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  • 03 Jul 2018 9:34 AM | Skip Daiger (Administrator)

    There are some very good blogs about dogs out there in cyberland, so we thought we would share some of them. Nicole's recent blog about the (maybe tiresome) subject of "pack leadership" might be worth a thoughtful re-look:

    This Whole Pack Leader Thing

    Written & conceived by Nicole Wilde, May 22, 2018

    If you hear a whistling sound, it’s the steam coming out of my ears because I’ve just heard yet another person state that someone else’s dogs wouldn’t have aggression issues if only that person were a stronger pack leader. Gah! Okay. Deep breaths. Let me backtrack. I was at the park this morning with my dogs when I ran into a woman I hadn’t seen in some time. I like her and her dogs, and we stood there catching up as our dogs romped happily. When she asked what I’ve been writing lately and I responded that I’d put out a book called Keeping the Peace, which is about dogs fighting in the home, she looked perplexed. “But,” she said, “that’s just a matter of being a strong pack leader. Dogs won’t fight if they have one.” Here’s the thing: she’s partly right, in that it is important that dogs have someone who teaches them the rules and enforces them in a kind, fair way. It’s important too that when dogs are unsure of something that they can look to their person for direction, and that when they’re starting to do something they shouldn’t, their person can intervene. However. That doesn’t mean that having even the best of human leaders in the home guarantees that dogs won’t have aggression issues.

    Although children and dogs are obviously two different species, family dynamics and psychology do have some things in common. A parent who lets their kids run wild with very few rules and boundaries is likely to have less control over them than one who establishes house rules and enforces behavioral expectations. In all the homes I’ve visited over the years to train dogs, there was a strong correlation between how much control the owner had over her kids and how much control she had over her dogs. But does being a responsible parent and strong leader guarantee that a kid isn’t going to fight with other kids? Does it mean the kid will like most other kids he meets? And should he be expected to like and get along with every one of them? Of course not, and we can’t expect it from our dogs, either. Sure, we should train them and yes, we absolutely should teach them our house rules and how we expect them to behave. And there should be fair, non-violent but effective consequences should they choose not to comply. Those things can go a long way in raising well-behaved dogs. But the fact is that dogs, like people, simply do not like everyone they meet. A dog might like most dogs, but absolutely loathe the other dog who lives in the home. Or, perhaps the dogs get along some of the time but then get into horrific fights in specific situations. Of course, I believe much if that is solvable (hence the book); but simply being a strong pack leader is not going to fix everything on its own. Our television culture has ensured that many owners have heard about the importance of being a strong pack leader and, to an extent, that’s useful. But on the flip side, it’s damaging in many cases to put the entire burden of blame on the owner (along with the resulting guilt if the problem isn’t solved), and to believe that canine behavior issues, which are inherently complex, can be solved with strong leadership alone.This reminds me of the man who walks his nice, sweet Lab around our local park in the mornings. Fortunately for him, his dog is friendly with other dogs and people. But he truly believes that if any dog has aggression issues with other dogs he encounters, it’s entirely the owner’s fault, period; and that a dog who snarls and lunges at passing dogs can be “rehabilitated” simply by walking him right up to other dogs (regardless of how dog-reactive those dogs are) and letting them meet, and not allowing the dog to react aggressively. Do that enough, and the problem is solved, thanks to strong pack leadership. Yeah. That goes well…until it doesn’t. Again, while being a good leader is important, it’s not the be-all and end-all to solving all canine behavior problems.


    You can find more "Wilde" blogs, my books, seminar DVDs and more at www.nicolewilde.com and my artwork at www.photomagicalart.com.

  • 30 Jun 2018 9:44 AM | Latecia Mills (Administrator)


    Every year many dogs suffer psychological trauma during the 4th of July fireworks, whereas, we humans are ecstatic over fireworks. Understanding your dog’s fearful behavior and what you can do at this stressful time of year is important for the emotional well-being of your pet.

    Interestingly, one of the only innate fears humans have is a fear of loud noises. We still “jump” and our bodies prepare to “fight or flight” (or freeze) when we become startled by a loud, erratically heard noise. The bright flashing light can contribute in part to your dog’s fear, as well as the squeals of young children that may accompany the loud booms. Many dogs try to run away from fireworks by escaping the house or yard. Without understanding the origin and nature of the “threat”, it’s adaptable to survival to do so! It’s adaptive for us and for our dogs. Evolution would have it, that when a loud noise is perceived, in order to survive and procreate another day, the fittest need to take action. However, some dogs are frozen in fear and shake uncontrollably. Your dog’s fear may not be so obvious, but now’s the time to learn to read dog body language if you haven’t as yet. 

    Make preparations to protect your dog from the drama of fireworks by not leaving her alone and creating as calm an environment as possible. If you’re going out to watch fireworks, leave your dog home with a loving pet sitter and prep the sitter about your what you’d like done.  I’m going out on a bay cruise to get an up-close look at the fireworks being launched form the barges there. I’ll be posting photos!

    If your dog has not been properly desensitized to fireworks, there are ways to do that. However, it’s always a challenge and the July 4th celebrations are such a short and infrequent occurrence that lots of Management, Security and Noise Blocking may just be easier on you both.

    There’s a lot you can do to make this wonderful holiday fun for you, and to make it “hum drum”, or even a happy time for your dog…which is precisely what we want!
    Get the Do No Harm Dog Training and Behavior Manual for teaching classes, private behavior consultations and pet parents. 

    Linda Michaels, M.A., Psychology, author, behavior consultant and speaker may be reached at 858.259.WOOF (9663) or by email: LindaMichaelsPositively@gmail.com for private obedience instruction and behavioral consultations near Del Mar and the San Diego Coast. Please visit us atDogPsychologistOnCall.com  Originally published RanchCoastNews. All rights reserved.

  • 01 Feb 2018 10:20 PM | Latecia Mills (Administrator)

    If I ask you to work the math problem: 85 + 15, you can surely answer 100 with just a little bit of thought.  If I ask you the same while you careen down the first hill of the Mamba at Worlds of Fun, you might have a harder time working out that math.  When the brain is distracted with lots of stimuli, like the sensation of dropping 70 mph in a train on a track, it can’t function as well as if you were sitting in a classroom.

    Training a dog can often be like trying to teach someone math on a roller-coaster.  To achieve optimum results, it is best to start teaching your dog his new skills in a classroom fit for a dog.  This is a place where your dog is accustomed to spending time. For most, this is the kitchen; it has readily accessible rewards and is many times the place a family spends a lot of time. 

    Learning skills in this low-distraction place gives your dog a chance to focus on the lesson being taught.  It is a much harder task to understand our training intentions when your dog is distracted by his environment.  When a dog’s attention is divided between your lesson and, for example, the children running through the kitchen, the excitement of the activity probably wins. 

    Even more difficult for a dog is trying to learn something new when he is not only distracted by things happening around him, but also stressed by these things.  Many things will stress a dog.  There might be something that is causing fear (some dogs don’t like visitors arriving to their house, loud garbage trucks picking up the trash, men in baseball hats and beards, etc., etc.) or your dog might be feeling stress because of how you are trying to teach your lesson (punishment for wrong choices can be very stressful).  Keeping your training fun for you and your dog will actually increase the quality of learning and your dog will be quicker to understand and remember his training. 

    So start in a classroom, and over time, sprinkle distractions into your training sessions.  Beware the assumption that your dog can respond to your cues in all levels of distractions.  If you find your dog not responding to the cue, give him a little extra help using a treat to lure him into position, and realize you might need to practice a bit more in a less distracting area. 

    Before you know it, when life gets as crazy as a roller-coaster, your dog will understand and respond to what you are asking him to do.  Enjoy the ride!

    Author:  Melissa Laub, CPDT-KA

HEART has trainers and other pet professionals serving the entire Kansas City metro and surrounding areas.

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