Should I Get Another Dog / Puppy?

2DogsHere’s the deal. Your 7 month old Labrador Retriever is driving you nuts. Walter has so much energy, you can’t seem to wear him out. You take him on 2, 30 minute walks every day, one in the morning and one when you get home from work. He is crated during the day, because Walter would “remodel” your house otherwise.

Every evening, you play fetch for at least an hour. You want to teach Walter some obedience commands, but with your busy schedule, you just don’t get around to it.

Walter knows sit, and will usually come when called, unless he sees a squirrel or other dogs.

People tell you, “Get another dog. They can play and exercise together.”

This sounds like a great idea! If you add another dog, a playmate for Walter, they can wear each other out. Walter will have a friend and your life will be easier. Right?

Things to consider:

Can I afford the expense of another dog?

Expect to spend anywhere from $60 – $235 per month, per dog.

Will Walter  get along with my current dog?

There is always the chance that your friend for Walter may become his enemy! Managing a multi-dog household can be tricky, specially if the dogs are untrained. They might fight over your attention, rawhide chews, or that perfect spot on the sofa.

How will I find the time to train 3 dogs?

When you have 2 dogs, you have the training workload of owning 3 dogs. You’ll need to train Dog A, when Dog B is not nearby. Then you’ll train Dog B, when Dog A is not around. Great, now you have two dogs that will listen to you. Put them together and it all goes down the drain! The dogs act differently when they are together. They are another Dog, let’s call this one Dog AB. So, you really have 3 dogs to train. Train Dog A, Dog B, then train Dog AB.

Will I become a 3rd wheel?

Anyone who has litter mates can tell you. They become very accustomed to each other, so much so that they become anxious when separated. If you have time to work with each dog, without the other dog nearby, you can remain relevant. If the 2 dogs are always together, they may become one unit. And you may be the 3rd wheel.

What if both dogs chew up my stuff?

Dogs play in many ways. They chase each other, wrestle, jump and mouth each other. AND, dog dig together, hunt together and chew together. Monkey see, monkey do! One dog may never dig, but when the other starts, he or she may decide to dig too! Two dogs can destroy a set of patio furniture, or remodel a couch much quicker than 1 dog!

Will Walter teach my new dog bad habits? Or vice versa?

Dogs feed off each other’s ill manners. For instance suppose Walter is a friendly guy to everyone. He watches out the window at passing dogs and people, and rarely barks or jumps at the window. Enter new dog, who is always on patrol, barking and jumping at the window anytime anyone passes by. Walter watches and then decides to get into the act. Now you have two dogs barking and jumping! House training is another issue. If one dog has accidents inside, it’s likely that the other dog will too! Some dogs start to mark their territory when another dog is introduced. So, a problem that did not exist before is dropped into your lap!

Conclusion

When you add dogs to the house hold, you are taking on a greater responsibility for training and meeting the social, physical and emotional needs of your pets. I never suggest that a client add a dog if they are having trouble meeting the needs of 1 dog. On the flip side, if the client has one, well balanced trained dog, another dog could be a great addition!

Alan J Turner – Howsbentley

Dog Trainer – Memphis TN


Dog Training & The ABCs of Instrumental Conditioning

Bimmer1There are three distinct pieces to a voluntary behavior, called the ABCs.
The “B” represents the behavior.
“A” is for Antecedent, which is anything present in the environment before a specific behavior. The A precedes the behavior.
“C” is for Consequence, which is the immediate result of the behavior.

Here’s an example of the ABCs of a voluntary behavior.  A dog jumps up on a counter and gets food.

Dog sees and smells food on counter Dog jumps up Dog gets food.

A                                                                 B                         C

  • The A – food is on counter, dog has access to the counter area, dog is hungry
  • The B is the behavior, which is any response to any stimulus.
  • The C is the immediate consequence of the B.

Suppose you would like to reduce “jump up steal food off counter” behavior.

In order to change a voluntary behavior, we modify either the events / environment before the behavior (antecedent), or we modify the events or environment immediately after the behavior (consequence), or both.

You could modify the antecedents and the behavior would be less likely to occur. For Example: attach a leash or tether, place the dog outside of the area, teach the dog to sit or go to place while you make a sandwich, and so forth. Some of the changes could happen immediately, others require that you train your dog.

Now let’s take a look at a few consequences and how they might influence behavior.

Types of Consequences

If consequences are to have an effect on the preceding behaviors, consequences must occur during or immediately after behaviors. Consequences are grouped into two categories, reinforcers or punishers. For consequences to be considered reinforcers or punishers, their effects on behaviors must occur now and anytime in the future when the animal is presented with similar circumstances.

  • Reinforcers increase behaviors.
  • Punishers decrease behaviors.

Consequences can be added or subtracted.

  • A consequence that is added or begins is called a positive consequence.
  • A consequence that is subtracted or stopped is called a negative consequence.

There are four possible consequences for any given behavior. Two of the consequences will increase (or reinforce) the behavior, and the other two will decrease (or punish) the behavior.

  • Positive Reinforcer – add or begin to increase behavior
  • Positive Punisher – add or begin to decrease behavior
  • Negative Punisher – subtract or remove to decrease behavior
  • Negative Reinforcer – subtract or remove to increase behavior

Dog sees and smells food on counter Dog jumps up Dog gets food. In this example, the behavior of “dog jumps up” is being reinforced (assuming the dog likes the food). A stimulus is added and the consequence increases the behavior, therefore the consequence is a positive reinforcer.

Dog sees and smells food on counter Dog jumps up Dog gets squirted with water. In this example, the behavior of “dog jumps up” is being punished (assuming the dog dislikes being squirted with water). A stimulus begins and the consequence decreases the behavior, therefore the consequence is a positive punisher.

Dog sees and smells food on counter Dog jumps up Human makes food disappear. In this example, the behavior of jumping up is being punished (assuming the dog wants the food). A stimulus is subtracted and the consequence decreases the behavior, therefore the consequence is a negative punisher.

Dog on counter is being squirted with water Dog jumps off counter and onto floor Squirting of water is stopped. In this example, the behavior of “the dog being on the floor” is reinforced (assuming the dog dislikes being squirted with water). A stimulus is stopped and the consequence increases the behavior, therefore the consequence is a negative reinforcer. Negative reinforcers usually include escape and avoidance behavior.

Dog friendly training focuses on using positive reinforcement and negative punishment to teach our dogs desirable behaviors. Although we will use all four consequences, dog friendly training focuses on using positive reinforcement and negative punishment to teach our dogs desirable behaviors.


Alan J Turner – Dog Training in Memphis Collierville Germantown TN

How’s Bentley Aggressive Dog Seminar

Add a Pup?

TwoDogs

I know many suggest adding another dog to give your pup a playmate.

Adding another dog has exercise and social benefits, however; I never mention add-a-pup as a solution for families that are having difficulties meeting the training needs of one dog.

Owning two untrained dogs is at least three times the work as one.

You’ll need to separate them for teaching sessions. Dog A must be trained. Dog B must be trained. When you put them together, they are another dog, Dog AB. You’ll need to practice with Dog AB too!

Some people prefer to send their dogs to day care. If your pup is not stressed by the noisy and rowdy environment, send him off for a day to play with other puppies.

Sometimes it’s tough to determine if puppies are playing or fighting. If the puppies often reverse roles and neither is hiding from the other, then the rough play is normal.

Reversing roles is when Pup A chases Pup B, then Pup B chases Pup A.

If one puppy is on top, and then the other pup is on top, the play is normal. Relax and enjoy the show!

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Happy Training!
Alan J Turner – Companion Animal Behavior Counselor and Trainer, Canine Specialization
Puppy Help