Written by myself and Miyagis Dog Training and Behaviourist Services 🐾
We get asked a lot about what harnesses we recommend and why!
Harnesses are always my favourite choice for walking a dog. Attaching your lead to a collar puts unnecessary tension on the neck which, especially for little dogs, can lead to health problems like a collapsed trachea. A harness evenly distributes weight across your dog’s chest, whereas a collar does not.
Safety is, of course, the number-one reason to use a harness—using a collar can restrict breathing and damage the tissues in a dog’s neck if they pull too hard—in addition to your dog’s comfort, education (obedience training), and mobility.
Harnesses are not a cure all but when you are taught to use a harness correctly and loose lead walking then a harness will be the best piece of equipment that you can purchase to help your Dog.
But it is vital that you purchase a Y Front Harness as this does not restrict the shoulder movement. Harnesses which restrict movement go across the chest and this can cause damage to the Dogs chest and this will not aid in managing a Dog which pulls.
Y Front Harness are available from TrueLove, Ruffwear, Perfect Fit and many more companies as well as Ttouch specialist harnesses for Dogs who are having Ttouch therapy.
However a Y Front Harness can only be successful when used in conjunction with a double clip lead and proper Training in how to use the Harness and how to fit it correctly too.
Harnesses have all these advantages:
• They offer better control on walks and make it easier to manage your dog on a lead.
• They discourage pulling by redirecting your dog.
• As most harnesses have a handle on the back, they allow owners to assist dogs who need a little help standing up, getting into cars or crossing barriers on walks.
• If your dog has a habit of backing out of their collar, a harness can be a literal life-saver.
• Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds like pugs and frenchies sometimes have trouble with collars that put pressure on their necks. A harness can help redistribute this pressure, making it easier for them to breathe.
I always use these harnesses as they have two points of connection for the lead. Make sure that the straps are adjusted to give a snug fit but still allow you to fit the width of two fingers between them and your dog’s body. An ill-fitting harness will not only make your dog very uncomfortable, but it will also make training more difficult. Signs of a poor fitting harness include:
• Fur loss or chafing around the harness area.
• Your dog is able to wriggle free.
• Your dog is strongly resisting walking.
• The back piece of the harness is rotating from side to side.
Harness - https://amzn.to/2TQ8wEt
Do you know what type of Spay your vet has performed for your bitch? The Ovariohysterectomy removes the uterus which is why Vets push and encourage for a female Dog to be spayed. The overiectomy leaves the uterus intact.
These girls were fine until Belle was spayed and suffered from an infection and hernia from the uterus remaining intact.
When Dotty was spayed the girls suddenly began to fight. Which has led to them living separately within the home and garden and injuries to both the Dogs and the Owners.
Belle is also now booked in to see a Canine Chiropractor as I identified she is in pain in her lower back and hip area. The owner spoke to the Vets about this and gave them a leaflet for hydrotherapy which is great but a Canine Chiropractor maybe able to identify the specific cause and support Belle further for either Veterinary treatment or further Holistic care either Hydrotherapy or further chiropractic care or canine massage. Depending on the extent of the damage found.
Whenever Dotty approaches Belle, Belle becomes very uncomfortable and snaps at all Dogs who sniff her rear. She also becomes tense, trembles, shows whale eye and lip licks as well as huffing when she feels that Dotty might come too close.
Dotty is a really playful youngster she's also bigger than Belle too which is understandable as to why Belle is frightened and uncomfortable.
So today we got to working on leads in the garden to make sure Belle felt safe and knew Dotty wasn't able to bounce on her. Using lots of positive reinforcment and praise and encouragement she did really well and Dotty became respectful of a distance from Belle.
When there is a sudden behaviour change please please explore the potential cause. A recent surgery, Spay or neuter, injury, pain, illness, change in the home or environment.
There are lots of reasons a Dog may suddenly change their behaviour. This doesn't mean that they are a write off as Belles owners were told or that the behaviour can't be changed.
It simply means that the communication from the Dog has to be observed, listened to and actioned to help them.
Dogs tell us so much and we have a duty of care to listen.
Really looking forward to seeing their progress with the homework and the results from the Canine Chiropractor to help Belle be the Dog she was not so long ago and live a stress and pain free life 🐾
Written by myself and NK9 Dog Training & Behaviour Specialist
Based on a personal favourite quote from Mary Hunter founder of Portl Behavior Explorer
Firstly what is shaping, well shaping is the process by which you can gradually teach your dog a new action or behaviour by rewarding them during each step of the process while learning that behaviour of choice. In this way, you can break up a potentially complicated action into smaller parts that your dog will learn and understand more quickly.
Shaping should only be done in short repetitions, training a dog for too long with shaping can.be exhausting for them mentally and training should not be for more than a few minutes a session.
Through repetition you will be successful in shaping and by doing this in short bursts this will be more manageable and easier for the Dog to learn.
Shaping is a brilliant teaching tool and you may find you shape several behaviours to reach the finished behaviour.
So we are watching our dogs very closely for them offering behaviours that will lead to the reward as we shape the desired behaviour, but we also need to consider that this goes two ways! Why?! Because our dogs are also watching our behaviour and shaping us at the same time, have we ever considered it is a two way road?
They are watching for when we reward whether that be a click or a marker word and they shape us to get a response, human gives food if I do this so I will do it more!
So the next time we are shaping a behaviour think how our dogs are also shaping us as trainers they teach us what works best and how fast we need to reward to shape effectively.
Rushing behaviours will only set us up for failure and more importantly the dog. Take it slow. Enjoy the training and watch your Dog become more eager to train.
Shaping teaches us to be far better handlers, we can adapt the way in which we teach and become stronger and more vigilante handlers resulting in far better teaching to our Dogs 🐾
Working with the beautiful Cracker today.
Cracker struggles with personal space since being attacked by another Dog. Whilst building her behavioural background her owner said she had no bite history and she doesn't hurt other dogs when she has entangled with them but she does rugby tackle them to the ground.
Cracker has made amazing progress and then unfortunately Lockdown happened. Crackers owner normally walks her at 7am as a rule. And said that it was like suddenly everyone had found their Dogs lead.
This made Crackers walks much harder and knocked her Owners confidence.
Cracker has been off lead around other Dogs in class and was a star. Played nicely with the other Dogs no problems and then lockdown.
This is her second session since lockdown and today the old cracker was back. Lots of off lead dogs came charging up to her and everytime she fell back and checked in with her owner.
She also played ball off lead when it was quiet and had a lovely time. Another loose dog appeared and she came back to her owner and stayed by her side.
Lockdown has knocked alot of people's confidence. Your not alone. Many people feel low about the progression they had made to only being allowed out once per day and either flooding of socialisation or none at all.
There doesn't seem to have been a happy medium for many. If you have experienced a blow of confidence during lockdown. Your not alone and just like Cracker you can get back on track. All is not lost 🐾
Side note: if you see another Dog on a walk out of courtesy please recall your Dog and if you don't trust your Dog to leave the other Dog then please just clip a lead on whilst they pass. For Dogs like Cracker this has been a life changer. Owners feel deflated, anxious and stressed when this happens and its not fair to anyone involved. Let's just be a little kinder and respectful of others 🐾
For the last 18 months I've had the pleasure of mentoring Natalie. I help lots of Trainers and have guided them and its a big deal to be the person that Colleagues come to for help, advice and guidance.
Mentoring is a huge responsibility. It takes time, patience, effort, respect, boundaries and most importantly the ability to teach.
Mentoring is much like Dog Training. When we purchase or adopt a Dog we are agreeing to an unwritten contract in that we will nurture this life, keep them safe, build trust and teach them (obviously love for Dogs too, its weird to tell colleagues you love them 😂).
When mentoring someone it's not about ego or you know better. Mentoring is guiding someone and helping them to learn and to nurture them. It's helping them to do better, learn from your own mistakes and share knowledge and information.
To be there to help them with their own cases and to guide them. To teach them how to train and work with people and their Dogs.
Natalie has come so far on her journey already and much like Training a Dog I've been there for her during her fears, doubts, tears, joy, excitement and frustrations.
I came into Natalie's life when she was lost and she couldn't see her way through to a clearing much like working with Dog owners.
Natalie has come so far and she's not just made progress but she's jumped hurdle after hurdle and she's getting to where she wants to be. We have another tough two years ahead as she embarks on the next part of her journey but I'll be there with her every step of the way.
The best thing about mentoring Natalie is her confidence has boomed, she had so many doubts and fears and she's awesome.
When we work with Dogs and their owners it's just like working with a colleague we want to see them succeed.
So much like mentoring we have to be a teacher to our Dogs, we have to teach them and show them how to do tasks, we have to help them to where they want to be.
For a Dog this could be meeting their genetic needs, solving their Reactivity or Separation Anxiety, teaching them the environment isn't so scary.
Dog Training and people training isn't about ego, it's about supporting the Dog and the people to be where they need to be. It's not about bragging and outdoing others, your journey with your own Dog is yours don't covet someone else's training with their Dog, focus on your Dog.
The same way I'm only talking about Natalie and not others I help, because it's not about ego or pointing out who I help it's about using this scenario as an example of how to teach and our responsibilities.
This is also about Natalie as I want to congratulate her on her recent accomplishments, of her Approved Dog Trainer Status with Into Dogs and ICAN which I know was terrifying for her. But she's done it as I knew she would. To congratulate her on her approved Dog Trainer status with Dog Training College and her Level 5! Her recent accomplishments with her own Dogs which I won't share as I feel that's Natalie's personal information.
Training people and Dogs isn't about ego it's about lifting others up be it a person or Dog and being in there corner.
In our community group we congratulate people on their accomplishments too. We don't need to but it's a nice thing to do to show that person recognition of what they have achieved. It costs nothing to be kind and make someone feel good. When you big up your Dog they feel good too!
Remember don't care about what someone else is doing be it owner or Colleague or competitor stay in your own lane. Make waves in your own lane. Enjoy your own Dog and focus on your own relationships and once again congratulations Natalie 🐾