Hounds 'n' Harmony

Informative  Blogs

A plethora of information

Who's Who

9th April 2022

Does your dog know its own name? The majority of people would say “yes, of course”, however when calling one of your dogs, does it result in a stampede, with all the dogs coming over at once, especially when food or play is on offer. Owners often label this as FOMO (fear of missing out), resulting in the owners rewarding all the dogs, as they feel it unfair to treat them any different.  Read More  

Don't Touch Me!

10th September 2022

Would you walk up to a stranger in the street and touch their face or ruffle their hair? Probably not!  However, some people think it’s acceptable to walk up to a dog they’ve never met, and in an attempt t​o stoke it, they thrust their hands in its face, or go over the top of its head to ruffle its neck?   Read More

Dogs & Their Toys?

9th April 2022

Toys are an essential part of a dogs playtime and mental stimulation, however, how many toys does one dog need? and should their toys be left out?  Read More

Which dog do I choose?

15th March 2022

With so many different dog breeds to choose from, I often get asked the question “which dog should I choose”? This is sometimes followed by, I want one that is easy to train, won’t have any behaviour issues and one that the kids can play with.   Read More

Old dog, new dog - Acceptance or Rejection?

9th December 2021

When an owner loses one of their dogs, it is inevitable that the behaviour of the remaining dog will change.  Sometimes the dog will appear very sad, it may become withdrawn, anxious, or nervous, or the opposite can be true, where the dog becomes more confident and relaxed.  Read More

Dogs That Hump

29th May 2021

Humping is one behaviour that many owners find extremely embarrassing and frustrating.  Some dogs will hump anything they can get their paws on, whilst others prefer to be a little more selective and pray on the legs of your friends and family.  Read More

My dog is a fussy eater!

29th May 2021

This is something I hear time and time again, and something that is very worrying for dog owners. Many owners start buying different types of foods and flavours and sometimes even resort to feeding their dog human foods or worst still, hand feeding, just to get their dog to eat.

However, food for a dog is not only essential to keep them alive, but it is a power source, which they use to denote status within the pack. Think about this for a moment in relation to our world; whoever provides the meals, is normally the one in charge (mother or father for example).

When I was growing up, children had to eat whatever their parents put on the table, otherwise you went hungry. If you didn’t like what was on your plate, your parents didn’t cook you something else, either you ate it, or someone else did. Although things have changed since then, with food being more abundant and affordable, some of us do cook different meals to cater for our children’s tastes, but this should not be the case with our dogs. Where food is concerned, dogs still live by the same rules that have served them well for thousands of years, where the decision maker eats first and the subordinates second, and if they don’t eat the food, they lose it to another pack member. By pandering to our dogs demands, we are handing over the power source, which sends our dogs a very clear signal as to who is making the decisions!

Dogs will not starve themselves! They may have a preference over certain types of foods or flavours, but when faced with hunger, they will eat whatever they can get. The same applies to us, starvation or scraps? We will always pick the latter.

So how do we get our dogs to eat their food?... YOU take back control of the food! YOU decide when feeding time is! YOU decide what you are going to feed them! If your dog has not eaten its food within 5 minutes, or they have turned their nose up and walked away (whichever is sooner), you pick up the bowl and do not feed them again until the next mealtime. By leaving food down, you are allowing the dog to decide when he/she eats, which in their mind, makes them the head of the household!

If you wish to know more about canine behaviour and how I can help you, then please click on the following link: https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour

Dogs & Cats

5th April 2021

Lots of owners have dogs and cats living side by side in complete harmony, playing and even snuggling up together. However, for some owners, it’s a very different story, with the owner living in fear that one day, if they’re not careful, their dog will maim or worse still kill theirs or their neighbour’s cat.

The relationship between dogs and cats is no different to the relationship between dogs and rabbits, dogs and squirrels or dogs and humans i.e. they are all seen as strangers and therefore something to be feared or investigated, and if not introduced properly, or in some cases, if the dog has been encouraged to chase, the results can be fatal. 

When introduced correctly, dogs will perceive cats as part of their pack/family and generally there are rarely any problems. Of course, some dogs are bred to chase and retrieve and have a very strong prey drive, which depending on their exposure and training, it can be almost impossible to reverse but with lots of patience and time, it can be done. You do however, stand a better chance if you are introducing a puppy to an existing pet, as they are still learning how to behaviour and pick up on training very quickly.

To introduce your new dog to the family cat, we use a method called ‘Controlled Introduction’. Firstly, you must ensure that the cat can get away should it need to, as you do not want the cat to feel cornered and/or traumatised by the introduction. You then bring your dog into the room on lead with a view to sitting a good distance away from the cat. It is important that you do this in a calm and very ‘matter of fact’ kind of way. As dogs read body language and energy, they will see that you are calm and will be more likely to follow your lead. If however, the dog reacts to the cat, whether it be a playful or aggressive lunge or a bark or growl, you calmly remove the dog and place into a different room, away from you and the cat. This is done for just a few seconds and the dog must be calm and quiet before repeating the exercise. This gives the dog some thinking time and provides a negative association with the unwanted behaviour towards the cat. Dogs do not want to be excluded from the family, so they learn the lesson very quickly. You will need to repeat the exercise once the dog is calm, even if the cat has removed itself from the room, the dog needs to know what behaviour is expected when in that particular room. The key to dog training is repetition, positive reinforcement and time. Just like humans, dogs learn at different rates and you need to allow for this.

Controlled Introduction is working with the dog’s natural instincts and allows the dog to figure things out for themselves. The caveat to this is that you must have first established your status in the pack/family as ‘Top Dog’, the decision maker and the one who can be trusted. Without this, the dog will assume that they know better, and chaos and confusion will ensue. This also applies to dogs that want to chase cats when out on a walk, if they trust you, they will look to you for direction and follow your lead. If however they do not see you as the decision maker, they will take control and deal with the situation how they see fit, and will not take any notice of you yelling at them to come back.

If you want to know more about becoming ‘Top Dog’ or need help with any behaviour issues, please click here to find out more.  


What's in it for ME?

4th March 2021

We have lots in common with our dogs; for one, we are all unique individuals with our own personalities and little quirks, wanting to feel loved, connected and valued.  We also share the big ‘WHY’ motivator (why do we do things).  We don’t do anything unless there is some sort of benefit to us, whether those benefits be financial, companionship or self-gratification.  The ‘What’s in it for me question’, subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) guides us all in our daily lives.

The same applies to our dogs. They don’t do something for the sake of doing it, there is always a reason, a payback. For example, if your dog misbehaves and you resort to shouting or aggression, the dog might obey because their payback for doing so is that the shouting and scolding stops.  If, however, you are training your dog with praise and food reward, their payback is a feeling of worth and a tasty treat; The same applies to us, if someone praises you for doing something well, you are likely to repeat that behaviour, because it felt good, which was your ‘why’ for doing it, your payback.

Whatever your dog’s behaviour, good or bad, there is always a reason (a payback) behind it.  An example of this is when a dog jumps up to get your attention.  If you usually react, you have answered the dog’s question to ‘what’s my payback for jumping up’, with ‘engagement’.  So next time your dog jumps up, instead of reacting, just ignore.  By doing this, you have answered the same question of 'what's in it for me if I jump up', with ‘absolutely nothing’.  If you wait until the dog has calmed down to engage, he will soon realise that his payback comes a lot quicker when he calms down.  He may of course try other strategies to get your attention, such as bringing you his toys or barking, but continue to ignore and he will soon work it out for himself.

If we work with a dog’s natural instincts, it is far easier to achieve the desired behaviour.  It also enables the dogs to work it out for themselves and decide that life is far more rewarding if they do what you ask voluntarily, rather than living in fear of the consequences if they get it wrong.

If you wish to learn more about canine language and behaviour, click on the following link https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour

Should I let my dog on the couch?

3rd February 2021

This is purely a personal choice! You may not be happy with dog hairs and smells on your couch and cushions, not to mention the things they bring in on their paws. That said I personally think there is nothing better than snuggling up on the couch with your four-legged friend. However, it’s not so much fun when there’s no room for you on the couch, or if they refuse to move, maybe even protesting with a growl or a nip. If this happens, it is time to take action, as this is a dog that is telling you, where you can and cannot sit in your own home, and last time I checked, they definitely don’t pay the bills!

Faced with this situation, it would be wise to get your dog off the couch and back onto the floor, as this could easily escalate from a growl to something more serious! 

From a dog’s perspective, elevated places are regarded as look-out posts for potential threats, i.e., the Postman coming. It is why some dogs will sit on the stairs or on the back of a chair so they can see out of the window. They also use height to demonstrate their status, you will see this when dogs meet, the more dominant dog will stand as tall as he can and the less dominate dog will take a submissive stance by getting lower to the ground or bowing their head. If your dog attempts to get higher than you when you are sitting on the couch, he is sending you a very clear message as to your place in the pecking order!

The key here is to only allow your dog to get on the couch when you invite them to do so. This sends a signal that you are relieving them of their responsibility as look-out and also, as the decision maker in the house, it is you that decides who can sit where and when.  

If you wish to learn more about canine language and behaviour, click on the following link https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour

Unhealthy Attachments

8th January 2021

Just like us, dogs can form attachments to a particular family member, which is a lovely thing to behold, unless it is an unhealthy attachment, which becomes obsessive and takes priority over all other relationships.  This can manifest in a myriad of symptoms such as: howling/crying when that person leaves the room (even when there are others left in the room), becomes anxious and barks if the person speaks to or gets close to anyone else, they may become aggressive to other family members - acting out of instinct rather than rational behaviour.  Think of a time when you’ve felt confused, anxious and insecure, we say and do things that just aren’t ‘us’!

Dogs form these obsessive bonds when they are unsure of their place in the environment in which they live and form an unhealthy attachment out of desperation and a need to feel safe and in control. This can also happen when there is a change within the family; for example, if another dog or family member passes away or a new dog or family member is bought in.

I was called out recently to a lovely couple who owned a beautiful German Shepperd. Their concerns were over how protective the dog had become over the lady owner. The dog would follow her everywhere, was on constant high alert, became agitated and would bark when someone called her name and did not like her talking to her pet bird; in fact, he would jump up and push her away from the bird cage. This was a classic case of a dog that was trying to make the decisions in the house and had formed an unhealthy attachment as a support mechanism.  Once I explained what was going on, they grasped the concept very quickly and worked hard on implementing my behaviour re-set program, and I’m pleased to say that they now have a much calmer and relaxed dog. The lady is now able to talk to her bird without being pushed out of the way and the dog does not follow her everywhere.  They still have off days but can quickly get the situation under control and return the dog to a calm and relaxed state.

If this sounds familiar, it’s something that needs to be addressed, as the stress and anxiety that the dog is feeling will continue to build, and the consequences can be unpleasant at best, disastrous at worst.

If you wish to learn more about my behaviour re-set, click on the following link https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour

Dogs & Children

29th November 2020

What dog is the best one to have around children?? This is a question that is asked quite a lot; however, the question is irrelevant….

Just like babies, no dog is born good or bad. Their behaviour is shaped by the experiences they have, the information they get from their environment and those around them, and their instinct to survive.

Not all dogs form a protective bond with children; some dogs find the unpredictability of children confusing and threatening, and if pushed, will act accordingly. We have all seen those post of babies crawling over the family dog; toddlers pulling their ears, whilst owners look on laughing, expecting the dog to tolerate this abuse. But think about this for a moment; when a baby or toddler pulls your hair or pokes you in the eye, it hurts and we don’t just tolerate it, so why do we expect our dog to?

Dogs do not understand our rules, which makes their behaviour unpredictable. They are a different species to us, with a different way of thinking and their own set of rules. We sometimes forget that they are apex predators, and if necessary, will kill to protect themselves and their pack.

If you are thinking of getting a dog to compliment your family, consider the following.

Time – Have you got the time? A new puppy needs your full focus in the first 3 months of settling in. Just like having a toddler, you must prepare to put your ‘normal’ life aside and concentrate on amalgamating the dog into your family.

Adjustments – You have to plan your outings and trips away, ensuring that you have someone lined up to look after your dog, which can also be rather costly. Do not think you can rely on family either – everyone is eager to help out when they are looking after a cute puppy, but not so much when they are fully grown.

Toilet Training – Puppies have lots of mishaps in the house to begin with, so are you ready for all the cleaning up? Toilet training involves standing around outside until they have done their business. This can be as many as 15 times a day.

Teething/Destruction - Be prepared to have your skirtings and chair legs chewed, Shoes/socks/underwear stolen, and other valuables destroyed. Even with a plethora of dog toys, they will always find something else to chew.

Training/Patience - Dogs need rules and boundaries and the fundamentals of basic training is key. However, this takes a lot of perseverance and patience.

Language/Behaviour – Dogs do not speak English and they never will. They speak canine, which is a silent body language - learn this and you’ve got an easy ride, mess this up and you’ll have a dog with behaviour problems, which can be the difference between ‘relaxed and friendly’ to ‘stressed and aggressive’, which does not go well with children.

If you have considered all of the above and believe that you have what it takes, then congratulations, you are about to embark on one on the most rewarding relationships you will ever have.

If you wish to learn more about their language, click on the following link https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour

It's the end of the world as you know it - When change happens

16th October 2020

When change happens, it can have a profound effect on our dogs. This can be anything from a dependant moving out, someone moving in, a death, a house move, new pets, new baby, and even illness. Following a significant change, you may find that “It is the end of the world as you know it”, and what was once considered ‘normal’ behaviour from your dog, will no longer be the same.

Dogs are simple creatures with a simple set of needs, and providing these needs are met, you won’t encounter too many problems.  However, when change happens your dog has to make sense of that change and until he/she does so, you may find that your dog starts displaying behaviour that you haven’t seen before.  The dog might become needy, agitated, anxious and if you have more than one dog, fights may even break out!

As dogs are pack animals, you and the members of your family form part of that pack, so if someone leaves or a newcomer arrives, be it human or animal, you may find that your dog acts a little out of character.  This is because the order of the pack has been disrupted and until this is re-established, there will be some change in behaviour.  For example, dogs do not understand that the man fixing your blinds, is going to be there for 2 hours and then go.  All the dog knows, is that there is a stranger in the pack and depending on where the dog sits in the pecking order, he/she will deal with that change the best they can, which might be constant barking, jumping up or even aggression.

Change is something that is much easier for the dog(s) to deal with if they have no external pressures or responsibilities to worry about. To help your dog(s) adjust to any changes, it is important that first and foremost you establish that ‘you’ are the decision maker in your household. We do this by giving out signals that our dog(s) understand. Then we manage that change in a calm and consistent manner, with minimum fuss.  We want to show the dog that there is nothing to worry about. We don’t draw attention to the change, we continue to act ‘normal’, otherwise the dog will assume that we are acting differently because of the change, and therefore it is something to worry about.

If your dog appears anxious by the loss of another dog, it could be that it looked to them for direction, and now he/she is gone, the responsibility falls to them.  This can be overwhelming for the dog, as not only is it dealing with grief but the added burden of immense responsibility. In this scenario, it is even more important that the dog(s) know that ‘you’ are the decision maker and deal with any changes.  There is always a temptation to shower your dog with affection when you think he/she is upset or anxious, however if you think about what dogs do when they are scared (they huddle together), so cuddling them will only serve to make them think that you are scared/upset too.

To find our more about Canine Behaviour please click here https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour

Inspector Gadget - Do gadgets really work?

25th August 2020

There are hundreds of different gadgets on the market, promising a multitude of cures, from collars that stop your dog from barking, harnesses or special leads to stop pulling, muzzles to stop them biting, thunder jackets to help with anxiety and so on. The question is however, do they work? 

We are so busy with our lives that we often opt for a quick fix, rather than addressing the real problem. We do this with our own wellbeing too, as well as our dogs behaviour. We have a bad stomach, so we reach for the antacids, headaches we take paracetamol, anxiety we take antidepressants and on it goes, but just like our aliments, there is always an underlying cause. So when your dog is barking, pulling you down the street, attacking other dogs etc, it’s not because you have a bad dog, he/she is doing it for a reason and a gadget is just putting a plaster on it, which as we all know, eventually falls off. 

Just like a lot of new gadgets when they hit the market, they become the latest trend and owners who either want the best for their dogs, or are desperate to cure their dogs unwanted behaviour, buy into the idea that they need this new gadget in order to have a happy and well behaved dog.

Gadgets might seem to work at first, but oddly enough this is combined with the owners feeling more relaxed that they have now found a cure and acting more contented around the dog. Dogs read body language and energy and therefore the dog picks up on this more relaxed energy and calms down, and we think ‘whoop whoop’, the gadget works. However, once the gadget has become familiar to the dog, the unwanted behaviour either returns or is replaced by a new unwanted behaviour. If you think about shock collars (electric, sound or vibration) what these actually do is punish the dog for carrying out one of its most natural instinct, which is to ward off danger and in return for doing their job, they get a shock and do not understand why, which just add trauma to an already stressed dog. Imagine, shocking your child in the neck every time he or she interrupted your conversation? You just wouldn’t do it.

Dog’s don’t speak our language and they never will, so it’s up to us to understand theirs and communicate to them using their signals. Curing unwanted behaviour is relatively simple, but you have to look at the root cause and not turn to the latest gadget. A dog that understands its place in the family unit, will be happy and contended and will want to please you.

To find our more about Canine Behaviour please click here https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour

Dogs & Face Masks

25th June 2020

Dogs not only read our body language but our facial expressions too, so for some dogs seeing people with masks on their face is going to be alarming, so it's important to get your dog used this, as face masks might be here to stay.  To help you with this The Dogs Trust has written an interested blog, which has been extracted below. 

You'll need: Tasty treats, Something to cover your face, like a scarf or bandana, a face mask (homemade or bought). Start at home where your dog is comfortable, take it slowly and make sure they stay relaxed.

Step 1 - Simply hold your hand over your mouth and nose for a moment then give your dog a treat. Repeat this several times so they get used to your face being slightly obscured and learn this means a treat is coming their way.

Step 2 - Next, keep talking as you cover your mouth and nose to get your dog used to hearing you speak without seeing your mouth moving. For dogs seeing our faces move is very important, so this might take a little time to get used to! Repeat several times so they’re comfortable listening to you talking with your face covered and then getting their treat.

Step 3 - Use a scarf or bandana and cover your mouth and nose for a little longer and reward your dog, so they learn that this isn’t anything to worry about.

Step 4 - As long as your dog appears relaxed, start to move around the room while your face is covered, talking to your dog and giving them treats as you go.

Step 5 - Introduce the face mask itself. Let your dog see you trying it on, then talk to them and move around as before while scattering treats or feeding them by hand. They’ll learn that seeing people walking and talking in facemasks isn’t anything to be concerned about.

Step 6 - Once your dog is comfortable with you wearing a face mask, start again from the beginning with others in the home so your dog feels comfortable no matter who has their face covered.

Now you’re ready to try outside in your garden or the street. Repeat any steps necessary so your dog is always relaxed. Take your mask out with you on walks and give your dog a treat every time you see anyone else wearing one! Over time, with plenty rewards, they’ll soon be taking people in face masks in their stride.

This blog was extracted from the Dogs Trust Website and can be found here https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-care/introducing-face-masks-to-dogs

Easy Like Sunday Morning

4th July 2020

Does your dog go crazy at noises? Do they act like your shadow when you're at home? Do they pull on the lead? Bark at other dogs? Or have selective hearing when out on a walk? We are so used to seeing this kind of behaviour, that we think this is ‘normal’ dog behaviour. But it’s not!! That should be a relief to some of you, or maybe a shock to others. A relaxed and contented dog will sleep most of the time, waking up to go to the toilet, maybe have a bum scratch from their owner or go out for a walk.

Whilst it’s true that some breeds need more stimulation than others, the majority of this so called ‘normal’ behaviour, is due to our dogs being a little overwhelmed with the world around them, and not fully understanding their place within the family unit in which they reside. We sometimes forget that dogs are fundamentally an apex predator, with a simple instinct to survive and do not understand our world of car’s, postmen, binmen, fireworks and so on.

When we bring a dog into our family, it needs to know where it fits within that unit. It’s a bit like when we have visitors staying over; they generally don’t behave how they would in their own house, as they are respectful of 'our' rules and boundaries. They understand that they are not the decision makers in our homes. The same applies to dogs, we need to set the boundaries as to what they can and cannot do. I always find it amusing when owners let their dogs jump all over guests and their furniture. But imagine if your children did that? I’m fairly sure you wouldn’t allow it.

When our dogs are clear of the ground rules, they do not bark at every noise, they do not take you for a walk, they do not yap at other dogs; they are simply more relaxed, happy and easy like Sunday morning.

To find our more about Canine Behaviour please click here https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour

Hit the road Jack - and don't ya come back!

8th June 2020

Have you ever been to visit someone and when you get up to leave their dog starts barking at you? or even worse when you turn your back, it delivers a nasty nip and you’re left wondered what you did wrong and the owner somewhat embarrassed?? Or maybe you’ve been out on a walk and have been confronted by an aggressive dog? A frightening situation indeed!

When dealing with unwanted behaviour, I often tell owners to turn their back on their dog when it is jumping up and trying to get attention, and, as best they can, to continue with what they are doing. I do this, as it gives the dog a strong message that you are not entertaining its demands while it is in this hyper state. However, there is a caveat to that.

In some circumstances turning your back can exacerbate the situation and a dog that seems to be quiet and calm, can spring into action the moment a person turns their back and the dog delivers a quick nip When on the back of the leg or bottom and if the dog is really big, the neck.

This is a mistake I made when working with a client whose dog was incredibly nervous and had taken on the role of protector. To the dog I was an intruder and, although I was there to help, the dog did not know this and as far as she was concerned, I was a threat. After about 90 minutes, I got up to leave; the dog started to bark and as soon as my back was turned, she delivered a nasty nip on my backside. Lucky for me, my phone was in my back pocket which took the brunt of her bite and saved me from a trip to A&E. In her role of protector, she was simply telling me to “Hit The Road Jack” and don’t come back!!

Fortunately for me, the dog’s owners took onboard my advice and my next 3 visits were non-eventful, but what should you do if you find yourself in a similar situation? The safest thing is to ask the owners to take hold of the dog, so you can exit safely. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you are confronted by an aggressive dog, do not attempt to make friends, simply lower your eyes and back away from the dog until enough distance is made so you feel safe. Do not turn your back in this instance as the chances are that you will receive a nasty nip or worse.

To find our more about Canine Behaviour please click here https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour

Pack Status - You're not the boss of me!

10th May 2020

The method I teach is all based around the pecking order and responsibility within the family unit. As the saying goes - anyone can steer a ship, but we need someone to know where we are going. There are varying opinions about whether status still exists in domesticated dogs, so I’m going to use the current situation we all find ourselves in to answer that.

Firstly, dogs are no different to us or any other species, in that they have one main goal and that is to survive. Despite dogs having been domesticated for about 15 thousand years, their DNA is that of a wolf, and therefore the instinctual behaviours of a wolf run through their blood and are at the very core of how they think and behave. You effectively have a wolf in your living room (even if it is a chihuahua). Their survival is underpinned by the need to have a strong leader that can find food, lead them when on a hunt (the Walk) and deal with Perceived Danger (the postman etc), and if they have full confidence in that leader, they will follow him/her without question.

Now for those that say that hierarchy no longer exists, lets apply the above to our current situation. We have a Prime Minister (the Alpha in this instance) and associates who are guiding us through this pandemic. They advise where and how to get our food (the Hunt) and we are learning more about the virus (the Perceived Danger) that threatens our survival. We continually question our leader to check he is up to the challenge of getting us through this alive.

Unfortunately, as some of us have witnessed, there are always those in society who go against the rules, so we have other members who police them and ultimately issue punishments, as those few are putting the safety of the rest of us at risk. We have all seen dogs come together and will have observed that within a very short period of time, a more dominant (Alpha) dog will emerge and a pecking order to that new pack will develop, which they figure out for themselves. The Alpha will keep order; is the first to eat; will deal with any jokers or rule breakers within the pack and will ward off any potential danger. Sometimes, he will be challenged by another dog that believes he is a more competent leader, and that’s when a fight will break out.

Whilst we are free to make some personal decisions, hierarchy governs our entire world. Think about this for a moment. As parents, you are Alpha over your children, at work, you take direction from your boss, you feed instructions down to your subordinates, in games from football to tennis, there is always a captain or an umpire and so on. There is always someone who makes the final decision - An Alpha, a King Pin!

To find our more about Canine Behaviour please click here https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour

Don't leave me this way - Separation Anxiety

1st May 2020

Separation Anxiety in dogs is a very distressing problem for a lot of owners and can present itself in a myriad of ways such as destructive behaviour, constant howling, self-harming and soiling in the home. However, the distress this causes to the owners is nothing compared to the stress that the poor dogs are going through.

As dog owners we make assumptions based on our human logic as to why our dogs do what they do, and a lot of owners believe that Separation Anxiety is due to the dog loving us too much and wanting to be with us all the time. Therefore, when we go out, the dog misses us, as he does not know where we have gone and for how long, which puts them in a state of distress.

Think about your role as a parent or a carer - if your child goes on a play date, you want to know: where they are going, who is going to be there and what time they will be back, but despite knowing these answers, you will probably maintain a level of anxiety until your child is returned home safely. However, when we the parents/carers go out, we don’t feel we have to go into the same amount of details to our children, because we are in charge and can take care of ourselves and our children accept that.

We tend to view dogs as domesticated animals that are dependent on us, totally omitting the fact that a dog is an apex predator with instinctual responsibilities to other pack members. In any collection of pack animals, you will see that the decision makers do not have to justify themselves when they leave the group, nor are the other group members concerned when they do so. They know that the decision maker is the smartest, most experienced and reliable member of the group that can take care of themselves. If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety it is because they believe they have responsibility for your safety. Whilst this may sound rather sweet, the anxiety that this causes the dog, is not sweet – think how you would feel if your child went missing for a few hours.

When your dog views you as a junior member or incapable of making decisions for the pack, they will assume responsibility and take on the role of alpha and this is where the behaviour problems start. Dogs with separation anxiety are missing you because they have lost sight and sound of their charges and have no idea where you have gone, if you are safe, or if you will ever return.

A method you can start practising now, to help alleviate Separation Anxiety when you return to work is ‘Gesture Leaving’. This is very simply and effective and involves you walking out the door, stopping for a second and then coming back in, without any fuss what-so-ever. What your dog will see, is you going and returning safe and sound without incident. It is important that you do not acknowledge your dog when you return, as you want to demonstrate that it’s none of its business where you have been. The more you practice Gesture Leaving, the better the results and it only takes a second. So, every time you nip the loo or put the kettle on, just go out the front door, close it, then come back in and continue to get on with your day. You can do this 100 times a day if you wish, the more times, the better the results. You can then build up the amount of time that you stay out, so for example walk out, count to 10 and come back in and repeat soon after. You must ensure that you come back in before the dog starts to get concerned, so there is absolutely no trauma involved in the process.

To convince your dog that you are the decision maker within your pack, you must demonstrate competence in four key areas (Status, Food, The Walk and Perceived Danger) as these are the rules that dogs live by!

I offer a complete program that helps you to understand and speak the language of your canine friend.  This puts you in the role of alpha, which takes the responsibility away from your dog, making for a more relaxed and happy life for all concerned.

To find our more about Canine Behaviour please click here https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour

To Sit or not to Sit - That is the question?

1st April 2020

More often than not, ‘Sit’ is one of the first commands we teach to our dogs; but why? What purpose does it serve? As dog owners it is paramount to the safety of our dog and of those around us that we always have complete control. However, getting a dog to ‘Sit’ just because you can, serves no real purpose and in some situations can cause the dog and owner considerable stress.

A lot of owners will make a dog sit when putting on its lead, when waiting to cross the road, or as a means of control when the dog is behaving in an undesirable way. However, if we look at this through the eyes of a dog, we are going against its instinct of fight or flight in the presence of ‘perceived danger’. For example, dogs do not understand that cars, lorries etc, pose no risk, and are just taking us humans from A to B. For a dog these ‘unknowns’ are potentially dangerous situations, and the dog will feel much happier to remain on its feet, thus retaining his most basic instinct survival mode, of flight or fight. By pushing their bottoms down into the sit position when they don’t want to, only increases their anxiety and yours. Think of when you feel agitated or anxious, the last thing you want to do is sit down!!

For a dog to sit or lie down of its own accord, it must feel safe. To do this it must first establish that there is no present danger, and the people/dogs around them are calm, relaxed, and trustworthy. If those people/dogs, or the owners are agitated, the dog will not want to be off its feet, and neither would you! Imagine going somewhere where you didn’t feel comfortable, you would want to remain standing so you can make a quick exit if necessary. It’s no different for your dog.

Next time you are in a situation where your dog feels uneasy, (for a lot of owners, this can be the Vet), do not force the dog to sit if it doesn't want to, as this will only increase their anxiety, as they are communicating to you that they do not feel safe enough to sit down. Just remain calm and give your dog some time to adjust to the situation, and if necessary, walk away to give the dog chance to calm down before returning.

To find our more about Canine Behaviour please click here https://www.houndsnharmony.co.uk/canine-behaviour