Thursday, June 17, 2010

Doggy Tips

Just a couple more things I've learned about rehabilitating dogs in the last few days. These tips come from a combination of reading Cesar Millan's Cesar's Way, watching the Dog Whisperer, and experiencing things that work and things that don't with Pixel.

- Never share affection with a dog that is in an unstable state of mind. This includes saying things like "It's okay", "It's alright", or touching of any kind (petting, patting the head, etc.) When you do, it reinforces the unstable state of mind. Always wait till they are not fixated on something, not practicing avoidance, and acting calm.

- When sharing affection with a dog that is being rehabilitated, always pet underneath not on top. Petting the top of a dog's head pushes them down and tells their brain to hold their head down (reinforcing low self esteem). Petting under the chin or on the neck or even on the side or belly tells their brain to lift the head, be proud, be confident (raiding their self esteem)

- When leaving the house for walks, always leave the house first; in front of the dog. And never leave the house if the dog is excited or anxious. Wait until she is calm to leave.

- When getting ready to leave for walks, avoid using an excited tone of voice ("ARE YOU READY FOR A WALK?!") This will be counter-productive to waiting until the dog is calm to leave the house.

- When out for walks if you have your dog sit at crosswalks (personal choice really), it isn't necessary to say "Come on" or "Okay" or "Let's go". Just go. Cesar explains this by saying in the wild dogs' pack leaders don't use verbal indications of what they want the pack to do, they just lead and the pack follows. Your dog will know what to do when you start walking after you've stopped, because you are the pack leader and they are your pack.

- When you are rehabilitating a dog, using Cesar's "No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact" works like MAGIC when the dog is in an unstable state of mind. While it is in our nature to comfort, console, reassure another person/animal in distress or afraid (by looking at them, talking to them, even hugging or petting in this case), if you do this to a dog who isn't in the right frame of mind, you are reinforcing their fear/aggression/instability.

- When training a dog to come when called in the house, only call once then if they don't come, go get them with leash in hand. Gently put the leash on and lead them where you would like them to go. Over time this will tell the dog: "I better go, because she's going to come get me anyway." Eventually you won't need the leash and the dog will just come when called.

- When training a dog to follow you or come to you outside (especially if he tends to run away from you when you release the leash), Cesar uses this simple method:
Walk with the dog on the leash in one hand. Reach a point where you drop the leash, turn around and walk the opposite direction and once you get a good distance stop and wait. The dog will then realize that he isn't running away from you, you're moving away from him. He will then come back to you. It may not happen right away, but doing this over and over will tell the dog's brain that he belongs with you because you are the pack leader!

That's all for now! Stay tuned for more tips!


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