Forum Posts

shannihendler
Nov 17, 2021
In Training and Behavior
The holidays are just around the corner, and one of the questions we’re asked most frequently this time of year is how to prevent dogs from “getting into trouble” amidst the food, friends, and festivities. It can take months to train the skills your dog would need to remain on its best behavior around delicious snacks and distracting people. With temptations of food, and bothering or begging guests to get some, and all of the new people coming and going, there are so many things dogs would need to learn in order to be wonderful hosts for our friends and families. Instead of offering last-minute training tips that we wouldn’t have time to properly reinforce, today let’s discuss how you can make a plan to help your dog be successful this holiday season. When we talk about helping a dog be successful, we mean we’re going to make it easy for them to do the right thing and avoid getting into trouble with food or guests. With temptations abound, there are so many things that your dog could do that might put a damper on holiday cheer. Standard pooch party fouls aside, there are foods, such as fatty meats, onions, raisins, and chocolate, that are certainly tempting but are also potentially dangerous. Having a plan for the day can help avoid a holiday trip to the emergency vet. Special Plans for Special Days Your dog spends almost every day of the year with a similar routine. Unless you’re unusually gregarious (especially given how much time we’ve spent indoors the past couple of years), it’s unlikely your dog is used to crowds and feasts in your home. Even a very well-trained and well-mannered dog can get into trouble at big events like these, simply because the skills have not been proofed around so many distractions and temptations. Instead of spending time trying to train for something that happens once a year, we can try to develop a plan and employ some management techniques and our existing training to set our dogs up for success. Management An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (or stuffing, or pie…). Something as simple as setting up barriers to prevent your pup from having access to the most tempting areas of the party can be a great solution to potential problems. It might feel like preventing trouble is a training cop out, but it’s not. First and foremost we should be advocates for our dogs and their safety. It’s unfair to put unrealistic demands on them, and on ourselves while we’re busy and distracted with holiday festivities. If your dog tolerates separation either in a crate or behind a baby gate, simply separating them from guests and food is a great way to make sure your dog can succeed at being well behaved. Exercise Before the party (and after your meal!) take the dog for a walk. Exercise is great for us and for our dogs—especially with all of those holiday meals adding up—and can help relax your dog so that they’re less likely to fuss during the festivities. If a daily walk is part of your routine, be sure not to skip it on those busy holidays. Sticking to your usual routine will help your dog stay content and even a bit tired on these big, busy days. Stimulation When it comes time for dinner and guests it’s important to have toys and treats on hand to help keep your dog interested in something other than what’s on the counter or your guests’ plates. New toys, long-lasting chews, and treat dispensing toys are a great way to provide your pup with long lasting fun. A food extraction toy such as a Kong or Toppl will help keep your dog focused on foods that are appropriate for them. If you freeze the stuffing inside of the toy, it will last an extremely long time! Be sure whatever toy, chew, or food extraction device you’re using is appropriate for unsupervised interaction—especially if the dog will be crated or confined. Clean Your Plates While most dogs would gladly volunteer to be a dishwasher after holiday feasts, keep in mind that many of the foods we enjoy are too rich or even potentially toxic to dogs. Cleaning up leftovers quickly, including wrapping and putting any uneaten food in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible, removes temptation and puts some of the bigger risks of the holiday behind you. Be sure to take out the garbage, and be sure that any bones are safely disposed of, and that any tasty smelling dishrags or cloth napkins are safely put in the laundry. Our dogs are important parts of our lives and our families, and this Thanksgiving we can show our thanks for all that they do to improve our lives by developing a plan to help keep them safe and set them up for success this holiday season!
Holiday Party Planning content media
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shannihendler
Mar 30, 2021
In Training and Behavior
Digging is a natural, instinctual behavior for dogs. Depending on the breed of dog, the desire to dig might even be a part of their breeding and hardwired into their instincts. The act of digging can be a source of joy and enrichment for dogs, but a yard filled with holes is likely a going to cause headaches for owners. Digging is not an inappropriate behavior, but the spots that your dog is indulging in its habits might not be appropriate for you. If you have a digging problem on your hands, here are some tips to channel the behavior into something more appropriate. Step 1: Break the Habit Is your dog digging in all the wrong places? If so, prevent his access. Your dog won’t learn new ways while he has free access to his old digs—digging is just too much fun! Prevention is better still, and easier. If your dog has yet to dig up the roses, don’t wait for him to discover how much fun it is. Teach him where to dig from day one. Step 2: Supervise Early on, don’t use the yard for alone-time. Give your dog ample time to learn where he is allowed to dig before you leave him out there unsupervised. Otherwise it is too easy for him to make mistakes. (If you need to leave your dog alone, use his confinement area in the house. Give him plenty of chew toys for company.) Step 3: Create a Digging Area Make a dig pit or use a large pot with loose potting soil. A dig pit can be a sandbox or a 3-by-6 foot area in your yard. Loosen about 2 feet of earth, and remove any nails or wire or such. A little sand mixed in helps drainage when it rains. Then: • Let your dog see you barely hide a Kong or some other treasure. Encourage him to find the toy and praise him when he does. • Gradually cover the toys with more dirt every time. Keep praising. • Every now and then hide something new and exciting to keep your dog coming back for more. Step 4: Redirect Mistakes Calmly stop any unauthorized digging, then lead your dog to his dig pit or digging pot. And yes, this means you need to be around when your dog is playing outside—at least until he knows where it is okay to dig and where it isn’t. Training Tip: If your dog has developed a liking for a particular spot in your yard, block access to that spot until he has had time to form new and better habits. Other Reasons for Digging Digging is an instinctive behavior, but there are many reasons why a dog might suddenly develop a desire to dig. If your yard has recently become home to ground-dwelling prey animals like moles or gophers, your dog might be digging as a way of hunting these critters down. When they can smell and hear animals under the earth, they're more likely to dig like crazy to try to find them! Digging can also be a sign of boredom. While it is a natural and enjoyable behavior for dogs, providing them with an equally stimulating alternative such as chewing, scent games, or something more appropriate (and less destructive) could help keep the habit at bay. In the summer, dogs will sometimes dig a shallow bed in the ground to help keep cool. Digging becomes a serious concern when dogs dig to get under barriers. Escaping the yard by digging is a serious concern, and can be caused by many underlying issues including separation anxiety and even barrier frustration if the dog is trying to reach other dogs outside of the yard. If you're concerned about your dog's digging habit, you might consider consulting a professional to help determine and resolve the underlying issues.
The Down-and-Dirty on Dogs Digging content media
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shannihendler
Dec 24, 2020
In Announcements
The Holiday Season is in full swing, and Santa Paws will soon be delivering presents to all of our very, very good boys (and girls!). While we prepare for a joy-filled Holiday and celebration of the New Year, take a moment to go over some helpful holiday safety tips for pets. Pet Proof the Christmas Tree Oh, the Christmas tree. A holiday staple in many homes, and the one addition to our living room that poses the largest threat to our furry friends! A Christmas tree that isn’t pet-proofed can result in upset stomachs, injury, or worse. Manage the danger of a Christmas tree by always supervising pets when they’re around the tree, and by taking special care to pet-proof your holiday decorations. Ornaments. The ornaments on a Christmas tree can be attractive to pets. Most curious dogs and cats will want to inspect the odd tree that has suddenly appeared in their living rooms. Breakable ornaments are a double danger. If they shatter on the floor you can end up with cut paws, and if they’re chomped on you run the risk of mouth injury and ingestion. Try to keep all ornaments (especially the glass!) out of reach of pets. Secure the Tree. A wobbly tree stand can make for a holiday disaster if your dog or cat decides to try to climb the evergreen. Check the bolts on your tree stand to be sure they’re secure, and consider adding a separate anchor, such as a ceiling hook with clear line or wall anchor, to prevent the tree from toppling over. Don’t Drink the Tree Water. Did you know that the water in your tree stand can be dangerous to pets? As the tree soaks up water, it can release sometimes toxic sap into the water. Some fresh trees are also preserve with pesticides or given fertilizer water additives that include substances like aspirin. Aspirin is particularly dangerous to cats as they lack the ability to break down the drugs. While aspirin is occasionally prescribed to dogs, too much can also be deadly. The water reservoir in the tree stand should be tightly wrapped with a tree skirt or other material to prevent animals from accessing it. String Lights and Tree-Trimmings. Festive lights, garland, and tinsel are a part of many of our holiday decorations. The flashing lights sure are pretty, but they can also pose a potential threat to your pet. Veterinarians say pets can easily die from electrocution, internal injuries, or intestinal blockage after enjoying a decorative snack. Be sure you fasten holiday lights to your tree and place cords out of reach of your curious pet’s mouth. Block access to any loose cords or wires. When eaten, things like garland and tinsel can result in intestinal blockages that could mean a trip to the emergency vet for your dog or cat. Safe Holiday Plants Three plants that are popular this time of year can also be potentially dangerous to pets. Whenever you bring a new plant into the home, be sure that it is pet-safe and monitor your curious pets when they’re around it. Holly. English and Asian varieties of the holly plant can contain toxins that cause gastrointestinal issues when eaten. Mistletoe. Not always for kissing, the leaves and berries of this common plant contain viscotoxins and can cause upset stomach and bradycardia. Poinsettia. Typically thought of as the most dangerous holiday plant, the poinsettia flower is typically toxic only when ingested in large quantities. The sap from the plant can cause diarrhea, excessive drooling, and vomiting. Holiday Bouquets. Holiday bouquets might contain any of the above plants, but may also contain flowers such a lilies, which are particularly hazardous to pets. Just a few bites of a lily plant is enough to cause potentially fatal kidney damage in cats. Gifts, Candy, and Stockings Make sure that your stockings are hung by the chimney with extra care this holiday to prevent pets from pulling them down and attempting to eat their contents! Avoid wrapping food items in boxes or hanging them in stockings, as your dog’s strong nose might inspire them to try to unwrap the goodies. Food puzzles are a great form of enrichment for dogs, but your holiday snacks and candies should not be part of the game. Gift wrap, small toys, ribbon and string, and bows should all be moved out of reach of dogs and cats to avoid injury. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. A consultation fee may apply.
Holiday Pet Safety Tips content media
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shannihendler
Oct 29, 2020
In Training and Behavior
As we discussed in our Introduction to Cooperative Care, this training concept involves training your dog not to just tolerate handling, grooming, and other husbandry procedures, but to empower them to be an active and willing participant in these experiences. The concept of cooperative care has become commonplace in large animal practices such as zoos and rescue facilities where an uncooperative large animal could be potentially dangerous. By training these animals to “opt-in” to care procedures, they can be safely treated without the need for physical or chemical restraint. The same concept applies to our pets. If we train them to become willing participants in their care, and empower them to “say no” when needed, we can help them become an active part of their care and reduce the need for force in husbandry procedures. Foundation Behaviors for Cooperative Care One of the foundations of Cooperative Care is teaching a duration target behavior. This behavior helps to keep the dog still and in place, but it also empowers them to opt-out of the process if they break that position. To achieve this, we can begin by teaching a Chin Rest. When we teach the dog to rest their chin on a target, it can be the dog’s way of communicating that they are ready to go ahead with the procedure. While training the chin rest, we can begin to mimic husbandry procedures such as eye drops, ear cleaning, or dental cleaning. To begin, use only gentle touches to simulate the behavior. For example, lift the ear gently and then alternate sides and reward your dog along the way. As the dog grows more comfortable, add in a tool such as a Q-Tip. Touch the ear with the swab, give a treat. Then lift the ear, gently touch with the swab, and reward your dog. Your goal is to gradually build up to an ear cleaning. If at any point your dog feels uncomfortable, allow them to lift their chin and take a break. The video below illustrates the start of training a chin rest. Every time you practice this training, be it an ear cleaning, eye exam, or oral exam, you are building your dog’s trust in their ability to opt-in or opt-out of procedures. Think of these practices as making a deposit into your dog’s “trust account”. The more deposits that you make through regular practice, the easier it will be to make a withdraw when the time comes to put practice into play.
Cooperative Care Foundation Skills content media
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shannihendler
Sep 28, 2020
In Puppies
How do we start? How long should it take? Is my puppy peeing behind the sofa just to spite me? Puppy potty training… we’ve all been there (or, if you’re reading this as you prepare for a puppy you’ll be there soon!). It’s not always easy, and how to start can be confusing. In today’s blog post we’ll give you the scoop on potty training and offer some things to do (and avoid) to make the training a bit easier. Instinct Is Your Friend Dogs are wired to avoid eliminating in their dens. It makes sense—you wouldn’t want to eat and sleep in a dirty nest! We use this instinct to our advantage when teaching appropriate spots to go potty. While there is an instinct to avoid soiling their living area, when a puppy’s gotta go it’s gotta go! We need to support and encourage age-appropriate potty habits. By 12 weeks of age, a puppy still doesn’t have great control over their bladder and bowels. They might not know they have to go, so our job is to predict their needs and help them get to an appropriate spot. Signs and Schedules Developing a potty schedule is an important part of speeding along puppy potty training. The scheduling of potty behaviors is something that we focus on in [HARMONY SCHOOL]. The schedule helps avoid accidents by predicting when pottying will need to happen, and proactively placing the puppy in a potty area. Typically, a puppy will need to potty: - 15 minutes after eating. - For younger puppies, immediately after drinking. As they get closer to 12 weeks, about 15 minutes after drinking. - 10 minutes after play begins. - Immediately after waking up. When you have your puppy in your house or in its penned living area, be on the lookout for signs that a potty might be on its way: - The puppy stops what they’re doing and looks like it might be “thinking”. - The puppy starts sniffing around the floor. - The puppy goes to a door, barrier, or edge of their pen and lingers. A puppy naturally wants to eliminate as far away from where they live/play, and will tend to start looking for fringes of the area to potty in. Set up for Success When potty training, it’s all about setting puppies up to succeed at the thing they want to do naturally. To begin, put them where they can’t make a mistake. A crate is a great way to avoid accidents, but is only effective once the puppy can control their bladder/bowels, and even then is only effective when used for reasonable timeframes. If you keep a puppy in a crate but do not make sure its needs are taken care of ahead of time, they may begin to soil the crate and accept it as their only option. For initial puppy training, you might find it beneficial to attach a crate to an exercise pen area with potty pads. Leave the crate open, giving the puppy the option to leave it to do their business on the potty pads. This will reinforce the concept of a clean den being important, and will help you avoid accidents that will set your training back. Transitioning to the Great Outdoors If your breeder used an indoor potty area or you’re enrolled in one of our programs that utilize an indoor potty station, you might be wondering how to make the jump from pottying in an indoor space to pottying outside. It’s important to be clear on what the indoor potty training is and what it isn’t. The indoor potty area gives puppies an opportunity to be correct in where they potty. It reinforces keeping their living area (their pen or your home) clean, and it also reinforces that pottying in front of you (in the appropriate place) can be totally awesome. These things all set you up for success in the training work you need to do at home. It is not a substitute for good scheduling, management, and clear indicators of where your potty area will be. Once you’ve Set up for Success, commit to a schedule as outlined above. If your puppy has just woken up, take them to your appropriate potty area and wait with them until they potty. It might take seconds or you might need to bring a book! At this point, patience is key. You know the potty will be coming, and you just need to wait it out. Once they’ve done their business, reward them, praise them, and have a potty party! You can add a modifier cue to this behavior so that it begins to have a name. A “good potty!” can turn into a cue for them going if they need to as they grow and have better control of their eliminations. This process is the same regardless of if you’re potty training for a turf area on your apartment deck or a backyard. Consistently get the puppy to the spot it needs to do its business, reward, and repeat. Accidents Happen The puppy will try to keep its area clean, but accidents can, will, and do happen! When one occurs, be sure to avoid scolding them. You might think it’s obvious that you’re scolding them for pottying on the rug, but from the puppy’s point of view you’re angry at them for going potty… or even worse, for pottying in front of you. If your puppy makes this association early, it will make potty training very difficult because even when you get them outside before they need to go, they’ll be reluctant to potty in front of you. As puppies are rarely left outside unsupervised, they might not have an opportunity to “go” somewhere that is out of sight when outdoors. As a result, they may be let back in the house and quickly hide behind a piece of furniture to potty. They aren’t doing it to be spiteful, they’re doing it because they learned quickly that if you catch them pottying you might be unhappy. If an accident happens, take the puppy to an appropriate area to finish up, clean up the mess, and be on watch for the next Schedule or Sign that a potty is on its way.
The Scoop on Potty Training content media
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shannihendler
Aug 24, 2020
In Announcements
Residents throughout the state are experiencing poor air quality due to ongoing wildfires. For many areas, air quality has reached hazardous levels. Poor air quality is just as much of a concern for animals as it is for humans, and we should take the same precautions for our dogs that we do for ourselves. If you live in a area that is affected by wildfire smoke, the following safety tips may help you and your dog stay safe and healthy. Smoke Safety The main danger of breathing smoke comes from the inhalation of fine particulate matter. These fine particles can reach deep into lungs and cause a variety of health concerns, including congestion, coughing, and burning eyes. Safety Tips: Keep pets indoors with you. Close windows, and keep doors closed as much as possible. If possible, keep your air conditioner running to filter the air. Keep your potty breaks short and avoid long walks or other outdoor exercise. Keep hydrated! Be on the lookout for signs of respiratory stress or eye inflammation. Brachycephalic dogs, like Bulldogs or Pugs, are more susceptible to respiratory distress. Puppies and senior dogs are also at higher risk. Any dog with a pre-existing condition, such as asthma or bronchitis, should be monitored closely. Signs of Respiratory Distress in Pets: Difficulty breathing, forced or labored breathing. Unusual coughing, sneezing, vomiting, or loss of appetite. Swelling or inflammation of the mouth, eyes, or nose. Unusual open-mouthed breathing. Weakness and Lethargy. Increased salivation. While we may brave the smoke for a walk, we do do have the benefit of being able to wear masks to help filter the air. Keep in mind that your dog may suffer the same poor air quality symptoms as you, and that we need to be proactive in keeping them safe and limiting their exposure. Air quality for your location can be checked on the Airnow.gov site. If the air quality is anywhere above 150, you should be concerned about your exposure as well as your pet. Always check the Air Quality Index before taking your pet outdoors. If the AQI is between 100 and 150, it is likely safe to take your pet outdoors for limited periods of time. If the air quality is compromised, avoid prolonged exposure and outdoor exercise. Find a different way to burn off excess energy, such as Scent Games .
Smoke Safety for Pets content media
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shannihendler
Aug 18, 2020
In Training and Behavior
It’s hot out there! This week’s heat wave has forced many of us back indoors (as if we weren’t spending enough time in the house already…) and has made afternoon walks and trips to the park a bit less appealing. If you’re looking for ways to release some of your dog’s pent-up energy, encourage them to follow their nose in these rewarding, mentally stimulating indoor games. Why Scent Games? Dogs have extremely sensitive noses, and they experience much of the world around them through their sense of smell. Hiding treats or a specific odor around the house can help them engage their senses, enrich their minds, and keep them mentally stimulated while they’re indoors. A good mental workout is often more tiring than physical exercise, and is a great way to build communication and teamwork between you and your dog. If your dog has a great nose and a love of finding things, they might enjoy moving forward with training that focuses on utilizing their senses. There are a variety of sports that allow you to team up with your dog to find odors. From Nosework and Tracking to Barn Hunt, there are a variety of scent-sational activities that you can train your dog to compete in! If you'd like more information about training for these specific sports, please contact us at info@harmonydogs.net . Starting Simple: Which Hand? A game you’ve probably played yourself (without using your nose, of course) that can be just as fun for your dog! In this simple game, put a treat in one hand and present both closed hands to the dog. Ask them “Which Hand?” and let them use their nose to sniff out the treat. As your dog gains more understanding of the game, you can insist on a nose bump or a paw tap as their “alert” to identify the correct hand. If your dog guesses the wrong hand, show them the hand with the right treat, add some dramatic hand gestures as you rearrange your hands, and let them try again! Shell Game The shell game, a swindling trick that you might see in movies or in your local park, can be recreated in your own home (betting is optional, but we won’t judge). Using identical dog bowls, dishes, or cups, hide a treat under one and let your dog watch as you shuffle the cups around. To start, let your dog knock over the cups and try to find the treat. To increase difficulty, wait for them to indicate on a particular cup before revealing their reward. If they pick the wrong cup, show them where the treat is and shuffle them again. Hidden Treat Obstacle Course Creating an obstacle course of open boxes is a great way to get your dog searching and engage their mind and body. If you’ve been doing a bit of quarantine shopping, you probably have a few Amazon boxes lying around that can be utilized for a fun game of treat hunting. Fold the top flaps of boxes in so that they are open containers, and place them around the room you want to work in. You can put some boxes up high, like on a couch, and under chairs or tables so that your dog has to work to find the treat. To being, wander around the room and drop a high-value treat into an open box. Your dog will hear the treat fall, and then can use their nose to source it. As your dog begins to understand the game, you can hide treats more quickly so that they are motivated to search through the containers quickly. As you near the end of your session, allow your dog to go back and search the remaining boxes for any treats they haven’t found yet. In this video, Biscuit, a Harmony School puppy, learns to follow his nose in his first experience with treat hunting. Hide & Seek For the dogs who only have eyes for you, Hide & Seek might be their new favorite game! This game is fun, but it can also help your dog learn some important life skills. By asking your dog to stay until called, you can help teach them a strong out-of-sight stay. You can also use this game to improve recall skills. This will be a rather on-sided game of Hide & Seek. You will do all of the hiding, and your dog will do the seeking. To play, put your dog in a stay (or leave them with a family member—you can take turns hiding!) and leave the room. If you’re working with another family member, they can give the command (example: “Find Dad!”) or you can call the dog. You might just use the dog’s name “Fluffy! Come find me!” or you can get creative with something like “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” The dog will hear you to get your general direction, and then will use their nose to find your exact hiding spot. Great places to hide in the house include under the bed, in the closet, or in shower. We hope these beginner scent games will help you and your dog stay cool and occupy your time indoors!
Follow Your Nose to Indoor Enrichment! content media
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shannihendler
Jul 29, 2020
In Training and Behavior
Do you struggle with taking your dog to the vet? Is their stress and fear so intense that they tremble, salivate, pant, or even resort to attempts at escape or aggression? In the end, the vet visit is likely essential, so you probably force your dog to complete the visit (and promise to make it up to them later!). When grooming, does your dog panic at the sight of nail clippers? Do they tremble in the corner as you draw a bath? Is a trip to the groomer a stressful experience for everyone involved? Regular grooming is just as essential for health and happiness as regular veterinary care, and, in the end, you and your groomer will likely muscle your way through the visit… and of course give plenty of cookies afterwards. Learning by Association & Fear Learning Most dogs only visit the veterinarian once or twice a year, and, for most dogs, grooming is maybe a monthly occurrence. Dogs are masters of classical conditioning—or learning by association. When we force a dog to submit to physical handling they are not comfortable with, we’re conditioning an innate reflex to the signals of that event. Over time, our dogs learn to associate those signals with that uncomfortable event. For example, the sight or smell of a veterinarian’s office might bring on panic and the sound of grooming equipment or sight of nail clippers are signals that an uncomfortable grooming session is approaching. Fear learning is a powerful thing. When we are scared or stressed, our brains try to remember details, signs, and other signals so that we can avoid a similar event in the future. This can result in dogs being triggered by sights, sounds, and smells that we might not expect, and can lead to dogs to be less confident in the safety and security of the world around them. Cooperative Care In the past, both in grooming and veterinary medicine, it was common to believe that some dogs were simply better equipped for being handled for exam or grooming, and that for those who were less tolerant a certain amount of pressure or force was needed to complete the service. The intention was never to do harm to the dogs. When an essential service must be provided, those who care for dogs rarely have the option, or time, to try to alleviate the stress of the experience entirely. Most professionals who work with dogs will do everything in their power to make sure that the dog’s visit is as stress-free as possible. It is not the fault of your groomer or veterinarian if your dog is stressed by appointments with them. But if your dog only associates a bath or the sight of a stethoscope with an unpleasant experience, chances are they will be conditioned to have a negative response. As dog owners, we owe it to our furry friends to make these experiences pleasant and stress-free. Cooperative Care and Fear Free handling are words to describe a growing trend in the veterinary and grooming world that focus on training an animal to become a willing participant in the process of caring for them. This concept avoids the common force, pressure, or coercion that can occur in the veterinarian’s office or grooming salon, and instead focuses on building up positive association to being handled, and allows the animal to “opt-in” and be willing participants in their care. This training is accomplished at home, in hundreds of positive moments or short training sessions that prepare your dog for uncomfortable or even unexpected types of physical handling. The concept of cooperative care has been applied successfully across many species. [HERE] you can see a tiger undergoing a voluntary dental exam and blood draw, and [HERE] a stingray presenting herself for a pregnancy ultrasound. Be proactive! If cooperative care can work for zoos, it can work for your dog! By committing to cooperative care training long before you need to apply it in a veterinary office or grooming salon, you are committing to the health, happiness, and quality of life of your pet. Cooperative Care protocols can be taught by a trainer in classes like our Virtual Private Lessons or Dog Only Private Lessons. These methods are best taught in a safe, neutral environment such as at home or inside the Dogs In Harmony training center. You can also look for groomers or Fear Free veterinarians who support these practices. In our next Harmony Forum post, we’ll be discussing how to get started with cooperative care. For Sunnyvale locals, we’ll also link to Veterinarians and Groomers in the area who support Fear Free/Cooperative Care practices. Looking to help your dog have a fear free veterinary or grooming appointment? Contact us at bark@harmonydogs.net to schedule private lessons.
Cooperative Care: An Introduction content media
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shannihendler
Jul 20, 2020
In Announcements
The health and safety of you and your dogs is always our top priority. Many areas of our country are seeing a surge in Covid cases, and in response to these trends we have decided to tighten up our pick-up and drop-off procedures for the in-center services that we are currently offering. Dog or Puppy Drop-Off/Pick-Up If you're dropping off or picking up a dog for Private or Group Lessons, or a puppy for Harmony School or Learn & Play, the protocol for dropping off your puppy has been updated. Protocol for Drop-Off · When you arrive, please stay in your vehicle. Send a text message to let us know you have arrived. · Wait in your vehicle until you have received a reply. · Once you’ve been asked to leave your vehicle, please note you will not be entering the building. · Open door, and place dog inside the ex-pen at the door. Close the gate and door. The pick-up/drop-off pens and doors will be disinfected between uses. When you arrive for pickup, please follow a similar protocol. Once you have messaged us that you have arrived, please wait for a response before coming to the door. We are attempting to minimize contact between clients, and would like to avoid groups gathering at the door while waiting for drop-off or pick-up.
Covid Update: Pick-Up and Drop-Off Procedure content media
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shannihendler
Jul 20, 2020
In Announcements
Getting a new puppy is such an exciting adventure. At this young age they’re so full of potential, and they’re also hard work! After picking your perfect puppy from a [breeder], shelter, or rescue, you want to be sure you’re doing all you can for it. At our [Harmony School], we are focused on getting your puppy the best start in life by taking advantage of the critical socialization period in young puppies. Throughout the day at Harmony School, puppies alternate between training, solo and interactive play, learning appropriate chewing behaviors, potty training, and crate/independence training. This intensive training experience doesn’t just teach basic obedience, it teaches your dog how to learn, how to focus on their humans, and gives them exposure to different people, dogs, textures, sounds, and surfaces so that they have the [socialization] that they need to approach the world around them with confidence and positivity. A solid foundation of training at a young age is widely recognized as one of the best ways to set your puppy up to succeed. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has a puppy program dedicated to recognizing the young puppies and their owners for committing to this important training at an early age. Everything that is required in the AKC S.T.A.R (Socialization, Training, Activity, and Responsibility) program is already a part of the extensive training provided by Harmony School, and it is our pleasure to announce that we will now be administering AKC S.T.A.R Puppy tests as part of our Harmony School graduation. What is AKC S.T.A.R Puppy? The AKC S.T.A.R Puppy program is open to all dogs, purebred or mixed breed, and its purpose is to make sure your puppy gets a great start to the world. The program covers some basic steps that you should be taking in order to prepare your puppy for a happy and well-mannered adulthood. After a minimum of six lessons, your puppy is eligible to take the AKC S.T.A.R Puppy test. When you and your puppy pass, you will receive an application to enroll in the AKC S.T.A.R Puppy Program. After you register your S.T.A.R Puppy in the AKC program, you will receive the AKC S.T.A.R Puppy Medal and be listed in the AKC records. You’re also provided with a puppy pack that includes a frameable certificate, the digital version of the AKC New Puppy Guide, and a monthly newsletter with training tips. To be eligible for the AKC S.T.A.R Puppy Program test you must: · Be enrolled in Harmony School · Have an [AKC Registration Number] or [Canine Partners Registration] · Take the [AKC Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge] Becoming a Canine Good Citizen Puppies who complete the AKC S.T.A.R Puppy test will have the foundation they need to work toward becoming a Canine Good Citizen. The AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program is “the gold standard for polite dog behavior and a fantastic head start for the fun and exciting world of dog sports.” Dogs In Harmony will now be providing AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluations periodically, or by appointment to meet the needs of our students. This program focuses on the basics of good manners and obedience, as well as the values of responsible pet ownership and strengthening the bond between you and your dog at home and in the community. Beyond the bonding, there are practical benefits to CGC training, too. Not only will you and your dog understand the basics of dog training, and master skills like sit, down and stay, but you’ll know your dog will be able to handle herself with grace in a crowd and be a welcomed client at the vet or groomer. The CGC title is also a prerequisite for many therapy dog certifications, as well as a great introduction to more advanced dog sports and activities. Some homeowners’ insurance programs even offer discounts for CGC dogs, and an increasing number of apartments and condos see CGC awards as a major bonus for becoming a resident. Learn more about the AKC CGC program [here]. If you need a private appointment for a CGC Evaluation, or would like to know our evaluation schedule, please contact us at info@harmonydogs.net
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shannihendler
Jun 30, 2020
In Puppies
There are many options for finding the next furry friend to add to your family, and finding the right dog should be a decision that is not taken lightly. The options of rescue, adoption, and purchase can all be considered. If you choose to go with a breeder, you of course want to be sure that they are reputable breeders who do everything they can to give their puppies the best start. Why a Breeder? Rescue and adoption are fantastic choices that work for many people, but are not options for everyone. Typically breeders of purebred dogs are chosen when the puppy buyer is looking for a very specific kind of dog. Responsibly bred purebred dogs have an increased level of trait predictability. Breeds were created for a purpose, and their temperament, size, behavior, instinct, and drive/motivation are all hardwired into their backgrounds. When responsible breeders select for these traits, they are increasing the likelihood that the puppies they produce will show similar characteristics. This added predictability is beneficial if you have specific needs, such as lifestyle choices, children, and other pets. As a puppy buyer, it is your responsibility to research breeds and understand their histories and standard characteristics. You should be looking beyond aesthetics and focusing on what type of dog is best aligned with your lifestyle. It is possible to raise a happy herding dog in an apartment in the city, but it will take a lot of extra effort and time to make sure its mental and physical needs are fulfilled. Set yourself up for a lifetime of success by selecting a breed that matches your activity level, climate, housing situation, and level of training commitment. 10 Tips For Picking a Great Breeder Allows You To Visit. The best way to get to know someone is typically to meet them in person. While this might not be a possibility during Covid-19, most breeders still offer video-conference tours of their facility and will offer to meet you in person—with social distancing, of course. When you visit a breeder, observe their facilities as well as their dogs and their relationship. Is the premises clean and safe? Is it overcrowded? Do the dogs seem to be in good condition? How do the dogs react to the breeder, and how do they react to strangers? When you meet the parents of your potential puppy, their behavior will give you a good indication of the temperament you can expect from the litter. There’s no better way to get a sense for what your puppy will become than by interacting with its parents! Passes a “Background Check.” The internet and social media has made it very easy to research breeders. Consider joining breed-specific Facebook groups and searching for the breeder name or kennel name. Read through posts about the breeder and the puppies they’ve produced. Look for them online and be thorough in your research. Are there more negative than positive experiences posted? Are you unable to find anything about the breeder or their kennel outside of their website? Many puppy mills invest a lot into their online presence, and a quality website does not always mean a quality breeder. Look for personal experiences, and personal recommendations from people within the breed. Most purebred dog breeders will also be members in good standing with the “Parent Club” of their breed. For example, a Golden Retriever breeder will likely be a member of the Golden Retriever Club of America. When in doubt, search for the parent club (Search Breed Name + American Club) and review their website for suggestions on finding a good breeder, breeders of merit, and a breeder directory. Contact the secretary of the club directly with specific questions. Interviews YOU in Return. A reputable breeder will not allow you to purchase a puppy from them without vetting you as a buyer. Expect to be interviewed in return! A good breeder will want to know the kind of home their puppy will be going to. They’ll want to be sure that you can provide the puppy with everything that it needs, and that you are prepared to give the puppy a forever home. Some breeders will be very specific about the homes they allow their puppies to go to. Will Not Sell Online. As a reputable breeder will want to get to know you first, they will never allow you to purchase a puppy completely online. If you can add a puppy to your checkout basket and pay for all of it online—sight unseen—it is unlikely you’re supporting a reputable breeder. Good breeders do not always have good websites. Many have been involved in dogs their entire lives and are not particularly tech-savvy. Avoid breeders who treat the purchase of a puppy as a transaction without conversation, questions, and thorough vetting. Understands Socialization. The primary reason many decide to go with a breeder is to be sure that they’re getting a puppy who has the potential to be their ideal dog. Once you’ve decided on a breed that is aligned with your lifestyle, you want to be sure you’re getting a puppy that is prepared to be the best version of itself. Early socialization is a critical part of the puppy’s development. The critical socialization period occurs roughly between 3 and 16 weeks. During these critical weeks, puppies are constantly gaining information about the world around them and are building associations that can last a lifetime. The puppy’s breeder, as well as the puppy’s mother and littermates, will play an important role in socialization. This socialization is achieved by allowing the puppy to stay with its litter for an appropriate amount of time, and by the breeder working diligently to safely socialize puppies to the experiences they need to get a great foundation. These experiences include: - Early Neurological Stimulation. - Safe Early Socialization. - Early Basic Crate and Potty Training. - Enrichment, Problem Solving, and Handler Focus. There are many programs and protocols that breeders follow to achieve these early puppy socialization goals. Puppy Culture is a popular protocol that breeders use to make sure that they address the socialization needs of the puppy at every stage of growth. A good breeder should be able to describe the protocols they follow to you, and simply saying they follow Puppy Culture or a similar program is not enough. Ask your potential breeder for specific examples of their puppy-rearing protocols, and how they address breed-specific traits and concerns. If a breeder follows a program like Puppy Culture, ask for specific examples of how and when it’s applied. Socialization doesn't end when the puppy comes home. Programs like Dogs in Harmony's Harmony School are vital for continuing your puppy's education throughout its critical socialization period. Learn More Here! Does Not Breed Too Frequently. If a female dog is bred every heat cycle, they could have as many as 4 litters a year. Whelping a litter takes a physical toll on the mother, and most breeders will not breed every heat cycle so that the mothers have a chance to physically recover and rest after weaning. A breeder producing many litters a year, especially multiple litters from the same mother, is frequently a sign of a puppy mill. Health Tests Their Dogs. Good puppies begin long before the litter is born. Health testing of the parents is a critical part of ensuring that future generations of dogs have the best chances for living happy, healthy lives. Each breed of dog has specific health tests that are suggested by the Parent Club of the breed. A breeds Parent Club has extensive knowledge of the health issues that tend to occur within the breed, and their suggestions for health tests and screening are the minimum health and genetic tests that breeders should be providing. Common tests include: - OFA or PennHIP Hip Dysplasia Evaluation - OFA Elbow Dysplasia Evaluation - Eye Examination by a boarded ACVO Opthamologist - Congenital Cardiac Examinations - Breed-specific genetic tests for common and identified diseases. - Other breed-specific tests. [Look up your breed here!] OFA health tests are different than a “health guarantee” or “vet check”. These OFA tests can be verified online through the OFA database. Frequently, a dog suffering from a health condition won’t show symptoms until they’re older. For example, if a veterinarian does not notice signs of Hip Dysplasia in a young dog, it does not mean the dog is free of that condition. These OFA tests are specific evaluations of the common diseases, and go beyond a routine health check. Testing breeding animals for health can help puppy owners avoid the heartache of having their puppy grow up to be affected by these common conditions. If you are purchasing a puppy that is a mix of two breeds, it is important to make sure that the parents have passed the suggested health tests for their breed(s). Provides Documentation. From pedigree to OFA Health Tests, a good breeder will be able to provide documentation that supports their claims about their dogs. With an AKC Registration Number, you can check the [OFA Database] to make sure that both parents have passed their suggested health tests. You can also use the AKC Registration number to check the pedigree and background of both parents. A good breeder should unconditionally provide you with the following before purchase: - Sire and Dam AKC Registration Numbers. - Copies of all OFA Health Test Reports. - The specifics of their contract, including any special requirements. - A guarantee that the puppy will pass a health screening by the buyer's veterinarian. All puppies should be evaluated by your vet once you’re home with them. Wants the Dog Back Unconditionally. Responsible breeders stand by their puppies no matter what. A major reason that you are unlikely to find a responsibly bred purebred in animal shelters is that the vast majority of quality breeders will put it in their contract that the puppy should be returned to them if you are unable to continue caring for it. It doesn’t matter if the puppy is 9 months old or 9 years old, a reputable breeder will want the dog to come back to them of you are unable to keep it. Breeds With Purpose. It doesn’t matter if your preferred breed is a couch potato or a full-time herding dog, when breeders produce a litter of puppies they should be breeding with a purpose. Purposeful breeding requires careful selection of breeding stock based on breed conformation, health, and temperament. Breeding with purpose, and following all suggested health tests, is what sets quality breeders apart from those who might be breeding for profit. Puppy Mill vs Breeder When selecting a breeder, it is essential that you can spot the differences between a puppy mill and a reputable breeder. A puppy mill is a commercial dog-breeding operation that focuses on making a profit. They typically take the “quantity over quality” approach to dog breeding, and their goal is not the health and welfare of the animals they keep or produce. Their dogs are typically bred frequently and may be kept in poor conditions. Puppy Mill Red Flags · Puppies are separated from their mother before 6 weeks old. · The seller offers many different purebreds or “designer” hybrids. · The transaction, from purchase to shipping arrangements, can be done completely online without the seller discussing the puppy with you in person or on the phone. · The seller does not take an interest in you or your home life. Responsible breeders will want to know about the home their puppy is going to! · The seller does not request “right of first refusal”—they do not want the puppy returned to them unconditionally if you are unable to care for it. When you decide to purchase from a breeder, do your research and make sure that the person you're supporting is breeding in the best interest of the dogs. If a puppy or purebred dog isn't what you're interested in, consider adopting from a local shelter or breed-specific rescue!
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shannihendler
Jun 22, 2020
In Puppies
As soon as young puppies open their eyes, they begin to interact with their mother and siblings through play. Puppy play is a critical part of the physical and psychological well-being of puppy. During this early developmental stage in their lives, puppies are always learning and they are constantly gaining new information through play. Why do Dogs Need to Play? Puppies learn important life lessons as they grow up with their littermates and mother. After two to three weeks, when the puppy has opened its eyes, they begin to interact with their family and learn important dog-specific behavioral patterns. Through play they gain an understanding of verbal and nonverbal canine communication. From different postures to varying degrees of vocalization, puppies learn to “read” other dogs through these early interactions. After five weeks, puppies begin to use their mouths a bit more in play. As a result, they also learn bite inhibition. When a puppy bites too hard, its littermate will likely yelp and withdraw from play. The puppy learns that if they want to continue with the play, they should measure the pressure used when mouthing their playmate. As puppies interact with their mothers, they also learn discipline. The mother is responsible for overseeing the lessons of canine behaviors, and will typically offer corrections to the puppies in order to show them the boundaries of appropriate behavior. When puppies are separated from their mother and littermates too early, they may have problems with nervousness, over-vocalization, and lack of bite inhibition. With nobody shaping their early behaviors, they can also be difficult to train. It is generally suggested that puppies remain with their littermates and mother until 8 weeks old, with some breeds staying with their canine families longer, depending on their developmental needs. Taking the Lead Once your puppy comes home, it becomes your responsibility to continue shaping proper play behavior. Just as it did with its littermates, your puppy will continue to use play as a way to socialize, learn, and test their boundaries. Play, both with humans and other dogs, will continue to be important to their growth and development. Exercise. A tired puppy is a happy puppy! Exercise is a fundamental part of play, and through play your puppy will learn body awareness and coordination. Play will offer an outlet for the seemingly endless energy of a puppy, and make them less likely to direct that energy in a more destructive way—like toward your favorite pair of shoes. Training Tip: When playing with your puppy, avoid play that is focused on your hands. Roughing a puppy up with your hands might seem enjoyable, but can result in over-arousal and a puppy trying to mouth or paw at you in return. As the puppy grows up and gets stronger, this can lead to scratches and bites. Teach the behaviors now that you want them to show as adults. Direct play toward a toy, minimize rough play behaviors, and encourage your dog to settle by stopping play when they become too excited. Mental Stimulation. Sometimes a good mental workout is more exhausting than a physical one! Playing, especially with games and toys like a Kong, reward your puppy for thinking of ways to get the treat out. Games like fetch or scent games can also be mentally challenging and rewarding. Training Tip: A stuffed toy or treat puzzle is a great way of encouraging a “settle” behavior, and can be used to de-escalate play behavior that has gotten a bit out of hand. Continued Education. Puppies this age are always learning! Just as they were learning appropriate behavior from their mother and siblings, they’ll learn what appropriate behavior is from you as well. You can shape their play manners by rewarding only the behaviors that are acceptable. When puppies come home, they should be learning the behaviors that will be appropriate for the rest of their lives. Essentially, if you don’t want your dog to do something when they’re fully grown, do not encourage that behavior as a puppy. If you have a young puppy that is going to grow up to be a large dog, you probably don’t want them jumping on you as an adult! Training Tip: Play is a reward that your puppy is familiar with. Just as puppies learned that biting too hard would result in their littermates withdrawing from play (removing the fun reward of play), puppies will learn exceptionally well when they have to “work” to receive the reward of play. Training between play sessions is useful for preventing the puppy from becoming over-aroused, and also as a way of reinforcing training through a reward that they are always excited about. Socialization. It’s important that your puppy’s socialization with other dogs does not end once they leave their littermates. Play time with other puppies is a critical part of their development, and helps them refine their bite inhibition, communication, and other social skills. Socializing puppies also helps dogs learn that interacting with furry friends is a reward for good behavior, encouraging behaviors that result in calm greetings and appropriate play as adults. Training Tip: What about dog parks? Young puppies should NOT be exposed to high-traffic dog areas before they have received their full protocol of vaccines. Dog parks are NOT a safe place to socialize a puppy. Puppies are tremendously sensitive to experiences, and dog parks are not controlled spaces. An overzealous greeting or aggressive or poorly mannered dog can result in the puppy creating a negative association that will shape the way they interact with dogs for a lifetime. The goal of socialization is to create positive interactions, and avoid anything that will be overwhelming or frightening. Instead of turning to dog parks to socialize your dog to other canines, it is suggested that puppies attend an age-appropriate puppy class. Dogs in Harmony offers multiple solutions to puppy socialization, even in times social distancing. Harmony School provides structured play, learning and socialization to people, textures, sounds, and other dogs. It is the optimal learning environment for young puppies. Group puppy classes and puppy Learn and Play sessions are also excellent socialization options. For more information on our offerings for puppies, please email us at [info@harmonydogs.net] and let us know your puppy’s needs and goals. Encouraging Positive Play Play has an important role in the development of your puppy, and learning to encourage positive play is a critical part of helping your puppy reach its potential. Here are a few DO’s and DON’Ts for encouraging puppy play. DO: Control your energy. If you have a high-energy puppy and approach play time with the same level of excitement, you’re likely going to end up with an over-aroused puppy that begins directing that energy toward mouthing your hands or feet. This can unintentionally encourage “mouthiness” or biting behaviors. Meet high energy puppies with calm human energy. If your puppy is lower energy, you may need to increase your energy to encourage fun play. DON’T: Continue play when your puppy is overly excited. This can lead to unwanted behaviors and puppy frustration. When play gets too rough, initiate a play break and let them settle in their crate or personal space with an engaging chew toy. Puppies should only be left with a chew when the you are sure that the chew is safe for them. Monitor your puppy's chew/play style when presenting a new toy or chew, and only leave them unsupervised with it once you've determined that the toy/chew is safe and will not cause blockage or choking hazard. DO: Encourage basic training and obedience before and during play. Use play as a reward for practicing basic obedience commands. This makes learning a part of the fun! DON’T: Respond to unwanted play behaviors with roughness or emotional responses. If your puppy is nipping or chewing on something they shouldn’t during play, it’s just part of the learning process. Don’t encourage those behaviors. Instead, offer better choices and better rewards. DO: Seek out socialization opportunities to help your puppy refine their ability to read other dogs and improve their manners. Make sure the socialization opportunities are structured, safe, and controlled. DON’T: Allow puppies to play or chew without supervision. Don’t allow puppies to have unsupervised play with other dogs or puppies, and make sure to not leave them alone with toys they can destroy and ingest. If you have questions or concerns about your puppy, their play, or socialization options, get in contact with a Dogs in Harmony Professional Trainer to discuss your puppy’s needs or enroll in a puppy-appropriate class. [info@harmonydogs.net]
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shannihendler
Jun 15, 2020
In Training and Behavior
Every dog is different! Which type of class will be better for your dog depends on their needs, personality, and, of course, your preference. With services being modified during Covid, Dogs In Harmony is offering private lessons (dog only, or outdoor private lessons with humans) as well as dog only group classes to accommodate the needs and preferences of all of our clients. Private Lessons A private lesson is a one-on-one training session that includes either the dog and trainer, or you and your dog with the trainer. These lessons will be held either in our training center or locally in an outdoor setting. Advantages of Private Lessons: Work only on what you need. A private class focuses on your specific needs and gives you time to work on problems and behaviors that are important to you. Fear and aggression. A dog who is fearful or aggressive might not be a good candidate for good classes, and private lessons are a much more appropriate training opportunity. Minimal distractions. Increase your probability of success by controlling and minimizing distractions. Dogs may find it easier to focus when it’s just you and your trainer. Absence training. When did you last leave your dog alone for an hour? If you’re working from home, you might be seeing more of your dog than usual. Leaving your dog for a group class or private lesson will provide them with time away from you, and that time will be spent in a controlled learning environment. You don’t need to leave them at home and hope for the best, with both private and group lessons you’ll know that your dog is not only safe, but is actively learning and not experiencing anxiety about your absence. Team building. With other distractions minimized, your dog can really focus on you. This focus is a critical part of building a team and training relationship. If your dog can’t focus on you in private lessons, they might find it difficult to focus on you in group lessons. Group Classes Dogs In Harmony group classes are currently “dog-only” and are hosted inside of our training center. These classes combine dogs of similar age, temperament, experience, and play style to make for an enriching class that combines training with the dog and human socialization that is severely lacking these days. Advantages of Group Classes: Distractions. Wait, distractions are an advantage? Yes! For many dogs, learned behaviors can go out the window when there are intriguing distractions. A group class provides an opportunity to “proof” behaviors among distractions. Learn more about the advantages of working around distractions. Socialization. Dog play dates are currently few and far between. If your dog’s favorite thing in the world is meeting another dog, they need to learn to interact in a way that is calm, controlled, and safe. These dog-only group classes give them an opportunity to learn to interact appropriately with others. Absence training. When did you last leave your dog alone for an hour? If you’re working from home, you might be seeing more of your dog than usual. Leaving your dog for a group class or private lesson will provide them with time away from you, and that time will be spent in a controlled learning environment. You don’t need to leave them at home and hope for the best, with both private and group lessons you’ll know that your dog is not only safe, but is actively learning and not experiencing anxiety about your absence. Impulse Control. Dogs everywhere! Dog-only group classes and Harmony School provide dogs and puppies with an excellent opportunity to learn from and around other dogs. Between individual exercises, your dog or puppy will be expected to wait for their own turn. Your dog’s ability to learn in the presence of another dog teaches them that they can interact with other dogs when they’re allowed to do so and will need to ignore that powerful distraction when needed. Which Dogs In Harmony learning option is best for you and your dog? If you have questions about which program will be best for you, please message us at info@harmonydogs.net
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shannihendler
Jun 15, 2020
In Training and Behavior
If your dog is having digestion trouble or your fish has started fainting, chances are you’ll be taking your pet to a veterinarian who has modified their services to ensure the safety of their clients and staff during the Covid pandemic. Like all of us, veterinarians have had to make changes in their normal operating procedures. For most veterinary practices, this means no more clients in the office, curbside drop-off of pets, and an increase in phone or video consultations. In early March, the FDA eased restrictions on veterinarians to allow for more telemedicine and virtual visits. In California, veterinarians have been issued waivers through July to allow them to perform many exams remotely as long as your pet is an existing patient, and many prescription refills have been extended by six extra months without the requirement for an in-person appointment. If you're visiting a veterinarian for the first time, you'll still have to go to the office, but most locations will not allow owners inside the practice. The California Veterinary Medical Association is recommending its members minimize contact with their clients. A typical vet visit will include calling the office to let you know that you’ve arrived, and preparing for a tech to come to your car to take notes on the issues your dog might be suffering from. Once your pup is ready to be handed off, they’ll have to go into the office without you. Many of our dogs have some anxiety about visiting the veterinarian, and going into the office without you might be a scary idea (for both of you!). With both in-person drop-offs and virtual calls or telemedicine, your vet will rely on your ability to communicate the issues that your dog is having. A better understanding of your dog will help you know when it’s time to call a vet, and when a drop-off is needed instead of a video call. How Well Do You REALLY Know Your Dog? Fluffy’s favorite cookie? Anything with bacon. Bed time is promptly at 9:30, and he prefers a walkie before breakfast. You know what your dog loves, and you can probably tell when he’s acting “normal” and when he isn’t feeling well, but how can you articulate those subtle changes to your veterinarian without being in the office with them? In a time where many of us are reluctant to take trips that might not be necessary, how can you make the distinction between an issue that can wait for a call and one that requires an immediate trip? Establishing a Baseline Being an active participant in your pet's care and health monitoring can help alert you to small changes that should be brought to your veterinarian. Throughout your dog’s life, you should work to establish a “Baseline” of vitals and keep notes on any lumps, bumps, or “normal abnormalities” that you’ve found. If your dog had a cyst or bump that was examined last year and is benign, you should know its size and position so that you can alert the vet if anything changes. Knowing every bit of your dog, from gums to toenails, will help you make an informed decision about their care. In addition to routinely checking for lumps and bumps, it is important to know your dog's normal respiratory and heart rate. Dr. Sonya Gordon notes that normal breathing rate is between 15-30 breaths a minute when resting calmly or sleeping. It is considered normal for breathing rates to be much higher than this when dogs and cats are hot, stressed or active. Resting/sleeping breathing rates that are consistently greater than 30 breaths per minute are increased and considered abnormal. For some individuals, rates lower than 30 breaths per minute may be considered increased and abnormal by your veterinarian. Ask your veterinarian what rate is considered increased and abnormal for your dog. Normal heart rate for a small or medium-sized dog is between 70 and 140 beats per minute. A large dog's normal heart rate is between 50 and 120 beats per minute. If your pet is ever in distress, it’s important to be familiar with their normal vital signs. Knowing how to periodically check and record normal pet vital signs is a smart idea; not only will it give you and your furry family member some practice doing it, but you’ll be able to use the numbers as a baseline of what’s “normal” for your pet in case of an injury or illness. The three main vitals you want to measure are the heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature. Preparing for a Drop-Off If you and your vet have decided your dog needs an in-person visit, it’s important to be prepared to make the handoff as painless as possible. · If you have a small dog, consider handing them off in a crate instead of on leash, if your vet will allow it. Your dog might be reluctant to walk with a stranger, and may not be comfortable being picked up. · Desensitize your dog to being approached and handled by people wearing masks. · Be sure to have your dog in a properly fitted collar or harness, or ask the veterinary technician to use a slip lead to make sure your dog can’t slip out of their collar. · Practice absence and independence training. Separation anxiety can be an issue if your dog will have to stay at the vet office without out. · Practice crate training. Even if you don’t crate at home, it’s important that your dog can be comfortable in being crated—especially if they have to stay overnight. · Don’t make it a big deal. Try to keep your anxiety in check, and don’t make the handoff to at the vet’s office a big deal for your pet.
How Well Do You Know Your Dog? content media
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shannihendler
Jun 08, 2020
In Training and Behavior
Does your dog suffer from selective hearing? Does their training go out the window when you come upon another dog or intriguing distraction? All dogs find it more difficult to be obedient in the presence of distractions. You may find that you have a completely different dog in your backyard than you do at the park. While frustrating, this is a completely normal step in training that all dogs experience. In fact, your dog being easily distracted is actually an opportunity in disguise. Your dog is interested in those things that distract them, and you can use the hardest distractions as rewards themselves. If new dog friends are your dog’s favorite thing, letting him play with one after you've worked on your stay or "leave it" is an excellent reward. This is known as the Premack Principle, and it teaches dogs that if they give you what you want, they'll get what they want in return. Working with distractions is one of the most difficult phases of dog training, but provides you with a dog who has solid focus and obedience in even the most challenging situations. Deliberate Distractions The “proofing” phase of dog training takes the obedience that you’ve learned at home or in class and applies it to different, “real world” scenarios. In order to best proof your dog for a variety of situations, you have to deliberately set those situations and distractions up and work through them. If you want your dog to reliably watch you or recall to you when there are distractions, you need to train specifically for these behaviors. When we start training with the 3 D’s (Duration, Distance, and Distraction) we try to keep the distractions at a minimum, and typically add in distractions as the final step. Proofing is the process of training in a distracting environment. For it to be successful, an artificial training scenario is created where the trainer has control over the dog’s arousal, level of distraction, and of the dog’s response to it. · Increase Distractions Slowly: Many dogs can focus while their environments are controlled and distractions are limited, but we can’t always control distractions in the outside world. When adding distractions, start small, leave the other D’s (Duration and Distance) alone, and work on building your dog’s focus on you. Training Tip: If you have a dog who loves toys, start teaching focus by rewarding your dog for paying attention to you rather than the ball on the floor. Reward for focus and eye contact on you, not the toy. Gradually work up to picking the toy up, then to moving it between hands, and eventually to squeaking it. This training may take weeks to progress through, but building focus on the handler is an invaluable component of having a dog who will listen to you regardless of the environment you’re in. · Manage the Environment: Try to keep your dog’s excitement to a minimum, and make sure you can control the distance and level of the distractions you’re working through. If your dog is excitable, even high-value treats or toys could make it difficult to focus on you. To set your dog up for success, try to minimize the environmental stimuli that might distract him. · Bigger Stakes? Bigger Steaks. Match the reward to the level of distraction that you’re competing with. Your goal is to offer them a better choice, and choosing an appropriate reward will help you encourage they make the right one. After all, dogs repeat behaviors that are rewarding. Make sure that your reward is good enough that they choose you ever time. Find your dog’s hierarchy of rewards, and be sure to increase the reward when the distractions get more difficult. Proofing and training with distractions is something that you can do from home or the park. The difficult part of setting up your own training scenarios is controlling your environment and setting your dog up for success. If your dog’s favorite thing is a new person or a potential dog friend, you might find safe opportunities for training to be few and far between these days. Fewer doggy play dates and drop ins from visitors make it difficult to set up situations where your dog can be challenged in a controlled way. Group Classes Dogs! Dogs everywhere! It’s a dream come true for a dog who loves to meet new friends, but can be a nightmare for owners who aren’t expecting their dog to suddenly run toward an oncoming Poodle in the park. If the process of proofing your dog's training, controlling the environment, or finding safe, effective distractions to improve your training sounds daunting-- you aren't alone! For most dog owners, the guidance and structure of a group class is an important part of this training process. Group training classes provide an opportunity for socialization as well as distraction training and impulse control. Before Covid, a group class would include both owners and their dogs. Now that we must be conscious of social distancing and limit the number of people in an indoor area, dog-only group classes are an excellent alternative for a dog who needs to learn to focus, improve impulse control, and learn to work around other dogs. These dog group classes provide even the most dog-friendly dog with an opportunity to socialize, learn dog manners, and learn to safely greet and play with other dogs. Dogs in Harmony Group Classes Our dog-only group classes are divided into groups according to age, temperament, play style, and training level. By matching dogs that are similar, we are able to better control the environment and set your dog up to be successful. The goal of these group classes is to take your dog’s training to the next level and begin the process of proofing their behavior in a variety of carefully set up and controlled training scenarios. As most dogs LOVE to meet new dogs, this environment provides an excellent opportunity to allow the dogs to be both the distraction and the reward. Using the hardest distractions as rewards themselves is an excellent way of teaching your dog that they get what they want when they give you what they want! To register for our Dog-Only Group Classes, please fill out the form here. Harmony School Early training and socialization makes for better puppies. If your dog is a young puppy, you have a window of time where you can socialize your puppy in a group class while they are learning. The Harmony School takes advantage of that critical socialization period to teach your puppy how to be the best possible family dog. During this critical time in a puppy’s development, having a good trainer by your side to help you make the best choices on how and when to expose your puppy to new things is tremendously beneficial. Most behavioral problems that arise in adult dogs are due to lack of socialization. At Harmony School we positively associate puppies to dogs, people, objects, sounds, textures and handling. Dogs over the age of 4 months must be evaluated and approved to attend Harmony School. School Hours are Tuesday - Friday, 9 am - 2 pm. Our daily schedule will depend on the needs of the dogs in our care, but will always include the following: ​ Interactive Play Chewing Enrichment Training Solo play time Crate time Potty training Socialization To learn more about any of our Covid-modified services, please click here.
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shannihendler
May 25, 2020
In Announcements
When this year began, none of us could have imagined how much our world would change, the anxiety and loss so many of us would feel, or the strength and resilience with which our community would respond to these unprecedented challenges. It is impossible to overstate how much your continued support has meant to us. We are so pleased that we were able to offer safe, modified services that helped you continue to work toward your training goals. As our state makes plans to move forward, Dogs in Harmony will continue to offer modified services that are aligned with the changing community guidelines. Although our community is starting to open up and regulations are loosening, we recognize that this is by no means behind us, and it will be some time before we all feel safe enough to resume our normal routines. In order to accommodate the changing needs of our community, we have modified our service offerings to allow for an expanded range of learning opportunities while still focusing on the health and safety of our valued clients. These new services will be available for enrollment today, and new classes will begin June 9th. VIEW SCHEDULE Harmony School Dog only drop-off for day training, socialization, and the development needs of your young dog. Harmony School is an intensive training program ideal for puppies under 4 month of age. Our goal is to create the best possible family dog. We take full advantage of the critical socialization period (first 4 months of life). This is a unique time in a dogs life where they can adjust quickly to new things and can use that information later on in life. Most behavioral problems that arise in adult dogs are due to lack of socialization. At Harmony School we positively associate puppies to dogs, people, objects, sounds, textures and handling. Giving puppies the best possible start in life. Families with dogs in our day school need to continue working with their dogs at home. Dogs over the age of 4 months must be evaluated and approved to attend Harmony School. School Hours are Tuesday - Friday, 9 am - 2 pm. Outdoor Private Lessons (With Humans!) As shelter orders begin to lift, we are able to offer outdoor private lessons with you and your dog. This outdoor option allows you to learn with your dog while maintaining social distancing. Safety is our priority, and masks will be required for these outdoor lessons. Dog Only Group Classes Dogs enrolled in group lessons will be divided into groups according to temperament, play style, training level and age. In class dogs will learn proper edict of multiple dog training sessions, meaning that dogs will be on a stay while not activity working with their trainer and will rotate through individual training sessions, group training sessions and play. These sessions will provide much needed mental stimulation and impulse control. Please fill out our form to enroll in group classes. Dog Only Private Classes One on one training session. This is ideal for dogs that are extremely distracted by other dogs, are new to training or are reactive to other dogs. These sessions are tailored for the unique needs of your dog to help you achieve your training goals. Virtual Private and Group Classes Due to popularity, and to accommodate those who wish to continue their training from the comfort and safety of their homes, we will continue offering Virtual Lesson appointments on weekends. In these virtual sessions, you can train privately to work on your specific goals, or learn along with a small group of others who are at a similar training level. Thank you for your continued support. If you have any questions about our new services, please contact us at info@harmonydogs.net Enrollment Opens Monday, May 25 th. New Classes Begin June 9th! View Our Schedule
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shannihendler
May 18, 2020
In Training and Behavior
California recently released guidelines for restaurants looking to begin offering dine-in services. These guidelines include limited capacity and expanded outdoor seating. As counties begin to meet Phase 2 reopening criteria, many residents are looking for safe ways of venturing out into the world with their two- and four-legged family members in tow. It might be some time before most of us are comfortable going to restaurants again, but now is a perfect time to begin teaching your dog some patio protocols to make your outdoor dining experience more enjoyable. If you're ready to spend some time in the outside world, and your dog has been desensitized to people wearing masks, these tips will help you make the most of your doggy dinner date. Mind Your Manners First and foremost, be sure that the establishment you’re visiting allows dogs on their patio or outdoor seating areas. Not all restaurants are dog friendly. Please be respectful of the business and only bring dogs where allowed. Not all people are dog friendly either. Part of having an enjoyable dining experience is making sure that your dog isn’t being a nuisance or distraction to other diners. You are responsible for your dog at all times, and should be proactive in assuring your dog won’t be causing problems in the space you’re sharing with others. Be sure your dog is positioned in a way that doesn’t obstruct pathways, and be mindful of other dogs who might be sharing the area as well (after all, they might not read this blog!). Now that human manners are taken into consideration, let’s discuss how you can help your dog have a successful and stress-free dining experience. Beggars CAN be Choosers If you’ve ever been stared down for a cookie or tried to sleep in past your dog’s breakfast time, you’ve undoubtedly experienced your dog’s affinity for all things consumable. Food is an awesome tool for training wanted behaviors, but it can also be used to reinforce unwanted behaviors. If you’ve given in to sad eyes and offered a scrap of food from the table, you might have reinforced behaviors that can result in begging. Food begging can quickly escalate from sad eyes and intense stares to barking and whining. When dining outdoors, all of these behaviors would be unwanted and annoying—both to you and to other patrons. If your dog is prone to begging, now is a great time to start showing them that an appropriate behavior, such as remaining in a down stay or going to their mat, will be much more rewarding. You just have to help them make a better choice. Consistency. Retraining a dog that table scraps won’t be an option requires the entire family to be on the same page. Your pup isn’t going to learn that the table is off limits if your partner is sneaking bits of steak at the dinner table. If anything, this lottery system of reward might actually teach them that being persistent will pay off eventually. This can lead to escalated begging behaviors. Redirection. If getting the occasional table scrap is good, you have to make the alternative behavior even better. Begin by putting your dog in a down stay near the table. If you have them trained to go to a mat to rest, use this spot as a target. Reinforce the stay by occasionally tossing treats. If your dog is having trouble staying, you could provide them with a stuffed Kong or food puzzle to help keep their interest. Keep it Up! For many dogs, begging is a behavior that has rewarded them with enough consistency that they are motivated to keep trying. Before a behavior that is no longer being reinforced will declined, it will typically escalate into what’s referred to as an “extinction burst.” This might mean that your dog escalates from sad-eyed staring to pawing or barking. If you give in to those behaviors, you’ll end up reinforcing them. Keep in mind that unlearning a behavior is a process, and you will need to be patient and consistent. Place and Space Once you’re confident that your dog won’t be whining to join your meal, it’s time to think about how your dog will be accommodated while you dine. A benefit of these Covid service modifications is that there will likely be more distance between tables. If you have a big dog, this extra space will be particularly welcomed. Wherever your dog is placed, be mindful of the needs of servers. Not everyone will be comfortable around dogs, and it should not be their responsibility to step around your dog to serve you. Four on the Floor. Your house rules might allow for your dog to sit at the table with you, but the restaurant will likely take issue with this. This might include putting your small dog carrier or mat on an unoccupied chair. Be prepared to have your small dog on the floor, under the chair or table. Under no circumstances should their paws be up on the table. Settle on a Travel Mat. A thin, roll-up mat can be an excellent tool to transition from settling at home to settling in a space outside. Once you’ve trained your dog to settle on a mat, you can take their safe spot with you on the road. If you have a small dog, settling in a portable crate is another great option. Keep Them Occupied. A dog that is happily occupied with their favorite toy (no squeakers, please) or chew will be unlikely to bother others. Bring a long-lasting chew, toy puzzle, or other non-disruptive interactive option to encourage the dog to peacefully remain in one place while you enjoy your meal. Stay in Control. Resist the urge to tie your leash to the table or chair. When in an outdoor space where unexpected food drops or other distractions are likely to happen, having your dog anchored to something that isn’t you is a recipe for disaster. A dog who rushes to try to snatch dropped food or tries to bolt after a squirrel might take your table with it or, even worse, escape. Hold on to the leash or use a hands-free option like a belt attachment. Don’t give your dog too much slack, and be sure to keep them within an arm’s length. Make Sure it’s Fun Just like people, dogs can have varying degrees of enjoyment for social situations. Before you ask your dog to hang out and eat dinner with you, be sure this is something they actually enjoy. A busy street, an outdoor patio, people walking around, and sudden noises can all be stressful for a dog. If you find that your dog is stressed in these situations, consider leaving them at home. You can help build their independence and short sessions at home alone can help prevent Separation Anxiety from developing.
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shannihendler
May 11, 2020
In Training and Behavior
Many state and local governments, including the counties in our area of California, have mandated the wearing of face coverings while in public. Adjusting to wearing masks (and trying to talk in them!) has been a challenge for many of us. As you’ve no doubt realized when socializing your dog, it can be difficult for them to acclimate to people who look or act differently than they’re used to. The first time your dog meets someone with a beard or a hat has likely shown you how challenging it can be for dogs to understand and accept our fashion choices. Last week, we discussed the prevention of separation anxiety as many of us start adjusting to our “new normal” and Shelter in Place orders begin to lift. Today, we’ll discuss a different kind of stress your dog might need to work through: Being surrounded by people wearing masks. More Than Just a Mask By living in close contact with humans for generations, dogs have developed skills that allow them to interact and communicate with humans. Just as we look for non-verbal indicators in our dogs to explain how they might be feeling, dogs have adapted to understand our non-verbal language, interpret our moods, and anticipate our actions or needs. A 2018 Springer study showed that dogs had different physical reactions to photographs of faces displaying different emotions. Dogs in the study reacted differently to expressions of surprise and anger, and happiness and sadness. Your dog takes in information about the world through all of their strong senses. A mask is more than just an odd fashion choice to them, it’s a barrier to reading important information about the people they might be asked to interact with. Just as you might experience stress when you don’t have the necessary information to approach a situation confidently, your dog might also feel stressed and overwhelmed by suddenly losing the ability to gain information from a human’s face. Desensitization Starts at Home More people outside and state mandated masks in public means your dog might be tossed into a sea of people that they don’t quite understand. Being thrown in water before you know how to swim can be stressful and overwhelming, and the same idea applies to your dog. Before you start taking them out to a park full of masked humans, you should systematically desensitize them to masks and facial coverings in a controlled environment. - Introduce the concept of masks in the home. Show a dog the mask, let them interact with it, and reward them for neutral interactions. You might leave a mask taped to the wall near their food dish, or leave them around the house to make the object itself less scary. - Incorporate the mask with your outfit. Begin wearing the mask around the house. Don’t use it to cover your face, but pin it to your shirt, hang it from an ear, or wear it on your forehead. Get the dog used to you wearing it on you, without blocking the important information they read from your face. - Short and Sweet. Keep these introduction sessions short and positive. Reward the dog while they work to understand the new object, and never bring them over their stress threshold while introducing it. If your dog is overwhelmed at any point, take a step back and build their confidence about the new object. - Wear it Well. If your dog is confident about the object, and isn’t startled by you or the mask when it’s worn around your neck or on your forehead. Introduce short sessions of wearing the mask around the home. Put the mask on and head to the cookie jar or toy bin, let your dog receive the reward from you and then remove the mask. Work up to wearing the mask before feeding, during relaxed or happy play time, or pop it on for brief sessions while you’re cuddling on the couch. Soon, the dog should be associating the mask with positive things, and will not have a negative reaction to you covering your face. - A Family Affair. Teach the dog that the mask isn’t unique to one person. Once your dog is comfortable with the object, get the entire family in on the mask game. Start adding in different styles of masks, bandannas, and other interesting face coverings that people might improvise for use in public. It is always better to introduce these strange things in a controlled, home environment. - Controlled Environment on the Move. If your dog tends to be cautious, introduce the idea of masks on strangers slowly. This might mean parking your car next to a busy store or park and letting them observe masked strangers as they go about their business. Wear your mask too, and praise and reward your dog for their casual observation. By staying in your car, you’re in control of the situation and can keep your dog below threshold. Once your dog is comfortable with the idea of strangers in masks, venture out to a park or into your neighborhood, keep your distance from others, and praise/reward your dog for bravely exploring this new world. Keeping Up Communication Even if your dog accepts masks as the new normal, you’ll still be covering up an important communication tool for them. I’m sure you’ve experienced difficulty communicating with others while a mask muffles your words. You might have taken to waving a greeting rather than speaking it, or using more body language in general to help get your point across. Just as these non-verbal indicators are helping you communicate with people, expanding your body language will also help you communicate with your dog. For some, this might mean going back to a clicker to indicate a “yes!” or developing a hand signal to convey “good dog!” Every dog is different. Some may take to masks without issue, while some may be more cautious. Either way, it’s important to be able to read their body language and be sure of when they’re comfortable enough to move to the next step. If you have concerns or issues acclimating your dog to this “new normal” contact us to arrange for a private lesson and individualized guidance. These steps might be time consuming, but preventing a problem before it starts is much easier than trying to fix it! Give your dog the time and information they need to make the adjustment to this new world.
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shannihendler
May 04, 2020
In Training and Behavior
The Covid lockdown has forced many of us to make changes to our routines and spend an unusual amount of time indoors. Your dog has spent the past two months adjusting to a new routine that depends a lot on you being at home. The adjustment was likely very easy for them. After all, what dog doesn’t enjoy more family time and frequent walks? As our country makes moves to open up again, many of us will begin to transition back to our regular work schedules and locations. If your dog has grown dependent on your constant presence, the adjustment toward this “new normal” might not be an easy one. We can’t be sure what the next few months will bring us, but if you begin the process of preparing your dog for the future today, any future adjustment will not come as a shock. Separation Anxiety When a dog becomes dependent on your presence, they may show stress and anxiety when left alone. This anxiety goes beyond the occasional mournful whine or request to throw the ball just one more time before you head off to work. Dogs who experience these extreme stress behaviors when left alone are likely suffering from Separation Anxiety: · Destruction of the home, including: Chewing furniture/shoes/household items, frantic scratching of doors or windows. · Severe stress behaviors of pacing, drooling, panting, and salivating. · Unwillingness to be contained/crated, including fence jumping, digging out, and desperate and potentially dangerous crate or home escaping. · Unusual urination or defecation indoors. · Excessive vocalization: Howling, barking, and whining. Sudden life changes can cause separation anxiety even in dogs who have not experienced stress at their owner’s absence in the past. After weeks of their human family staying home with them, dogs might not understand why they’re suddenly asked to be left alone—especially for an entire work day. Their new dependence on your presence can cause severe stress if your schedule abruptly changes back to “normal” in the future. Preventing Post-Lockdown Anxiety As the future is still uncertain to many of us, it is difficult to predict what sort of schedule your dog may be forced to adapt to and ease them into this new routine. We can, however, begin taking small steps to ensure dogs who did not show separation anxiety before the lockdown are able to transition to a more independent lifestyle with ease. Planned Absences. It can be difficult to set aside human “alone time” when you’re confined to your house, but planned absence and personal space are important parts of reducing your dog’s dependence on you. If your dog has not struggled with separation anxiety in the past, behaviorists suggest practicing absence at least three days a week. These might be trips to do essential shopping, taking a walk, or spending time outside of the house as a family, but without taking the dog along. If you’re unable to leave the house, you can practice “alone time” by putting your dog in a separate room, behind a pet gate, or in a crate if they have been trained to rest comfortably in one. The key is that you both have your space and time alone multiple times a week— ideally at least once a day. Exercise for Body and Brain. If your dog’s stress is rooted in frustration or boredom, you might benefit for ensuring they’re well-exercised before you leave them. This might mean taking them on your morning jog before you leave for work, or hiring a walker to take them out midday to burn off some energy. If your dog is bored easily, you can hide treats around the house, or find a toy or puzzle game that is suitable for unsupervised use. Taking the Edge Off. In mild cases of separation anxiety, or as a preventative if your dog has never suffered from this anxiety in the past, you may be able to reduce or prevent discomfort by conditioning them to not have a negative response to your departure. A safe, sturdy, treat dispensing toy, such as a stuffed Kong, can be given to them as you pick up your keys to leave. This might help your dog associate your absence with a tasty treat, rather than the stress that they might have otherwise felt. When in Doubt, Supervise. If you’re not sure how your dog is reacting to your departure, consider recording them while you’re out of the house. A webcam, in-home camera, or simple voice recorder can be left on to observe and monitor the dog. If you notice them pacing, panting, salivating, or being overly vocal, you might have some separation anxiety issues to work through. Every dog has different needs, and you might benefit from scheduling a Virtual Private Lesson to discuss your dog’s issues and training strategies with our professional trainers. By practicing absences, keeping your dog exercised and entertained when you’re not home, and conditioning them to have a neutral response to your leaving, you can help prevent separation anxiety in your dog. The goal is to minimize the contrast between when you’re home and when you’re gone, so once you return home, try to play it cool. Don’t make a big fuss about returning (we know, you’re just as excited to see them after a long day of work as they are to see you!) and try to avoid giving them attention while they are overly excited that you’ve returned. Once their excitement has subsided a bit, give them a bit of calm attention. Just as you don’t want your departure to be a source of stress, you don’t want your return to cause stress either! In the coming weeks we'll dive deeper into the topic of preparing for the "new normal" with your dog, including desensitization to people in masks, social distancing, and training options as our country begins to loosen shelter in place regulations.
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shannihendler
Apr 26, 2020
In Puppies
How do you teach your puppy about the world outside when many of us are staying isolated in our homes? Your puppy’s first year—and the first four months in particular—are incredibly important in shaping how they will cope with new sights, sounds, and situations throughout their life. One of the most common questions we’ve received from new puppy owners during this Covid crisis is how to approach socialization while maintaining social distancing. Today we’ll discuss ways to take advantage of the extra time you might have at home, and how to socialize while social distancing in order to help your puppy grow into a well-adjusted adult. What is Socialization? Socialization is key to raising a confident, happy, well-adjusted dog. For the first four months of your puppy’s life, they are primed for learning. During this critical period your puppy’s brain is like a sponge—soaking up every new experience and creating associations that will last a lifetime. New sights, sounds, smells, and surfaces, as well as new people and animals, can all be a learning opportunity. The key with socialization is to build a positive reaction to new things. Essentially, by introducing your puppy to as many new things as possible during this time, you are both building positive reaction to things they will experience frequently as well as building confidence for them to react positively to new experiences in general. Try as we might, it is impossible to expose your puppy to every sight, sound, and situation they might experience—especially in this busy urban environment. The key here is confidence and positive associations, and while we work to socialize puppies during this difficult time, those two life skills will be our primary focus. Socialization Isn’t Just People and Dogs One of the most common misconceptions is that puppies cannot be socialized without the traditional group puppy classes. While proper dog/dog interactions are important for puppies to learn, direct contact with other dogs is not always a requirement. It is common for new puppy parents to overzealously expose their puppies to new people and dogs in an attempt to socialize them. This can result in puppies being forced into situations that are above their stress threshold. In a time where social interactions were more “normal”, you might be tempted to introduce your puppy to groups of humans or other dogs all at once. Instead of creating t he positive association that you were hoping for, this might have resulted in an unintentionally stressful experience for your puppy. While it may seem counter-intuitive, the new normal of social distancing might actually be beneficial in socializing your puppy. Moderation, distance, and rewards are key to keeping puppies below their stress threshold and creating positive associations with a new experience. With new social protocols in place, distance is built in! New Experiences Without New People There’s a huge world of new experiences waiting for your puppy! Set them up to succeed in the future by introducing them to new objects, people, surfaces, sounds, and smells. Tactile Experiences Let’s take a walk. While you are taking in the sights and sounds, your puppy will be using all of their senses to experience the world around them—including their sense of touch. Unlike you, your puppy will probably not be wearing shoes. Building positive associations to new surfaces is an important part of building confidence in your puppy. Be sure to introduce your puppy to: · Different floor surfaces, such as wood, carpet, and tile in your house. · Multiple outside surfaces such as grass, gravel, dirt, and bark. · Common walking surfaces and transitions: Grass to concrete, concrete to asphalt, concrete to metal. · Bath tubs—your own tub or a plastic pool. · Water and wet grass. You don’t want your puppy to protest pottying when it’s rainy! Training Tip! Metal surfaces: Be it a veterinary exam table, scale, or a manhole or metal grate on the sidewalk, it is important to introduce your puppy to metal surfaces. Placing treats on a flat, metal baking tray is a great way to introduce your puppy to this new surface. As they are rewarded for standing on the metal, they will build a positive association to the feel of the new surface as well as the sound it makes when it is stepped on. Objects and Sounds The sounds of the city are common to most of us, but will be unfamiliar, and even frightening, to your puppy’s keen ears. Socializing your puppy to new objects and sounds is critical to their success in the city. In the home, work to build positive reactions to: · Vacuums and brooms. · Doorbells, knocking, doors shutting. · Appliances: Washer, Dryer, Blender, Coffee Maker, Hair Dryer, etc. · Sounds of pots and pans clanging, dishes being washed, dog bowls being dropped. In the outside world, use moderation, distance, and rewards to introduce common sounds and objects: · Large objects such as parked cars, garbage cans, signs, drains. · Moving objects: cars, bikes, garbage trucks, etc. · Sounds of honking horns, machinery, crosswalk alerts. Training Tip! Sound socialization: Playing different sounds in the background can help your dog get used to noise. If your street is typically busy, you might want to introduce your puppy to traffic noise. Introduce these new noises at a low volume to create a neutral or positive association. Many common sounds can be found online for free [Puppy Socialization Playlist] or through some applications, such as the Sound Proof Puppy Training app available on iOS and Android. New People, New Dogs Socialization isn’t all about introducing your puppy to new people and dogs, but these new experiences are certainly a part of setting your puppy up for success. Many of us are staying at home more than usual, but there are safe, socially distant activities we can engage in outdoors. Armed with a six-foot or more distance and your puppy’s favorite treats, you’re ready to introduce them to living creatures that inhabit your world. New People. It is important for your puppy to understand that people come in many shapes, sizes, appearances, ages, and clothes styles. One Covid perk is that your puppy is probably already a pro at recognizing that people are still people when they’re wearing masks! As you walk through your neighborhood, introduce your puppy to new people while maintaining distance from the stimulus so that their reaction is neutral. For example, a puppy can be introduced to children playing by observing them from a distance in the park. Your goal is to be close enough that your puppy might be interested in the sudden movements, shouts, and laughter of children playing, but not so close that a reaction is given. Rewarding for no reaction aside from that passive interest is a great way to build a positive association to the presence of children. New Dogs. It’s adorable when dogs play together. An older dog meeting and gently playing with a new puppy is a heartwarming experience, but introducing puppies to new dogs can be a stressful experience. If your puppy is scared or stressed during introduction to new dogs, you could be setting them up for leash aggression or fear of other dogs later in life. Before throwing your puppy into a new, full-contact dog introduction situation, begin by introducing them to new dogs from afar. Observe dogs playing with their owners at the park, or set yourself up to have a dog pass at a distance and reward for a neutral reaction. Safe Training, Play Dates, and Walks Once your puppy is old enough and up-to-date on required vaccinations, leashed walks are a valuable tool for socialization. At this time, walking outdoors is still a permitted activity in the US. If you are able to get out and maintain the prescribed social distance, take your puppy and their favorite treats on a walk around the neighborhood. You can use this training opportunity to practice leash skills while building your puppy’s positive associations to the world around them. Most leashes are six feet long, so you have a built in social distancing tool! If you’re unable to go outside or are isolating in your home, consider using a service similar to the [Dogs in Harmony Walk and Train] . With this zero-contact service, your dog will be picked up at your front door and taken on a training walk around your neighborhood. This allows our professional trainer to safely introduce your puppy to the sights and sounds of your local environment in a safe, methodical, and positive way. Personal protection equipment is used for each training session, and all dog equipment is sanitized after each use. A friend or neighbor with a trusted dog who is known to be safe and well-mannered with your puppy can be an excellent play date. It is important that you know the other dog and their owner well. You can arrange a play date in a yard or park while maintaining a safe distance from the other owner. Maintain at least six feet of space from the nearest human, and be sure to wash your hands after every encounter. Training Plans With an understanding of the important sights, sounds, surfaces, and smells that your puppy should get to know, you can begin to develop an early socialization and training plan. You can follow our Checklist for Socialization, linked below, to be sure that your puppy is introduced to new experiences in a positive way. Virtual classes are a fantastic way of making sure that you stay on track with your puppy’s training and development. Dogs in Harmony offers [Virtual Private Lessons] to help dogs of all ages achieve their training goals. In our Virtual Puppy Class you can work with a trainer to develop a socialization plan, including how to introduce your puppy to a new experience, assess their reaction, and reward them for maximum positive associations. In addition to a socialization plan, your trainer will begin working with you on the foundation skills needed to grow your puppy into a well-rounded, and well-behaved, adult dog that is willing and able to adapt to the challenges of urban living.
Preparing Your Puppy for a Post-Pandemic World content media
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