Category Archives: Laurie Wagner

May I Pet Your Dog? Let’s Ask The Dog!

I get this all the time, as I’m sure you do too. “Can I pet your dog? Is your dog friendly?”

Today as my daughter played on the playground with her friends one of them ran up to me, not even going to ask me if she could touch my dog. I stopped her & told her he wasn’t friendly. This stopped her dead in her tracks- mission accomplished. She turned and went back to the slide. I said to her a few minutes later she could say hi to him, that I was only trying to make her think before running up to a dog that he may not be friendly. I gave her a bit of advice I give to all my new employees “think of every dog here as going to bite you”. I told her I didn’t want her to be afraid of dogs, just more cautious.

Then I told her to stand still, take a deep breath & hold her hand out for my dog to sniff her. He didn’t. He was too interested in looking at everything else. So I told her to wait a minute to see if he’d sniff her hand. He finally noticed her & sniffed her hand. I then instructed her to touch him with one hand only. I said to never use two hands, as it can be too confining to a dog. He was fine with her touching him & she ran off on her merry way, hopefully a bit wiser, but I doubt it. She is, after all, only 7.

This brings to mind a question I ask in my weekend classes. What are the 2 main reasons a dog bites? Answer: offense & defense. Which dogs bite more? Answer: defense. Why? Because most people are smart enough not to reach their hand out to a snarling dog!

Meanwhile, if a dog looks scared or shy like this, we feel bad & think they need to be comforted. Not the case!

Apprehensive Look

Timid Wide Eyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We want the dog to WANT to be touched too! If you went up to a person to say hi & they backed up- they are saying they want to be left alone, right? Well these looks are saying the same message in dog language! The dog is saying “I’m unsure of you & want to be left alone”. The best way to make friends with a dog like this? LISTEN TO HIM! Respect him! Give him space & by all means don’t reach your hands out to invade his personal space. If you love dogs, you must think of their needs & wishes & you should want to keep their record clean! Don’t give a dog a bite history that didn’t have one. Did you know that 85% of dog bites are from human error? -I’m making this number up, but it’s probably in that ball park 😛

Here is my flow chart for whether or not a dog wants to be touched:

Flow Chart

Dog moves in for more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are not in the New England area & are in need of a professional trainer, please visit the IACP International Association of Canine Professionals. Remember not all dog trainers are the same, so if you have not gotten the results you want, please do not give up on your dog. Find a competent, qualified trainer near you. And be sure to tell them Laurie Wagner sent you! 🙂

Does Your Dog Bark At People In Your Car? Mine Does!

So Annyong has been with us 4 months this weekend. He’s doing SO GOOD! Except…he still FREAKS out when we’re in the car & he sees someone too close to the car, especially if he sees a dog. He’s a lot better I’ve noticed, even in the last week. He’s not as reactive & he doesn’t react to “every” person.

It wasn’t long ago Ziva (who was another owner surrender 7 years ago this week!) was the same. She would bark like crazy at anything in the car. She used to have to be cross-tied to drive anywhere, as she would run around the car barking. God, I don’t miss those days.

Anyway, today I had Annyong on the day care floor for about 5 hours, where he played & got out a lot of energy. I then took him to a walk at Nelson Park in Plymouth, one of my favorite places to take dogs. There is always a good amount of distraction there between adults, kids at the playground & always dogs- LEASHED dogs. It’s imperative that you avoid what you can’t control (off leash dogs charging you) & train for what you can control. I walked him around the park & saw plenty of dogs & people. He handled it better than expected. He looked really good from the start, so when he did see a trigger (another dog), he was easily distracted & controlled.  He looked like this at the START of the walk (important not to go anywhere until your dog is under control):

Annyong at Nelson Park, looking good!

So when we actually saw a dog this his how easy it was to control him:

Soooooo…. now that he was good & tired & in a good frame of mind, I thought I would try to work him at a gas station. Well, I needed gas, so instead of putting it off, I went for it. With my trusty sidekick, Isabella, we did it! She kept him focused on her with food while we got gas. He did light up a little as you can see, however this is NOTHING compared to how uncontrollable he was. It was beyond embarrassing! So if we do this often, a few times a week, sit in a busy parking lot & feed him his meals, we can desensitize him toward the people passing by. Stay tuned!

If you are not in the New England area & are in need of a professional trainer, please visit the IACP International Association of Canine Professionals. Remember not all dog trainers are the same, so if you have not gotten the results you want, please do not give up on your dog. Find a competent, qualified trainer near you. And be sure to tell them Laurie Wagner sent you! 🙂

 

Want Your Dog To Behave Better For Your Children?

Try this….Have your kid practice commands with him. First obviously he needs to listen & obey you. But then pass the torch to your kid! My daughter is enjoying the training as she likes to be involved. She is noticing the dog is listening to her better than ever, which helps keep her interested in it. Now she asks to do this every meal.

She is feeding him a kibble at a time, by hand, just like our program says. She gives a command, he obeys, she gives him a kibble. She has the leash on him in case he doesn’t listen. He’s now listening to her almost as well as he listens to me. Even I’m amazed. <3

Look at the difference in his eyes

The Magic of the “Place” Command for Separation Anxiety

I’m still working on Annyong‘s separation anxiety. He panics when someone leashes him up to take him away from me. And he barks like crazy when I leave the house. He’s fine in a crate when I’m in the house.

So I’m practicing keeping him in a “place” command. A place command is a specific area with boundaries he must stay in. It’s like a crate without walls. Place is just like a very advanced “STAY” on a specific “thing”. It is great to practice keeping a dog in place to settle him down. I’m using this to keep him in place while I walk away & leave the room. Look at the difference in his eyes in each picture.

If you want to use this, once the Practice this daily for a few minutes a day, adding distraction, duration & distance (one at a time). The slower you ask more from your dog, the more you set the dog up for success rather than failure. We want to teach a lot, for a long time- lots of positive reinforcement & food before we start to correct a dog for doing something we don’t want. We need to be fair to the dog.

I’m actually using a nap mat for kids, but most dog trainers use a Kuranda, which is a lot more durable. You can even use his blanket, bed or even just a towel. It just needs 4 sides he can’t leave until he hears the magic word “break”. Challenge him (when he is ready!) with bouncing a ball, tossing food, having the kids run past him, knocking on the wall or door, ringing the doorbell…. Another one of my favorite tricks is to play the sounds in this Dog Sounds App.

The more often you “place” your dog & the longer you build on it, he will chill out & be less anxious. Keep on it & eventually he looks like this:

Annyong sleeping

 

Annyong happy on couch

Proof Our Program Works!

 

Practicing down/stay with meat on the floor.

So here is my 90 day update on my new dog, Annyong. Proof our program works. He has been on “probation” for 90 days in my house. He gets walked, socialized & trained every day. A little affection of course, but no excitement or freedom. He’s been out of the crate more & more as time goes on, always on a drop leash. Now we are starting to trust him off leash. We still have to work him through his cat issue, but he is SO much better than even a month ago. The other day he ran into the house & went chasing the cat & I called him (no leash, no e-collar) & he came! I was very proud! He will still be on probation for many months I imagine as he learns how to behave in the house. And learning he has to listen to me when I say his name. The more he listens/obeys/behaves, the longer he is out of the crate.

a well-behaved dog has EARNED the PRIVILEGE of couch time!

I think most dog owners fail their dog by first not having high enough standards for their dogs. They start off giving the dog too much freedom & then try to (partially) reign him in when trouble ensues (which it always does). They think of the crate as a punishment tool & therefore use it reluctantly. They think of leashes & collars are only for when outside. The more we use these tools (crate, leash, e-collar) IN the home, the more conditioned our dogs are to listening/obeying us. The better behaved they are inside the  more likely are to behave outside.

snuggles on the couch

I’d like the APO (average pet owner) to start with the end in mind. What do you want from your dog? And WHY do you want it? I want my dog to listen to me 99% of the time I say his name or give him a command. I want my dog to not pester my older dog. I want my dog not to chase my cat. I want my dog not to pick up items & guard them. All these things are unacceptable to me. And because they are unacceptable I will not allow them. The big picture of having a well behaved dog is what you allow & what you disallow. I use these tools to teach him manners so he will be safe & not embarrass me. (he still embarrasses me often in public! but better than before & we are working on that!).

Practicing down/stay while I’m doing dishes

A new question I ask dog owners in my class is “how confident are you your dog would listen to you if he was running into traffic & you called him?” I’m 99% confident Ziva will listen to me even charging after a cat/skunk/motorcycle- it’s happened & I have a lot of faith she will obey. I practice often with her. Annyong is NO WHERE NEAR THIS YET. But it is my goal. And he will get there someday soon. 🙂

Managing your crazy dog around company

Start by waiting to feed your dog just before company comes. He will be more interested in food if he is hungry. Before company arrives, start dropping kibble into the crate & then have company come in. (He should start off in crate or on leash). I prefer a crate.

As my dog started to light up I dropped his kibble into his crate as a distraction. “Here think about this instead.” After a few minutes he was pretty calm. I continued to stand there dropping kibble, his whole meal.

After he was very chill I opened the crate to let him go out & greet my mother. (He had not met her yet). Normally I would recommend leashing a dog for this but I was being lazy!  You can imagine if you wait until your dog is totally chill to let him greet company how much better mannered they will be. Any bad manners (jumping, barking) will be milder & more subdued. Of course if your dog is aggressive at all you shouldn’t go this alone. To find a trainer in your area visit the International Association of Canine Professionals to find a competent trainer in your area.

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Annyong in crate during superbowl

Dealing with Company and your dog during the Super Bowl 2

Annyong in crate during superbowl

Annyong in crate during superbowl

People ask me all the time what to do when company comes over. That seems to be a big challenge for most dog owners. Either their dog wants to charge to jump, lick & pester or, to see what they taste like!

My new dog Annyong is more toward the latter. He probably would have been fine, but since I didn’t have the time or attention to focus on him 100%, I kept him in the crate for safety reasons. This is what I would recommend unless you are able to focus on his behavior. Why risk it?

So what I did was (video below):

I started with a dog comfortable in his crate, in a relaxed mood.

Next, as company comes in to watch The Superbowl, I drop his supper-kibble by kibble- into his crate to give him something else to think about. By using his meal I can give him hundreds of “rewards” or distractions without worrying about him overeating. I also don’t have to worry about him not being hungry & more interested in focusing on “intruders!”.

My sister, also a dog trainer assists me by giving some kibble to get him thinking about that rather than all the commotion. As time goes by, his outburst get fewer & fewer. Each time I give him some more of his meal, sprinkled in with some treats for good measure. If I was able to do this on a weekly basis he would be much more settled with company. My girl, Ziva barked a little when the family arrived but quieted down almost immediately.

Annyong in crate during superbowl

Dealing with Company and your dog during the Super Bowl

People ask me all the time what to do when company comes over. That seems to be a big challenge for most dog owners. Either their dog wants to charge to jump, lick & pester or, to see what they taste like! My new dog Annyong is more toward the latter. He probably would have been fine, but since I didn’t have the time or attention to focus on him 100%, I kept him in the crate for safety reasons. This is what I would recommend unless you are able to focus on his behavior. Why risk it?

So what I did was (video below):

Started with a dog comfortable in his crate, in a relaxed mood.

Next, as company comes in to watch The Superbowl, I drop his supper-kibble by kibble- into his crate to give him something else to think about. By using his meal I can give him hundreds of “rewards” or distractions without worrying about him overeating. I also don’t have to worry about him not being hungry & more interested in focusing on “intruders!”.

My sister, also a dog trainer assists me by giving some kibble to get him thinking about that rather than all the commotion. As time goes by, his outburst get fewer & fewer. Each time I give him some more of his meal, sprinkled in with some treats for good measure. If I was able to do this on a weekly basis he would be much more settled with company. My girl, Ziva barked a little when the family arrived but quieted down almost immediately.

 

Resource Guarding Aftermath

Low Conflict Resource Guarding

So my new dog Annyong isn’t perfect. I knew this going in. Last week during his earned freedom time he picked up one of my kid’s toys & wouldn’t let me have it. I didn’t think he’d bite me over it. But he did. I tried to take it from him & he took a piece of my flesh from my hand. (see video below) 

E-collar set on 8

E-collar set on 8

So today (with e-collar already on) he had taken something into his crate  during his freedom time. Instead of going head on “give it to me, drop it, out” etc. I told him to get out of his crate “come”  as I tapped the e-collar (on 8/100) & had him go to place. Then I was able to safely take an object left behind from his crate.

Day 4 progress. Dog v. Cat

I haven’t been able to practice this for a few days… I got further than before, however I didn’t have all my tools (prong & ecollar) with me. If I had I could have gotten further today. It was the first time he was out of the crate not eating looking at the cat, laying down, so that is good progress. His face wasn’t relaxed though.

That’s our next milestone to be achieved.