Dog Fights are Scary – Interdog Aggression

dog_fightIt’s scary when dogs in the same household fight. The solutions can be as simple as feeding the dogs in different areas, or as complex as implementing a behavior modification plan for inter dog aggression.

Your first steps are to identify triggers and situations when the dogs are more likely to fight. Manage the environment so the fights are less likely.

Remove high value toys and food items; avoid situations that are known to trigger fights. This means you may have to kennel one, or both, dogs. If your dogs are not keen on kenneling, you will need to teach them to relax in the kennel.

Each dog should be able to to perform these basic obedience commands:

Look, Here, Sit, Down, Stay, Go-to-Place

To teach these commands, you’ll need a conditioned reward marker, and a reward system.

Obedience training, the reward system, and a conditioned reward marker are very important communication and motivation tools. These will increase your relevance to your dogs, and the dogs will begin to listen to you, and think about their behaviors.

The aforementioned tools and steps will create a healthy relationship.

After you have developed a relationship, you can work with your dogs, using specific triggers.


Does Your Dog Own You? Resource Guarding of Territory, Food, Items, or People

Ace_BallResource guarding is when dogs posture, growl, snarl, bark,  snap, lunge, or bite for reasons we believe are efforts to keep other animals or people away from what they consider to be valuable resources.

Resources include food, territory, items and persons.

Food related aggression, territory aggression, and possession aggression are specific labels for different types of resource guarding.

Resource guarding can be confused with protection aggression and fear aggression.  People believe their dogs are protecting them, when in reality, the dogs are guarding what they believe to be their property, or the dogs are exhibiting fear aggression. Fear aggression is often present with territory aggression. Resolving the fear issue is the solution.  A behavioral history, questionnaire, careful observation,  and testing can usually identify the specific types of aggression.

In my experiences, resource guarding is commonly directed at other dogs, which many people accept or manage. When the aggression is directed at people, I am likely to get a new client.

Food related aggression is seen more often when high value rawhides, bullie sticks, pigs ears, etc.  are involved.

Some dogs guard dry dog food (less common), and severe cases involve dogs that guard empty bowls, and feeding or food preparation locations.

Territory aggression is when dogs posture, growl, snarl, bark,  snap, lunge, or bite when animals or people approach specific areas. Clearly defined areas, such as fenced yards, motor vehicles, homes, crates, kennels, rooms, chairs, couches, beds, and areas underneath furniture are guarded by dogs who exhibit territory aggression.

Less defined territories, such as doorways, and the areas within the length of the dog’s leash or tie out can be considered valuable by some dogs.

Possesive aggression is when dogs guard non-food items, regardless of the location.  Common items are toys, and stolen treasures, such as socks paper towels, ink pens, remote controls, etc.. Some cases of posessive aggression can be resolved by teaching the dog basic obedience commands such as leave-it and drop.

Some aggression behaviors can be fueled  by miscommunications and the balance between dogs and people, better described as the relationship. In some cases, the dog’s physical, social, or emotional needs are not being met, and / or, the chosen training methods are flawed.  A 21st Century Canine Relationship Specialist can help you with these areas. Visit the APDT to find a trainer near you.

Regardless of the type of aggression, the first step is to manage the environment so the dog does not practice (and people or other animals are not injured). Prevention can include simple steps like removing high value food items, feeding in a crate or secure area, crating the dog during social events, removing toys, housing the dog inside the home, and dog proofing the home.

Next, you’ll need to establish a clear system for communication and motivation. Condition a reward marker and follow the rewards awareness program, no free F.A.T.!

There are specific exercises for treating different types of resource guarding. Each dog and case is different. The treatment plan must be fluid and should be adapted for the dog’s success. You’ll probably need help from a dog behavior counselor.

Visit this Solve-It section on this site for specific examples and detailed solutions for aggression.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner – Companion Animal Behavior Counselor and Trainer, Canine Specialization

How’s Bentley – Memphis, Collierville, Germantown TN

21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions

Group Dog Obedience Classes

Private Dog Training in Memphis TN

Reactive Dog Specialist


Amateur Shock Collar Use Starts Dog Fight

German Shepherd DogIf you want to control your pet dog’s involuntary aggressive responses via force and intimidation, you are entering a spiral of blackness and doom.

One day, your chosen method or equipment will fail; injuries and sadness will emerge. I’ve seen it many times.

Point being, punishing the growl with a quick burst of energy via an e-collar, leash jerk, Caesar Milan hiss, alpha roll, spank on the butt, or verbal reprimand, does nothing to change underlying, emotional reasons for the growl. In many cases, the aggression increases, because the naughty dog associates other dogs or strangers with the discomfort.

You may very well stop your dog from growling with one of many punishment techniques, that I do not deny. (Success via corrections really depends on the underlying causes, but that is a topic for another day.)

But, you just signed a life long commitment to supervise every interaction your dog has with strangers or other dogs. You will constantly have to prove to your dog that you are a superior warrior.  And you have made your task of supervision much more difficult.

If you zap your dog every time he or she growls or gives another animal the “eye”, you will negate your observation skills, because your dog will skip the body posturing and growling (the obvious, observable behaviors that indicate a problem), and go straight to the bite.

If you are using a training collar, e collar, shock collar, or any other special equipment, your dog must always be fitted with the equipment, and you must always be ready to use the equipment.

All you’ve done is remove the warning, the very warning that lets you know something is wrong, the very warning that tells you to take action to avoid an incident.

It’s like placing a black tape mask over a check engine warning lamp on your car’s dashboard. Great, now you don’t see the warning, therefore the problem is resolved?!

I’m not one of those “never ever use a shock collar or leash jerk” kind of people. I realize there are times when corrections are helpful. Shock collars, leash jerks, or verbal reprimands may be useful tools within a behavior modification program designed by a canine behavior counselor.

If your behavior modification plan includes rewards, obedience training, classical conditioning, and changing the dog’s perception, you can change the underlying reason your dog is aggressive.

If your only solution to stop your dog from attacking other dogs or strangers is the use of corrections, truth is, you would benefit from a bit of help. You should contact a canine reactive behavior specialist.

None of this comes to anyone in a dream. I was ignorant until I began my studies about animal learning, behavior, and canine behavior modification. I made all the same “logical” assumptions about controlling dogs via corrections and intimidation. If you are not familiar with basic concepts of instrumental conditioning, you should never use a shock collar to stop your dog from behaving aggressively. Your ignorance will bite you.

Real Life Example:

In my neighborhood there is a large breed dog who has been naughty towards other dogs. (I’ll omit the breed, because it has no relevance to this story). The owner uses a shock collar to punish Naughty Dog’s aggressive behaviors. The owner’s mom was walking Naughty Dog, without the shock collar, and has been doing so for months, with no incidents of aggression. A few days ago, the honeymoon ended. The lady who was walking Naughty Dog was passing another leashed dog on the street. Naughty Dog did not growl or send any signals that he was about to attack. The lady was caught off guard when Naughty Dog suddenly attacked the passing adult male dog. The lady was bitten in the face when she tried to break up the dog fight.

If the owner had not used a shock collar to punish the aggression, the Naughty Dog would have postured or growled, and the lady could have seen what was about to happen. She could have avoided the situation. But Naughty Dog “attacked without warning”, which ironically, perplexed the owner. The owner has no idea that he was directly responsible for Naughty Dog’s lack of warning signals.

P.S. The German Shepherd Dog in the picture, Samantha, is not Naughty Dog! 

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner How’s Bentley Memhis TN

Reactive Dog Specialist

Canine Behavior Modification for Reactive, Unwanted, Behaviors, including Fear and Aggression


LilyOkay, so your dog is fearful, barking, lunging and otherwise distressed when he or she sees people, trucks, cars, or dogs. Depending on who you are talking to, those behaviors may be classified as territory or protective aggression, possession aggression, inter-dog aggression, fear aggression, or leash aggression.

I’ll refer to the other people, other dogs, trucks, cars, as “triggers”, because they trigger the fear or aggression in your dog.

There are volumes of articles and books on how to modify fearful and aggressive behaviors in dogs. Some of the information may be helpful and other information is outdated and less helpful.

A canine modification plan is fluid. It changes as you progress. Because of all the variables, and the constant adjustments when treating fear and aggression in dogs, it’s not feasible for me to post all the methods and solutions I would use in a private consultation.

But I can give you this overview and some instructions that might work with your dog.

This article is about visual triggers. If your dog reacts to noises, the same concepts apply.

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First you need to change your dog’s perception of the triggers. Then you will use rewards to pay your dog for desirable, non reactive behaviors, when the trigger is in sight.

Before you actually do exercises with your dog in the field, please review this checklist.

Meet your dog’s physical, social and emotional needs.

Kindly prevent your dog from practicing unwanted reactive behaviors.

Establish a method to communicate precisely. Condition a reward marker.

Enact the Rewards Awareness Program.

Establish a Reward System.

Teach your dog “attention on cue” or “look”.

Practice “look” in various places with increasing levels of distractions (distractions should not be people or dogs or whatever triggers the unwanted, reactive, behaviors).

Teach your dog to sit on command.

Practice “sit” in various places with increasing levels of distractions (distractions should not be people or dogs or whatever triggers the unwanted, reactive, behaviors).

Teach your dog to bump your two-finger target to the cue, “here”.

Practice “here” in various places with increasing levels of distractions (distractions should not be people or dogs or whatever triggers the unwanted, reactive behaviors).

Teach your dog to walk nicely on a loose lead or to heel.

Practice walking nicely in various places with increasing levels of distractions (distractions should not include the triggers).

Optional: Obtain a Gentle Leader head collar or a Canny Collar. Introduce your dog to the head collar and practice with the head collar, so that your dog is not distracted by wearing the head collar. Head collars make it possible to safely move or control your dog’s pulling behaviors.

Optional: If your dog is “crazy excited” for squeaky toys or balls, get a couple of new ones and save them for these exercises. You can use the toys as rewards, or as distractions to get your dog’s attention when the triggers are too close.

Now you can begin the real work!

Identify the Threshold

Find the distance where your dog can see the trigger but not react with “out of control” barking, lunging, et cetera. I’ll refer to this distance as the threshold for reactivity. It may be 400 yards or 20 feet. It will change depending on the environment, your dog’s current emotional or physical state, or any number of factors.

The threshold is fluid, not static. You’ll need to find the threshold every time you start a practice session. Whatever it is right now, this distance or threshold will become shorter and shorter as you practice. You’ll always start each session outside the threshold.

Set up the Practice Session

For this step you’ll need the help of others. Their jobs will be to present the trigger outside the threshold, move a few steps closer and then move back outside the threshold.

If you don’t have any helpers, you can still set up the session. Go to a place where you are likely to see the triggers, such as a walking path at the park or a parking lot of a pet supply store. Get several feet off the path or away from the traffic, outside the threshold.

It helps if your dog is hungry. Do this before feeding time or withhold dinner and feed during these sessions.

Change your Dog’s Perception

Before you start with the triggers, ask your dog to perform a few simple commands such as “here’ or “sit”. This will engage your dog to pay attention to you!

Stand outside the threshold of a trigger. The instant you see the dog or person or car approaching, announce the trigger. Tell your dog something like “that’s a friend or that’s a truck” and immediately feed your dog several treats. Keep feeding until the trigger has retreated and is no longer nearby.

(If your starts barking or lunging, you are too close the the trigger, move away. If your dog starts to stare or looks like he or she might be ready to bark and lunge, command “here” and present your two finger target, or ask your dog to “look”. Either one of these commands gets the dog to look away from the trigger and focus on you.)

This sequence is called a cycle. You will hold many cycles during a session.

Between each cycle, give your dog a tension rest to absorb the recent events. The tension rest should be as as long as it took to perform the cycle. So, if the trigger is in sight for 10 seconds before it moves outside the threshold, the duration of the tension rest immediately after the cycle will be at least 10 seconds.

Repeat this process for at least 30 minutes per session. Perform another cycle followed by a tension rest. The idea is to change your dog’s immediate, involuntary responses to the trigger.

Instead of “oh no, there’s another dog, which is immediately followed by involuntary barking, fleeing, freezing or lunging (fight, flight, freeze behaviors), you want your dog’s initial involuntary response to the sight of the triggers to be anticipation of food. You are using classical conditioning to associate the trigger with the delivery of food. Your dog cannot be aggressive or fearful and salivate in anticipation of food at the same instant!

As you progress through the session, you will notice your dog will begin to ignore the trigger and focus on you and the food as soon as you announce the trigger. Perfect. Now you can move a bit closer to the trigger and continue. The threshold is getting shorter!

Repeat these sessions until your dog automatically looks towards you whenever a trigger is in sight. Continue to announce the triggers on routine walks, and anytime you are interacting with your dog, be it during a practice session, or not.

Real LIfe Ambush

If you get “ambushed” by a trigger during an outing, and you are not ready with several treats, kindly ask your dog to sit facing you, or to bump your two finger target. If she is too excited, move her away from the trigger and ask again. Repeat this sequence until your dog is far enough away that she will listen to your commands.

This basic method will work with most dogs, and most reactive behaviors, however it is not as efficient as perception modification via Syn Alia Training System.


Keep in mind, there are many factors about your relationship and your daily interactions with your dog that influence behaviors. In addition, your dog may be influenced by other dogs in the household, medical conditions, diet, nutrition, genetic and or neurological factors. If your dog constantly barks at triggers from inside the house, or fence fights with the dogs next door, the prognosis is poor.

You’ll need to prevent your dog from practicing fear and aggression if you want to succeed!

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner

How’s Bentley

Canine Behavior Modification for Fear, Aggression in Dogs – Memphis TN

New iPhone app -Dog and Puppy Shake – Fun Facts and Trainer Truths
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Canis lupus familiaris, Food Related Aggression

BulldogMany people are aware that some pet dogs will guard food.

Food guarding is not uncommon when it occurs between dogs. If that is the only problem, it can usually be controlled by managing the environment. Feed the dogs in different areas; remove the empty bowls, avoid feeding rawhides, crate the dogs during dinner, during pizza parties, et cetera.  Some people accept food guarding between dogs as normal, and are not too upset about it.

When dogs snarl, growl, snap, or bite humans, it becomes a true problem. I usually discuss food and foraging habits with my clients, especially those with aggressive dogs.

Clients tell me, “I can safely reach my hand in the dog’s food bowl, while she’s eating”.

I ask the client if it’s dry food or canned, wet food. The usual answer is “dry kibble”.

I reply, “don’t feed your dog for 4 days, toss some sushi on the kitchen floor, and then try to take the fish away from your starving dog. If she does not snarl, growl, snap, or bite, then I’ll be impressed”.

Don’t sell your beloved companion, Canis lupus familiaris, short. If the dog is hungry and / or the food is high value, she may protest when you approach, or when you try to take the food away.

Just how hungry does your dog need to be, before she will guard food? What food items will trigger the behavior? How will she protest? That depends on the individual.

I’ve met some really naughty girls who will “rip you up” if you approach the territory where their bowls “used to be”. Yikes, these ladies need my help! Food related aggression is not limited to bitches. Dogs are just as likely to guard food. Heck, young puppies, male and female, jockey for food while nursing. The puppies that are better at pushing their way to the teat bar, get fatter, quicker!

Treating dogs who exhibit food related aggression can be simple or complex. Again, it depends on the individual case and the individual dog. If your dog is naughty around food, contact a trainer with experience in canine behavior modification. In the meantime, I can offer these tips.

Do not take your dog’s food in an attempt to “teach him or her who is alpha”. That’s just ignorant. Your dog is already worried that you may steal the food. Don’t confirm his or her misconception!

Instead, place your dog’s empty bowl on the floor. Walk up to the bowl and drop a very high value, small treat. Lunch meat ham or turkey will do. Repeat many times. Once you have done this on several occasions, do the same thing when your dog is eating. Approach the bowl as your dog is eating, drop a piece of yummy food into the bowl and walk away. Repeat.

The idea is to teach your dog that you are NOT going to steal food, you are going to ADD food.

This will change the dog’s perception, a much more suitable outcome than convincing your dog that you are strong and can steal his food!

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner – How’s Bentley – Memphis TN


Vacuum Chasing Dog:My Dog Barks and Attacks the Vacuum!


JavaBedDoes your dog or puppy hide from, bark at, chase, bite, your vacuum cleaner?  It seems there are a group of dogs who protest whenever we try to clean up!

If you have a puppy under 12 weeks of age, now is the time to gently expose him or her to everyday events and noises. During the critical period of socialization, these exposures teach our dog lifelong coping skills.

If you are reading this, I imagine your dog is beyond 12 weeks of age. That’s okay. You can still teach your dog to relax when you vacuum.

First off, forget about stopping “barking and attacking the vacuum” behaviors. You will spiral into an abiss of failures if you try to punish these unwanted behaviors. And, even if you succeed, you have not taught your dog any useful skills that may come in handy in other situations. Spend your energy and time teaching your dog an acceptable behavior, which will be incompatible with the unwanted behavior.

And, kindly prevent your dog from practicing “attack the vacuum” behaviors! Have a family member take your dog out for a walk when you vacuum or place the dog in another area with a chew toy. Practice makes perfect! Yikes!

Before you can teach your dog anything, you should identify the components that make up the target behavior. Exactly what does “relax when I vacuum” behavior look like? I picture the dog lying on his or her bed and calmly resting while I vacuum. That’s why you should teach and practice Go-To-Place before you work on “relax for vacuum” behavior.

Anytime you catch yourself saying “NO” or trying to stop any behavior, ask yourself these two questions:

At this instant in time, exactly what do I want my dog to do?

Where do I want my dog to perform this behavior?

The answers are your next training goal!

Teach your dog exactly what to do when you vacuum, and where to do it. I like to use Go-To-Place for the replacement behavior.

You cannot teach your dog to Go-To-Place when you are vacuuming your floor. Set aside time for training sessions to teach your dog Go-To-Place.

Here are the steps for teaching a dog anything you want.

  1. Condition a reward marker, a signal to tell your dog the instant he or she has succeeded.
  2. Establish a Rewards System, so your dog will be motivated to cooperate.
  3. Get the dog to perform the behavior (or some portion of the behavior) during practice sessions.
  4. Mark the instant your dog succeeds.
  5. Reward your dog, reinforce the behavior.
  6. Refine the behavior through repeated practice sessions in many different areas.
  7. Add distractions so your dog will always perform the behavior.
  8. Practice the behavior in real life.

Once you have a conditioned reward marker and a Reward System in place, and you have taught your dog to Go-To-Place, you are ready to teach your dog or puppy to relax when you vacuum your floors. The general idea is to expose your dog to the sounds and motions of the vacuum, in such small doses that your dog will remain in his or her place. Each cycle the vacuum is closer to the dog than the previous cycle.  Reward your dog for Go-To-Place and NOT BARKING when the vacuum is moving, then when the vacuum is far away and powered on, when the vacuum gets closer, et cetera. Here’s how

Place the vacuum cleaner in the room with your dog nearby. Plug the vacuum cleaner into the outlet, but do not turn it on. Tell your dog to Go-To-Place.

Reach for the handle. If your dog does not bark, or get off his or her place, deliver your reward marker. Toss your dog a food treat. Repeat 3 times. Each time you touch, mark, and toss treat is called a cycle or trial.

Reach for the handle and push the vacuum a few inches. If your dog does not bark, or get off his or her place, when you push the vacuum a few inches, deliver your reward marker and toss your dog a food treat. Repeat 3 times for a total of 4 cycles. If your dog barks or attacks the vacuum cleaner when you push it, go back to the previous step (touch the handle, mark and treat) and perform several more cycles.

Reach for the handle and push the vacuum (the vacuum is still off, not turned on) a few feet. If you dog does not bark, or get off his or her place, when you push the vacuum a few feet, deliver your reward marker and toss your dog a food treat. Repeat 3 times for a total of 4 cycles. If your dog barks or attacks the vacuum cleaner when you push it a few feet, go back to the previous step (push the vacuum a few inches) and perform several more cycles.

Once you can push the silent vacuum around the room while your dog stays quietly in his or her place, you are ready for these next steps. You’ll need a helper.

Have your helper take the vacuum in another area of the house, as far away from your dog’s place as possible. Close the door to the room (if applicable). You stay with your dog in the same room as the dog’s bed (or place). Have your helper turn on the vacuum for a few seconds and then turn it off. As soon as you hear the vacuum, tell your dog to Go-To-Place. Mark the instant he or she gets on the dog bed. Toss a food treat. Praise your dog. Coax your dog off the bed.

Again, instruct your helper to turn on the vacuum for a few seconds and then turn it off. This time it will be on for a few more seconds than before. Tell your dog to Go-To-Place, mark and treat. Repeat several times, each cycle the helper will keep the vacuum cleaner running for more seconds. Repeat until the helper can leave the vacuum running and your dog will calmly remain in his or her place.

Repeat the sequence from the beginning (vacuum on for a few seconds, then off), but open the door to the room with the vacuum or move it closer to you and the dog. Continue to practice in cycles, each cycle the vacuum is closer and closer to you and the dog.  After several carefully planned practice sessions, your dog will know exactly what to do when the vacuum is running and where to do it.

When you start vacuuming in the same room, don’t be greedy. 🙂 Run and push the vacuum a few inches and then turn it off and reward your dog for staying in place. Gradually increase the duration of the vacuuming before you reward your dog.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner – Dog Trainer in Memphis, Collierville, Germantown, Cordova, Bartlett, Arlington, TN

How’s Bentley –

Private and Group Dog Training

In the picture, Java the Papillon is resting in his “Place” or bed.

Separation Anxiety in Dogs is Often Misdiagnosed and Misunderstood

Memphis PyramidSeparation anxiety is one of the most misdiagnosed behavioral conditions. The hallmarks of separation anxiety are: 

Excessive vocalization
Salivation
Inside Elimination (for a house trained dog)
Destructive behaviors directed at entry and exit points



For separation anxiety to be considered, some or a combination of these symptoms must occur ONLY in the absence of people. The behaviors most commonly occur within 45 minutes of departure. 

If your dog destroys your furniture when you leave, it is less likely due to separation anxiety and more likely due to too much freedom and not enough exercise. Dogs with separation anxiety destroy items that are in the path of their escape, not couch cushions in the middle of the room! 

If your dog barks and whines in the crate this may or may not be separation anxiety. Does your dog bark and whine in the crate if crated at the same times of day when you are home? 

Elimination in the crate or in the house is not necessarily a sign of separation anxiety. Is the dog house trained? Will the dog eliminate in his or her crate when you are home? 

Treating dogs with true separation anxiety is challenging. It will take several days or even weeks. It depends on how much time you have to dedicate to the treatment. The main obstacle is that every instance of separation perpetuates the condition and offsets progress. For example, suppose you make great progress over the weekend, but you go back to work on Monday and leave your dog alone. Your progress will be lost. 

Treating separation anxiety is a process not an event. First you’ll teach the dog to relax before you leave the house. Then you’ll leave for very short increments while your dog relaxes. As the exercises progress, you’ll leave for longer and longer periods. If you decide to treat your dog for separation anxiety, you’ll need to make arrangement to never leave the dog alone during the treatment period. Day care, friends’ homes and other babysitters can be helpful during this period.

Click here for detailed instructions for treating separation anxiety in dogs , compliments of the ASPCA virtual behaviorist.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner – Companion Animal Behavior Counselor & Trainer, Canine Specialization

How’s Bentley – Private and Group Dog Obedience

Memphis, Collierville, Bartlett, Cordova, Germantown TN

Barking Behind Fence or Window May Increase Territory Aggression

EllieCageBarriers such as fences and windows may encourage your pet dog to exhibit territory aggression.

Suppose a dog watches out the window (or runs along a fence line) for hours at a time.

Suppose the dog barks and snarls at passing dogs, bicyclists, joggers, walkers, children, etc..

Suppose the dog jumps, up on the window or fence, barks and lunges, snarls and snaps. At this point the dog will not listen to the owner. It’s as if the owner is invisible.

The scenario described above is a problem in the making. That dog will practice his or her battle skills with every instance of excessive guarding.

I have no doubt. If the situation is not addressed, at least five out of ten dogs in that situation will, one day,  escape and bite or injure a passerby or dog. The other five dogs will, one day, scare both owner and prey with aggressive behaviors but no puncture wounds.

If this describes your dog, please do your best to kindly prevent him or her from practicing battle skills. If possible place the dog in another area of the house or yard. Choose an area without a view of other people and animals. For more tips about dog and puppy and behavior and training and help, visit the ASPCA virtual behaviorist.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner
Companion Animal Behavior Counselor and Trainer
Private Sessions for Aggression, Fearful Dogs
How’s Bentley- Memphis, Collierville, Germantown, TN

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Barking Dog? Resolutions ** Danger! ** Do Not Use an Anti Bark Collar on Your Dog or Puppy, without reading this first!

bentleybarkOkay, so your dog is barking and you have the perfect, initial solution; buy one of those anti bark dog collars, right? WRONG!

Please do not misunderstand, I agree there are situations when an anti bark collar is a good choice, but spraying a dog with citronella, sounding a tone, (or using an e-collar ) are never at the top of my list of tools and solutions for barking.

Anti bark collars address the symptom, not the causes. You may very well stop your puppy or dog from barking. But, if the dog is fearful, aggressive, anxious, stressed or neglected, an anti bark collar could increase these emotional conditions.

DANGER! YIKES! We love our dogs and puppies. We certainly do not want to harm them! Before you use an anti bark collar on your dog or puppy, take a moment to review these thoughts.

Positive punishment (immediately adding an aversive stimulus to reduce the preceding behavior) rarely makes your pet dog less fearful, less aggressive, less anxious, less stressed, or less neglected!

Dogs bark for many different reasons. In many instances, obedience training, a change of schedule, and/or adjusting something in the dog’s surroundings will be part of the solution.

Here is a short list of resolutions I have suggested for clients:

Close the window blinds / pull the curtains

Crate train the dog (a crate trained dog is one who will relax in the crate, regardless of the activities surrounding the crate.)

Relocate the puppy’s crate

Teach your puppy to relax in her crate

Teach the dog a polite way to get your attention.

Increase physical activities

Teach your dog to ring a bell to signal the desire to go outside (or inside)

Teach your dog to go to place

Learn how to train your dog, and do it!

Teach the dog that all dogs and people are not dangerous or threatening

Teach the dog to relax

Teach “quiet” or “enough”

The first thing you should do is determine the root cause for the barking. Here are some guidelines for determining the cause of your dog’s excessive barking.

Normal Barking – Resolve via Obedience Training

  • Attention Signal to Owners, Other Dogs, Other Pets

Wants to go outside / inside / into room / other side of gate / out of crate

Soliciting Attention

Begging for Food

Soliciting Play-time

Soliciting Interactions with other Pets

  • Excitement

During Play, Before Walks

Barking at Door Bell, Door Knocks

  • Protecting, Guarding, Alarm Barking

Barking at Noises, People’s Voices Outside, Television Sounds, etc.

Barking at Neighbors, Passersby, Joggers, Bicyclists, Trucks, Cars,

Strangers, Other Dogs, Birds, Squirrels, House Cats, etc.

Abnormal Barking Resolve via Behavior Modification

  • Fearful – Distance Increasing Behavior

Barking at Cars / Trucks

Barking at Strangers

Barking at Dogs

  • Anxious or Stressed

Barking when confined in crate, laundry room, behind gate, etc (anxious barking is usually accompanied by excessive salivation)

Barking when alone

Happy Training!
Alan J Turner, Companion Animal Behavior Counselor & Trainer
Private and group dog training in Germantown, Collierville, and Memphis TN

Shy Puppy? Afraid of Leash or Collar? Tips and Suggestions

img_1586

Some puppies are uncomfortable when exposed to new environments or equipment. If your puppy becomes excited or frightened, just name the item or event, and act as if all is well.

If your puppy remains focused on the item or event, distract his or her attention from the scary thing.

Instead of saying “It’s OK”, divert your pup’s attention with a treat or a toy.

It’s normal for puppies to be leery of new things. Let your puppy adjust with minimal input from you. Both you and the pup should play the roles of observers.

Some people believe it’s a sign of confidence if a puppy never becomes frightened. A truer test is to measure the length of time it takes for a puppy to return to a normal state.

Afraid of Collar or Leash

Occasionally clients report their puppies “freeze up” or lie down when they attach a leash, collar or harness.

This poses a problem in regards to house training, walking and managing unwanted behaviors, such as jumping up.

I tell all my clients to attach a leash or short line, even when their puppies are inside the house. This is so they can prevent their dogs and puppies from practicing rude behaviors.

The leash is an excellent inside and outside management tool. All dogs should be able to relax when a leash is attached, regardless of the dog’s location.

Initial protests to equipment fittings are not difficult to resolve unless people ignore the protests and drag their puppies via attached equipment.

If your puppy is afraid of a collar or harness, do this. Let your puppy investigate and smell the item. Name it. Attach the collar or harness, praise your puppy; hand him a food treat and then remove it. Repeat several times.

Next, attach the equipment immediately before feeding. Praise your pup. After your puppy has eaten, remove the item. Do this for several meals but methodically increase the amount of time the collar or harness is attached after the meal. In a few days, your puppy will like his equipment!

Some puppies quickly learn to dislike the leash because their owners pull and jerk on the leash.

Always supervise any dog when a leash is attached.

If, while following these instructions, your puppy is still afraid of the leash, break your introduction process into more, smaller steps. Use a very short piece of a leash instead of a 4 or 6 foot leash. Once your dog is accustomed to the short piece, use a longer piece.

Introduce the concept of restriction and the leash in several small steps and your puppy will learn to like the leash!

First, let your pup smell and investigate the leash. Name it.

Next, attach the leash and praise your dog. Hand him a food treat. Remove the leash.

After several instances of attaching the leash and immediately removing it, attach a short, lightweight, leash and let your puppy drag it around for a while. Do not pick up the end of the leash. Do this several times throughout the day, or every evening for a few days.

The subsequent step is to pick up the end of the leash, hand your puppy a food treat, and then drop the leash.

Do this several times in one session. Hold a few sessions throughout the day or evening.

Next you’ll introduce the concept of leash and equipment pressure.

Tell your puppy, “This is pressure”, and apply a slight, steady, and brief tug on the equipment. Praise your puppy and hand him a food treat. Repeat a few times.

Add just a bit more pressure each time. Vary the area of the pup’s body that is affected by the pressure by tugging right, left, up, down.

Finally, you will pick up the leash and walk one step. Don’t pull your puppy! The leash should be loose and not tight. Coax your puppy. Praise your puppy for following you. Repeat several times, but add another step each time.

After few instances, your puppy will be accepting of the leash.

Alan J Turner – Companion Animal Behavior Counselor & Trainer, Canine Specialization
Member: APDT

FREE – Fabric Licking

bentleyheadcloseHere’s how I used the iPhone dog whistle application to interrupt and reduce excessive licking of fabric behavior by my AKC registered Australian Terrier dog, Bentley. The sound of the whistle performs the role of a positive punisher, which is a stimulus that is added, which reduces the immediate behavior of licking. Bentley’s licking is caused by chronic pancreatitis, and at times, the behavior is classified as compulsive by dog behavior experts.

It’s important to note that routine amounts of brief licking is a normal form of self grooming by dogs and should be allowed. Many dogs perform this grooming before they go to sleep. The licking that I want to reduce is the compulsive licking of fabric, which has developed because of the many times Bentley has practiced the behavior. If I allow him to lick fabric excessively, he will absorb enough small particles of the material and vomit.  Any time you want to use a positive punisher to reduce behaviors, it’s best to consult with an animal behavior counselor. Poor timing, and unwanted side effects, of using positive punishers during dog training can sabotage your good intentions!

I set the frequency to 20,000 Hz, which is well above my hearing range, but within the hearing range of my terrier dog, Bentley. I sound the whistle when Bentley starts licking fabric. I say nothing, and from Bentley’s point of view, I am not responsible for the ultrasonic sound, thus no attention is coming from me. Bentley will stop licking, perk his ears up and I stop the whistle. The instant he stops licking, I stop the tone and praise him!

By using the iPhone dog whistle application in this fashion, I have successfully reduced licking fabric behavior!

Happy Training!

AT

Alan J Turner, Companion Animal Behavior Counselor & Trainer – Canine Specialization

Private and Group Dog Training in Memphis, TN

Owner: How’s Bentley