When we talk about being a pack leader, it typically means that your dog should follow you because you are higher ranking. It’s based on studies from the 1970’s of wolf packs. It was thought that wolves have a cutthroat hierarchy, where the alphas exerts dominance aggressively for access to resources. Since dogs are descended from wolves, we should apply the same principles to our dogs.
However, there are several problems with these assumptions. First, dogs are not wolves. Dogs and wolves are different species. Dogs are uniquely and adorably attuned to humans and enjoy social interactions.
Second, scientists have debunked what was previously known as wolf pack hierarchy and instead of a rigid hierarchy, a pack consist of the “alphas,” the parents of the group overseeing their wolf pups.
Third, there’s a better, kinder approach to being a leader for your dog. Show your dog what behaviors you like and reinforce them often. Provide your dog’s mental and physical enrichment daily. Lastly, manage your dog’s environment to set them up for success.
Remember if a dog walks in front of you or tries to go through the door first, they are not trying to establish dominance, they are just excited and want to see where the action is. Your dog loves you unconditionally so help your dog by making the choice to use positive reinforcement training.
Have any other training questions? We are more than happy to help! Contact us at 410.782.5862
First, do not punish your dog for growling. Simply take your dog out of the situation.
Why did your dog growl? Most of the time, the reason a dog growls is due to fear.
When a dog growls, it is telling you that they are uncomfortable and they want to increase the distance between them and what they are growling at (the trigger).
Why shouldn’t I punish my dog? If you yell at your dog or jerk the leash when they growl, you are punishing the growl, one of the few ways a dog can communicate with you. You are also showing to your dog that when they are fearful, their best friend gets mad at them.
Instead, find a certified professional dog trainer to help your dog. A qualified trainer will help you create a training plan that will gradually decrease their sensitivity to the trigger and condition a positive emotional response to the trigger. Your dog will learn that it is safe to be in the presence of the trigger and if they are uncomfortable with the trigger, you will take them away from the situation. Remember you are your dog’s best advocate.
For more training advice, call or text us at 410.782.5862.
With Halloween approaching, it is time to think of a plan for your pets to keep them safe and stress free. Strangers in costumes, loud noises, spooky decorations can seem threatening or scary to your pet.
Exercise your pet early (before trick or treaters are out)with a walk, game of tug, or something else your pet enjoys. Find a safe, quiet place for your pet away from the front door. It could be simply behind a closed door, in a crate, anywhere your pet feels safe and cannot dash out the door. In this safe space, provide some food dispensing toys with extra yummy treats. Use a white noise machine or play some calming music to mask the sounds of trick or treaters. Keep candy out of reach of your pet.
Have a safe and happy Halloween! 🎃
It’s totally your choice! Having your dog sleep in your bed is a great way to bond especially since dogs are social creatures. An added bonus is that they will keep you warm on chilly nights since their average body temperature is 3-6 degrees higher than ours. But if you rather have your bed to yourself, that’s okay too! Put your dog’s bed or crate near your bed.
The only time I would not recommend having your dog in bed is if your dog guards the bed (i.e. growling, snapping, etc when you approach). Then it’s time to call a professional positive reinforcement dog trainer for help.
Have any other training questions? We are more than happy to help! Contact us at 410.782.5862
Engaging your cat in appropriate play can help alleviate a myriad of cat behavior issues such as play aggression, aggression between cats, and other common cat problems. Appropriate play can reduce stress, build your cat's confidence, and help foster a good relationship with your cat. Follow our rules to ensure fun play sessions between you and your cat.
1. Invest in the right toys. Look for toys like feather dancers and wand toys. These toys create distance between your hands and cat, and they replicate the movements of prey. Pick a variety to see what ones your cat prefers.
2. Figure out your cat's play schedule. Pick times where you cat is most active or before a meal time. Create a daily play schedule so your cat can have a predictable outlet for their energy.
3. Simulate the motions of the "prey". When playing with your cat's toys, switch between moving the toy fast and slow, peeking in and out from behind something, and moving the toy away from your cat.
4. Keep play sessions short and sweet. If you notice your cat's behavior getting too excited (biting or clawing hands), take short breaks between play. At the end of your play session with your cat, wind down play time rather than ending abruptly.
5. Don't wrestle with your cat or use glove toys. We don't want to associate play with your hands. Roughhousing can lead to over-arousal, where your cat begins scratching and biting.
6. Use laser toys appropriately. Laser toys can get your cat to move around and get exercise but can be frustrating since your cat will never catch their "prey." When you play with a laser toy, end the play session with a small amount of wet food or treats so your cat has something tangible to catch.
When the doorbell rings (or there's a knock at the door), does your once polite dog turn into a hot mess? Are your guests bombarded with kisses and paws coming at them? If so, read our tips on turning your pooch into a well-mannered host.
First, manage your dog's environment to prevent your dog from practicing this behavior while training an alternative behavior. Block your dog's access to the door and guests by putting up a baby gate or safely tethering your dog away from the door. This ensures that's when people come over your dog cannot immediately tackle them, and it prevents guests from reinforcing this behavior by talking to your dog or pushing him away.
Second, change your dog's association with the doorbell. Because the doorbell has been paired with people at the door, your dog's response has been conditioned. To change his response, you have to change the doorbell's meaning from something exciting to something more mundane. How do you do this? Have a friend or neighbor, ring your doorbell while your dog and you are near the door. When you hear the ring, you will say "here" and reward your dog. You want to be close to your dog. You can place your body between the door and your dog or have your dog on leash to have more control. Your friend won't enter but will continue to ring doorbell 20-30 times. You want to do two-three short sessions for several days. The goal is a dog who barely reacts to doorbell anymore.
Lastly, train a behavior that is incompatible with jumping, barking, and bowling people over. Stay, go to your bed, and sit are all great behaviors to add to your dog’s repertoire. The key is to train these behaviors before guests are in your home. Once they are reliably doing the behavior (90% of the time), you can begin pairing with the doorbell without guests entering. Then the final step would be getting the behavior when your guest come in.
Has your cat found a different place to eliminate than his litter box? Check out our steps for solving this common issue:
Tired of your puppy's jaws-like playing? Puppy biting/mouthing is a natural, normal behavior. This form of play is essential in developing a dog with good bite inhibition, the ability to control the strength of their bite. If your puppy learns to control his mouth and he does bite in the future, he is less likely to cause much damage.
To help with your puppy's mouthing, we recommend the following tips:
1. Let your puppy use his mouth. In the beginning it's okay to let your puppy mouth but provide feedback when the pressure increases. When your puppy mouths harder, say 'Ow!" and turn away and ignore your puppy for a few seconds. Resume play once your dog settles down. If your puppy becomes more rambunctious and amped up, you can say "Ow" and leave the room for 30 seconds. Over the next couple of weeks, you will react to any pressure on your skin. Even light mouthing with no pressure will cause an "Ow" and a temporary pause in play.
2. Play appropriately with your pup. Wrestling with your pup and putting your hands in your dog's face will encourage him to mouth and bite your hands. Use toys that create distance between your hands and the toy. Play games like tug with rules or scent games.
3. Socialize your pup to friendly, vaccinated dogs. Puppies need to learn to control their mouth around dogs as well as people. If you don't know any, enroll in a puppy class.
4. Give your pup appropriate toys and chews. Use food dispensing toys like Kongs to feed your puppy his meals and provide bully sticks and marrow bones. Replace your hands with a chew and praise your pup when he chews appropriate toy.
With some patience and gentle guidance, your pup will learn to control his mouth and be on his way to becoming a well behaved member of your family.
If you go to a pet store to pick out a collar, you are bound to see a section of prong collars, choke chains, and electronic collars. You may be wondering if they would be a good fit for you or what their purpose is.
At Ain't Misbehaving, we strongly recommend being fully aware of why these tools are used, how they are supposed to work, and why we encourage using more humane tools.
The purpose of these collars is to use pain and discomfort to stop an unwanted behavior like pulling or barking. A prong collar has metal prongs that pinch the skin around a dog's neck, choke chains tighten around a dog's neck, and an electronic collar sends an electric current through a metal prong.
Reasons not to use these tools:
1. They are painful. The reason why they stop a behavior is because it's uncomfortable and hurts the dog. To stop the pain, they have to stop the unwanted behavior.
2. They don't teach your dog the behavior you want. A dog may learn what not to do like pull or bark but they don't learn what they should do like walking nicely on leash or to look at you.
3. It's easy to misuse them. To be successful with this type of equipment, you have to have precise timing to administer the correction and once the unwanted behavior stops, you have to immediately and precisely stop the aversive. For most people, this his is hard to do every time.
4. You can't control what your dog will associate with the pain. For example, if you use it for pulling, your dog may associate the pain with other things such as people walking their dogs, children, or other animals in the environment. Your dog may start to react negatively (barking, lunging, and/or growling) to these things.
5. These tools may work for some dogs but not for all. You don't know for sure, and you could risk your dog responding negatively by becoming aggressive or shutting down.
6. There are better, more positive methods you can use. It is way easier and more fun to teach your dog what you want from him and reward him when he does behaviors you like.
What we recommend:
1. A flat buckle or martingale collar.
2. A body harness like the Freedom Harness.
3. Positive reinforcement training using things your dog loves (i.e. toys, walks, kibble, and love.)
Rather than use aversive methods, we want to you to foster a healthy, happy relationship with your dog based on trust, respect, and love. A good foundation of positive reinforcement training can lead to a lifetime of happiness with your four legged friend.
We so strongly believe in positive reinforcement training that we will offer a 10% discount on training packages if you hand over your prong collar, choke chain, or shock collar.
CPDT-KA and Animal Behavior Consultant