Written by myself and NK9
Let sleeping dogs lie...
We have all heard this saying but are our dogs really getting enough sleep, just like us if there not getting enough sleep this can affect behaviour.
Puppies need around 18-20 hours’ sleep which decreases into adolescence and adults need around 12-14 hours in a 24-hour period.
As owners we need to ensure that our dogs are getting enough sleep and good quality sleep with no disturbances.
We need to consider:
• The temperature is it too cold or is it too hot that can have an impact on the dog sleeping if we were cold we wouldn’t sleep properly
• The type of bed they have – if it isn’t comfortable we want to make sure that the bed fits the dog and they have space to lay how they would like to comfortably
• We want sleeping area to be away from distractions that could be noises from the environment outside or how light the room is during the summer as this can disturb sleep
If dogs need to go out for the toilet in the night, then it needs to be as fuss free as possible with little interactions just to the toilet and back to bed not engaging in play or fuss as this can make it more difficult for them to get back to sleep.
Disturbed or little sleep can impact on behaviour and manifest into behavioural issues just like us they can become agitated and feel exhausted if they can’t get enough rest. Rest is also important for recovery and regeneration of cells just like us humans so it is key to ensure they get enough down time.
Consider how we could make our dogs sleeping area better- it might be something as simple as a putting a blanket over a cage to make an area more cosy and block out some light or a breeze that could disturb sleep.
Consider whether your disturbing them or whether they are able to sleep in peace. Are family members or even other Dogs within the home allowing the puppy or Dog to sleep?
Consider how much they sleep? How often do you try to create a sleep routine for your Dog or puppy? Do you try to ensure a calm setting for sleep?
When behaviour is unwanted or you find that your experiencing difficulty with behaviour. Consider sleep. Sleep is a key factor in Holistic care for your Dog as well as diet, health and general wellbeing and plays a big role in their behaviour needs.
Written by myself and NK9 Dog Training & Behaviour Specialist
Behaviour Training Methods Using Muzzles
Every dog owner has their own opinions on muzzles in most cases the main reason people develop a negative opinion is because they associate a muzzled dog with aggressive behaviour and a dangerous dog.
This however isn’t always the case...
Muzzles have many uses and yes they can be used in case of aggressive behaviours. However they are also the safeguard for you and your Dog.
Whether the Dog is aggressive or nervous, the muzzle protects your Dog from being able to bite another Dog or person when put over threshold. This is the difference between headbutting or scratching another Dog or person to a bite or much worse. Not saying that headbutting or scratching is OK but this is the best outcome of a bad situation.
Yes a Dog who is capable of biting shouldn't be able to do this however this has to be applied in a context. There will always be off lead dogs and there will always be that guy who's not afraid because his dad's uncle down the pub had German Shepherds and isn't afraid of your Dog saying "no"
I actually salute people who use a muzzle. This means they are taking steps to safeguard their Dog other Dogs and people. They are helping their Dog in not building a bite history and definitely not reinforcing biting behaviours. These people will also be the people investing their time, money and emotions into Dog Training or Behaviour Modifications.
Muzzles may also need to be used because the Dog is a forager. As Professionals being inclusive of an Holistic approach we are guilty of encouraging sniffing for mental enrichment and allowing natural behaviours. But what about the Dogs who snaffle everything up, what about the owner who isn't fast enough to wrestle the Dog and have them spit the item out, or when the Dog refused to drop the item. How about the Dog who's off the lead and simply an opportunist and the Owner didn't see the Dog consume something harmful or poisonous. I'm not saying this is OK but Dogs and humans alike are not perfect and a Dog is an opportunist and even the best behaved Dogs can make an err in judgment and be a Dog.
Muzzles aren't bad. Muzzles are not cruel when used correctly and Muzzles aren't designed to have the Dog labelled as a menace to society.
The use of a dog muzzle should always start with positive training.
There are steps that should be implemented for the use of a muzzle it’s not a simple as just putting it on, this can cause distress and anxiety and often make behaviour worse instead of better.
• Muzzles can also be used to help with desensitisation processes such as the vets, groomers as some dogs snap when having nails clipped, being brushed, or being vaccinated. Not all Vets work within a No Fear approach and not all Vets are comfortable around Dogs not want to risk being bitten. Dogs can also bite when in pain which is why Canine First Aiders have a make shift muzzle within their First Aid Kit.
• Muzzling an aggressive dog can be a good management solution in a particular situation, but a muzzle should not be used as a substitute for behaviour modification you should always seek help to change the behaviour.
It is NOT appropriate to use a muzzle to prevent a dog from barking, or to reduce destructive behaviour (e.g. chewing). These along with other stress-related behaviours need the underlying motivations to be addressed.
It is NOT appropriate in Training or Modification to Muzzle a Dog around other known or unknown Dogs off lead be it the Dog within the Muzzle or the other Dogs. This is not Training or Behaviour modification. This can be terrifying for the Dog muzzled and also leave them very vulnerable and cause detrimental damage. Training a Dog muzzled should always be where the Dog has space, distance and their handler with them. Never to be allowed to be cornered or attacked by unmuzzled Dogs.
There are many positives to muzzle training and something that should be trained from a young age where possible as you never know when you might need to use one. In some cases, it can just be for peace of mind when working on certain problems.
In some Countries it is mandatory that all Dogs are muzzled regardless of how well behaved they are.
Muzzles aren't the enemy and the stigma should be ended with them. Muzzles have so many benefits when used properly and kindly.
There are some brilliant Muzzle friendly groups on Facebook such as Muzzle Up Pup and Muzzles also don't need to be a generic I'll fitting muzzle causing an uncomfortable feeling to your Dog.
Tasha has partnered with Bumas to help you not only have a custom made Muzzle which is unique to the measurements of your Dog but you can also choose your own colours too. This is to ensure that you have access to a well fitting perfect Muzzle fit for the full comfort of your Dog.
Let's end the stigma around Muzzles. Remember if someone is walking a Dog with a Muzzle you don't know the Dogs story and maybe smile at the handler too. Show some support for their great investment in their beloved friend!
Why you shouldn't ask Dr. Google or Dr. Facebook
Anyone who's been to School, college or University will remember this well. "Don't you dare use Wikipedia for your homework!"
Because Wikipedia is written by anyone and everyone with an opinion. An opinion is not fact and can also be dangerous.
Wikipedia is not fact checked or regulated just like the Dog Training industry.
Anyone can claim to have years of experience without ever even having owned a Dog of their own or training their mates Dogs.
Its hard to prove how long someone really has been in Business unless you pain stakingly spend time going through all their photos on their page and checking the date stamps.
Many people set up as either Dog Trainers or Behaviourists with no experience or qualifications or incomplete or incorrect qualifications.
This leaves many people frustrated and upset when they have spent hard earned money and got no results or their Dogs behaviour has worsened.
People may well be well meaning and people on Facebook or Google may also be well meaning however you pay for what you get.
Does your Dog deserve that or do they deserve better?
Lots of people get cross GPs refer to a book to check on prescriptions before prescribing however a GP cannot possibly retain every single drug and their side effects and combinations in one brain. Hence fact checking.
This is very similar for Qualified Dog Trainers and Behaviourists which is why it is vital they not only continue CPD but are also happy to show this to Clients as well as their original qualifications they claim to have.
The Industry is changing and many Dog Trainers and Behaviourists seek affiliation and accreditation from organisations to be held accountable and genuine through a panel of their peers and more qualified persons.
The main one being now the Dog Training and Behaviour charter. If your Dog Trainer or Behaviourist is with the Charter you know that they have been rigourosly checked and interviewed to be able to be on the charter.
This is vital for your knowledge and comfort for your Dog to guarantee force free up to date knowledge and an individual who accepts that they too are always learning.
Facebook and Google can't give a diagnosis, nor can well meaning people. But qualified and accredited individuals can.
It maybe costly but there is the guarantee of the service your recieveing and a safety in the knowledge of who your working with.
Co written by myself and NK9 Dog Training & Behaviour Specialist
When experiencing frustrations with Dog Training or the behaviour of Dogs. People quickly begin to apply human emotions to Dogs and blame the Dog and express that the Dog is trying to embarrass them or that they are being stubborn.
When Dogs act out in human opinion they aren't acting out they are communicating that they aren't OK with something or expressing normal Dog behaviour.
This could be for example that the Dog has urinated indoors when the owner has left to spite them. This isn't the case, the reality is the Dog either simply needed the toilet or there wasn't consideration for the Dogs needs to go to the toilet prior to being left or they are frightened and had an accident, in some cases it can also be a sign of ill health such as a UTI.
Another example and the most common is Dogs who are reactive to other Dogs. The Dog Isn't trying to embarrass you they are showing that they aren't OK with the distance between them and the other Dog.
The Dog will be communicating with you about how they feel probably before they even walk out the door.
Trigger stacking can begin once the Dog is aware that they are going out. Then this escalates once outside, it could be the wind adding to their anxiety, travelling in a vehicle can add to anxiety, the type of tools your using to walk the dog, whether or not your engaging with the Dog or your phone.
Have you noticed the ears changed, the tense body language, the tucked tail or even the wagging tail?
Then once the other Dog or even a person is close enough and all of the communication signals have been ignored this is when the behaviour escalates.
This is saying I'm not comfortable and I'm scared. Dogs have no idea that you feel embarrassed because Dogs do not understand the concept of embarrassment. The Dog only cares about their safety and comfortable feeling first.
If you walk the Dog and the day before and the day before and you had the same experiences the Dogs emotional cup is not only full but over flowing.
Not all Dogs want to be friends with other Dogs. Lots of owners assume their Dog needs socialisation but as we have mentioned in other blogs; What is socialisation anyway?
Socialisation isn't about getting your Dog to be friends with other Dogs, socialisation is actually exposing your Dog to the environment and different stimuli and the ability to walk past other Dogs without getting too excited or conversely overwhelmed.
If a Dog doesn't wish to train have you looked at their diet and feeding schedule? Do you even have a feeding schedule or leave food down all day? If you leave food down all day the Dog won't be hungry and when offered food to train they won't be interested as they know the food is readily available in the bowl.
Do you use high value food for Training or Kibble? Using their Kibble is a poor motivator for most Dogs. Do you know if your Dog prefers toys as motivation as a reward over food?
When a child is bullied at school, doesn't want to go outside and play, doesn't want to interact then the parent will try to help to understand what the child is going through and help them in enjoying a better quality of life.
Or if a child wets the bed, steals food, draws on the walls, damages the house or their own toys, or fights another child. The child isn't then labelled as reactive. Again the parent will try to get to the bottom of the situation, the behaviour and improve the quality of life for the child.
When a Dog is struggling they are embarrassing or acting out. But surely a child and a Dog giving the same behaviour is the same just in different contexts of species?
So if we can be kind to one species and understanding and putting lots of measures in place to help then surely we can do this for another species that we also recognise as part of the family?
As Trainers and Behaviourists we here this a lot!
What clients don’t often see is what we have put in to ensure we offer the best possible service, we spend most of our careers doing courses and ongoing CPD. It doesn’t just end at doing a course and then never having to learn anything again. We often can spend a fortune building our skills to bring the best possible service ongoing!
Many Trainers and Behaviourists don't just take a couple of courses and set up shop. Many of us shadow and learn from others mostly through volunteering for years before we are comfortable in going out and Training others. These are the Trainers and Behaviourists you want to employ rather than someone who offers a quick fix or cannot prove their qualifications or experience.
Even once we are set up working alone we are still learning, we still pay for courses which aren't cheap and when accredited we have to do a minimum of hours of Training just to keep our accreditation. Just like Teachers.
As Behaviourists not only is CPD a lot heavier and more expensive but we also read, research and study case studies to continue to keep up to date and deliver the best service possible.
There is no standard way to teach a Dog and their handler as each are unique and individual and what may work for one won't work for another. There is no one size fits all approach.
It is also unethical for us to give advice over the phone or the Internet especially social media unless we are specifically signposting for example to the Vets, Canine Chiropracters, Colleagues etc
Sometimes the answer isn't simple to the behaviour you are seeing or don't like in your Dog there has to be an holistic approach as well as understanding all of the circumstances and we cannot rely on what we are told as we are qualified and trained to see what's going on and we have to observe the dog and their handler and family in order to identify the issue.
Many times we are told that the Dog is aggressive for example and upon meeting the dog this isn't true and for this exact reason this is why we simply can't give out advice over the phone or Internet.
For Dog Trainers and Behaviourists it isn't as simple as doing an hours session and then leaving like a 9-5 job going home and enjoying the evening and the weekend.
For Trainers and Behaviourists it is writing up the day, making notes, discussions with Colleagues, CPD, training our own Dogs and setting up lesson plans. This is time unpaid for that we do. Teachers in schools are still paid for Training days. We do this voluntarily to keep our services and knowledge up to date and there is no Governing body which pays for this.
You wouldn’t go into the hairdressers and ask for them to tell you how to cut and colour your hair and then just walk out, you wouldn’t hire a electrician and just ask them to show you how to fix the problem and not pay. We are no different we offer a service.
There are hidden overheads in which Clients do not see and its not that Trainers don't have shops and therefore can't be seen because the studies, the travel, the phone bills, the accreditations, the fuel, the insurance, the Venues, the stationary and so much more it all adds up. Many Trainers and Behaviourists don't make much of a profit at all or none at all and are lucky to break even.
As Trainers and Behaviourists it’s not always about just the dogs we are often a counsellor and shoulder to cry on! Sometimes we can spend hours and hours trying to find different solutions to problems and we have had sleepless nights to make sure we can help you.
So please bear in mind when wondering why Trainers and Behaviourists appear to be expensive think about this and our running costs to offer you a service.
When working with canine behaviour we often get asked how long will it take and how many sessions?
The reality of that answer is we don’t know every dog is unique for various reasons such as genetics, environment, upbringing, life experiences and breed!
It also depends upon how much you are willing to put in. If you expect the Trainer or Behaviourist to come and work with the dog and you do nothing and don't do homework then you won't make progress. This lack of progress and lack of change in behaviour is not that the Trainer or Behaviourist or even the Dog failed. It simply demonstrates you did not invest the time and energy into your Dog.
There are also some learning roadblockers that we need to consider that can slow down the learning process:
STRESS Has the dog had any changes that could be or is causing stress it might be they have recently been adopted or rehomed, we might as owners be asking too much from them, has something happened that is causing pre-existing stress this could be in relation to genetics or negative life experiences or poor socialisation. Have you moved home. Ended or began a new relationship. Have you had a baby? Has the dog been attacked and you've took them out for yet another walk within the 72 hour decompression period?
MOTIVATION We need to evaluate are we asking too much with too little of a reward, would you work for free? No so the same applies to our dogs. It might be we need to explore and create a hierarchy of rewards for our dog find what they love! We also want to create variety when it comes to treats you wouldn’t want the same sandwich every day. Don’t hold back with the rewards – we want it to be re enforcing and for them to know they have done a good job. Lots of people that they don't want to give the dog treats. Why? Would you expect a reward for work. Did your parents reward you for good school reports, homework completion, chores etc. Your dog is no different. If there is no incentive there for an intelligent being why should they work with you to only be corrected, told off, shouted at or worse. Question your motives for not rewarding your dog. Weight isn't an excuse with either human grade food such as chicken which doesn't contain fat or low fat option treats at pet shops.
HEALTH it is vital we consider a dogs health before implementing behaviour modifications as this can be the cause sometimes for the behaviour. We often advise a full vet check to ensure there are no underlying pain, discomfort, injuries, allergy’s. When looking at a dogs health it is also important to look at nutrition and diet – often what food we are feeding or way of feeding can be influencing their behaviour. This isn't a myth or a fob off. Lots of people follow Karen on Facebook or the media. The most expensive product on the shelf ie Pedigree or Bakers is actually the worst food you can give your Dog. Also research the damage of Grain free food. Big money for pet shops and your wallet but research why the FDA only want Vets to give Grain free food via prescription and not a shelf. If you suspect an allergy only Vets can diagnose this by skin tests which is costly but is mostly covered on Insurance this will determine the true allergen for your dog and it might not be grain at all.
ENVIRONMENT when doing training consider your environment is there a lot going on lots of distractions, smells, guests, family members this can make learning harder for our dogs. This is why it is always good to start training somewhere quiet without distractions and building it up to where there is more going on this is proofing the behaviour! Do you have a multidog household? Is another dog likely to cry or distract the other dog. Is there someone who can occupy the other dog whilst your Training and they are waiting their turn and vice versa?
We need to set our dogs up for success not failure. We need to think like a Dog. Would you succeed in the conditions you have created? Would you have succeeded as a child in these conditions? If not then maybe you should consider these points further and adapt for the success and relationship of your Dog!
We always see the bad, as trainers and pet owners we rarely hear my dogs ace at that and look what they can do!
It’s usually that we have a problem whatever that might be barking, toileting, anxiety it could be anything that is causing upset and distress and often it can become a barrier to our relationship with our dogs.
We should make a stance to focus on one good thing every day our dog has done and praise them for it it doesn’t have to be ground breaking take a step back it could be as simple as been calm when you watch tv or sitting before you put there meal down.
In turn your relationship will be stronger and you will worry less about the bad things you see. We can find bad in everything in humans and item and our dogs but we need to turn the table and focus more on the good!
Like us not all dogs are perfect and we wouldn’t want them to be that’s what makes them unique and special. Implementation of behaviour modification can help with the issues and problems we see but embrace the good points.
When all we do is focus on the bad compare to past dogs we have had or compare to other people's we set them up for failure and we won't enjoy them and they won't enjoy us. You may even notice your dog pushes harder for your attention or affection.
The most commonly seen one is puppies being compared to adolescents or older dogs. It's not fair to compare an adolescent dog to a puppy or an elder dog.
The puppy is still learning about the world and alot of the nice behaviours or easy handling of puppies is because their hormones have not yet developed. Elder dogs have gone through their adolescence and are slowing down, they know boundaries, most will have a good sleep routine and exercise.
Adolescent dogs don't yet have that they are still maturing physically and mentally and they are still learning routines, bonds and trust.
Most dogs rehomed are adolescents because people didn't realise how hard it would be.
But when we work with them rather than against them we can enjoy them. Many Trainers or Behaviourists work with others to improve their Dogs and not just through adolescence. There's no shame in this either.
Natalie has had one to one's with myself and I host others for workshops. We both attend workshops and continue our CPD to learn more.
Theres no shame in needing help and your relationship with your Dog is not a race. We have them for such a short period of time in the grand scheme of things.
Rather than "no", "get down", "time out", "they're trying to embarrass me", "so and so's dog can do x, y, z" every day just enjoy one thing that your Dog does and praise them for it.
As time goes on add another and another and start letting the good and the quirks outweigh what you don't like about them. The dog doesn't choose to live with you but loves you unconditionally for all your faults.
Isn't it time we did the same for them? Go enjoy your Dog! 🐾
Brilliant classes again today and was a huge honour and pleasure to have PocoDogs Debby Lucken and Winnie with us too for Tricks it's so nice being able to work with colleagues and of course the lovely feedback from Debby too 💜
Online classes are a great way to learn and to be able to control your own environment too.
Due to the lockdown and risk assessments for in person classes at the end of the month I do not feel it would be safe to return until mid September. This isn't only due to the social distancing, one way system and dogs having to be kept on lead at all times and the new protocols that need to be in place. But the venues and I do not feel it would be safe to return yet and to be able to produce a one way system or sufficient social distancing. As well as this Orby Hall also will not be opening their doors until mid September depending on whether there are any more lockdown restrictions. On top of this opening at the end of July for classes would not be possible if it was lockdown or not due to the inevitable extremes of heat we endure throughout August and sometimes the first couple of weeks through September so for this reason in person classes will not be returning until September and I'll post updates as necessary closer to the time. This is for yours and your Dogs safety rather than keep waiting to see what temps are on Classes days and those of you who have worked with me through the summer months before know that I constantly cancel classes through the summer.
Online classes are on Saturdays 4pm for Obedience and 5pm Tricks
Sundays 6pm is Parkour
Online classes help with not just controlling your own environment but also your Dogs comfort and temperature as well as being able to work without distraction. Online classes have been a huge success in the only way that we have been able to teach throughout the lockdown and a lot of fun.
If your interested please either message myself or NK9 Dog Training & Behaviour Specialist
Adolescent Dogs or Teenage Dogs can be hard work.
Speaking to Natalie from NK9 Dog Training & Behaviour Specialist and Ruby from World Online Dog Show (Ruby, Betsy and Milo too) recently and both was saying how it's a struggle raising an adolescent Dog and how you go from having a super puppy who seems exceptionally talented to having a complete unpredictable lunatic pup on your hands.
I have three adolescent dogs and those who work with me know that I talk about adolescents all the time and how the wonderful puppy will soon give behaviours you might not want or are shocked by and the relationship can become strained.
People get upset that their puppy changes in their behaviour and show different behaviours which can be difficult to manage or come as a complete shock.
Some people even compare their adolescent dog to puppies or much older dogs in their Dogs competency and behaviour or Training abilities. I always explain this is an unfair comparison and it wasn't so long ago the owner of the adolescent dream was the smug puppy owner.
Adolescents don't have to be nightmares they can be a dream. For me adolescents and their behaviour teaches us so much. They teach us patience and acceptance. They make us more alert and less complacent, they help us to become better handlers. They teach us about management skills, they teach us to be aware of their communications their sleep deprivation, their arousal and frustration levels. Their fears and their joys as well as their interests in the world.
Puppies tend to be easier to train as the world is scary and staying close to us provides an unspoken safety. As adolescence comes so does courage and curiously and hormones and new fears and development and maturity.
Some days you might have a training plan in mind and your adolescent might have other ideas. That's OK. They might be communicating that they are over tired, over aroused, frustrated, uncomfortable or just having a bad day. We all feel like this from time to time and that's absolutely fine.
When humans struggle we say self care, take a break, you deserve a rest, go relax.
With dogs we don't we want to push through it and without humanising them we need to understand they have their own needs and agendas. They have their own personality and emotions.
My guys had an off day the other day and we worked on boundaries and settling and encouraging much needed sleep instead of winding eachother up, stealing each others toys for attention from one another or grabbing each others legs to get another to play who wasn't interested.
You can also work on things like snuffle mats, Kongs, puzzle games, freework, play with flirt poles or tug toys, paddling pool games or even ball pool pit games. Or you can just cuddle and enjoy your dog.
Dogs aren't in this rat race humans are in and dogs have a totally different view and focus of the world. When humans are teenagers human teenagers aren't particularly fun to be around or wanting to follow rules. They push boundaries, can be rude, slam doors and blast out the music.
When Dogs are being adolescents and giving adolescent behaviour this is completely natural and normal they are slamming the door and blasting out the music.
Its up to us how we handle them and what we put in place for them to get through these times and when we do this we have a much more harmonious and enjoyable relationship with them. This video is the day after a full on adolescent day. Great things can happen when we can work with them rather than against them. They enjoy it more and we enjoy it more too.
Adolescence is temporary and some days may feel really hard but it's about what we put in place during these days to help them. But adolescents also teach us and make us better and that is a gift in itself 💜