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Is Your Puppy Play Creating a Puppy Monster?

Puppy nipping

I’ve discovered that people often don’t know how to play with their puppy. One of the most common challenges my clients want help with is addressing an overly “mouthy” and “nippy” puppy. After years of observation, I’ve discovered this behavior is often the result of how we interact and play with our dogs.

In this article, I’m going to focus on why dogs are overly nippy with children when they are trying to play, and, how to fix it. Although it is normal for puppies to nip and grab things with their mouths, the way we play with them can make it into a problem, especially for kids.

First, let’s understand the problem a bit more. Most of us misunderstand the concept of playing with a puppy. We usually want to engage in roughhousing and wrestling, getting down on the floor with them, handling the dog all over using fast hand motions, or playing some chasing game. Sound familiar? All of this leads to over-stimulation, which leads to puppy nipping and mouthy behavior.

Let’s look at this from a dog’s perspective. Dogs use their mouths the same way we use our hands….to touch, grab things, just generally explore. If we are touching the dog a lot, it encourages them to use their mouth the same way we are using our hands.

Another natural behavior for a dog is prey drive. Dogs have an instinct to be attracted to moving things, which includes kids running.

Being conscious of your hand movements and avoiding running away, or generally fast movements, can begin to help limit your puppy nipping, biting and jumping.

So, what can you do to play instead?

My favorite way to interact is to get two dog toys to start a game while sitting on the floor (or short stool if your dog is too excited). I love to show people how to make the toy “come alive” by having it move along the floor with random bouncy, fast movements, which we know puppies love. Now we’re using prey drive to our advantage. As soon as the dog get’s close to the toy, very quickly toss it a few feet away. The dog will follow that movement and either pick up the toy and drop it, or carry it back to you where you are waiting. Repeat the process with another handy toy.

If your dog brings the toy back, I recommend not trying to immediately take the toy away…don’t play tug-of-war…keep the focus the other toy. You can also try to trade the toy for a piece of kibble, and when they drop the toy, toss it again right away as a reward.

Soon you can add the words “give it” when they trade for the kibble and maybe “fetch” when they chase the toy. The goal is to keep the focus on the toy, and keep it moving.

Remember, you can still have fun playing with your puppy, but play the right way to minimize overly “nippy” and “mouthy” behavior.

If you are looking for more games to play with your dog, I have more games to try like the Hide and Seek Game on the Kids-n-K9s.com site.

Have fun

House Training Your Puppy

house training a puppy

 

There are 4 areas to focus on when planning how to help your puppy to be house trained.

1. Proper Diet and Schedule
2. Using a Crate, Gates and X-pens
3. Catching Them in the Act
4. Cleaning Up

1. Proper diet and schedule:

Feed good quality puppy food 2 or 3 times daily.
Pick up any uneaten food. No people food as it may upset their digestive system and may make it harder for them to control their bowels. Get on a regular schedule. Take them out as soon as they wake in the morning and then bring them back in for feeding.

You will then need to take them back out again after breakfast.
Dogs usually need to eliminate 10-20 minutes (some dogs less) after eating and drinking. Usually they will also eliminate after play and/or napping too,
Look for signs of them sniffing the floor, tail sometimes can be up and rigid. Once outside, you can use a trigger word like “go potty” but keep it quiet so they stay relaxed. As soon as they go potty, praise them vigorously and bring them right back in the house. If they don’t go when you take them out, put them back in the crate and wait 10-15 more minutes and take them out again.

2. Using Crates, Gates and X-pens:

Dog’s have a natural instinct is to keep their dens clean. This is why they usually will not go potty in the crate. The crate can be considered the den, but you’ll want puppy to expand their idea of the den to include the entire house. Increase space slowly as they become more reliable. It is important to keep them insight so they don’t go to another room and go potty. If you are trying to give them time outside of the crate to play or be near you, use an X-Pen or leash attached to you. Eventually, they will expand to more of the home so close doors or use baby gates to block access and keep the puppy out of trouble until you can supervise them. Anytime they are unsupervised they should be crated or in a confined space until they are trusted.

A word about crates…
Be sure the crate is only big enough for the puppy to stand, turn around and lay down. If it is too big they will go to the opposite end of the crate to go potty and still keep an end clean to lie down. A good rule of thumb for length of time in a great you can confine 1hr. for every month old: 8 week of puppy = 2 hours.

3. Catching Them in the Act:

It is helpful to catch them in the act and interrupt with a loud startling noise – loud clap of the hands or shake a penny can*. You want them to think that relieving themselves in the house is not relaxing or calm. If you can surprise them by bowling the penny can across the floor, (so they don’t even know where it came from) you can then swoop in as the “rescuer” to quickly get them outside where it is quiet and peaceful. If you don’t catch them in the act don’t act angry or do any physical punishment (rubbing their face into it) because it will delay progress and could prolong success…dogs will connect YOU + ELIMINATION = A BAD THING and they will avoid going in front of you and may not want to go in front of you outside either. Instead they will try to find a “safe” place in the house to go and they will not make the connection to go outside.

4. Cleaning Up:

If you don’t catch them in the act, just clean it up and consider it your mistake – be more watchful next time. Use an enzyme neutralizer, like Natures Miracle. Be sure not to use any ammonia based products. It will smell like urine to the dog and they will continue to use this spot and so may other dogs who visit!

Good luck,
Lesley Zoromsk

 

A Fun Game of Fetch in 8 Easy Steps

Teaching your dog to fetch in 8 easy steps

Training your dog to play the game of fetch and to retrieve a ball or toy is as fun as it sounds and can be done in 8 easy steps. Many people tell me that their dog will not do this and I am here to give you the successful tips that I have used for many years to teach dogs and their humans how to play.

To begin, start indoors in a room with no distractions.  Be prepared with dog kibble or treats – a Dixie cup size works.  Also, have two or three of your dog’s favorite toys or balls.  To teach the game and create the desire to play, you don’t have to use balls to start. Attach a leash to your dog’s collar and just let them drag it on the floor.

  1. Start by sitting down on the floor and use a toy to get your dog’s interest – I usually pretend the toy or ball is moving around as if it were a little animal.
  2. As soon as your dog looks over with interest, roll or toss the toy a few feet away.  You have to toss or roll it before they can grab it with their mouth.  Usually your dog will go to grab the toy as it’s moving.
  3. As soon as they pick up or touch the toy -PRAISE them!  Atta boy!  Great job!  Remember this is all baby steps at first.
  4. If that is all they do, no worries, you grab a different toy and repeat the above process.  Be excited about the toys.
  5. If they did  pick up the toy you tossed, more praise and hopefully, your excitement will usually draw them back to you!
  6. DO NOT TRY TO TAKE THE TOY AWAY FROM THEM IF THEY BRING IT BACK. Just praise and say, Good job!  Maybe pet their chest and compliment them on their toy!
  7. Show them the treat and try to trade the toy for the treat. As soon as they take the treat, they will drop the toy, now quickly through the toy back.  This is KEY! They have to see you don’t just keep their toy and you always give it back.
  8. If they are not coming back initially, you use the leash to guide them back and reward with the treat.

To finish the first session, you need to end the game before the dog decides to end the game.  This harder for the humans as everyone gets excited when they see success and they want to keep going.  Only do about 3-5 tosses at first and then stop playing.  This will make your dog all the more interested and engaged the next time you play.  Stay with playing this indoor initially until your dog gets great about bringing the toy to you and starts to drop it immediately.  This is when you can fade from using the treat!

I love this for kids because kids usually want to play with their dog, but don’t always know the best ways to play.  First, teach your dog and then it will be easy to hand the reins to your child. This also is a great bonding activity to do for the family and the dog.

If you’d like to see this in action, I have several sessions that I have posted on my Kids-n-K9s Facebook page!  http://<iframe src=”https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fkidsnk9s%2Fvideos%2F337510970624561%2F&show_text=0&width=560″ width=”560″ height=”315″ style=”border:none;overflow:hidden” scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ allowTransparency=”true” allowFullScreen=”true”></iframe>

Shelter-in-Place – Preventing Incidents with the Family Dog

advice during shelter in place for the family dog
During this time of shelter-in-place, you’re spending a lot more time together as a family.  Most of the extra time together is good, but there may be some negative consequences as new routines are being established.  Recently I was informed of an incident involving a family dog biting a five year old child who crawled into the dog crate while the dog was sleeping.  After hearing this, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how some of these new daily routines could impact your child and dog.  Let’s  help educate your child about making good decisions with the family dog, and avoid potentially bad incidents like a bite.
 
Children who are normally gone for many hours of the day, expending energy at school, are now spending their days at home.  The routine for the dog is probably different too. They may not have as much time to rest as usual, and there is constant sound and movement in the house from family members.  Some dogs may love the extra family around, but others may not.  
 
All this extra togetherness just increases the likelihood of a potential incident happening. Supervision is always important when it comes to dogs and kids, but realistically you just can’t watch everything all the time. So what else can you do?  Try taking some time to establish clear boundaries and rules with your children regarding your dog(s).  Looking back on the incident with the young child mentioned earlier, it’s likely that the dog was startled while asleep and reacted. It could also be that the dog was protecting its space.  It’s difficult to prevent all bad things from happening, but this is a good time to be proactive with basic child/dog safety tips. 
 
If your child is old enough to have a conversation, go over some basic tips to help your child learn when to give space and undisturbed rest time to the dog. Space should always be given when a dog is eating and sleeping. Don’t assume your child knows all of the basics. If you need a simple child/dog safety tool that covers many of the basic tips, the Stop, Look & Paws sticker set, that was designed for parents to use with children, can be a big help.  It’s also something fun for your child, because they get to sort 12 reusable dog stickers into safe-to-pet or not-safe-to-pet sections on a game board.
 
So, take some time to sit with your child and review basic safety tips with the family dog.  If you need some help, you can read some of the Kids-n-K9s.com blogs and/or get a Stop, Look & Paws sticker set.  Enjoy the extra family time and be safe!

2020 Family Choice Award

As one of the most coveted and family-friendly consumer awards programs in the nation, the Family Choice Awards recognizes the finest products and services that enrich the lifestyles of children and families. http://www.familychoiceawards.com/family-choice-awards-winners/stop-look-paws/  A distinguished panel of judges voted Stop, Look & Paws based on physical appearance, quality, ease of instructions, entertainment value and engagement, durability, uniqueness, value for the price and if this would be something to recommend.

I felt very honored to receive this award as Stop, Look & Paws took years to design and produce.  I hope it continues to help many families years into the future.

Family Choice Award, Stop, Look & Paws

Family Dog Magazine Recognizes Stop, Look & Paws

In American Kennel Clubs (AKC), Family Dog Magazine has a Kids Issue which comes out annually every November/December.  AKC heard about Kids-n-K9s and that we are now a non profit organization trying to help reduce the number of dog bites to children.  Stop, Look & Paws was recognized as a valuable tool for adults and children to learn together about dog body language.  Click the link  to view the entire magazine about dogs and kids.  Enjoy!

http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/48793267#/48793267/6