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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

For Immediate Release: Home Dog Training of South Florida offers Holiday Tips for Families with Dogs

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - December 3, 2010-The holidays are a busy time for many households. Friends and family come and go, deliveries are made to the door, delicious smells emanate from the kitchen, and a general happy hubbub means that something special is happening. Among those affected by these changes is the family dog. To help dog owners remedy this, Home Dog Training of South Florida offers helpful tips for dog owners to help manage their dog's holiday-time stress.


"While one dog may enjoy a change of pace, another may be stressed by the changes," says Robin Edwards, dog behavioral therapist and trainer, Home Dog Training of South Florida. "Your normally easygoing dog may suddenly begin to show strange behaviors, like stealing food, jumping up on people, or growling or snapping at visitors. As pack leader, you need to communicate and demonstrate to your dog that while his world may be different, you will continue to keep him safe and secure."
When an insecure dog-no matter his size or breed-encounters a new situation, he doesn't know what to do. If he feels threatened, he may react defensively with a snap or bite.

On the other hand, a well-socialized dog is comfortable meeting and being with others, both dogs and people. He has been introduced to a variety of situations and knows he and his pack have remained safe through them all.

The following are some tips to help calm your dog and keep everyone in the home safe during the active holiday season.

Children visitors
  • Dogs that live in a household with no children may not be comfortable when kids come to visit. The chaos created by youngsters like grandchildren will inherently raise the energy level in the house, causing the dog to worry or stress. Here are some ways to control such situations if your dog does not cope well with children.
  • Always supervise kids (especially very young children) and dogs when they are alone together. This is when most dog bites to children occur.
  • With a very young child, parents must be vigilant and monitor their tot's interactions with the dog. Parents should teach children of all ages to treat dogs with respect and gentleness.
  • Never invite a child to feed the dog by hand-this teaches the dog it is acceptable to take any food from a child. Because of a child's small size, the dog may view her as an equal and thus may try to take advantage of the situation.

Boundaries and security
  • Dogs need to have their own "home," a place where they feel secure and calm. If your dog doesn't already have a place of his own, create one for him. 
  • A crate or pet carrier provides a natural safe haven for your dog. Keep his crate or dog pillow in a quiet area of the home, and direct your dog to go there when you need to set boundaries. While he may not like being separated from you, he will still feel secure. 
  • If your dog begins to bark or nip at visitors, remove him from the area and keep him in his safe place until your guests have gone.
  • Keep the dog out of certain rooms where he can get underfoot. For example, training your dog to stay out of the kitchen-where most household accidents occur-is a good safety measure. It also helps to prevent your dog from begging for food.
  • If you travel during the holidays, taking his crate/carrier will help your dog feel more relaxed, since "home" is wherever he finds you and his familiar bed. 

Elderly dogs
  • Elderly dogs may not enjoy the extra hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Be mindful of keeping your older dog comfortable when his routine is disrupted.
  • If your elderly dog gets cranky around visitors, simply take him to his special quiet place where he won't be bothered and can feel secure.
  • Remind children to be respectful of your older dog. Always provide supervision when dogs and kids are together.

Front door behaviors
  • A knock on the door can be a stimulating event for a dog, whether he sees it as fun or alarming. It is natural for him to want to know who the visitors are to determine if they are friendly or not. However, a dog that explodes with excitement at the sound of the doorbell is both annoying and unsafe-he may dash out the door and run into harm's way, he may get underfoot and become a trip hazard, he may knock people over, or he may become aggressive to the visitor.
  • To help your dog be calmer, exercise him prior to the arrival of guests. After 30 minutes of walking or playing, your dog will more likely be relaxed or want to nap.
  • As a general rule, don't allow the family dog to greet unfamiliar guests because commotion and unusual circumstances can cause stress for dogs.
  • Consider putting your dog on a leash as guests arrive to maintain better control of him.
  • Teach your dog to sit and stay on command. When the doorbell rings, put him in a sit-stay and do not open the door until he calms down.
  • If your dog gets overly excited with arriving visitors, remove him from the scene ahead of time. Place him in his crate in a quiet room, and then let him join the party later.
"By anticipating how your dog may react to new activities and visitors, you can help ensure that everyone-both two- and four-legged-has a fun and safe holiday season," said Edwards, dog behavioral therapist and master trainer, Home Dog Training of South Florida.
For more information, call us at 954-424-0170 or email us at info@southfloridadogtraining.com.


For Immediate Release: Home Dog Training of South Florida Offers Tips When Working from Home with Your Dog

October 7, 2011, Fort Lauderdale Florida,  Home Dog Training of South Florida states: With the rise of telecommuting and self-employment, many dog owners are able to work from home and don’t have to routinely leave their furry friends for the day. Some dogs ease into this scenario and are able to be with their owners throughout the day with without exhibiting behavioral issues. For others, however, there are a number of behavioral problems that may arise—such as dogs demanding attention by barking or whining, often at the worst possible times. Read on to find out how to address these common issues.

Why do dogs act up in the home-office environment?
Because of the large amount of time spent together in close proximity, these dogs often have increased opportunities to train their owners! They might nudge for pets or climb in laps. They often nap under the table or desk where their owners are working, but when they wake up, they will request attention—and usually get it.

While seemingly cute and innocent, whenever a dog gets to direct the behavior of his owner, he sees himself as being put in the leadership role. And as the leader, a dog may feel he has the right to demand his owner’s attention—often at inopportune times, such as when the owner is on the phone or involved in an important assignment.

Picture this common scene: You are on an important conference call. A few minutes in, your dog starts to bark or even jump on you. The call is important and you can’t afford the interruption, so your dog gets picked up or petted—and your attention gets divided. You can’t have your dog barking during the call, so you give in. This, however, teaches him that barking and whining is rewarded with attention and affection, which leads to more and more demands at times when you are occupied.

What can I do?
The first thing to do is to separate workspace from dog space. Go to work in another room, separated from your dog. Even though your dog may choose to go elsewhere and nap during the day, if he has free access to you, he will most likely come and find you when he wakes up. It’s important that your work area is off-limits and that your dog is confined (either gated or crated in another room) so he doesn’t have access to you. If he barks for your attention at first, you may want to have at least a couple of closed doors between you as he gets used to the new situation. Make sure to give him something to occupy his attention, such as a treat-rewarding Buster® Cube or KONG® toy.

Do NOT to go to your dog’s space if you hear any barking, whining or pacing. Only return when he’s calm and quiet. If you return when he’s acting out of stress, he will learn that making a fuss is rewarded with your attention.

Practice obedience when you do return. Training your dog engages his brain. This will tire him out and help him become calmer. Try asking him to SIT and STAY before you pet him or toss a toy.

Work on your leadership skills. Be proactive in asking for your dog’s attention and focus. Always begin play on your terms; for instance, if he brings you a certain toy for play, take control of the toy and wait until later to bring it out yourself and initiate play.

Time management is important. If you went off to work without your dog, you would only have certain times when you could interact with him. Work on establishing set times for interactions. For example, take a 10–15 minute break mid-morning and again in the afternoon, or a half hour at lunchtime. Do what works for you and also meets your dog’s physical and mental needs. It’s important that you don’t continuously stop what you are doing and engage with your dog. He’ll quickly get used to the cues you give for your set interactions and will settle down quicker during the in-between times.

As he learns that your world doesn’t necessarily revolve around him, he’ll relax and not be as anxious for your attention. His bad behaviors are simply learned behaviors, because they have worked in the past; your dog will only make a different choice if those strategies no longer result in your attention and what he interprets as praise. Be patient, calm and consistent. If you never separate from your dog, he will have a hard time feeling comfortable by himself when you do have to leave him. Practicing separation while working from home or with your dog at the office will help you both be more relaxed and happy, together or apart.


For more information, call us at 954-424-0170 or email us at info@southfloridadogtraining.com.