What is Leash Aggression?
Is your dog lunging, barking, snarling or even snapping at others while on the leash? This is sometimes known as leash-reactivity or more commonly known as leash aggression.

Suppose your dog would encounter something strange or scary or simply something he would first like to evaluate for himself while he were off leash. Your dog would have the ability to back off from the scary trigger to a distance where he could think straight again and find a way to get passed the trigger comfortably or avoid it.

Once you put a leash on a dog his ability to reach that comfort zone is greatly limited.

And so, since your dog is now forced into this stressful zone he reacts, usually by barking and lunging, at whatever he cannot avoid. This could be another dog or a skateboard or a scooter or a guy wearing a hoodie or a person with a hat.

There are many ways you can teach your dog to feel more comfortable around these triggers. Start by learning how to predict those triggers and giving your dog just enough space at first that he does not have to freak out and at the same time rewarding him greatly for remaining calm. Once you found how much space you need to give your dog to remain relaxed enough not to freak out you can then start to counter condition him to those triggers by classical or Pavlovian conditioning so the dog sees a trigger and thinks “roast beef” = “drool”.

Contact us at DogRelations for specific instructions and help with leash aggression to successfully remedy this problem that is upsetting for both handler and dog. Also visit our other pages to learn about our other NYC dog training services.

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for whatever you and your dog may need!

We know you have questions about your dog’s training, health, and happiness! See below the answers to common dog and puppy questions. Need more help for your dog?

Common Behavior Problems
Helping Shy and Fearful Dogs

Discovering that your dog is kind of shy or fearful can be frustrating. Often people will ask: What is there to be afraid of? Do you think he had a bad experience?

Well, the truth of the matter is: we might never know, exactly. But what we can do is move forward, not worry about the past and make the dog feel comfortable with his fear triggers.

Another important point to remember: Do not judge those fears! Fear is real and just because you might think that it is silly to be scared of a balloon or a flag flapping in the wind or walking over a shiny floor or a vehicle driving by. Please don’t dismiss your dog’s feelings and push your dog to confront the things that scare him. Please do not flood your dog! It will only make things worse. At DogRelations we use a variety of behavioral tools (desensitization, counter conditioning, classical/ Pavlovian conditioning and functional rewards) to allow your dog to re-associate those triggers with something wonderful. Your dog can then experience his triggers as a predictor of overwhelmingly positive and primal experiences

Feeding Etiquette for a Well Mannered Dog

Why are food manners so important?

First of all teaching your dog to ask politely for food, toys and attention teaches your dog impulse control and gives him the opportunity to earn the things he values most in life by displaying polite and calm behaviors.

Secondly it will teach your dog that he does not have to worry about his food or his bowl and so will prevent resource guarding. That means your dog will not “defend” his bowl or food when someone walks near him while he is eating.

For more exercises to help with this very important topic let DogRelations give you a private dog behavior lesson and show you the many ways you can make feeding time fun and educational at the same time.

Separation Anxiety

A common behavior issue with dogs is separation anxiety. The signs of separation anxiety can take many forms including:

  • Whining
  • barking
  • howling
  • chewing things
  • urinating
  • digging

This behavior occurs when you leave him alone in the house or in another part of the house for a nighttime sleep.

What to do?
The first line of thought might be: Am I fostering co-dependence?
Am I giving my dog attention whenever he demands it?
Can I never keep my hands off of my dog and stroke and pet him almost constantly?
Have I not left him alone for a long time and all of a sudden expect him to be OK all alone?

Most cases can be solved by teaching you dog that he can control what happens next by displaying polite behaviors that earn him privileges. Additionally, offering him a fantastic chew/food reward (like a KONG stuffed with tripe) will immediately reduce generalized anxiety and will classically condition you dog to look forward to your absence. It can classically condition your dog to look forward to when he is left alone.

Let us map out an individualized plan that fits your and your dog’s need.

At DogRelations we will support you throughout this process and assure success. Let us take the worry from you and replace it with practical and goal-oriented advice. Contact us for a dog separation anxiety consultation.

Dog Jumping and Nipping

Let’s face it: Jumping up and nipping are normal dog behaviors among dogs!

Of course when humans get into the mix these behaviors become a lot less cute and, depending on the intensity, problematic and unacceptable.

Do keep in mind that reprimanding or physically pushing back your puppy or dog only engages you more with the dog when he is behaving inappropriately and therefore reinforces those behaviors.

Best practice for jumping up would be to make staying on the floor more rewarding for your dog. Of course that ideally means reinforcing the dog when he is not jumping. However one needs to make the jumping behavior less attractive in general. Behaviors that don’t fulfill the dog’s goal will become less interesting very quickly. As soon as the dog offers an acceptable replacement behavior, like sitting nicely, or even just having all four paws on the floor, reward your dog highly. Additionally, always reward your puppy highly when he is calm, has all four paws on the floor or plays nicely with one of his toys.

Help your dog by providing enough mental and physical exercise and appropriate things to chew and nibble on so they can have an outlet for those very natural urges.

For specific advice and how to time your reinforcements properly contact us at DogRelations and we will be most happy to consult with you, give you individualized advice or teach your dog all the skills he needs in a private in-home dog lessons.

Why are food manners so important?

Most importantly, teaching your dog to ask politely for food, toys and attention gives him the opportunity to earn the things he values most in life by displaying polite and calm behaviors. Knowing which behaviors to display will boost his self-confidence by giving him choice and control over his environment but also prevent “fussy” eating.  

Fussy eaters or dogs that are not motivated by food and treats are more difficult to reward and can therefore develop behavior issues that are harder to remedy. However that fussiness can be remedied easily by making food a valuable commodity. 

Additionally, it will teach your dog that he does not have to worry about his food or his bowl and so will prevent resource guarding. That means your dog will not “defend” his bowl or food when someone walks near him while he is eating. For more exercises to help with this very important topic, let DogRelations give you a private dog behavior lesson and show you the many ways you can make feeding time fun and educational at the same time.

Dog Pulling on the Leash

Pulling on the leash is a natural behavior. Dogs usually like to explore what is up ahead and all around them. The leash obviously constricts freedom of space. Allowing the leash to be tight all the time or pulling the dog back will only increase that behavior:

  1. All practiced behaviors increase in strength
  2. A tight leash transmits tension and nervousness
  3. Jerking or snapping on the leash can temporarily get your dog’s attention but certainly does not tell the dog what to do instead of pulling. In fact your dog might interpret those leash jerks as encouragement to pull even harder.
  4. Pulling on the leash is hard on both your body and the dog’s body.
  5. It takes the fun out of walking with your dog because it simply is not enjoyable.

The easiest way to stop leash pulling is to teach the dog to walk on a loose leash next to you by rewarding the dog whenever he is at your side. Walking on a leash is a learned skill for the dog.

For personalized instructions or private dog lessons to teach your dog to walk on a loose leash next to you contact DogRelations.

Stop Destructive Chewing

Destructive chewing should be considered in context and relationship to when the behavior occurs.

If you have a puppy who is teething, the puppy will try to get his teeth on pretty much anything to alleviate teething pain or simply chew on something because it is available and tasty and calming and fun for the puppy. So really the key to solving puppy chewing is: Limiting access to tempting and/or dangerous temptations. Keep your puppy crated or gated and provide him with great chew toys and do not underestimate a puppy’s need to run, play and exercise!

If, however, you find that your dog is chewing on things when left alone you might be dealing with a more serious problem, either boredom or possibly separation anxiety. If your dog tears up the apartment by chewing on couches, door and window frames or desperately tries to get out of the crate you should definitely call a professional trainer for help, especially if you think you have provided the dog with good exercise and mental stimulation and something appropriate and delicious to chew on before you leave the house.

Contact us at DogRelations to learn how you can safely and happily raise your puppy without having your belongings destroyed, prevent separation anxiety. If you have a puppy or dog who might be suffering from separation anxiety, please call us so we can help you and your dog.

Increased Focus For Dogs

Just think about what would happen if you had to act on every thought that ran through your mind?

You would never be able to focus on a task for a reasonable amount of time because of all the distractions you would find impossible to resist.

Building a huge reward history in your dog’s ability to focus on you and the tasks at hand despite distractions is the goal we’d like to achieve. This will enable your dog to differentiate the importance of the many stimuli happening at any point in time and give him the ability to sort out the important information he needs to pay attention to. For example: Coming to you when called or leaving trash on the sidewalk or not jumping up or trying to lick you when you eat or staying in place even when other dogs or cats or people walk by. Some people call it impulse control but I like to see it as the ability to focus despite distractions.

When we install puppy manners such as teaching your dog to ask politely for attention, food and toys, teaching your dog to leave tempting things and redirect his focus onto you voluntarily and settling or sitting despite distractions are an essential part of allowing your dog to be well mannered. So we teach, practice and reward all of those skills with distractions as well! Your dog will be able to choose those behaviors because they pay off greatly! We will show you how tremendously useful it is to allow your dog the time to think things through without nagging. At DogRelations we show you how to incorporate and elicit manners automatically from your dog so that your “basic obedience skills” actually work to create a deep sense of communication. We do not view basic skills as a “trick” that you have to ask for, but as behaviors your dog knows to display because of the situation they are in. For example: you can teach your dog to sit when you put your hand onto a door handle.
Let us show you how simple this process can be and how satisfying the results are! Contact us today.

Excessive Barking

Is your dog barking often or uncontrollably? Too much barking can be a major annoyance.

If your dog is basically not aggressive then most likely the excessive barking is a behavior that has been inadvertently reinforced.

How on earth could that have happened?

Well, if you admonish your dog when he barks, you are giving him attention for an undesirable behavior. Your dog however, smart as he is, immediately notices that in a certain way barking works in his favor because it makes you notice him. So, when he feels bored or ignored he decides to try this again…he barks: and miracle of miracles!! You start to engage with him again! In the dog’s mind this is a great discovery and so, since practiced and rewarded behaviors get stronger: Voila! Your dog has successfully found a way to get your attention and you have inadvertently reinforced a nuisance behavior!

For a consultation on how to re-educate your dog and find being quiet more rewarding, please call DogRelations for comprehensive dog training consultation.

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Greatly improve your training and handling skills so you and your dog can communicate more effectively, all from your computer screen! By booking an online session, you will have access to all of my in-person services and programs*. Sessions are usually about an hour long and will be followed up with an email detailing all of the information and resources we discussed in the session.

* All of my courses and training can be taught online with the exception of hands-on therapy techniques.

Dog Relations advocates science-based and force-free learning opportunities and experiences. Learn how to teach your dog basic skills in a fun and rewarding way!
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