Archive for the ‘Behavior and Training’ Category

Which Dog Is Relaxed?

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

The Yellow Dog Project — Giving dogs their much-needed space

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

The Yellow Dog Project — Giving dogs their much-needed space

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker
  • If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon tied to her collar, do not approach her, pet her or otherwise bother her in any way
  • The Yellow Dog Project (TYDP) is a global movement trying to popularize the use of yellow ribbons as a way to educate and alert people about dogs who need their space
  • Dogs wearing yellow ribbons may be rescue or shelter dogs who have behavioral problems, dogs in pain from recent surgery, service dogs in training or dogs who are fearful and anxious
  • If your dog is aggressive, a yellow ribbon is not enough of a warning or a substitute for proper training
  • Avoid approaching any dog you don’t know without first asking the owner’s permission — whether she’s wearing a yellow ribbon or not

If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon tied to her collar, do not approach her, pet her or otherwise bother her in any way. While it’s a good idea to take this stance with any dog you’re not familiar with, The Yellow Dog Project (TYDP) is a global movement trying to popularize the use of yellow ribbons as a way to educate and alert people about dogs who need their space.

Yellow Dogs are not necessarily aggressive or dangerous, but might have issues with fear or be in pain due to recent surgery. If approached, such a dog could snap, growl or become anxious and stressed, which is what the yellow ribbon is intended to prevent.

The Yellow Dog Project identifies dogs who need space

The Yellow Dog Project was founded by Tara Palardy, a graduate of Animal Behavior College, in 2013 to support dogs who are anxious and may display reactive behaviors if approached. The color yellow was chosen for ribbons because it’s widely understood as a cautionary color.1

In addition to dogs who may be fearful or in pain, dogs wearing yellow ribbons may be rescue or shelter dogs who have behavioral problems they haven’t yet overcome. They may also be dogs in training to be work or service dogs. According to the not-for-profit Yellow Dog Project:2

The Yellow Dog Project seeks to educate appropriate ways to approach or make contact with a dog with permission of a dog owner only, whether or not a dog is a ‘yellow dog.’ They also seek to promote the use of yellow ribbons to identify yellow dogs needing extra space.”

The Project makes it clear that putting a yellow ribbon on your dog is not a way to mark her as a bad dog or a confession that people must stay away or risk getting bitten. Some people may avoid using a yellow ribbon for their dog for this reason, but doing so shouldn’t bring about embarrassment.

“Wearing a yellow ribbon is NOT an admission of guilt,” TYDP notes. “Dogs can have space issues for a variety of reasons and you are not the only person with a yellow dog. There are most likely many people in your community who are ‘hiding’ their pet issues rather than working on them. Be proud of your furry family member and the work you are putting into him/her!”3

A yellow ribbon is not a substitute for proper training

As the word gets out about what a yellow ribbon on a dog’s collar means, it may become more common in public places. However, if your dog truly is aggressive, a yellow ribbon is not enough of a warning or a substitute for proper training.

“If you have an outright aggressive dog, you must seek proper training from a qualified professional. This organization promotes the awareness of dogs who need space, but it is not an excuse for lack of training,” TYDP explains.4 If your dog has been abused, has fear aggression or territorial aggression, basic obedience training is important, but so is evaluating the dog’s history and environment to determine what may be driving the problem behaviors.

Behavior problems in dogs can almost always be traced to their environment, past or present, and may include the food they eat, the way they spend their time, the bond they have with their owners, previous training (or lack thereof), training methods and many other factors. Reward-based training is one effective and compassionate way to change unwanted behaviors in dogs, including some forms of aggression.

Always ask before petting

TYDP is a great idea to alert passersby that they shouldn’t approach your shy, nervous or recuperating dog. Your dog is a good candidate for a yellow ribbon if she behaves aggressively or acts timid, shy or skittish when approached by strangers or other dogs.

If you feel your dog could benefit from wearing a yellow ribbon, be prepared to explain its meaning to strangers, and also talk with your veterinarian, a positive dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist to help your dog work through any undesirable behaviors. That being said, for some dogs, a yellow ribbon may always be recommended.

It’s a good idea, however, to simply assume that you shouldn’t approach any dog you don’t know without first asking the owner’s permission — whether she’s wearing a yellow ribbon or not.

Sometimes, it’s possible to easily observe a dog’s body language to understand whether it’s friendly, relaxed and open to being approached or frightened, stressed and not interested in interacting. Other times, a dog’s shyness or stress signals can be far more subtle and easy to miss. For instance, yawning and licking her lips are ways your dog may signal that she’s feeling stressed.

Further, many dogs dislike being petted on their heads, especially when it’s from a stranger. Yet, this is the way many strangers approach dogs they’re not familiar with. A far better option than approaching a dog in passing is to ask her owner if it’s OK to pet her. Even then, respect boundaries, let the dog initiate contact first and avoid invading her personal space.

Household Poisons to Keep Away From Your Dog

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

 — Sarah Archer

You might be emotionally ready for a dog to come into your life. Maybe you’ve done all the research and figured out what breed is most compatible for your lifestyle. You’ve even visited your new furry friend at a shelter and decided it’s time to bring them home. But is your home ready for them to arrive? Have you made sure that nothing poisonous is available for them to get into. 

Certain plants can be poisonous to dogs if eaten so it’s important to do some research on which might be generally bad to keep in the house. For example, azaleas or tulip bulbs are toxic for dogs and while you don’t think your dog would eat those things, they just might. You’ll want to check your yard for illness causing elements as well including, foxtails which can be very bad for dogs if they consume them. 

Household products you might not expect to have to worry about may make your dog sick if they ingest them. Dryer sheets, for example, and detergent in general needs to be stowed where dogs cannot get at them. In addition, for outdoor material, make sure you switch to fertilizers, weed killers, and ice melt products that are safe for animals. 

When it comes to human food, there are a number of items that are just fine for people but poisonous for dogs. In particular, caffeine and chocolate are pretty well known as making dogs ill, but other items like grapes, onions, and anything with the sweetener xylitol (which is in mints and gum) should be avoided for health reasons.

There are many ways to make sure a dog is comfortable in your home but securing your shelves and cabinets to be certain that they are not able to consume something that will injure them is a huge priority. Give some thought to how you will reorganize the house to make sure that they can never come in contact with something that will make them ill. 

If this seems at all overwhelming, there are some good sites that have checklists to help you make sure your home is one hundred percent dog ready. Look below some further tips from Your Best Digs on how to keep your furry friend safe on arrival.

 

Sarah Archer

Sarah is a Content and PR manager at Your Best Digs. She’s passionate about evaluating everyday home products to help customers save time and money. When she’s not putting a product’s promise to the test, you’ll find her hiking a local trail or collecting stamps in her passport. 

Paw Lift – Dog Body Language

Friday, July 12th, 2019

Paw Lift – Dog Body Language

BY  | OCT 1, 2016 | DOG BODY LANGUAGE

A paw lift is when one paw is lifted ever so slightly off the ground. It is different to a paw lift when stalking or hunting, which can be quite rigid; this paw lift can seem a bit more tentative. Depending on the rest of the dog’s body language and context, it is generally used when the dog may be feeling conflicted, anxious or anticipating something.

Here are a few examples of situations where a dog may offer a paw lift:

  • This was an observation of a dog that had not been socialized much with people. She was not comfortable approaching and was quite fearful. She would create space; her body was low and hunched over, her tail curled under, and her mouth was closed. Tension was seen in her face muscles and her eyes were quite wide. Her head was turned away and her ears were scanning and listening for sound, alternating between being back and then to the side. Along with the body language, she lifted her paw a few times while standing in this tense pose. The paw lift, along with all the other body language, paints a picture of a dog that is fearful and feeling very uncertain in this situation.
  • One dog is approached by another dog. The approaching dog walks into the other dog’s space, standing quite close, with a stiff square body, head held high and ears slightly forward; his whole body seems stiff when moving, and he gives a bit of direct eye contact. This approach is a bit too direct and it seems to unsettle the other dog; it is difficult to walk away as she tries to keep her eye on the dog that has approached and taken space so quickly. She does a slight head turn and a paw lift. She is showing she is uncomfortable with this interaction.
  • A person is asking a dog to sit. This is taking a while and the dog does not seem to be responding. The person tries to lure the dog into a sitting position, moving his hand closer to the dog’s head. The dog takes a step back and does a paw lift. The dog may feel a bit of pressure and be uncomfortable with the person’s hand moving into her space along with this unknown request to sit.
  • A dog is sitting and observing his guardian, who might be preparing something. As the dog watches with wide eyes and ears forward, he does a paw lift. This dog may be anticipating something and showing a bit of discourse in trying to figure something out.
  • There is a loud, sudden noise. The dog freezes, his eyes widen, his ears go up and are alert, and he does a paw lift. The sudden noise was unsettling; he shows his discomfort by doing a paw lift whilst he tries to figure out what the sound was.

These are just a few examples; there may be many more. Start observing to see if you can notice any paw lifts in different contexts. As discussed below, interpretations such as the above examples should not be attempted without careful observation and consideration of all aspects of the situation.

What is meant by stress?

When I mention stress, this does not necessarily imply negative emotion. I mean stress in the physiological sense. So certain body language signals can mean the dog is feeling some sort of emotional discourse. This discourse could range from positive to negative emotion. Both excitement and fear could have similar effects on the body, with various hormones being released and activating the sympathetic nervous system. The dog may be feeling uncomfortable/fearful or it could also be excited about something. When analyzing stress in body language, it is worth noting the frequency and intensity of the various body language signals.

A few notes to consider when observing dog body language:

Observation before interpretation

Interpretations should be offered only once you have observed the complete interaction and taken note of the wider picture. To offer an unbiased interpretation of the body language, observe and take note of the situation, taking into account the dog’s whole body, the body language signals, and environment first before offering an interpretation. List all the body language you see in the order that it occurs; try to be as descriptive as possible without adding any emotional language. For instance, saying a dog looks happy is not descriptive and would be seen as an interpretation rather than an observation.

You could, however, list what you observe: ears to the side, eyes almond shaped, slight shortening of the eye, mouth open, long lips, tongue out, body moving loosely, body facing side-on, tail wagging at a slow even pace at body level.

From the observation, I could interpret that the dog seems relaxed or comfortable. I still prefer to say relaxed rather than happy, as I feel you will truly never know exactly what the dog may be feeling on the inside emotionally. It is quite likely the dog may be feeling happy, but I prefer to comment on how the dog is behaving in response to the situation rather than presuming internal emotional states.

The importance of viewing body language within context

Interpretations can vary depending on the context. It is possible for certain body language to be used in different contexts and have subtle differences in meaning within those contexts. Individual body language signals should not be observed in isolation; the wider picture should be considered. Take note of what the dog’s body as a whole is saying. Keep in mind each dog is an individual with varying skills and experiences. What may be typical for one individual may not be for another. In order to observe body language in context, consider the following: the situation, body language signals, the body language expressed by all parts of the dog’s body, environment, and individuals involved. It is worth noting how the body language changes with feedback from the environment or the other individuals interacting.

 

Does Your Dog REALLY Want to be Petted?

Monday, July 8th, 2019

Does Your Dog REALLY Want to be Petted?

Space Etiquette for Dogs

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

HOW TO MEET A DOG

Friday, June 28th, 2019

Asking the Owner is Great, But How About Asking the Dog?

Friday, June 21st, 2019

from:  https://www.pamdennison.com/asking-the-owner-is-great-but-how-about-asking-the-dog/

Asking the Owner is Great, But How About Asking the Dog?

Asking the Owner is Great, But How About Asking the Dog?
Pamela Dennison (c) 2017

Although people actually asking permission to pet your dog from a safe distance is verrry slowwwly on the rise (people are still racing up to strange dogs, still getting bit, still causing trauma to the dog, still thinking dogs are public property…sigh…), there is one part, equally important, that continues to be missed.

Asking the DOG!

True stories:
You ask to pet someone else’s dog. They say “yes, you may.” You walk right up to the dog, reach down and over the dog’s head with arm outstretched…and whammo! Instant dog bite.

I had this happen at my business about a month ago: A stranger walked in to inquire about dog training. She saw the cute Pug across the room and without an invitation, made a beeline for the dog. Dog was scared and started growling. I instantly stepped in between and the stranger started to walk around me to get to the dog. I had to hold the stranger by the shoulders to stop her. I asked her what she was doing. Her response, “I want to pet the dog.” I told her to look at the dog, “does it look like that dog wants to be pet?” (in the meantime the dog is still growling). Her reply, “But I want to pet the dog.” I told her “It’s not about what YOU want, it’s about if the dog wants you to approach and pet.” She wasn’t all that happy about me physically blocking her from getting to the dog, but finally backed off.

Even with the most innocent “ask and receive permission from the owner,” did you ever think to ASK the dog? Obviously we can’t “ask” the dog like we just did their owner, but if you’re observant and get out of your own internal wish to pet that dog come hell or high water, you can actually ask the dog.

When I’m petting a strange dog (after getting permission, although I have to say, I rarely ask to pet someone else’s dog, preferring to admire from a distance – yes even with my own clients dogs), I do NOT just walk up to it and thrust my hand in it’s face. I squat down sideways, look away, yawn, lick my lips, keep my hands to myself, and wait….I watch out of the corner of my eye to see if and how the dog approaches. If the dog comes up nicely (no head down, tail not tucked, not too timidly, no overt calming signals, etc.), I still wait…if the dog sniffs me, great. I still wait…(a dog sniffing you is NOT an invitation to pet it). If the dog inserts it’s face under my arm or hand with a typical “pet me” motion, then I do a few soft strokes on the chest and then take my hand away and wait…if the dog walks away, I let him move away – he’s allowed to have his own opinion about how and how much he’s willing to be touched. If the dog stays with me, I’ll pet a little more, then take my hand away again and wait… I give the dog an “out” so that if they want more petting, they can have it and if they don’t, I don’t pressure them to accept it.

There have been some dogs that when I approach sideways, tell me from many feet away that I’m too close. I don’t pressure the dog – I simply walk away. After all, we all have our own comfort zone, where we will allow, or not allow certain people to come into or stay out of it. It’s only fair to respect dogs for the same thing.

Take a look at the photo above. This dog isn’t all that thrilled about being pet on the head – you can see his head ducking and he’s licking his lips. If you aren’t aware of dog body language and you approach a dog inappropriately, be aware that you may be inviting a bite.

Educate yourself! THE best resource is Turid Rugaas and her book and DVD on Calming Signals. (www.dogwise.com) Get them both and be sure to watch the DVD a minimum of 12 times. I’ve watched it over 2,000 times. No lie.

This is a link to a fabulous article, that may help you put it all into more perspective – from the dog’s point of view. http://www.drandyroark.com/dog-not-petting-zoo/

Signs of Fear and Anxiety in Dogs

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

For help with this in your dog, consult a credentialed dog behaviorist who uses positive reinforcement NOT intimidation or correction trainer.

A Service Dog is more than a vest

Thursday, January 17th, 2019