are the three most important “big” ideas in owning and interacting with a dog.  Literally EVERYTHING else falls directly under each of these.  I refer to these as The 3 Pillars to Dog Ownership.

It’s more than just 3 words though.

The ORDER is important.

Skip one, or move them around, and it’s not the same.

It’s nothing fancy at all, and that’s appropriate because dog training and living with a dog in general is anything but fancy.  That’s where so many people make huge mistakes.  Humans have a frustrating tendency to overdue the wrong things and completely ignore the incredibly powerful, yet simple necessities.

Ok, enough, you want to know what they are….

MANAGEMENT –  RELATIONSHIP –  OBEDIENCE

Told ya it wasn’t fancy.

If you can grasp and apply those concepts, in that order, and see how everything you do with your dog relates to them, you’ll be in good shape.

VERY good shape.

 

THE MAIN IDEA

So here’s the deal.

Everybody’s first reaction AFTER they have a problem with their dog is to jump right into “obedience training”.

I get it, I really do.

That’s what I did, and I failed miserably.

Living with a dog is so much more than obedience training.  That’s why I put that at the end of the list.

While there indeed is a lot involved with obedience training, and significant instruction is required, looking there first is putting the cart in front of the horse.

You can’t successfully obedience train your dog until you develop and maintain the appropriate relationship with them.  Relationships is where most people go tragically wrong with their dogs.  With that being said, even “relationship” isn’t the first pillar to address.  Management of the untrained dog is key in order to create an environment that is conducive to building that relationship in the first place.

You can’t effectively obedience train a dog you don’t have the right relationship with, and you can’t build the right relationship in an environment not created to help that happen in the first place.

Management, then relationship, THEN obedience training.

 

MANAGEMENT

What does management mean in this context?

Its the nuts and bolts of life with your dog.  This is the logistics of how your dog’s daily life plays out.  With my clients we address this first pillar by going through a LONG list of questions.

Where will dog the dog sleep?

What part of the yard will be for poo and what part for play?

What will be the first room they have free access to?

Where will you do your training when you’re ready?

These are only a FRACTION of the things one needs to think about BEFORE bringing the dog into their home.  Unfortunately, many folks don’t, and I don’t get there until after things are a hot mess.

The idea of having a “management plan” in place is super important because you must remember, a dog has no clue how to safely exist in a human home.  Puppies don’t come preprogramed understanding how much you paid for that couch, or that the remote control may smell nice and enticing from our greasy fingers but its NOT for chewing.  All of these things are very specific lessons that must be taught to the dog.  If you put a brand new dog or puppy in the living room, on day one, think about what that will look and sound like.

It will look like chaos, and it will sound like ” no, no, no, no, no, get off that, NO, STOP, NO, oh my god NOOOO!”

Sound familiar?

Is that a good way to START a NEW relationship?

HELL NO!

There are numerous things you can do in the very beginning to limit the number of issues that would require the shouting of frustration fueled expletives.  That is why planning for the puppy or dog is so important.  People vastly underestimate how much work a new dog of any age actually is.  We must not forget the age old rule, first impressions matter!

If you bring the dog into a home with no planning, no rules, no structure, no expectations, that’s exactly how the dog is going to see it.  A year from now, when your house is destroyed and you have no control over the dog, you reach out to a trainer as a last resort when in reality, it should have been the first step.

Your dog’s management is the foundation of everything.

Their life must be planned, structured, and organized by YOU.  You are the owner and you are in control of their lives.  The next problem comes from people simply not knowing HOW or WHAT the dog should have or need.  That is what my book Operation Dog is all about, and that is also why it’s FREE.  That information is simply way too important for me to charge for, people NEED it so they can help their dogs.  (Click HERE to get your copy if you haven’t already signed up).

Here is an example of how management works in a very common situation.

Every time I play with my puppy they keep nipping and biting me!

When people talk about their puppy always biting them the first thing I do is look at the management of the situation and interactions.  If I know that biting is a natural way for a puppy to initiate play and interaction, and I also know that when they first come out of the crate they are hyper and want to play intensely, the last thing I do with a puppy fresh out the crate is get on the floor and try and interact!  At that point, I have set the puppy up to fail as they have not yet learned not to bite, and they are in a state of mind and in an environment where the likihood of biting is very high!

First take the puppy outside for a potty break and romp in the yard.

Then I look at how the human wants to interact with the puppy.  Again, if I know biting is a first choice for a puppy, then sitting down with nothing appropriate to bite on is a mistake! Then its just my hand and a happy puppy mouth.

Use a tug or appropriate play item to become the focus of the nipping…NOT YOU.

From there that toy will become a major way for the human and puppy to appropriately interact.

That is just ONE example that is based strictly in the pillar of management.  Manage the environment so that the untrained dog isn’t set up to fail.

From there you can focus on the next pillar.

 

 

RELATIONSHIP

This is a tough one for many people.

It didn’t always be like that though.

As our culture changes, so does the way dogs are viewed and interacted with.

Our culture is DEFINITLEY changing, and dogs are having more behavioral problems than EVER as a result of it.

The relationship a growing number of people have with their dogs is dysfunctional and directly contributing to the problem behaviors they are experiencing.  From the dog who “ignores” its owner, to the dog who poses a threat to others with dangerously aggressive behaviors, relationship issues are almost always at the root of the problem.

Now this is where it gets even more problematic.  The dysfunctional relationship that I have seen countless people build and foster with their dogs is not what you might think.  I am NOT talking about physical abuse!  Quite the opposite, and that’s why its a challenging problem to solve as a person coming into the situation.

More and more people are getting dogs with little to know objective knowledge on dog behavior, dog psychology, dog ANYTHING.  They know the dog must be fed and they think that the only other thing the dog needs is to be their personal cuddle machine.

Guess what……THEY’RE WRONG..

Now this is where I COULD go down a very deep and dark rabbit hole delving into human dog relationships, but that’s not what THIS article is all about.

Here’s the deal though….

Your dog needs you to lead them, teach them, guide them, support them.  Affection is what most people SMOTHER their dogs with, and think that’s all they need to give.  Then the behavior problems start and they can’t figure out why their dog won’t listen to them.

Your goal AFTER establishing an appropriate management plan that has a good daily routine and environment that is safe for the pup or dog to learn in, is to start building a relationship of quiet, calm, trust, and leadership.

Control all resources of value to the dog and ONLY give them in exchange for the dog doing what you want.

Read that last sentence again.  No…read that last sentence TWICE.

It’s really that important.

The relationship you build with your dog is going to determine how everything you do together is interpreted by the dog and how the outcome will be.  You can still give affection, just don’t offer it FREELY.  Every time the dog comes to you, then give it, but don’t  go over to the dog and lavish affection upon them.  That’s what needy people do, and needy people don’t earn a lot of respect as much as you might not want to admit that publicly.

The truth isn’t always socially acceptable to talk about.

Dogs from sketchy pasts end up in really dysfunctional relationships because “loving” people try and compensate for the dog’s rough times by showering them with affection and empathy, two things that will derail your relationship with them faster than a speeding bullet.

Those are things that the giving of makes the HUMAN feel good, but it’s not what the dog needs at that point.  From there the relationship goes sideways and behavior problems or lack of control is likely to follow in the future.

For the purpose of this article, understand that first you create a good, safe, conflict free routine and learning environment.  Then while in that environment (management plan) you work to establish and build a quality relationship.

Then you can worry about what everybody thinks you should begin with……

 

 

OBEDIENCE

Once you have a relationship of leadership and trust, you can worry about the details.  Obedience is to me, those details.

I’m not going to write another thousand words here to explain how to train your dog.  I have other articles for that as well as my coaching services themselves.  I work with people in person, and online instructing them on exactly that.

I will say this.

In the beginning keep it simple.  Every day, about 3-5x for no more than 3-5 minutes, work on teaching your dog some very basic behaviors.  Don’t overdue it.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, ask for help.

That’s it.

 

 

What?

You thought there would be 7 more paragraphs on how to train your dog?

If that’s the case then you most certainly need to read the first 80% of this article again because you missed the point.

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The # 1 Mistake Made with Crate Training! http://kdmathews.com/1-mistake-made-crate-training/ Fri, 02 Feb 2018 15:09:12 +0000 http://kdmathews.com/?p=1355 You need about a dozen extra cups of coffee to make it through the day because that new puppy would NOT stop whining and crying all night! I’ve been there, and I truly feel your pain. You’re not alone! One of the biggest challenges people have when raising a puppy is dealing with one of

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You need about a dozen extra cups of coffee to make it through the day because that new puppy would NOT stop whining and crying all night!

I’ve been there, and I truly feel your pain.

You’re not alone!

One of the biggest challenges people have when raising a puppy is dealing with one of the most obnoxious sounds on the planet, besides somebody’s snoring, a howling screaming puppy!

The good news is that it’s your fault it’s happening!

How is that good news?

 

 

REFRESHER ON THE RULES OF BEHAVIOR

Before any discussion can be had about the behavior of a dog and how to possibly modify it, we need to to a review.  For a detailed explanation of the terms used be sure to read my article HERE that goes into more depth.

No matter what behavior we are talking about, the same rules apply.  

A behavior will continue and even become stronger when it is reinforced.

A behavior is reinforced anytime there is a consequence after it happens, that would make the dog be inclined to do that behavior again.  This applies to all living and thinking organisms, not just dogs.

The term positive reinforcement is commonly spoken about and is one of two ways we can reinforce a behavior.  What is specifically refers to is the addition of something that the dog finds reinforcing as a consequence for a behavior, which results in the dog doing that behavior again.  

There are other elements of behavior but for the context of this article, we will leave it at that.

 

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT HUMANS FOR A MOMENT

Putting the behavior information into context is important, so let’s talk about some things most of us can identify or relate to.

If a man wants pleasant attention and affection from his lady, he might buy her flowers.  After he gives her the flowers, his lady gives him a hug, kiss, and showers him with adoration.  Do you think he will buy her flowers again?  You bet!  His behavior of buying and giving her flowers was positively reinforced by her giving him something he found ‘reinforcing’.

Now in that example, both parties seem to benefit and it makes sense why each would deliberately do what they did.  Sometimes though, behaviors we do NOT want to happen, end up being positively reinforced without us realizing it.  

It is a well known phenomenon that some kids actually behave badly, or act out, in an effort to obtain attention from adults, parents, and teachers.  Some people don’t understand this because they think that being yelled at, scolded, or chastised couldn’t possibly be reinforcing.  

But it is, to that child, in that moment.  

And when they get yelled at for doing an undesirable behavior, because attention is what they wanted, and attention is what they got, that behavior will happen again and with greater frequency and intensity.

What is reinforcing to a person, or to a dog, can’t be assumed or judged by anybody else.  It is 100% out of anybody’s control.  It is up to the organism, and often times, it’s not even conscious or deliberate decision.  Some things are inherently reinforcing, like food, freedom, and attention.

 

 

The #1 MISTAKE PEOPLE MAKE!

So you have your pup in a crate.  It is perfectly normal for that pup to start screaming, hooting, and hollering right away. Especially if you haven’t spent the right amount of time teaching the puppy how to enjoy their crate (more on that in another article).

You’re about to go insane!

So what do you do?

If you go over to the crate and shake your finger while saying in a stern voice, “Stop it Puppy!” ,  then you just messed up.

If you approach the crate and try and “soothe” the puppy calming them down to let them know everything is ok, then you just messed up.

If you so much as peek your head around the corner to look at them, and they see you, you just messed up.

Yup.

For many puppies, any type of communication to them while they are doing that has a high likelihood of making the behavior worse.  Let’s think about it.

Your puppy wants your attention so it makes noise.  Then you appear and give it attention. To the puppy, you appeared as a consequence to its behavior, and that consequence is indeed reinforcing.

photo cred: Matthew Henry

Congratulations, you just taught your puppy to scream in the crate.

 

 

 

WHEN THEY ARE MAKING NOISE YOU SHOULD……..

Ignore them.

The safest way to make a some behaviors go away is to simply ignore them.  A behavior that is NOT reinforced will eventually stop.  This is called “extinction” for rather obvious reasons.  We have to go back to what we have already learned about behavior.  Dogs, like people, don’t do anything unless they get something out of it.  If a behavior is not reinforced, it will eventually go away.

Now combine extinction with positive reinforcement for the OPPOSITE behavior of being quiet.  If the puppy is wailing their head off then stops, wait for a second or two and appear with a treat, smile, or both!  You just used positive reinforcement to teach the puppy NOT to make noise in the crate!

 

 

 

EVEN BETTER THOUGH…..

Is to decrease the chances of them even feeling the desire to make a fuss!

Most unwanted behaviors first develop because owners failed to prevent them occurring in the first place.  I frequently refer to dog ownership by saying

MANAGEMENT –> RELATIONSHIP–>TRAINING

The first piece of that, management, involves creating an environment where the dog is set up for success.

This can be accomplished by making sure you have a very well structured routine for your pup that includes TONS of exercise and training activities including games that specifically make the puppy comfortable in the crate.

Puppies and dogs sleep a LOT.  

If you are doing what you should be doing when they are awake, then they should want to sleep even more!  The crate is the place where that quiet time and sleeping should be taking place.  

 

 

IN CONCLUSION

Have you been teaching your pup to cry in the crate?

Have you been reinforcing the noise by walking over to the crate to “check up” on the puppy?

Often times the very behaviors we wish would go away, are being reinforced by us without even knowing it.  Reflect on how you interact with your puppy or dog when they are in the crate.  The reality is, if they are making noise and doing things you do NOT like, then you shouldn’t be interacting with them at all because there is a good chance they will find that reinforcing.

 

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Punishment & Potty Training…….Please STOP http://kdmathews.com/punishment-potty-training/ Thu, 11 Jan 2018 16:48:14 +0000 http://kdmathews.com/?p=1315 You take your puppy outside every hour on the hour like clockwork.  Hell, you have set your clock on your cellphone to scream at you when its time!  Your steadfast dedication to creating opportunities for your puppy to go outside is nothing short of remarkable. Yet the poop and pee still ends up on your

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You take your puppy outside every hour on the hour like clockwork.  Hell, you have set your clock on your cellphone to scream at you when its time!  Your steadfast dedication to creating opportunities for your puppy to go outside is nothing short of remarkable.

Yet the poop and pee still ends up on your living room floor.

So, like every other problem in the universe, you jump online to find a solution.

“Rub his nose in it! I did it for my dog and worked great”

“Smack his lil booty and he’ll know not to do it anymore”

“Lift him by the scruff of his neck and let him know you’re boss”

“He’s trying to show you he is Alpha, you must dominate him”

No, I did NOT makes these up.  These are actual quotes from internet experts aka “other inexperienced pet owners”.

And they might be some of the most inaccurate, devoid of factual substance, downright HORRIBLE suggestions.

 

 

REVISIT THE GOAL

Whenever you experience an issue with your dog, in training or with general behavior the first thing to do is STOP.  Your dog’s behavior is a direct reflection of your ability to communicate with the dog and manage that behavior.  Now is the time to take a moment to reflect on what is happening.

Housebreaking is a simple goal.

We want the dog to never go to the bathroom inside the house, and always go outside the house.  The words “never” and “always” are important as adherence to this idea will speed up the results due to less confusion, ideally.

I say ideally because it is in the execution of carrying out the process where things fall apart.  If the goal is to always go bathroom outside and never go inside, it will require proactive and systematic teaching on your part.  Part of that teaching is absolutely creating regular and frequent opportunities for the puppy to go to the bathroom outside so it can be rewarded.

Generally speaking, unwanted behaviors can be replaced with desired behavioral alternatives.  If we don’t want the dog to go to the bathroom inside, simply reward them when they go outside, right?

There is more to it than that.

However, this is where many go down a path that will more often than not, slow down the process and at the very least create tension and conflict in your relationship with your puppy.

 

 

DEFINITIONS

Whenever we start talking about behavior, we MUST use the correct vocabulary.  While many trainers shy away from such dialog claiming that the public isn’t smart enough or interested enough to understand, I have faith in you.  I am of the belief that you love your dog enough to spend the minimal amount of time it requires to learn a few terms that will have an immeasurable impact on the relationship with your dog, and even the 2 legged animals in your life.

All behavior falls in two categories, stuff we want more of and stuff we want less of. A detailed explanation and summary of behavior and how we can influence and modify it can be found HERE in an article I wrote specifically on Operant Conditioning.   For the purpose of this article we are going to talk about how to address the dog/puppy going poop IN the house, which obviously is something we want less of.  Behaviors we want less of we can either punish or ignore as a consequence.

Smacking a dog, rubbing its nose in its feces or urine, or even yelling at the dog as a consequence are all examples of positive punishment.  While that may sound confusing on the surface it’s easy to understand what the term means.  Positive means we are adding something as a consequence and punishment means whatever we are adding will stop or decrease the behavior, at least in theory.

Many people, even trainers, inaccurately call this type of consequence “negative reinforcement”.  That is incorrect.  The reason people so frequently use this term incorrectly is because of their inaccurate association between the word negative and things that are unpleasant.  In any conversation on behavior the words negative and positive mean addition and subtraction, not good or bad.

While a growing number of people are opposed to using punishment of any kind, that is based on inaccurate and emotional perspectives on behavior regardless of how much they use the word “science” in their rationalizations.  Punishment has a role in behavior however that role is VERY small in frequency of appropriate contexts.

For example, in housebreaking, do NOT use positive punishment!  Now it’s time to learn why.

 

THE PROBLEM WITH PUNISHING YOUR PUPPY FOR POOPING

I just gave away the answer in the title of this subsection.

When using positive punishment, or “correcting” a puppy or dog for anything, the idea is that the aversive consequence will be associated with their undesirable behavior, and the dog will learn to not do that again.The HUGE problem with that is the HIGH potential for the dog to fail to make the association that YOU want it to make!

Look again at the title of this subsection, the problem with punishing your puppy for pooping.  Now lets break down an example.

You walk in to the living room and see your puppy finishing a rather large bowel movement . In your “effort to teach” the puppy, you storm over and yell “NO” and assertively grab the puppy by the scruff of the neck and take him outside while yelling at him to express how undesirable that behavior is.

What specifically do you want from the dog?  What is the exact lesson you want the puppy to learn?

Obviously the intended lesson is for the puppy to learn never to poop inside the house.  However, how can you be certain the message was received?  There is no way for the puppy to understand why it’s being punished.  I don’t care what you think, or what you think you know.  You have no way to control with absolute certainty the association the puppy might make from this act of punishment.  Maybe the puppy thinks it’s in trouble for pooping on carpet and not tile.  Maybe the puppy thinks its in trouble for going in the living room, or in for going in that specific spot in the living room.

The possibilities are rather extensive, none of them being the specific one YOU want.

I am not opposed to using various forms of punishment in very specific situations in dog training, but in this case, ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Punishing puppies during housebreaking poses far more unwanted risks than it does improve process of housebreaking.  A puppy who is punished often times thinks the act of pooping itself is why its in trouble and will then seek to poop when you aren’t around, in the house.  Confusion and punishment result in a breakdown of trust, which will erode any potential reach the optimal level of trust and communication between you and the dog.

If the explanation doesn’t make sense to you how about this.  Dog trainers like to argue about most everything involving dog training.  One of the very few things they do NOT argue about is the fact that you should NOT punish your dog for going inside the house!

Seriously if all the experts agree, and can explain why not to, in detail, why would you continue to do so?

 

 

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD

When it comes to puppies, the key is prevention.   If you find your puppy going poop or pee inside often what you need to ask yourself is how and why the puppy even has the opportunity to do this.  A puppy should never be left unsupervised unless they are in a crate or an exercise pen.  People give their puppies too much freedom which sets the puppy up to fail.  Then they become good at, well, failing.  Bad behaviors become habits when you are not there to guide them by creating an environment that sets them up for success.

Understand that dogs come programmed with an aversion to using the bathroom where they sleep and eat.  The goal is to use this to your advantage when housebreaking a puppy. This is done with confinement.  Using a crate or a small exercise pen you create a very small “home” for the pup.  This is the ONLY place they are left unsupervised.  I like to feed my puppies in their crates, right off the floor (no dog in my care EVER eats out of a food bowl).  This further discourages the pup from wanting to soil the area.

The idea is to GRADUALLY extend this idea of “den” to the puppy.  Slowly introduce them to new areas of the home, and always under direct supervision.  Freedom is something that is earned over time, and I mean a lot of time!.  Set them up for success, continually reward using the bathroom outside, and in time, they will not even have the urge to use the bathroom inside.

If you do catch them starting to squat, CALMLY pick them up (because of course you are right next to them and not leaving them unsupervised) and carry them outside, put them on the ground and if so much as a drop comes out, praise and reward.

 

 

SIMPLE DOES NOT MEAN EASY

The process is painfully simple as is everything dog training related.  However, simple does not mean easy.  People seem to have difficulty establishing and planning routines and implementing them with the level of consistency that is required to properly care for and help a dog to thrive.  If you are not a consistent and routine orirented person, then why on earth do own an animal that requires such to be fulfilled?

There is hope.

This blog has TONS of free information.  I will post a few more housebreaking links below and don’t forget, I now offer virtual consultations online in both packages and single servings.  Sometimes its the coaching that makes all the difference in getting you where you need to be to be your best for your dog.  Click HERE to learn more about how I can help you with that.

 

 

OTHER RESOURCES

Housebreaking Hacks

Crash Course In Crate Training

Potty Training Tips from the AKC

 

 

 

 

 

featured image photo credit: pc: Sarah Pflug

 

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The Quick Click – An Overview On Clicker Training http://kdmathews.com/overview-on-clicker-training/ Sun, 10 Dec 2017 20:47:29 +0000 http://kdmathews.com/?p=1288 The post The Quick Click – An Overview On Clicker Training appeared first on KD.

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The more videos I  or my clients share of examples of working with a clicker, the more the questions start coming in.  While I have written several articles explaining some essential “how to” steps, I wanted to take the time to address some of the more basic questions that seem to come up a lot.  I figure it was time to try and address questions like;

What is “clicker training”?

What is “clicker training” for?

How does it work?

 

 

SOME BASICS

The term “clicker training” a slang term used to describe the process of using a clicker to mark or “capture” moments where your dog does a behavior that you want to happen again in hopes of eventually training the dog to do it on command, or more often.    The term “marker training” is another phrase/term used that is a bit more of an accurate description of the process itself.

So what is the process?

This is as quick and simple as I can possibly describe it.

Marker training is when you teach a dog to do specific behaviors, like sit or down, by “marking” the moment they do it, with a sound like the click from a clicker, to let them know “YES! THAT’S WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO”!    We communicate to the dog that we want the dog to do “that” again by rewarding (reinforcing) the dog with something it desires as a consequence for the “desired” behavior.  The use of a clicker to do this simply makes it easier for the dog to understand what it was that earned it the reward, providing you do it correctly.

You don’t need a “clicker” to do this.  For years before I even knew the terminology let alone touched a clicker, I did this all the time.  When a dog would perform the behavior I wanted I would enthusiastically say “yes” then provide a reward of some kind.  Many people do this when they say “good boy!”.   It’s all the same thing in terms of why we are saying it.  We are letting the dog know they did what we wanted them to do.

 

Clickers help with communication

Clear communication is much easier with a clicker.

WHY THE ‘CLICKER’

So if we can do this with our voice why use a clicker?  The simple reality is that the clicker is exponentially more consistent than the human voice can ever be. Dogs learn through the associations they build as a result of their experiences. Consistency is key when building an association.  A clicker makes the exact same sound, every time, no matter what.

If you are sick and your voice is harsh, the click still sounds the same. If you are excited and have an extra chippy voice, the click still sounds the same.   All the changes in the way we can say the same word makes it challenging for the dog to learn.  The click is ALWAYS the same.  This speeds up the learning process dramatically.

 

 

 

WHAT CLICKER TRAINING ACCOMPLISHES

Most objections people have to clicker training come from their lack of understanding on what the tool is even used for.  The clicker is BEST used for the very specific task of teaching a dog to do a new behavior.  That’s it.  The precision and consistency of the sound of the clicker helps the dog to build the association between doing the desired behavior and receiving a reinforcing consequence.

When I want to teach a dog to sit, I wait for the dog to sit and “click” when he sits then follow that with his payment.  After enough times of that happening the dog learns sitting is a good thing and does it more often.  Then I teach the dog to sit when I make a sound with my mouth.  Humans call these sounds “words”.

When I want to teach a dog to go into its crate on command I do the same thing.  I create a situation where the dog goes in voluntarily then I “click” and the dog gets a reward.  Pretty soon the dog is offering me this behavior to make me “click”.

Those who correctly use the clicker live by the mantra “What you click is what you get”.  That means that once the dog learns what the click means, whatever you click, or whatever behavior you “mark”, is a behavior that will begin to happen more and more.  This is why we do NOT use clickers for STOPPING a bad behavior.  More on that later.

Another powerful and overlooked value to this is training more than just the dog moving its body into specific positions.  You can also use this tool to teach the dog to be calm and chilled out.  How?  When the dog is calm and chilled out, you click.  Remember, what you click is what you get.  If you ignore hyper behavior, and reward calm behavior, guess what you will get more of?  The problem there is many people are reinforcing the very behaviors they want to stop they just don’t realize it.  That’s another article entirely though.

Again, all a clicker does is tell the dog that he/she did something correct.

That’s it.  No more, no less.

It’s effectiveness comes from its consistency and precision.  If it’s not effective, its really not the tool, it’s the person using it’s ability to use it correctly.

 

 

 

WHY IT DOESN’T WORK FOR SOME PEOPLE

Like any tool, there is a right way and a wrong way to use a clicker.  In every single situation where somebody told me it didn’t work with their dog, dialog reveals they didn’t use it properly to begin with.  They either were using it the wrong way or using it in the wrong situation.

My first reservations to clicker training came from my ignorance in how the tool even works.  Once I became educated however, I discovered there is little rational or valid argument against using the tool for its INTENDED PURPOSES.

Why the emphasis on “intended purposes”?

If you are using a fork to eat ice cream you will run into problems.  I was doing it last night, that’s why I’m using that example.  First couple bites were fine.  I managed to get the ice cream into my mouth which was the result I was looking for.  However, as time went on problems popped up.  As the ice cream became inevitably softer, less and less was finding its way from the carton (oh yes, I down entire pints at a time, no need for a bowl) to my mouth.

The fork worked for a moment, but In the end, it failed.  It was the wrong tool for the job.  Does that mean a fork is an ineffective tool? No.  I would not want to eat spaghetti without one.  However, if you slide a fork into a pile of spaghetti, and simply lift up, how much makes it to your mouth?

Not much.

It slides off the fork.  Put the fork in points down into the noodles, and spin, and voila, pure carbohydrate bliss.  In order for a tool to work, it must be used correctly, in the appropriate situations, to accomplish the task it was designed to accomplish.  Problems with using a clicker ALL fall under two categories.  Either the human is simply using it wrong, or the dog is deaf.

Clickers don’t work on deaf dogs.

 

 

 

COMMON MISTAKES

 

The most frequent thing I hear is

“ I brought the clicker home and clicked and all the dog did was look at me, it didn’t work”

Really?

It didn’t work?

Listen, I understand that until we are taught something there can be no real expectation to “know” it.   However, there has to be something in your brain that says that perhaps there is information out there you should acquire FIRST before trying something, then condemning it because it didn’t work.

When clickers “don’t work” for somebody when training with their dog it’s almost always has to do with the first step and messing that part up.  Before you can use a clicker as a way to efficiently tell a dog “Yes, I like what you did, GREAT JOB!”  You have to teach them that that’s in fact what the click means!

What is often referred to as “loading” the clicker MUST happen FIRST.  The article I wrote on this part can be found HERE, but in a nutshell all you are doing is teaching the dog that when it hears the click, a reinforcer is coming, usually food in the early stages.  This is all based on the work of that famous Russian named Ivan Pavlov who discoveredd in the mid 19th century something we now call classical conditioning.  Dogs who heard a bell immediately prior to being fed eventually would salivate and get excited from hearing the bell alone without the food being present.

This is what we do with the clicker.  Until this is done, the clicker is simply a piece of plastic that makes a noise that has zero meaning to the dog.  When you bring a clicker home, the first week is spent teaching the dog what the click means.  You have to classically condition the dog to expect a reward after it hears the click.  That’s the whole point.  So bringing a clicker home and clicking away and expecting something magical to happen is not going work.

Another very common misunderstanding about clickers is that they indicate to the dog that it should do something.  People would say,

“ In the beginning he would sit when I clicked, it was great but then he stopped now I can keep clicking and nothing happens”

Early perceived success at doing it wrong has set those individuals up for failure.

The clicker is not intended to come BEFORE any behavior or verbal command.. Remember, the clicker is simply “good boy!” after the dog is successful. Could you train a dog to sit when you click? Yes, but why? That would mean the click can only be used for ONE command which is not only an utter waste of the tool, but very impractical.

Clickers don’t tell dogs what to do, they tell them that what they just did was correct.

 

 

 

BAD BEHAVIOR

While clickers are used in training programs to address bad behavior, it’s not in the way some think.  The clicker is used to strenghten behavior, we have already covered that.  When it comes to stopping or decreasing unwanted behaviors it helps significantly to make sure you provide the dog with an acceptable alternative behavior.

That’s where the clicker comes in.

We don’t use the clicker as a consequence for the dog jumping on somebody but we can use it when the dog has all four legs on the ground.  By reinforcing the desirable behavior you can “hopefully” see a decrease in the unwanted behavior because the dog might find the desirable behavior more reinforcing via all the clicking and treats.

The problem with this is that in some situations, the dog simply finds the undesirable behavior more reinforcing than anything we have to offer.  From there the conversation must incorporate an objective, non-emotional, and logical dialog on punishment.  Unfortunately more and more people lack the ability to remove their emotion when discussing punishment, which means more and more dogs do not get to experience the progress in training that they could.

When people start talking about fixing aggression with clickers I cringe……but that’s another issue and article entirely.

 

 

 

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

I LOVE using clickers with new clients who have never seen them before.  To see somebody’s face when they watch their dog have an “ah ha!” moment in their training sessions is priceless.  There is so much fun people totally miss out on with their dogs.  Clickers create a fun way to open the communication pathways between human and dog.

The dogs love the clarity of expectations and the humans enjoy the time they get to productively spend with their dogs.

Ready to get started?!?

We don’t need to be in the same town, state, or even country!

My online coaching programs can help you and your pup no matter where you are!

Click  HERE for information on how you can get started with this process by working 1 on 1 with me.

The post The Quick Click – An Overview On Clicker Training appeared first on KD.

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The First Thing You Should Do If you THINK Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety http://kdmathews.com/think-your-dog-has-separation-anxiety/ Tue, 28 Nov 2017 19:00:29 +0000 http://kdmathews.com/?p=1245 I see people talking about separation anxiety a LOT.  Way more than I should.  I say that because the majority of people who ask me about separation anxiety in their dogs, have dogs who do NOT have separation anxiety! So what gives?     What Is “NOT” Separation Anxiety Here’s the super quick rundown.  Separation

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I see people talking about separation anxiety a LOT.  Way more than I should.  I say that because the majority of people who ask me about separation anxiety in their dogs, have dogs who do NOT have separation anxiety!

So what gives?

 

 

What Is “NOT” Separation Anxiety

Here’s the super quick rundown.  Separation anxiety is a very specific disorder, yes, a DISORDER.  It has very specific symptoms that must be present to be diagnosed.  Some of the symptoms occur alone, others in the presence of other symptoms.  I begin by saying that because a disturbing number of people commonly throw this term around with no knowledge or experience on the actual condition.  They jump to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with their dog because it does something unpleasant, which is not the case.

Let’s get something straight right off the bat –

Just because your dog chewed something when you left does not mean it has separation anxiety.

Just because your dog follows you around does not mean it has separation anxiety.

Just because your dog barks or whines in the crate does not mean it has separation anxiety.

Just because your dog uses the bathroom in the house does not mean it has separation anxiety.

While these are usually present in dogs with separation anxiety, there are a number of other factors that must be considered before such a diagnosis can be made.  We must look at environment, age, background and history, as well as when the behaviors are occurring and also at what severity.  Excessive salivation, dilated pupils, and self destructive tendencies are also huge factors.

Before you can even think to look at the aforementioned behaviors as symptoms of separation anxiety there is something incredibly important you must reflect on first.

 

Is Your Dog Fulfilled?

The very same behaviors that can be present during separation anxiety are also very common among dogs without the condition.  Dogs who are not being fulfilled by their owners will seek to stimulate themselves.  Most of the time their choices are not what we would find to be “appropriate”.

What does being fulfilled even mean?

Dogs are active animals.  Many breeds were created through years of selective breeding to perform complex and demanding tasks and jobs.  One job that most dogs were not created for was being a couch pillow or your cuddle partner.  While they might be great cuddlers, the reality is THEY need more in their lives to truly thrive. It breaks my heart to see dogs that I am called to “fix”, simply behaving the way any dog would when not having its needs appropriately addressed.  I then spend my time educating the human, not fixing the dog.  The dog isn’t broken.

The mental and physical stimulation requirements of most dogs people have “issues” with are simply not being met.

I learned early on in my career in public education that the old adage “idle hands are the devil’s playground” is pretty much always true.  We know that we need to keep our children busy with productive activities that keep them out of trouble. When not occupied appropriately, and left unsupervised with zero potential for consequences, there’s a good chance a kid might not pick the most appropriate activity to occupy themselves!

It’s even more essential with our dogs that we address this unquestionable reality.  Dogs need daily activity that is structured and planned with the goal being to drain their mental and physical energy tanks.  Failing to do this will result in undesirable consequences.  That does not mean the dog has separation anxiety, it means the human hasn’t done their part. In my article on dealing with a destructive dog (read HERE) I explain how destruction is always the human’s fault, not the dog’s.

 

 

What Should You Do?

Want to find out if your dog has separation anxiety or simply needs more from you?

When somebody asks me about their dog’s separation anxiety, before I even get into the fact that there is a good chance the dog doesn’t even have separation anxiety, I ask them the following question

Please describe your dog’s daily routine.  What does a typical day in the life of your dog look like?

The answer to this question will provide me with what I need to know rather quickly.

For dogs chewing things up or getting themselves into trouble, most often their owners explain their day in terms of time spent being “let outside” or if there are other dogs “playing with their fur-brother/sister’.  They don’t mention anything about training, or if they do mention walks, it is quickly determined it’s not the “right” kind of walk. I find that people with fenced in yards fall into a false sense of security by thinking “letting the dog out” is all they need to do.  They are wrong.

So what should you be doing?

Dogs need what I explain as Routinely Structured Stimulation.   This means that every day, the dog can expect to participate in activities WITH the owner that not only keep the dog physically active, but are mentally stimulating.  To simply go for a walk isn’t enough, especially if a walk means throwing on a harness and letting the dog drag you all over while it barks and jumps at everything out on your walk.  Opening up the back door to the yard allowing the dog to “run around” isn’t going to cut it either.  We need to plan and structure the activities in a way that will engage the dog to think and work things out.

Each and every day the dog should be taken on a long structured walk.  A structured walk means the dog must focus on you and not simply drag you around the neighborhood going where it pleases.  At least one INTENSE exercise session should be provided.  Walks don’t count as exercise!  You need to be playing an intense game of fetch, doing some flirtpole with the dog, letting them work on a springpole, or if you have one designed for dogs ( I don’t support the practice of putting dogs on human treadmills), getting them on a treadmill to drain some energy.  The last thing that needs to happen DAILY is training.  A minimum of 3-5 brief sessions where you work on your communication with the dog teaching them desired behaviors is essential.  Get started with some clicker training by clicking HERE and reading an article that will get you started on a super fun and stimulating journey for you and your dog.

Mental and physical fulfillment is a necessity for your dog to thrive and are far more valuable than cuddling on the couch.

Quick and simple training sessions keep dogs mentally stimulated and happy

Also worth mentioning here at this moment is the consistently to which all the previous information must be applied.  Dogs find exponentially more comfort in routine and predictability than they do kisses from their owner.  You must put together a plan for your dog based on your schedule.

If you don’t have the time to do this, then ask yourself why you got a dog in the first place.

 

Now What?

So, if you aren’t providing the amount of stimulation explained in the previous section, you shouldn’t even be talking about separation anxiety or even worse, asking what kind of drugs the dog should be given.  The reality is that until you meet the dog’s minimum needs for mental and physical stimulation, you really don’t know the severity of the situation.

For some folks, they can do all the above and then some, and the dog is still turning into a salivating, screaming, self destructive mess the moment they step out the door.  They know this because the neighbors are calling them at work asking who is skinning the dog alive at home based on the screaming, barking, and banging going on.  That is what separation anxiety often looks like, it’s a nightmare to deal with.  For the people who genuinely struggle with dogs suffering from this very specific condition, they don’t appreciate hearing others throw the term around to describe a dog who simply isnt getting enough proper interaction and species appropriate stimulation from their owner.

If you are still convinced your dog has separation anxiety there are absolutely ways to address it before pharmaceuticals (which far too many people are too quick to resort to).  Consult a local behaviorist in your area for a PROPER diagnosis and then work with them to put together a behavioral plan to help address the issue.

 

Learn more:

Here are some outside links to more information on the subject:

https://www.cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/anxiety/dealing-with-separation-anxiety

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-behavior-issues/separation-anxiety

 

 

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Moving Day! – Helping Your Dog Adjust To Your New Home http://kdmathews.com/moving-day-helping-your-dog-adjust-to-your-new-home/ Wed, 22 Nov 2017 20:01:30 +0000 http://kdmathews.com/?p=1214 We’ve all been there.  I hate being there.  Moving sucks. But what about your dog? It’s bad enough when we struggle with the stress and angst of the moving process.  Hopefully we get through it with the knowledge that the move will mean new opportunities, a new more appropriate home, or a myriad of other

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We’ve all been there.  I hate being there.  Moving sucks.

But what about your dog?

It’s bad enough when we struggle with the stress and angst of the moving process.  Hopefully we get through it with the knowledge that the move will mean new opportunities, a new more appropriate home, or a myriad of other benefits a fresh start can bring.  Our dogs however have none of that.  All they know is that their world is about to change, drastically.  They need our help to guide them through this process to make it as easy as possible.

 

PREPARE

Usually, hopefully, we have a bit of notice before making a move.  This is the time to start getting the dog ready, don’t wait until AFTER you have moved in.

I am constantly talking about the importance of routine, structure, and stimulation.  Dogs find the predictability of a daily routine much more comforting than cuddles and kisses.  While our culture has embraced hyper emotional displays of lack of work ethic, mother nature has not.  Always remember cuddles and kisses do more for you than your dog.  If you do not currently have an established routine that your dog follows every day, and it includes a minimum of a 45 minute structured walk, at least one iNTENSE exercise session, and 3-5 brief behavior training sessions, START ONE NOW!  If you wait until after your move you have made a mistake that will cause your dog more stress than it should have to deal with.

I need to stress the importance of the previous paragraph.  Loving your dog is about giving them what THEY NEED, not what YOU WANT to give them.  There is a huge difference and i find a disturbing number of people who practice willful ignorance when confronted with the truth and reality of the situation.  If you want to help your dog, you need to understand the value of routine, structure, and stimulation.

As you implement a new more vigorous routine into the dog’s life prior to the move, be sure to have already established what you are going to do AFTER the move.  A big part of the adjustment going as smoothly as possible is implementing a new routine immediately upon moving into the new residence.

Know BEFORE moving day, exactly where the dog’s crate or bed area will be in the new home.  Have the logistics of your dog’s new life already planned out.  Implementing the new routine as soon as possible after the move is complete is essential to minimizing the stress on your dog by quickly establishing routine again.  This is far more important than any couch cuddling will ever be.

 

MOVING DAY

This is going to be a stressful day, for both 4 and 2 legged family.

There really isn’t much to get around that fact.  The best thing you can do is wake up as early as possible and take the dog for a REALLY long walk.  A bike ride would be even better.  Get in the car and ride to a park, put a long line on the dog, and throw the ball for a bit.  At this point the first order of business for the day is getting your dog as exhausted as possible.  Remember you are going to be stressed and busy yourself for a majority of the day.

Take care of the dog FIRST before you find yourself making excuses however valid they might be, that ultimately leave your dog having to cope and deal with a lack of stimulation in conjunction with a ton of extra stress.

Once you are ready to get started there is a big decision that must be made before anything else gets started.  Is the dog going to be brought to the new house right away, or will the dog be the last trip.

Make sure the dog is the last trip.

Think about this for a moment.  Moving day will be hectic.  People coming in and out, some of them possibly strangers to the dog.  All humans involved are experiencing various levels of stress, frustration, annoyance, and anxeity.  If your dog is going to have to smell all of this, let him do it in his OLD home, not the NEW home.

First impressions are so very important for dogs.  When they walk into a new environment, like a home for example, they take a snapshot of the experience.  That remains their impression of this environment.  The last thing we want is for your dog to come into a new and strange place, THEN have to deal with stressed out people coming in and out.  Not a good first impression at all.

Nice and tired is key to entering the new home in a calm, relaxed state of mind

Once your moving is complete for the day, and all the major in and outs over with, it is time for the dog.  Head to the new place and when you get there do NOT go inside.  Hopefully the dog’s bed area is all set up so you have one less thing to worry about.  Now go for a nice walk.  While you might be tired from the day’s work, so what.  This is about what’s best for your dog, remember.  Spending some quiet, quality time going for a brief journey with your dog will benefit you as well.  You could use a lil one on one time with man’s best friend.

The goal here is to help the dog shake off that stress it has been building up throughout the day.  The last thing we want is to take a hyper, anxious, and stressed dog into your new home.  That would be setting the dog up to fail as all that energy could result in the dog making some mistakes.  Then you spend the first 20 minutes of your dogs first impression running around stressed yelling at them.

This is what we DON’T want.

 

 

CROSSING THE THRESHOLD

Remember, everything for the dog should be set up ahead of time.  Now is not the time to be planning and coordinating logistics as it will only cause you frustration and chances are good you’ll make some bad decisions in the heat of the moment.

As the dog approaches the house and you head to the door, wait.   Stand at the door, slowly open it and stand still.  If the dog tries to barge into the house, close the door.  The idea is to wait until the dog demonstrates the understanding that it cant simply bolt in there.  When you have a calm dog politely waiting for permission to come inside feel free to walk in and encourage your dog to follow.

If you have a crate all set, which you should even if your dog is normally loose, head straight to the crate and toss some extra high value treats in there, close the door and walk away.  It’s time to let the dog simmer down and get used to the smells.  If you were to let your dog simply run all over the new home you are setting the dog up to begin to experience heightened arousal levels that could quickly undue all the work you just put in with walking and training!

Let the dog chill out.

You now have created a super chill and smooth first introduction for your dog in the new home.  You also have navigated the most challenging part of moving and helped to significantly reduce the stress the process could potentially cause for your dog.

 

WHAT IF…..

This was just an outline, a simple example designed not merely to walk you through step by step, but to give you a general idea of how to approach this common experience.  Depending on your current routine with your dog, your dog’s personality, and the conditions of the move, adapt what you have learned from the article to your own unique situation.

What is key for success is being able to get from the article what the essential ideas are for making this experience as comfortable for the dog as possible.  Having a consistent daily plan for your dog that is based on routinely structured stimulation is so incredibly important.  If all you got from this article is that you haven’t been doing that, and now you are going to start, then i’m thrilled.  Knowing your dog will be one step closer to feeling truly fulfilled is all I care about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fixing Your Spiteful Dog! http://kdmathews.com/fixing-spiteful-dog/ Thu, 26 Oct 2017 15:45:22 +0000 http://kdmathews.com/?p=1118 According to Merriam-Webster, spite is defined as ‘petty ill will or hatred with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart” Spiteful is an adjective that describes a behavior as having the purpose to cause distress or emotional harm with malice. Dogs, while loveable and amazing in their own right, do not have identical brains as

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According to Merriam-Webster, spite is defined as

‘petty ill will or hatred with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart”

Spiteful is an adjective that describes a behavior as having the purpose to cause distress or emotional harm with malice.

Dogs, while loveable and amazing in their own right, do not have identical brains as humans.

Humans do not have the same brains as dogs.

Now that the lesson on vocabulary and common sense  is over can somebody please tell me why people use the complex assortment of emotions and behaviors unique to humans to explain dog behavior? (that’s called anthropomorphism btw)

Yes, that was a rhetorical question.  If you didn’t pick up on that than I’m not sure I’ll be able to help you.

 

The Most Important Step Is the First One

The first step is taking a deep breath, putting a gag on your ego, then humbly and honestly acknowledging that you were wrong.

I confess, the title of the article was clickbait.

The reality is, your dog does not need fixing, your labeling of your dog does along with your understanding of your dog.

I’m not a big fan of labels or labeling when teaching.  It is much more productive to describe behaviors than to label them.  It takes a significant amount of correct knowledge and experience to take a behavior, or a group of them, and accurately apply a label.  For pet owners, this simply isn’t something they can reliably do, which is to be expected.  That’s where somebody like me comes in.

If you have been labeling your dog as “spiteful” because of various undesirable behaviors, STOP.

Your dog is not spiteful.

Nothing your dog has ever done, or will ever do, has been done as an act of “spite” or “revenge”

Your dog’s behaviors, that you have mistakenly concluded were acts of spitefulness, have explanations that you simply are unable to identify based on your current experience level and knowledge base.

Basically, people take ANY behavior their dog does that they don’t like, and because they can’t think of the reason (usually we discover the HUMAN is the source of the problem) they simply take the easy and convenient diagnosis, the dog is “spiteful”.

Now on to step 2, changing that.

 

You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know

When coaching new dog owners, or folks who have had dogs yet still have issues with them, I find almost every problem has a solution that lies in the most basic of ideas and concepts that often times begin with the fundamentals of understanding what a dog is and how they think.

If you have been saying your dog is spiteful, I get it, I understand more than you realize because I too was once in your very shoes. I also work with many others who are going through the exact same thing.  Dogs don’t come with instruction books, that’s why I wrote one and decided to give it away for FREE (click HERE to get a copy if you don’t already have one). Just like we can’t punish our dogs for not knowing something that we didn’t teach them, I can’t fault you for not understanding something that no one has ever taught you.

After reading this article however, you will no longer be able to use that excuse.

As we already learned at the beginning of the article, spite is an act that has the intent of malice. To plan to take action against somebody with the purpose to cause them emotional stress or harm in retribution for a perceived wrong previously done takes significant cognitive abilities.

Dogs do not have the cognitive ability for such actions.

They just don’t.

While they are indeed intelligent and to a degree, emotional animals, there is no denying that there are limitations to what they can and can’t do.  I understand how much many people love their dogs and see them as part of the family, that’s a good thing.  However, being educated on how a dog thinks is essential in being the best owner possible for them.  While they may be your “baby”, they are not a human, and understanding that is mandatory.

Let’s face it, the reason we love them so much and enjoy them in our lives is indeed because they are NOT human, hence unspoiled by our many faults.

Now is the moment where you can feel a little bit guilty for having been calling your dog spiteful, when in reality, it had nothing to do with spite at all (guilt trip # 1, there’s another one later).

Ok, now get over it and prove your love by continuing your quest for objective information that can improve your knowledge ultimately making you an even better “fur-parent”.

 

 

OK, So What The Hell is Going On Then If It’s Not Spite?

It is much easier to tell you what it’s not, spite, than to tell you the exact reason for the behaviors you are experiencing.

For one, there are a wide variety of undesirable behaviors that people inaccurately lump under the label “spiteful”.From going to the bathroom in the house, or on the owner’s bed, to chewing, destruction, barking….etc etc

These are all DIFFERENT behaviors.

Also, Im not there to see exactly what is going on.  This is why I don’t like labels when working with pet owners.  A label requires a conclusion and a diagnosis to be came to as a result of observing something.  Most pet owner “conclusions” are wrong.  Tell me details, tell me the behaviors, tell me what’s happening, and let ME come to the conclusion.  Often times myself or any other trainer will still need to SEE what’s going on due to the amount of communication that dogs express physically without a sound.

Even with those two major factors, there are some things I can tell you that will help you to get closer to the answer you are seeking along with possible ways to address them.

 

 

Step Back, Observe, & Think

There is an explanation to your dog’s behaviors, you just haven’t seen it yet.  Sometimes the reason is because you are looking too closely.

Recently I was contacted by someone who had a spiteful dog who was “revenge pooping” in their home office.  They were convinced it was because the dog was mad at them because he was “mostly housebroken” (whatever that means) and because the dog knows he isn’t supposed to go inside it MUST be revenge for something.

I usually ask the same question for most folks regardless of their question, and that is what their daily routine with their dog is.  I asked this individual next, if there have been ANY changes in their routine or the dog’s environment.

They answered with a confident “NO, everything is the same”.

Needless to say, I knew that wasn’t true so I continued to ask probing questions.

As it was to be discovered in our dialog, the sister in law had recently gotten divorced and it was a BAD situation.  She had moved in with the family and needless to say, there was a LOT of drama and stress and tears and even police a couple times.  When I began to focus on that he was confused and said several times that the situation had nothing to do with the dog.

Folks, your home is your dog’s home.

Your environment, is your dog’s environment.

The stress you bring home from your job, can easily become your dog’s stress.

Dogs are incredibly aware of our mood, energy, stress levels and they are even more aware to even the slightest change in their routine and environment.  Having a house guest is a MAJOR change in environment.  Now factor in the amount of stress and energy that house guest brought with them in this example, and you have a seriously stressed out dog!

It was also determined that the reason the owner didn’t think there was much of a change in the dog’s routine is because they didn’t even have a routine to begin with!

So we had a dog who didn’t have a structured life to begin with, stress factor number 1, who suddenly has a major change in environment with the houseguest, stress factor number 2, and is surrounded by elevated levels of tension and anxiety via the humans and their drama, stress factor number 3.

He wasn’t pooping out of revenge, he was at MELTDOWN STATUS!

A stressed out dog will not only suddenly start regressing with housebreaking, but they also can become destructive, neurotic, hyper, lethargic, and even aggressive.

And you thought it was because your dog was simply being nasty. (guilt trip #2)

For those who have the spiteful dog who only chews their shoes. Guess what, your dog wasn’t mad at you. Your dog has no idea that those were your favorite shoes or how much you paid for them.

If anything those shoes were targeted because they smell like you and nothing more!

 

 

Broken Record

I say it all the time and I won’t stop.

Ever.

You need to have your dog on a as strict and routine daily plan as possible.

Some dogs need it more than others, I am well aware of this.  There are also those dogs who simply are unfazed by anything, but their owners aren’t reading this article looking for answers.

However, all dogs can benefit from structure and routine.  No amount of unsolicited belly rubs will ever compare to the security and comfort of predictability.  Life happens, and usually stress and the unpredictable are right there with it.  The stronger the dog’s routine and daily structure are, the easier it will be for your dog to cope with whatever life deals YOU.

 

 

Now……do two things.

First, share this article because another reason you thought spite was the reason your dog was doing this is because somebody you know has said it too and their dog needs them to read this.  Then, put down your internet device and go take your dog for a walk or do a quick obedience session.  Don’t just walk over and hug them out of your own need to feel reassured for your mistakes, that’s not what they need.  Show your remorse for your mislabeling of them by giving them what they NEED, which is some structure, some exercise, and some improved communication.

 

 

 

 

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Your Dog Does NOT Need A Trainer! http://kdmathews.com/your-dog-does-not-need-a-trainer/ Tue, 10 Oct 2017 22:30:09 +0000 http://kdmathews.com/?p=1102 I hear it all the time. “I need to take my dog to training, he’s so bad” Wrong. 100% WRONG   POSSIBLE ALLERGENS: TRUTH It has never been my style to tell people what they want to hear. Telling people things they want to hear as opposed to what they need to hear is an

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I hear it all the time.

“I need to take my dog to training, he’s so bad”

Wrong.

100% WRONG

 

POSSIBLE ALLERGENS: TRUTH

It has never been my style to tell people what they want to hear.

Telling people things they want to hear as opposed to what they need to hear is an unsavory display of either weakness, or worse, an ulterior motive.  However, people struggle most with hearing the truth.  This is painfully ironic because they will go on and on about honesty and responsibility until you hit them with actual truth.

WHAM!

So the situation then becomes one where to make it so they don’t hit the ground when they fall.  I can’t sugarcoat some things, so I have to get good at catching folks on the way down.

If you have a dog who you spend time with daily, train with daily, work with daily, and the dog isn’t getting it, then its not the dog who needs professional help!

YOU DO.

OK, NOW I’LL CATCH YOU

Relax.

It’s going to be OK.

Im 100% not judging you.

Really, Im not, because you are failing for the simple fact nobody taught you how to do it the right way to begin with.  Dog’s dont come with instruction books which is why I threw together one.  It’s short and sweet, no fluff, and its not even a training manual. ( you can get it for free by clicking HERE if you don’t already have a copy).  Like I said though, thats just on fundamentals, not even getting into training!

The point is, nobody has ever REALLY shown you what to do or how to do it.  To make matters worse, when you go and try and find information on your own, you get nothing but conflicting information that makes it even more confusing!  How on earth are you supposed to be expected to be successful in such a situation?!

It’s really a situation where you could even claim you were set up to fail!  See, now you REALLY can feel good knowing that I’m making excuses for you!

Ok, now time to snap out of it and get into action.

you are your dog's best trainer

Find a training program that teaches YOU how to teach your dog

GET EDUCATED

Getting educated does sound easier than it really is however.  The internet is full of experts, I should know, I’m one of those jerks who is going to tell you what to do and how to do it!

Find somebody who is willing to address and deal with the reality that it is YOU who is in need of assistance, not your dog.  This is something that i discovered years ago in my own time spent as a “dog trainer”.

I hardly ever trained any dogs!

A big part of my own business was the time spent working with people, and instructing and coaching dog owners on how to train their own dogs.  Having had many 9-5 careers that all involved teaching, including being a state certified public school teacher with over 10 years in the classroom, my clients experienced much higher levels of success when i worked with them, not their dogs.

I stopped taking in-kennel contracts.

Ok, on RARE occasion I take in ONE dog at a time for intensive training where I am in fact, training the dog.  This hardly happens, and when it does it’s for very specific reasons, and it’s not cheap.  Instead of training the dog, success comes from a thoughtful, well planned, educational and coaching program designed to teach the dog owner everything they need to know to be the best owner possible.  That also includes being a dog trainer for their own dog.

Education for the human is essential in ultimately training any dog they are responsible for.

Find a trainer that openly discusses the education they plan to give YOU.  Feel free to ask them what their feelings on “in-kennel” training vs private lessons.  Probe them and engage in conversations where it will be easy to see if they even possess the skills and talent of communication, let alone the willingness to design a program that has YOU at the center.

 

 

YOUR DOG NEEDS YOU

Everything always comes back to the dog and what’s best for them.  This is a perfect example of what you hear me saying often which is that you must “drop your ego before you pick up that leash”.  It can be a pill to swallow sometimes coming to terms with the reality you don’t have a clue what you’re doing.

Loving your dog isn’t about giving them the belly rubs that you already want to give freely.  It is about being honest with yourself and your abilities, and then doing the right thing that set you up for success in making your dog well behaved, balanced, and even happier than you can imagine.

 

If you think you can handle my honesty, I do have virtual coaching packages available where YOU are the focus and your success and education are at center stage.  Click HERE for more information.  Until then, the rest of this blog has TONS of FREE information to get you started.

 

 

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Housebreaking Hacks – Identify The Goal http://kdmathews.com/housebreaking-hacks-identify-the-goal/ http://kdmathews.com/housebreaking-hacks-identify-the-goal/#comments Fri, 22 Sep 2017 20:16:21 +0000 http://kdmathews.com/?p=1058 While I get a wide variety of questions from folks about their lives with their dogs, there are few topics that certainly get a lot of mileage.  One of the most common is housebreaking. This doesn’t surprise me one bit because quite frankly, it’s one of the single most necessary things to accomplish when owning

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While I get a wide variety of questions from folks about their lives with their dogs, there are few topics that certainly get a lot of mileage.  One of the most common is housebreaking.

This doesn’t surprise me one bit because quite frankly, it’s one of the single most necessary things to accomplish when owning a dog who lives inside.

NOT being housebroken is an incredibly unpleasant idea, let alone, reality.

There are many reasons why people fail to successfully housebreak their dogs and this post is the first in what is to be a full series of tips and hacks to help you along the way.  While brainstorming for this series I tried to put all the information into some semblance of a priority list.  The first thing that popped into my mind is a big one, and that’s where I’ll start.

 

Identify The Goal (all of them)

You would think this is obvious, but therein lies the problem.

One of the first things I say with a brand new client is that dog training’s difficulty, lies in it’s simplicity.

If you want to know what that means you’ll have to sign up for one of my courses so I can explain it to you fully. The quick explanation is that people over think things and miss the important and simple details.

When looking at something like housebreaking, we have the obvious, and the not so obvious.  This is where having a clear understanding of exactly what it is you are trying to communicate to the dog is essential.  I realize, and so do my clients when they seek assistance, that the “how” is where most are aware that they need help.  The details of how to train a particular behavior or task is something they seek to be taught and it’s what I cover in my coaching services.

What is often overlooked is the “what”.  As humans we see behaviors in a broad and generalized way.  This is where the struggle comes into play with dog training for pet owners as they often times fail to see the most important first step, which is breaking down the end goal, or the “big picture” into smaller chunks.

They then put the dog in situations it simply can’t handle and subsequently get frustrated at the dog’s failure.  This becomes a downward spiral of frustration, negative energy and feedback, ultimately damaging the relationship between dog and owner.

This is why I said “all of them”, because there are going to be smaller missions that need to be taught to the dog in order for the BIG mission to be successful.  Think of the strategic battles necessary to accomplish the end goal of winning the war.  This war is one with stinky consequences for failure!

 

Understand The Goal

The goal of housebreaking is very simple on the surface.  We want our puppy or dog to learn to go to the bathroom outside.

Great.  Now what?

The next step with any desired behavior is to see if there is an opposite or undesired side of that.

In this case, we do have an alternate undesired behavior.  We do NOT want the dog to go to the bathroom INSIDE the house.

This is important to do so that when we develop a plan on how to TEACH the desired behavior, we have a deeper understanding of what we need to do to ensure we are effectively communicating with the dog.  While people often times understand the goal, they subsequently do things that completely undermine it!  Using pee pads is a PERFECT example of this.  I do into detail in another article you can read by clicking HERE.  Think about this for a moment though.  If we want the puppy to understand it should never go to the bathroom in the house, why the hell would we use a tool that encourages the puppy to go to the bathroom IN the house?

Now hopefully you see why taking the time to really think about the goal of your work is valuable.  It can help you design your plan on how you are going to execute that goal.

 

Break it Down

I talked about chunks earlier.  A big goal or behavior needs to be broken down into smaller steps or mini goals in order to increase the chances of achieving it.  This works for humans when we set goals in our personal or professional lives.  It is even more important when working with dogs as they have a really tough time seeing our “big picture” that we have set for them.

When beginning to housebreak a puppy the first step is to establish two things, that the puppy is not to use the crate for going to the bathroom and that there is a designated spot outside to go in.  That’s it.

We won’t be expecting the puppy to have free reign of the house at first as that is simply too big of a task to jump right into.  Start with the crate, then SLOWLY work room to room over the course of MONTHS.

Yes, i said MONTHS.

These are the steps.  Once the puppy becomes clear on the first, move on to the next.  This can only happen though if you have planned them out before hand.

Failing to plain is planning to fail.

While there are a number of things to plan for, the first one is simply identifying your big picture goal.  Then working on breaking it down into smaller, easier to teach, and easier for the puppy to comprehend steps.

Here are some OTHER articles I have on the subject, be sure to give them a read as well.

Should You Use Puppy Pads?  

Crate Training Basics

Much MUCH more to come on this as there is a TON of things you need to know to be successful with this super important concept that every indoor dog needs to know.

Subscribe to the blog below so you get immediate notifications of when new articles come out as well as get a FREE copy of my report Operation Dog: Declassified.  It’s the instruction book that should have come with your dog!

 

 

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Hacking The Homecoming – Introducing New Puppies to Older Dogs http://kdmathews.com/introducing-new-puppies-older-dogs/ Tue, 19 Sep 2017 21:22:16 +0000 http://kdmathews.com/?p=1064 This is a super common situation that many people find themselves in every day.  It’s so common that I’m in the middle of creating a very detailed guide that breaks down not just the step by step, but explains the concepts involved. Even as I work on developing this guide though, the questions keep flowing

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This is a super common situation that many people find themselves in every day.  It’s so common that I’m in the middle of creating a very detailed guide that breaks down not just the step by step, but explains the concepts involved.

Even as I work on developing this guide though, the questions keep flowing daily and I needed to put the long version on pause to get something much shorter and easier to digest out and in front of the people who so desperately need it.

First Things First

There are some essential steps to follow when bringing a new puppy into a home with an older dog. Whether the pup has yet to come home or the pup is already home and there are some challenges being experienced, reflecting on the process as a whole, and the concepts within, can be very beneficial regardless of your current place in the timeline.

The first thing to address is the existing dog(s) in the home. This is to begin ideally before the pup even comes home. If the pup is already home, then its time to start immediately with re-establishing the ideal relationship with the older dogs.

What is the ideal relationship?

All dogs, regardless of age, breed, gender, or personal background THRIVE when partnered with a strong, objective, appropriately assertive, LEADER. Back in the day, this was mistaken to mean a heavy handed or physically commanding person, but this is incorrect. Today it seems people have flipped to the other extreme, becoming far too emotional and often coddling their dogs which is just as problematic. The middle-ground is where the answer lies and is where the concepts to achieving this “ideal” relationship is found. While explaining the dynamics of developing a leadership role and healthy relationship is far beyond the scope of this post, there are some basics you can begin with.trusting leadership and attention

In order to ensure that your older dogs see you as the leader, which they NEED to do in order to set up any introductions to be successful, take time daily working on your communication with them.  This means every day, at least 3-5 times a day you should be working on the most basic of obedience commands.  Things like a solid recall, down, and “leave it” are essential for any dog to be solid on whether they are in a single dog home or getting ready to get a new sibling.

Controlling resources is how you assert yourself as the “leader” and little to no physical contact is needed to do that.  The dog should be fed via obedience training and always after first doing something requested of it.  There are other resources besides food though and they are equally important.  If you have a dog who you affectionate label as “spoiled” then you are headed down a challenging road as this will increase the chances of issues with the puppy’s introduction.

Affection is usually the major culprit as folks often drastically underestimate the power and value our touch has on our dogs.  A spoiled dog is one who is constantly cuddled, pet, and coddled for no reason other than you feel like showing your “love”.  To the human, it makes sense.  To the dog it is confusing.  Treat affection like food, make sure the dog does something, ANYTHING, prior to receiving affection.

This doesn’t have to be complicated.

When you feel the urge to cuddle your dog, simply get up, walk away, and call them to you.  When they come over, kiss and cuddle all you want.  To the dog, he had to oblige your request in order to receive the affection.  This is how you can be a leader without having to decrease the amount of belly rubs.  Just increase the amount of requests you put on the dog and then reward with the affection.

Do this daily.

If you do not have a dog whom you can control, you will not be able to handle the potential issues that can arise should something go sideways during an introduction.

 

Now For The Puppy

Before you can even think about an introduction, the puppy needs time and space.

Lots of both.

The first day home is NOT the time to do any introductions to existing dogs, pets, or even extended family members. If you have small children you need to explain to them the puppy needs to relax and get used to its new surroundings.

Think about it.

This puppy’s entire world has been turned upsidedown. Everything it knows about the world has changed in an instant.  Every relationship it has built has been taken away.  Even for the most sturdy puppy this is a big pill to swallow.  A swarm of animals, humans, or super excited children will only make the puppy’s first moments in your house more stressful than it can handle.  If you introduce the puppy to its surroundings in a calm and relaxed way, you are setting yourself up a smoother future as this will be how the puppy sees your home.

The puppy should not receive tons of attention but instead be taken to its new bedroom, which is the crate and should be in a relatively quiet part of the house.  From that point moving forward you are working on the primary goal which is housebreaking and it begins right away.  The puppy will go from crate to the designated potty area, and that’s about it.

Again, no introductions to other animals.

The puppy will need to first develop a trusting bond with YOU before it can be expected to properly handle any dog introductions.  In the beginning the majority of the puppy’s food will come directly from your hand and will be given during the process of teaching the puppy its name and introducing it to the crate.  (click HERE for info on how to introduce the crate).

As you build the bond with your puppy and it learns to see you as the most important part of its life, you are getting closer to being able to make introductions to other dogs in the house.

Meet and Greet

So now you have re-established a leadership role with your older dog while simultaneously building a trusting bond with your puppy.

Time for the first introduction.

Take your older dog for a loooooooong walk and follow that with a lung busting exercise session. Tire the dog out as much as you can safely do.  The tongue should be hanging out and the chest should be heaving.  You want that ol’ guy tuckered out.  While still tired, try and find a place where the dogs can safely run a bit.

If you have done the right amount of work with obedience you should be able to trust your dog in an empty park while dragging a long line.

This is where the first introduction should take place.  As long as you are not on your own property you should be good.  The general idea is to decrease any possible territorial response the older dog might have.

The puppy won’t exactly be a stranger to your older dog, or vice versa, as they have been smelling eachother for at least a week in the home.  This is simply an opportunity for them to finally get to interact.  Keep the session VERY short, no more than five minutes if everything goes well.  If you older dog shows any tension or aggression, cut the session off immediately and go back to working on your relationship with him.

Even if it goes great, keep following the above steps for a week, simply increasing the amount of interaction.

Moving Forward

So far it’s only been two weeks.  Now you can do an in home play session.  Just make sure to follow the same routine as before by completely exhausting the older dog before any interaction.

Your the leader, so its YOUR job to police these play sessions.  Let them play, even if its a bit rough at times, and you be the one to decide when its over.

Some older dogs simply don’t want to be bothered with a young exuberant puppy.  This is not unreasonable as puppy energy combined with puppy teeth can be quite the annoyance.

Respect your older dog.

Don’t ever force an interaction. If the older dog has had enough, again it’s your job to step in and end the interaction and give the guy a break.  Remember, you are the leader, and you must protect the interests not just of the puppy, but the older established dog as well.

 

 

 

When the in-depth-guide is complete I’ll be sure to include the link in this article.  In the meantime, be sure to sign up and register below or in the pop up so you can get instantly notified when it or any other new stuff hits the streets.  Plus you will get a free copy of Operation Dog: Declassified, the instruction book that should have come with your dog!  It’s totally free and you can even un-subscribe after you download your copy.

 

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