Stop Pulling on the leash

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Stop Pulling on the leash!!!

Without a leash you would probably be without a dog.” Dr Ian Dunbar.

The law requires that when you take your dog outside your property the dog must be on leash and for good reason. Unfortunately, taking a dog into a public area is quite often not a pleasurable activity for many dog owners. They need to overcome the most common problem that dog owners complain about …”My dog is pulling like mad when I take him for a walk – he is too strong and I cannot control him.”

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Becoming the ‘Pack Leader’

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To communicate successfully with our dogs, it is up to us to learn their language,” Jan Fennel
When we adopt either a puppy or an older dog, we invariably set out to care for and train him properly. As soon as possible we join a dog training club where we start obedience training with our best friend. We teach him his name, to sit and stay, to come when called, to walk nicely and many other things. Soon, however, many of us encounter behavioural problems because we were not taught the most important task: how to become the pack leader in the eyes of our dog.
Although we consider our pets to be part of our family, our dogs still believe they are members of a community that operates according to principles directly descended from the wolf pack where pack dynamics ensure the cohesion and survival of the pack. All dogs, regardless of breed, still display the same behaviour patterns drawn from their ancestry. Therefore, should we still think and reason like a human when we want to help a dog? Dog-dog behaviour is quite different to dog-human behaviour. Instead of viewing a dog as one who will conform to our wishes if we give it some training, we should rather view the dog in light of his ancestry.
What will give you the right and rank to lead your dog is to understand your dog’s ancestry and accepting that most of it is instinctive and therefore needs guidance.” John Fisher Read the rest of this entry »

Walking many dogs

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Loose leash walking many dogs
Dogs need daily exercise and lots of it depending on their breed. Walking your dog/s is part of their fitness routine and should be enjoyable to both dogs and their owners. However, walking together, in a group, side by side, human and dogs, is much more of a challenge than just giving them exercise. It requires a special skill that pack leaders need to develop. Walking one dog free, off leash next to you is difficult enough. Doing it with many dogs is something not many owners are able to achieve. But it is a crucial skill that pack leaders need to develop. Read the rest of this entry »

Leading a Pack

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Leading a Pack
Although dogs have been living with humans for thousands of years and in spite of their modern appearance, they still have retained many of the mannerisms of their ancient ancestors. They all display and are capable of reading the same body postures and signals. Their instincts for survival and reproduction are as strong as ever. The strongest, healthiest and cleverest still dominates their pack. They still turn around a few times before lying down even if there are no critters in the grass to chase away. Every member knows its place or pecking order and the alarm giver still barks his warnings. Or so it should be. Read the rest of this entry »

Separating dogs in a fight 2

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Separating dogs in a fight
There is no such thing as a nice dog fight. They are all horrible even if little damage was done. Worse is that someone may get bitten trying to stop the fight. Shouting, screaming, kicking, water spraying etc. usually has little positive effect, in fact it can make matters worse. Owners are often bitten by their own dog because grabbing the dog’s neck is to him an attack and he does not look to see who it is. Read the rest of this entry »

Introducing 2 dogs to each other

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Introducing 2 dogs to each other at a new home
I am often asked to assist in bringing two dogs together when the need arises to bring dogs together at a new home. It may be sudden like after a death in a family or a relocation or emigration. Sometimes a dog or dogs are adopted from a rescue facility but in spite of their tests and counselling the dogs fight at home. This makes it more difficult when I am called to assist. However, my method has been mostly successful and I pass it on to be used by others. Read the rest of this entry »

Abandonment Training

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Abandonment Training
While out on a walk you meet up with another owner coming towards you with her dog walking in front of her. Your dog’s attention focuses on the approaching dog and starts pulling forward. You notice his tail rising above his back, ears forward and his hair rises in two places- on the scruff and just in front of his tail. This is all too familiar. A scrap looms.
You know that you must take responsibility for your dog but what to do this time? Pulling back on the leash in the past has caused more frustration and aggression in your dog. Yelling has no effect. You are embarrassed and frustrated because, “here we go again” the walk is going to be spoilt and you have to fight your dog to avoid a dog fight. Does this sound familiar? Read the rest of this entry »

Desensitisation and Counter-conditioning (CC&D)

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Desensitisation and Counter-conditioning (CC&D)
We know what a pleasure it is to live with a dog that is friendly, affectionate and loyal. Sadly, there are many dogs that react with aggression, fears, phobias and anxiety to people or things in their surroundings and they can be hard to live with. You cannot explain to a dog that his behaviour is going to get him killed or lose the home he is in. Their problems can usually not be solved with commands such as “Sit -stay” to prevent a “fight” or “flight” reaction. What is needed is to change the way they feel about something, to eliminate what causes the emotional response that is so characteristic of their behaviour. Read the rest of this entry »

Converting Prey to Play

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Converting Prey to PlayFrisbee 01
Modern living in suburbia makes it difficult for owners of herding – and working breeds to redirect the strong prey drive their dogs are bred with. These intelligent, special talented dogs such as Border Collies, Aussies, Bouviers, German Shepherds and Boxers to name a few are most often only adopted as “pets” or because “we like the breed.” Their owners have little understanding of their special needs. Left alone they end up barking, chasing cats, kids and cars as they race up and down along the boundary fence and as a result often end up abandoned or given up for adoption. Read the rest of this entry »

The Long Down

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The Long Down

042 The Long Down is generally associated with the obedience ring when dogs must hold a down position for periods ranging from two (2) minutes in sight in the beginning and up to ten (10) minutes out of sight at the top level. These stay exercises are, what I call, the “bread and butter” items where competitors, having taught the stays properly, can be assured of full marks. Fifty (50) marks at “C” Level is a “gift” you should never miss.
However, although it is one of the easiest exercises that you can teach your dog as soon as he arrives at home, it is not something I find that owners have attempted to teach before joining a puppy school or club. Puppies are taught to “Sit” but not to stay sitting and they invariably will not have attempted to teach the “Down” command to their dogs. Recently I demonstrated, in spite of distractions, how easily a five (5) month old Jack Russell puppy can be taught to stay down for a while demonstrating that other owners can do the same. Read the rest of this entry »

Body Language

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Body Language
Dogs don’t use words to speak to us but use their bodies instead to show how they feel or what they are about to do. It can be quite revealing at the club to observe the dogs as they arrive with their owners in tow who are usually quite oblivious of their own dog’s intentions. Some puppies want to play, others want to attack and some are more interested in smells on the ground. Yet their owners want them to say “Hi” to the other dogs even if the dog’s body language warns against it. They cannot tell the difference between a happy, friendly dog and a shy or scared dog or the body language of an aggressive one. Read the rest of this entry »

Dogs and Children

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Dogs and Children

Kid-proof your dogs; dog-proof your kids

23159Everyone knows that a dog is man’s best friend. Also it is generally known that every dog has the capacity to bite, and that children are often the ones who get bitten. Everyone, particularly children, should learn some basics about dog behaviour and safety around dogs. Read the rest of this entry »

Dog Bites

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Dog Bites

Annually, about four and a half million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. and between 10 and 20 of those are fatal. Most are children who are bitten by their own dogs and more than half are bitten in the face. Without warning a dog may change from friendly to aggressive. Fortunately, according to research, 82% require no medical attention. However, legal action is often taken when a bite has occurred so we need to look at some of the legal concepts that apply. Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Advanced, Basics, Problems, Updated posts / Comments Off on Heeling


For the average pet dog heeling is not an important exercise to learn. Yet, one often can find a pet dog out on a walk

being shouted at to “heel” while the owner repeatedly applies sharp tugs on the leash to get the dog to walk next to him.

Heeling is a position with the dog sitting or walking on the left side of the handler. To “Heel” simply means, to “hold that position.”

It is an attention exercise used in mainly two instances:

1) When in traffic, or crossing an

intersection, and you want your dog to pay attention and stay close to you. This is when you will want your dog to, “Heel.”

2) In obedience trails or competitions, when you want to show the judge that you have created absolute attention and

obedience in the required exercises to be performed, you “heel” your dog. Read the rest of this entry »

Neutering (Spaying and Castrating)

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Neutering (Spaying and Castrating)

Dog owners are generally encouraged to have their dogs neutered or spayed unless, of course, they are still showing their pedigreed dogs. There will never be enough homes for all the dogs looking for one so the call from shelters and the Humane Society will always be to neuter your dogs in order to prevent more unwanted puppies and the suffering that accompanies many strays. Read the rest of this entry »

Dogs and other Animals

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Dogs and other Animals

The reason we love dogs so much is because they are so generous with their love.

Dogs are known to happily co-exist not only with humans but also with all their domestic pets such as cats, hamsters, pigs and more. In fact there are countless examples of dogs that have “adopted” unexpected animals of other species however strange it may be. It is usually characterised as an act of caring and devotion – a maternal love. A visit to YouTube and Google will provide you with many amazing examples. We need not be too surprised by this because, after all, loving and caring are two of the things that dogs do best. Read the rest of this entry »

Dog-Dog Aggression

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Dog – Dog Aggression

As humans we may tolerate most people but we certainly do not like everyone. Some people are just too rude or scary or there is something about them that we do not like. We, on the other hand expect unbelievably high standards from our dogs in that we expect them to be nice to all other dogs. Worst of all, we get cross with them if they try to interact with other dogs in their own way.

We force our dogs to go say, “Hi” to other dogs and want them to meet face to face not caring if it is very rude in dog manners. When an older dog wants to teach a puppy some manners we get cross with him or her. Their bones are taken away and given to a lower-ranking dog and then they are scolded if they object, growl or try to take it back. We decide who the “Alpha” is and who goes through the door first. Read the rest of this entry »

Aggression between owner & dog

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Aggression between Owner and Dog

I find it absolutely fascinating to watch the interaction between our dogs and the cats. They are a completely different species with different innate behavioural patterns sharing the same living area which can have its share of difficulties. Just as cultural differences exist between people, there are also strong cultural differences between dogs and humans which can easily lead to a confused situation. They need to learn about each other’s likes and dislikes in order to arrive at a better understanding between
them. Read the rest of this entry »

On-Leash Aggression

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On-Leash Aggression

One of the most common reasons for dog owners wanting obedience training for their dog is, “When I take my dog for a walk he becomes aggressive when he sees other dogs, and I have difficulty in controlling him” or “My dog growls, barks and lunges at other dogs and people.” This is highly embarrassing and confusing to owners because, according to them, “At home he is gentle and friendly and not at all like he is on walks.” Read the rest of this entry »

Dog Problems

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Dog Problems

Most of the problems dog trainers have to deal with are due to bad habits that were “allowed” to develop. Dogs react to what stimulates them and what they benefit from in what is typical dog behaviour. They bark, dig, chew, chase and jump on you. They do not automatically know how their humans want them to behave and are unaware that they are misbehaving.

Dogs do not stare at fridges because fridges do not give them food. Dogs do not bark at post-boxes, but dogs bark at postmen because they score a psychological victory every time they bark because he immediately leaves. That is how bad
habits are formed!

If a dog repeats a behaviour more than twice it is already a habit – barking, jumping up, escaping from the yard, running along the boundary wall barking or getting into the trash can.

What needs to be done in solving many of the problem behaviours is not only to stop them from continuing any longer but to replace them with good habits. The golden rules are, “Don’t let it happen in the first place” and “Protect your property!” Shut the door if possible and prevent him from messing or causing damage and let him forget about what is inside. Take charge and create new good habits that are hard to break by being insistent and patient. Dogs are wonderful creatures. If you change your leadership today the dogs will immediately accept it.

To say, “No” to a dog teaches him nothing because he has no idea what he should have done instead. The tone of your voice may be a clear indication that you are unhappy and the dog may get a guilty look but without teaching him what you want him to do, he is likely to repeat that behaviour.

The problems that follow are some of those that occur in many households. A number of different solutions are offered in each case. What is needed is that the handler give them some thought and persist before deciding that a particular
solution does not work. If you have told your dog to “Leave” something alone you need to be sure that he understands the meaning of the word. If you tell him to “Sit” when you open the car door, he needs to know that “Sit” means that he cannot jump in until given permission.

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