Multi-mutts

Posted on February 15, 2021May 7, 2021Categories UncategorizedTags

Living with more than one dog can be challenging–especially if they don’t get along. This article will discuss how to keep your home safe, and how to keep your fur-family friendly.

My Boxer was a target for the nicest of dogs, so I wasn’t encouraging when my new boyfriend wanted to adopt a 115lb dog-aggressive Presa Canario. “You’re a dog trainer–you’ll fix him” he said. Our story has a happy ending; that man is now my husband and that dog is now a wonderfully well-behaved member of our family. It was A LOT of work, and though eventually it got easier–it was a cordial relationship–never a playful one.

Doug and Roscoe

Adult dogs are not nearly as social as they are in our fantasies. They will not necessarily readily accept having a new “friend” in their house, sharing their life. Dogs are prone to jealous behaviour, such as standing stiff between their owners and other dogs. This is one of those problematic behaviours that we accidentally or purposefully reward and strengthen. It is hard not to–it is adorable when our dogs claim us and show their affinity. Some people mistake this fear-based anxious resource guarding behaviour as protective and therefore desirable.

What is desirable is having dogs that are comfortable and safe in their own homes. We want our dogs to be able to happily and patiently watch other dogs interact with us. To follow are basic guidelines, your dogs may also require muzzle training and/or strong consideration as to whether or not you are capable of safety managing them. Please consult with a professional reward-based dog trainer to help you assess and handle your dogs.

How to bond dogs together

Walking in tandem and doing tricks together will bond your dogs. Have a partner walk one dog while you walk the other, beginning as far away as opposite sides of the street. Put your bodies between the dogs’ bodies and keep plenty of distance between you as you walk together. Let them sniff the ground near each other, but avoid on-leash interactions, keeping incidental on-leash interactions to 3 seconds max. Doing things side by side and keeping each dog under control lets them relax and get used to the other dog’s presence. Doing things side-by-side is much preferable to being face-to-face, getting all stiff and squirrelly, while we stand around waiting for something bad to happen.

When we are ready to allow dogs to get close, do so with a chain link fence between the dogs at first. Test those waters by walking the dogs along the fence line and then walking away. Keep interactions short, encouraging the dogs to move along and come back to you for reinforcement. Happily praise them the entire time that they sniff one another. If either dog appears stiff, is looking away, showing the whites of their eyes, has their ears back, or their tail tucked, immediately break off the interaction by encouraging both dogs to walk away with their handler. Follow each interaction (even stiff ones) with food rewards. To connect your food reward to the other dog, practice saying “yes” when they look at the other dog. Soon, we will delay our marker and wait until our dogs look back to us, expecting the treat. Click here for more info on using food to help dogs overcome reactivity to other dogs.

Increase your dogs’ confidence in general by learning new, fun tricks that are challenging but achievable. 10 minutes a day of teaching new tricks goes a long way toward making dogs more obedient in general but also more confident and happy. Agility and parkour are particularly effective confidence boosting activities. At first, your dogs many be afraid to go through a dark tunnel or take a leap of faith over a big jump. With your encouragement, your dogs will learn to trust you more and will feel that they know what to do and what to expect from you and from the other dog too. Let them focus on their relationship with you and recognize that the other dog is being handled by the other person–so they can just relax! Read more about how obedience training helps dogs control their fear here.

How to manage dogs in the house

Eventually, your obedience training will be so good that you can just drop them into a ‘down’ and they will be parked. For now, use your leashes to manage them in the house. It was a long time (many months) before I allowed the dogs to roam freely and interact without me structuring every move. Keep your dog on a leash and lead them directly to their spot when you come home from walks. Tie the leash to your waist or sturdy posts and keep them with you when you move around the house.

Feed dogs separately, in separate rooms or kennels is preferable, especially when the dogs are enjoying long chews/bones. Ensure that toys, treats, and chewables are kept out of their reach unless the dogs are securely separated.

Over time, you’ll be training the dogs to do more and more side-by-side, but always remember that you are better safe than sorry. Animals are unpredictable, but fights over toys and treats are easily predictable and preventable arguments. Fighting over attention requires a bit more finesse.

Training dogs to wait their turn for your attention

At first, we will train each dog separately, accomplish this by training with a partner or by taking one dog to a quiet room to train alone while the other enjoys a long chew. Once we have the basics, especially holding their ‘down‘ position, we can progress to alternating training 2 dogs in the same room, taking increasingly longer turns between dogs. Finally, we want to handle and interact with all of our dogs at once.

Each dog should have a ’spot/place’ (this could be a dog bed, a kennel, or a pedestal). Teach them to stay there. Encourage your dogs to lie down as much as possible. Accomplish this by delivering food to them, dropping it on the ground between their forearms often enough that they don’t want to move. As I mentioned, at first you may need to tether leashes to something solid–like another person.

Have your partner stand right next to dog #1’s spot and deliver food as often as needed while you get dog #2 onto their spot. Just as we might proof any distraction, we will get the dogs used to seeing us walk over to our other dog, working up to seeing us give them treats, to asking them to get up, to performing a single trick, to performing multiple tricks before returning to them to reinforce them for being such a gracious and patient audience. We will only progress as fast as the dogs are comfortable holding their positions. Once it seems like your partner is not really helping at all and you are able to return back and forth between dogs without the dogs popping up, your partner can start backing away and only step forward to help dog #1 back to position if needed. More and more, the dogs are being handled by just one person who goes back and forth between the dogs. Finally, you’ll invite both dogs to perform tricks side-by-side for one handler.

Leap Dog is a fun trick for multiple dogs


Please enjoy a couple of double-dog tricks, featuring Doug and Roscoe. Notice that in all our videos, there is always a dog lying down, patiently waiting for their turn. The dog that is waiting is still working and is still earning praise and treats for waiting, and that allows them to enjoy it and to feel secure watching the other dog earn rewards too, especially affection from me.

Peek-a-boo!

New Puppy in the house?

A common situation is an older dog being forced to accept a rambunctious new puppy. Don’t leave it up to your older dog to teach your puppy how to play gently and respectfully–that leads to vet bills and lousy relationships. Keep your new puppy on a leash and let your older dog come to them–if they want to. Let your older dog realize that interactions with puppy are always followed by tasty treats from you.

Feeding your older dog after puppy gets in their face accomplishes two things. 1: Your older dog will like your puppy more. 2: Your older dog will come looking to you for treats when puppy is annoying. Your older dog tattling on puppy to you is certainly preferable to them attacking the puppy. Interactions between dogs should be surrounded by praise and rewards coming from us, not us tensely saying “No!” as they interact while still letting things escalate to fights. Don’t be afraid to use your leash in the house, it may seem like too simple of a solution, but it works. Your older dog should not be expected to tolerate a puppy charging all over them all day.

Let your older dog realize that if puppy gets rough, you will be there to remove them. Teach your puppy to respect your older dog’s lip curls, growls, and other requests for space like walking away by encouraging puppy to move along. Never chastise the communication of your older dog. We want our older dog to express just how much puppy they can tolerate, and then we step in to make sure puppy doesn’t push it any farther than that. The sooner your new puppy learns basic obedience, the sooner you can ditch the leash and simply tell puppy how to act around your dog, finally enjoying a sense of normalcy.

How to recognize normal dog play

Jump Over My Leg

Posted on June 24, 2016Categories Dogs, Great Tricks, Please Share, VideosTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Got a leg? Then teach your dog to jump over it! This trick is easy, fun, and will burn energy almost anywhere.

Teach your dog to jump over your leg

Jumping over and over isn’t for puppies, wait until your dog is at least 1.5 years old, 2 for giant breeds before teaching this trick.

Begin with your foot against a wall, fence, or tree. Save your hamstring the trouble and keep your foot low, it will help your dog learn to go over, not under your leg. Lure your dog over your outstretched leg with a treat. Say ‘yes!’ and reward your dog with a tasty treat, be especially enthusiastic if they jump high.

Once your dog is happily jumping over, add the cue ‘hup’ or ‘jump,’ and begin gradually raising your leg up. You’ll need to ask your dog to ‘sit’ or ‘wait’ a few feet away so that they can take a run at it.

Do dozens of reps over at least a week’s time before slowly, gradually moving away from the wall, fence, or tree. You will know you’ve gone too far, too fast when your dog cheats and circles your leg instead of jumping over. Smart boy! He knows an easier route! Don’t laugh, you’ll only reinforce his cheating ways, just go back a little closer to the wall and do a few more reps. Your dog needs plenty of practice to set the pattern and learn the cue.

We think your dog will love this trick! Have fun!

Hoop Jump

Posted on June 22, 2016Categories Dogs, Great Tricks, Please Share, VideosTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Teach your dog to jump through a hula hoop! You probably have one lying around, and if not, they aren’t hard to come by, which makes this trick an easy bet for summer fun!

What you’ll need: A hula hoop large enough for your dog to jump through, treats, and an adult dog. You can find hula hoops at toy stores and dollar stores. Make sure that the hoop isn’t designed to make noise,  drain any noisemaking beads if necessary so that your dog isn’t startled by the hoop. Jumping over and over isn’t for puppies, wait until your dog is at least 1.5 years old, 2 for giant breeds.

Step 1: Hold the hoop on the ground and lure your dog through with a treat. Say ‘yes!’ and feed them as they go through the hoop.

Step 2: Hold the treat on the other side of the hoop and ask you dog to make the first move. Say ‘yes!’ and feed them once they have made it through the hoop.

Step 3: Hold the hoop an inch or two off the ground, and repeat step 2 a few times, gradually raising the hoop.

Step 4: Once your dog is jumping through with ease, add your cue to ‘hup’ or ‘jump’ or ‘hoop’ to name their new trick!

Step 5: Have your dog ‘sit’ or ‘wait’ and step a few feet away, hold out your hoop give your cue to ‘hup!’ Stare at the hoop, not your dog, and show them the treat on the other side if they struggle.

Bonus Step 6: The double hoop jump trick! Add another hoop, and teach your dog to follow your eye by looking toward the hoop you’d like them to jump through. They will learn to jump around you in a continuous loop!

Bonus Hula Hoop tricks: You can also use your new hoop jump trick to teach your dog to jump over your back, your leg, through your arms, and much more!

Ring of fire: Cover your hula hoop in tissue paper and cut a hole big enough that your dog will still jump through it. Repeat the process with increasingly smaller openings until you have a dog that will jump through the covered hoop, with just a small hole at the centre! Draw some cool flames on it, or maybe your dog’s name, and let him jump through it to begin your show, even if it’s just for grandma and her friends at the nursing home. Your dog will delight and amaze!

We think you and your dog will love this trick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teach Your Dog To Dress Themselves

Posted on May 27, 2016November 23, 2020Categories Assistance Dog Skills, Dogs, Great Tricks, VideosTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your dog might not ever be ready to move out and go to college, but teaching this easy trick will make your life a little smoother, on a daily basis, which adds up. Most importantly, giving your dog this responsibility will make their life more pleasant.

Teach The ‘Dress’ Cue

Ensure your dog’s collar, bandana, harness, or backpack is oriented so that large or dangly parts hang down, rather than looming over your dog’s head, hitting them in the face as they dress.

Step 1)

Reach your hand through the neck hole, place a treat on your dog’s nose, and lure them through. Say ‘Yes!’ and allow them to eat as they ‘dress.’

Step 2)

Hold a treat on the other side of the hole and ask your dog to make the first move, this is sometimes a tricky step because you can’t hold it open wide with one hand as easily, enlist the help of a friend if you are struggling. If your dog is struggling, try holding the treat right in the center of the hole, and luring from there, saying “Yes!” once their entire head is through.

Step 3)

Hold the opening wide with both hands and say ‘dress.’ Mark with “yes!” and reward once they are fully dressed. If they hesitate to go through, show them the treat on the other side again to remind them.

Enjoy your dog’s new trick!

If your dog’s harness is the kind that it would help if they would just stand still on top of it, begin by teaching the ‘stand‘ cue on a pedestal.

 

Martin The Deaf Bulldog: A Deaf Puppy Can Be A Wonderful Gift

Posted on April 10, 2014Categories Animal Health, Great Tricks, VideosTags , , , , , , , , , ,

If you looked at Martin, you’d say he was a perfect English Bulldog. His muzzle is long enough that he can breathe relatively comfortably. He’s lean, he’s fit, he’s adorable.

But after they brought him home, Martin’s proud owners began to notice that their puppy didn’t seem to be responding to sounds. A trip to the vet confirmed their fears: Martin was deaf.

Their vet put them in touch with our trainer, Carol, and over the next couple of months she helped them adjust to life with a deaf dog.

What does it mean to have a deaf dog?

Cons:

  • Cannot hear you call.
  • Cannot hear commands.
  • Cannot hear people or other dogs approaching from behind.
  • Cannot hear cars or other dangers approaching from behind.

Pros:

  • Will never bark at the doorbell.
  • Motivates you to discover your inner dog trainer.

For the dog’s safety and the owner’s sanity, deaf dogs need to learn to look to their handlers for sign language commands. That means that the owners of deaf dogs need to train their puppy to a level that many owners aren’t motivated to achieve in their hearing dogs.

Thanks to his deafness, Martin’s owners discovered two amazing things:

  • Martin is very intelligent.
  • They are incredible dog trainers.

Check out this video of Martin working at 11 weeks and again at 15 weeks. While Carol was there to guide Martin’s owners through the training process, the credit goes all to them.

We know that results like these can’t be achieved without daily hard work.

Prepare to be impressed:

Why Everyone Should Own A Long Line

Posted on February 12, 2013Categories Dogs, Training MethodsTags , , , , , , ,

If you own a dog, you should own a long line.

image via www.bestdogtrainingleash.com

This is true especially if your dog is a young puppy just learning how to walk off leash and come when called. Short leashes tempt people to drag their dogs around. Not only does this teach the dog that a tight leash is normal, but the dog doesn’t learn anything.

Even worse, a tight leash can cause behavior problems, especially when encountering other dogs.

And why use a short leash when you could use a long leash?

We believe in respecting leash laws, but thankfully leash laws don’t specify how long your leash has to be! Since at Wag The Dog, we train dogs to be street-wise, why not end the fight with the four foot line and enjoy a pleasant walk down the street which at least feels like it is off-leash?

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Deconstructing Dominance: The Science Behind Wag The Dog

Posted on September 29, 2012April 25, 2021Categories 100 Reasons To Love Wag The Dog, Animal Behavior, Common Mistakes Owners Make, Dogs, Training MethodsTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is Your Dog Fighting For Dominance?

Perhaps one of the most commonly touted tenets of dog training is “be the leader”.

Whether the family dog is jumping up, growling, biting, or tugging at the leash, owners are advised by professionals and dog hobbyists alike to “lead the pack”.

It sounds good, and it’s an easy line for lay people to take – “Oh, your dog is misbehaving? You need to be the pack leader and be more dominant.”

Advice for how to do to do this usually involves things like going through doors first, eating first,  or turning your dog upside down, all of which are supposed to mimic the behaviour of wolves in the wild.

People think that they shouldn’t sleep with their dog, shouldn’t let him on the furniture, and shouldn’t share their table scraps.

When we meet a new client, we often listen to embarrassed confessions of doing all these things… and then we surprise them by telling them the truth: If you don’t mind your dog on the bed, it’s not a problem. You won’t create a struggle for power if your dog cuddles with you on the sofa in the evenings.

Yes, if you want your dog listen to you and respond to you, you certainly need to be the leader in the relationship. But that doesn’t mean you need to dominate your dog.

The Science Behind Dominance

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And Baby Makes Four

Posted on February 17, 2012June 11, 2020Categories 100 Reasons To Love Wag The Dog, Animal Behavior, Dogs, News And UpdatesTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How do you explain a baby to your dog?

More and more families are waiting to have children, and often their dog is considered to be their furry first-born.

When a baby comes into the picture, the family dog often finds himself shunted to one side. Walks are curtailed and the family’s attention is eaten up by a wailing, squirming little creature who looks nothing like a normal human being.

“I thought lying on the floor and chewing things was my job…”

Some dogs adjust easily, and some adjust with difficulty.

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Common Mistakes Dog Owners Make: Coming When Called

Posted on February 2, 2012Categories Animal Behavior, Common Mistakes Owners Make, Dogs, Training MethodsTags , , , , , , ,

In this series we will discuss some of the most common errors made by dog owners, and how to address them.

Training The Dog To Run Away When Called

This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many pet owners accidentally train their dog to run away from them!

Coming when called should always be a happy occasion.

Once your dog is off-leash, the only control you have over him is your past history of rewarding him for returning to you. If you have not built this history strongly enough, then reclaiming your dog may be quite a challenge.

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