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by ARLnow.com Sponsor — August 17, 2015 at 2:45 pm 453 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

I get a lot of inquiries asking how many lessons it will take to solve a certain problem.

My answer is always the same: it depends. It depends on 1) what the problem is 2) how severe the problem is 3) how compliant the owners are and 4) whether it is a training issue or a behavioral issue.

What is training? When we talk about training we are usually referring to teaching the dog to do something specific. Typical training lessons include sit, down, stay, off, etc. The primary goal is to teach the dog to do a behavior on cue (i.e. when we ask) and in all situations.

For example, we can start by teaching the dog to sit in your living room and over time work up to getting the dog to sit at the corner before crossing the street. Initially the dog has no reason to like or dislike sitting, but will grow to love it with lots of positive reinforcement. Getting the sit in the living room can be done in a few minutes while getting the sit at a busy street corner might take weeks or months. The hardest part of this training is teaching the dog to ignore the distractions of the busy world. Even though it takes time, training specific behaviors like this tend to be a matter of practice and reinforcement.

What is behavior modification? Behavior mod is a different beast. By its very name and nature we are starting with a behavior that needs to be modified is some way. Since we are starting with something that the dog is already choosing to do, the dog already has an opinion about it. This inherently makes it different from training which usually starts off as neutral and becomes positive.

A very common behavior that requires modification is aggression. If the dog is aggressing at something, they very clearly have an opinion about it. This is no longer a matter of just teaching the dog to do something, because there is a very strong emotional component. Behavior modification almost always begins by attempting to modify the emotional state of the dog. We need fear to become acceptance and anxiety to become security. As I am sure you can see, behavior modification is therefore much more complicated. In a person it is the difference between learning how to play the piano and overcoming a fear of spiders.

Behavior modification is very different in another way as well. Because of the emotional component, you can never be 100% sure the dog is not going to revert back to the original state of mind. This means that even though the dog may no longer be showing any outward signs of aggression, care should be taken to manage the dogs environment so that they are able to emotionally deal with the situation and that there is no danger of them hurting themselves or anyone else if they do revert back. Management is always a critical part of any behavior modification plan.

So when dealing with behavior modification, there is no end time. I can never say we can accomplish this in three lessons. It depends on the dog, their emotional state and how severe the problem is to begin with. It always involves patience, management and lots of love.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — August 3, 2015 at 2:15 pm 385 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

I had an interesting thing happen to me this weekend. My new cat has been attacking and biting me, “for no reason” and “out of the blue.” These are two statements that I always hear from dog training clients and I always insist that nothing is out of the blue or for no reason. Yet I could not apply the same reasoning to my cat. The recommendation: my cat needs more exercise. He’s bored. Of course he does!

How many times have I told a dog training client that an increase in exercise will solve a myriad of behavior problems. Probably hundreds of times. And it’s true. Is your dog waking you up at night? Chewing inappropriately? Excessive barking? Pulling on leash? Biting at you to get your attention? Exercise may not solve these problems but it can certainly be a part of the solution.

The first thing you need to know is that for most young dogs, walking on a leash does not even come close to meeting their exercise needs. Walks are a great way to maintain your dogs socialization and keep them acclimated to their environment but they do very little to dent their energy levels. Young, in-shape dogs will usually require at least two hours of exercise a day.

To truly exercise a dog, the dog needs to be trotting or running. The best ways to accomplish this is with off-leash excursions that involve hiking, running and swimming. Unfortunately for most urban dog owners, an off-leash hike before work is out of the question. The best we can hope for is a weekend adventure.

So here are some ideas for getting in some real exercise during the week. Of course, with the weather in the nineties every day, these are mostly indoor activities until the fall.

Fetching: This is the best way to get your dog running. A 15 minute session of fetch is probably equivalent to a 60 minute walk. To increase the cardio aspect see if your dog will run up and down stairs to retrieve the ball or toy.

Tugging: The idea that tugging will make your dog aggressive is an old wives tale. Tug away! Not only is it a great outlet for puppies who are still in their mouthing and chewing stage, it is a great outlet for older dogs as well. Not to mention the benefits of an upper body workout for the human. If you occasionally win, start the game up again with a toss to sneak in a fetch.

Interactive food toys: These are awesome. Not only will they get your dog moving a bit, they are great mental stimulation which will also tire out your dog. You can feed your dogs entire daily ration of food in interactive toys and you can even give them to the dog to keep them engaged while you are out of the house. Why feed your dog in a bowl when you can get more bang for your buck with a food toy?

Training: Teach your dog some tricks. Tricks are a great way to exercise parts of the body that the dog may not always use. Sit up and beg works the abs and core, spin to the right and left provides stretching, as does a nice stretch into a bow. Tricks also give you the same double benefit of physical movement and mental stimulation. Fifteen minutes of trick work a day would really help.

Bottom line: Get your dog training and moving and most of all have fun!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — July 20, 2015 at 2:30 pm 457 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

There are several avenues you can use to get a dog. Dogs are available through breeders, rescue groups and animal shelters. All of these options have good dogs available. But before you go to get a dog, you will need to have an idea of what you are looking for.

The first thing to consider is whether your lifestyle is better suited to a puppy or an adult dog.

Puppies usually require a much bigger commitment in the beginning to teach them all of the important lessons they need to know in the first two to three years of their lives.  The upside of getting a puppy is that it will grow up alongside you and naturally mold to your lifestyle. The down side is the time commitment and the unknown nature of its personality. Even a lovely puppy can develop behavioral problems through no fault of the owners.

An adult dog requires a lot less time right from the start, since they are already socially and physically mature. This means they are (usually) house trained and crate trained, do not require midnight bathroom breaks or detailed socialization plans. It also means that the are a bit more set in their ways and may not adapt as easily to every type of household. The upside is that you have a much better chance of knowing what you are getting right from the beginning. A three year old dog who loves kids and other dogs will probably remain relatively friendly.

The next thing to consider is that type of dog do you want? Large or small? High energy or couch potato? Highly social or super independent? These are all serious considerations and breed characteristics can help answer some of these questions.

Once you know what you are looking for the most important thing you need to consider is the temperament of the dog. When you meet a dog or a puppy, they should willingly and happily approach you and show evidence that they enjoy your company. Shy dogs may be very reserved and will work better in a quiet home with no young children. Any signs of aggression are an indication of major trouble.

Unfortunately, the thing that drives people most strongly, is the last thing that matters.

The last thing you should consider is what the dog looks like. I know, I know, that’s almost impossible. But it is true. The temperament and behavior of the dog is so much more important. Only once you are sure the pup has the characteristics and temperament you want should you even consider the cuteness factor.

Woofs! offers free pre-adoption counseling services to help you find the best dog for your lifestyle and family.  There is nothing we love better than making a great match between a dog and its new family.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — July 6, 2015 at 2:45 pm 605 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

There is was again. Another story about a dog attacking a child. This time it was in Texas. A Border Collie. A five year old. In the face. But location, breed and age don’t matter. It happens everywhere, with all breeds of dogs, and all ages of people.

What I found amazing was the backstory. The dog was adopted as a puppy. He had lived happily with the family for 10 years. He had been okay with the child until recently when he became, “kind of grouchy” around the child. The father witnessed the dog snap at the child. He wanted to get rid of the dog. The mother witnessed the dog “growl aggressively” at the chid just a day before the attack. She agreed to get rid of the dog. Then the next day, the 5 year old asked if she could pet the dog, who was on leash. The mother said yes, and the dog bit the girl in the face. Badly. Permanent scars.

So much to discuss here. First of all, do not blame the parents. They love their daughter. They feel terrible now and will carry the guilt forever. They also loved their dog. The dog had been a good doggy citizen for 10 years. There’s a lot of trust built up in 10 years. I haven’t spoken to them personally but I bet they would say that they never thought their dog would do something like that.

The way to prevent dog bites is to take the dogs warnings seriously. The snapping, the growling. These are warning signs. The dog was saying, as clearly as it could, “I DO NOT like you. If you don’t go away, I will bite you”. The dog was being as clear as it could be.

Dogs that growl and snap are doing everything they can to avoid biting you. They are giving you the opportunity to asses the situation and take a different path. Once your dog delivers a warning sign, it is now up to you to manage the situation so that the dog does not bite anyone.

This all has nothing to do with whether the dog, “should be growling” or not. Many clients will say, “But I was just brushing him. I HAVE to brush him.” Or, “I should be able to take the bone away from him if I want to.” I agree. Dogs should be taught to tolerate brushing and having high value treats taken away.

But right then, at the moment that the dog growls, you need to make the choice that will prevent the dog from biting. Stop brushing. Let the dog have the bone. Avoid the bite. Then you have a moment to step back and analyze the situation. I need to teach the dog to tolerate brushing better. I need to teach the dog to give up the bone. I need to keep the dog away from the child until we can find him a new home.

Dogs that growl at children are not uncommon. It is my opinion that no child should live in a home with a dog that shows any sort of aggression to them whatsoever. No exceptions. This story is exactly why. The dog reached his threshold with the child and bit her badly in the face. Will all dogs who growl, bite? Of course not. But are you willing to take that chance? You shouldn’t.

If you have a dog that growls at your child, the dog and the child need to be kept completely separate until the dog can be removed from the home. I’m a trainer. Why not apply a training solution? Because it is not worth the risk. Training can help, but there is no guarantee it will be 100 percent and with some dogs, training can only take you so far. And kids can’t follow a detailed training plan. And humans make mistakes. Doors get left open. Management fails.

Bottom line: figure out why the dog is growling. Take all growls and snaps seriously. Seek out help. Your dog is trying to tell you something. As the guardian of the dog it is up to you to find a resolution that avoids the bite.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 8, 2015 at 2:45 pm 336 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

I found myself talking to a lot of people with shy and reserved dogs this week. I was repeating the same advice over and over again so I thought I would share it here.

Shy and reserved dogs will exhibit similar behaviors. They may back away, duck out from under an attempt to pet them or simply not approach new people. In severe cases they may even growl or bite. The difference between shy and reserved dogs can be very subtle, however shy dogs are often experiencing underlying fear and anxiety about meeting new people. Reserved dogs usually just prefer to not interact with new people without the element of fear. In either case, pushing a shy or reserved dog past its limits can have serious consequences.

The first thing to remember is that all dogs should be permitted to choose if they want to meet someone new or not. Friendly dogs will usually rush in to meet someone new before you even get a chance to ask them. Shy dogs will not. When meeting a new dog it is best to invite the dog to approach you. This can be done by offering your open hand to the dog below its chin, crouching down to the dog’s level a few feet away or offering a treat in an open flat hand. All of these situations invite the dog to come to you. If the dog does not move toward you, it is best to back off and ignore the dog. Over time the dog may warm up to you and you can try again later. Taking a low stress approach will communicate to the dog that they can trust you not to push them beyond what they can handle. If the dog trusts you to move slow, things will usually get better.

If you are the owner of a shy or reserved dog it is your responsibility to provide the dog with a safe place to retreat to. If you are out on a walk, be ready to ask people to not pet your dog. Well meaning people can easily overwhelm your pup. A scared dog on a leash is in a serious predicament. In a fight or flight situation where flight is not possible because of the leash, the dog has only one option left. Always make sure your dog has the option of flight, even if it is just a short trip to hide behind your legs. Never ever restrain your dog and force them to tolerate attention that they would rather avoid.

If you are home, the same rules apply. Make sure the dog can leave the party and go hang out in a safe place. No introvert wants to be forced to be an extrovert. If your dog isn’t the super friendly type, respect their wishes and give them an option.

But all is not lost. When given the time and space that they need, shy and reserved dogs can make real progress. Shy dogs can become more confident and reserved dogs can expand their circle of friends. The most important thing to remember is to respect how they feel and proceed at a pace that makes the dog feel better, not worse.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Local Woof: Trick Dog Titles

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 11, 2015 at 3:15 pm 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Teaching tricks is great for dogs. It provides them with both mental and physical stimulation and helps create a stronger working relationship between the dog and the handler.

One of the best ways to help your dog perform basic obedience skills better is to spend some time teaching trick behaviors. We know that the more things we teach a dog, the better they get at learning. And the more often we ask for behaviors, the better they get at offering them.

One of the reasons tricks are more fun and easier to teach is because we place less pressure on ourselves and the dogs to learn them. It seems critical that the dog learn to stay, but just fun if the dog learns to roll over. The lack of pressure makes us laugh and amused when teaching tricks.

But the extra pressure of “obedience commands” stresses us out and can make us angry when the dog doesn’t get it right away. The reality is that to the dog, they are all just tricks.

There are now some trick dog titles that you can work on with your dog without having to go to class or perform them at an event. The titles are granted on an honor role system, but it is also a lot of fun to post them on line and share them with others. One interesting website is: Do More With Your Dog at http://domorewithyourdog.com/pages/trickdogtitle.html

There are four levels of trick dog titles and lots of suggested tricks to get you started! We would also love to see your dogs tricks on the WOOFS! Facebook page. The most important thing is to have fun.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 27, 2015 at 2:45 pm 1,110 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Some dogs react to the presence of specific stimuli with aggressive barking and lunging. When a dog does this specifically in the presence of other dogs, we call it dog reactivity.

There are many reasons why a dog might be reactive. Fear, a lack of early socialization or a traumatic event are just some possible reasons. Some dogs may be reactive on leash but play really well with dogs off leash.

No matter the reason, walking a reactive dog can be a real challenge. We often call it the “midnight dog-walkers club” since owners of reactive dogs tend to go out of their way to walk their dogs when there are as few other dogs around as possible.

Walking a reactive dog can be a really big challenge in an urban environment. When working with reactive dogs we usually recommend a program of counter-conditioning and desensitization, where slowly, over time, we teach the dog to tolerate the presence of other dogs without reacting with barking and lunging.

During the training phase, I usually teach handlers a three-pronged approach about what to do.

  1. Click then treat
  2. Treat bomb and
  3. Get outta Dodge.

The first thing to do is “Click then treat.” If your dog is able to pay attention to you and is not barking or lunging you can treat them, very rapidly, in the presence of the other dog.

Once your dog reacts with barking or lunging, we need a new plan. This is when I resort to a “treat bomb.” In this situation I throw 15 -20 very small treats down in front of the dog. Hopefully the dog will be sufficiently motivated by the food to stop the barking and lunging and eat the treats off the ground. Once they finish the treat bomb, they are often now able to refocus on you and you can go back to clicking and treating for good behaviors. The treat bomb is simply a behavior interrupter to distract the dog and give you a moment to get them back under control.

If all else fails and you find yourself in a difficult situation, it time to “Getta outta Dodge.” No amount of treating or pleading or yelling is going to resolve the situation. Your dog is over its threshold.

Their thinking brain is no longer working so there is no point is asking them to follow even the most simple of commands. At this point, your best bet is to take off in the opposite direction and remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.

Dog reactivity is probably the number one behavior problem we are called in to help with. The good news is that over time, and with consistent positive training, reactivity can improve a great deal.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — March 30, 2015 at 2:30 pm 555 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

More than half of the dogs in the U.S. are overweight. Much like with people, it is a result of too much processed food, large portion sizes, and just plain overeating.

What amazes me the most about this epidemic is the number of dog owners who simply do not know that their dog is overweight.  Check out this awesome chart at projectpetslimdown.com.  Once you know your dogs body condition score (BCS) you can make adjustments to their feeding.

The easiest way to tell if your dog is overweight is to feel for their ribs. I recommend placing your thumbs on your dogs back bone and using your fingers to feel for the ribs. You should be able to feel your dogs ribs through no more than about a 1/4 inch of skin, muscle and fat. If you cannot easily feel your dogs ribs, without having to push down, then your dog is likely overweight.

If you do find that your dog is overweight, simply cut down on the amount of food they get per day and increase their exercise. Sound familiar? A great way to supplement your dog’s meal is with green beans. Frozen or canned green beans help your dog feel full without adding too many calories.

Here are some common reasons our dogs end up overweight:

“But my vet says he’s fine”  If I hear this one more time… Please ask your vet for an honest opinion about your dog’s weight. I do not know why veterinarians are so afraid of talking about a dogs weight. I suspect it’s because it can be a touchy subject and they are afraid of losing your business. But in the interest of the health of our dogs (and cats), I implore vets to be more forthcoming and honest about talking about weight issues.

“The bags says to feed 4 cups a day” — I hate dog food bag instructions. The idea that every dog in a certain weight range should eat the same amount of food per day is ludicrous. A 12-year-old dog that weights 35 pounds should be eating nowhere near the same amount as a 35-pound dog who is 2 years old and hikes three times a week. In addition, keep in the mind that the goal of the company is to sell you more food. The faster you feed, the faster you buy another bag. The only measure of how much a dog should eat a day is their body condition. Just like people.

“She’s still just a puppy” — Where puppyhood ends can be debated, but the truth is that most dogs have reached 75 percent of their growth potential by the time they are 6 months old. The exception, of course, is large breeds (German shepherd size and larger), who may take up to 12 months to reach full size. That means that your dog’s growth will start to slow somewhere about 5 months of age. Most puppies start to pack on the pounds around 7 to 8 months of age because they are still being fed the same amount that they were eating when they were 5 months old.

“He’s not fat, it’s just his hair” — Yes, fluffy dogs can hide behind their fur more easily, but please don’t use it as an excuse. By palpating your dogs ribs you can just as easily asses the condition of a heavy-coated dog.

Bottom line, help your dog feel better and live longer by keeping them in shape. They’ll love you for it!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Local Woof: Out of the Blue

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — March 16, 2015 at 2:30 pm 390 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

When it comes to aggression, trainers often hear the same thing.

“Rover bit me out of the blue,” or “Fluffy growled at my son and never gave any other indications he was uncomfortable.”

Both of these situations are highly unlikely since dogs very rarely do things without prior warning signs.

More likely, the dog has been telling you that he or she is uncomfortable. Because we do not speak the same language, we were unable to interpret what they were saying.

Lacking a rich verbal language, dogs rely on body language to communicate. This means that in order to “hear” what they are saying, we need to be watching very closely. We need to be listening with our eyes.

Learning any new language can be challenging. But just like with any new language, the more you practice, the more fluent you become. Phrases that were once hard to hear become easier and easier to interpret. The more time you spend watching your dog and studying dog body language, the better you will become at interpreting how your dog is feeling or what they are trying to tell you.

In those out of the blue incidents, what is often happening is that the dog is giving subtle signs that they are uncomfortable. These signs are either misread or missed altogether. After hours, days or weeks of giving off stress signs that are ignored, the dog finally escalates and growls or snaps. Some commonly missed subtle indicators of stress are yawning, lip licking and eye rolling. These can be easy to miss.

Learning to interpret how your dog is feeling can help avoid those “out of the blue” incidents that are not really out of the blue. They can also help inform a management and training plan to make your dog more comfortable. Not sure what your dog is trying to say? Ask your trainer or register for a seminar on dog body language. The information can be eye opening.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Local Woof: Dog Sports

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — March 2, 2015 at 2:30 pm 301 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Spring is just around the corner. Really. And spring is a great time to get involved in a sport with your dog.

Dog sports continue to grow in popularity for several reasons. First, it’s a great way to advance your dog’s training. No matter what activity you choose, your dog’s training will improve.

Second, dog sports are a great way to burn off both physical and mental energy. They are especially great for young adolescent dogs with lots of extra energy.

Third, doing an activity with your dog is a great way to improve or expand your relationship. Like any team sport, dog sports require you and your dog to work together and can generate a greater understanding between the teammates. Finally, dog sports are fun. It’s fun to see your dog learn a new complex skill, even if you never plan on competing.

The best way to get started is to join a beginner class. Most beginner sport classes require your dog to have had some basic training already, so you might need to start there first. Keep in mind that sport classes are different from basic obedience classes.

Sport classes don’t end, just like training or practicing a sport doesn’t end.  You might take a single class several times before you master the content and move up. Serious competitors are always practicing and training.

One of the best things about sport classes is that it gives you lots of fun tricks to work on with your dog between classes. Even if you never advance or compete, working on tasks steadily and consistently with your dog builds the relationship and strengthens your bond.

The most popular dog sports are: Dog agility, where you navigate your dog through an obstacle course; Rally Obedience, in which you navigate your dog through a series of obedience exercises; Nose work, where you teach your dog to sniff out specific odors, detection dog style; Flyball, a fast and furious combination of steeplechase and fetch; plus freestyle, Frisbee and other options.

So if you are looking for a fun way to continue working with your dog, find a fun sport class and get started.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 26, 2015 at 4:05 pm 337 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Much like in humans, your dog will go through an adolescent phase and this period can be fraught with difficulty. Dogs will enter their adolescent period at around 6 months old, and exit between 18 months and 2 years of age. Smaller dogs tend to mature more quickly, larger dogs more slowly.

During this time you may feel like your dog has forgotten everything they learned in puppy class. You are not imagining it. There is physiological evidence that neural synapses are breaking and reforming at a very high rate. Previously attentive pups will start to ignore you and non-chewers will become destructive maniacs.

Fear not, this is normal. Most of what you will experience is a non-emergency and I find myself encouraging puppy owners to double down. Your progress may slow down and your dog’s attention span might shorten but they are still learning. As your dog becomes more independent they are going to push their boundaries and experiment with new things. Just like with human teenagers, it is really important that you remain present to guide your teenage pup into a well-behaved adulthood. Do not let them just figure it out on their own.

One behavior that is an adolescent emergency is if your previously friendly dog begins to show signs of aggression toward people or other dogs. While this is not uncommon, it is not a behavior your dog is just going to “grow out of.” Without intervention, this is likely to become worse and you can end up with a seriously aggressive dog. If your dog starts to growl, bark or lunge at people or other dogs contact your trainer as soon as possible.

Here are a couple of adolescence survival tips:

  1. Take another class: This will help you to continue to work with your dog through their “teenage years.” It keeps the two of you connected and might allow your trainer to identify any serious problems before they get worse. This could be a great time for a low key class like tricks, or a sport like agility or nosework.
  2. Hang onto that crate: Maintain your dog’s crate training well into adulthood. Continuing to crate your dog when you are not home or sleeping can help prevent problem behaviors like chewing or barking at the window from developing in the first place. It can also be a solution if these behaviors show up. If it’s been three months since your dog was crated, the solution may not be so easy.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 5, 2015 at 3:45 pm 560 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Whenever someone gets a new puppy or dog, they are often eager to teach “the basics.”  So everyone starts in on the same things; sit, lie down, shake, stay in front of the food bowl, etc. While these are all valuable skills for your new puppy or dog to know, they definitely do not need to be at the top of the list.

Teaching your dogs cues like sit or down, are obedience skills. The premise being that whenever you give a specific cue, your dog responds with the correct position. Responding to cues is important, but what is more important is your dogs general behavior.

Ninety-five percent of your interactions with your dog do not involve giving cues. It just involves being together. What your dog does when not being cued is its general behavior, and that is where you should start.

I don’t care if your 10-week-old puppy can sit. I care if your puppy likes people. Having a pup or dog that is friendly and at ease, is much more important than if they can sit on cue.

So here are the top four things I think you should be working on with your new pup or newly adopted older dog.

  1. House training. The No. 1 reason dogs are given up is going to the bathroom in the house. This is definitely a priority that everyone can agree on.
  2. Socialization. Remember, socialization is not the ability to play with the neighbor dog or being friendly to uncle Ted. Socialization is the ability to easily adapt to new circumstances. The only way to do this is to follow a socialization protocol and get your puppy out.
  3. Relationship. Play with your dog! Spend a few weeks playing, learning what your new dog likes and doesn’t like. Teach them that you are super awesome and relevant to them. In dog training, relationship is everything.
  4. Play and Exercise. Figure out how much exercise your dog really needs and devise some fun ways to meet those needs. Walks are great for socialization but generally do not meet any dog’s exercise needs.

Once you have these four things figured out, you will be ready to dive into training with a strong foundation.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

 

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — December 22, 2014 at 2:30 pm 338 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) is hosting the 5th annual “Train Your Dog Month” in January 2015. The goal is to encourage people to work with their dogs and this years focus is on basic training.

Is there something you never got around to training, like a nice stay at the door? This is the time to get back to it. There will be several free webinars and tips and tricks to help you on your way. You can find all the information here.

Why have a Train Your Dog Month? Well it’s just a fun way to encourage people to reconnect with their dogs. The truth is that training, when done positively and in partnership with your dog, is a great way to have fun and strengthen your bond and your dog might become more obedient as well!

Training is also great exercise for both you and your dog. Having a hard time exercising your dog in the dead of winter? Try a 20-minute training session. The mental energy that your dog expends is as good as or better than a 20-minute walk.

This is also a great opportunity to teach something new. Believe it or not, training tricks is just as valuable as teaching an important cue like sit or stay. What about taking up a sport with your dog? Agility, Flyball and Nosework are all fun ways to train without feeling like you are training!

Ultimately, training is one of the best things you can do with your dog. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or frustrating. Take a one day workshop, watch a webinar, or just try something new at home. WOOFS! will be hosting some Train Your Dog Month events, so come on out and have some fun!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Local Woof: Boarding Your Dog

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — December 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm 449 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of the busiest travel times in the United States, and inevitably people with dogs need to find someone to take care of Fido while they are out of town.

If you can’t take your dog with you, the next best option is to have a family member or friend either take your dog to their house, or come and stay at your house. Being in their own environment, or with someone familiar, is definitely the best option for your dog. But sometimes that isn’t possible and you need to find a boarding facility.

The best boarding option is somewhere that your dog is familiar and comfortable. Most daycare and boarding facilities work well because the dogs who are comfortable coming to daycare usually board without incident. These dogs are already familiar with the staff and often the other dogs that attend regularly. For them it’s like a home away from home. Dogs who attend daycare regularly at WOOFS! are happy and healthy during boarding as well.

What can be very difficult is when a dog needs to be boarded but has never been away from his owners or in a boarding or daycare facility before. In this situation, dogs can be very stressed, and prolonged stress often leads to associated illnesses including gastrointestinal problems, weight loss and upper respiratory infections.

So how can you help your dog survive a week away from home? First, be sure to plan ahead. Take the time to get your dog used to staying at a particular facility. This might mean paying for three or four days of daycare before you eventually drop off for an overnight stay. Trust me, your dog will be so much happier than if you just drop them at a facility and don’t come back for days. The experience of being dropped off and picked up several times can be very helpful in reducing anxiety.

Find the right facility. Daycare is not for all dogs. If your dog is stressed in the presence of other dogs they might do better in a traditional boarding environment where they do not interact with other dogs all day. Every dog is different, and luckily there are many options available in the area. In-home petsitting is a great option for dogs who don’t board well.

Start when your dog is a puppy. Send your puppy to a friend’s for an occasional weekend even if you don’t need to travel. This is an important part of their socialization experiences and should happen two or three times before your pup is 6 months old. Don’t wait for your dog to be 6 years old before you introduce them to spending time away from you.

Happy Holidays!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm 306 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

The holidays are a great time for feast and family, but we all know sometimes having visitors can be stressful. The last thing you need is conflict between your dogs and your guests. Here are some tips to keep everyone happy.

Exercise: Schedule extra exercise time for the dog BEFORE your guests arrive. A good 30-45 minutes of hard exercise earlier in the day can make for a more pleasant afternoon or evening. For young exuberant dogs, skip the walk and instead play a nice rousing game of fetch, keep away or tug. Walking is inadequate exercise for all but the oldest of dogs. Thirty minutes of running and fetching is much better bang for your buck.

Quiet time: Make sure there is a place in your house where your dog can be comfortably confined when necessary. There is a natural state of high arousal when guests first arrive and your dog is likely to join in and add to the excitement. During arrival time it is a good idea to put the dog away with a nice marrow bone or frozen stuffed kong. After everyone has settled in and is seated is a much better time to introduce the dog to the mix. Dinner is another great time for the dog to take a break.

Leash: When introducing the dog to newcomers, do not be afraid to use a leash. Leashing is a convenient way to control your pup’s exuberance without having to put them away. Stepping on the leash to prevent jumping is a tried and true way to keep your pup off of your guests. After everyone has arrived and settled down, perhaps the leash can come off. A festive new leash can also add to the fun.

Treats: If your guests are dog friendly, ask them to help you encourage good manners. Have a big bowl of delicious and nutritious dog treats. Ask your guests to give the dog a treat every time he approaches and sits or lies down. Before long your dog will be running up to people and sitting automatically in exchange for a treat. You can feed your dog his entire dinner this way.

Sleep over: If you are having guests who really are not that fond of dogs, consider sending your dog to a good friend for a sleepover. For some shy or fearful dogs, being away from the chaos will be the best thing for them. If you have a guest who is afraid of dogs, you might enjoy their visit much more without having to worry about keeping them and the dog separate. A night spent with their doggy best friend might be the best idea.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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