There are two main reasons why dogs jump up; because they want your attention or they are excited. Sometimes it can be a combination of both, like when you get home from work they are excited to see you and want you to pat them.
Both of these reasons have similarities in the way they started and in the way we address them, but there are subtle differences too. So I'm going to cover them separately.
Jumping up for attention is usually a learned behaviour. By that I mean that we have inadvertently taught our dogs that if they want our attention they can jump up at us to get it. I say inadvertently because most people wouldn't set out to do this on purpose and don't even realise they are doing it.
Most often this starts when the dog is a puppy and only becomes a problem when they start to get bigger or more demanding. Here are some reasons why this starts in puppies:
Ok so now that we understand what caused the jumping up, how do we fix it? The good news is the fix is actually pretty simple. The hard part is remembering to do it and being consistent.
You have to IGNORE your dog when they jump up at you. Do NOT touch your dog, push your dog away, say "No" or "Uh-uh" and definitely don't laugh, pat them or make eye contact with your dog. You are REMOVING or NOT GIVING your attention to them when they demand it.
To help you to ignore your dog, you can do the following:
This one is a bit more tricky to manage as we are dealing with a dogs emotions and reactions and there is often little thinking involved from the dog.
Why do dogs get excited?
Another option is to disrupt the behaviour before it even starts. My favourite way of doing this is by using a clicker. In situations where you know your dog is going to be excited and will likely jump on you get the clicker and treats ready. As your dog runs towards you click, and throw the treat on the floor where the dog can see it. Your dog will be distracted by the click and treat and will stop to collect it. Click and treat another couple of times to get your dogs attention and focus then ask for a sit. Click and treat that too. With practice your dog will slow down, expecting the click and treat and will start going straight into a sit waiting for the reward!
At this time of year, if you are anything like me, you are busy planning for the year ahead, setting goals or writing up New Year’s resolutions to see you through the year ahead. This is something that I usually enjoy as it’s like starting fresh with a clean slate and anything seems possible.
Tony (my husband and co-owner of Leader of the Pack Pet Services) and I were planning to sit down with a coffee and write up our resolutions on January 1st after we had finished with the mornings pet sits. But we didn’t. And I’ll tell you why.
When we arrived at our pet sits I noticed that the dogs (and the cats too actually) greeted us in the exact same way as they had the day before and in fact, everything they did was the same as each previous day we had visited. They greeted us as though they were as happy to see us as the day before, no more, no less. The dogs wanted to go out for a walk and the cats still wanted breakfast. They didn't notice that it was a new year.
Then it hit me. Animals live in the moment. They don't care what day of the year it is. They find joy in the daily routine of life and approach each day with enthusiasm and a wagging tail or happy purr.
They had no idea that the date had changed, that a brand new year had started or that they could review their lives and make a plan for the year ahead. It was business as usual for them. They approached the new day with the same enthusiasm as the day before and the day before that.
Could this be a new way to view each day? Could I give up the resolutions that were not likely to last past the end of January? And can you? Man I hoped so.
I thought how liberating it would be to wake up each morning without the burden of resolutions not followed or the pressure to achieve specific tasks to “get ahead”. To instead approach each day like a dog would.
To live in the moment with joy and enthusiasm;
Show the people in your life how much you love them, every time you see them;
Enjoy the journey, not just the destination;
Take time to smell the flowers (or trees or grass or lamp posts . . .);
Work out what gets you what you want, then repeat;
And eat food with gusto even if it’s the same meal you have eaten hundreds of times before.
So this year I decided that my only New Year's resolution will be to not have resolutions but to live each day like a dog.
Getting a puppy can be a wonderful, life changing experience as they will bring hours of joy and laughter to your life. Like most things worth having though, a puppy is also a lot of hard work and trouble!
When you bring home a puppy you are taking over the role of leader from the mother dog, and it is your responsibility to teach your new puppy about the world. This includes teaching them the house rules, how to behave in public, how to play with others and how to be a respectful member of the family.
The first three months of a puppy's life are critical to their development and what/how they learn in these early weeks informs the rest of their life. Getting it wrong can have disasterous consequences. That is why I would not recommend a puppy for a first time dog owner, or someone who is not used to handling dogs.
Where to start:
1. Assess your lifestyle.
Take a good look at your life and think about what activities you like to do, what activities you would like to do with your puppy, how much TIME you will have for your new puppy and of course what you are willing to pay to purchase the puppy and how the ongoing expenses will fit with your family budget. Be realistic! There are no right or wrong answers however this assessment will help you to select the right puppy to fit in with your life.
2. Research different breeds.
Even if you have a certain breed in mind, it pays to fully research the breed as well as a number of others using the assessment from point 1. Consider things like the dogs size when fully grown, short or long hair, common behaviour issues or health problems, fitness level, breed history and any specific instinctive activities that the dog may want to do (like herding). You may be surprised to find out that another breed may be a better match to your lifestyle.
3. Research an appropriate breeder.
A respectable and responsible dog breeder will want to make sure that their puppy is going to a suitable home and will be able to provide you with full details of the puppies life to date and information on the parents. You should be able to meet the parent dogs and check out where the puppy is living. The breeder will have full vet records for the puppy so far and should have already started important socialisation activities. Unfortunately there are a number of irresponsible breeders and puppy farmers out there who breed dogs indiscriminately with temperament and/or health issues so chose who you purchase from wisely.
Selecting the right puppy:
When you visit with the breeder and see the puppies before you jump in there to play with the puppies, take a moment to view them first. See how they interact with each other, the mother dog or other people if present. How the puppies interact with each other can tell you a lot about their temperament, socialisation to date and general confidence. Is the puppy timid and staying away from the others? Is the puppy bouncing all over the place and being corrected by the mother dog or other puppies? Neither is right or wrong but it will give you an insight into what the puppy is like and what you may need to work on.
When you enter into the puppy area, again just wait and see which puppies come up to you. Do they approach cautiously? Do they sniff you respectfully or jump up at you? Do they walk away afterwards or hang around? Again none of these things are right or wrong but help you decide what puppy you wish to take home.
Now it's time to start to properly interact with the puppies. Try to remember not to encourage jumping up or biting behaviour. If either occur, immediately remove your attention until the puppy has calmed down. How does the puppy respond to you? Is the puppy able to calm down when you remove your attention? Is the puppy even interested in playing with you?
Make sure to also physically check the puppy for any signs of deformity or health issues. The breeder should also be able to discuss with you any breed specific inherited disorders or physical ailments.
Welcoming your new puppy:
The first few days with your new puppy can be overwhelming while you work out the toilet routine, where they will sleep and eat etc. Here are some tips to make the first few days easier for your puppy:
A conditioned reinforcer, simply put, is a sound we train/condition our dog to find rewarding. Then we use the sound to reinforce our dogs behaviour. I think of conditioned reinforcers as one of the main communication tools to use everyday with your dog.
You can easily use a conditioned reinforcer in a variety of different situations to let your dog know that what they are doing is what you want them to do. Examples of when to use a conditioned reinforcer include:
Verbal: Marker word - usually a one syllable sound like "Yes" or "Good"
Mechanical: Clicker or whistle.
Once you have decided it is time to set it up.
First you need to train/condition the dog to the sound you want to use. If you do want to use both for different aspects of training set them up one at a time. I personally use a marker word (“yes”) every day with my dogs and use the clicker for training tricks or more complicated behaviour.
Choose the reward you want to use which must be something highly valuable to your dog. There is little point in using something that don’t like or is only a little bit rewarding. That is why food treats are the easiest to use as they are highly rewarding for your dog and easy to use for this purpose. But you can definitely use a pat as the reward if your dog highly values your attention.
When your dog is not doing anything in particular you want to either say your chosen marker word or click the clicker and WITHIN 3 SECONDS get the reward to your dog. You can drop the food on the ground or give it to your dog from your hand as long as they hear the sound then get the reward. As your dog won’t be looking at you, you may need to drop the food on the floor in front of them or reach your hand around to give them the food.
You will need to repeat this in short sessions (only a couple of minutes) a couple of times a day until your dog recognises the sound and that food is coming!
How will you know when your dog recognises the sound?
When you make the sound (marker word or click) your dog will turn their head to look for the reward. And they will usually do it pretty quickly too! This may not happen straight away and it can take a few sessions, so just stick with it, make sure you are delivering the reward quick enough and that the reward is worth it for your dog.
To demonstrate how to set up either the verbal or mechanical conditioned reinforcer I have created the following videos so you can really see what happens.
One of the first things you should teach your dog, is to look at you on command. Luckily it is also one of the easiest activities to teach. The "Watch" game is simply a focus exercise where we teach our dog to look at our face and to pay attention.
In the dog world, staring at each other in the eye can be considered confrontational and looking away is a calming or submissive signal. Dog body language is very subtle and a lot can be communicated with a small gesture.
With this in mind the look you get from your dog will be short and you should be aware of keeping your eyes soft and non-threatening.
Being able to get your dogs attention when you need it has many benefits. Firstly the act of focusing on you, rather than anything else in the environment at the time, can assist to calm your dog if excited, distracted or anxious. By looking at you, your dog may not notice or may be able to ignore other distractions like a cat or another dog while they go past therefore avoiding an increase in your dogs excitement level.
Have you ever tried to give your dog a command when they weren't paying attention? How well did they respond? Probably not well if at all. By getting your dogs attention first you have a much greater chance of gaining compliance to the next command you give. And finally done correctly this game can help build a strong bond of trust and respect between you and your dog and strengthen your communication.
.Since our dogs can’t tell us when something is wrong we need to be on the look out for potential signs of trouble. Regular physical checks on your dog at home are good for identifying early stages of infection or developing health issues so you can notify your vet and seek the appropriate assistance. These health checks are not meant to replace visits to your vet or for DIY home diagnosis but acts as an early warning system so you catch any potential problems as soon as possible.
Done correctly, by creating a fun and positive association to the activity, these health checks can form a vital part of the relationship you have with your dog and build a strong bond of trust.
When conducting the health check it should be a relaxing and comfortable activity for your dog so make sure you use a soothing voice and make it as positive for your dog as you can. This can include offering treats and proceeding at a slow pace and stop if your dog shows signs of discomfort or of wanting the activity to be over.
For most of the health check it doesn’t matter what position your dog is in as long as they are comfortable and relaxed. Like most things with your dog, the more you practice and make the experience enjoyable for your dog the easier it will be.
Firstly we want to start by looking in the dogs eyes to check to make sure they are clear and you can gently wipe away any discharge from the corners of their eyes with a damp cotton ball.
Things to look out for:
Ear infections are very common in dogs and can cause significant discomfort and pain to the dog. If your dog is scratching at their ears or shaking their head more than usual this can be a sign that there is a problem. Make sure you have your dog checked over by your vet as soon as possible as issues with the ears will not just get better on their own.
Gently feel the main part of the ear for any unusual or new lumps, bumps or cuts. Next have a look inside the ear. A healthy ear is a pale pink colour and may have a bit or wax which is normal and the inside of the ear should be dry. You want to notice if there is an unusual amount of wax or if the ear is swollen, red or flaky.
Now take a sniff of the ear. This may seem strange but if your dog has an infection you will definitely smell it.
There are many things that can cause an infection or problem with your dogs ears including ear mites (more common in young dogs), an allergy to food or something in the environment, a bite, grass seed etc.
Remember your dogs ear is easily damaged so carefully follow your vets instructions on ear care and avoid any unnecessary attention to the ears.
Teeth & Gums:
Gently lift up the lips and take a look at their gums and teeth from this angle. Check to see if there are any broken, wobbly or chipped teeth and whether the teeth have plaque or tartar build up. Next look at the gums, are they swollen? Are there any cuts or lumps and is the colour normal for your dog (gum colour varies) but most are usually a pink colour.
To look inside the mouth you can offer your dog a nice chewy treat so you can peer inside or wait until they naturally open their mouth.
ALWAYS use caution when handling around your dogs mouth as you do not want to risk a bite by causing stress to your dog.
Dogs often don’t like their paws touched so make sure you make this part especially positive for them and you can even make it a game by rewarding them whenever you touch their paws and especially if they offer them to you.
Gently feel around the base of their paws to check for cuts or prickles and check that the nails are intact. Its super important for your dog to allow you to touch their feet incase they get something stuck in their paws or for when the vet or groomer cuts their nails.
Body & Tail:
Start by giving your dog a lovely big pat! Feel along their body for any unusual lumps, bumps or cuts that may need further attention from your vet. Continue on down the body and make sure you also include the tail, gently lifting it up as you go. This helps get your dog used to attention down that area as remember where the thermometer goes!
If your dog is particularly furry you can feel for any grass seeds, sticks etc that may be caught up in the fur or notice the beginnings of matting or dreads.
Do's & Don'ts
What we did:
First we took a big deep breath as it had been quite a shock to get the unexpected letter in the mailbox and I felt that we had somehow let our dogs down since they were barking when we weren't around. Secondly we took stock of our living situation, day to day schedule and thought back on any signs we had missed that something was up with our dogs. As a household we discussed our options and selected strategies that we thought would be in the best interests of our dogs.
Someone asked me the other day what my number one tip is for dog training. Huh. Good question.
To be honest I wasn't exactly sure. I answered something along the lines that all dogs are different and it's important to use techniques that suit the dog and I didn't think there was any one thing that could work as a magic tool. Besides there are so many important aspects that go into dog training like proper leadership and communication, using rewards correctly and being able to understand how your actions impact your dog that I don't think you can select one and exclude the others.
The question stayed with me for a few days though and I couldn't get it out of my head. Surely there is a simple answer to this? There are so many tips I give out to my clients at workshops or during coaching sessions and through my written training plans couldn't I just pick one? Is it communicating and using the marker word? Is it being consistent no matter what? Is it being careful not to reward the wrong thing and rewarding the right thing instead? Is it mastering the walk? These are all important aspects of dog training but I didn't think any of them would be my choice for my "number one training tip".
It wasn't until I was practicing with my dogs to return to a calm state when I entered the house through a different doorway (if anyone is interested in firstly why I'm doing this or would like further info on how I'm doing it please leave me a comment) that I realised what my number one training tip is.
It's something that I tell almost all of my clients at some point and is one of the most important lessons my dogs have taught me.
It is the simple act of patience.
Now this may seem anticlimactic to some especially if you were expecting some great new thing but ultimately every aspect of your interactions and training with your dog can be improved with patience.
Now you can ask anyone (especially my dad) patience was never a virtue of mine growing up. In fact I was pretty impatient and would quickly and easily get frustrated when things didn't work out how I wanted immediately. I did get a bit better at this as I grew up but it wasn't until I was training my own dogs that I came to appreciate patience as a skill. This is a tool I use on a daily basis with my own dogs and with all the dogs I work with.
Often people are too quick to give commands and repeat them over and over, getting more frustrated each time until the dog finally does what they are asked or the owner gives up and says the dog just doesn't listen. Or we are too busy rushing from one activity to another and we wonder why our dogs are so hyper, over excited and always pull on the lead when we go for a walk if we even get a chance to go out at all.
And yes there are different training techniques to assist with these issues but throughout them all you must also have patience.
Patience to give your dog a chance to do what you ask, patience to take the time to fully teach your dog a new skill before you expect immediate compliance, patience to look at your dog and pick up on all the physical clues and communication they are sending you about how they are feeling and the patience to put their needs ahead of your own. Have the patience to wait your dog out when they are over excited until they have calmed down, have the patience to take the time to properly prepare for going for a walk instead of rushing out the door and have the patience to let your dog figure out for themselves what will work to get them what they want. Dogs learn better that way.
Both Zeus and Pepper (pictured above) learnt within a few minutes to sit if they wanted attention from me.
Apples are a great healthy snack alternative for your dog, minus the core and seeds of course. Apples are a good source of fibre and vitamins A& C and can even help clean your dogs teeth! Chop them up and give to your dog as training treats, slice then up and freeze in ice cube trays, wedge quarters into a Kong or even grate the apple over their biscuits, Did I mention how versatile they are?
2. Watermelon & rockmelon
Melon's are a tasty and nutritious way to hydrate your dog on a hot day. Did you know that watermelon is around 90% water! Both watermelon and rockmelon are full of vitamins, fibre and potassium. They are great to give your dog cut up into cubes, pureed and frozen into ice cube trays or even just freeze the fruit in cubes. Just remember to remove most of the seeds and the rind as eating these can cause stomach upsets.
Think blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and cranberries. Not only are they full of antioxidants which help to prevent cancer and heart related issues they taste amazing too! Blueberries can also help older dogs retain cognitive function and cranberries can help with urinary tract health. Basically they are a delightful addition to your dogs diet. They can be fed to your dog raw, in dog popsicles, ice cube trays or baked into cookies.
Banana's have a lot going for them including potassium, vitamins B6 & C, fibre while being low in sodium and cholesterol. They are however high in sugar so any use in small amounts. They are great to cut up and give as treats or as a part of a frozen fruit cube or popsicle.
There are so many wonderful things about this vegetable I don't even know where to start! Full of fibre, vitamin A, iron, antioxidants and amino acids both the flesh and seeds are good for your dog. Pumpkin can aid in digestion and urinary tract health, help prevent kidney or bladder stones, some cancers and can be used to help your dog lose weight if required. Roast the seeds and give them a couple a day and add pureed, cooked pumpkin to their dinner.
6. Sweet potato
Again so many vitamins and minerals are packed into this vege! Vitamin E, A, C, B6, iron, calcium, potassium, copper, folate and antioxidants. Plus they are naturally sweet in flavour. You can cook them up and scoop onto their dinner, make baked chips or slices to use as treats or as the "stick" in a popsicle.
7. Spinach, kale & leafy greens
Loaded with iron, vitamins and minerals leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, celery, carrot & beetroot tops are great for your dog. Finely process these and add to their meal. Dogs will often eat kale and celery in bits but the rest is better to finely process.
Dogs can eat both the florets and stem of this antioxidant rich, super food vegetable. Broccoli also has anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory agents and can help boost the immune system. Broccoli is best given in small amounts to your dog as if given as more than 5% of their daily food intake can give them stomach upsets. You can process it up and sprinkle over their dinner, give cubes of the stem as a treat or a small floret or two while you prepare your own dinner.
9. Green beans
Green beans are nutritious and low in calories so can be a good addition to your dogs diet if they need to lose weight. There are plenty of iron and vitamins packed into a green bean and they can be fed to your dog cooked or raw.
Another vegetable that is low in calories but full of vitamins and fibre. Chewing on a carrot can help clean your dogs teeth but only feed in small amounts as dogs don't digest large amounts of carrot well. Another option is grate or finely process the carrot and add to their meal or add small amounts of chopped carrots to icy treats.
This is for information only purposes and is not intended to replace the nutritional recommendations of your vet. If you have any questions on the nutritional needs of your pet this should be discussed with your vet. Fruit and vegetables can be used as part of a balanced diet for your dog but should not make up the full daily intake of food.
Dogs can eat anything right? No actually they can't. Even though they have a great immune system and wonderful bacteria to help them eat things like raw chicken, it doesn't mean they can eat anything. Here is a list of food that should NOT feed your dog.
1. Cooked bones
When cooked, bones become brittle and more likely to splinter which can cause various injuries to your dog. Splintered pieces of bone can get stuck in their mouth, throat, stomach or intestines which could also lead to constipation, rectal bleeding or peritonitis.
Raw meaty bones are a better option provided they are fresh and suitable to the size of your dog.
With Easter coming up there is bound to be lots of different chocolate based treats around your house (or yard if you do scavenger hunts with the kids) in the form of Easter Eggs or Bunnies. To avoid broken hearts and sick dogs keep your dog well away from the Easter stash. Chocolate is toxic to dogs because it contains cocoa (theobromine compound). Depending on how much cocoa is in the chocolate, how much the dog has ingested, the size of the dog etc. will depend on how sick the dog can get. Your dog may show signs of hyperactivity, increased water intake, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle tremors etc. Chocolate poisoning can usually be treated by your vet.
3. Grapes & Raisins
At this stage it is unknown what it is exactly about grapes and raisins that is harmful to dogs, we only know that it IS harmful. Eating these can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and kidney failure.
Eating onions (or foods in the onion family like garlic and chives) can damage your dogs the red blood cells severely enough in some cases to require blood transfusions. Depending on how much your dog has ingested symptoms may not show for a couple of days. If your dog may display a lack of appetite, may seem lethargic, vomiting, diarrhoea, look pale (pale gums) and increased heart rate.
There is some debate about whether or not Avocados are toxic to dogs. The potential issue is with the compound persin which is found in some types of avocado (including HAAS) in varying amounts depending on ripeness etc. which can cause stomach upset. Plus the pit could cause your dog to choke if they got hold of it. Due to the diverse range of opinions it might be safer to err on the side of caution and forgo feeding avocado to your dog.
6. Seeds of some fruit (apples etc.)
The seeds of apple's , peaches, plums, pears and apricots contain a form of cyanide. While a few seeds may not cause any harm, the effects can accumulate over time.
7. Nuts (especially macadamia nuts)
Most nuts are high in oil and fat and this can cause vomiting and diarrhoea and may lead to pancreatitis. Macadamia nuts can also cause weakness, depression, tremors, inability to walk and hypothermia.
Side note. Peanuts are not actually nuts they are legumes so peanut butter is OK in small doses as it too is high in fat, and contains additional salt and sugar.
Does your dog like to eat EVERYTHING while out on a walk? Even if your dog is a bit more picky than that, make sure they don't consume any wild mushrooms. Certain mushrooms can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, convulsions and kidney damage.
Even though for a lot of us (myself included) coffee is a daily essential, it is definitely NOT essential to your dog. The stimulation from caffeine that helps us through the day can cause vomiting, restlessness and heart palpitations in dogs.
No surprise here! Alcohol can sometimes be toxic to humans too! The grapes and hops used in the making of wine and beer are both toxic to dogs and therefore so is the end product. Plus dogs are not designed to to process alcohol and due to their smaller size it doesn't take much for them to become intoxicated.
If you suspect that your dog has ingested any of these foods, seek veterinary assistance immediately. The symptoms listed above are not exhaustive and can also represent other illnesses in your dog. If you are unsure if something is safe to feed your dog, always check with your veterinarian. This is for your information only and is not intended to replace the advice of your veterinarian.
As a dog owner, dog trainer and pet sitter I have learnt many different tips and tricks over the years and I thought this would be a great way to share them with you. Enjoy!