Do you have to punish your dog??

Before I answer this question I want to clarify the word punishment.

What is punishment? What does it mean?
So, here's the definition: Punishment is a term from Psychological Learning Theory that has a precise meaning; it refers to something that causes a behavior to lessen in intensity. There is nothing that is intrinsically punishing. A thing is called punishing if, when it is applied, it results in the reduction of behavior that you want to reduce.
Here's another one: Any pain, suffering, or loss inflicted on a person (or animal) because of a crime or offense.

With other words...if you think someone did something wrong and you do something that hurts him/her either mentally or physically or psychologically in order to "teach a lesson" you punish.

So, now that we know what it should mean..ask yourself what you did to punish your dog and if you got rid of the behavior due to it. Please post your experiences below.

Do wolves use punishment?
Let's look at the natural way things work in the dog world. Let's say a dog tries to eat before the alpha wants him to...and he knows it. He will sneak close to the pray, head low...eyes look nerveously..and try to get a bite. If the alpha sees it he will most likely either get into a fight with him/her or the lower one realizes by itself and runs when the "boss" shows through gestures. So, I would say...yes, there is punishment in the animal kingdom if you want to look at it this way.

Do WE need to punish?
The problem we face as humans is this...usually (most of the time) humans are simply not quick enough to react (since you'd have to punish right at the moment when it happens or just right after it..within 3 seconds of showing the unwanted behavior!) or react at the wrong time! If e.g. you call your dog and he doesn't come right away but 10 minutes later or whenever he feels like it...and you punish him....you teached him to not come back to you since he got punished for coming back. Same goes for peeing on the carpet... If you don't get him WHILE doing it....don't punish him. All those techniques of pushing him with his nose in his pee, etc. don't really work. If they did for someone it's luck...he could have also connected it to you and then just avoids peeing in front of you....and do it secretly ...on the carpet.

Of course, you have to provide rules - every alpha does. That's what makes dogs feel secure. Especially if you have pack of dogs you will realize probably quite fast you have to play your role...or one of them takes over and makes sure s/he gets an order in there.

How do you punish a dog - if so??
For me the most natural punishment is setting limits. If a dog plays the alpha role he decides where and when to go...and who is allowed to follow! If your dog is too "clingy" you might just have to set limitations...areas he is not allowed to go to. If he doesn't obey you don't have to kick or hit him (which might make him rather afraid of you) you just have to be firm and consequent. You have to mean what you want and do it. It's often enough to step in front of him and physically block his way and redirect him to an area where he is allowed to be. It is important to teach what is wanted from him and then praise him for doing it...rather than punishing him for bad behavior...or behavior WE think is bad. In the dog's eye it isn't many times.

Be aware of punishment at the wrong time can be extremely dangerous, too. If, for example, you try to physically punish a dog when s/he is already showing aggressive behavior you might very well get bitten. That's just the logical next step for a dog in panic. Aggression is his way of saying ...I don't know how to deal with this situation than show aggression. Let him "cool down" and react quicker next time...before he goes into the aggressive zone.

Instead of negative punishment (meaning hitting, kicking, etc.) it is usually enough to set rules and teach your dog the right way. ;) Depending on your dog's level of sensitiveness you can THEN correct his behavior just by voice or a firmer correction - only AFTER you've tought him what you want from him. A trustful relationship with your dog partner is the reward. It's worth it, don't you think??

Just because I thought this is funny...this is how monkeys tease dogs ;).


Have a MARVELLOUS New Year!!

Another year comes to its end. Many things happened (e.g. we moved...still looking for a place called home, travelled to Portugal by camper, the birth of our cute puppies and the rearing...coming back to life online, a Social Media Management education but also back to the roots with shamanism...so thrilling!). It was a great year and I learned a lot and appreciate every bit of it. It was filled with all kinds of experiences. How was your year??
I also want to THANK YOU for hanging in there, joining & accompanying me! For your comments (I LOOOOVE to hear from you since it shows me what you think and I love to learn from you, too! Plus it makes me feel like I am not alone here ;)...) & "likes" ...for being there! I still believe people are more important than machines ;)...so am happy if I hear from living beings :):)..
Oops, before I forget: I have a great opportunity to start the NEW YEAR healthy & fit (and fully supported!!)! Check this out: http://bit.ly/sJseDS Hurry, it starts on 2nd January! After this you will be fit to all kinds of fun stuff with your dog! ;)
Most of all I wish you a wonderful, successful, motivated & happy new year with health, love & laughter! Lots of fun with your four-legged friend(s)! May we all follow our path with our heart and be guided through an extraordinary year 2012 together in peace, harmony, inspiration and true conscious co-creation of our paradise on earth! I am excited!! *jumpupanddown* :)
Have a marvellous night & get some rest ;)...

For all owners who have scared dogs:
  • Make sure you are around but don't itensify their state of mind by petting or talking sweetly to them! This may sound bad but I dog will always look for others to see how they react. If they see themselves affirmed by you petting them (therefore rewarding them) or talking sweetly "It's ok. Mommy is here..." and feeling sorry for them (therefore showing your own insecurity)...it makes it worse!! You tell them pretty much something like this: "I am scared, too, and don't know what to do. So, don't look for my guidance since this is really bad and you are right in being afraid of it." Do you want that?
  • Try to redirect them *before* it gets loud and they are in stress mode. Play with them, do exercises, etc. (whatever they like best) and of course stay calm and assertive yourself. Be as nothing special would happen around! If you can manage to connect the noise with fun for your dog s/he will enjoy the whole sczenario.
  • Have them in a room with windows closed (shutters down), radio on (optional)..and be around...calmly and assertively. Show them you are "strong" enough and can handle the situation.
  • Make sure everything is secure around the dog. Some dogs run panically through the house or hide. Watch out for burning candles the dog might knock over, etc. Keep your dog on the leash when you are outside! If the dog is used to the crate s/he might feel safe in there during this crazy night...and just sleeps away...:)
  • Also watch your own thoughts. If you keep thinking and therefore imagining how bad it will be...the dog will react to it. Dogs are very sensitive. They feel what you feel... Rather imagine something wonderful and create a vision around this!
  • When worse comes to worse...give tranquilizer (natural ones can work, too)...but talk about it with your vet.
Have a safe & calm turn of the year with your animal friend(s)!!


Playing with dogs or does tug-of-war make a dog aggressive?

Today I wanted to explain something many people seem confused about. It's about playing with dogs. Playing is great to connect with your dog and have fun with her/him. It also can enforce the proper rules - if done right. I love to play with my dogs or motivate them through it. Often people say you can't play tug-of-war as your dog turns dominant...and they turn around to use their toy to motivate their dog and the dog dominates their owner!! The dog would jump all over them because s/he saw a ball or would go totally "nuts"...barking, biting, nipping, etc. Or the dog would bring a toy and bug the owner until they throw the ball. That's a kind of dominance you should be aware of. There are different energy dogs – one type that will always try to challenge you to be the leader and others who rather are followers and only be a (stressed out) leader if they absolutely feel they have to be because no one else does rule.

Pretty much every game can strengthen a dog’s dominance if you play on his/her terms! It's up to the breed what comes out of it! If the dog doesn't have very aggressive genes (or his/her needs are met) they will dominate you differently (like bugging you to play with them...even just starring) than a dog whose needs aren't met and is a strong breed (he/she might rather turn aggressive towards you or others and tries to dominate differently). What I am saying: No matter if you throw a ball or play tug-of-war it can turn bad. We should learn to read the signs how to play right and not to not do it at all.

That's why I put together a few guidelines when it comes to playing with dogs (and having fun) ;)..:

1. Always and only start when the dog is calm submissive!
2. You say when to start and to stop!
3. Make sure dog doesn't take the toy apart while playing (that is or can turn into killing mode).
4. Teach him obedience so you can give him commands to return toy, let go, etc. That way you can motivate her/him, too.
5. Toys are your property. Oh and shoes are, too ;)… (redirect if necessary).
6. Between throws make sure the dog calms down before you throw the ball again. Remember playing is a reward and intensifier that should be given at the right time (if you don't want to intensify the wrong behavior)!
7. No rough games when dog bites! As soon as teeth touch your skin too rough or at all stop the game.
8. Be consistent. What you allowed today will be ok for the dog tomorrow.
9. Only start tug-of-war if you can control your dog and can stop her/him immediately. Or don’t do it at all!
10. If you are gone rather leave him a chew toy than a "real" one. Toys are for connection with you not to chew on.

Problem solving:
- Dog brings toy and bugs you
Ignore dog or take toy away (should be stored away when not playing anyway) and wait until dog settles down and doesn’t pay attention to toy anymore. Remember: You start the game…and end it, too!

- Dog is jumping when seeing the ball
Be the pack leader. Change your energy. Wait until dog calms down and is calm submissive. Then throw. You can train some commands to help her/him calm down and mind you. Make sure you have enough space around you and the ball. Dog can’t touch the ball until you tell him. Limits are important for your dog.

- Dog starts barking when you don't throw the ball quickly enough
Again. Wait until the dog calms down. S/he will understand quickly you only throw if s/he is quiet and acts patiently. The automatic reward is the next throw.

A few words about tug-of-war.
I do have a dog that respects me and is the best well-trained dog ever (honestly…so great) and I can play it with him and he keeps going until I tell him to let go..and he will immediately. He never caused a problem. I know other dogs I wouldn't even think about doing it!
I do believe there is another problem to it. If people have a big dog and get to where they can't control him anymore (dog tugs too strong) then it can be dangerous as the dog learns how strong he really is – and connects it to you! That can easily turn into something bad. The dog learns her/his strength over you (how to win strength wise!) which is even worse! Usually, dogs don’t understand how strong they really are… That can change quickly if done wrong. So, if you are not sure leave it. BUT if a person understands dog language and acts accordingly (and doesn’t have a strong breed/energy that tries to dominate the person) I don't see a big problem. If the human is leader there usually is no problem. Well, unless you have a dog that tries to fight your position...then it wouldn't be a good idea again. Or it would give you a chance to show who's boss ;)...and embrace it! (but I don’t recommend it as it shows you are lacking in leadership ;)…)

One more tip for your dog’s safety. Don’t throw sticks for her/him. They not only can get splinters in their mouth but also pierce themselves with it (which happened to one of mine before).

Those are just a few hints. Feel free to ask or add some more (in the comments section). It is about having fun – while being respectful! You can also use it in between training sessions to bond even more and motivate the dog. S/he will love to do her/his job good to get a game as a reward.

Enjoy and have fun playing with your dog!


How to introduce a cat to dogs?

You are having fun with your dog/s and the idea of getting another family member pops up in your head...and you think..hm..a cat. Sure, I would love to have a cat! :) So you go out and look in the shelter. There are cats - some who are also used to dogs (great!), some young ones and others of course. If you take one that is used to dogs it could be easier for you to introduce them. If you take a young one it might be easier, too. As when they are young they get used to new things a whole lot better :).

It is usually harder to get a cat used to new dogs...or cats to cats ;) Always keep in mind often cats are the rulers of the house (even over dogs ;)...). I know many cats who attack dogs...and tame them themselves ;).

Bring the cat home to the room she will be in for the next few days (have dog/s in another room) so cat can get accustomed. Take a towel or toy or whatever cat uses and lay it in the bed of the dogs so they get used to the smell and accepting it as theirs. Same with the cat - take stuff from the dogs and put it in her area. Let dog/s only smell and hear cat first...if dogs don't show interest in sniffing in front of the room the cat is in it's time to introduce them.

When cat feels more comfortable and dog/s don't go crazy in front of the door I would introduce one dog (on leash) at a time (if you have more than one). That way you have the chance to correct the dog...and it is easier on the cat. Also the dogs can't team up as easily. If dog/s got introduced calmly to the cat the dog/s know then what you expect of them.
So back to the first meeting of one dog with the quite comfortable cat: I would put a leash on the dog so you can correct him/her if necessary. Dogs learn quite quick that a certain cat belongs to the pack but others don’t ;).
Also make sure you bring the dog to meet the cat when the dog is calm submissive! The dog will connect calm submission with the cat. If the dog is very excited take him/her on a big walk first to drain his/her energy. It is hard for a dog to be relaxed if he/she is full of energy!
You can also put the cat in a transport box if you fear you couldn't control your dog/s. That way they can sniff each other without being hurt. Every sign of aggression, excitement, bullying, etc. should be corrected immediately.

But if you do it one on one it should be easier. You can also hold the cat and your partner let's the dogs sniff... That shows the dogs that the cat belongs to you, too. But it really depends on how the dogs are.
In the beginning (until the dogs learn that cat is part of you) always be there to correct the dogs. Or even just do one on one for a few days - together with you and the leash. But make sure there is no tension on the leash as they will connect that, too. And tension means intensifying the excitement that can turn into aggression.
As soon as the dog acts calmly around the cat, sniffs, etc. praise him/her with words or treats. But don't try to talk nice when he/she is excited as this would praise her/his bad behavior and make it worse! Timing is key here.
As for cats the first impression counts make sure the first meeting with the dog is a good one and she doesn't get frightened. Take it as slow as necessary even if this means a few weeks.

So far so good... hope this helps a little bit... If you have questions just ask me. It is important you understand what I mean.

Have fun with your new family member! :)


So let's start! :)

This is my pack right now. You will find funny, interesting and educating things here. Have fun!