Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Whether you have just adopted a young pup or an adult dog, you have many things to teach your new companion. You want your dog to be loved, trained and lively, but not spoiled, a robot or uncontrollable. Dogs can be naturals at learning manners and commands, particularly when you understand a key aspect of their nature. Dogs are social, pack-oriented animals. Your dog will respect a strong, clear, fair leader. If you fail to establish this position for yourself, your dog will feel obliged to try to take the position of leader for himself.
The Alpha Role
In a natural state, dogs would live their entire lives within the closely structure social order of their pack. While young, they would begin to learn the workings of the pack's social system and, as they grew, begin to establish their place within the pack's dominance hierarchy. Dominance, submissiveness, leadership, obeying others - these are all concepts that are understood by every dog. These are all concepts that you must understand as well if you are to relate to your dog in a successful manner.
Each pack has a leader, generally an individual who is dominant over all pack members. In wolf society, this individual is called the "alpha." This is the member who makes the decisions, who must be obeyed. This is the individual that you must be in your dog's eyes.
Steps to Establishing Your Role as Alpha
Professional trainers know that it is a waste of time to try to train a dog without first establishing themselves as alpha to the dog. Every dog needs a leader to listen to and adore. Without this leader, a dog will feel lost and unstructured. If you do not take the role of alpha, your dog will instinctively take the role himself. Here are some steps to establishing your role as the alpha. Notice that these involve both behaviour and body language - two types of communication that your dog will understand.
- Always praise your dog confidently. Put your hands firmly on the dog. Hug the dog. Pat him so that your hands get warm from the contact. Do not praise him in a timid way.
- Praise warmly, well and quickly. Do not drag out your praising of your dog. Do not fawn over the dog just because he did one sit-stay.
- Reprimand fairly and quickly, then forgive. Don't hold a grudge. When you put your hands on your dog, do it with confidence and authority. Hands on does NOT mean hitting. Hands on may mean a leash correction, a surprising assist into a sit or down etc. Do it quickly and with authority. Then when you've made the dog do exactly what you want - once – reward him.
- Make the dog obey on the first command. Don't get into the habit of repeating yourself. A dog's hearing is significantly better than yours, and you can bet he heard you the first time.
- Give commands only if you can follow through, and make sure you always follow through.
- Give permission. Give it for what is about to do anyway as long as it is OK with you. This does not mean you say OK when you see your dog about to steal a plate of food. This means you do say OK when your dog is about to get into the car for a ride with you, eat the food in his bowl, go out with you for his afternoon walk. It means that in a subtle way you are teaching the dog to look to you for approval and permission instead of making decisions on his own. Remember - the better behaved the dog, the more freedom and fun he can have.
- Deny permission. Monitor your dog's behaviour. Teach him some manners. Even if you like him to sit on your couch or bed, he shouldn't behave that way in other people's homes.
- Do a sit-stay. This is an easy way to reinforce your role as alpha. Put the dog in a sit-stay for five to ten minutes. For particularly dominant dogs, make it a down-stay, and even more submissive position. When he breaks - and he will - put him back. If he breaks 6 times put him back 6 times. At the end of a few minutes, the dog knows you're alpha. He knows that anyone who holds his leash can call the shots. And this is with no yelling or hitting. Just a sit-stay. easy and effective.
- Be Fair, but tough. Act like a top dog. Tough, but loving. Always be fair and never get angry. Dogs understand what's fair and what's not.
- Be a model to your dog. The top dog behaves with dignity, confidence, authority, and intelligence. This will help your dog to be calm himself.
Remember, by being consistent in your handling and in your demands on the dog you are being fair. He needs structure to understand what you want and what his responsibilities are.
This article was written by Scott Donald, a Professional Trainer
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Have you ever noticed how well your dog knows your schedule? Your best friend takes on a despondent look before you even leave the house for work. And at the end of the day, there they are eagerly anticipating your return. Dogs are smarter than they let on, and the scientific community agrees.
Does the knowledge of our schedule give proof to the fact that dogs are using the sun to determine the time of day??? Probably not to that length, however, they are social animals who, for a variety of reasons, have significant mathematical reasoning.
Scientists around the globe are delving deeper into the canine brain and finding out that man’s best friend is big on communication and numbers.
In terms of communication, dogs barking in a certain style have a purpose or meaning associated to that bark. Through the number of barks and the pitch used with the bark, our canine friends are communicating with their peers and with us. For example, when a dog is playing, their barking is far more irregular and usually a higher pitch. When a dog is concerned for itself or its ‘pack’, you will find that the dogs barking is far more rapid – usually in excess of 15 barks in under a minute, and also a deeper more aggressive style of barking. There is also a number of barking style associated with excitement, separation from the owner/pack, boredom and territorial enforcement.
Therefore, it is far to say that not all barking should be considered nuisance barking – this is mainly made up of dogs barking in relation to separation from owners, boredom and territorial warnings (be it someone walking past the front gate to a bird flying overhead). Nuisance barking is the most common contributor in relation to complaints about barking dogs. There is a good number of products available in regards to reducing nuisance barking, that do not hinder on more communicative styles of barking.
Further to being able to communicate, dogs are fantastic at being able to respond to communication. In fact, in a recent New Scientist article it states that of all animals, dogs are the only ones capable of reading people’s emotions through their facial expressions. Within a glance, our fido friends recognise if we are happy, sad, angry, or pleased, is it any wonder that we refer to them as “man’s best friend”.
Researchers at the University of Lincoln have discovered that dogs use a “left gaze bias” only when looking at a human face. This is the same trait we humans use when seeing a new face, this allows us to ‘read a person’, as the right hand side of their face is usually most expressive in regards to their emotional state. This trait is only used when we or our canine counterparts are viewing a human face, dogs don’t even use it when meeting another dog – ‘butt’ that’s a whole different subject.
Our pooches can Read and Ruff, but can they handle ‘Rithmetic? Robert Young at Brazil’s Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte tests the canine calculations. A number of dogs were shown treats, a cover was then placed over the treats and they were either added to, taken from or left unchanged. The cover would then be lifted, revealing the treats again to the dogs. If the amount of treats were changed, the dogs would take a longer look, as this did not equal their first view. This mathematical ability, according to Young, traces back to when dogs were more like wolves and lived in packs. For further information, click on the below links;
Monday, March 16, 2009
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