October 30, 2012

Kids and the Tolerant Dog at the Holidays

Kids and the Tolerant Dog at the Holidays

We have all heard the stories of dogs that are so great with children.   It's true many are.   But when it comes to bringing children and dogs together in a home permanently or just for the weekend there are many things you need to consider.

As humans, we all have a breaking point of tolerance.  I definitely do!  Your dog does too.  Even dogs we think are "bomb-proof" have a tipping point.   Do you know with 100% certainty what your dog will tolerate?  Are you sure?  100% in all circumstances?  Are you astute at reading your dog's behavior like a book to know his limits? 

As the holidays approach and you you are planning for guests, think about how much guests in your home can start to grate on your last nerve, no matter how much you love them.  They make remarks that annoy you, leave the toilet seat up, and make a mess in your kitchen. 

Dog's cannot express their frustration in the same way humans can.  And much like  when you reach the breaking point and snap with anger and words, they may snap with growling and teeth.   

Strangers can make them nervous to start and add in the holiday bustle, there nerves may be on edge.      Add to this a child that your dog doesn't know who's invading his space on the couch, darting by his food bowl, creating an elevated level of energy in the house, squealing loudly, or pulling his ears and his tail, or maybe even teasing him with food and toys....  it's a disaster waiting to happen. 

A dog that is usually lovable to your own toddler or child may hit their breaking point in ways you cannot predict.   Something as innocent as an attempted hug or kiss on the snout could be the breaking point.  It's very important to teach all children ways in which they need to respect the dog and to be sure your dog is given plenty of time to rest alone & away from the visitors.   

You also need to set boundaries with adults and to never leave a child unsupervised with any dog. Supervision means awake, adult, and aware supervision. Eyes on the scenario not just present. And not distracted by some other activity. If you cannot supervise - put the dog in his crate. Bedroom doors and doors to the outside can easily be opened carelessly. Be sure to secure entry to any area your dog may be in. . 

Socialization of your dog is important -- but it doesn't replace the safety precautions you need to take. 

These charts by Dr. Sophia Yin are great teaching tools to sit and have a conversation with your child, children who will be visiting, and maybe even some adults.

Take care of your dog & your children and play it safe.  Where appropriate, purchase a crate and use it to give your dog a place of his own to stay stay this holiday season. If the issues are severe enough with your dog -- consider boarding him while visitors are present. 

Need more help preparing your dog for crate training, reactivity, socialization, etc?   Call me!  I can help. 

Dana Brigman
The K9 Coach
Dog Training - Matthews, NC

Follow us On

The K9 Coach is a Professional Certified Dog Trainer Serving Charlotte, NC, Matthews, NC and surrounding areas.

 My mission is a restored life for dogs as members of a forever family.
We create training solutions for the do and the owner. We partner with shelters and rescues to rehabilitate and prepare dogs for adoption. Our goal is to prevent dogs from dying alone as strays or owner surrenders in shelters due issues training can resolve or prevent.

Begin training with a consult with a professional trainer to be sure you're solving the right problem. Misdiagnosis can make the matters worse. Be sure that there are no medical issues at play and that your dog is not in pain, as pain can be a contributor to a new display of aggression. If you have any fear or uncertainty -- do not attempt the techniques without professional supervision.

October 26, 2012

Sit! It's Not a Trick

How to Teach Your Dog to Sit And Stay

  Challenge and Training Instruction Below!  Read More

How enjoyable is it for you to take Fido out in public especially if you need to stop for any period of time.  Wouldn't it be much nicer if he just held a nice sit/stay while you chatted with a friend, waited at the vet, or  or shopped for his treats at the doggie store  

Tricks are fun and entertaining-- right?  Well, of course they are -- but not when it matters most.  When an owner expects the dog to comply and he doesn't -- everyone is frustrated.  Letting your dog get away with doing tricks on their terms can lead to other problems or just leaving Fido at home or in his crate because it's not fun to take him anywhere.  

It is a common complaint!  My dog won't listen.   He knows how to sit but he won't do it!  Or they say he'll do it for a treat but he won't stay. 

Sit is not a trick.   It's a command.    I know -- commands sound so strict!  It's really not -- if taught properly and rewarded well -- your dog will learn what do to do on their own, demonstrate it right the first time when asked, and actually find it a relaxing position and enjoy being out with you!   You'll also enjoy your dog a lot more.   In fact, dogs are so pattern oriented, if done properly and consistently, your dog will start doing the command without being told in certain situations.

It requires you, the owner,  is also become consistent expectation and accountability, and in your delivery/timing of praise and reward. 

I teach Sit and Down with a built in stay so that the dog stays in position until they are either given a new command or released from being under a command.

We teach the dog when walking nicely on a leash, or in a more formal heel that when the owner/handler stops walking, the do should stop automatically and sit.

There are many useful reasons for the auto-sit!   
  • Greeting a neighbor or stranger on the street and stop to chat for a moment. 
  • You stop at the mailbox or answer a phone call
  • You're pushing a baby stroller and walking your dog and need to stop to attend the baby
  • What if you fall down and injure yourself and aren't able to hold the leash?
All these are great scenarios in which having your dog sit and wait politely for your next command can make your outing much more enjoyable and less worrisome because your dog is not making you crazy trying to head off in a different direction or wrapping the leash around you.

I encourage you to think about how you train your own dog!   What you teach, how consistent you are and what your goals really are for the dog?    It generally only takes a few minutes a day to achieve great results  and can be worked into every day life!  


Dana Brigman
The K9 Coach
Dog Training - Matthews, NC

Follow us On

Our mission is a renewed life for dogs as members of a forever family.
We create dog training solutions for the dog and owner to partner together in dog training solutions. 
We create dog training solutions for rescue groups and shelters to rehabilitate dogs to be placed in forever homes.

Tens of thousands of dogs a day die in shelters; abandoned by their owners due to
aggression or behavioral problems that training may have prevented.

Begin training with a consult with a professional trainer to be sure you're solving the right problem. Misdiagnosis can make the matters worse. Be sure that there are no medical issues at play and that your dog is not in pain, as pain can be a contributor to a new display of aggression. If you have any fear or uncertainty -- do not attempt the techniques without professional supervision.

October 22, 2012

Wilson Traning Blog -- Week 1

Wilson Traning Blog -- Week 1

October 20
It has been a great weather here today. The dogs enjoyed early morning play time and I tried to capture a few pictures. I'm really trying to get one of Vinnie doing the puppy play-bow.

Wilson and Vinnie played for quite a while until Wilson discovered Howie playing with a soft-toy and a stick. The tenacity of a dachshund says you are NOT going to take my toy from me-- so this investigation from Wilson led to a little altercation. The good news is Howie won. Howie laid himself over the toy to protect it and and Wilson laid on Howie. A lot of snarling was going on, but a firm verbal warning from me separated both of them. Wilson does a lot of vocalizing, but is really a big baby. That's really the good news about Wilson -- he's pretty submissive to the other dogs. He backs his butt up, does the play bow, and is easy warned by all my pack members.

Wilson started tonight having to sit and wait for his food delivery. It only took a few attempts before he realized he was not getting fed until his butt was firmly planted on the floor.
    Vinnie plays keep away from Wilson, by standing on the toy!
  • See you all Monday for Wilson's first "real" obedience lesson. Should be fun, and I think he's actually going to be pretty easy to train. Famous last words? We'll see.

October 19

  • Wilson woke this morning feeling great. He was allowed to go out in the yard off-leash with the other dogs. He got a case of the zoomies and just had a grand time, even though he's not supposed to be overdoing it. Video: http://youtu.be/iQfASo9RYJM
  • He and Vinnie have become buds today, though I did allow Vinnie to tell him to back off on the humping. Lexie did too this morning. Wilson is wide open and there is no better trainer for a dog than the pack.
  • We are still working on the house-training. He went outside this morning, then came in and did it again! And he discovered counter-surfing. He quickly jumped up on the counter -- trying to nab a bottle of medicine and then a decorative object! These are the reasons you cannot leave a dog unsupervised. Living in a house my foot -- I dare say he's never been in a house. He has no boundaries on what's acceptable and what's not.
  • I feed dogs separately. There is just no reason to have them all sharing a space to eat. So Wilson was fed in the x-pen in the front room. After my doxie's finished eating they tend to see if anyone has dropped food from the raised bowls. Wilson guarded his empty bowl from within the xpen. So there's an issue we need to work on.
  • I had some friends over tonight -- Dane Rescue savvy peeps and Wilson did very well to begin with, but then he got a little growlie as we were having some food and even when one of the men guests tried to pet him. (Hmmm, thought he liked men?) These are issues we're definately going to need to work on, and Wilson is very likely headed for a pinch collar. I'll discuss more about that training tool next time --- I can assure you it's not the medieval device some think that it is, and far better than allowing a practiced inappropriate behavior that can lead to a bite. Would treats and clicks work??? -- depends on how long you're willing to wait and how much risk you're willing to take.
  • He also got a little growlie with the doxies when food was around, even though the dogs were not eating. So Wilson was sent to kennel to just chill for a while, until we can work on these issues another time. It had been a big day and it was time for hime to take a break.

October 18
  • Wilson is at the vet today for neutering.
  • He pooped in my car on the way there and then trampled in it. Dogs do not generally poop where there rest or where they will be standing or laying in it. This suggests to me that Wilson has had no experience in the house, and probably lived more often than not in his own feces prior to being taken to the shelter. That's a hard thing to overcome.
  • Wilson is home now from surgery and doing quite well. He was a little growlie with the girls at the vet but did seem to warm up to them as the day progressed. They were all cautioned to take it slow with him. He said bye to everyone one the way out without any trouble. He seemed to have no trouble with men in the office.
  • He's confirmed to be no more than 7 months old based on the new arrival of his canine teeth. He weighed in at 76 pounds.
  • He'll rest quietly tonight, and have limited activity this weekend.
  • He's got a skin irritation that will require medicated baths.

Previous Entries:

Thoughts from The K9 Coach: Dog's learn something from us in every single interaction they have. Wilson is learning I'm the leader of this pack. That he can trust me, and I will give him a shared respect. He's learning there are boundaries that he has to abide by. From me he will not only get obedience training, but he'll learn confidence and how to handle new and stressful situations. He'll be exposed to many new things.

His first outing probably will not occur until mid-next week and we'll take it very slow. He may see people, but not be petted for a while. And it may be weeks before we begin work around children. He will have to have great reliability with other distractions before I put him in that scenario. I'm confident I can help him overcome his fear around kids -- but he may prove to be a rescue who cannot be placed with kids based on his history of being taunted and having rocks thrown at him. But we'll have to judge that in due time.

Wish him well during surgery tomorrow.

He looks agressive -- right?
Well, no. But there's much more work to be done.

October 17

  • We started the morning with a nice potty break and walk. He was quite playful this morning. So I gave him a toy and he played with it for quite a while.
  • I also decided to sit on the ground with him to get eye-level with him. He tried to hump me. That's not allowed. So he was definitely corrected for that. He tried again. And then he acted like he was going to pee on me. Seriously, Wilson. Not going to happen.
  • After a correction, he came and sat in my lap. Progress. He's buying the leadership.
  • I brought him into my office where he chilled at my feet for a little while. And then allowed him to play with my two dachshunds. They will put him in his place in a second if he gets to be too much. As they nestled in their favorite chair -- he backed up to them butt first as if to say, "here, smell me & let's be friends!". That's a great sign.
  • I then allowed him another short time with my pack -- and he thought humping my 165lb Great Dane Vinnie was a good idea. Vinnie did nothing, and I called Wilson off and all is good. Supervision is necessary at all times, and Vinnie trusts me to deal with the new kid!
  • We'll do another training walk this afternoon, but formal training won't begin until Monday. He gets snipped tomorrow. Bye Bye Woohoos. He'll need a few days to recover, and then the training plan startes in earnest.

October 16, 2012

  • He was crated for the morning because I had a dental appointment and I didn't want to risk him toppling the xpen and being in my pack unsupervised. He pooped in his crate. A lot.
  • Late yesterday afternoon we began a little bit of training. Just working on "heel" and "sit" Words I don't think he's entirely familiar with.
  • I did not begin any sort of correction with Wilson in Sit training tonight. I offered some treats, a gentle touch to the butt to encourage him to put his butt on the ground and lots of Praise. Verbal and Physical touch. This too seems a big foreign to him.
  • Why no correction yet? Well he's likely been abused, he doesn't trust me yet, and its more about teaching him how to learn than requiring him to comply at this point. Obedience requirements will come in a few days. And to be clear -- a correction is NOT something that is harmful, painful, or intimating. It's just a reminder than not doing what he's asked will not be acceptable. (We will talk more about that when we start obedience training next week).
  • And yes, he pooped in my house twice today -- on the carpet. Try having to clean up poop after dental surgery -- yay pain meds :-)
  • He was allowed a short interaction off-leash with the rest of my pack today -- everyone napped.

October 15, 2012
  • After spending the weekend with volunteers he was transported to me on Monday afternoon. After he was taken out of the truck, he felt the need to snap at me. I had approached him sideways, but I made the mistake of making eye contact a bit too soon. Yep, he may have a little issue with women and a bit of fear in general.
  • After a 2 hour ride home, I took him out for a nice long walk. While there was no obedience training taking place or even any leash work, he walked along side me nicely. It was just a bit of time to bond and give some soothing communications.
  • You can see in the picture I took after we got home, that there was still a fair amount of uncertainly in his eyes.

  • When I bring a foster into my home, I always take about 24 - 48 hours (or more) before I let them interact with my pack directly. They get to smell each other from behind a metal baby gate briefly, and then the new arrival is crated or put in an x-pen to chill out from transport and to get acclimated to my house and my pack. In less than 5 minutes, Wilson met me in the kitchen along with the rest of my crew. He had made a very silent leap across the baby gate. Let's just say he's athletic.
  • Even though there were no issues, he was still removed and put into a tall xpen to relax.
  • New arrivals at my house are also not allowed off-leash in the yard for the first first days. We go out on a long line. Why?
    • One I don't want them chasing the other dogs and potentially starting a fight. You never know! and I've come to expect the unexpected. This way I can control a separation if I need too.
    • I'm never sure if they are going to be a fence jumper. And until they learn to trust me and we can begin working on recall and on making them think my yard is far more enjoyable than anything on the other side, I play it safe.
  • Within minutes of eating, he pooped in the house. Yay -- He's not house trained. I'm guessing he was never taught. So we're starting with the basics -- the beginning. (See my house training document on FB.)
  • And then bedtime -- after a little bit of whining, he settled and slept all night

October 12, 2012:

  • GDFRL contacted me to ask about foster to train. I agreed. He's only six months old and I felt confident we could work to rehabilitate him and find a good handler for his forever home. He was pulled that day by two GDFRL volunteer in Raleigh and kept for the weekend. He warmed up easily and playfully to the husband, and with a little more time warmed up to his wife. Both are experienced dog owners and Great Dane Rescuers. Over the weekend someone came to their home with a child, and even with the Wilson secure inside and out of side, he reacted poorly to the sound of the child. So we know we have lots of work to do to address this issue.

October 10, 2012 ---
  • GDFRL received a message on Facebook about a young male puppy in a shelter who was showing aggressive tendencies with the shelter employees.
  • As an owner surrender, kill shelters like the one he was taken to can put the dog down immediately. Couple that with the fact they deemed him aggressive, and there are few chances for this boy to be adopted. Other rescues in this area, rejected him and even suggested calling GDFRL.
  • We understand that Wilson was allowed to be taunted by children who threw rocks at him, and he had become "aggressive" and did not like women.

October 17, 2012

Wilson's Training Blog

This training blog is to show the progress, methods and potential setbacks of pulling a shelter dog deemed "aggressive".  My goal is to educate you on the process and training techniques I will use with him can help rehabilate through postive associations and obedience training this dog and get him placed in the best possible forever home.  You'll see that we take things slowly and work to address the needs we know about and those we discover as we go. 

I am a Professional Certified Dog Trainer, Member of the IACP and APDT and a foster home and volunteer to Great Dane Friends of Ruff Love.    My business is The K9 Coach.

If you have not already -- please "like" my Facebook page

Wilson's Story:  

December 28 -- Wilson time with me has come to an end.   At least his time as a foster and trainee.   He will never leave my heart and he will forever have a place to come home to if he needs it. 

Wilson has come a long way from that wild-eyed stressed out dog I took to the park the first week.   He's not reacting negatively to the sight of kids, but he still is a quite leary of strangers.  It  angers me that people can take a beautiful puppy and damage him in ways that change him forever.  How can parents allow children to poke an taunt a dog.   It's wrong no matter how you slice it but with a powerful breed it's just stupid.   Yes, I said stupid. It's senseless.  Its outrageous.  They made him fearful of people and it takes him a long time to trust anyone.  He is forever different than the dog he could of been, though he is still fantastic.   I know he learned to trust me and was an absolute joy to have in my home.   I am thankful for the experince  Now, he has a new start and I know he will learn to trust his new family. 

He's off to a new home of his own, in Morehead City.  I wish I could go with him to the beach.   His new parents are expereinced Dane owners, but learned over the last 2 days that even experience doesn't always prep you for the next dog.   Yes, we spent time over two days getting Wilson acclimated.  

I like Jackie and Mike -- a lot.  They are the kind of people I could be friends with.   I believe they will do eveything possible to give Wilson a loving home and to keep him safe and to continue his training.   Wilson has issues from his past abuse that may forever be part of his personality.  He may never be the kind of dog they can let off-leash at the beach, allow friends to pet, or grandkids to hug. 

We spent an hour or so at Petsmart last night and they got to see first hand that he is very well behaved in public, but that everyone wants to pet him.   And they are going to have to be willing to tell people, "Thank you but no he can't be petted right now."  It was an hour well spent for them to see the reality.    Not to mention Wilson go deer antlers, squeaky toys, and treats!

He loved the fact they kept giving him treats, but a 1/2 beat to long as Jackie tried to pet him too soon led him to grumble at her. Lesson learned. Slow it down. Really slow. He wasn't ready for that kind of intimacy, even from his new mom. 

They assume a great responsibility in adopting a rescue dog.   They are prepared for it and committed to it.   They have promised not to let me or Wilson down.   His future success is all in how they build a bond, establish leadership and give him love.   He has to the tools he needs to be successful and I know that he will.  

They have already called me to say he's riding well in the car, following the commands they give him, and has nuzzled up to Jackie to lay his head on her arm.... well at least when he stops chewing his new antler ....

Much love to you Wilson.   Have a great life and I do hope to see you again soon with your new family!   Maybe I'll vacation at the beach.......

Best Buddies
Photo by Amy Breckenridge Smith
December 19 -- Wilson is off to Club K9 for the holidays.   I'm really going to miss him, but I'm sure Cosmo will miss him the most.  It's a big test to see how Wilson does away from "home" for a week.  The folks at Club K9 have all been informed about his issue with eye contact, and the need to let him approach them, to go very slowly and build trust, etc.    He should however love playing with other dogs for the week.   

He has a potential adopter coming after the holidays to meet with him.  So we'll see how things go and maybe he'll have a new home for New Years.....

Yes, I'm just a bit sad -- but it's what we do.   Sadly, we have to do it over and over again.    And so begin's Zoe's journey training with me this week.   2 dogs in the house reactive to other dogs should be quite the challenge....  

December 9  --  Wilson and Cosmo went on a little pack walk with a new friend Atlas Thursday.  They both did really well as we passed people and dogs on the greeway.  We also passed an elementary school with about 50 kids out for recess.   You know kids squeal, run towards the fence, and make all sorts of rukus.   Wilson got a little vocal, but it wasn't growling.   Just mostly excitment.  He was easily controlled and able to continue a sit/stay and down/stay across the street from the school.    We also encountered a man who had a few "issues" shall we say.    The man didn't quite understand that I told him he could not approach to pet Wilson.   He kept asking if he was "nice".   As the man got closer Wilson barked, and it startled the man a bit so he finally understood not to come closer.   Wilson held his down stay a moment, before we turned to head back home.

On Friday he went for his eval at Club K9.  He had an absolute ball.   The folks there are great at helping to deal with a dog who has issues.  They are very experienced at working with dog.    Wilson loves other dogs, but it was the staff we wanted to be sure he would respect.    They respected him and he did great!  He came home and passed out!  

He did really well at Starbucks on Sunday.  You can still tell that when someone looks straight in his eyes for a 1/2-beat too long he's a bit threatened.   But when they have treats in their hands and come in side-ways -- he's good to go!  It will continue to be a requirement to manage Wilson's intros to people and watch his signals.     I had a visitor over on Friday and Wilson did great having someone in the house for a few hours and greeted them easily for petting.

December 5 -- My goodness, it's been a while since we posted an update.   Wilson is doing GREAT!   He now weighs in at 102 pounds - that's up from 78 when he came in.   He's very atheletic, but he's also a silly goofy dane puppy.  He's rolled of the bed twice!   Today, I couldn't help but laugh.  He's stretched out relaxing and then plop, right on to the floor.  He had no idea he was going to fall off.   All I saw after was one paw stretch up in the air as if to say "I'm good, I meadnt to do that".
He and Cosmo as having so much fun together!   Wilson is relaxed and happy.  But both are still looking for homes of their own.  Wilson has had several outings this week testing him with strangers and he's amost seeking out people on his own now -- and loves when they give him treats.   Having treats on hand will be a continued exercise for a while and his future parents will always need to be observant and manage his greetings -- but he's ready for his forever home.  
Here's a video of him trying to get my dachshund to play.    They seem to be the funniest in the early mornings. 
More pictures of Wilson can be found on my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/thek9coachcharlotte   -- Please "Like" and "Share:  :-)

November 27--

Avoiding Eye Contact With Me
Required to Down Stay

Wilson hit the point in training that he decided he needed to challenge me.   He's done exceptionally well in learning the basic commands, rules of the house, etc.   As with every dog, he decided it's time to challenge authority to see how serious I am about things.   It started with not coming in when called -- and I'd go get him everytime.   Then it because a refusal to not lay down on command.

Last night, Wilson and his new buddy Cosmo decided that they needed a little rough-housing play-time in the house.    Now if you have never seen a Catahoula and a Great Dane get wound up -- well you've missed some joy and some chaos.    

I told them both to settle down, and to lay down.   My rule is you do perform the command when and where you're told.   Cosmo complied.   Wilson decided he needed to go lay on the dog bed.   Nope, you're coming back to the center of the room, and you're doing to lay Down.   He did and in 2 seconds bounced back up and headed to the bed.   Rinse and Repeat several times.    Each time I led him back to the spot the command was issued and repeated the command.   Then he tried to sit, or to stand.   So we had a little exercise in discipline and authority.  He finally stayed in place about 30 minutes before I released him.   I missed most of the TV show I was watching -- but life lessons are more important.     

November  18

Wake Up!  It's time for Mass O'Danes
Lesson for the day -- don't get lulled into a false sense of security!   Wilson was a grumpy-butt at Mass O'Danes today.  Despite how well he has been doing greeting people for the last few weeks, he just really wanted know part of anyone today.    Do you ever have days like that?    I'm sure we all do.  I'd rather get the warning rather than the reaction so that as the handle you have time to respond and address the behavior.   The problems is that some dogs just lunge and snap.   That's what happened to another foster dog today.   After a few weeks in her foster home, today, she lunged at several people for no apparent reason. 

So how do you address this -- well leadership has to be in place in all aspects of day to day life, and obedience training is a good foundation.   Does it solve everything -- no,  but it definately gives you a means of communication with the dog and a foundation to build trust and expectations.

Somes dogs will always require supervision & awareness from the owner to read their signals and respond to them before the dog takes matters into his own hands.  In time they get better and better -- but a responsible handler can never take for granted what may happen.

Look for more information coming this week on my blog about reactive dogs.

November 15

Wilson made a new friend.   A new board and train came to me this week who has taken to Wilson quickly.   In part because Wilson is such a good energy when he greets other dogs.  He knows to offer all the right cues that say "I mean you know harm -- I just want to play!"

This new dog is a bit uncertain around other dogs.   So he can definately learn from Wilson how to play and relax. 

November 11

Wilson gets some gentle pets from a little girl and some treats too to create a positive association.     (This scenario was well managed, took 3 weeks to get to, and involved a very dog saavy little girl who is part of our rescue organization).  

Giant step forward for Wilson!

November 8

It's official!   Wilson is going up for adoption this week.   Wilson is doing really well in his training.   I'm having really no issues with him beyond typical puppy stuff.    He's still cautious about meeting people, but he's looking to me (handler) for queues which is great!   There is still work to do, and living with kids is not an option -- but he's ready to find a home where an expereinced handler can continue to work with him on his developmental needs and enjoy him as a puppy.   If you have had a Dane puppy -- you know exactly what I'm talking about :-) 

November 3 & 4
Days with no house accidents -- Caught in the act.   Let's just say as soon as Wilson eats you better send him outside.   No time to finish what you're doing.

His obedience training is going great.  He's learned the commands and is able to do them with distractions and in public locations. What we're working on now is having him hold the commands and distance work.  He's in that phase where he's figured out the leash and thinks if it's not on that all bets are off and the rules don't apply.

Petsmart yesterday was a big test.    We got surrounded by 3  children in the fish alcove.  Wilson was not distressed at all and was able to heel and walk right pass them to more open space.    Another young boy (10ish) came rushing over to pet Wilson and I stepped in front of him and told him he couldn't pet Wilson, that he was in training.   I took an educational moment to tell what happened to Wilson and to explain to the kid AND his mother, that they always need to ask permission to pet a dog.

Wilson wore himself out at Mass O'Danes today.  Lots of people.  Lots of dogs.   I think he just reached a point of fatigue.  He got a little grumpy near the end.  He gave a couple of warnings to say he'd had enough to another dog and to one of our rescue members who was leaning lover him a bit too long.  I'd rather him warn than to just lash out -- so that's good.  But he was still corrected.   He will get better and better over time, but like you and I we all have limits and we all need to respect that. 

He has spent the last 2.5 hours napping in his xpen.   He put himself there as soon as we got home. 

Oct 28 - November 1
Days with no house accidents -- We are on a roll!!!  

Sorry for not having a post this week.  I've been crazy busy and have had to make a couple of trips to visit family out of town.  

Wilson is doing great!   On Monday, I had to leave the entire crowd crated for the day and have a friend come over to let them out.   Wilson did well in the xpen and also was good with my friends.   Wilson is actually laying in his xpen right now sound asleep.   l love when they learn that they can just chill in their own space!

He and Vinnie play a lot.  It's fun and entertaing to watch.   I understand that while my friends were over on Monday, Vinnie actually hid in the bushes and caught Wilson with a surprise run and tackle.   Wilson loves it -- it's a lot like watch a little boy idolize his big brother :-)

We're heading back to the park tomorrow and over the weekend to continue our work around the kids.   I don't anticipate any problems, and think that we should be able to start looking for Wilson's forever home soon, with an experienced handler. 

Oct 28
Days with no house accidents -- Four!

On Saturday we didn't do a lot of training -- everyone needs a break now and then.  Last night, Wilson was enjoying TV time with the rest of my crew and when it came time to go outside for last call, I was greeting with a lovely display of teeth.  He obviously doesn't know me well.   You have to expect the unexpected with any dog and Wilson is no different -- he's challenging authority to see just how much he can get away with.  Zero. 

I don't recommend it for everyone -- but I clamped down on his muzzle with my hand and nabbed the collar with the other and pulled him off the bed.   I could read in his eyes he had nothing to back it up.  Every dog is different, every situation is different and must be managed accordingly.  Never take an action if you are fearful or unsure of yourself.  For other is may be better to leash the dog first or to find another means to call them off the bed.   But they need to learn you mean business and their behavior like that won't be tolerated.  Period.

We went to Mass O'Danea today.   It was his first big outing with a crowd of other dogs, other people and children.   He did great!    I didn't allow any kids to pet him today, but we did allow pets from people who approached him with calm ease, no eye contact, and just allowed him to approach on his own.   Many of them gave him some yummy hot dogs that I had brought with me.    Wilson was so good that many times he just opted to lay down on his own and observe what was going on around him.   He watched the kids and I think it's was a success to have children around that showed him he didn't have to worry about them at all.   He met several new puppy friends and had a few games of bite-face too :-)

Wilson attended Mass O'Danes for the first time
Photo by Jamie Smith

Oct 26 --
Days with no house accidents -- Two!

There is no better trainer than the pack.   I'm sure someone said that long before I did, but I don't know who.   If not, maybe I'll be famous!   Wilson absolutely loves Vinnie.  They are truly buds and when I take them out together Wilson reads Vinnie's energy and follows suit.

Last night I was able to walk both of them through a shopping area side by side on a nice loose leash, basically with my pinky finger.    I had over 250 pounds of dog walking alongside me!

We sat for a while and watch as families ate dinner near the fountain and children played.  Wilson was able to lay down on his side and relax a bit.   He didn't close his eyes, but he did allow himself to just hang out a while.

Later a mom and child came rushing past and he got a little grumbly, but was easily corrected.  There is no lunging, barking, really any movement at all -- just a very low almost imperceptable rumble.   We're working on it everyday.

Today, he met two new women, and a golden retriever.  One was a client and her dog, another was a visitor to my house.  Both went great!  We controlled the greeting with the classic Cesar Milan "no touch, no talk, no eye contact" and allowing Wilson to approach with manners on his terms.   After a few minutes, he loves everyone!

Oct 25 --
Days with no house accidents -- One!   Very exciting (even though the day is not quite over.... I'm still counting it!)

It has been an awesome day!   Wilson and I went to a park I had never been to before.  The weather was beautiful and so was the park.   Wilson worked his training commands while we were with a client.  It was good distraction training for both dogs!   

There was a children's playground that we walked a couple fo times and Wilson was able to keep his focus on me, and still do Sit & Down commands with children playing nearby.   I didn't see the same stress I saw on Tuesdsay, but there is still work to do for sure. 

Wilson got some play time with the clients dog Maggie today and they had a ball -- running, jumping, and rolling in the grass.  He met Maggie's dad with overall ease.   Maggie's mom on the other hand, lingered just a tiny bit too long on greeting and we heard a low rumble of discomfort.   I asked her to give Wilson some space as I corrected Wilson.  It was great to see her simply withdraw without panic or fear, just to stop and step back.  This calm reaction goes a long way in helping a dog work through their stress.  5 minutes later he approached her for petting :-)

Oct 24 --
Days with no house accidents -- zero :-(   I know you all are wondering how this is possible.   He will do it right in front of you, and is completely stealth overnight.   So when all else fails -- you can only blame yourself for the failure and try something else.   Alarm set tonight at 3am.  And he will be tethered to me otherwise until this is resolved so I can grab him by the leash and escort him out.   Until today -- no amount of disruption would stop him once he started.   Today, I had books in my hand as he started to pee in my floor -- I threw them on the floor, yelled like someone was killing me and he went straight to his crate.   I think he figured out I don't like that.

We made it to Duncan Donuts today and he met a new friend, Star.  He also approached my friend for some petting.   There were no children there today, which is highly unusual, but it was a good day.  He relaxed with us and just observed the scenery.  No dialted pupils, no panting, just present in the moment.

Oct 23 --
Days with no house accidents -- zero :-(   Seriously Wilson?  You do it right in front of me! 

The outing at the park went great.   Wilson is definately a little reactive to children.   We walked for a while through the playground while there was only 1 or two children.   As more kids came we sat on a park bench and watched.  He was very attentive and observant.   As long as they were about 50 feet away everything was fine. We sat for about 15 minutes with kids doing what kids do -- running, squealing, crying, etc.   As 2-3 children came closer to the swing set the hair on his back bristled up, he growled a little, and got visibly a bit more stressed (panting, drool, dialted pupils, etc).   I offered treats which he had taken previously without any trouble, but he declined.   After about 2-3 minutes, we just quietly moved on our way.

You never know if a training session is going to be 5 minutes or 30 minutes.  The key is to read the dog effectively.  You don't want to push too far but you also don't want to avoid the scenario altogether.   I'd call it a success.   We'll go back tomorrow.

Wilson is doing well in his obedience practice so he went to Group Class tonight.  He is however quite the drama king and it really comes from just lacking confidence.   He's very smart though and in two days has caught up with lesson 3 other participants are working on!  I asked the prticipants in the class to approach Wilson and I as if we were passing each other on the street, and toss him some yummy treats and move on without petting.   He liked that a lot.  He also got to meet a new Great Dane Puppy tonight in class and did very well with the greeting.

Wilson is going to be just fine :-)

Oct 22 -- Training Begins

Days with no house accidents -- zero :-(

Wilson had a big day today!   We went out for a walk.  He was already walking nicely on a leash & he seems to enjoy going out for a walk.   He also seems to know what "sit" means so it took less than about 5 minutes to have him anticipating that he should sit when I stop walking.      

Done!   After his first lesson in Down.
Our 2nd outing today was to pratice the heel and auto-sit and to start working on Down.   This was not something he wanted to do.  Most dogs protest down on command the first few times.  Wilson gave me the body block, a soft mouth on my arm, planted his feet, yawned, tried to scratch, and vocalized his protest.  He tried everything he could to resist being placed in a Down.  Clearly, this is a new concept for him -- having to work on command.   I finally swept his front feet gently out from under him and placed him on the ground.  He got a nice back rub and lots of praise but he was not a fan of Down at first.  He rolled on his side, his back, anything he could think of.   Off we go in heel again, auto-sit, and repeat Down -- same protests for about 5 iterations of the practice.   And finally -- he caught on.    After a 5 or 6 successful practices, we ended the training session with lots of praise and other back-rub!  But his brain was officially melted.    (If only I could get that sort of reward for a workout).

After Wilson had a nice long nap, we went on an outing.  Wilson went to his first car wash.     He's doing super well, and I decided to take him for a ride and to see how things would go at PetSmart.  He was AWESOME!  He was highly alert -- but was able to work.  I was actually able to get him to Sit and Down at Petsmart, and to walk past several women working in the store with no issue.   He got lots of hotdogs and lots of praise for doing such a good job.   I wanted the whole outing to be a positive experience.   We didn't do any meet and greets with passersby.    We didn't encounter any children -- I intentionally went during school hours.

On high alert at his first PetSmart Outing -- he was able to calm before we left

Previous Weeks Content.

The K9 Coach
Dana Brigman, CDT, IACP, APDT

The K9 Coach is a Professional Certified Dog Trainer Serving Charlotte, NC, Matthews, NC and surrouding areas.

My mission is a better life for dogs as members of a forever family.
My goal is create training solutions for the home owner, to rehabilitate dogs from shelters and rescues, and to prevent dogs from dying alone as strays or owner surrenders in shelters due to unnecessary aggression or behavioral issues.

Tomorrow we go to the park after school just to observe his response and to have some positive rewards for the presence of children.