How to Discipline a Puppy

There’s no denying it — your new puppy is the cutest thing on earth, maybe even the universe. And while you can’t help but melt each time you look into those puppy eyes, you’ll have to learn to discipline your puppy. Learn the basics of positive reinforcement to improve those naughty puppy behaviors like a pro.

The Right Way to Discipline Your Puppy

If your puppy’s behavior makes you feel like you’re going barking mad, you’re not the only one! Thankfully, you can discipline your puppy the right way to prevent many bad behaviors.

1. Be Consistent With Training

If you work with your puppy about not jumping on strangers on Monday but decide to let it slide the rest of the week, your dog will become confused. Being consistent with training will reinforce positive behaviors while limiting negative actions.

2. Only Address Issues as They Happen

Only address issues if you catch your puppy in the act. Your dog will not understand why you feel upset if you reprimand them after the event.

3. Be Firm, Not Aggressive

A firm “no” shows your puppy that their behavior is unacceptable, but yelling or showing physical aggression may scare your dog. If they view you as a threat, your dog may be more likely to act out.

4. Reward Good Behavior

Positive reinforcement, like giving your dog a treat when they behave, is vital to help your dog understand the difference between acceptable and bad behavior.

5. Give Timeouts

Putting your puppy in timeout is an effective way to reduce aggressive behaviors. When you place your puppy in timeout, start with a verbal signal and lead them to an isolated area for a couple of minutes.

The Wrong Way to Discipline Your Puppy

While you may feel desperate to stop your dog from misbehaving, disciplining your dog the wrong way can encourage negative behaviors and extend the issue. There are several discipline methods you should avoid using on your dog:

  • Don’t use physical punishment.
  • Don’t stare down, hold down or drag your puppy.
  • Don’t shout or scream.

Setting Realistic Discipline Expectations Based on Your Puppy’s Age

While you may want to start training your new puppy within a few hours of bringing them home, it’s essential to set realistic expectations for discipline based on your puppy’s age:

  • 8 to 10 weeks: Giving plenty of praise and treats during this stage will teach your puppy to form positive associations with behaviors you want to encourage.
  • 10 to 16 weeks: Start training with treats for simple commands and leash manners.
  • 4 to six months: Your puppy can move onto more advanced commands at this stage, such as rolling over and high fives, while you continue to practice basic skills.
  • 6 to 18 months: During this stage, you can start using a combination of command, correction and praise to encourage positive behaviors that will last throughout your puppy’s life.

Book a Training With Off Leash K9 Training

Help build a stronger relationship between you and your new puppy with dog training classes from Off Leash K9 Training. Our knowledgeable and compassionate dog trainers will give your puppy the personalized attention it needs to become the well-mannered dog of your dreams. Book a training today to learn more!

Ways to Reduce Your Dog’s Barking

Any dog owner will tell you that some barking is normal and expected with a pet dog, as it’s one way your dog communicates with you and other animals. However, excessive barking is more than a distraction or nuisance — it could also signal a problem with your dog or their environment that you need to address.

Understand and Remove the Source

One thing you can do to stop your dog from barking is to identify the source and remove it, if possible. Each dog is different, and their background, genetics, upbringing and surroundings may affect them differently from one day to the next. What prompts barking in one dog may not bother another.

Start with these common barking causes:

  • External noises: Your dog may bark at external sounds, like passing sirens, traffic, car alarms, other dogs barking and neighbors walking or talking nearby. Barking at external noises is especially common if your dog isn’t used to those sounds, like after moving to a new neighborhood. Combat noise-related reactions with white noise, like the television, music or a blowing fan. If your dog is crate trained, placing a blanket or crate cover over their cage may help create a more soundproof environment.
  • Boredom: Some dogs will bark simply because they are bored and aren’t getting enough stimulation. This is especially true if your dog is used to eliciting a reaction from you when they make noise. Work out your dog’s energy with interactive toys, long walks and playtime at the park, or create a safe space for them to run, play and explore in your yard.
  • Distress: In some cases, abnormal or excessive dog barking could indicate distress, like sickness, pain, fear or anxiety. If the barking is accompanied by any other worrisome symptoms, contact your vet and let them know what’s going on. If your pup seems in good health, they could be afraid or anxious to be alone when you or a family member leaves. Consider a local doggy day care facility or ask a trusted friend to stop by when you know you’ll be away for a while.

In some cases — like with a noisy roadway or a neighborhood dog — it’s impossible to remove the source of your dog’s barking. That’s why preventive and correctional behavior training with a professional is essential for a quiet home and obedient pup.

Use Distractions

Distractions are not a long-term solution to your dog’s barking problem, but you can use them to supplement your training regimen or quiet your dog quickly.

Most dogs will respond to one or more of the following distractions:

  • Offer a treat: Distract your dog with their favorite treat, but be careful not to associate their unwanted barking with a reward. Instead, use the treat to train your puppy not to bark at external sounds and reward them when they pay attention to you and your commands to “quiet” or “settle.”
  • Play with a toy: If your dog is barking, it’s the perfect time to implement some active play. Toss a ball or rope and reward them with verbal praise when they stop barking and instead focus on your game of catch or fetch.
  • Give them a bone: Bones and other chews, like toys filled with peanut butter, keep dogs distracted for several minutes, as they offer an engaging way to work for a reward. Always monitor your dog when giving them a chew that could break into smaller pieces.

No matter what distracts your pet, remember to keep it calm and gentle. Avoid punishing your dog for barking or raising your voice, which could worsen the problem.

Ask Your Vet About Anti-Stress Devices and Medication

Anti-stress methods are a great tool to supplement existing training or offer some additional support to extra vocal pups. If your dog has a medical condition or unstable background, these tips are helpful for keeping them feeling calm and safe:

  • Weighted clothes: Invest in a comfortable weighted jacket, vest or shirt for your dog to wear during stressful situations. Weighted dog clothes work similarly to weighted blankets for humans, which are often used as a supplemental treatment for managing symptoms of anxiety and insomnia.
  • Calming chews: Calming chews are available at pet stores and contain natural ingredients that aid in calming your dog and promote a more relaxed, sometimes tired state. They are available for multiple sizes and breeds and are generally safe — but always consult your vet before offering them to your pet.
  • Diffusers and sprays: Pet stores also sell calming air diffusers or sprays infused with species-specific pheromone chemicals, which may help calm your barking dog. If your pet is new to the home, these sprays might help acclimate them to their new siblings and surroundings.
  • Prescription medication: If your dog’s barking becomes excessive or is accompanied by other behavioral concerns, consider asking your vet about prescription medication. They can determine if your dog might be suffering from chronic anxiety or health issues and prescribe an appropriate medication based on your pet’s age, weight, breed and medical history.

Always monitor your dog when using an anti-stress device or medication for the first time, and consult your vet with any questions. Never double the dosages or use tools that do not fit your dog’s frame, as doing these things could cause harm and worsen your pet’s stress.

Consult With a Professional Trainer at Off Leash K9 Training

Although identifying and removing the source of your pet’s distress, distracting them with toys and treats and using supplemental anti-stress tools are effective, nothing replaces training your dog to stop barking. A professional dog trainer will get to know your dog, including their habits, fears and triggers, and help you take steps to correct excessive behavior.

The team at Off Leash K9 Training specializes in strengthening the bond between you and your dog while teaching you both the tools you need to live a happy, calm life together. This includes puppy-specific packages for new pets, obedience training packages for adult dogs and training tailored specifically to your concerns, like aggression, leash pulling and excessive barking.

Contact us today to learn how we can help transform your noisy home into a calm, enjoyable space for you and your furry friends.

Guide to Understanding a Dog’s Body Language

Most of us are familiar with the more common ways dogs communicate. We recognize their barks, whines and growls. However, there is much more to understanding what your dog is thinking or feeling than the sounds they make. The body language your dog displays can also be a huge help with comprehending the message they are trying to convey.

Even so, certain actions that humans think mean one thing can often mean another in dog body language. Learning the differences is easy. Discover how to read your dog’s behavior and strengthen the communication between you and your canine companion with this article.

 

Types of Dog Body Language Profiles

When it comes to understanding dogs, there are some key aspects of basic dog body language to remember. Here are eight basic profiles that demonstrate certain feelings dogs experience:

1. Attentive

Attentiveness is most commonly seen in a dog that has heard a new sound. A dog may also show attentiveness if they cannot identify a sound or see something move in their field of vision.

2. Anxious or Nervous

Dogs that have been caught doing something they know they shouldn’t be doing often demonstrate anxiousness or nervousness. This emotion can also be seen in dogs when they experience some sort of new stimuli they are unfamiliar with.

3. Scared

You may notice specific behaviors in a dog that feels scared, such as growling, cowering and lip licking. A dog exhibiting these actions may feel like something is threatening its safety.

4. Submissive

A dog may demonstrate submissiveness through lowering their head or putting their tail between their legs in situations where they are being stared down by another more dominant dog, animal or human.

5. Aggressive

Dogs typically show aggression when they feel threatened and are trying to make the threat go away. This behavior, such as growling, lunging and biting, is commonly seen in dogs that have poor socialization skills or have suffered abuse.

6. Excited

When your dog runs to greet you at the door after you have been gone for a while or jumps up and down when about to get their favorite treat, they are generally expressing excitement.

7. Playful

A dog that’s ready to play will demonstrate certain behaviors such as bringing you their ball for you to throw. They may also show playfulness when you bring them a new toy by playfully mouthing your hand or wagging their tail.

8. Relaxed

A relaxed dog is often a sleepy-looking dog. You can tell when your dog is relaxed by observing their comfort with their surroundings, which is shown by panting with no facial tension. Their mouth may turn upward slightly in a doggy grin.

Facial Expressions

Facial expressions can be a great method of understanding dogs. While we may think we know what actions like yawning mean, we may not truly understand it in the context of a dog’s actions. A couple common expressions include:

Yawning

We know why we yawn as humans, but what does yawning mean in dog body language? Does it really mean your furry friend is sleepy or bored? Yawning can actually be a sign that your dog is nervous, stressed or even excited. If it’s been a long day, they could just be tired and trying to relax from everything.

Dogs often use yawning to calm themselves down, which is why you’ll often see them yawning if they are excited or nervous. The next time your pooch begins to yawn, note the situation and surroundings. They could be showing you that they are excited to see their leash or favorite treat bag or to meet new people.

Yawning could also be a sign they are a bit overwhelmed. Paying attention to these instances and learning how to read dog behavior can help you make your dog feel more comfortable by identifying their needs.

Licking Their Lips

If you think your dog licks their lips to indicate hunger, you’re right. There are also other reasons why they could be licking their lips that have nothing to do with food. Much like yawning, dogs tend to lick their lips to calm themselves. If you notice your dog is licking their lips, consider what’s happening around them. If there is no food involved, they could be bothered by a situation such as having their paws handled, getting a bath or going to the veterinarian’s office.

Tail Positioning

You can learn a lot about a dog’s mood by understanding its tail positioning. Tail wagging may seem simple to us, but dogs’ tails can tell us much more.

A dog with a fast-wagging tail is an aroused dog. In most cases, the faster their tail wags, the more excited they are — like when they greet you at the door. A dog displaying long, slow, side-to-side tail wags that make their whole body wag is generally pretty relaxed. If a dog shows a fast, twitching wag, this could mean they are on high alert.

The direction of the tail can also help you understand your dog’s feelings. If your dog holds its wagging tail more to the right, this could mean they are experiencing positive feelings. A tail wagging more to the left can show your dog is feeling something negative. If your dog swings their tail around in a circle like a helicopter, they are undoubtedly happy.

With dog tail language, pay attention to the distance a dog holds their tail from the ground. Dogs that hold their tails low to the ground or tucked between their legs are likely scared or stressed. If your dog holds its tail up like a flag, it could be feeling confident or even aggressive in some cases. A relaxed dog will usually hold its tail in a neutral position.

Deciphering Body Language

By noticing your dog’s combined body language, you can better read your dog’s behavior. Paying attention to their tail and facial expressions in addition to their surroundings can help you determine if they are excited, stressed, happy or scared. Comprehending dog body language can help you create a better bond with your companion and even assist you in interacting with new dogs.

Understand Your Dog’s Behavior With Off Leash K9 Training

Off Leash K9 Training offers experienced and compassionate training for your dog. We provide one-on-one sessions with your dog to ensure they get the personalized attention they need. You can choose from various training options customized by our skilled trainers. Whether your dog needs a little help with its manners, could use some leash training or needs some guidance with socialization, we are here to help. Contact us today to see how we can help you and your canine companion.

 

New Dog Owner’s Guide to Well-Behaved Dogs

Bringing a dog home for the first time is an exciting experience. Every new dog owner wants to ensure that their new pup is given the love, care and attention that they need to truly thrive in their new home.

But being a first-time dog owner, much like the experience of being a new parent, can also be overwhelming. Ensuring that your dog is properly cared for and well-behaved can be a challenging task, and it can be difficult to know where to begin.

In this dog owner guide, we’ll walk you through several steps to ensuring that your new best friend is as well-behaved as possible. Here are four training tips for new dog owners!

1. Teach Your Dog Patience

Patience is a core foundation to having a well-behaved dog. Not only is a patient dog more enjoyable to be around, but a dog that practices patience is safer, not only to others, but to themselves as well.

The best way to teach a dog patience is to begin at home. When your dog tries to get your attention, whether it be to play, eat or be petted, it can be beneficial to not always give in to their request right away. Instead, you can recognize your dog by speaking to them, but carrying on with what you’re doing. You’ll want to ensure that your dog isn’t waiting too long so that they can realize that they will be rewarded for their patience. However, also ensure that you aren’t going out of your way to bend to the dog’s every whim immediately. Value your time as well as your dog’s.

The earlier you start practicing patience with your pup (and the younger the dog is), the more effective the results will be. If you’re struggling to get the behavior out of your dog that you wish for, consider having your dog work with a professional, like our trainers at Off Leash K9 Training.

2. Teach Your Dog Commands That Will Keep Him Safe

While dogs are an essential part of the family unit, it’s important to remember that they are first and foremost animals. It’s crucial to ensure that they are kept safe and that people and other animals they encounter daily are also safe.

One of the best ways to train a dog with safety in mind is to teach them to respond to verbal commands. Because dogs are often impulsive, it is important to implement safety rules early on to establish boundaries and keep your pup as safe as possible.

There are several verbal commands that you can train your dog to respond to. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, dogs can learn up to 250 words in addition to hand gestures. Talk about a smart best friend!

Two easy commands that can make a world of difference in a dog’s safety are to come when called and to go outside only with permission. Additionally, ensuring that your dog understands how to stop and to stay can also be beneficial.

As an integral part of your family, your dog must stay safe. Teaching your dog commands can help them stay as safe as possible, while also making your life as a pet owner easier.

3. Establish Your Dog’s Hierarchy of Rewards and Use Positive Reinforcement

Did you know that dogs are more likely to repeat behaviors that they have been rewarded for? For example, if your dog gets a treat when they sit, they’ll be more likely to sit in the future. Just like with children, using positive reinforcement training with dogs can be an incredibly effective way to teach your dog valuable skills in a meaningful way.

There are several factors to establish when rewarding your dog through positive reinforcement. Consider the following:

Type of Reward

Dogs, just like their human counterparts, are much more likely to do something if they are rewarded with something that they like. Ensure that whatever you’re giving to your pup as a reward, whether it be a type of treat or a walk, is something that they enjoy.

Choosing the wrong type of reward can hurt your training, as your dog will be less likely to respond and repeat good behavior if they dislike the reward that they are receiving.

Rate of Reinforcement

Another important area to consider when rewarding your dog is how often you are reinforcing their behavior. If you are rewarding your dog too often, you may overwhelm them and confuse them. Reward them too little, and you risk your reinforcement training not sticking with them.

A simple way to ensure that you’re reinforcing your dog the right amount is to aim for your rewards to be frequent enough to keep the training session exciting. If you notice your dog losing interest, you may not be rewarding frequently enough.

Timing and Placement

How you deliver your treat to your dog can make all the difference during a training session. Just like the rate of your reinforcement, the timing of your reward should be as closely synced to the action that your pup is being rewarded for as possible. If you reward your dog too long after they have completed the positive action, they may not remember or draw the comparison for what they are being rewarded for.

Additionally, the placement of your reward can make a big difference in how your dog understands the positives of its actions. For example, if your dog is being rewarded for sitting, ensure that they are given their treat while they are still sitting. Quickly and accurately delivering a treat to your pup can ensure that your dog learns faster and bonds quickly with you during training.

4. Feed and Exercise Your Dog Regularly

Life is busy, and sometimes it can be difficult to remember that your dog needs to be exercised regularly to stay in top physical and mental condition. A dog that does not receive regular exercise is more likely to misbehave and act out, as well as develop health issues at a younger age.

Additionally, aim to feed your dog high-quality, healthy ingredients as part of a well-balanced diet to ensure that your pup is receiving the nutrients needed to be healthy, comfortable and active in their everyday life. An uncomfortable pet is more likely to act out and be less friendly.

Connect With Our Experts at Off Leash K9 Training

Training your dog properly won’t happen overnight. While it takes patience, skill, love and care to effectively train your dog, the results can be incredibly rewarding. Want to learn more about dog ownership for beginners, as well as our top-notch training process? Talk with one of our trainers today — and consider having your dog work with the dog-loving experts at Off Leash K9 Training!

Pack Walks

*For Current Clients Only*

It can be hard to socialize dogs in a safe way especially when working with reactive dogs. Here at Off Leash K9 Training Maryland we are introducing Pack Walks to help dogs have more positive experiences when in company of dogs. Walking within a pack can give your dog opportunities to socialize without interacting face to face. Encountering these situations will help them begin to build confidence and trust. When walking in a pack they receive positive reinforcements from new smells, exercise and feedback from owner while forming positive relationships. When constant rewards are always available it is easier for dogs to learn.

Dogs learn from one another not just from us teaching them. Negative behaviors come from a lack of knowledge of what is acceptable and learn from the pack what are better ways that they can behave. When walking around other dogs who are modeling good behavior will help reinforce your expectations. Group settings teach self control, social intelligence and listening when distracted.

Enjoying walks together as a family will take your pups obedience, confidence and bond to a higher level. Learning timing and communication will not only be beneficial but allow you both to enjoy walks together again.

 

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Essential Commands to Teach Your Dog

One of the great things about dogs is that they’re so smart. While it might not seem like your dog is a genius when they’re drooling or chasing their tail, dogs have an incredible ability to learn. These furry friends understand consequences and can respond to dozens of different verbal cues. All it takes is some patience and perseverance to gain your dog’s trust and obedience.

If you’ve never trained a dog before, you might not know where to start. It’s best to build off simple commands and stay consistent. Learn some basic dog training commands to start working with your dog today.

General Rules of Thumb

Be sure to understand a few rules of thumb before you get started. Here are some guiding principles to help you master common dog commands:

  • Remember practice makes perfect: Set aside a few minutes two or three times per day to practice commands with your dog. Staying consistent will help your dog remember what they’ve learned over time.
  • Stick with positive reinforcement: Dogs can get frustrating, especially when you find them chewing expensive furniture or relieving themselves on the carpet. Even still, steer clear of negative reinforcement, such as yelling or hitting. Your anger will only damage your relationship with your dog, making it harder for them to trust you. It can even lead to fear-based aggression. When bad behavior occurs, redirect. Reward positive behavior with treats and praise. 
  • Reward the right behaviors: You’ll have to be quick with your rewards. If you take too long to offer praise, your dog won’t know what the praise is for. For example, if you tell your dog to sit but give them the treat when they stand back up, they won’t understand that sitting is what has earned them a reward. 
  • Keep command phrases consistent: Your dog will get confused if you say “walk close” one day and “heel” the next. Always keep command phrases short, consistent and straightforward. Stick with the same dog training words each time. 

Remember these rules of thumb as you begin training your dog. They’ll help create long-lasting desired results while building a relationship of mutual trust. With these things in mind, try some of the following commands to teach your dog.

 

1. Sit

“Sit” is one of the most popular puppy commands to start with because it’s easy to teach. You can use a technique called “luring” to encourage your dog to sit. All you have to do is hold a treat in front of your dog and then slowly move it back behind them. As they follow it, they’ll sit. Say “sit” and give your dog their treat! After a few tries, you can do the same hand motion without a treat in your fist. Eventually, you’ll be able to remove the gesture and give only the verbal command.

 

2. Stay

Once you and your dog have mastered “sit,” you can move onto “stay.” For this command, have your dog sit. Then, back away with one hand up, palm facing outwards. When your dog sits still, come back to them and give them the treat. Start easy, only backing away a tiny bit and having your dog hold the “stay” position for a moment. You can increase the duration and distance over time.

 

3. Drop It

The “drop it” command can come in handy when your dog starts chewing on your favorite pair of pants or your TV remote. It’s simple enough — you’ll need two desirable items, such as a toy and a treat. Then, you’ll follow these steps: 

  1. Give your dog the toy while holding a treat in your hand. 
  2. Say “drop it” and show them the treat. 
  3. Give them the treat when they drop the toy. 

 

4. Down

Learning to lay down at your command can help your dog stay calm in real-life stressful situations, such as rides in the car or while at the vet. To teach the “down” command, hold a treat in front of your dog’s face. Then, bring it down to the floor. As soon as your dog’s belly hits the ground, say “down” and give them the treat. 

 

5. Come

“Come” is another helpful command, as it could save your dog’s life in a dangerous situation. You’ll need to put your dog’s leash on and stand a few feet away. Then, tug gently on the leash and say, “come.” When your dog comes to you, give them a treat. After some practice, you’ll be able to prompt your dog to come without the leash.

 

6. Off

If your dog jumps on people or furniture, the “off” command will let you curb this behavior. When your dog has their paws on the couch or counter, hold a treat in your hand and say, “off.” Once their paws are on the floor, give them the treat. You might want to keep treats stashed in convenient places so you can grab one as soon as you see unwanted behavior.

 

7. Leave It

Dogs are curious — they often stick their noses in places they shouldn’t. When that happens, the “leave it” command is useful. To teach your dog:

  1. Put one treat in each of your hands.
  2. Show your dog one treat and hide the other behind your back. 
  3. Keep the treat your dog knows about in a closed fist.
  4. Say “leave it” until your dog loses interest and backs off.
  5. Once they stop trying to get the treat they know about, give them the secret one!

 

8. Heel

“Heel” is a necessity for walks. A dog that pulls on a leash could put both you and them in danger. Focus on proper walking habits each time you go out. You’ll have to keep the leash short at first. Keep repeating the word “heel” throughout the walk and giving your dog small treats when they walk by your side. The key is to make walking by your side as rewarding as possible. From time to time, practice the “sit” command during your walk, as well.

 

 

Get the Best Training for Your Dog by Contacting Off Leash K9 Training

When it comes to dog training, starting with a few simple commands will be your best bet. Over time, your dog will be an expert at following directions. Starting with commands like “sit” and “stay” will help you build trust and understanding with your dog. Basic commands make everyday life easier so you can enjoy the time spent with your pup. 

Is It Too Late to Train My Older Dog?

If you’ve chosen to adopt a dog, chances are he’s not quite a puppy anymore. Rescuing an adult dog is a rewarding and meaningful experience, but it does present unique challenges. You may be asking yourself, “Is my dog too old to train?” Despite popular belief, you can teach an old dog new tricks. If you’re wondering when it’s too late to train a dog, the answer is never!

Training a dog as an adult can be beneficial in some ways — he may be less distractible and energetic than he was as a puppy. Not to mention, training exercises present an opportunity to bond with your dog, whether you’ve had him for years or signed adoption papers yesterday. Every dog is trainable, regardless of breed, sex, size and — yes — age.

 

Untrain Bad Habits

The challenging thing about training an older dog is correcting ingrained bad habits. Adult dogs who received little training as puppies always have a few unfavorable habits. Remember, negative reinforcement in the form of yelling or physical punishment will only damage your relationship with your dog and breed fear-based aggression. Instead, you can alter behavior with positive reinforcement alone. Here are some typical bad habits and how you can untrain them.

Chewing

It’s a fact of life that dogs need to chew for their oral health and to release pent-up energy. It’s a natural behavior that is not negative in and of itself. However, some dogs have a habit of destroying household items with inappropriate chewing. A dog chewing your clothes, shoes, furniture and walls can be frustrating.

To discourage destructive chewing, you’ll have to provide your dog with plenty of things that are safe and appropriate to chew. Then, you’ll need to offer positive reinforcement when your dog chews an acceptable toy, such as praise or small treats. Redirect your dog if you find him chewing on something off-limits. If inappropriate chewing continues, your dog might need more exercise or mental stimulation.

Begging

Odds are, if your dog begs, it’s because he’s gotten rewards for doing so in the past. To prevent begging, you’ll have to avoid giving in, no matter how convincing those puppy-dog eyes might be. One way to change this habit is to give your dog a long-lasting chew away from your dining area when you sit down to a meal.

Digging

Digging is another natural dog behavior. Keep in mind, digging is not usually aimless — dogs dig for a few reasons, including:

  • To create a more comfortable place to rest.
  • To find prey he can smell.
  • To bury something.
  • To curb boredom or restlessness.

Try to figure out why your dog is digging and address the root cause. If your dog is uncomfortable, create a more suitable place to relax. For example, dogs left out in the heat might dig to find cooler soil. If he’s bored, provide more exercise or stimulation. If you can, you might set aside an area where digging is acceptable, such as a sandbox.

Leash Pulling

Most dogs who lack obedience training will pull on walks, often because the dog gets where he wants to go faster when he pulls. If your dog is pulling on his leash, refuse to keep walking until the behavior stops. You should also give positive reinforcement for walking alongside you. Keep a pouch of small treats on hand when you go for a walk.

Socialization

Though socializing is ideal for younger dogs, it’s OK if you miss that opportunity. Regular socialization builds your dog’s confidence around others, which reduces the chance of aggression. One of the best things you can do is take your dog on walks where he’ll encounter people and other dogs. Walks are the perfect time to meet someone new — your dog will have less pent-up energy and he’ll already be on a leash.

If needed, you might use a muzzle. This tool will prevent the danger of biting, and it will also keep strange people and dogs calmer during the encounter. Keeping others calm will, in turn, help relax your dog and make the whole experience more positive. Always prioritize your dog’s safety and comfort. Be patient, watch his cues and remove him from a situation if it’s causing him too much stress.

Simple Commands First

Be sure to start simple. Teach your dog commands that are easy to learn and build onto each other. For instance, you might teach the first few commands in this order.

1. Place

“Place” is a helpful beginning command. Create a special spot for your dog, such as a bed or crate. Gesture toward it and say “place,” prompting your dog to go there. When it’s OK for your dog to get up, you can then say “free.” Once he starts to recognize the words, you can drop the gesture.

After he has the process down, you can teach him to go to his place when he hears other sounds, such as the doorbell ringing. Remember to offer plenty of praise and a small treat each time he gets it right.

2. Sit

“Sit” is another simple command. A popular method involves “luring.” You’ll hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose and then slowly lift it above his head. As soon as his rear end touches the ground, let him have the treat. Then encourage him to stand back up so you can repeat the process. Be sure not to force your dog’s rear end to the ground, as this can be scary and confusing.

After a few successful attempts, you can remove the food lure and use your empty hand — still offer a treat after he sits. Once he understands the hand signal, add the word “sit.” After a while, you can stop gesturing and give only the verbal cue.

3. Stay

After you and your dog have mastered “sit,” you can pair it with the “stay” command. When your dog is sitting, say “stay” and hold your hand palm-out in front of you. After your dog sits still for a moment, offer a reward. Always reward your dog while he’s still in the “stay” position. A common mistake is to let the dog come to you before he gets his treat — this teaches him the reward is for coming to you, not for staying put.

Start by standing right in front of your dog and rewarding him quickly — you can gradually walk farther away and have him hold the “stay” position longer. Over time, you can add distractions like toys to make staying more challenging. This tactic will ensure your dog’s ability to stay put despite real-life distractions.

 

Contact Off Leash K9 Training

Of course, it’s always best to train a dog as a puppy before bad habits have a chance to set in. But if you miss the early window, it’s never too late to train your dog. You and your dog can work together to replace destructive behaviors with positive ones. Address his bad habits, help him adapt to social situations and build onto straightforward commands. In the meantime, you’ll form a strong, lifelong bond with your dog.

Given the unique challenges of training an older dog, you may find you need professional assistance. If you’re looking for dog training for older dogs, consider Off Leash K9 Training in Maryland. We offer private, one-on-one training services so your dog gets the individual attention he needs. We’ll help your dog learn obedience, manners, confidence and trust. Learn more about our training packages and get started by booking today

How to Get My Puppy to Stop Biting

 

Bringing a new puppy home is a joyful, memorable experience. It’s also a lot of work. Puppies are adorable little creatures who might seem determined to act up. They require a lot of attention and patience, much like toddlers. One of the most common puppy misbehaviors is nipping or biting, ranging from annoying to downright painful. While it might seem cute at first, it’s a behavior you’ll need to correct before your puppy grows into a full-sized dog with a dangerous mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. With a little patience and the right techniques, you end this habit for good. Use these tips to stop puppy biting and nipping.

Stop Playing Once the Biting Begins

While playing together, puppies chase, wrestle, pounce and nip each other. When one bites another too hard, the victim will yelp and stop playing for a few seconds. This behavior teaches puppies bite inhibition, knowing if they’re too rough, they’ll lose their playmate. You can offer a puppy the same lesson he’d learn from his littermates.

Once your puppy bites, end playtime right away. You might let out a high-pitched yelp or “Ow!” to show your puppy he’s caused you pain. Instead of jerking your hand or foot away, try to make it go limp, which will be unexciting for your puppy. Jerking motions can activate the puppy’s chase instincts, which may cause more biting. Then, turn around and tuck your hands into your armpits, giving your puppy a playtime time-out. Even a negative reaction is a response — refuse to give your puppy attention after biting. Ignore your puppy for 10 to 20 seconds, then resume playing. Yelp and stop playtime for softer and softer bites until your puppy learns to play gently. If biting continues, take a break from playing.

Even if a bite catches you off-guard and hurts you, always skip negative reinforcement. Never hit, hurt or yell at your dog — physical punishments can make a dog fearful and likelier to be aggressive. Steer clear of any discipline that might make your puppy afraid of you, as this can develop into long-lasting fear aggression. Instead, naughty behavior should receive no attention at all.

Distract Them With Something They Can Chew On

Puppies need to teethe, but not on your fingers or toes. When your puppy starts nipping, offer a toy instead. You’ll teach your puppy toys are OK to bite, but your skin is not. If your puppy continues trying to bite you, turn away and pause playtime. You can incorporate toys into your play — use a toy for tug-of-war with your puppy. Have it nearby during playtime and take it out when your puppy gets nippy. Try to keep tugging from becoming too aggressive.

Having toys on hand creates an ideal opportunity to teach your puppy “let go” or “leave it” commands. When a puppy has a toy in his mouth, hold a treat nearby and say “drop it,” “let go” or “leave it.” Be gentle, but precise with your words. When he drops the toy, offer him the treat along with some praise. Eventually, this will teach your puppy to give you objects without getting defensive.

Allow Your Puppy to Calm Down

Puppies sometimes bite when tired or overwhelmed. When your puppy gets bitey, offer a chance to calm down. Lead them to a crate or quiet space. Stay calm when leading your puppy  — crates should be a safe space, not a source of punishment. After allowing your puppy a few moments to calm down, let it start playing again. A puppy can also be agitated if hungry, thirsty or in need of a potty break. Make sure you’ve fulfilled all your puppy’s basic needs.

Plenty of exercise is essential for a growing dog. If you keep your puppy cooped up too much, the biting problem is likely to worsen. Let your puppy burn off excess energy throughout the day. Go for walks, play fetch and take advantage of nearby dog parks. Keep activities mild — you can stunt a puppy’s growth with too much strenuous exercise. Socializing with other dogs is an excellent way for your puppy to learn appropriate behaviors.

Always Reward Good Behaviors Instead

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool and an important element of puppy training. Offer rewards when your puppy:

  • Is calm, quiet and well-behaved.
  • Follows a command.
  • Accepts a toy in place of your hand or ankle. 

The reward can be a simple “good girl” and a pat or a small treat — but be careful not to overfeed your puppy. Use these signals to teach your puppy proper behavior. They’ll soon associate good conduct with desirable results. 

Discover which rewards your puppy seems to like best. It can help to make a list of possible rewards, in order of how happy they make your puppy. Save the best treats for the most challenging tasks. Offer rewards often enough to compete with natural ones in the environment. For instance, when teaching your puppy to heel, give enough positive reinforcement to make walking by your side more appealing than pulling you around, despite all the fun things outside. It’s also essential to deliver treats as soon as possible after observing the desired behavior, so your puppy makes the correlation. Over time, positive reinforcement teaches your puppy that learning is fun and following the rules is worth the effort. It’ll also support a strong bond between you and your puppy.

Enroll Your Puppy in Puppy Training Class

Puppies are lovable and adorable, but not always perfect angels. It takes a lot to raise a happy, healthy puppy. For the first few months with your puppy, it’s crucial to tailor your responses to their behavior. If you’re wondering how to keep a puppy from biting you, try the methods listed above. Use time-outs, distractions and toys to minimize biting. Always reward positive behavior with praise and treats.

Training a puppy can be challenging, as puppies can be unpredictable and hard to read. It’s always smart to enroll a puppy in a professional training class. At Off Leash K-9 Training, we help you resolve puppy behavioral issues while building stronger trust with your puppy. With our private lessons, you and your puppy will get all the individualized attention you need. We’ll help you master the necessary skills and commands while addressing unwanted behaviors like nipping. We offer various packages — you can choose from an all-inclusive puppy camp, several private lessons or a single refresher course. Enroll your puppy in a puppy training class with Off Leash K-9 training today!

Training your new Puppy

So you just brought your new puppy home, now what?

 

You just came home with a fluffy little 8 week old puppy, and besides the basic food, bowls, and toys what else do you need. A TRAINER!!!! Find someone to get you started on basic commands of come, sit, down and to get your new pup off on the right paw. The first week home is very overwhelming and fun, but there is a lot of work that comes with your new pup.

 

Going to the Vet:

Within the first few days home get into a vet; someone who you feel comfortable with and will listen to your questions and decisions. This is very important. If you don’t feel comfortable with your vet’s suggestions be sure to speak up. Your vet will give you suggestions on food, medication, and procedures. It is OK to do your own homework, and do what feels right, not what someone pushes you to do because they “know best”.

 

Dog Food… So Many Choices:

Next up would be food. This is a very hot topic! The breeder or rescue probably sent you home with food that the puppy has been on for the last few weeks. You do not have to stay on this food. Once again, do some research on dog food. You want a food that your dog likes but is also good for them. Just because the breeder has your pup on it doesn’t mean that is the end all be all. Find something you and your pup agree on, and transition them over to the new food over several weeks.

Routine:

Get yourself on a routine. Dogs are creatures of routine. The quicker you get onto a routine the quicker you get onto a feeding schedule and the quicker you will get your new pup housebroken. Who doesn’t want that QUICK! Stay away from pee pads with housebreaking. This only promotes them to take care of business in the house. Some people try the bell, sometime it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I say get into a routine and then start watching your pup for cues (circling, smelling, going to the door or the same spot they like to go).

Kennel/Crate Training:

Crating is equally as important as routine. Crating isn’t a punishment.  It is their space, their room. They need this to understand a lot of things in life. Having a crate with a movable divider will help keep the area small enough so they don’t use it as their bathroom. Feeding in the crate will also help them not want to go where they eat, along with associating a positive experience with the kennel. The crate will also give them a place to go to rest, calm down when they become over stimulated. By teaching them to love their kennel it will be a safe place for your pup when unsupervised and a great way to keep you belongings and furniture safe too!

 

Puppy Training with Off Leash K9 Training, Maryland:

Here at OLK9MD we teach a lot of things during our puppy classes. We offer 2 packages. The puppy consult and the puppy starter package. Not only are we teaching the basic foundation commands, but we are building confidence, teaching manners. During these classes we also answer any questions or concerns you may have. The difference between the two is the number of classes. The consult is an hour long, we say that is more of a refresher class for those been there done that clients who have had puppies before but need the reminder. The starter package consists of 4 classes that are 30 minutes each. We teach the same as the consult just stretch it out over the 4 classes. This is geared more towards the new puppy owners or clients who want to space training out for a couple weeks.

Obedience Package Pricing

Puppy Play time at Off Leash K9 Training, Maryland

We offer puppy play time at Off Leash K9 Training Maryland two Saturdays a month. This will allow your puppy to socialize with other puppies and people in a safe and controlled environment. Puppies must be between the ages of 3 months to 12 months of age and be up to date on shots. Please visit our website to sign up .

Watch some of our fun!

Puppy Play Live

 

 

Raising a confident Dog

dog training mdRaising a confident Dog

Socialization and Desensitization

 

We want our dogs to grow up to be the happy and confident and not be “that dog” everyone avoids. You probably hear trainers and vets talking about these buzz words; socializing, desensitizing, etc… well at least I hope you are. These two things are very critical in raising a dog. You have a very short window in their lives to get this right, so get to it and most importantly-HAVE FUN!

 

To have a happy and confident dog you need to expose them to everything possible in the first few weeks of coming home. Like you have nothing else to do but drag this pup around the neighborhood, and experience everything they could possible come into contact with over the next 12-15 years. Yes, you would be surprised on how much you can do on one walk during a busy part of the day.

Meeting 400 people!

I was once told that in the 4 weeks of bringing my pup home I should see about 400 people. Not only that but they should see people of every age, race and size. WHAT! Where am I going to find that many people? Going to the vet is an easy place to get a group of people to dote all over your puppy. You will have about 2 vet visits in this time frame so take advantage of it.  You could possibly hit the jackpot and have a busy waiting room filled with other dogs and kids, but my luck never works like that.

Kid exposure is easy, especially if you have kids living with you.  For those who don’t or need more, go to a park on a sunny weekend.  You will find tons of kids. Bring some treats with you, so you can work on kids giving your pup treats for sitting nicely. Two birds one stone — you work on not jumping on people because you are asking them to sit. If you don’t have a park nearby try to time your walks around the local kid’s bus pick ups and drop offs or walk passed the school at those times.

Find some local stores that allow pets, usually the home improvement stores love having dogs come in to shop. Just make sure you spend ample time outside working on “potty time” before going in, or you may find your self buying a roll of paper towels and cleaner (trust me). Once inside you can find lots of people to come pet your puppy, believe me no one passes up petting a cute puppy. Not only does this give you people exposure but also noise exposure.  I’ll get to that in a little bit.

Don’t forget the dogs!

Don’t forget that socialization also includes other dogs. We shouldn’t expose our pups to lots of dogs or dog places until all those shots are up to date. So what do we do? I like to find small dog stores that don’t have large masses of dogs walking around and of course the vet’s office. Hey you may even run into a dog or two at those local home improvement stores. If not, try to recruit some of your friends that have dogs or neighbors. I only let them meet other dogs that are dog friendly and are up to date on shots and also one on one.

I don’t like to have a pack of dogs meet; I’ve never seen anything good come from that. Letting dogs meet on a walk and sniff each other is good too. Just try to find dogs that you feel comfortable with and won’t cause a bad experience for your pup.

When it is too much…

With all socialization always watch for signs of stress or signs of being overwhelmed. The last thing we want to do is stress them out and have a bad experience. I don’t like huge mobs of kids coming over and having 20 hands grabbing at a pup. One or two at a time is fine and not for hours on end. Never force an interaction.  If your pup would rather sniff try having someone hand them a treat, and if they don’t want it then oh well.  You wouldn’t like it if every person you came across made you stop what you are doing and hug them.

Sometimes it could also go the other way — your dog is the one seeking out everyone you pass.  You have to teach them that not everyone is there to come visit them. Just give a little yank on the leash and keep walking.

Noise and Touch Desensitizing

Let’s move on to noise/life desensitization. You would be shocked to hear some of the items I hear dogs are afraid of. I put life in this category because there are things, for what ever reason, our dogs decide they want to be afraid of it.  Once again we want to be able to expose them to all kinds of sounds: vacuum, blow dryer, blender, garbage disposal, things that make noise in your house and outside your house. I have had dogs afraid of plastic bags, rolling garbage cans and even items that move (bikes, scooters, cars, thunder, etc).

Why are they afraid?  They have never heard the sound or it startles them. Their first reaction is to run for their life or bark at it. If they do either don’t let them. When they run go get them, hook a leash on, and bring them back to it. Get some treats and have them sit and keep repeating until they understand nothing is going to happen to them.  I do the same if they are barking at it. Once they realize there is nothing to it, they become desensitized to it. I like to do training sessions around things that bother them, whether it is the garbage truck picking up on trash day or kids playing on their bike.

Get them to focus on you and the reward rather than things going on around them. After a few minutes they will forget what was bugging them. The last thing you want is for them to get rewarded for being scared. That will just promote the fear.  When you have a fearful/reactive dog you run the risk that one day the dog will react or flee and neither is good.

Touch

We also want to be able to touch our dog anywhere. Sitting on the floor with them right from the start and being able to touch their ears, snout, teeth, paws, nails, body and tails. With new puppies I do this every day several times a day. If you have others in the family have them doing it too. This will help when it is time to groom them or go to the vet not react when touched. If conditioned correctly they will understand that this is what humans do and should not get upset over it. I have seen hundreds of dogs as adults not be able to get their nails trimmed because they want to eat anyone who touches their paws.

 

With all of our training from puppy to adult we stress how important it is to be doing all of these great things. I tell clients it is never to late to work on these things and to be working on them every day.

dog training md

 

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