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Alpha Dog – Are You The Alpha Dog?

Are you the Alpha dog? It is very important to understand that in the wild, dogs live naturally in a pack and are therefore always aware of their position. At home, this pack contains you, your family, other pets in the household and of course your dog. The Alpha dog is the leader and protector of the whole pack, and it is crucial that you are seen by your dog to be taking this role. He will be calmer, more secure and better behaved if he understands his position and knows who his pack leader is (I have written a more in depth article of dog psychology here).

Firstly you need to learn which signals your dog will understand. It is essential to consistently communicate “alpha signals” to your dog in a compassionate and patient way. Do NOT be aggressive, overbearing or bullying to your dog! You must learn the language that a dog understands and use the correct signals to communicate with him effectively. Unclear signals and inconsistency will confuse your dog – he will deduce that the pack leader is not effective, he will become stressed and feel that it is therefore up to him to try to take over as alpha to give order to the pack. If he does this, it is not because he is being “bad”, but that he has made correct conclusions (from a dog’s point of view) from what you have communicated to him.

So how do you let your dog know that you are an effective alpha? Firstly, the alpha dog always eats before all other pack members, so you MUST eat your meal completely and clear the dishes before feeding your dog. You should ensure that he sees you eating and therefore understands completely that he will only be fed when you, as pack leader, have completely finished.

When you have eaten your meal and cleared away, make your dog sit before giving him his bowl of food and allowing him to eat. If you have been in the habit of feeding your dog before your dinner, or even during, this new routine may be very confusing for your dog at first. Be patient – if he whines or makes a fuss while you’re eating, it is simply part of his learning process. You are giving him new signals, new information about the pack and you must give him time to understand this. Be firm, kind and patient.

Secondly, you should always enter boundaries before your dog, especially doorways, stairs and narrow passages. You must NEVER let your dog push past you or go in front of you. The alpha dog in a dog pack would not allow a subordinate dog to enter a boundary before him, and neither should you. Use a lead to control your dog if necessary, but always ensure you enter before your dog.

You should never let your dog run up a stairway in front of you. This allows him to run to the top and look down on you, exhibiting dominant behaviour. The key to this is NOT to punish the wrong behaviour – it is too late to do that – simply physically stop him from exhibiting this form of alpha dog behaviour in the first place. Use a leash, close doors, give a short, sharp shout, whatever your dog responds to, and always remember to be firm, kind and respectful. You are talking to your dog, not trying to bully him into submission. The key these principals are repetition, consistency and patience.

Puppy House Training

House training is essential if you want to enjoy many happy years with your dog. It is a form of education that will shape your puppy’s behaviour for life so it’s really worth getting it absolutely right. People say to me that they find house-training difficult, that it take too long, but in reality it is a simple training process. It took me less than a week to house train my puppy, to teach him a command for going to the toilet that he has responded to ever since (he’s seven now), and I am going to share with you my method so you can be just as successful. It may take several weeks as there are many contributory factors such as your attitude, your living arrangements, your relationship with your puppy and your perseverance, but with plenty of patience, time and effort, you can house-train your dog for life.

This method does not entail using a crate, although many people advocate that and I am sure it is a good method. I simply recommend regularly confining your dog in one area of the house, especially when she is unsupervised. This should have a washable floor, such as a tiled bathroom, as there will definitely be a few accidents at the beginning. You must remember that your puppy cannot wander around the house unsupervised at this stage, as she will go to the toilet whenever she feels like it without being trained to do otherwise. Make sure your puppy has a nice comfortable bed in her chosen area and that she is happy to use it. Once she establishes the bed as her regular sleeping area, she is less likely to mess near it. You should also ensure that she is happy in this area – make sure she has fresh water, of course, and play with her and pet her there so she feels happy, safe and secure.

The corner stone to this method of house training is being familiar with your puppy’s normal behaviour and natural routine, so you must spend lots of time with her. The other important factor is to have feed her at the same times each day. Puppies almost always need to go to the toilet after their dinner, so a routine will help you both. Check also that her food and water and the amount you give her are suiting her digestive system. You can’t house train a dog who has digestive problems, so any problems must be resolved. Speak to your vet if you are having difficulties doing this yourself or if you think she has a urinary problems – it could be an infection that needs treatment.

Now, you must think of a command word or phrase that you will use when you see your puppy wants to go to the toilet, or when you want to encourage her to do so. First thing in the morning, within half an hour after her dinner and before she goes to sleep, you must take her to her toilet area (this will either be some newspaper on the floor away from her bed, or a convenient area just outside, not far from the door) and give her your toilet command. If you are patient and keep repeating the command, she will go to the toilet in the designated toilet area. You must immediately praise her and make a fuss of her so she knows she has done well. Remember that when puppies are young, they have poor bladder control and a small capacity for urine and faeces in their system, so you should take her out every two hours so she has the opportunity to go if she wants to. Avoiding undesired behaviour is always the best route in dog training.

When you are with your puppy (and you should spend lots of time with her during these early stages) you should be observing her behaviour when she’s about to go to the toilet – my dog looks restless and walks around, sniffing the ground in circles. Once you learn her pattern, you can call her quickly to her toilet area, or pick her up and place her there. Once your puppy is in the right area, give your toilet command in a friendly encouraging tone. If she wanders off before going, lead her gently back there and give the command repeatedly. If your puppy is really averse to going in that area, look for something that might be distressing her – she could have a very real reason for avoiding that spot.

When your dog does go to the toilet in the designated area, praise abundantly. Each and every time she follows your command, praise her enthusiastically and she will learn that this is the right behaviour. Positive reinforcement is the most important factor in this training method. Your puppy will soon try to get your attention or whine when she wants to go to the toilet. You must be there, ready to let her go to her toilet area quickly otherwise she will have an accident. If you are using newspaper in the house, this can be gradually moved outdoors, so that she understands that that is the new toilet area.

Above all, DO NOT punish or speak sharply to your dog when she makes a mistake. She will not understand why you’re chastising, it will only confuse her and be counter-productive to her training. You should also thoroughly clean up any accidents with a detergent that removes the smell – dogs like to toilet again where they have left their scent and you need to help her avoid this pattern.

In conclusion, spend lots of time with your puppy, learn her pre-toilet habits and pre-empt her need to go. Take her to her toilet area regularly and give the toilet command. Praise her abundantly when she does as she is told. Keep her living area clean, comfortable and fun to be in for both of you. Remember that patience and perseverance are the most important things in any training – house training does take a little time and your dog already has so much to learn at this stage of her life. She need lots of affection, lots of exercise and playtimes and lots of understanding and praise.

Dog Obedience Training

Getting your dog’s attention is one of the first things you must do to facilitate all other training techniques. And if you can keep your dog’s attention, then you’re really going to be able to accelerate the general obedience training of your dog and avoid a lot of frustration along the way. Keeping your dog’s attention is also paramount in the obedience ring, house training and invaluable in everyday life.

So those are the advantages, and now we need to look at how to go about attaining this goal. There’s no question that it isn’t always easy to keep your dog’s attention, and some breeds are certainly more difficult than others, but here are some tips on how to proceed with most dogs. First of all, you will need to use the sit command and have some tasty treats to hand. Your dog must already have learned how to respond to this command – he must understand what is required of him and respond promptly to the command. If you haven’t already taught him this, or if he still isn’t totally sure, then read my article about teaching your dog the sit command. So, tell your dog to sit in heel position, and use his favourite tasty treat to encourage him to look upwards at your face. Praise him immediately when he focuses his attention on you, give him the treat and releasing him from the sit command. Do this again and again, each time increasing the time where he is looking and concentrating on your face. You want to have his attention, so he is ready to respond to your next command. We should also look at the concept of praise and correction in training. On the whole, I advocate rewarding good behaviour and ignoring or preventing misbehaviour. I do not in general believe in punishing a dog for bad behaviour, but sometimes a sudden shout can be a good reminder to a dog that is doing something he knows he shouldn’t. It is important to remember that you can only praise or give correction to your dog WHILE he is exhibiting the behaviour in question. He is not a person and will not know nor remember what he was doing five minutes ago. This is a major difference between people and dogs and if remembered, will make training a much easier task.

So the key to this is “think like a dog”. Imagine you are an animal, a part of a pack, just like him. Don’t ever think of him as a human, still less a child or a baby, whatever his size and however cute he may be. You have to make this concept a cornerstone of your relationship with your dog and he will certainly benefit from it. He is a dog, an animal, and only by truly understanding this will you be able to satisfy his needs and form a meaningful, fulfilling relationship for both of you.

Dog Quotes

Here are a few dog quotes by famous and not so famous people 🙂 “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. That is the principal difference between a dog and a man” – Mark Twain “Dogs come when they are called. Cats take a message and get back to you” – Mary Bly “When a dog wags her tail and barks at the same time, how do you know which end to believe?” – Anonymous “If you are a dog and your owner suggests that you wear a sweater. . . suggest that he wear a tail” – Fran Lebowitz “If dogs could talk it would take a lot of the fun out of owning one” – Andy Rooney “Even the tiniest Poodle or Chihuahua is still a wolf at heart” – Dorothy Hinshaw “Our dogs will love and admire the meanest of us, and feed our colossal vanity with their uncritical homage” – Agnes Repplier

“Money will buy you a pretty good dog, but it won’t buy the wag of his tail” – Henry Wheeler Shaw

“If dogs could talk, perhaps we’d find it just as hard to get along with them as we do people” – Karel Caprek

“Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear” – Dave Barry

Dog Leash Training

To leash train your dog takes time and patience, but it is worth every moment. You want to walk your dog, not for him to walk you! And this will take some time, but do be kind and patient. Dogs, like people, learn at different rates and you must give him time to understand what you’re asking. If the dog isn’t learning, it is your fault for not communicating correctly with him.

Put the collar and leash on your dog at home while you’re both relaxed and calm. Let the dog get used to the feel of the collar and leash at home before going out. Give him some treats or his dinner while he’s wearing it so he associates it with good things. Do this few times over two or three days. Then take the leash and follow your dog around the house, getting him used to the feel of the leash being held and of you walking beside him. Now try this exercise in the garden, while it’s quiet and free from distractions, letting your dog pull the leash around, and then occasionally pick it up and follow him. All of this will make your dog familiarized with the sensation of having the leash and collar on. Now hold the leash and encourage your dog to walk to your left by enticing him with a treat in your left hand. Praise him and give him a treat when he walks well besides you. As soon as he tries to pull on the leash, turn clockwise and walk in a different direction. Repeat this until your dog learns that he must watch you and follow your direction, and that he will be praised and receive a treat when he does it right. Never chastise your dog for getting it wrong, just praise the correct behavior.

After a good leash training session, why not treat your dog with a good dog grooming session. He’ll love have having his coat brushed and it’s a very good way to enforce your position as the leader of the pack.

Cleaning Your Dog's Eyes

To keep your dog’s eyes healthy and catch any illnesses nice and early, it is essential to check his eyes regularly and clean away tear stains and secretions. Carefully clean the eyes in the morning with some soft tissue (beware of dry cotton wool as it can leave strands that irritate the eye), and every time that you notice secretions around the eye area. This occurs regularly with breeds that have fallen inferior eyelids such as Bassets and Saint Bernards. If it is difficult to wipe away then use some wet cotton wool, a clean piece for each eye to prevent transfer of bacteria. In case of irritation, red eyes, teary eyes, photophobia and constant blinking, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Praise your dog after cleaning his eyes and give him a treat so he associates having his eyes cleaned with a positive experience.

Coping With A Dog Allergy

A dog allergy is sadly quite common and many adults and children suffer from this when a new pet moves in to the family home. An allergy is, unfortunately, for life, although the symptoms can sometimes subside over time. Here are some useful tips on how to control and lessen the symptoms of a dog allergy, to allow you to continue to live with your four-legged friend.

Make the bedrooms ‘dog-free zones’ – it is best for anyone with an animal allergy to keep the bedroom free from allergens, animal hair and dander, and the only way to do this is to keep the door shut and keep all animals out. We spend a third of our lives asleep in bed, so it really does give your airways a good rest from those allergens overnight, giving your immune system a chance to recover.

Choose a low-allergenic dog – while no dog is completely non-allergenic, there are certain breeds that produce less dander and therefore less allergens, and these can reduce allergic reactions in some people. The hairless dog breeds (such as the American Hairless Terrier) are also better tolerated by some people.

Feed your dog a high-quality healthy diet – a high-quality diet will help keep your dog’s coat and skin in good condition and lessen the shedding of dry skin cells.

Buy a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter – this will greatly improve the cleaning-power of your vacuum cleaner as the special filter will reduce the amount of allergens left in a room after vacuuming.

Always wash your hands after petting your dog – make sure you wash your hands after stroking, playing with or grooming your dog and never touch your face, eyes, nose after touching your dog.

Air the house by opening the windows – be sure to open the windows every day to air all those allergens out of the house, bringing in fresh air and giving a lower concentration of dog allergens in your home. Hay fever sufferers will have to take into account seasonal pollen levels and decide if, on certain days, it is best to use an air filter instead.

Buy a HEPA air filter – a HEPA air filter is a high-efficiency particulate air filter and these help to clean the air in a room of dust, smoke and allergens.

Groom your dog outdoors – brush your dog regularly to remove dead skin cells and loose fur that would otherwise be shed inside the house. Wear a face mask to protect yourself from the allergens or, if possible, ask a non-allergic family member to brush your dog for you.

Bath your dog regularly
– bathing or showering your dog will help to wash away dander, allergens and the proteins in the saliva that are left on the fur after licking. Use a specially formulated shampoo for dogs for frequent washing to avoiding drying the skin or coat.

Always get professional advice from an allergist to discuss treatment if your symptoms are serious.

Dog Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a syndrome that many dogs suffer from when left on their own in the house, car or other less familiar place. It is instinctive for a puppy to be strongly attached to its mother and litter mates, and when he leaves the family group, this attachment will transfer to the owner. This is normally a healthy relationship based on trust and is a healthy bond between a pet and owner. It only becomes problematic when the dog becomes overly dependant on its owner and behavioural problems ensue.

Separation anxiety is often exhibited by urination and soiling in the house by an otherwise house-trained dog, destruction of household items including beds, floors, furniture and doors, barking, howling and hyperactivity. The dog may also exhibit depression, although it must be born in mind that all of these behaviours can be the symptoms of other causes, both medical and psychological, so a check-up at the vets is always the first course of action. Separation anxiety is probably the cause if the behaviour occurs rapidly after the departure of the owner and if there is a hyperactive, prolonged greeting when the owner returns.

Certain breeds are more prone to separation anxiety, but so too are dogs who have had an unsettled past or traumatic events that have encouraged an increased attachment once they finally find a loving owner. Puppies that were taken from their mother too early and puppies that spent time in pet shops or animal shelters are also more susceptible to suffering when left alone by their owner. Changes in routine and lifestyle such as suddenly working full-time, absence of a family member can upset dogs that usually show no signs of separation anxiety.

Each dog suffering from separation anxiety will exhibit different behavioural problems – some will develop one problem while others will exhibit several, even beginning the cycle while the owner is still in the house in anticipation of him leaving. A dog that follows its owner, whines and whimpers, shakes and generally seems distressed just before the owner leaves the house is very often starting its episode of anxiety. This is where an owner can begin to re-train their dog to react differently to their departure.

A method known as “planned departure” has proved to be very effective and is far more productive than simply correcting the behaviour as it goes to source of the problem. The idea is to mould the dog’s reaction by making a series of short departures. As the anxious response always occurs very shortly after the owner leaves the premises, the dog is left for only a few minutes (or even seconds to start with) to ensure that he returns before the dog becomes frenzied. The owner should leave the house quietly without speaking to the dog and should not allow the dog to exhibit a prolonged greeting on his return – simply ignoring the behaviour and turning away will gradually discourage this. The planned departures should be very slowly increased in length, never staying away long enough for the dog to become agitated or frenzied. This process takes time and patience but it does eventually work. Once the dog is calm during a thirty minute departure, the length of time can be increased by larger increments.

If this method is taking a long time and isn’t proving to be effective, the owner can increase the effectiveness by systematically ignoring the dog for a period of up to three weeks. The dog will not suffer from this, nor will the bond between dog and owner be lessened, but your dog will certainly be confused at first, especially if he’s used to a lot of attention. It can help a dependant, anxious dog find a calmer, more independent existence which will facilitate periods of being alone in the home.

Choosing a Leash for your Dog

Here are the different types of leash currently available and a description to help you with your choice:

Nylon Leashes
Nylon leashes are a good choice in that they are hard-wearing and can be easily washed. They come in a variety of styles and colors and can be matched with a collar of the same type.

Leather Leashes
Leather leashes are very durable but also soft in the hand, especially as the leather ages with use. The leather handle of the leash can be easy to grip, even in wet weather.

Retractable Leashes
A retractable leash is a nylon leash that is rolled inside a plastic casing which also forms the handle of the lead. The leash can be easily lengthened or shortened at the flick of a switch which allows you to control your dog’s proximity to yourself and other people, animals and objects.

Cotton-Webbed Leashes
Cotton webbed leashes area also popular as they are economical, washable and gentle on the hand. They come in a large variety of lengths and many owners use the long cotton-webbed leads for training purposes for their dog, to teach him to come when called.

Protection Dog Training

Each Protection dog that we have for sale will have two quality photos and two videos that show the dog working in different working scenarios. E.g. obedience in the city centre, dog handler/client protection or attack/bite work. Our personal protection dogs are trained for real life situations, we use covert sleeves and full covert body bite suits to train our dogs.

We never use harsh training methods to train our dogs as we believe that dogs have to enjoy working and protect- ing their owner in order to become a reliable and trusty companion.

We believe in quality and not quantity.

We are dedicated to training personal protection dogs that are willing to put their own life on the line to protect you and your family. Unless stated, our dogs will be 100% in all situations including children, other dogs, cats and horses.

We have many happy clients with children under two years old, as you know toddlers can be mischievous and do not understand that pulling a dogs ears and tails is not the right thing to do, you can always be sure that any family dog from Protection Dog Training will be safe with your children. We would never sell a dog to a family that we wouldn’t trust with our own children.

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