Category Archives: Dog doc – reader’s questions

Obsessive behaviour – when is it a problem?

Question 8: What should you worry about with your obsessive dog?

If you have ever watched your collie chase the reflection of your watch face up the wall, while you laugh hysterically at your idiot dog, this post is about you and your dog.  I don’t know to what extent other breeds of dog do this, but I know most collies obsess about something.  Whether it is barking in a ridiculous way at possible squirrels in the garden or something else, collies love to fixate.  Here are some other examples of obsessive behaviour:

  • demanding you throw the ball/toy a MILLION times
  • barking at the doorbell/someone going past
  • chasing the cat
  • chasing cars
  • barking at/chasing cyclists and runners
  • chasing lights
  • chewing furniture/walls
  • ‘digging’ on the floor, as well as actual digging!

Sounds delightful doesn’t it?  Most collies don’t do ALL those things, but most do some of them.  Does it matter?

Collies are masters of self-stimulation.  That doesn’t mean quite what you think :p It means that they will find ways to amuse themselves.  It’s what we do when we are sitting waiting for something – we get out our phones and play a game or look at Facebook.  Collies do it too, only they aren’t able to manage a phone so they find a toy, or a light, or a squirrel or…  Something, anything to occupy their brain.

How to tackle obsessive behaviour

First of all, is it actually a problem?  If it’s a way of your dog keeping themselves occupied when they are left alone, or distracted when they can’t do something (such as at agility, when waiting for their turn), then it might be better that they shake a toy or chase a ball or follow a light than that they do something more destructive.

However, any obsession can become all consuming and take away mental energy from something more positive.  It can also result in your dog becoming so fixated on shaking a toy that they are not able to listen to your instructions.

The solution is easy in theory, less so in practice.

  1. Catch it.  Spotting what is going on is the first step.  Realising that they always do that, or that they persist in doing something, can help you to see that it doesn’t need to be like that.  It is entertaining watching your dog chase lights, but after a few hours, it really ought to stop.
  2. Distract it.  Simply, ask the dog to do something else.  Engage that huge brain in an alternative activity.  Playing with you can help to make them think.  Ask for simple commands to be followed and reward with some play and/or treats.  Provide toys to play with so that the house is not being chewed, or the cat chased, or whatever.
  3. Reward stillness.  I generally expect my dogs to be calm when I am calm.  Because I am present in their lives and yet generally still (working on my PC), they learn to settle.  If I had a dog that was fidgeting around me, I would encourage it to lie down and then reward.
  4. Contain it.  If all else fails, put the dog in a safe space for some down time.  Usually dogs are happy to go into a crate if they are fed in there and their bed is comfy. It should be completely covered, so that it is a comforting, quiet space.

Remember..

If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.  Please CONTACT ME if you have a problem you would like me to talk about?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.

How many dogs should you have?

Question 7: When is the right time to get another dog?

One or two – which is easiest?

I think there are a number of factors to consider when thinking about a second dog.

Positives:

  • Much nicer for the first dog to have a companion.  Unless they are like my first one and don’t really like other dogs, most will much prefer to have another dog to interact with regularly.
  • Less separation anxiety.  Usually, multiple dogs won’t mind being left and are less likely to be destructive.  However, sometimes one dog will teach another the bad behaviour :-/
  • Easier to train.  The second dog does learn from the first and will therefore come back more easily, or learn basic commands.  However, there can be problems with this as well…

Negatives:

  • I would never sell two puppies to one home.  They play together all day long and are very ‘self-contained’.  This means that it is really hard to get their focus and to have a bond with them as individuals.  You absolutely have to take them out separately, every day and train them up to have any hope of controlling them and even then, they will easily ‘gang up’ and run off. Similarly, two dogs close in age can be a challenge, which needs careful management.
  • As I’ve said, not all dogs get on.  When bringing a puppy home, the first dog can be jealous and grumpy, snapping at the puppy when it tries to play.  This needs to be carefully managed and sometimes the older dog never gets over it.  Many people give up after a while and return the puppy, because they realise that it is just making the other dog miserable.
  • Two dogs is twice as much work – at least.  Twice the hair, twice the poo, twice the mud, twice the chewing etc.  If you have more dogs, you need to cope with a dirty house or really love cleaning!

Build it up slowly..

Start with one dog.  Most people do, anyway.  I started with a ‘rescue’ of sorts, as she was re-homed by my mum, aged 8.  When she was 11 years old, I got a puppy.  Rue wasn’t that impressed, she was too old and set in her ways.  She didn’t want to play, or mother him and she had preferred being an only dog.

Buzz was fine on his own for a few years – I liked having just one dog again.  Easy to transport, less to worry about, not so expensive etc.  When he was 8 years old, I got Sunny.  He was thrilled!  Bless him, he adored her.  Such a contrast to Rue.  Sunny was never that fussed about him, but of course she never knew any different.

When Sunny was three years old, I kept Luna.  Now I had three dogs – aged 11, 3 and a pup.  However, by that stage  I was used to working around dogs and family life.  I was my own boss and could manage myself and my dogs pretty well.  I remember when Luna was a few months old they caught a rabbit between them – Luna flushed it, Sunny chased it and Buzz caught it.  He was a great rat-catcher too. That was when I started to realise that three dogs is a pack.  Harder to transport and manage, more work all round.

I had always planned to keep a pup from Luna’s litter, which meant that two years later I suddenly found I had FOUR dogs – oops!  Sadly, this was for a short time only, as by this stage Buzz was riddled with arthritis and in constant pain, despite strong medication.  Within a few months I was back down to three – much more manageable.  By this stage I was a ‘breeder’ and knew that I would end up with more dogs eventually.  Now I have FIVE and I LOVE IT!

How many is too many?

I once rejected a home for a puppy because they had ten dogs already, in a small house and garden.  I know that many people probably think that five is far too many, but over the last few years I have become friends with many ‘dog people’ and I now know lots of people with lots of dogs!  In fact in my book group, which has nine members, we own 23 dogs (and two people don’t have any 😉 )

Personally, I think it comes down to space, money and time.  You need at least two of these, in my opinion, to cope with lots of dogs.  I also feel that having plenty of dogs is absolutely fine, as long as they are all in  with you, not kept in runs in the garden.  However, most breeders end up with dogs piled up in crates or out in runs for some of the time.

You need the right number of dogs for your life.  I know that now.  Now that my sons are grown up, my dogs are my life and therefore I need quite a few.  Lucky me.

Remember..

If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.  Please CONTACT ME if you have a problem you would like me to talk about?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think – what is the right number of dogs to have?

 

Fireworks and Dogs – how can we help our dogs?

Question 6: What can I do to help my dog cope with fireworks?

If you have ever had a dog who is terrified of loud bangs, you will know how agonising it can be.  They pant, drool and whine.  They are restless and fidgety.  They refuse to be placated and can even be quite aggressive.  They might hide under furniture or in corners.  Or they might scrabble at doors or carpets, trying to escape the terrifying monster.

It’s really hard to know what to do.  We want to reassure them, but they don’t really want to hear it.

When I first went to training classes with Sunny, I remember being told very clearly “Don’t make a fuss if something scares your dog.  If you cuddle them and fuss them, you are drawing attention to their fear and ‘rewarding them’ for wanting your attention.  Just ignore them and they will realise there is nothing to be afraid of.”

I do understand where this advice is coming from.  If you are anxious about your dog being anxious, they will become more anxious, because they are feeding off your anxiety!  I see this most often when we are out walking and we walk past someone whose dog is ‘nervous of other dogs’.  They have the dog on the lead and are gripping hold of it.  Or they might even be clutching the dog to them – I’ll protect you!  Even if they are just holding the lead though, the owner’s anxiety is being transmitted down that lead to the dog.

It’s a vicious circle; the dog is afraid so you become afraid, so the dog thinks “there must be something to be afraid of” so becomes afraid.  This ‘transmission of emotion’ also happens with horses, as anyone who has been nervous about riding a horse will tell you!  Another example is when you are faced with a dog you don’t know and aren’t sure about – you know that they can ‘smell your fear’.  In fact it is true; dogs (and horses) can smell fear and will react accordingly.

Getting back to the fireworks then, how should we tackle it?  If we completely ignore it, we are not helping the dog to cope with it, we are just being mean!  What we need then, is a strategy to positively develop coping behaviour for the dog. There are a number of ways we can tackle this:

Physical or Practical Solutions

Thundershirt
  • Provide alternative noise to counteract the bangs, such as a loud radio playing
  • Use a Desensitisation CD for dogs
  • Provide a safe place for the dog to go into, such as a dark corner with a comfy bed or blanket
  • Shut curtains and move the dog away from the bangs if possible
  • Put the dog into a Thundershirt
  • Give the dog medication, obtained from your vet, or buy some calming tablets

The Training Solution

Distraction is a crucial factor in persuading your dog that there is nothing to worry about.  It’s not about ignoring them when they are afraid, as about ignoring their fear – making light of it.  If you can clearly project to them that you are perfectly fine with whatever is going on, in fact you think it’s time to have a game, then the dog may be able to move past it with you.  You need to be convincing!  But if you can get their attention on you and persuade them to play fetch, or do tricks, or even just a bit of rough and tumble, then they are less likely to be thinking about ‘that scary thing’.

This works if you are out and another dog goes past.  Thinking to yourself “that’s not an interesting dog, playing with you is much more fun” will help to encourage your dog to ignore other dogs.  They won’t feel the need to protect you.  This also works for bangs and loud noises.

This is all a bit boring

Not just fireworks

It is useful to enable your dog to cope with loud bangs, not just for when the fireworks are around, but for all sorts of other things.  Thunderstorms are an obvious one, but also bird scarers, gunshots, hot air balloons, cars backfiring, starter pistols etc.  In fact if you want your dog to become a Pets As Therapy volunteer, they will need to cope with someone dropping something loud beside them.

Eventually, we want a dog who is secure and confident enough to find loud bangs and flashes a bit boring.  Don’t think that you cannot cuddle your dog if they are scared, just make sure that you are not afraid of their fear!

Please note: I am not a qualified dog behaviourist or trainer.  I have owned border collies for many years and raised a number of puppies, so I am an experienced dog owner, that is all.  Information provided here represents my opinion, based on my experience.

Remember..

If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.  Please CONTACT ME if you have a problem you would like me to talk about?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.

Dogs and Children – What are calming signals?

How do we know when enough is enough?

Question 5: What should I be aware of when letting my puppy play with young children?

Pixie’s mum, Sarah got in touch with me yesterday to tell me about a little ‘incident’ with some children. This has led us to reflect on the challenge of allowing young children to spend time around young dogs in particular, but actually any dog.  What do we need to think about and be aware of when doing this?

Here’s Sarah’s description of what happened: “We had a little incident with our neighbour’s young girls (aged 5 & 3) who adore Pixie.  They pop round often and love to play with her.  Their mum is a dog lover and always talks about the way to approach dogs.

“They popped round to say hello.  As it happened we were about to go out and so I said they could just say a quick hello (in the hall).  The girls are a bit competitive for Pixie’s attention and crowded and cuddled her.  Both mum and I asked the girls to be gentle, but Pixie let them know she wasn’t happy by gently nipping one of them on the nose.   The little girl was a bit shocked and there were a few tears.  Mum was sorry the girls had caused Pixie to behave that way and of course I felt bad for both the little girl and poor Pixie for not stepping in sooner.

“My message would be, that it is our responsibility and duty to protect our dogs from being put in a situation where they have no choice but to nip, it can happen so quickly.   I’m sure the girls will continue to come and play, as Pixie loves to see them as much as they do her.  I will teach them not just how to play with Pixie so everyone enjoys it, but I’ll also teach them the smaller signs a dog gives that they aren’t happy and need to have a break.

“This happened even when both my neighbour and I have been careful to watch how the girls play with Pixie.  I can easily see how accidents happen.”

This is a great example of how easily things can go wrong.  As Sarah says, it wasn’t the dogs fault, nor the child’s.  We need to be mindful of what dogs can and cannot tolerate.  I have written about this on the information page Dogs and Children but I will just summarise again here.

Calming Signals

Watch for these three really easy to see calming signals in your dog.  All of them indicate you should intervene and separate the child and dog:

      • Yawning outside the context of waking up
      • Half-moon eye – this means you can see the whites on the outer edges of your dog’s eyes.
      • Lip licking outside the context of eating food

In this photo of Aura with my niece, none of these signals are there.  Even so, I wouldn’t say that she is loving Bella cuddling up to her.  Here’s another picture of the pair of them:

This is much better.  I would describe this as a great example of a dog interacting with a child on their terms. In other words, Aura has had the chance to come over to Bella.  Bella is sitting down, so no chasing or grabbing.  Aura can get up and move away, at any time.  She is therefore loving the attention.  Good job Bella!

My simple rule, to say to children is this:

“Don’t grab, don’t chase, don’t get in their face.”

After all, you wouldn’t like someone to do it to you, would you?  Top tip: I sometimes demonstrate to children what it is like for the dog, by crowding into them and being noisy – they may cry!  It’s a great way to make them understand though.

Please note: I am not a qualified dog behaviourist or trainer.  I have owned border collies for many years and raised a number of puppies, so I am an experienced dog owner, that is all.  Information provided here represents my opinion, based on my experience.

Remember..

If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.  Please CONTACT ME if you have a problem you would like me to talk about?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.

Don’t jump up!

Dog Doc – How to stop your dog jumping up

Question 4: How do I stop my dog from jumping up at people?

Here is a clip of Brian saying hello to Ounce.  She adores him, so she jumps up and that suits him, he can make a fuss of her far more easily that way, without having to bend down.  He loves to be welcomed by the dogs and they love to say hello to him.

But that is not always what is wanted is it? One of the most annoying things about dogs is when adult dogs coming rushing over to you and jump up into your face – most people hate it.  Quite a lot of people are frightened of dogs who do this and no-one wants a load of mud on their clothes and slobber in the their face; it’s just rude.

What can we do about it?  Here’s another video clip:

Once again, Ounce is very excited to welcome her dad and Chris is pleased to make a fuss of her.  This time though, he remembers his training and when she comes back to him he resists when she jumps up.  He waits until she has got back down before making a fuss of her.

Now see what happens when Maggie comes in to see all the dogs:

You can just about see Ounce in the middle of everything.  She is trying really hard NOT to jump up and to wait for Maggie to fuss her.  She then gives up and runs over to tell me how exciting it all is.  Ounce goes back, forgets again, but then sits and Maggie makes a fuss of her, rewarding her for stopping jumping up.

So what can we learn from all this?  The best way to stop your dog from jumping up is to turn away from them and to ignore them when you come in the door.  This clip is me trying to demonstrate this:

It’s not a very exciting clip, because the adults all know that I won’t reward them for being really pleased to see me (Zippy the spaniel doesn’t quite know that, but she has just been staying for a week).  When Ounce does jump up at me, I turn away from her and she immediately gets down.

The real challenge is to try and encourage others to turn away and ignore the jumping up behaviour.  That is the really difficult part, and why so many people find it impossible to reinforce the desired behaviour.  When someone makes a fuss of your dog while they are jumped up, they reward that behaviour.  So when I’m out with Ounce, I really love it if people can resist the urge to fuss her when she bounces up to them.

Another part of this challenge, is that when people don’t like the dog jumping up and they push them and shout ‘get down’ at them.  Jumping up is a demand for attention and guess what?  When you push them and shout at them, they are being rewarded! Again, turning away and ignoring is the absolutely best thing you can do.

Please note: I am not a qualified dog behaviourist or trainer.  I have owned border collies for many years and raised a number of puppies, so I am an experienced dog owner, that is all.  Information provided here represents my opinion, based on my experience.

Remember..

If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.  Please CONTACT ME if you have a problem you would like me to talk about?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.

Persistent Barking – how to deal with it

Question 3: How can I deal with my dog’s persistent barking?

Thinking about various problem behaviours and how to tackle these, I have realised that there are a number of options:

  • ignore it
  • work round it
  • tackle it

I have also realised that the reason that so many dogs have so much problem behaviour is because we are often scared to tackle the problem, or we simply don’t know how to work through it.  Unfortunately, tackling a problem is the most difficult solution; ignoring it or just working around it are much easier options.

Many dogs bark incessantly.  They usually do this for a number of reasons:

  • because they are lonely or stressed, suffering from ‘separation anxiety’ – I will talk about this in a future post
  • because they are bored – asking for attention
  • because they are over-excited – this is the one I am going to talk about here.

A good example of this type of persistent barking is when a dog is waiting for a ball to be thrown.  They are basically shouting at you: “THROW THE BALL THROW THE BALL THROW THE BALL”.  Usually, we want to shut them up as quickly as possible, so we throw the ball.  Now the dog knows that when they shout “THROW THE BALL” you will do as they say! Hmm, not the best solution then.

What we want is for the dog to learn that when they shout “THROW THE BALL” at you, nothing at all happens.  Boring.  Then when they stop shouting at you, hey presto! The ball is thrown.  There are a number of steps to follow here:

  1. When the dog starts barking hysterically, distract them.  This can be by calling their name, or nudging them, or offering a toy for them to tug on.  Or you could ask them to do something else, such as a ‘down’ or a ‘twist’.  Or failing all that, you could shake a bottle with some stones in it.  This usually makes the dog say “What?”
  2. As soon as the dog stops barking, click the behaviour.  This can be using a clicker, or by saying ‘Yes!’  You need to pay attention and do it as soon as the barking stops.
  3. Reward the behaviour you want, ie the stopped barking.  Either with a treat, or a ball throw, or a play, or even just a pat or stroke.
  4. Repeat this.  How many times?  Probably ten times more than you want to.  Then maybe a few more times.  Oh and then a bit more.  Again and again.

It’s a natural instinct, a persistent habit and a self-stimulating behaviour for the dog.  But it can be controlled, and you can train it away.  The absolutely easiest way to do this is to simply pay attention to your dog and play with them.  Then they won’t get frustrated and bored in the first place.  Easier said than done of course.

You do also need to be able to say ‘Enough!’ or as I say ‘Finished’ and then stop throwing the ball.  I put is away and show the dog my empty hand.  Then I ignore them for a bit.

Please note: I am not a qualified dog behaviourist or trainer.  I have owned border collies for many years and raised a number of puppies, so I am an experienced dog owner, that is all.  Information provided here represents my opinion, based on my experience.

Remember..

If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.  Please CONTACT ME if you have a problem you would like me to talk about?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.

 

Building confidence & coping with a pup and a toddler

Dog Doc – Your questions answered

Question 1: How do I manage my reactive dog who is scared of other dogs

A friend has recently rescued a two-year old German Shepherd cross girl, Zuki.  She was kept in all the time so is very nervous of practically everything.  I asked how she was getting on with managing her on walks.  Anna is getting Zuki to ‘watch’ her as a dog goes past, whilst feeding treats, which is working well.

I suggested adding in some play with a toy, preferably something squeaky, on a strap, so that they can play ‘tuggie’ and really engage together.  It is another way of distracting the dog away from the dog going past, without it being too boring and serious.

Another option to consider is to have a basket muzzle on the dog.  This fits fairly loosely over the dog’s muzzle.  It should not be inhibiting to wear.  It means that the dog can get on with its walk and the owner can relax, knowing that the dog cannot bite anyone else.  Here are some links to advice about the use of a basket muzzle to muzzle or not to muzzle /conditioning a dog to a muzzle

Of course disagreements can still happen!  So it is still necessary to manage any interactions carefully.  However, if the dog can be off lead, even for only short periods, without the owner needing to panic every time another dog appears, this is a step forward.

Anna said “It was really useful to chat things through and interestingly, we’re not walking her for a few days while her nose heals from the canny collar and conditioning her to it again slowly in the garden in short bursts rewarding her when she walks well and that seems to be reaping rewards!”

Question 2: I have a very lively spaniel who is hard to control – can you help?

I asked the owner what was the worst part of his behaviour.  She said that he was 16 weeks old and although they were working hard on training, especially jumping up (by turning away from him), she was finding he was too ‘full on’ with her 3 year-old son.  She has a stair gate across doorways, so that the puppy and toddler can be kept apart, but felt that they should be able to play together.

I reassured her that they probably would play together, soon.  I told her to be patient, as both the puppy and the child are very young.  In a couple of months the puppy will be a bit more settled and consistent in his behaviour and she will find it much easier to manage their interaction.

It is also likely that the toddler will become increasingly familiar with the pup and the way he behaves.  He will be less interested in the dog and react less to his presence.  This is the best way for the two of them to learn to get along.  Of course it is lovely to see children and dogs interacting, but it takes time and good management.  See my Dogs and Children page for more information.

Remember..

If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME?  Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.  Please CONTACT ME if you have a problem you would like me to talk about?  And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think.

Please note: I am not a qualified dog behaviourist or trainer.  I have owned border collies for many years and raised a number of puppies, so I am an experienced dog owner, that is all.  Information provided here represents my opinion, based on my experience.

Stick or Carrot? Dogs love both!

Go on then, throw it!
Go on then, throw it!

I went to see one of the pups from the last litter this week – gorgeous!  I am absolutely delighted with how she is turning out; beautiful conformation, lovely dark chocolate coat, and most importantly, really super temperament.  It was remarkable how like her mother she was – same shaped head, same naughty spots on her head and same general demeanour.  She came and gently licked around the bottom of my chin, which is exactly what her mum does.  Funny isn’t it?

I spent some of the time there inevitably sharing stories about all the mischief pups get up to and talking about management strategies.  Her family have obviously worked hard with her and she is an absolute credit to them.  But I was struck by their lack of experience, as she is the first dog they have had.  I remembered the challenges I had faced with my first puppy, Buzz, even though I had grown up with collies and taken on an 8 year-old from my mum a few years earlier.

One of the things I noticed was that the pup was being grabbed and taken to places, including into her crate.  This has made me think – should we use a carrot or a stick with our dogs (or children).  Do we want to make them do what we want, threatening punishment for failure to comply?  Or do we entice them to do it with a reward?

Enticing is hard.  Dogs do like carrot, or dog treats, or exciting, squeaky toys.  But sometimes whatever they are already doing is much more interesting.  It definitely takes practice to enable you to get a good, quick response to an instruction, rather than a disinterested sniff and a turned back.

Be rewarding!  There are four keys types of praise to use:

  • verbal praise
  • physical praise ie petting, stroking
  • food
  • play with toy

And as always, with dogs (and children) be patient!

Persistence Pays Off

Be patient, you will get there in the end!  That is the message I have for you this week.  Sometimes it feels as though you will never get there, but if you stick with it, you probably will, eventually.  Here’s some proof –

Chris and Luna proudly showing off their prize

On Sunday 9th October we went to an agility show.  We haven’t been to many shows this year, for various reasons, but we’ve been plugging away at training.  Luna is 6 years old now – at her peak, really.  I did her initial training but then two years ago, in March 2014 or thereabouts, Chris started doing agility with her.  They work really well together and have already had quite a few rosettes, culminating in their first ever win on Sunday, taking them both to grade 4!

On Wednesday I was back at training with the two ‘youngsters’, Aura and Busy.  They have both been doing agility since before they were a year old, yet both of them are still learning.  I have been doing agility now for 9 years.  I’ve been to hundreds of hours of classes, trained up four dogs from scratch and worked pretty hard with those four.  I am extremely proud of Chris and Luna’s achievement, feeling that it is well deserved on their part and that I have contributed in no small part to their success – it’s a team effort.

Yesterday I was watching one of my other puppies working with her owner and the trainer to learn to do one piece of equipment.  It really demonstrated what a complex, long-term process training a dog can be.  Everything must be broken down into easy stages and practised.  Practised over and over again, with a bit more practice and then still more practice.

One step forwards, two steps back

What is also noticeable when training dogs is that there are many setbacks along the way.  What seems easy one week can be really challenging next week.  What is easy in one place becomes much too difficult somewhere else.  A good example of this was Aura’s runs at the show.  She has made such great progress at training and is running around coping with most of the obstacles really well.  Yet in the ring, with the added excitement of it all, the other dogs and people around and the unfamiliar equipment, Aura becomes slightly hysterical and cannot cope with it all!  She finds it tremendously exciting and forgets everything she has learnt.  Watching her do a run with Chris, it was obvious that she wasn’t listening to what he was telling her – it was just too exciting!  Never mind, she had fun.

Have fun!

That is something that is vital to remember when training a dog – have fun!  It is the main objective I have in the lessons I am putting together for Training Classes for Dogs ‘n’ Kids.  I want people to understand that owning a dog should be about the pleasure it brings and that working with your dog is what gives you the most pleasure.

Of course, many of the lessons we learn in training our dogs apply equally well to other life lessons.  If you want to find out more about other work I do in helping people with their businesses, please head over to IndePenDent Inspiration.  Or leave me a comment about your training triumphs?

 

Playing Games – What do dogs play?

Chase me chase me!  This is a video of Luna and Aura playing tag, in the woods.  They play this game in the same spot on this particular walk and almost nowhere else.  It’s as though the bracken is just right.  Or perhaps it’s just the routine they have.  It makes me smile every time, they have so much fun!

Aura is great at getting the others to play particular games with her.  She will play ‘share-a-stick’ with Sunny.  Normally, when I throw a ball, Aura will be the one to catch it, or get to it.  She then drops it by Sunny, who brings it back to me.  This happens most of the time, although sometimes Aura brings it back to me herself, or sometimes Sunny gets to the ball first.  Occasionally Busy steals the ball once Aura has put  it down and she then taunts the others by running past them, laughing and refusing to give up the ball. Luna never gets the ball on a walk, although she likes joining in ball games at home and loves playing with a toy at training.

In the woods though, I refuse to throw the ball, because they are supposed to be enjoying the woods.  I also refuse to throw sticks, because they are dangerous (we now know).  So Sunny gets a stick and shows it to me, but then Aura takes it out of her mouth and runs past with it.  Or they both run along, side by side, holding the stick.

Another popular game, especially with youngsters, is ‘snap snap’.  Two dogs lie on the floor facing each other and snapping the air in each other’s faces.  They get as close to each other as they can without actually biting, but making loads of noise and dodging round each other.

As you can see, when you have a pack of dogs, you can spend hours watching and enjoying their interactions with each other.  All of which informs how you play with your dog.  They enjoy active, energetic and sometimes slightly rough play.  Most of all, they love to engage with you and have fun!  Why not give it a go?

This is one of the topics I am covering in my Training Classes for Dogs ‘n’ Kids.  Please Contact me if you would like to enrol on the classes?