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.

Hyper Overactive Dogs

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Hyper Overactive dogs

Hyperactive dogs are dogs that seem to be in a perpetual state of excitement. They have poor attention span, can be aggressive towards other dogs and have high levels of motor activity usually associated with excessive “panting”. They are virtually in constant motion, bark a lot jumping around and over-reacting to the slightest distraction

Their owners struggle to control their behaviour and often miss-interpret the condition as pent-up energy that needs to be released. They then start a strenuous exercise routine as a solution to calm the dog down. All they do is to create super fit dogs with breathtaking energy levels. The only time they are quiet is when asleep. Read the rest of this entry »

Control over your dog

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Control over your dog

There is no point in having a dog that is only obedient if he is on leash or if you have food on you.” Dr Ian Dunbar.

Most of the dogs I am asked to rehabilitate have owners who find it too difficult to control them. These dogs are what can be termed, “Under cooked.” Their owners took them to Puppy school, bought books, watched TV dog programmes or did some training at a club but did not fully understand the training concepts or stopped before they had mastered proper control over their dogs. They spend nearly all their time and energy controlling the dog instead of getting the dog to control itself. I tell my dog, “You can get what you want as soon as you calm down and control yourself.” You need to be patient but also very insistent.

The following training concepts should be re-visited if you find that your dog is disobedient or listens only when on leash or when food is available. Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Problems, Updated posts / Comments Off on Fighting


While in the human world it is regarded as a terrible canine character flaw, the reality is that fighting is acceptable and even normal in the dog world. All dogs fight to some extent. This is how they settle things and defend themselves from a threat that they cannot escape. They have no idea that such behaviour is not allowed in their new “pack” and are completely unaware of how traumatic it can be for their owners. Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Basics, Problems / Comments Off on Fireworks
 Fireworks are usually associated with spectacular displays or fun activities. Although it may be enjoyed by family and friends it can be a nightmare for our much-loved animals. We need to think of their safety as we would the safety of a small child.

Some dogs don’t seem to care about gunfire or fireworks. Others express mild distress and always want to be close to humans for comfort. Still, many poor soals are absolutely terrified of big bangs. Cats seem to disappear when fireworks can be heard.

Symptoms of fear in dogs include restlessnesss, pacing up and down, following humans, panting, trembling, barking, trying to escape and salavating. Read the rest of this entry »

My Dog Does It Perfectly At Home

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My dog does it perfectly at home.”

A remark many owners pass at the club when their dogs refuse to retrieve, come when called or break a stay.

Most dogs can tell the difference between the ringing of a doorbell on television and the one at home. When a dog barks on TV he ignores it, but when one barks down the road he charges to the gate and starts barking. This tells us that the dog is able to discriminate
between the different barking dogs.

That same dog may sit or go down perfectly at home, but at the club or at a different location fails to obey the same commands equally well, because he has not yet been able to generalise the commands and movements he obeyed so well at home. He does not see the commands at different places meaning exactly the same thing. This becomes worse with distractions when he can act real silly. The
dog does not see that the training at the club is the same as that done at home. Read the rest of this entry »

When Attacked by a Dog

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What to Do When Attacked By a Dog

Recently, while walking with my dog, Juno, I suddenly became aware of two dogs charging in our direction, teeth bared, hair up on their backs and clearly ready to attack.Juno charged forward when she saw the dogs coming. Luckily I had her on the lead and held her back.

Trying to restrain a big dog on the attack and stopping two others coming at you, is no easy matter. Fortunately I was able to whip out my pepper spray and sent the two packing, quickly ending what could have been quite a nasty encounter.

This is especially true when dogs form a pack in attacking. In fact, each year, we read of several people who die of dog bites and many more are permanently disfigured as a result of serious dog attacks.

This set me thinking about what to do when attacked by a dog if you are alone and do not have anything for protection. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Your Dog to Swim

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Teaching Your Dog to Swim

Teaching your dog to swim is a great idea, not only for its enjoyment and exercise but also for safety. Just like people, pets can drown in the sea, lakes and pools. When playing near a pool it can accidently get knocked into the water or become tired quickly while swimming.

Not all dogs can swim and some are afraid of water so great care must be taken to carefully introduce a dog to the water and  be very sure he knows how to get out when he has had enough.  Most dogs cannot climb out the side of a pool or make use of a ladder.

Among the dogs that swim naturally and gladly are water spaniels, setters, retrievers, akitas and poodles amongst others. Other breeds are not as water-friendly and have to be taught to swim, in some cases with great difficulty. Heavy dogs with short legs are not built for swimming. Having a short or no tail makes it more difficult to stay afloat. Read the rest of this entry »

Timing a Correction

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In dog training a correction is aimed at telling the dog to…” Stop doing what you are doing.It can take the form of a verbal reprimand, “Watch, No, Uh etc.” or it can be a quick “pop” on the leash.

Timing is the moment when the correction is given. It is the present moment during training when the dog is making a mistake and needs to be corrected.

To clarify this concept we need to explain what is meant by present moment. Read the rest of this entry »

Car sickness/nervousness

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In-Car Sickness/Nervousness

Causes & Symptoms
Behaviourists believe that car sickness in dogs is predominantly stress related and not motion related. Anxiety, most often caused by the trauma experienced by a puppy when it was taken away from all that to him was safe and familiar, may be a major cause of this condition.  He is suddenly taken away from his mother and litter mates and is confined in a car with new smells, noise, unfamiliar people and strange movements. Many pups become so distressed during this first car trip that they are often physically ill before they arrive at their new homes.

It could also be that the ear structures used for balance are not yet fully developed, in which case there is a good chance that he will outgrow the car sickness around 7 – 8 months of age. However, getting sick each trip can be so traumatic for a pup that he never outgrows his fear of car travel. He begins not only to avoid the car but actually hates being inside.

Typical behaviours of a dog that has a car phobia are calming signals (licking of the lips, yawning, panting or sitting/lying down) as you attempt to bring the dog near to the car and restlessness and whining once he/she is inside the car. Dogs that are severely affected may drool, vomit and even release their bowls when inside a moving vehicle. Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Advanced, Problems / Comments Off on Muzzles


In many countries of Europe the law requires that when pet owners walk their dogs in public their dogs must be fitted with a
muzzle. They are not “bad dogs” but ordinary dogs and are trained to wear muzzles with complete acceptance much as they would a collar and leash. This is to protect the general public from a provoked or unprovoked attack by a dog.

All dogs have the potential to bite irrespective of their temperament. Some will bite when handled by a stranger and some when
their territory has been invaded. A muzzle can also be a life saver if a dog has a serious injury and in pain and needs to be treated by a vet. Such a dog cannot be handled without biting the handlers. Read the rest of this entry »

Dogs Escaping from the Yard

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Dogs Escaping from the Yard

We may not know the reason why a dog wants to escape from the yard where he is kept because he will never tell. What we do
know is that he is able to do it. Some are real escape artists and are of great concern to owners from whom I get calls for help.

Every time a dog escapes he is rewarded for doing so because of interesting smells, cats or birds to chase, bitches in season or
other dogs to play with while out. It is also very dangerous and many dogs get lost, stolen or killed in the streets after their escape from home.

When a dog has been able to escape 2 or 3 times from a property it is already a habit that has been formed and bad habits are
often hard to break. Prevention is better than cure and after the very first escape it must receive serious attention to prevent a second attempt and a behaviour problem. Read the rest of this entry »

Bitches in Season

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“In season” or “in heat” or “oestrus” are terms used to indicate that a fertile bitch can become pregnant if she is mated
by a male dog.

Inexperienced first time owners of bitch puppies are often ignorant of what is happening to their little girl when she is in season and what to do when this happens. If the owners are caught by surprise an unwanted pregnancy may occur because it can sometimes be difficult to recognize the first season. If you are not sure keep her away from male dogs and ask your vet. Read the rest of this entry »

When Baby comes Home

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Boundary Runners

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In all neighbourhoods we find dogs running up and down along the boundary fence barking fiercely at whoever passes by. These dogs are territorial and have become overprotective. They very clearly and aggressively send out a message to, “stay away from my territory.”

They not only distress passers-by and scare children but quickly gain a reputation as dangerous, aggressive dogs. Unfortunately they may also attract those misguided individuals who will deliberately tease these dogs and send them into a greater frenzy,

I have seen the damage they can do to a lawn or garden by wearing out deep trenches along the fence as they charge up and down all day long. Shouting at them to stop has little effect and they seem to interpret it as encouragement from the owners to keep going. Read the rest of this entry »

Walk, Walkies, Heeling

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WALK, WALKIES, HEELING There is often much confusion about the concept and difference in training for these activities.

Dog owners know that their dogs need exercise and usually maintain a fairly set routine of taking them for walks. This often turns out to not be enjoyable for both because it becomes a struggle to control the dog or worse, the dogs become aggressive and start barking and lunging at people and dogs.  Some owners get dragged along the route; dread the thought of meeting another dog or walking past the gate where other dogs are barking. Others expect the dog to “heel” when they are supposed to be relaxed and enjoy the outing.

I make a difference between Walk, Walkies and Heeling the dog.  Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Problems / Comments Off on Digging

DIGGING: How to stop your dog from digging holes in your garden.

Digging is a very natural, instinctive and enjoyable activity for dogs. They dig to bury a bone, to escape, to find a cool or warm spot depending on the season or because it is in their genes. A whelping bitch, for example, will dig her own den to protect her pups if she does not have a better, more secluded area.

The ancestors of the modern domestic dog had to dig for survival. They dug to store and find food and to create shelter for themselves and their pups. Later, some breeds such as the terriers were bred to hunt underground prey such as moles, foxes and badgers. Digging is in their blood and if they are bored, digging keeps them busy. Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Problems, Updated posts / Comments Off on Barking

 BARKING     Woof-woof (English)   Jau-jau (Spanish)   Wung-wung (Chinese)      Ouah-ouah= “wa-wa” (French)

The problem with barking is that while it is very normal canine behaviour it is often very difficult to work out exactly why a dog barks. A dog may bark when he senses a strange dog nearby, or when he hears unusual noises. He is also expected to bark at strangers approaching your home to warn you, especially at night. Barking at inconvenient times and for too long causes most problems. Pet owners also never hear their own dogs, but the neighbours sure will. A little is okay, but the problem is when he does not know when to stop even when told to do so. Barking is often made worse because owners are inconsistent in the way they deal with it. Sometimes the dog is allowed to bark, even encouraged to bark and then at other times scolded or beaten for barking. This can be very confusing and stressful for a dog. No wonder some bark more when the owners are away.

Before you can start on a method to reduce the amount of barking, you need to understand why the dog is barking. Is he lonely? Does he bark at people, birds or dogs? Does he bark when you are away? Is it separation anxiety? (See my notes under Problems). You need to know what sets him off in order to be able to stop the barking. When he first starts barking, go and investigate the reason for his behaviour. By listening to the various tones of his barks, you will be able to tell when he is barking at the other dogs and asking them to play or when there is someone at the gate or he is barking at a bird or is frightened or bored. You will then be able to take action. Dogs each have a distinctive bark and you can quite easily tell which one is barking. Read the rest of this entry »

House Training Puppies

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House-training is one of the first things we attempt to teach our dogs and it is important that we do so correctly and consistently as soon as we acquire them. Most of us adopt our dogs as very young puppies that need to urinate and defecate more frequently than adult dogs and are also more likely to do so as a result of fear or excitement.

It is important to understand a pup’s limitations in this area and to handle house-training in a positive manner. It is better to engage in a concentrated effort over a few weeks, at the end of which you are likely to have a fully house-trained dog, than to make sporadic attempts at house-training over several months with unreliable results.

  Read the rest of this entry »

Destructive chewing

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Dogs are animals and animals love to chew. This is especially true for puppies and young dogs. What they do with their teeth can be both instinctive and learnt behaviour. Thus it is perfectly normal for dogs, especially puppies, to explore their world through their noses and their mouths. They chew to ease teething discomfort, to play, to satisfy hunger, to establish dominance, and to relieve boredom. Chewing releases tension which builds up in the dog’s mouth and face and is often related to stress/ anxiety (e.g. separation anxiety) or a lack of mental and physical stimulation. Once puppies have their adult teeth they continue to chew to settle them into the growing adult jaw. This can continue up until 12 to 14 months of age. During this time the dog has a biological need to chew. It helps to exercise and develop their jaws and to keep their teeth and gums healthy. If they do not have something suitable to gnaw, they will find something else to get their teeth into. Read the rest of this entry »

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