Muzzle training is useful if your dog needs to be muzzled while out on walks. Maybe he likes to pick up and eat dangerous litter, or maybe he is nervous with other dogs or people and you would like to take precautions in conjunction with behavioural therapy. The great thing about muzzles in this scenario is they send a clear message to other walkers that your dog needs space. Allowing your dog that space is vital for him to learn to relax again in that scenario.
Another common situation where a dog may require muzzling is when medical procedures or veterinary examinations are performed. Going to the vets is scary; they smell other dogs stress and fear, they smell the unnatural smells of a clinical environment and they often experience situations which maybe intimidating or painful. Some dogs cannot cope with this and veterinary staff must use a muzzle to ensure they can work safely. Often this is the dogs first experience of the muzzle, and it is not a pleasant one.
Laura encourages her clients who own dogs who may need muzzling, whether that be on a daily basis or a one off at the vets basis, to train their pets to be comfortable with the muzzle. Please watch the video above for more information.
Dogs are social and co-operative animals and as such they possess a complex variety of appeasing and threat averting behaviours. The purpose of such behaviour is to deflect threat and restore harmony, thus reducing aggression which may lead to fatal injury.
These communicative gestures are not related to dominant and submissive states.
These early warning signs and appeasement gestures are chronically misunderstood or ignored by people, resulting in supposedly ‘unpredictable’ aggression However, if we can learn to recognise these gestures, we can begin to understand at what point a dog starts saying they need a bit more space or maybe a more gentle approach. Dogs will use this social language with us as well as with their canine friends, and other species too
It is important that children are educated and learn how to read dogs correctly.
Please see doggiedrawings.net for materials you can print off and share with your child’s school
leads and harnesses
Throughout your dog’s life, it is important to consider how to keep him/her safe from harm, law abiding and out of trouble whilst out and about, without causing injury to either of you. A harness is recommended.
Slip leads, prong collars, electric collars and choke chains are not advisable.
Very elasticated mesh type harnesses are also inadvisable. Although they are extremely comfortable, it is often found that the dogs will use these harnesses as a bungee, and will lean forward into it or sideways away from their owners. These are often the first choice for puppy owners as they are commonly sold in the big chain pet stores and because they are marketed for comfort. However, they are easily slipped out of and the lack of control could be a serious safety risk in terms of road traffic accidents, not to mention the difficulty in teaching young dogs how to walk nicely on the lead.
They are designed to be padded and comfortable, made to your dogs measurements and have a front ring and a back ring. The advantage of two rings is a double ended training lead can be used to form two points of contact if your dog is strong. Two points of contact increases your level of control, and means you can steer your dogs head or shoulders, rather than allowing your dog to throw his weight against you as excitable dogs often will do.
This harness fits well. It is comfortable but snug, so the back clip is staying central on this dog’s back, and not rising or swinging
Using and Long Line
Using a long line safely
If you find you do not have enough control or the environment is challenging, please use a long line (NOT AN EXTENDING LEAD – SEE BELOW) so your dog may enjoy some freedom whilst being prevented from learning bad habits.
Loop excess line up and hold this in one hand
Use your other hand to regulate the length of the line, letting it out as necessary and looping it back up as necessary.
Keep the line as slack as possible.
If your dog pulls – squeeze down the line and then immediately release so there is nothing for them to lean against. With determined dog this will need to be repeated until they get the idea.
Please be aware of your surroundings. Long lines can cause rope burn if a dog were to pull (please use cycling gloves if you are worried) and can also be a trip hazard to people and dogs. This is why being organised with the line is useful.
You may wish to put some knots in the line to act as stoppers.
A long line is best used with a harness – see my resources page for information on recommend long lines and harnesses.
Why I do not recommend extending leads:
They are under so much tension if entanglement occurred broken legs and serious rope burn can occur
They are under so much tension they effect social behaviour, and often cause frustration, anxiety and aggression.
If you needed to get your dog short quickly you cannot use your hand to shorten the line quickly. Instead you have to press the button (sending a jolt down the line to your dog), wait for it to wind in and repeat this until the line is short enough. I have seen dogs go into roads and other dangerous situations because of this lack of control
They are heavy, noisy and frightening to come dogs, and awkward and cumbersome for people to hold (many a time have I seen a dog being bumped on the head with one, or a small dog on the run with the lead ‘chasing them’).
They encourage and reward pulling, and often impulsive lunging.
They encourage lazy handling, and owners who do not attempt to train and reinforce a connection with their dog as the option to press the button is simply too easy.
Introducing a crate
Teaching 'IN your crate/bed on cue'
Crate training is useful for travel, toilet training and ensuring the safety of your dog if they may be inclined to chew (and your house).
They also provide your dog with their own safe area to seek refuge. This may apply when:
- they need space (e.g. away from young children)
- they need confinement (e.g. fireworks)
- they need to be shut away if they need some time out (e.g. the puppy that can’t settle and then gets over-tired)
- they need to be managed (e.g. around visitors, the postman).
It is important to introduce the crate nicely. Here are some tips:
- Feed your dog in their crate/area
- If they are to be given a new chew or toy – ask them to go to their crate/bed first and it give it to them there
- Don’t just shut the door. Ensure they are confident in the crate first with the door open. Then just shut it for a few seconds while they are eating happily, and build gradually from there.
- Teach your dog an ‘in your bed’ cue to help to introduce the area as a nice zone, and ensure you do not have to physically place them into it.
Jumping up and Mouthing
Jumping up and puppy biting/mouthing
If your dog is a puppy, he has spent the first 8 weeks of his life biting and jumping all over his litter mates. It is perfectly natural and normal. So we cannot expect him/her to suddenly understand that this is not what we want him/her to do to us. This learning will take a few weeks.
Jumping up on family members:
If your dog jumps up – turn your back/step away – essentially make it non-rewarding
If he keeps jumping – walk away and close a barrier between you e.g. a door or stair gate
If you have young children and they are not managing to stay calm or they are getting hurt – manage your puppy using a puppy line (light lead) or by ensuring that s/he is restrained at busy times behind a stair gate or play pen
Statues: You could ask your child to play statues if they are being jumped on
Freeze and tuck your arms in
***However, it is not fair to expect a child to do this for any longer a period then it takes for the adult to come and remove the dog. Jumping up does hurt and it is difficult to ignore, particularly if one is little.
Jumping up on visitors/strangers:
Some situations will need to be managed, so your dog learns the correct way to behave. It is impossible and unreasonable to expect your guest to ignore a jumping dog – they hurt and rip or dirty clothing.
Here are some examples:
Greeting visitors at the door – ensure your dog is restrained by a stair-gate/door or lead, so your guest is not getting bombarded in the crowded hallway. Then allow your dog out, or invite the guest into the room whilst dropping treats. This way, your dog can learn and be rewarded for keeping his/her paws on the floor while you do not have to concentrate too hard on training. Keep dropping treats until they are calmer, and can handle their emotions again. At this point, slow down on the treat dropping and allow your dog to say hello to the guest. Please note, some dogs are still better restraining on the lead at this point if they are very excited.
Passing people in the street – some dogs are so friendly they want to say hello to everybody, and this usually means jumping on them. As you see people approaching, call your dog to the side and practice attention or sit, and reward them for doing so. Here your dog is learning to focus on you, practicing appropriate behaviour and learning to ignore distractions. We want well socialised dogs – this does not mean they have to actively say hello to everybody and everything. On the most part we want them to ignore them.
Jumping on people in the park – if your dog is off lead, call them back and put them on lead while they are passing the people – again reward them for attention or sit. If you cannot guarantee that you can call them back, may be they are not ready to be off lead and should be on a long line while they learn.
Never encourage play on hands, even if it is gentle. If your dog becomes over-excited it may suddenly not be so gently. Also, elderly people, people who do not like dogs and children are vulnerable so it is confusing and unfair to allow your dog to do it to you, but expect them to know not to do it with other. This is basic boundary setting.
Play with your dog plenty with toys. This will teach them, when they get that urge to let loose, they need to find a toy, not a hand/leg.
If your dog mouths – calmly turn your back/step away – essentially make it non-rewarding
If he keeps mouthing – walk away and close a barrier between you e.g. a door or stair gate
If you have young children and they are not managing to stay calm or they are getting hurt – manage your puppy using a puppy line (light lead) or by ensuring that s/he is restraint at busy times behind a stair gate or play pen. The Hedgehog position: This is a position a child can adopt if they are getting jumped on/mouthed while they wait for an adult to come and help. The child must find the nearest chair, sit on it and tuck all their hands and legs in, curling up like a hedgehog