logo
logo

A Holistic Approach to Training

Many, if not all, behavioral problems have a direct link to the dog’s physical, emotional and mental health.

To be successful, any approach taken to address a behavioral problem must take into consideration the dog’s diet, exercise, general health and relationship with its owner.

Sudden changes in behavior should always raise a red flag about the dog’s physical health. The first step to addressing a change in behavior that is radically different than the dog’s normal behavior is to have your veterinarian evaluate and treat, if necessary, any medical condition that may be the cause or a contributing factor of the behavior change.

For example, if your dog is housetrained and NEVER goes in the house, a sudden change in behavior where the dog starts to urinate inside warrants your veterinarian checking for a urinary tract infection. If the dog “learns” the behavior of eliminating in the house during this period of time, it may be necessary to re-train the dog, but the medical condition has to be resolved first for any training to be effective.

Diet

Dogs have a short digestive tract when compared to the length of the digestive tract in humans. This shortened GI tract reflects their developmental history as a carnivore, like their relatives the coyote and wolf. While humans are able to utilize the carbohydrates and energy contained in grains, in part because of the longer length of time it takes for food to pass through their GI tract, dogs are unable to benefit fully from the nutrition contained in grains. This is the reason why a lower quality dog food, which is comprised mainly of corn or wheat, produces a larger fecal load – less of the kibble is broken down into usable nutrition and more of it is expelled, unused, at the other end.

While some dogs are allergic to corn and wheat, a far greater percentage have a food intolerance to grain products. This intolerance is often reflected in gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting or diarrhea. It can also cause gassiness, itchiness and a host of other symptoms which in turn can be contributing factors to behavioral problems such as irritability, a low tolerance for being handled and many other issues.

In addition to using cheaper protein sources such as grains, most lower quality dog foods also contain dyes and other additives that are designed to make the appearance of the kibble attractive to the owner purchasing the food and sugars that make the food more palatable to the dog. As studies with children have amply demonstrated, diets containing artificial dyes and processed sugars often have a serious and negative impact upon the child’s behavior. It should come as no surprise to discover a similar link between the food a dog eats and its behavior.

Weight

Obesity is a growing problem with the family dog for many of the same reasons it is a problem with Americans: overeating and insufficient exercise.

Excess weight can lead to a variety of health problems for the overweight dog. For example, obese dogs are at a higher risk of diabetes and the added stress on bones and joints can lead to arthritis and other orthopedic conditions. Pain is a contributing factor to many behavioral issues, including aggression.

It is important to know that the feeding instructions on bags of kibble usually suggest feeding a larger quantity of food than the average dog needs to maintain a healthy weight. A common mistake many dog owners make is that they don’t accurately measure the amount of food, or that they don’t calculate the caloric impact of the treats they provide, into the dog’s daily requirement.

To accurately judge if your dog is overweight, the rule of thumb is that your dog should have a “tuck up” underneath, a waistline viewed looking down at the dog and you should be able to feel ribs without pressing hard.

While overfeeding and a lack of exercise are the two most important factors in obesity, there are health conditions, such as hypothyroidism, that can result in weight gain. If you are having problems controlling your dog’s weight and are sure it isn’t related to overfeeding, either kibble or treats, consulting your veterinarian is your next step.

Exercise

Exercise is a critical component to your dg’s physical and mental health. While physical exercise alone will not cure all behavioral problems, it is often a good starting point.

Before starting an exercise program with your dog it is a good idea to make an appointment with a veterinarian to ensure your dog is in good health. The type or amount of exercise undertaken with a dog will depend, in large part, upon the dog’s age, physical structure (conformation), general health and prior injuries. As with any fitness program, it is important to begin slowly and increase the frequency and duration of exercise gradually. The type of exercise can vary from day to day, but, like their owners, dogs are more likely to suffer injuries if only exercised on weekends. Regular exercise is good for both the pet and owner.

Some of the more common ways to exercise a dog are walking, jogging or biking. While walking may not provide sufficient exercise to an adolescent Labrador or Golden Retriever, it is the perfect exercise for many older dogs or smaller breeds. Training your dog how to walk correctly on a leash will increase the benefits of walking as exercise, for both you and your dog.

When the weather is not conducive to outdoor exercise, a good way to exercise a dog inside is using retrieving and a long hallway. Dogs of all breeds and ages can be taught to retrieve a ball or toy.

Mental stimulation

When pet owners complain about the problems they are having with their dogs, well-meaning but uninformed friends and neighbors often tell them their dog simply needs more exercise. However, a focus on physical exercise alone, without addressing the dogs’ need for mental exercise as well, results in an improvement in stamina and increased energy. Without a suitable outlet for this increased energy the unsuspecting pet owner may find the dog has even more ebullience than before and that the “problem” behaviors have not improved. Dogs which are sufficiently exercised, both physically and mentally, are less likely to be considered “problem” dogs by their owners.

Mental exercise, using the dog’s natural instincts, is an important component of a dog’s emotional health. It often tires a dog faster than physical exercise and has a dramatic impact upon the dog’s general behavior.

Although dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, the instinctive behaviors hard-wired into dogs’ genetic code which pertain to survival are still very similar to those of its ancestors. The most frequently seen behaviors that relate to instinct are those that involve hunting, killing and eating (prey drive), cooperating with the pack to either increase the probability of eating or for safety (pack drive) and responses to a real or perceived threat (defense drive). Left to their own devices, dogs’ innate instincts often result in behaviors that their owners find inappropriate or unacceptable. By understanding and channeling those instincts into acceptable behaviors, owners can reduce their frustration with their pet and, at the same time, improve their dog’s mental and physical well-being.

NOTE: The idea presented below involves food and is best suited for single dog households.

To stimulate the activities involved in hunting and to teach a dog to use its nose, you can play “go find” with a dog of any size or breed. If your dog doesn’t have a solid sit/stay, a leash can be used to tether the dog to a doorknob or solid piece of furniture. A treat is placed in plain sight in front of the dog and the dog is released with a “go find” command. As your dog begins to catch on to this game, the difficulty is increased by placing the treat behind a piece of furniture. In short order, the treat can be hidden in a different room, out of sight. (Hiding the treat on a bookshelf is not a good idea unless you want your dog to develop its abilities to climb furniture.)

Emotional Health

Dogs are not small people in furry coats, and this recognition is critical to being able to promote an emotionally healthy environment for your dog. Dogs use their sense of touch, smell, hearing, sight and taste to an extent unimagined by most people and dogs need to be provided with opportunities to use these senses to explore and investigate their world. Constantly restraining the dog, whether with a crate, behind a fence or even with a leash limits the dog and prevents it from reaching its full potential.

An emotionally healthy environment gives dogs a break from the artificial setting we create for our dogs and allows dogs to be dogs for at least a short period of time on a regular basis. Training, where the dog can be safely off leash, is imperative to providing for a dog’s emotional health. Dog parks, which are another form of confinement, do not provide the environment necessary to support a dog’s emotional health.

Relationship

Dogs are social creatures and have evolved from living in a pack with other dogs to living primarily in a pack with humans. However, the dog’s basic instincts have not changed through the millennium and while we can, and do, expect our dogs to make adaptations to fit with our lifestyles, it is important that we respect our dogs enough to make adaptations ourselves to meet our dog’s needs.

Equality is not a concept understood by dogs. To a dog, living in a pack structure harmoniously means understanding where each individual pack member’s place is in that pack. While pack structure is hierarchical, it is not tyrannical. Good leaders ensure that all pack members adhere to the basic rules of the pack that promote living peacefully in a social environment, without bullying or trying to use force to achieve these goals. Respect is a key issue here – good leaders are respected, not feared.

Working in a partnership with your dog does not equate with allowing your dog to do anything and everything he wants. It is about recognizing your dog as a dog and respecting his needs, while providing the boundaries and structure necessary to enable your dog to fit into your household.

Training a dog helps the owner develop a healthy relationship with his or her dog and is necessary to meet the emotional and mental needs of the dog. Dogs require structure and boundaries and training helps provide these as well as teaching the dog self-control, accountability, responsibility and reliability.

Taking a holistic approach to training will result in a happier, healthier dog with fewer, if any, behavioral problems.

http://www.newmexicodogtraining.com

Articles

Barking

By Denise Collins
6/21/2021

A dog should be allowed to bark. After all, that is one reason we have dogs, to alert us. We would just like to control the “on and off switch.” It’s the rare human who hasn’t yelled at their dog, “Quiet" or "Shut Up!” when the dog is barking at the doorbell, a noise, or at you to get your attention. We think that if we raise the volume of our voice, this ...

read more

Behavior Terminology

By Mary Mazzeri
6/21/2021

Behavioral Terminology: What are they talking about?

You hear dog trainers tossing around training terms that don’t make sense to you? Here’s a look into decoding the lingo.

The definitions are generally accepted among behaviorists (which is where this terminology is standardized): Whether a given act is reinforcement or punishment is defined by what the dog does in the future. Doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of it, it's the dog ...

read more

We Need Leadership If You Want "Real Change"

By Andy Luper of a Canine Academy International
6/21/2021

The title might sound political but it isn't. Rather, this is written from the dogs point of view for owners who don't seem to "get it" despite their best intentions, and the advice of a qualified professional.

Dear owner, your dog would like you to know:

  • Despite you giving us human names, we are in fact dogs that react to you and our environment.
  • What is most important to us is not who ...
read more

Training with Energy

By Patty Homer, CDT, CPDT-KA
6/21/2021

Scientists have discovered that dogs can smell the presence of autism in children.

'Seizure Alert' dogs can alert their owners up to an hour before the onset of an epileptic seizure. There are dogs that can detect cancer before medical tests can. With these incredible capabilities, it is hard to deny the effect that our own energy can have on our dogs. The idea of sharing "good energy" is not just a “woo-woo” concept reserved ...

read more

Puppies and Children…So Much Alike

By Marc Goldberg, CDT
6/21/2021

Rowdy little children and naughty little puppies have so much in common!

Let's learn from the human example, so we can quickly and gently redirect puppies away from naughtiness, toward great and fun behaviors.

I sat trapped on the airplane, hurtling toward Orlando, strapped into my seat, some 30,000 feet above ground. I say “trapped” because my seat, my entire row even, was constantly shaken, bumped and tossed by a pair of blond ...

read more

Pet Sitter for the Holidays

By Marc Goldberg, CDT
6/21/2021

Vacation Angst…or What to do with the Dog?

Leaving home for work or vacation? Are you concerned about leaving your pets behind? A clean, professional kennel offers convenience and a secure location for your dog. But there is an alternative. Your pets can stay home in the care of a professional pet sitter. Here’s what you need to know to help you choose the very best for your dogs, cats, snakes or gerbils ...

read more

Rainy Day Activities for Dogs

By Marc Goldberg, CDT
6/21/2021

Rain, rain…go away. All our dogs want to play!

Bad weather shouldn’t stop you from exercising your dog’s body and brain. Here are a few great ways to keep your dog from going stir crazy when you’re house-bound.

Days of rain or bitter cold, even unbearable heat usually mean we coop up the dogs with nothing to do. And that got me to thinking: What do we do with our dogs ...

read more

Curing Your Dog's Fear Of The Vet

By Ryan Gwilliam
6/21/2021

Today I want to talk to you about the often dreaded "Vet trip."

For some lucky dog owners, it's a breeze. Their dog happily bounds into the examination room and only seems mildly put off by the doctors poking and prodding. Most dog owners aren't so lucky. The good news is your dog can learn to enjoy the Vet if you start doing a few specific things. But before I tell you how ...

read more

A Holistic Approach to Training

By Jan Gribble
6/21/2021

Many, if not all, behavioral problems have a direct link to the dog’s physical, emotional and mental health.

To be successful, any approach taken to address a behavioral problem must take into consideration the dog’s diet, exercise, general health and relationship with its owner.

Sudden changes in behavior should always raise a red flag about the dog’s physical health. The first step to addressing a change in behavior that is radically different ...

read more

Housebreaking an Adult Dog Using the Umbilical Cord Method

Phil Guida
6/21/2021

Introduction

Most puppies can be housebroken prior to 8 months of age using traditional methods. But for older dogs that are still having accidents in the house, the umbilical cord method should be used. This method has worked on the most difficult housebreaking cases and can be used with dogs of any age.

When the owner makes a commitment to success and is consistent with its application, the success rate using this method is very ...

read more

Training Dogs Using Pack Work

By Maryna Ozuna
6/21/2021

Pack work, or using a group of dogs to influence the behavior of an individual dog, is an amazing tool which can create permanent change in a dog and help create a healthy balanced attitude and behavior.

There are a variety of ways in which trainers use this concept to assist in the training of a client dog from simply using a senior steady, trained dog to calm a nervous nelly, to having a young ...

read more

The Innate Make-Up of a Dog

Candiss DelCastillo
6/21/2021

In my ‘Behavioral HELP for Dogs’ seminars and 1 on 1 sessions, I start teaching with a sound foundation.

During the course of our time together, I build line upon line on that foundation until my students or clients have a complete understanding of how to interact with their dogs, so as to draw from them the behavior they want, thus creating harmony in the home and the neighborhood.

One of the main reasons that ...

read more

Is Your Dog Addicted?

By Karla Gardner Hamlin,BS, Registered Veterinary Technician
6/21/2021

(Addictive behavior in dogs which can sever the bond with their family)

You may already be in trouble if you did not study the history and purpose of your purebred dog before you brought him home. Your failure to diligently manage your dog to prevent his characteristics from growing into dangerous obsessions could seal your dog's fate.

You may think you did everything you could to successfully raise your dog. Following well-meaning veterinary advice ...

read more

Who’s Walking Who?

Greg Winters, Owner, Personal Dog Training Inc.
6/21/2021

Do you find yourself avoiding taking your dog out for a walk because you are unable to stop their constant pulling?

Do you hold the leash in a death grip as you brace yourself for the ensuing tug of war through your neighborhood?

Do you worry that your dog may knock you over or break free during your walk?
 

Learning how to achieve a relaxed, controlled walking experience with your dog will not only alleviate ...

read more

Tricks Are Fun and Easy! - The Step-up

Cheryl Miller
6/21/2021

We started teaching our dog to ’Spin’ and now it’s time to introduce the ‘Step-up!’

What is Step-up? This trick is the first part of teaching a dog to place its front feet on a low solid item and remain there until released. As training progresses the dog will eventually be able to sit on top of a low object and balance perfectly! Dogs’ love this one so much that when a ‘practice object ...

read more

Reliable Recalls: The Come Command

By Mary Mazzeri
6/21/2021

Dog training (reliable dog training) is my passion. It's a long story, going back to 1966.

I've been a professional dog trainer since 1970. I have always worked hard to make my dogs trustworthy off lead, but it takes time and consistency. I am rather old fashioned in my dog training techniques. My dogs have a lot more 'freedom' because we trust each other. They all know that there are consequences for their ...

read more

Teaching Come

By Tawni McBee, IACP-CDT/CDTI, AKC - CGC evaluator
6/21/2021

I am not the trainer for everyone; no one trainer is. Some will pooh-pooh my ideas, some will love them, some will get angry about them. I get results and I've never harmed a dog.

To teach come: I use a variety of methods depending on the dog. I do not ever call a dog out of a stay command for at least the first year following training. To that end, I frequently use ...

read more

Teaching the Drop-it (“Out”) Command

CanineDimensions.com
6/21/2021

Your dog must be taught to instantly drop whatever he is holding in his mouth.

This is a safety issue since your dog may pick up a dangerous or poisonous object. It is a pack leadership issue since your dog should obey every command without hesitation. It is a behavioral issue when used in conjunction with classical counter-conditioning, as it can help prevent and correct resource guarding.

Use the following methods to teach this command ...

read more

Touch Targeting

Phil Guida
6/21/2021

Teaching a dog to touch his nose to your hand on command is a simple, highly effective training protocol that has many practical uses:

  • It can teach a touch sensitive or hand shy dog to welcome physical contact instead of avoiding it.
  • It can help a reactive dog to direct his attention to the handler, thereby interrupting fixation.
  • It can establish a bond between an anti-social dog to a human handler because it is a ...
read more

Controlled Walking

Vivian Bregman
6/21/2021

One of the most important things for your dog to learn is to walk on a leash without pulling.

This makes walking the dog much more enjoyable for both you and the dog. If the dog is pulling, walking is unpleasant and he gets walked far less often -- this makes him pull all the more because he needs the exercise even more. It’s a vicious cycle.

Never wrap the leash around your hand: you ...

read more