No one wants to have to take their dog to the vet on Christmas (and most vets are happy to spend the holiday with their families too) so how can we avoid an emergency visit over the holidays?
Watch what your dog eats.
Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs (if they eat enough of it) but did you know about some of these other problematic foods?
When talking about treat value, make sure to consider the value from the dog's point of view. It doesn't matter if you think a particular treat should be the most valuable if your dog prefers a different one. Usually we can tell by a dogs reaction to different treats in the same situation which they prefer more. It is a good idea to create a rough ranking of treats so that you can choose the treat that best suits the situation.
Generally we can classify treats into Low, Medium and High value treats. Low value treats are those that your dog will accept but aren't anything very special. Usually kibble falls into this category. High value treats are those treats that your dog gets excited to see, and will do almost anything for. Treats in this category tend to be meaty and smelly.
Here is an example of treat values for two different dogs illustrating how there can be some general trends but also some variation between individuals.
Our dogs can often find themselves in a similar position when we verbally tell them "no". Even if they have figured out that something they are doing is causing our reaction, it doesn't give them any instruction on what to do instead.
I try to remember this in the times that I either blurt out "no" in the moment (it happens, I'm human) or use a cue that I have taught such as "off" or "leave it" so that I can follow up with something to give the dog more information such as "let's go" if we're walking or "where's your toy" in the house.
Do you ever feel like sometimes an answer is presented just when you were asking the question? It happened to me recently. It had come to my attention that I didn't appear to be explaining one of the techniques I use in teaching loose leash walking very well.
As I was pondering how I could improve my explanation and better help more students Denise Fenzi of Fenzi Dog Sports Academy noticed someone leading their young horse. She noticed that when the horse got excited and started pulling, the handler guided the horse into walking in a circle. Once the horse settled a bit, they carried on in the original direction. Denise wondered if this technique could have applications in teaching dogs to walk calmly on lead and started trying it with her dogs and other dogs. The reports back were encouraging - it seemed to help a lot of dogs walk better.
Why? One possibility is that some common loose leash walking methods such as "Be a Tree" and "Penalty Yards" involve stopping, or backing up when the dog pulls. It is possible that some dogs find this stop in motion frustrating, leading to more straining forwards. Walking in a circle still allows the dog to move, so those dogs that feel so full of beans that they need to move their bodies can still move.
Most of the time, when I talk about manners at the door I'm talking about people coming to the door, or the dog bolting out the door, but in this case I'm looking at the dog's behaviour once they pass through the door. This topic is on my mind as Tristan has been charging out the door on alert for something in the yard recently. Once I recognized the pattern, I remembered Leslie McDevitt's reorienting exercise in her Control Unleased Book.
Tristan's behaviour at the door inside the house is fine, so I started working on his behaviour going through the door. Normally, you would just cue your dog that it is okay to pass through the doorway while standing still inside, wait for your dog to turn back curious about why you aren't moving, mark and reward. Continue to practice until it becomes a habit for your dog to check in with you after going through the door.