The Globe and Tail ~ A Dog Blog

This blog is an opportunity for me to share anything and everything of value to dog ownership. I have allowed comments for the time being, that may change if it becomes burdensome. If at any time you wish to ask questions or make a suggestion for a topic, I welcome emails to my business address “info AT b3consulting DOT ca”. I look forward to communicating with you all!

Dogs on furniture ~ yay or nay?

I asked our puppy owners for a few photos of their 4-legged family members on the furniture. They didn’t disappoint. *sigh

I received a message from a puppy buyer with a question… “What are your thoughts about dogs on couches?” I thought, rather than just answering her directly, it would make a great blog post. I hope you agree.

Our puppy buyers know a sure way to ‘poke the bear’, is to post photos of their dogs on the furniture. Not everyone allows their dogs on the furniture, but some do, and I’ve come to accept that. Some dogs have cart blanche to everything in the house, while others have their chair, or couch, or place on a bed. Personally, I have enough dog hair and mud on my floors, I certainly don’t want it on my couch, and especially NOT in my bed! Ewwww!  Insert Princess and the Pea story here: a single grain of sand in my bed has me sweeping the sheets.

All that aside, I don’t think folks really understand our perspective. Having dealt with so very many problem dogs over the history of offering dog training classes, and private lessons, the NUMBER ONE common denominator, is pack hierarchy.

Dogs are naturally pack animals. Just because their pack now consists of one or more humans, doesn’t make it less true. If you have an easy going, docile dog, happy to tow the line, you probably wont have any issues. On the other hand, if you have a dog that has a certain level of confidence coupled with dominance, this can be a recipe for disaster.

A wonderful case in point; a student of ours with a beautiful Golden Retriever, (cue the awes) yes, a Golden, full male, between 15-18 months old. We’ll call him Max. His human pack consisted of husband and wife, we’ll call them Rick and Karen.

As a young puppy, Max was coddled and adored, and yes, allowed to sleep in the bed, possibly other furniture as well, I don’t remember. The problem began without notice, Max would quietly grumble when told to get off the bed. They didn’t think much of it at first, but as they tested the now well-established pecking order, they quickly learned that Max would move for Rick, but not for Karen. In fact, as they began training in classes, it was clear that Max thought HE was 2nd in line in the pack.

Karen’s routine was to come home from work, and go into the bedroom to change out of work clothes to comfy clothes. While training in classes, she learned she had to begin to assert herself in the pack order. Max must learn to respect her. They were working on things and gradually Karen grew more confident about getting Max to listen to her.

On this particular day that Karen came home from work, Max was sound asleep on their bed. Karen came into the room, and got undressed, she hadn’t noticed Max in the room. When she noticed him, she used her most authoritative voice to command Max to get off the bed. He growled. She commanded him again, more assertively; Max leaped off the bed, all 100+ pounds of him, and flattened Karen to the floor. Fortunately, Rick was in the house and was able to help her without anyone getting more than a few scratches.

That’s when extra private training began for Max, and he learned about tough love.

Now granted, Max is an EXTREME case. BUT his case illustrates how easily the dog with the right combination of dominance, confidence, AND a “soft” environment can cause him/her to assume pack leadership.

If you wish to let your dog on your furniture, and many do, make sure you incorporate some structure into the agreement between the two of you. If your child wishes to take the space you’re dog is currently occupying, can he or she safely tell the dog to “get off” without argument? Practice it with all members of the family, because no matter how much we love our 4-legged family members, our 2-legged members, regardless of age and size, must always be above the 4’s in the pack hierarchy.

Happy schnuggling!

The Word “Shower”

October 12, 2021

I laughed at Rogue this afternoon. The moment she got out of the shower, she pointed to the treat bag! I thought it was a great idea for a blog post. Hope you enjoy it.

Do your dogs know the word B-A-T-H? And do they run from you when they hear it? Even some of our craziest water dogs are reluctant to get into their shower. But they do it anyway. We don’t bathe often as shampoo and other coat products can actually strip the natural oils and cause other problems. But when needed, there is no getting out of it. As wee pups, they are bathed in our laundry sink, and then as they outgrow that, we put a bench in the downstairs shower stall. Eventually they are tall enough I can work on them at walk-in level. In the transition period between the bench and the voluntary walk-in, there is inevitably the need for a grooming noose; it gives you something to get ahold of while you coax said dog into the shower.

Our dogs don’t get treated for many specific exercises, and I certainly don’t lure them into the shower with a treat either, but they learn in short order the words “good shower” earn them a reward afterwards.

The command “Shower” is spoken multiple times both getting into the shower, and during and even after the bathing process. “Let’s go shower” in a upbeat and confident tone tells the dog what’s about to happen. Ideally the bathroom door should be closed first. 😉 Be prepared before you even speak to the dog. Have your towels handy, and your shampoo and grooming tools at hand so you don’t risk losing the dog scrambling for those things. Once the dog is in the shower, pat and praise the dog for the action, “good shower”. Shampooing, massaging, and chattering with your dog during the entire bath will make the process a positive experience. Afterwards, drying off your dog with a good rough going over, and even a little bit of tug play on the towel, will end things on a good note. As soon as you’ve got the worst of the water off of them, then it’s treat time. “Good Shower” coupled with a favourite treat, instills the word and phrase into the dog’s memory for the next time.

The Second Hand Dog

August 30, 2021

It seems pretty timely for my first blog post to be about getting an “older” dog, or a rescue. When we heard our new-to-us 8 month-old puppy was having a ruff time in her first home, we were excited for the opportunity (this pup is an amazing prospect for our breeding kennel) and anxious at the reason(s) for the re-homing, and the problems we would have to fix once she arrived. She arrived on Saturday, and Ron is working with her several times per day to TRY to fix a multitude of behavioural problems. We are calling her Flirt.

When one decides to “rescue” or receive an older dog/puppy, one does NOT know the exact history of the dog’s life. Almost every single person who comes to Ron’s training classes with a rescue will tell him, “I think he/she has been abused!”. Sometimes that might actually be the case, but YOU DON’T KNOW for sure unless you have mystical powers I would like to possess.
When buying a puppy from a reputable breeder, you have the benefit of knowing the breeder’s bloodlines, the temperament, drives, and stability of nerves of the parents, and for generations beyond that. Ron says every puppy is like an open book; you get to write the story. With an older dog, or even a rescue puppy, you have the book, but the first few to several chapters are smudged and unreadable; you have to guess at the content.
If you’re a seasoned professional, you may be able to rewrite the early pages, picking up a few chapters back, and editing the information in that book. If you’re not, you will be a trainer’s student, like the hundreds, if not thousands, Ron has schooled in the past 40+ years.

There are many reasons people give up a dog or puppy. Anything from “The dog is out of control” such as the case with our new addition Flirt, to “the owner died and the dog needs a new home.” And every other reason in between. The first day Flirt arrived, we met a trucker at 3 AM, drove her home, put her in a kennel, and went back to bed. Later in the morning we fed and watered her and talked to her through the fence. She happily played with the water spray as I cleaned her run from the next kennel over. She was sweet… what could possibly be wrong with her? This can’t be the same dog the owner described as out of control. Well we quickly discovered the cracks in her facade when we tried to put a line on her, or a new collar on her, or control her in any way. Fortunately Ron is strong, and has no fear of teaching consequences for your actions.

The problem with assuming the dog has been abused, or mishandled, is the rescue home has a tendency to baby said dog, and thereby exacerbating the problem or problems. We were told Flirt likes to dominate the pack. The absolute WORST thing we could do with that attitude is to treat her like a baby! She would see the weakness in the pack order and continue to push her weight/teeth around. With several training sessions per day, Ron is challenging her vision of dominance and authority, and laying the foundation of new laws. She WILL be beneath the 2-legged members of the pack, whether they actually live in our domain or not.

Tough Love has to be ruthless to break the bad habits and instill respect for pack leadership, then it MUST BE followed up with new acceptable behaviour which is rewarded with love and praise. Whether your rescue is a 5 pound teacup-this or a 200 pound king-that, the dynamics have the same root at the base of the problem. You can try baiting or bribing the behaviour away, but the end result will be fragile at best.

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