The Stubborn, Willful, Spiteful Dog Myth

spiteful, willful, stubborn dog myth love wags a tail dog trainingPeople call me with stories of their stubborn, willful, spiteful dogs, and the list of derogatory adjectives go on from there. And I understand. People are frustrated, and we are people after all, so we are going to think from a people-perspective. But dogs aren’t people, so they don’t think the way people think. Dogs aren’t any of those unpleasant terms we apply to them. What dogs are doing when they behave unfavorably is either entertaining their own interests or reacting to something stressful.

The latter of those two can play out, in one way, as stress elimination in the house. Some dog owners tell me their dogs eliminate on their beds when they leave for work, errands, or some other reason. Dogs aren’t thinking, “Oh she sleeps on that bed, so I’m going to be spiteful now and pee right there.” A dog who stresses out about being apart from his owner is rather reacting to that stress and finding that the substrate of the bed is the most appealing place on which to relieve himself.

Instead of the bed, dogs may choose a carpet, throw rug, corner of a couch, or even the couch itself to eliminate on. The list is inexhaustible. But the bottom line is that dogs who eliminate due to stress are eliminating due to stress! Not to get back at the owner, or to carry out any other evil plan. They’re dogs. Their brains are made to react to a stimulus. Not to devise plots of revenge. The good news is through a humane, reward-based training plan, consistency, and persistence, these behavioral reactions can be modified.

dog playing love wags a tail dog trainingThe other side of the coin is when dog owners tell me their dogs don’t obey commands. Dogs who seem to be ignoring their owners aren’t disrespecting them. They are doing something that they find more interesting than what their owners have to offer. Do you have a dog like this? Training a dog to obey cues (commands) in the face of their fascinating, momentary interests is doable. Using appropriate, rewarding motivation (training food), a good training plan, and sticking to that plan, will motivate a dog to respond to his owner’s cues through a hierarchy of distractions.

As a case in point about dogs and their personal motivating interests, dogs can and will turn what you want into what they want. As in the dog training the owner. Sometimes that produces a mutually fun game. Sometimes, the game the dog plays isn’t fun for the owner, like chasing the dog around the yard for 15 minutes when the owner is late for work. What the owner wants, for the dog to come, turns into what the dog wants, the “catch me if you can” game.

Dogs do play games to satisfy their own interests, and most dogs love games. Many times I hear potential clients tell me of scenarios where a dog is getting them to play a game over and over. Such is a game I described above, the chase-me game. When a dog is having fun, bouncing, tail-wagging fun, he’s playing with you. (Don’t confuse this with when a dog is serious. For example, a dog who is stiffly holding onto an object, growling, baring teeth, showing guarding behaviors. Not a game.) Game playing is out of happy, relaxed, bouncy-like behavior. My own dog used to play “hide when called.”

Luigi was my beloved Dobermann, who passed away in 2014. He lived with me and the rest of our canine family for 12 years. He loved to play fetch in the backyard with me, especially when the other dogs were in the house. To play fetch was one of Luigi’s passions.

So it did not surprise me when Luigi started a new game based on his passion of playing fetch. When I called all the dogs into the house, everyone was accounted for, except Luigi. His decision to ignore our well practiced recall cue was driven by a bigger internal motivation. Playing fetch. Luigi would hide in the backyard with a toy, so when I came out to find him, he was ready to offer me a toy for some fetching fun. He is playing the “hide when called” game in this video.

I played his game sometimes, and sometimes I didn’t. The fact that I did play sometimes kept his hopes up, so he continued to do his part and played the “hide when called” game until he couldn’t. If you encourage a behavior, it will flourish. Ignore it, and it will eventually extinguish. Truth.

What is also the truth is that all of the behaviors packed into a dog are brought to life by stress or motivation, and no dog is naturally a perfect companion or house pet. We find out as they unpack their behaviors what’s in them and then use humane and reward-based training methods to train or modify their behaviors to help ease their stress and create a more reliable, obedient companion.

Assigning blame to the dog through people-oriented adjectives won’t solve a dog’s stress-related or self-motivating behaviors. Reward-based, humane training is the path to take for resolving behavioral issues and creating new behavior.

To send your dog to the Love Wags A Tail humane boot camp board-and-train dog training program, for motivational learning with our cast of characters, contact us with your dog training, behavior modification wish list for more information.

Helen Verte Schwarzmann
Contact me
Certified in Training and Counseling
Certified Pet Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed
Certified Trick Dog Instructor
AKC STAR Puppy, CGC, and Trick Dog Trainer and Evaluator
Your Board-and-Train Dog Trainer for south and southwest Florida, Broward, Collier, Lee county

Love Wags A Tail Board-and-Train Dog Training is participating in the 2017 Companion Animal Psychology Train For Rewards Blog Party via this post. Click for information and more posts about reward-based dog training.

Categorizing Dog Training Food

When training your pet dog, have a variety of training food at your disposal. Prepping dog training food ahead of time is a sure fire way to be expedient at reinforcement when you need it. Having to prep food at the spur of the moment can be impossible.

Dog Training Food Love Wags a Tail dog trainingFor example, when you are housetraining your dog or puppy, have a good training food at the ready so it is in your bait pouch everytime you take your pooch outside. If you have a dog who’s got to go now, that means now is not the time to fumble around for training food. Now is the time to grab that food you already prepped and go! Mistakes happen quickly, so the better prepared you are, the better your dog will respond to your preparation when it’s imperative

For pet dog training, you can categorize training food into three types – A, B, C.

The A-group is the most appealing food to the dog or pup. Use it for high distractions or tougher behaviors. For example, most dogs would do anything for steak or other kinds of meat. Most dogs love cheese, too. Dog foods made out of tripe are also top-knotch motivators. And if you’re making dog training food, those foods with real meat, sardines, tuna, and other such delicacies may very well fit into this group, too.

The B-group food is used when you’re dog is less distracted and the behavior he’s learning is less challenging. This group may include training food made from canned dog food, or pre-made commercial dog training food such as Happy Howie’s brand dog food roll, or another dog food roll. It also may include a special food your dog likes. Luigi, my Dobermann, loved the organic animal crackers from Costco. He would regularly tell me so, and would do any tricks in his repertoire for them, including this one he made up himself.

The B-group can also include foods the dog likes that are not usually found in her food bowl. Some dogs like fruit like applies or bananas. Pippin, another of my Dobermann, once swiped one of two papayas I’d just picked from my tree. She did this right in front of the eyes in back of my head! She loved that fruit. So did I. In this video you’ll see that short episode with little Pippin and the papaya. And funny enough, my dogs loved grabbing the blooming hibiscus flowers right off the branches for a quick snack. Of course, I wouldn’t use the flowers for training food, but you see, there is variety in every dog’s food preferences.

The C-group training food is for simple things like tossing into a crate, so your dog will find it later and enter the crate to eat. Or tossing into the grass for nose searches. Or to move your dog during training. Toss a piece of kibble away from the door so your dog can come back to the door to ring the doorbell. Use the C-group for very easy behaviors. This group includes a dog’s daily kibble, some pre-made boxed dog cookies, a carrot, or other food the dog will eat because he’s hungry. The C-group is not too exciting. Though some dogs may find carrots or their special brand of kibble exciting, so to each his own.

Watch out, for what’s in those play dough like dog treats. Please read the labels. There are dog foods on the market that aren’t very food-like.

Think about your dog and what tasty food will fit under each category. Prep some in baggies. Take a little time to make a list of your dog’s food categories, then fill your dog’s training food pantry with the good stuff that will motivate him/her. A good training plan, reinforcing food, and your dog and you can do great training.

To send your dog to the Love Wags A Tail humane boot camp board-and-train dog training program, for motivational learning with our cast of characters, contact us with your dog training, behavior modification wish list for more information.

Helen Verte Schwarzmann
Contact me
Certified in Training and Counseling
Certified Pet Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed
Certified Trick Dog Instructor
AKC STAR Puppy, CGC, and Trick Dog Trainer and Evaluator
Your Board-and-Train Dog Trainer for south Florida, Broward, Fort Lauderdale, Lee county

Senior Mini Poodle Looking for Retirement Home

Miniature Poodle Sammie for AdoptionSammie’s an energetic, 10-year-old dynamo. He has a big prey drive, so can’t be placed in a home with other small varmint pets, but would be all right with friendly smaller dogs his size or mellow larger dogs.

Sammie hunts cats, lizards, birds, snakes, squirrels, hamsters, any varmint that moves and chases bikes, cars, skateboarders that go by the front fence. He will even chase and bark at a low flying plane.

He’s had a lot of training. His graduation video from the summer of 2016. His owner was no longer able to care for him, so he came back to me, the trainer, for placement.

He was trained purely with reward-based, no-force methods and his placement will be in a home who is in tune with no-force methods. No choke, pinch, or shock collars. This is another of his videos and more recent

poodle needs home - Sammie and big NylaboneSammie’s lovable, loves to play ball, and is a very good “only child.” He can toss a toy around and chase it all by himself. He is good with other friendly dogs his size, but would prefer to be the center of someone’s life and be an only dog.

He absolutely needs a fenced in yard at least 4-feet tall, preferably privacy fence. If the home has lizards to hunt, this is a plus!

Sammie eats Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Selected Protein Adult PW. He’s allergic to fleas and needs to be kept on a monthly flea preventative. Triflexis was what his former owner used. He’s been well taken care of, has been on heartworm preventative, up-to-date on vaccines, and because he’s Poodle-ish, he needs grooming every 6 weeks. We ask for him to be bathe in hypoallergenic shampoo at the groomer.

Sammie is located in Lee county, Florida, and will be adopted locally. Contact me if you are interested in Sammie.

The Bottom Line To Success in Dog Training

Everybody needs motivation to learn, get things done, and sometimes, just to get out of bed in the morning. Our dogs are no different. Teaching them new behaviors or to maintain ones they’ve learned, in other words to listen to us, requires motivation. We at Love Wags a Tail dog training believe in motivating dogs through food. Not treats. Food. Good food that gets us noticed and gets our dogs and our client dogs to work for us. Reward based motivation creates a pet who will not only do as we ask, but will offer behaviors in hopes of getting that delicious reinforcement we train with.

I was training one of my client dogs in the front yard the other day. I had a bait pouch full of freshly baked training food, akin to tuna fudge but I used canned dog food as the meat source instead of tuna. A neighbor walked by with her two dogs, an old Greyhound and a year-old Golden Retriever. As we talked, it was apparent the Labrador I was training and the neighbor’s Golden Retriever wanted to play. So I opened the gate and let the Golden inside, so the two pups could enjoy some wrestling.

During this time, I asked the owner of the Golden if I could give the dog some of my dog training food. The answer was yes, so I asked both dogs to sit, and gave them training food as their reward. I also offered some to the Greyhound, who was waiting patiently outside the fence. He’s not a social butterfly, so was more comfortable watching than participating in playtime. But shortly after I gave the food out, my neighbor’s Golden was my best friend and followed me around the yard asking for more by flinging his paws on my shoulders! Hello doggy!

A week or so went by, and the neighbor walked by again. When the Golden and Greyhound saw me opening the fence to drive to town, though up the street, they came running towards me. They weren’t on leash. After a brief hello, and to check if I had any of that good training food, they barged into my yard to have a romp around. There were no other dogs around, so the Greyhound had a pee or two on selected objects while the Golden went to a spot I’d had an Easter tuna fudge hunt for the dogs days previously. There were select few morsels left, but he was out to find them.

That is motivation. The Golden and Grey enjoyed their first visit to the Love Wags A Tail homestead, and when they saw me, took off running away from their owner, who had been calling them back to no avail. They’d probably hoped to get some more of that delicious training food, but found out I wasn’t stocked, and took off to their second motivation, the yard itself, which was full of dog and training food smells. They were doing what any of us do, choosing to behave via our favored motivations. That’s the bottom line to dog training. Motivation equals behavior.

To send your dog to the Love Wags A Tail humane boot camp board-and-train dog training program, for motivational learning with our cast of characters, contact us with your dog training, behavior modification wish list for more information.

Helen Verte Schwarzmann
Contact me
Certified in Training and Counseling
Certified Pet Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed
Certified Trick Dog Instructor
Your Board-and-Train Dog Trainer for south Florida, Broward, Fort Lauderdale, Lee county

Board-and-Train Easter Egg Hunt

What’s more fun than an Easter Egg Hunt? A tuna fudge hunt! That’s the game our board-and-train and resident dogs got to play this springtime afternoon. Dogs love to use their noses, so we give them what they love at Love Wags A Tail Dog Training. All dogs are non-food aggressive and they know each other well enough to participate in this group activity. Of course, this game can be played anytime of the year, and your dog will always enjoy sniffing for good food. Try it with your dog. Playing games with your dogs is fun for all.

Helen Verte Schwarzmann
Contact me
Certified in Training and Counseling
Certified Pet Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed
Certified Trick Dog Instructor
Your Board-and-Train Dog Trainer for south Florida, Broward, Fort Lauderdale, Lee county