Bring In The New Year With Canine Perspective!
Welcome to the first letter of the New Year!
There are many business-related New Year’s resolutions I’d like to see through and several goals that I’d love to see come to fruition in 2018.
First order of business is not to get comfortable. I’ve spoken, both with my clients and in my newsletters, about getting too comfortable with dogs. Whether it’s a dog that had behavioral issues or one that simply needed obedience. Once we see the change or feel they’re “good dogs” we can begin to get comfortable and ease up on the work and the truth is…the work never stops. If we stop reinforcing all the rules, boundaries, and expectations we’ve set for the dog, they begin to slide back into old habits or simply stop performing as well. It’s the same with anything in life in my opinion.
It’s not even a week into 2018 and I can already see a difference in the amount of interest in comparison to last year and if I don’t keep up with the expectations I’ve set for myself then that momentum will either dip or not reach it’s full velocity. I’ve been lucky enough to see my business double each year and I plan on keeping that level of growth going. And it all starts with not getting comfortable, staying on my toes, and always thinking of new ways to evolve myself and the business.
A natural part of the growth process is expanding what services Canine Perspective will be offering in the coming year, as well as, taking on an accomplice to help. I already have someone lined up so hopefully it works out and Canine Perspective will be on its way to being Chicago’s go-to for all its dog training needs!
Don’t forget to join me in this year’s first playgroup at Wiggleyville Dog Park in Lakeview. I’ll be there from 11am to 12pm so if you have any questions you’ve been meaning to ask you can ask me in person or via the comment section below!
Until next time.
How To Introduce Dogs When It’s Cold Outside
I love Chicago. I consider it to be my home, but one thing I could do without are these cold winter months. Especially since I do a lot of work outside when working with clients and training. It really slows things down and puts a damper on lots of potential activities that you can engage in with your dog. Including, visits to the dog park. Not all dogs are built to be out in these lower temperatures for extended periods of time so trying to find ways to help your dog burn off energy or not to be bored out their mind can be a chore.
Having doggie playdates can be a great way for your dog to have a change in routine, but there’s the possibility of them drumming up some drama if the introduction isn’t done the right way so I present to you…
How to introduce dogs when it’s cold outside.
Ideally, when introducing two dogs that do not know each other, I would want to introduce them outside of the home or in neutral territory and then bring them back in together. There’s more to it, but that’s the general gist of it. But when the weather is in the low single digits and windchill factor is in the negatives, it really doesn’t help to motivate us take our dogs out for a 15 minute stroll to warm up to each other and bring them in.
So how would we go about bringing another dog into the home? Well, that depends on what kind of personality your dog has and whether or not you’ve worked with me.
For those of you who have worked with me in the past, the answer lies in the “Claiming The Door” exercise. The key problem with tension between dogs in the home lies in the natural instinct of territoriality. When dogs hear the doorbell or knock, they automatically go into territorial/suspicion mode and this causes them to be overly assertive and even aggressive when confronting who or what they deem as an intruder.
By utilizing the Door exercise, we are communicating to our dogs, “thanks for letting me know someone is here, but I am in control now.” This simple non-verbal communication allows them to relax and not feel as if the responsibility of protecting the home is on their shoulders. Thus putting them in a more passive and inviting state of mind. Remember that your dog(s) cannot greet the guest or dog coming in until they have crossed over the invisible boundary that is established when backing them up beyond the threshold. If you see any tension or shift in energy in your dog, simply turn to face them, step in, and tap on your remote collar to get them to back off. Always be mindful of their body language and correct anything you feel may be unacceptable.
For those of you who have not trained with me, the above may sound foreign, but fret not, I do have a video giving an explanation of “Claiming The Door.” I also have some footage of this exercise being put into effect that I’ll put together in the near future.
A way to decipher how to bring in a dog that will allow you to bypass the territorial before is to remember that a big part of the problem lies in the initial doorbell or knock. That is what triggers most dog’s instincts so if we just think of how to get around that, you may very well just skip all the drama and get some pooch socialization going in your home in no time! Remember to always error on the side of safety so if you’re unsure of yourself or your dog, don’t be afraid to invest in a properly fit muzzle. Mesh ones are relatively inexpensive, but can only be worn for short periods of time as dogs cannot properly pant with them on. Baskerville or JAFCO muzzles are my go-to choice for dogs that need to wear them extensively.
A really important thing to remember is we always want to have control so if your dog wears a harness. Ditch it. It will only create frustration if they start to pull and we want to avoid that. A well fit prong collar or slip lead placed high on the neck below the jaw line gives us optimum control.
If you live in a unit building with a hallway or stairs, thats all we really need. Take your dog and walk them down stairs or down the hallway past the dog they will be introduced to. Then have the other dog begin to make their way upstairs or down the hallway slowly bringing your dog up behind them giving about 2 – 3 feet between them. This allows us to introduce the dogs in a more natural way and not face to face which can cause a tense stand off. The person in front should keep their dog focused on moving forward and not allow them to get to concerned about the dog behind them.
Ideally, I’d like to do this for a couple of minutes if space permits. After a few minutes you want to reverse roles and have the dog being introduced to the home be behind the dog that does live there so that they are now smelling the other dog. Again, the person in front keeps moving forward and does not allow their dog to be concerned with the dog behind them. This is why having a prong collar or slip lead placed high on the neck is important because it allows us to have immediate control over our dog’s movements. A Gentle Leader collar can also give you control over the head. When you control the head, you control the body.
After you’ve done this you can then bring in both dogs at the same time. You’ll have bypassed the dreaded doorbell/knock that would normally send your dog in a frenzy and have eased them into greeting without the tension. I always like to leave the leashes on for the first 15 minutes just in case I need to step in and give or correction.
For those of you that do not live in a unit building with a hallway or stairs and are in a single family home there is still a way. Thankfully we have cellphones now and can call instead of ringing the doorbell. You will want to have your dog in a far off room with a tv or radio on. You’ll also want them to be set up with whatever leash and collar you’ll be using. Have your guest call instead of ringing the doorbell and let them in. They will keep their dog on a leash.
The tv or radio will have hopefully drowned out the sound of the door opening so that your dog’s territorial behavior isn’t triggered. Go get your dog and try to replicate what I described 4 paragraphs up with the space that you have. It’s very important that the dogs meet nose to butt and not nose to nose. Once one dog has smelled the other, switch roles, and pay attention to their body language keeping an eye out for any tension. When you see tension, both people will move opposite of each other to break the dogs apart and if they haven’t escalated, you can try again with the introduction.
Don’t forget, if you feel you need a muzzle, get a muzzle!
Thank you for your continued support and let me know what topics you’d like covered in the comment section below!