"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Dog Behaviorist

– Posted in: All Positive AKA Force Free Dog Training, Columns

What do you think about dog psychologists aka dog behaviorist? Me not so much.

RNT

Hi RNT,

If you’re talking about someone that brings the dog into their office, sticks it on the couch and asks it if it hates its mother then me not so much either. However, dogs are intelligent and anyone that has studied dog behaviour in its nuance and variations in breeds and individual dogs might consider themselves as students of dog psychology. Dog psychologist though? A little self-aggrandizing I think.

There are dog trainers that call themselves a “dog behaviorist” and earlier in my career when I thought such a thing would distinguish me from the run of the mill dog trainer I embraced the term. After a while, I thought it was silly and so now I’m just a dog trainer that believes in ethology with a strong emphasis on field observation, and has done a fair amount literature study.

There is a branch of veterinary science now that certifies veterinarians as behaviourists. I believe their intellectual focus is mistakenly inverted when compared to that of a good dog trainer, with much more theoretical and laboratory emphasis rather than field experience. In my experience, they seem to have a poor grasp of the real world of dogs and their owners. I’m sure there are exceptions but when it comes to actually training a wide range of dogs as of yet I haven’t met one that seemed to know the difference between a scientific paper and a pee pad. They seem to think that saying “No” to a dog will ruin it’s self-esteem forever.

I recently learned of a new branch of the pet mental health services and if anything has ever got anyone’s goat, my goat was got. On the truck radio there was a pet psychic. I almost ran into the ditch. If I hadn’t been driving I would have called her to see if she could figure out what I was thinking. Vomit and the word charlatan would have figured prominently.

Outside of the world of fantasy here is what you’ll find good and bad as your advisory options; people that have owned a dog or a few dogs. Their advice is often unsolicited. There are the “ignore bad behaviour – reward good behaviour” ‘All Positive/Force-Free’ trainers – often “certified” – that think they’re training for obedience but are actually not getting things much past the trick level. Then there are balanced dog trainers that excel at obedience – teaching dogs to do practical things as if it were a job instead of a trick.

Then there are trainers that have personally trained a thousand or more dogs. They can consistently help teach a dog to stop doing something harmful to others or itself, or at least reduce the impact of the negative behaviour on the dog and dog owner’s lifestyle, or and to me the mark of a true professional; be honest and say and be able to explain why meaningful change isn’t going to happen.

Over the years, people interested in becoming a dog trainer have approached me. They emphasize how much they love dogs, working with dogs, reading about dogs etc. That doesn’t move me much. Loving dogs is easy. Whatever they end up calling themselves, a good dog trainer must love people. Without that natural ability in the forefront, it won’t matter what they call themselves.

Pawsitively yours,

John Wade

*protected email*

15 Comments… add one
richard

just wanna ask why my 1.5 yo dog sudenly growls at me everytime i pick her up?there were times when i tickled him,he looked at me and growled.im confused.he used to enjoy all of those before.by the way he is my sisters pet.

Jennie

We live in a first floor apartment and our dog Blue tends to bark and anyone who walks by. However, we just noticed that this only happens when my partner is home. I got Blue a pheromone collar because I thought it would help with her anxiety. I put it on her when my partner was away on a trip and was remarking about how she seems so much calmer. My partner came home and Blue started again barking at every single person that walked by. My partner is definitely the Alpha, so I get that it is probably about protecting her…but I am just not sure what the best method is to reassure our dog that my partner is just fine and doesn’t need THAT much protection.

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

I would start simply and via teaching the dog who’s the teacher and who’s the student. Multiple request requiring the dog to do something for both of you throughout the day. In addition don’t allow looking out the window without supervision. It’s a common thing to do and it causes tons of behaviour problems.

John

Merrisa

I just moved out of my parents house into an apartment. My papillon has adjusted to most of the apartment living except that he refuses to use the bathroom. He will hold his pee and poop until I take him back to my parents house. I’ve had to bring him there everyday just so he will go to bathroom. Why is he doing this? Is there a way to fix it? Thank you for you help!

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Hi Marisa,

Dog’s can be a lot like people when it comes to where they are comfortable eliminating. My ex-wife used to tell me the reason she would go camping with me was because if there wasn’t porcelain in the area then it didn’t constitute a bathroom. You can of course break the cycle but it takes some patience and organization. Download my free house training cheat sheet as it’s a great guide.

John

Charlene

Why does my 6 yr old neutered male westie keep peeing on my 6 yr old spayed female westie. They have been together for 6 yrs, not related. They had puppies at a yr and had them both fixed right after. This has just started in the last 3 weeks. Nothing has changed in our household

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Hi Charlene,

No idea. Very odd to start spontaneously. Has either been ill? Have they been fighting more then usual? Treatment by owners any different?

John

Tara

Hi John. My 8 year old pitbull Nala started to become extremely fearful of thunderstorms and fireworks a few years ago. Every summer after the first few storms and fireworks happen she turns into a nervous dog. She doesn’t want to go out past 6pm. She is constantly looking around “waiting” for something to happen. She starts shaking for no reason in the evenings, since that’s when most of the bad noises happen. This has happened the past 2 summers and is happening again now. I try to walk her more, play with her, distract her with games. But when she is in that mode, nothing works. What can i do to get her over this constant anxiety???

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Hi Tara,

I’ve created a separate column to provide your reply. See http://www.askthedogguy.com/pit-bull-extremely-fearful-of-thunderstorms-and-fireworks/

John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade

Sandy

I have shepherd/hound mix and recently got a puppy. The puppy is a shepherd lab mix. When I’m homethey seen to get along ok. When I go to work in the morning and my partner is home the older one goes after the puppy and our cats. Why is he doing this it’s driving me crazy and my partner is afraid forthe puppy

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Hi Sandy,

You haven’t provided enough information for me to speculate. I would need you to be more specific by what you mean when you say “goes after”? How old is the dog? How is it triggered? Does it appear to be random, constant or only when the puppy or cats are near or approach your partner?

Regards,

John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
Embracing Science and Common Sense

http://www.askthedogguy.com

Carlso

Hi I have a border collie mix named Sadie I also have 2 smaller dogs and a Great Dane lab mix named tank so here is the problem ok so when ever Sadie is in my room and then tank walks in she immediately becomes hostile and aggressive towards him snapping and starting a fight and it’s only towards him and only in my room every other room she and him are fine but it’s only my room she becomes aggressive she is never hostile towards my smaller dogs because one one of them is the alpha and the other is the beta so she doesn’t mess with them

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Hi Carlso,

I need more information, age of dogs, history etc. Generally speaking, this is a form of resource guarding with you being the resource that is being guarded. This isn’t the same as “protecting you”. This is protecting a bone, something she thinks she owns and has decided has exclusive rights. If that’s the case I’d look into addressing her skewed sense of who is living in who’s home as this sort of problem tends to escalate. Common enough problem but more so in multiple dog households. Read this before deciding on how to best move forward. ‘John Wade’s Guide To: What Are The Different (and best) Puppy and Dog Training Methods?’

Regards,

John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
Embracing Science and Common Sense
London’s #1 Referred Puppy and Dog Trainer

519-457-9559
http://www.askthedogguy.com

Leslie

Hi John,
I have an almost 12 year old male Australian Shepard who licks his paws incessantly only when we retire to bed (once the light is out). He also gets up to pee twice per night. The vet has ruled out medical issues and this behaviour only happens when my husband is home (not when he travels).

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Hi Leslie,

I’d have him screened for dementia. I can send the questionnaire if you’d like. More likely it’s a relationship conflict that might need working on in order to provide him with some relief. I’d need to know a lot more for something like that. If you want to book a Skype consult let me know and I’ll send the details.

Regards,

John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
Embracing Science and Common Sense

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