Month: October 2016

What Type Of Collar is Best For My Pup?

What Type Of Collar is Best For My Pup?

Dog ownership is a beautiful thing; the way that it completely transforms a person.


If I’m out in public at a pet store, and through conversation, someone finds out I’m a dog trainer, I can’t tell you how cute it is to see the most serious person melt right in front of me while they talk about their dog!


Dogs have a way of bringing so much joy into our lives, easing the stress of the outside world.


It comes as no surprise, then, if you’re reading this right now, then it’s no doubt you want the best nutrition, toys, coaching, and even style for your pup—just as if you were raising a child.


As silly as it may seem, this clarity of purpose is even extended to something seemingly simple as a dog collar!


With all of the different types of collars out there, dog owners often ask me the question,


“What kind of collar is the very best to use for my dog?”


While the answer to this question does differ from dog to dog and owner to owner, I think it’s important to discuss that there are collars I recommend for training purposes and collars I advise you to stay FAR away from.


What type of collar should you use?


There are a variety of collars that you can purchase to serve a number of purposes.


However, out of the four options I’m about to describe, I recommend sticking with one of the first two:


Simple Collar

simple collar

The simple collar is the most common collar you will see on dogs. It’s flat and connects with a clip or buckle.


For many people, I recommend that they start with this collar for their puppy. If your pup has no issues walking on leash and isn’t pulling, you can continue to use the simple collar.


Martingale/Check Chain Collar

What Type Of Collar is Best For My Pup?

Despite the simplicity of the standard collar, the martingale/check chain collar is definitely my favorite collar.


Why? Well first off, it is an amazing training tool.


This style of collar was designed so that your pup isn’t able to slip out of the collar—without choking or physically harming your dog.


How it works is that when your dog pulls on the leash, the collar gently tightens around the neck, which is a great ‘training wheel’ so to speak, when beginning to train a dog to walk on a loose leash.


From this point, once I tell people that this is my favorite type of collar, they often ask: “What is your favorite brand of dog collars?”.


For me, that is hands down Dream n’ Design, a growing company based out of Southern California who specializes in handmade check chain collars.

Dream n' design

The reason I love Dream n’ Design so much is because not only are their collars handmade to the highest quality seen on the market, but as you can see below, they’re also absolutely gorgeous!


For all of you dog fashionista’s out there, Dream n’ Design is constantly releasing new collections of stunning lines of collars; I have received nothing but raving reviews from all of my clients whom I’ve referred to these guys!


To top it off, as your dog becomes a better loose leash walker, and your collar becomes less of a training tool, a check chain collar from Dream n’ Design will simply become a style statement 😉

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 6.38.48 PM

All joking aside, let’s move on to the two distinctions of collars that I strongly suggest you stay away from:


Choke Collar


I DO NOT recommend the choke collar for a number of very serious health reasons.


Choke collars can be very harmful to a dog if used incorrectly, which in most cases it is.


What happens most of the time is that when using a choke collar, people pull way too hard on the leash and cause serious problems with their dog’s health.


The use of choke collars has been associated with whiplash, fainting, spinal cord injuries leading to paralysis, crushing of the trachea, dislocated neck bones, and even brain damage.


The bottom line is that dogs will respond much better to a gentle tug on a normal collar rather than a choke. Stay away from these ones.


Prong Collar


I personally do not recommend prong collars. Aside from the obvious health concerns, I don’t believe that pinching your puppy is the right way to teach him how to walk on a leash.


The obvious health concern is that the metal spikes of prong collars pinch the skin around dogs’ necks when they pull and can scratch or puncture them.


Over time, this can cause dogs to develop scar tissue, and hence build up a tolerance to the painful pinching feeling.


Therefore, you’re left with a dog that continues to pull, and no way to ‘pinch’ him into stopping; making loose leash walking even more difficult.


Prong collars are also not always effective, and often times the dog will associate the negative pinching feeling with other things around him, such as another dog or animal, which may cause them to be fearful and aggressive


The obvious truth is that choke and prong collars are designed to punish dogs for pulling by inflicting pain and discomfort.


They can cause serious physical and emotional damage to dogs, which is why, in my opinion, they should never be used.


Whether or not you agree with my opinion, with plenty of other great collars available that can safely advance your training needs, there is really no need for the choke or prong collar.

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Are You Making These 5 Detrimental Dog Training Mistakes?

Are You Making These 5 Detrimental Dog Training Mistakes?

Whether you’re just starting to train your dog, or you’re looking for more expert advice to speed up the process, there’s a few crucial mistakes, that, if avoided, can drastically speed up the training process.


Without further delay..


Here are 5 very common training mistakes that you absolutely want to avoid at ALL costs:


1. Repeating A Command More Than Once


This is the most common mistake among dog owners. I can guarantee you that every dog owner has been at fault of this without even realizing it!


Let’s say you are trying to get your dog to sit—you tell him “sit” and he doesn’t sit.


So what do you do?


Most dog owners will continue to say “sit” until the dog sits. Without even knowing it, you might have told your dog “sit” three times before he actually sat.


However, you should really only command your dog ONE TIME to 'sit', 'stay', etc. This is absolutely crucial.


One of the largest hurdles you must overcome in training your dog is developing a relationship to the point where he understands that YOU are the pack leader, not him, and he needs to listen to you.


If you say “sit” three times before your puppy finally sits, he will think that he doesn’t have to do what you ask until you tell him three times.


Again, you want your dog to sit (or listen to any command you say) after commanding him only ONCE. 


Does a well-trained dog...


Come after his owner commands him to come five times? Or does he come after being called just once?


You want your dog to listen to you immediately, so make sure that in training and practicing commands, you enforce this rule of only saying the command one time.


If your dog does not listen to your command after the first time, or gets distracted, try using his name or the “kissy sound’ to re-focus his attention back to you while using the hand gesture for that specific command.


2. Inconsistency 

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Consistency is KEY in EVERY single area of training your dog. Whether it be command training, potty training, working through behavioral issues, etc. being consistent is the most important thing to remember.


Let me give some examples of why consistency is mandatory in each of these areas...


Command training:


With command training, you must consistently work on teaching your dog the new command—even if it just for ten minutes a day.


You can’t expect your dog to master something unless you are consistent with working on the skill with your dog.


NOTE: Remember that dogs learn new skills at different speeds, but as long as you are consistent your dog WILL learn!


Potty Training:


If you want to potty train your pup as quick as possible, you must be consistent with taking your dog outside when potty training him/her.


Potty training can be frustrating, but as long as you are consistently taking your dog outside enough for his needs, he WILL learn that outside is the appropriate place to go potty.


Behavioral Issues:


When working through behavioral issues, it is so important to be consistent with what is appropriate and what is not appropriate behavior.


For example, if you are trying to get your dog to stop jumping up on people, you must tell him “Off” and move your body away from your dog EVERY SINGLE TIME he jumps up on you.


Yes, it will get to be repetitive, and often times you may think it is easier to just let him jump up on you.


However, that one time you let him jump up on you, all the progress you have made with correcting the issue will go right out the window, so it is extremely important to enforce the appropriate behavior consistently!


These are just a few examples of the importance of consistency in training—being consistent in everything that you do with your dog will help your dog to understand quicker, learn faster, and will make the training process much easier.


3. Scolding Your Dog By Using His Name 

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When your puppy squats right in front of you to pee in the house, do you yell “ROVER NO!”?


It is only second nature for us as humans to say our dog’s name when he is misbehaving, but this is a BIG mistake. Your dog’s name should only ever be associated with positivity!


You want your dog to like his name because you will certainly be saying it a lot!


You want your dog to look at you or come to you whenever you say his name—not to run away! For this to happen, your dog must always think that something positive is going to happen when he does look at you or come to you.


If your dog starts to associate his name with being in trouble, why would he want to come to you when you call out his name?


If you have been at fault of this, don’t worry! It is definitely not too late to fix it.


Start saying your dog’s name in a positive tone all the time—at home, on walks, at the park—and reward your dog with a treat, or just simply pets and praise for looking at you or coming to you after saying his name.


4. Only Telling Your Dog “No” After Misbehaving 

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If your puppy is chewing on your shoe, what do you do?


My guess is that you loudly tell him “No!” and take the shoe away. If this is you, don’t worry, you are not alone. When a dog is doing something that he is not supposed to do, most dog owners simply tell their dog “no” and expect the dog to stop.


Well in a dog’s mind, he is thinking: “Why not? Why should I stop?” This is why instead of only telling your dog “no,” you must also redirect him to the appropriate behavior.


If your dog is chewing on your shoe, you can tell him “no,” but then you need to redirect him to what he is able to chew on, such as a chew toy.


Redirection is very, very important in dog training. With any behavior that you don’t want your dog exhibiting, you need to teach your dog what is appropriate to do instead, rather than just telling him “no.”


5. Making Training Anything Other Than What It Should Be.. Fun! 

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Training should never be anything other than a fun experience!


Creating a training environment that your dog enjoys is so incredibly important. If you find something to be confusing and hard, do you have fun doing it? Probably not, and neither will your dog!


The fun part is when you understand and catch onto something and then get rewarded. Dogs are very similar in their motivation by rewards, so the more you reward them for doing the right thing during training, the more they will enjoy training.


Rewarding a dog for doing the correct thing is called positive reinforcement. I am a huge advocate of using only this method, and making training fun for you and your dog!


You, as the owner/trainer must also have fun with training too. It is easy to get frustrated when your dog isn’t catching onto something you are trying to teach him, but it is important to not exert that frustration onto your dog.


Dogs can always sense human feelings, and they feed off of those feelings—good or bad.


If you are frustrated, your dog will know, and this will make training the opposite of fun for your dog. If your dog is getting too confused or you are getting frustrated, move onto the next part of the training session and continue to have fun with it!


So How Do I Apply All Of This Information?


After reading through this entire blog, you might seem a little overwhelmed with how much can actually go wrong when training your dog.. but that’s okay!


Whether you’re planning to get a dog soon, or you’re currently frustrated with some of the mistakes that you’ve already made in training your dog, it’s never too early or late to start making the right choices.


I’ve spent the past several years of my life training and caring for dogs all across the United States.


Out of my extensive experiences (good and bad), I’ve come to develop a wealth of knowledge for what it truly takes to effectively train a dog and develop that lifelong bond that every dog lover DREAMS of.


However, the truth is, when I started volunteering in rescues and working with dogs, I certainly wasn’t an “expert” by any means! In fact, I made a LOT of the beginner mistakes that I just described above!


The point is… nobody starts out as an expert; you’re going to make some mistakes!


No matter how good your intentions are, there’s going to be some times when you accidentally say a command twice, or scold your dog using his name because you’re just so upset!


The important thing is not being perfect, but rather, quickly moving past these little blips and staying consistent!


I know this can be difficult sometimes, which is why I want to personally help you through this learning curve and show you how simple it actually is to effectively raise and train a dog—if you’re equipped with the correct knowledge and tools of course!


To help you along the way, I’ve developed a puppy training program that will give you everything you could possibly need to know about raising and training a new dog.


From step-by-step training tutorials and videos, to behavioral problem solutions, this comprehensive program has all of your most pressing dog questions answered!


Even if you don’t get my program, I still want to help you get the best coaching possible! That's why I'm giving you a free puppy training video and a free puppy training guide, both of which will give you a sneak peek into our training program.


You can also schedule free 20-minute phone consultations directly in my calendar here.


When it comes down to it, my ultimate goal is not to sell you anything; it’s to help you guys out and give you the best chance to shape your best friend into a happy, healthy and well-trained addition to your family!

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How To Manage Your Dog's Separation Anxiety

How To Manage Your Dog's Separation Anxiety

Does your dog cry, bark, howl, or simply just go crazy and be destructive around the house when left alone?


These behaviors listed above could be signs of your dog having separation anxiety. If this is your dog, then don’t worry—you are definitely not alone! 


It just so happens that I have been getting a lot of questions about how to deal with a dog who has separation anxiety lately.


A lot of owners think that their dog has separation anxiety, when in actuality, the behaviors the dog is exhibiting are learned behaviors, and does not truly have separation anxiety. Rather, the dog has learned that if he acts badly, he will get attention.


Therefore, he will bark in the crate, destroy items, whine, etc. just to get the attention that he wants. It is very easy for me, as a behaviorist, to determine if the dog has true separation anxiety, or if the dog is just exhibiting these behaviors for attention.


If your dog truly has separation anxiety, he experiences emotional stress when you leave.


However, owners sometimes mistake their dog’s barking (for attention or to get what he wants), as separation anxiety, when it actually is not.


It is very important to understand the difference between real separation anxiety and learned behaviors because there is a different course of action to take if you are needing to correct your pup’s learned behaviors.


With that in mind, even if your dog shows NO signs of having separation anxiety, this blog will still be incredibly helpful for you to ensure that you are doing everything you can to not feed into any behavior in your dog, that could develop into separation anxiety.


Working through true separation anxiety in dogs is definitely something that takes time but it certainly is possible for a dog to get over his separation anxiety.


What causes separation anxiety in dogs?


In my experience working with dogs, I have found that every case of separation anxiety is unique.


There is typically not one, concrete answer as to what causes the separation anxiety in each individual dog because there are a number of factors that go into the development of separation anxiety, and they vary between every dog.


Factors such as...


What happened to the dog in his past?


How long is he left alone each day?


Was he crate trained properly, so that he associates the crate with positivity?


How does the owner respond to his unwanted behaviors?


Some dogs are inherently more attached to their owners as puppies, and are therefore more prone to developing separation anxiety, while other dogs end up developing it later on in life.


Working through separation anxiety is a process that is unique and different for each dog, depending on the circumstances and behaviors of the dog.


Fully overcoming separation anxiety in your dog will most likely take the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist, but I will give some general advice that can help with the process if you want to try on your own!


Here are 3 frustrating mistakes that dog owners make that can contribute to separation anxiety (or behaviors that may seem like it!):


1. Rewarding Unwanted Behaviors


The most common reason why dogs develop learned behaviors (mistaken as separation anxiety) is typically because of owners who incorrectly reward unwanted behaviors.


In fact, owners often feed into these behaviors in their dogs without even knowing it.


Crazy, right?!


When your dog is crying or whining, do you ever ask him: “Ohhh Rover, what’s the matter?”


When your dog is barking just for attention, do you ever give in and give him the attention he is looking for?


I can almost guarantee that just about every dog owner has been guilty of responding to these behaviors in this way at least a couple times.


What’s wrong with this?


Well, when you respond to these kind of unwanted behaviors, you are telling your dog: “When you whine or bark, you will get my attention.”


When you give them this attention that they’re so desperately asking for (in the form of unwanted behavior), your dog is going to think: “When I whine or continuously bark at mom/dad, I get my way!”


Therefore, your dog will continue this behavior of whining and/or barking because your response to these behaviors is the reward.


I’m going to repeat this point because one really can’t stress it enough… your response to these unwanted behaviors is essentially rewarding your dog for misbehaving, which will only cause it to occur more frequently.


After fully grasping that crucial point, let me offer a suggestion.


Instead of rewarding your dog for exhibiting these unwanted behaviors, reward your dog for wanted behaviors. Well, duh!!!


This sounds very simple, but is SO overlooked by most dog owners!! When your dog is simply sitting calmly next to you and behaving, THIS is when he should be rewarded.


Yes—reward your dog for doing absolutely nothing at all! Positive reinforcement is all about rewarding your dog for the behaviors you want repeated.


Of course, we all want our dogs to sit calmly next to us and have their focus on us all the time. Well, then you must TELL them and REWARD them when they are doing exactly this!


When you reward your dog for being calm and quiet, he will think: “When I am calm and quiet and focused on mom/dad, I get rewarded”, and will continue to practice this behavior. It is as simple as that!


2. Overdoing Hellos And Goodbyes


Another extremely common way that owners feed into their dog’s separation anxiety is by making goodbyes and hellos a big deal.


When you get home, do you ever greet your dog very excitedly saying something like: “HI ROVER! OH HI ROVER! I MISSED YOU SO MUCH!!!!”


I know that you are probably just as excited to see your dog after a long day at work as he is to see you, but making it a huge deal when you are reunited IMMENSELY contributes to a dog’s separation anxiety.


When you make arrivals and departures a grand event, this often creates emotional stress for your dog while you are away.


Therefore, if you want to teach your dog to remain calm and keep his cool, you will have to practice calmness at both of these times.


Acting as though hellos and goodbyes are not a big deal is one of the most important things you can do to work through your dog’s separation anxiety.


Of course, you can still calmly say “hi” to your dog and give him love when you get home, but wait until he is calm and sitting before you do so.

3. Leaving Your Dog Alone In A Poorly Conditioned Environment


Another very important aspect of working through a dog’s separation anxiety is thinking about where you leave your dog when you are gone, and how you introduce that place to your dog.


Do you leave your dog in the crate every day when you are gone for 8 hours at a time?


For many people, the answer is probably yes (which is completely fine, by the way).


What really makes the difference is your answer to my next question:


Is this the only time that you leave your dog in the crate?


Or even more important: the other times that you place your dog in his crate, is it to let him relax, or to punish him?


If you were put in a small room every day for 8 hours at a time, what would you think about the room? Probably like a prison! However, imagine that you were forced to stay in this tiny room every time you made a mistake.. How much more would this make you dread that room?


Now, let’s say that you were put in that same room every day for 8 hours at a time; but instead of your other exposure to that room being for punishment, it was your place to eat delicious meals.


This is the power of operant conditioning, that is, how certain stimuli and specifically, positive reinforcement, can positively impact the emotional state of your dog when he is left alone for long periods of time.

separation anxiety

So what can I do?


By this point, you should grasp the point that how you associate certain spaces (such as their crate) with them while you’re present will greatly impact how they feel when you’re gone.


If the only time that your dog is in his crate is when you leave him in there for 8+ hours, or even worse, when you punish him as well, he is going to associate the crate with nothing but suffering and being abandoned for long periods of time.


You obviously want your dog to like being in the crate and not associate it with the negativity of being alone.


Therefore, if the crate is the big issue, you will need to go back to the basics of crate training, but for now, I will touch on the basics of associating the crate with positivity.


NOTE: If your dog is left in an enclosed space instead of the crate, use the same approach that I am describing, just substitute the enclosed space in for crate.


How do you associate the crate with positivity?


1.  Feed your dog his meals in the crate


Food equals positivity in a dog’s mind (and in ours too, let’s be honest), so associate the crate with meal time and this will help your dog enjoy his crate.


2. Give your dog chewing items in the crate


Antlers, bully sticks, and frozen kongs make great chewing items that dogs love!


Chewing items are a very positive way for dogs to exert their natural need to chew, so chewing items in the crate are an excellent way to keep your dog distracted, and his emotions at bay.


3. Give your dog treats when he is in the crate


Treats are an obvious positive! So be sure to reward your dog when he is in the crate with treats, treats, treats.


4. Give your dog these items of positivity EVERY time he is in the crate!


On top of these quick tips, it is very important that you make your dog understand that the crate does not always equal being alone for long periods.


To prevent this type of anxiety, allow your dog to have breaks inside the crate WHEN YOU ARE HOME in addition to the times that you are gone.


Have your dog spend some time in the crate while you are home so that he isn’t automatically associating the crate with being left alone. 


How in the world does putting my dog in the crate for short periods of time help his anxiety?


It makes your dog realize that just because he is going into his crate and you are leaving, does not mean that you will be gone for 8 hours every time.


For instance, if you start by putting him in the crate for very short periods, such as when you are just going to get the mail, it will slowly condition him to grow comfortable with spending time in the crate.


As he starts to get used to the crate and being left alone for short periods, you can slowly increase the amount of time he is in the crate—when you are running errands, shopping, etc.


Obviously you will still have to go to work and leave him for long periods as well.


However, the idea is that he won’t get himself worked up prior to you leaving and think that you will gone forever, every single time he has to go in the crate.


As one final reminder, separation anxiety is a tricky subject that isn’t nearly as easy to change as say jumping on people or even destructive chewing.


It’s a long process that some owners need to work on over the entire span of their dog’s life!


Don’t let that discourage you though, as I’ve equipped you with the best of the best, the knowledge and techniques that I use every day with my own clients.


If you ever feel lost along the way, I offer E-Training sessions via skype/facetime, where we can dig into the nitty gritty details of what you’re experiencing with your dog, and work on correcting these behaviors.


Or, if you have a couple quick questions, feel free to schedule a free 20 minute consultation directly in my schedule here, I’d love to help you out!


Either way, whether or not you need extra help, I know that I’ve given you a TON of tools today, so take the time to re-read this blog as needed, and take notes on some of the tactics that you want to apply with your own dog. Good luck!

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