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2015-12-04 22:03:18 -0500 answered a question My Jack Russell Terrier shakes and trembles every once in a while - any explanations?

I regularly sit a Jack Russel that also does this, however, I have noticed that she tends to do it when she is excited by something. For instance, if she spots a squirrel through the window she will sit and stare and tremble. Also, if her ball is stuck under a table, couch, etc. she will lay down and stare at it and tremble. She sometimes does it when she really really wants to go outside. For her, it's just a reaction to excitement. She doesn't necessarily seem excited otherwise. It's like the outward containment of her excitement comes out through the trembles, haha.

2015-12-04 08:15:52 -0500 answered a question How do I get my dog to stop chasing squirrels?

This is a hard one! I'll tell you how I trained my dog to stop. She used to run out the back door so fast and jump and hit the fence so hard I thought she might take down the fence or break a leg :(.

The idea is to grab your dog's attention away from the animal and reward him with something that proves to be more enticing than the animal. This means arm yourself with TASTY, TASTY treats! I use nitrate free turkey hot dogs cut into small pieces (pea sized for my 35lb dog). Some people use small pieces of beef, cheese, chicken, etc. (think leftovers) You gotta find what your dog LOVES and save it for training sessions only. Also, be sure it is safe.

Use a treat pouch stuffed with these treats, leash your dog, and go to an area that you know will have the distraction (ie squirrels). Stay at the farthest distance where your dog notices the squirrels, but isn't so close to them that he just goes absolutely bananas.

Now, here is the process:
Have a handful of treats ready and at the VERY instant that your dog glances at the squirrel with interest say "YES" and back away until the dog looks at you. As soon as he looks at you, give him a treat and a "good boy". Tell him to go play and wait until he notices the squirrel again. At the instant he notices the squirrel, say "YES" and back away. When he looks at you, treat and good boy. Eventually when you say yes he will look immediately to you for a treat. The idea is to say "YES", dog immediately looks to you, and you treat. Practice, practice, practice.

Gradually, and over time, you can move closer and closer to the squirrel and eventually you can wean off treats. The "spotting" of the squirrel will become a game. The key is to make looking back at you more rewarding than going after the squirrel. Once your dog is amazing at this on leash (consistently responds appropriately 90% of the time), you can REALLY strengthen his recall and attempt off leash. Recall has a whole other set of steps ;)

Note that you can use this spotting method for pretty much anything: Other dogs, people, small animals. It gives you the ability to get your dog's attention in any situation. It does take patience, practice, consistency, and time! It eventually desensitizes your dog to that which they are excited by which changed my life, lol - Good Luck!

2015-12-04 07:52:13 -0500 answered a question What is the best type of collar? Nylon or Leather?

I think it is a matter of personal preference and your dog. What I think is more important when choosing a collar is the closure. I prefer buckle collars (close like a belt) as they have proven to be a safer choice. The snap collars (like seat belt closures) can pop apart if a dog pulls hard against it, and their clasp can weaken over time. Especially if it is a plastic closure. I have seen dogs yank apart and out of these type collars. :)

2015-12-04 07:46:14 -0500 answered a question How can I tell if a dog is being playful or dominant (aggressive)?

"On talking Terms With Dogs" by Turid Rugaas is a great resource for dog body language and the different expressions and techniques they use to communicate with each other. It is a short easy read with picture examples! Has some great techniques for calming dogs down too.

2015-12-04 07:41:22 -0500 answered a question How do you stop an aggresive puller from pulling on their leash?

Initially, training the behavior WILL take many, many treats, especially if your dog is food motivated. This is okay and you can slowly wean off of treats once your dog is trained and at that point. If you lessen or take away the treat/reward too soon they can easily regress. I use nitrate free turkey hot dogs cut into small pieces as my "only for training" treat. A pea sized a piece or a bit larger depending on the size of your dog is enough. One key is to NEVER let your dog pull and do not tighten up the leash. They have what is called an opposition reflex, which means that many dogs gain pleasure simply from the pull. If you hold them with a tight leash, or allow them to pull all the way out at the end of the leash they are actually self rewarding.

Training loose leash walking can take A LOT of patience and can be very frustrating at first with a hard puller. I had one. so I know. :) However, the payoff is amazing. Sometimes I spent 30 minutes just making it to half way down my street, because everytime the dog pulled I would stop and move backward while calling his name or making a positive sound and then use my hand as his nose level to guide him back to my side to start walking forward again. The dog still gets exercise this way because he is working hard to use his brain and you will still wear them out ;) Below is a loose leash training guide:

Why do dogs pull on leash?

Dogs have an opposition reflex that is varied by breed and individual People accidentally reward their dog’s behavior of pulling on the leash

Solution:

Taking a walk with your dog should be enjoyable for both you and the dog.  Leash walks help to exercise your dog mentally and physically (they can build stamina in certain dogs), and is overall a great way to bond and have fun.  Walking a dog that maintains a nice loose leash even while passing distractions is truly a joy.  Walking a dog that pulls constantly and may lunge or bark at distractions is stressful, frustrating and can even be dangerous.  First we must teach the dog to walk on a loose leash.

Enable your dog to learn and maintain a loose leash by using the correct equipment. A Gentle Leader or Premier’s Easy Walk Harness are good options to try for strong pullers.

Never reward your dog for pulling! Always stand your ground or back away from whatever the dog is pulling towards.

Begin by holding your leash on either your left or right side (pick one and stick with it). Give your dog approx. 2-4 feet of slack on the leash, and hold it firmly at your side close to your body. Try not to pull back on the leash, but rather keep your hand with the leash attached at... (more)

2015-12-03 18:04:29 -0500 asked a question What kind of indoor activities do sitters do with dogs when the weather is especially bad?

Just looking to add some activities to my "snow day" activity ideas. ;)

2015-12-03 18:00:07 -0500 asked a question What are some safety practices and/or tips for first time Meet and Greets?

I have done Meet and Greets in my home, in a clients home, and at the park. I am just curious what practices some others might have to be safe and smart. Usually, I meet outside of the home first and I try to have my husband at home if someone is coming. I also message him when I arrive at a clients home and when I leave for an initial meet and greet. Sometimes I feel a bit apprehensive just showing up to a stranger's home or having them show up to mine. I am curious how some people handle it.

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2015-07-01 15:37:20 -0500 answered a question How do I make anxious, nervous dogs feel better?

I agree that taking them on a long leashed walk together may help. I usually head right out the door with my dog and a client's dog for a leashed walk right after dropped off. I have found that it calms dogs immensely, even if it's just those initial dog meet dog play frenzies. ;) I have an awesome dog trainer that does "socialization" walks where she pairs people off in twos and they walk their dogs alongside each other. She says this can be one of the best ways to acclimate dogs who are experiencing social issues/anxiety with other dogs. I have also read and been told not to give too much attention/coddling to an anxious dog as this can reaffirm to them that their behavior is correct/good and something is wrong. So my advise would be,take a walk together and keep them separated as long as you feel a dog may react out of fear. It may help to give your dog a "break" in a crate or a separate room, depending on your dog/situation. This way the dog is not threatened, but also not having their anxiety reassured :) Good luck!