How Should A Dog's Collar Fit?
After having a large dog on a flexi-leash AND harness (sigh) charge at me, my dogs, and baby today while out for our morning walk - I decided it was time to write a post on the importance of using the right tools and the correct fit for your dog.
1. Harnesses were designed for working animals to pull.
Even if your harness pulls from the side, front, or back, you're only communicating with the dog's body, not the dog's brain. It does not give you the opportunity to direct or lead. We need to stop worrying about the possibility of hurting our dog's necks and figure out why the dog is pulling so hard on the leash, instead of simply giving in to it.
2. Absolutely no dog should be walked on a flexi-leash.
Watching the owner today have no control of his dog was a perfect example. He was trying to reel his dog back, but the dog kept getting further and further away from him. There is no reason why your dog needs to be 15 feet ahead of you (or ahead of you at all) on a leashed walk. If you are practicing recall or scent training etc, get yourself a proper long line (one that won't cut or strangle your fingers if you need to pull it back).
3. The fit of your dog's collar is very important.
A collar or training collar should fit fairly snug and high up - right behind the ears. This gives the handler the ability to lead and takes the power away from the dog's powerful neck and body. If the collar is sitting down low at your dog's chest or shoulders, you're then harnessing the power and weight of the dog, which gives you no control when you need it. I find that slip leashes work great for this. It's a leash and collar combined into one tool (shown in the picture). You can purchase one of these for $20 or less. You can set the collar to where you want it and cinch it up tight.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
Cesar Millan said something that really hit the nail on the head: "There's no knowledge behind instinct."
Behavioural problems occur when we lead our dogs with emotion. We overthink every little thing, try to rationalize their behaviour, plead with them, talk to them like they are human, use their histories or stories as an (unintentionally self-serving) excuse to treat them like humans, instead of simply meeting their current canine needs: Exercise, Discipline (boundaries), then Affection.
It's not until we learn to lead instinctively, with our energy instead of emotion, that our dogs start to follow and respect us.
Dogs are actually very simple. That's why my best clients to teach are children. They are still very connected to their instincts and energy.
Step 1: Exercise
It's hard for your dog to be calm and content during the festivities if they haven't had a chance to expel their energy. Make the time to take your dogs out for a long structured walk before the chaos begins so your dogs can be calm when your guests arrive. Yes, this means small dogs too, and dogs who have "big backyards".
A structured walk is a walk done with you leading your dog, and not the other way around. This type of walk will meet their inherent need to migrate, which will stimilate their minds, and drain their energy.
Rules for A Structured Walk:
Step 2: Boundaries
Boundaries are something that should be practiced every day - consistently. When you have guests over, the boundaries need to remain the same. Decide with your family what is off limits, and stick to it, every time. For example, the kitchen or dining room can be off-limits. This will take you and your family members consistently using your body language as well as touch (much better than your voice) to move your dog back to where they should be (on their beds in the room where you want them to stay). The high energy of having company over can mean having to take your dog back more than once, that's ok! Stay calm, repeat as needed.
Step 3: Keeping your Guests in-check.
This one can be tricky - but, remember, your house - your rules. There is no need to create excitement in your dog, and we must ask our guests not to get them all riled up.
"OOOOOOH HI MAX! YOU LOVE YOUR AUNT MARGARET, OH YES YOU DO, OH YES YOU DO!"
What does your dog do after this? They get excited, perhaps jump up onto guests, bark, maybe even pee a little. Not all guests are aunt Margaret, and not all guests want to be jumped on or knocked over, particularly the little guests. If one guest reinforces this excitement, Max will think it's ok to do this to all guests.
Why do we feel the need to do this as humans? Well, we can be a little bit selfish sometimes. An excited dog is not a happy dog - a calm dog is a happy dog - and a calm dog creates a calm environment for everyone around them. Kindly ask your guests to ignore your dog, no talking to them or touching them.
Gasp! ignore adorable little MAX, what if he doesn't like me anymore?
FALSE, he will start to respect you and your space, and isn't Max's calm happiness more important than your ego?
If aunt Margaret creates this excitement everytime she comes over, chances are your dog will run over to her anyways - as she has become a source of excitement for Max. Ask her to please remain stoic, quietly use your body language (no words) to send Max back to his bed, and repeat as needed.
"BUT, when CAN I pet Max and make sure he still loves me?"
When all the guests have arrived, and Max has is calmly resting on his bed from that nice long walk, and calm atmosphere youv'e created, you can allow good ol aunt Margaret to go over and give him some pets. Best to not use any words, play it cool, and calmly go back to the festivities.
Michael Bylo - Canines Moving Forward
How to keep your dog calm during Halloween/Fireworks
This is also the perfect time of year to practice how you want your dog to respond to the doorbell or door knocking in general, and practice makes perfect!
Be sure to expend your dog’s excess energy before the doorbell starts ringing, excited kids start showing up, and those fireworks begin. Take them for a long structured pack-walk or run.
[Yes, even small dogs and dogs who have "big backyards" need structured exercise to expel their energy and meet their inherent need to migrate daily].
When it all begins....Keep your dog calm by keeping calm yourself. Remember, while we humans communicate with words, dogs communicate with energy, and will look to you for clues on how they should respond. Do not talk to them..."it's ok...it's ok" comes off as if you are unsure/weak, and they will no doubt respond to your words with excitement/fear. If you’re not making a big deal, looking to them to respond, or showing excitement, then your dog will learn to be less concerned as well.
Practice placement. Remind your dog they do not need to be concerned by showing that you are their leader, and that you are there to protect them. When the doorbell rings, take your time to calmly and assertively place your dog on their bed, get them to stay, then open the door with your calm energy. If you have someone else at home with you and this is your first time practicing calmness with the door - one person can enforce placement, while the other opens the door - work as a team!
If your dog is extremely anxious around fireworks, and typically flees, set up a safe space for them to be. I recommend setting up a kennel with a dark sheet over it so they can feel safe. Make sure the kennel is not too big for them - they should be able to stand up and turn around, but it should be cozy in there. You can also look into purchasing a thunder jacket for extra support in these situations.
In all cases, you can play calming spa music, and diffuse calming scents such as lavender. If you don't have anything like that on hand, you can boil some water with cinnamon and spices.
Do not give your dog treats when they are in an anxious state-of-mind or try to soothe them with your voice or physical affection. You do not want to re-enforce their unbalanced state of mind. The best thing you can do is exhibit calmness yourself.
Before it all begins, while they are still calm, you can put some coconut oil or sugar-less peanut butter in a Kong or puzzle toy, or give them a bone to occupy their focus.
Note: If your dog is shaking or yawning, they are simply processing - their mind is very active. Try not to focus on this symptom or feel bad for them - continue being a strong leader so that they can feel safe.
As humans, we tend to have a problem with using "touch" to correct our dogs. This is because we often lead our dogs with our emotions. For example, by getting angry and frustrated when they don't listen, or by becoming offended or hurt. OR by feeling bad you might hurt them, or their feelings.
This emotional state of mind is counter-productive to affect change in your dog's behaviour. As is using your voice, e.g. "stop it" or "no!"
To affectively correct the behaviour, you need to communicate with your dog in a way they understand and respect. Use your calm, assertive, un-emotional, energy, and touch, and keep moving.
Your dog isn't trying to upset you. They just can't understand you, and do not respect you, in your emotional state.
Keep Moving Forward!
DOG PARK ETIQUETTE
7 Steps to Prevent Dog Park Mishaps
1. Beans, Beans, and More Beans!
Do not bring your excited dog to the dog park. It is very important that we bring calm energy into the dog park. Excitement can cause competition and fights, as other dogs will naturally want to slow your excited dog down. If your dog is full of beans, take them for a walk to drain their energy before heading to the dog park.
2. Pedestal Syndrome
Do not carry your dog into the dog park. It is important that your dog enters the park at dog-level, no matter what size your dog is. Dogs behave poorly when we put them on pedestals, and your dog is there to socialize with other dogs. If you are concerned for their safety, the best thing you can do is let them stand on their own four paws (or however many paws your dog has), this way they can’t use your affection to nurture or reinforce their unbalanced state.
3. Keep Moving
Find a dog park that has a trail that you can walk around while your dog socializes. It is not natural for dogs to stand in one place. Dogs are migratory animals that prefer to be moving forward. This also lets your dog know you are the leader, you just keep moving and they will want to catch-up. When we stand in a circle at the dog park the energy can build up, this is when playful wrestling turns into conflict. If you want a happy experience at the park, keep moving, this stimulates your dog mentally and physically - which is exactly why you’re there!
4. Pay Attention
It is important to pay attention to your dog while at the park. Be present, and refrain from using your phone. If your dog is doing something they shouldn't be doing, it is your job to correct them. For example, if they are jumping up at another dog’s face, dominating (“humping”) other dogs, or barking incessantly, don’t wait for another dog to correct them - as not all dogs know how to calmly correct without lashing out. Stop the behaviour before it escalates, and keep moving.
5. Benches and Tables (more pedestals…)
I’m surprised I even have to write this one, please keep your dog off of the tables and benches at the dog park. The benches are there for people who are less mobile, and your dog should not be given the chance to sit higher than the other dogs. You may allow your dogs to climb the furniture at home (and that’s another discussion), but if you want to achieve balanced behaviour from your dog, and the dogs around you, prevent your dog from perching on a pedestal.
Refrain from bringing “Chuckits!” and other toys to the park. This type of exercise does not provide your dog with mental stimulation, and is best suited before you enter the park. Ball-obsessed dogs (more often than not) are possessive over their balls. This can cause conflict when other dogs try to join-in or initiate play (by stealing their ball). Toys invite dominance and other behaviour that can interfere with a positive social experience. Your dog could be very friendly with their toys; but other dogs may not know how to interact positively around them.
Having your dog on leash at an off-leash park will cause unnecessary tension in your dog and the surrounding dogs. There are many dog parks that have smaller enclosures inside the large enclosure; I suggest using this space to get comfortable with having your dog off-leash, instead of inviting unwanted interactions which could negatively affect your dog’s experience with other dogs.
Keep moving forward!
Canines Moving Forward
My client's dog Yeti acted out when they left him for the day. He was displaying signs of separation anxiety, which included loud whining and destruction.
After meeting with them, I discovered that this was the result of Yeti's needs not being met before his owners left for the day. After food and water, a dog's basic needs are exercise and discipline (discipline translates to rules, boundaries, and limits). With two young children at home, rainy weather and busy schedules it was hard for Yeti's owners to find the time to mentally and physically drain his energy. But in order to get the behaviour you want from your dog, you must meet their basic needs.
This video shows me teaching Yeti's owners how to drain his energy and provide him with mental stimulation (without leaving the house), while still being able to supervise their two young boys.
Yeti has a lot of energy, so his owners pair a morning run with the treadmill, or just the treadmill if they are short for time. Yeti no longer cries or destroys his surroundings, and seems quite content (instead of stressed) when they get home from work.
The treadmill can be very beneficial for dogs (and you don't need a fancy one either). I recommend seeking the help of a professional in order to ensure the introduction to the treadmill is a positive one.
Dogs MUST be supervised at all times on the treadmill.
I welcome any questions you may have!
Canines Moving Forward
This was Michelle's second Strata complaint regarding the 10 year old dachshund, Duke, and his incessant barking while Michelle was at work. She did not have a lot of time to remedy the problem before fines ensued and barking collars and ultrasonic bark machines were not the answer (especially because of Duke's epilepsy). Treating the symptom of the problem is never the solution to treating the actual cause of the problem. She actually tried the ultrasonic bark machine before contacting me, and it only proved to envoke fear in her other dog. She returned the doggy ear piercing machine and contacted me.
I put Michelle on a strict leadership diet, and she followed it to a tee. Michelle was no longer allowed to talk to her dogs and Duke was no longer allowed to: sleep in her bed, lay on the couch, hover around while she prepared his meals, dominate the walk by marking and barking and pulling, and Duke had to practice being in his own space while she was at home. The results were immediate, he suddenly made eye contact again looking to her for direction, he also stopped following her around the house like a dog shaped shadow.
The first Saturday during her leadership diet, she took her book with her, and practiced being 'away' for short periods of time (just outside the front door). Every time Duke barked, she went inside and corrected him. The bark free time went on longer and longer by hours that day.
Within 3 weeks of being pack leader, the barking had completely stopped. The neighbour was even worried that she had gotten rid of Duke. Michelle is now stress-free, and what's even better is doggy Duke no longer feels stressed out about his owner all day because Michelle took his leadership badge away.
Canines Moving Forward
Created by Sara Nielsen
Published on July 1, 2012
Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward stays in a parked car on a summer day to see how dangerous it is to leave a pet inside a car. The car reaches 117 degrees within 30 minutes with all four windows opened 1 to 2 inches.
People often think a misbehaved dog needs 'training'. Training teaches obedience such as 'sit' or 'stay'. While an experienced dog behaviour specialist, like Michael Bylo, deals with the dog's behaviour - creating boundaries and balance in an otherwise obedient (or even disobedient) dog. For example, you can have a dog who listens to all of your commands, but acts aggressively towards other dogs. Such behaviour cannot be corrected with training or positive re-enforcement (eg. treat training or "good boy").
This is where leadership comes into play. A dog behaviourist will look at the dog's routine, amount of exercise, boundaries, discipline etc. More importantly, they will look to see how you, as their leader, handle these situations. They will then teach you what you can do in your situation to correct and prevent the behaviour.
I'd like to share this article by Cesar Millan that touches on this and more:
Leading the pack
"One of the most important things dog lovers need to do is make sure they and their dogs are in tune with each other, with the humans being the pack leaders and the dogs following that lead. Notice I don’t say a dog should be well-trained. It’s very easy to train any dog to “sit” or “shake,” but this does not mean the dog is taking on the proper role in the pack. If a dog is not balanced, then it will go right back to misbehaving once it’s done whatever trick you’ve taught it. If you only focus on training without discipline, then you may wind up with your dog training you, using your reaction to its “cute” behaviour to get what it wants.
Setting the boundaries
I talk a lot about rules, boundaries, and limitations, which we need to create for our dogs to give them a sense of what they’re supposed to do. A pack leader’s job is to provide protection and direction. If you don’t give your dog direction, he or she can become anxious, frustrated, or fearful — and these are three of the biggest causes of common misbehaviours. You can help your dog achieve balance through my fulfillment formula of exercise, discipline, and then affection, in that order. All dogs need all of these things. It’s only the degree to which they need each one that varies with the dog.
Different dogs, different needs.
Dogs come in many different sizes and energy levels, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” rule on how much exercise a dog needs. Your dog needs as much as your dog needs. If you have a high energy Dalmatian, you may find it necessary for both of you to run several miles three times a day, but if you have an older, low energy mutt, then once around the block twice a day may do the trick.
The same goes for the affection part, in terms of feeding. Canine obesity is a serious health issue, so you don’t want to feed that inactive, overweight dog the same amount or type of food as you would a hyperactive greyhound. Consult your veterinarian to determine your dog’s ideal weight, then find the right exercise and nutrition program that will help him maintain that weight. How do you know when you’ve hit the right combination? Your dog will tell you with its balanced, calm-submissive energy— its way of saying “thanks!”for being a strong pack leader." - Cesar Millan
To book an appointment please familiarize yourself with my fees and approach and visit my contact page.
I'm sure you've encountered flexi-leashes before, and perhaps like me, you first noticed a dog barking and lunging and then saw their human way behind them attempting to reel them in, so that they could walk past yours without complications.
Here are three reasons why you should not use a retractable leash for walking your dog:
You have no control of your dog when he is walking ahead of you -attached to you by a plastic handle and a string. In order to regain control and get your dog back to you, you must either: walk/run towards your dog, clicking that plastic handle every step of the way, or mercifully start pulling at that string, snaring your hand in the process.
2. WHO IS WALKING WHO?
Have you ever noticed the number of dogs on flexi-leashes that lunge and bark at you and your dog as you pass by? That's no coincidence. Allowing your dog to walk 3+ feet ahead of you is essentially telling them that they are your leader, and they will 'lead' you in ways they see fit. This presents itself as your dog running ahead to pee on everything (No, they don't actually have to pee, they are 'marking' which means, placing small amounts of urine on things they feel belong to them - and further asserting themselves); and barking and lunging when they see fit.
Going back to reason #1, when you have to heel towards your dog to regain control, you are further communicating to your dog that they are your leader. This also causes them to un-learn recall (e.g. 'Come!').
3. DEFEATS INTENT OF WALK
Dogs are pack animals. Their natural instinct is to migrate (move forward) with their fellow pack members. If you trail behind them, you are communicating to them that you are the weakest member of the pack and they must either protect you or ignore you. A proper walk is a form of discipline for your dog. 'Discipline' in the dog world is not punishment, but rather a form of mental stimulation. It is also a means for you and your dog to build a relationship, and for them to gain trust and confidence in you as their leader, if done correctly.
Walking with your dog should leave you feeling peaceful and satisfied, not stressed-out or embarrassed.
A proper walk cannot be achieved with your dog leading the way, marking and sniffing everything, barking and losing control. This does not provide them with mental stimulation, but with bad habits that can lead to even worse behaviour.
Your dog does not need to pee during the walk (have them pee before you embark on your official walk).
A proper walk will stimulate your dog mentally and physically and teach them to trust you as their leader. Dogs with higher energy, such as a siberian husky or border collie, will require more 'physical' exercise on top of a proper walk.
When your dog trusts and respects you as their leader, they will not pull on the leash, lunge or bark. They will walk calmly beside you, and expect you to provide any direction and protection they may need.
Once you have mastered the 'pack walk', only then would it be OK for you to use a flexi-leash. Of course this is a trick, because at that point you will understand that the flexi-leash is unnecessary, because your dog does not benefit in any way by walking ahead of you.
A dog with boundaries and discipline is a happy, well-behaved dog who looks to you to learn more.
Keep moving forward!
As someone who spent a long time working at a local shelter, I have to share this very well-written description of what happens behind those closed doors. Please speak openly about this with your friends and family. Think twice before you get a dog. Are you ready for the responsibilty and committment for the next 10-20 years? Are you ready to teach them how to be responsible canine citizens, with boundaries and limitations? Are you active enough to provide them with exercise every day? (yes, even when it rains). Please don't get a dog without thinking it through. Too many puppies are bought thoughtlessly and returned to shelters as adults to be euthanized behind those closed doors - because you didn't take their life seriously.
The shelter manager's letter:
"I am posting this (and it is long) because I think our society needs a huge wake-up call.
As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all - a view from the inside, if you will. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don't even know - that puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it's not a cute little puppy anymore.
How would you feel if you knew that there's about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at - purebred or not! About 50% of all of the dogs that are "owner surrenders" or "strays" that come into my shelter are purebred dogs.
No shortage of excuses The most common excuses I hear are:
"We are moving and we can't take our dog (or cat)". Really? Where are you moving to that doesn't allow pets? "The dog got bigger than we thought it would". How big did you think a German Shepherd would get? "We don't have time for her". Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs! "She's tearing up our yard". How about bringing her inside, making her a part of your family?
They always tell me: "We just don't want to have to stress about finding a place
for her. We know she'll get adopted - she's a good dog". Odds are your pet won't
get adopted, and how stressful do you think being in a shelter is?
Well, let me tell you. Dead pet walking!
Your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off, sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn't full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies.
Your pet will be confined to a small run / kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it.
If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers that day to take him / her for a walk. If I don't, your pet won't get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose. If your dog is big, black or any of the "bully" breeds (pit bull, rottweiler, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don't get adopted. If your dog doesn't get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed.
If the shelter isn't full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed, it may get a stay of execution, though not for long. Most pets get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles, chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don't have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.
Here's a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being "put-down". First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk - happy, wagging their tails. That is, until they get to "The Room".
Every one of them freaks out and puts on the breaks when we get to the door. It must smell like death, or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there. It's strange, but it happens with every one of them. Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs (depending on their size and how freaked out they are). A euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the "pink stuff". Hopefully your pet doesn't panic from being restrained and jerk it's leg. I've seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood, and been deafened by the yelps and screams.
They all don't just "go to sleep" - sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves.When it all ends, your pet's corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back, with all of the other animals that were killed, waiting to be picked up like garbage.
What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into
pet food? You'll never know, and it probably won't even cross your mind. It was
just an animal, and you can always buy another one, right?
Liberty, freedom and justice for all I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can't get the pictures out of your head. I do everyday on the way home from work. I hate my job, I hate that it exists and I hate that it will always be there unless people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much farther than the pets you dump at a shelter.
Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes. My point to all of this is DON'T BREED OR BUY WHILE SHELTER PETS DIE!
Hate me if you want to - the truth hurts and reality is what it is.
I just hope I maybe changed one person's mind about breeding their dog, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a dog. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say "I saw this thing on craigslist and it made me want to adopt".
That would make it all worth it."
Sara Nielsen (Bylo)