Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shyness Problem

How To Deal With Your Dog's Shyness Problem

Is your dog or puppy shy or afraid of strangers, certain situations or objects? Is your dog fear snapping or is your puppy fear biting?

Is Shyness a Problem or Not?

It is natural for some dogs to be shy of things that are new and unfamiliar. During development, a dog becomes socialized with familiar people, animals, objects and situations. But they will still tend to shy away from the unfamiliar. Shyness in itself is not a problem. It is only a problem if the dog's shyness inhibits your lifestyle or if the dog develops other problems related to shyness such as fear biting. Shy dogs often bolt when frightened, endangering themselves by running blindly into danger, such as traffic.

Unintentionally Training Your Dog or Puppy to be Shy

In a well meaning attempt to calm their dog's fears, many people end up actually reinforcing the dog's shy behavior.

In effect, the owner inadvertently trains the dog to be more fearful. Be careful not to reinforce your dog's fearfulness by offering reassurance. When our timid dog hides, barks defensively, whines, screams or snaps, our response is only natural. Our protective instincts cause us to reassure the dog by talking soothingly, petting or even picking up the dog for a hug. These actions flagrantly reward the dog for his fearful behavior.

It is best to just completely ignore your dog when he acts fearful. Let him learn by his own experience that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Save your praise and reassurance for times when your dog acts with confidence.

Shyness, Fear and Socialization

Many people try to rehabilitate their dog too quickly, forcing him to socialize with other dogs and people. This usually reinforces the dog's view that other dogs and people are frightening.

On the one hand, the dog needs to be socialized as quickly as possible, but on the other hand, he should not be forced into it. If you push your dog to do too much too soon, your dog will only become more fearful and may be forced into a situation where he feels he must defend himself.

Socializing a dog and helping him build his confidence is a time consuming task. Thrusting him into the arms of every visitor and dragging him out to socialize with many other dogs can be counter-productive.

Strangers should never be allowed to approach your dog to pet him. It should always be left to your dog to make the first contact. If your dog does not want to approach, that is OK. Just give him plenty of time to 'hide and peek' and eventually he will come out of hiding. It's up to you to provide ample opportunity for socialization, but it is up to the dog to proceed at his own pace. Don't verbally try to encourage him out of hiding. He will probably interpret your encouragement as praise for hiding. Don't try to force him to come out - this will only frighten him even more.

Fearful Snapping, Growling and Aggression

Shy or fearful dogs can react defensively when approached by unfamiliar people. They may try to keep strangers away by growling, snarling or snapping. These behaviors must not be ignored.

No dog should be allowed to get away with acting aggressively towards humans. The fact that your dog is shy is no excuse to condone growling or biting. You must instantly and effectively reprimand such behavior.

As soon as your dog stops acting aggressive, it is essential that you praise him. We do not want your dog to think that the presence of the stranger brings on the reprimand, but that his own obnoxious behavior causes you to get angry. If it is ever necessary for you to reprimand aggressive tendencies in your shy dog, you have probably been trying to push him along too quickly.

Avoid similar threatening situations until your dog has developed sufficient confidence to deal with them without resorting to aggression. Do not allow strangers to reprimand your fearful or shy dog.

And remember to praise your dog abundantly when he does the right thing!

You Can Do It!

Kum Chee
A Happy Dog Lover and Owner

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Your Dog Overcome His Fear of Thunder

Helping Your Dog to Overcome His Fear of Thunder, Fireworks and Other Loud Noises

It's unsettling when your dog has a fear of thunder, fireworks or other loud and sudden noises. Dogs often express their fear in destructive behavior, barking, cowering, and throwing various fits.

There are two mistakes we often make which only make the situation worse:

  1. Never reprimand or punish the dog for being afraid - He will only become more frightened.
  2. Never verbally or physically try to reassure or comfort the dog when he is acting fearful - If you stroke, cradle or hug your dog while saying things like, 'Oh poor baby, it's OK, there's nothing to be afraid of,' the dog doesn't understand your words, but he does understand that he is receiving a gentle, soothing reward by your actions and tone of voice. The dog usually concludes it is doing the right thing by acting nervous because you are so approving of it.

Sometimes simply stopping the unintentional reward stops the fearful behavior. But until the dog is over his fears, it is best to confine him to a place where he can't hurt himself or completely destroy your property. A crate is ideal. Accustom the dog to his special place so that he feels comfortable and secure there. Don't wait until the storm has arrived to introduce your dog to his 'safe haven.'

Below are two methods to help your dog to overcome his fear of thunder, fireworks and other loud noises:

Method 1 - Distraction Training And Fear

Brush up on some obedience training and teach your dog a few tricks and games. It is difficult for a dog to be afraid when he is enjoying his favorite game of fetch. It is difficult to think about the thunder storm outside when he is concentrating on a quick series of Come, Sit, Heel, Sit, Shake Hands, Down, Roll Over, etc. The idea is to distract the dog from the noise. You can then shower the dog with lots of affection and attention, but for obeying a simple command of sit-shake hands, instead of for acting fearful.

The key is patience and practice. Do not wait until the night before the thunder storm or the third of July (fear of fireworks) to begin teaching your dog a few tricks. Be sure he knows them well beforehand. He will probably have trouble concentrating at first, so the better he knows the games and tricks, the easier it will be for him to perform them under pressure.

Method 2 - Desensitization And Fear

Another method of helping your dog overcome his fear is to slowly and gradually accustom him to the noises that frighten him. This can be done by making a recording of the sounds and playing it back to Add Imagethe dog while he is enjoying everyday life and activities. Many music stores have soundtracks of fireworks, thunder storms and rain that you can purchase. Start by playing it back at such a low volume that you can barely hear it, but the dog's keen hearing will. The dog should show no signs of fear at this volume. Gradually, over the course of weeks or months, increase the volume by tiny increments. The volume is increased so slowly that the dog hardly notices the change. Eventually he will be used to hearing the sounds at full force. If at any time, your dog shows signs of fear, decrease the volume again and proceed a little more slowly. This procedure will work more quickly if you combine it with distraction training.

And remember to praise your dog abundantly when he does the right thing!

You Can Do It!

Kum Chee
A Happy Dog Lover and Owner

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Digging Problem

How To Deal With Your Dog's Digging Problem?

Digging is a natural instinct for the dog. There are many reasons why dogs dig:

  1. They are bored
  2. They need a hole to get cooler when it's hot
  3. They want to escape
  4. They bury objects
  5. They like to

To reduce a dog's tendency to dig, give sufficient exercise to him every day to burn off his excessive energy. By leaving your dog in the backyard does not count as exercise for him.

Dealing With Boredom

Leaving your dog in the backyard first time in the morning without leaving him with anything to occupy him, your dog will start to dig to occupy himself.


  1. Consider giving him toys like a Buster Cube or Boomer Ball.
  2. The Buster Cube is a plastic square where you can place small pieces of food in and your dog will be kept focused in getting the treats rather than digging
  3. Spend time playing with your dog with his toys in the yard
  4. Give him plenty of high quality premium hard kibble. Avoid foods that are loaded with sugars, chemicals and preservatives that exacerbate your dog's energy level
  5. Engage your dog to meaningful activities like obedience training, playtimes, feeding so that he will not consider the backyard as his banishment and thus reducing his anxiety and tendency to dig

Dealing With Digging Cooling Holes

In dealing with this problem, consider providing:

  1. Shade in the backyard
  2. Well-ventilated doghouse
  3. A small wading pool
  4. Hose to throw up a fine mist
  5. Cut short your dog's hairs

Dealing With Burying Objects

Dogs may dig and bury objects and later dig them up again.

To deal with this problem, remember:

  1. Give him larger toys so that it is difficult for him to bury the toys
  2. For smaller toys, consider tying it to a tree or fence to prevent him from burying
  3. If the problem persists, consider burying his fecal matter in the holes he has dug as he is likely to return and dig in the same spot, and will find digging his poop to be unpleasant

It is important to remember that you should never let your dog to see you digging, like planting your flower bed, etc as it will confuse him why you can dig while he cannot.

Dealing With Dogs Who Are Bred To Dig

Like the Terriers, Dachshunds, certain breeds of dogs are bred to dig. In dealing with this types of dogs, it is not possible to stop digging completely.

To deal with this problem, teach your dog to dig in one spot. The more he digs there, the less he will dig elsewhere.

To achieve this, consider:

  1. Set up a digging pit where the ground is relatively soft
  2. Bury items your dog is likely to want to dig up like his special food treats.
  3. Take your dog to the location and encourage him to dig in this area
  4. Praise him when he digs in this spot
  5. If need be, bury his fecal matter in holes outside the digging pit to discourage him from venturing elsewhere to dig

Dealing With Escape Problem

This is a complex problem to deal with as it is sign of other underlying problem. For example, when a dog is not taught the proper manner of behaving like not jumping up and acting unruly in the house, he may be ignored by the owner and develops anxiety problem since he is a social creature. This may lead to his tendency to escape by digging.

Un-neutered male dogs may also try to dig to venture outside especially when there are female dogs on heat in the neighbourhood.

To deal with this problem, consider:

  1. Figure out the reason why your dog is digging and apply the appropriate solution
  2. If this fails, seek assistance from a professional trainer

And remember to praise your dog abundantly when he does the right thing!

You Can Do It!

Kum Chee
A Happy Dog Lover and Owner