Sunday, January 6, 2013

No more doggies jumping on the bed ...

I get this question a lot: Should I allow my dog on the bed (or other furniture)?  Usually this is based on the very old-school of thought that having dogs in your bed or on your furniture gives your dog a sense of "dominance" and being "higher up".  Easily put, that is hog wash.

Without getting too  much into the whole dominance theory, as re-visited by scientists today, I will just say that here are common myths about canine dominance in the pet home that are just that: myths.
  • If you allow your dog to sleep with you he'll think he's ranked higher and may feel more dominant.
  • If you allow your dog to walk through a door way before you then you are allowing your dog to be dominant, and be ahead.
  • If you play tug and let him win, your dog may become dominant, or aggressive.
  • If your dog growls or snaps at you  he's showing dominance.
  • If your dog is a bully to other dogs or aggressive towards them it's because he thinks he's dominant.
While the above listed items are all completely false and all have other meanings and root from other things, we won't address those in this post.  I just want to address dogs on furniture or sleeping with you in the bed. 

The truth is that dogs can sleep wherever you wish, with some rules and training under their belt.   I feel that dogs can be allowed on any furniture where I sit or lie (minus kitchen chairs/stools and tables!) with the following reliable things in place:
  • When I ask them to move and/or "get off" they do so without coercion or bribery. 
  • They do not mind moving when I get into their space on the furniture.
  • They never show any aggression or refuse to get off the furniture.
  • In multiple dog homes all dogs should be able to safely share space without a tussle, snap, snarl or argument. (This may require more training depending on the dogs!)
The above should be trained before being requested by you.  If your dog cannot or does not respond to the above then you need to train him to respond to your requests and move out of space when you move into it.  You should train your dog to do this without force.  These are easy things to train, just practice and train them before asking your dog to do them, as with anything you ask of your dog.  If you need to work on this with a multiple dog home there may be a few extra steps and a bit more training involved, but it can be done! Remember it's not fair to ask your dog to something you've never actually trained him to do. 

Here is a video of my dogs showing some examples we discussed above.  (Direct link to video:

Choosing to have pets on the furniture is a personal choice. If you simply do not want dogs on the furniture that is totally fine. However if you don't allow it because you were led to believe it was "bad" or would lead to "behavior problems" then fret no more! Just teach your dog the rules and boundaries of your bed and furniture! Happy sleeping!
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Remarkable French Trainer.

Several of you have met Ines, my young and intelligent intern that has followed me around for the past year (or there about).  She met me technically via Facebook, and coincidentally lives just minutes from me in Arlington (Texas).  She came to a seminar I did on dog training back in November of 2011 and since then became more interested in going a "different" direction with dog training.

See, Ines used to be a huge follower/fan of a famous dog trainer shown on TV; a "trainer" whom I wholeheartedly disagree with and do not follow or suggest any of his methods of training.  I was very excited when she said to me, "well if there is a better way of training I'm open to listening and learning ..."  And since that day she never did do another leash jerk or put a metal collar on her dog for training. She actually purchased a treat bag, more appropriate dog collar/leash and started to learn clicker training too!  

Ines adopted a Husky/Shepherd mix of some kind from the shelter, "Loker", and he was a bit challenging for her with lots of energy and what seemed to her, stubbornness when it came to training.  He also was becoming more and more reactive to other dogs when out on the leash.  The methods she was using were not working to help her or Loker. The only issue was that she didn't have the right know-how or methods to employ with this dog and so they were kind of working against one another instead of for one another.

Almost immediately upon employing the methods she learned from me and other more positive and science-based trainers (those who use current science-based methods not outdated ones!) she saw her dog, Loker, make a dramatic change.  Their bond grew immensely and he actually found working and learning fun.  He also was quite good at it and was nothing close to stubborn! He has also come a loooong way with his leash reactivity and is very good on leash these days!

Since she started to crossover and use more positive methods Ines has bought numerous highly recommended and acclaimed books, attended seminars and even started her own blog titled, "The Crossover Trainer" which she posts some great tips, videos and other great stuff.  

January is National Train Your Dog Month, started by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and they are having a contest this year for people to enter and win.  It's based on positive training and Ines was so excited to be able to say she qualified Loker for that!  She has entered and made it to the finals!  I'm so proud of  her and all of her accomplishments over the past year.  She's going to end up as a great trainer for others to follow.  If you'd like to help her you may go and vote on her video with Loker she's entered into the contest.  You may do that by clicking here.

Another round of applause for Ines, her willingness to change and open her mind to great training methods and more  appropriate and accurate training!  And to top it off, she's French!  She could speak the language of love to your dog ... if you so desire!