Category Archives: Dog Behaviors

Dog Separation Anxiety

We know that 2020 has been an unusual year both for our canine friends and us. Your dog may have been used to you and the kids being home with the COVID restrictions and they were loving every minute of the extra attention! However, with some kids going back-to-school and some parents going back to the office, your dog may be exhibiting signs of loneliness and stress that manifests itself in the form of separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety creates behavior issues that can range from mild to severe, from barking for 5 minutes to tearing apart drywall. Remember that dogs are pack animals and don’t understand the concept of being alone. Symptoms of separation anxiety may include:

  • Destruction. Have you ever come home to the stuffing out of all your couch cushions? Your dog may chew on the furniture or anything they can get their teeth on.
  • Escape. To find you or rejoin you, your dog may chew through a door or scratch a window frame or dig large holes under a fence. In some severe cases, dogs have been known to throw themselves through a plate glass window. This can be very dangerous!
  • Urinating or defecating. Dogs that are normally housetrained may poop or pee in the house upon your departure.
  • Barking and howling. Some dogs may bark uncontrollably when their parents leave, which can be very disturbing to the neighbors.
  • Excessive drooling and sweating in your absence: Your dog might also drink excessively to make up for the lost fluids.
  • Pacing and Panting: This behavior is usually displayed when your dog suspects that you’re getting ready to leave the house. Some dogs can also show signs of depression during the pre-departure period.

Getting Ready for Separation

Here are some tips to help your dog overcome separation anxiety:

  • Start by leaving your dog for short periods of time. Depending on the severity of the separation anxiety, you may have to start with 5-minute increments and then increase the time as your dog becomes comfortable with being alone.
  • Leave your dog with some interactive toys like food puzzles or Kongs.
  • Before you leave, make sure you take your dog for some exercise. A tired dog is less likely to misbehave!
  • If you have been crate training your dog, he may be comfortable being left in the crate while you are gone. Giving him the run of the house could lead to destruction.
  • Do not punish your dog for bad behavior after you come home.  Dogs relate punishment to their current behavior so they will be unable to link your actions to their previous misdeeds.

If you need help with separation anxiety, Greg Knows Dogs can help! Maybe it’s time as the kids go back-to-school for your dog to go back as well!

Greg Knows Dogs Training

Greg Knows Dogs Featured in 614 Magazine!

Reprinted from July 2019 Issue of 614
Greg Knows Dogs Helps Dogs and Their Human Companions Learn Together
By Laura Dachenbach

The love in the eyes of your dog as it sits at your feet is truly heart-warming. Making you happy is what makes your dog happy. That’s why your dog needs rules – to know what makes you happy. Enter Greg Schneider. About 15 years ago, Schneider turned his career skills in education, coaching and counseling to the canine world and began Greg Knows Dogs, an in-home dog training program. Having trained over 2,000 of Central Ohio’s, it’s perhaps fair to call him a bona fide dog whisperer. However, Schneider insists, “I’m really not teaching dogs. I’m teaching people.” (614) sought out Schneider’s advice for what every well-behaved dog should know, and how to get to that point.

(614) What are the basics that every dog should know?
GS: Number one is “come”. “Stay” would be another one. There’s something that I call voice control. Let’s say your dog is running towards another dog, you should be able to stop that dog with your voice. I think those kinds of things. Probably the number one thing people call me about is what I call “door manners.” The doorbell rings, their dog goes crazy, barking, jumping, trying to run out the door – so having a boundary your dog needs to stay behind while you greet your guests, or sign for your package, or get your pizza.

What do you think is the ideal training age?
I’ve worked with folks who are literally on their way home from the breeder. The value of working with a dog that young is that you can get right on top of the housetraining issues. And then there’s a whole raft of behaviors that I call “puppy nonsense”: mouthing, nipping, chewing, jumping, destroying things. So if you want to get on the preventive side of that, the earlier you work with someone, the better. If those things are going well, then you want to work on commands, we can wait a few months […]. What I’ve usually found is that “come” is not usually reliable until they are six months of age; their brains are just not developed enough […]. So for a pup I would say, three, four, five months. Maybe four months. Adult dogs we can start anytime.

What bad habits do owners inadvertently get their dogs into?
I usually get calls from people saying something like, “My dog runs the show here.” So just being firm and having some rules just overall so the dog can look to you for guidance, look to you for direction, One of the things I have found is when people are trying to teach their dog to walk, they let the dog pull into other people […] or to interact with another dog. If we do that often enough, the dog basically says, “I don’t care about walking with you. I want to go meet the new person.” So I think teaching your dog to walk nicely by your side is probably something that people should focus on more than they do. I can’t stand retractable leashes. That’s a really good way to develop bad habits. And then probably not working on “come” enough and kind of accepting that. If your dog doesn’t have the “come” command, you really run the risk of losing the dog, or the dog getting into mischief, maybe a fight with another dog.

Which is the most important factor when it comes to training: intelligence of temperament?

GS: I might go with temperament. Sometimes smart dogs are the hardest to train because they figure out workarounds […]. If we have a dog that is willing to please, I think we’ll go a lot further than the dog who is super-intelligent and can figure out ways around things. On the other hand, there are super-intelligent dogs [that are like], “You tell me once, I got it”. Overall though I’d say probably temperament is more important.

How can we better communicate with out dogs?
Better communication would be consistency, voice tone, and body language. So what I generally say is if you’re giving a command, you should use your normal speaking voice. If your using “come,” do that more like a “party invitation” voice. And if you’re having to give your dog a verbal correction, like “no” or “off,” a little bit sterner tone.

What’s it like working with older dogs?
Working with an older dog, I think, is actually easier. You don’t have to deal with the puppy nonsense. Most of the time when you have an older dog, they at least know “sit” and “stay,” and maybe “down”[…]. When I went through my training my dog was seven-years-old, and that was rough too because I was learning what to do too. Working with older dogs, actually it’s kind of nice.

Dog Training and Children

Dogs and children usually go together like peanut butter and jelly. Most people have fond memories of growing up with a dog, playing hide and seek, fetch and other fun games.

Dogs and kids can be the best of friends. However, they can be the worst of enemies if not trained properly.

Kids often think of dogs as jungle gyms. They try and ride them like a horse. They poke and prod various parts of their bodies. When it comes to roughhousing, they often don’t realize the strength of a dog.

It is no wonder that 2.25 million children are bitten by dogs each year.  All dogs, even well-trained gentle dogs, are capable of biting when provoked, especially when eating, sleeping or caring for puppies.

Some dogs just naturally get along with children, but not all dogs like children. In fact, some dogs are afraid of children.

Keeping Your Dog and Children Safe

The best way to ensure your dog behaves around children is through dog training. He needs to be taught boundaries, obedience and socialization so he knows how to react around people, before you even worry about little people. The best time to start is when he is a puppy —  to build a foundation of trust. Here is when he will learn not to jump on people, not to steal toys, and to get used to the volume of noise children can make!

Positive reinforcement goes a long way to getting dogs to adapt to children. When your dog is behaving well around children, be sure to give him a lot of praise and belly rubs. He will soon make a positive association between kids and fun.

Just like dogs, your children need to be trained how to act around the dog. A dog should be patted gently and should never be kicked or hurt. These types of behaviors can breed aggression in the dog.

Kids can be taught to help with the dog but they should always do so with adult supervision.

Dog Breeds That May Be Bad for Children
According to dogreference.com, here are 20 breeds of dogs that may have issues with children:

  1. Weimaraner
  2. Rottweilers
  3. Akita
  4. Alaskan Malamute
  5. Siberian Husky
  6. Saint Bernard
  7. Bull mastiff
  8. Australian shepherd
  9. Shih Tzu
  10. Jack Russell Terrier
  11. Pekingese
  12. Shar Pei
  13. Doberman
  14. Chow chow
  15. Chihuahua
  16. Dalmatian
  17. Greyhound
  18. French bulldog
  19. English toy spaniel
  20. Afghan hound

None of the breeds listed above are “bad” breeds. They may just not be right for small children because of their size, temperament, history or genetics.

Here are some tips to teach your children:

  1. Never approach an unfamiliar dog and always ask for permission before petting a dog.
  2. Never approach a dog that is eating, nursing puppies, or sleeping.
  3. Don’t poke, hit or pinch a dog.
  4. If a dog is in his crate, don’t disturb him. This is his safe haven where he can get away from all the noise and bustle.
  5. Understand there are times when the dog may want to be alone.

Tips for Dog Owners:

  1. Never leave a small baby or toddler alone with a dog.
  2. Teach your dog to treat the dog with respect and be careful of playing too rough or getting the dog all wound up.
  3. Make sure your pet is well socialized as a puppy so he is comfortable around dogs and other people.

If your dog reacts negatively when your child is around, contact me to help with this issue. With training, patience and respect, we can turn your home into a harmonious one where there is a safe relationship between your dogs and kids. 

Realistic Expectations of a Puppy

Who doesn’t love a puppy? These are sweet, warm and cuddly. All of their silly actions make you laugh. You want to love them and spoil them.

However, puppies are also high maintenance and dog owners need to have realistic expectations of their behaviors. Here are some of the mistakes that puppy owners make that Greg Knows Dogs can help you with:

  1. Puppies are too young to be trained. I have heard many clients say: “Oh that is just normal puppy behavior” as ways to excuse a puppy’s jumping, whining, mouthing and more. Realistically, puppies are a blank canvas. Puppies are like babies in that they are born innocent. Every noise, every place, every person is new to them. They don’t know the difference between right and wrong. Puppyhood is the perfect time to begin training your dog, to lay the foundation to be a well-behaved adult dog.
  2. Puppies will try and train you. Most dogs are natural born leaders, so if you don’t assume the role of pack leader, they will. They will try and get you to follow their schedule, their behaviors, unless you educate them right from the start. Once Greg Knows Dogs teaches you to be the leader, your puppy will start following your commands.
  3. Puppies can speak English. Unfortunately, no dogs can speak English. They will eventually learn a few words, but initially it is better to teach them in a language they understand. From their mom and their litter mates they learn to use guttural sounds and body language. Therefore, when you start to barrage your puppy with “sit” and “stay” commands, he has no idea what you are saying. Eventually he can learn the sound of certain spoken words and relate them to actions, but this will take awhile. Whereas a puppy learns its own canine language immediately. Greg Knows dogs uses voice commands and body language so your dog will start listening. I never use shock or prong collars to get your dog to behave. If your dog does something good, follow it with a belly rub and a lot of praise. He will know from your voice tone if he has done something wrong.
  4. Don’t correct the puppy after the fact. Never correct your puppy after a misbehavior. He won’t put two and two together. For instance, if your puppy has an accident in the house, admonishing him afterwards will not do any good. Know that if you don’t have the time to address his misbehavior right then, you may need to recreate the situation later.
  5. Puppies should be crate trained. Without a doubt, crate training makes housebreaking easier. But there are certain advantages and disadvantages you can talk with me about when it comes to the training plan we develop.

Every puppy needs to know basic obedience – sit, stay, and come. They also need to be housetrained. The breed of your pup and its maturity will determine the speed of the progress we can make.

With your help, your pup can either grow into a loving, loyal, trouble-free pet or a spoiled, misbehaving dog. Remember that newborns can’t walk right away. Your commitment to education and nurturing holds the key.

Does Your Dog’s Barking Bother You (or your Neighbors?)

When a dog barks endlessly, it is very annoying for you, your neighbors and believe it or not your dog. Dogs should not bark at inappropriate times like when visitors come to your door, the mail man passes your house, or at other dogs when out on a walk. This is called nuisance barking.

On the flip side, dogs bark and growl as a natural means of communication. You can’t expect a dog not to bark at certain times. It would be like asking a newborn baby not to sleep! What is important is to find out why your dog is barking. Since barking dogs is the number one complaint I receive from pet owners, I always get to the root of the issue first before I try and fix the behavior.

Dogs generally bark for the following reasons:

  • Believe it or not, the main reason dogs bark is because they are afraid. He is trying to tell you he is stressed. He is looking to you to keep him safe. If he doesn’t perceive you as the “pack leader”, he will assume the role himself. That means he gets to set the rules and boundaries and is in charge and it is his job to protect you. If your dog feels secure, he doesn’t need to bark or be on patrol to protect you from strangers at the door. You have to let him know that “you got this.”
  • Dogs are pack creatures and don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time. A dog left alone continuously may develop separation anxiety, which is a whole different issue. Dogs with separation anxiety will not only bark, but can destroy things or start marking in the house. Is it because your dog misses you so much? He is probably barking because he is bored.
  • Just like children who don’t want to share their toys, dogs are very protective and territorial of what they perceive as theirs. That could be as small as the food bowl or as large as your house and yard.
  • I once met a dog who only barked at men. Why? Maybe he was abused by a man prior to his adoption. Or what about the dog who barks at the vacuum cleaner? Some dogs only bark at specific things or people.
  • Dogs will often bark at other dogs as a means of saying hello.
  • If your dog barks because he is hungry and you immediately get his dinner, you have taught him to bark to get what he wants. Wait a few minutes to fill his dish

There is no magic wand to teach your dog NOT to bark. However, with consistent training and patience, getting your dog to bark only when it is appropriate is very doable.

Here’s a few tips for overcoming excessive barking:

  • Don’t shout at your dog … that will cause him to bark more. Speak calmly and firmly without yelling.
  • Issue a command to your dog and if her quiets down, offer a lot of praise. Do not use the words “shut up” as he won’t understand this.
  • Remember that a quiet dog is a calm dog. If he barks when you are away, try to wear him out before you go.
  • The sooner you stop the barking the better before it becomes a bad habit that is ingrained.

Most of all don’t let the excessive barking continue because it will only get worse and could develop into aggression. If your dog starts barking when you come through the door, do not look him in the eye or pet him until he calms down. Call me – Greg Schneider at Greg Knows Dogs because I’d love to help you have a well-behaved dog!

Practice Makes Perfect

As a Columbus dog trainer for 14 years and owner of Greg Knows Dogs, I am still amazed how my dog training methods help me to see a major change in dogs in the first lesson. In fact, some of my customers think I cast a spell on the dogs or have a magic wand! I always end the lesson with something like this…“Your dog is going to take a nap from working so hard with us.  He’s going to wake up and think he’s had a bad dream and is ready for things to get back to the way they were.”

The key to dog training is consistency and communication. I teach you how to communicate with your dog so that he understands what you are saying. Although dogs come to understand certain words in English, when you speak in a language your dog understands and combine this communication with body language, you will be successful in your dog training efforts.

Once I leave a client’s house after a lesson, the process of training your dog needs to continue. Here are some tips to keep you on track. You need to practice your training exercises every day to get the best results.

  • Establishing yourself as the “leader”. Remember your dog needs to see you as the “pack leader” (or “boss” or whatever word you want to use). Otherwise, he will try and take control and think you are an equal. He prefers to learn from you and have rules so he will feel more secure. You will need to be leader-like and consistent. I don’t mean being physical with your dog. Use authoritative voice tones. Your dog will regularly test you and you need to win every time. If you keep reinforcing good behavior, your dog will learn to follow your new rules and behave the way you want.
  • Reinforcement is Important. If you are correcting your dog and he shows signs of yielding, reinforce his response by leading him to the right behavior, then praising him. Praising is very important and should be done the minute your dog displays the behavior you want. If you don’t praise your dog, you are missing a golden opportunity for your dog to understand exactly what you want.
  • Once you have praised your dog, practice the behavior again until your dog learns door manners, not to jump up, not to bark at the doorbell, etc. You should keep repeating the same exercise until you are guiding and praising your dog for the right decision.
  • Set up temptations to misbehave. If you are distracted, your dog is distracted. If you are in a rush, don’t use this time to try and train your dog. The minute you let your dog get away with his bad behavior, he will revert and test you. Set up the opportunity to misbehave when you are ready to teach him.
  • Do your homework. I leave clients with a series of exercises to ensure success. The exercises are designed specifically for each client. I recommend doing the exercises several times each day at different times of day, in different places, etc.

Practice will pay off because you will have a happier dog who knows the rules. Remember your dog wants to please you – he just doesn’t know how until you show him!

Marijuana and Dogs

In a prior blog we discussed the preliminary advantages of CBD oil on dogs.  CBD is a non-hallucinogenic component of marijuana. However, if you have marijuana around the house or even smoke marijuana, know that it can be harmful to your dog.

Effects of Marijuana on Dogs
Can dogs get high from ingesting marijuana or even second-hand smoke? It’s absolutely possible and the effects can even be more dramatic in small dogs. In high quantities it could be life-threatening. Your dog may start acting paranoid, lethargic and over reactive.

Let’s look at the facts about ingesting marijuana, second hand smoke, and marijuana edibles.

Facts

  • According to Trupanion, a major pet insurance provider, it costs on average of $500 to treat marijuana toxicity in dogs. To date, Trupanion policies have paid nearly $180,000 in suspected marijuana toxicity.
  • Trupanion saw marijuana toxicity cases increase by 50% from 2014 to 2015. It’s not surprising that Colorado and Washington (where recreational marijuana is legal) have seen the highest cases of marijuana toxicity in dogs.
  • The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center saw a 144% increase in pet marijuana overdose calls from 2010 to 2015. Dogs account for 95% of marijuana toxicity cases.
  • How can you tell if a dog has broken into a stash? Effects of marijuana ingestion may include:
    • Lethargy
    • Lowered blood pressure
    • Loss of coordination
    • Incontinence
    • Breathing problems
    • Dilated pupils
    • Coma
    • Panting
    • Pacing
    • Hyperactivity
    • Seizures
    • Easily startled by sudden sounds
  • Secondhand smoke can cause a “contact” high in dogs. If a dog has any respiratory issues to begin with, inhaling second hand smoke can make the condition worse.
  • Marijuana edibles (candy, brownies) that contain chocolate can be doubly bad for your dog since chocolate alone is poisonous for a dog.

What to Do
What should you do if your dog has ingested marijuana? To be on the safe side, induce vomiting or take him to the vet.  Be frank with your veterinarian. Without full disclosure you dog may be tested for other poisons, which can be expensive.

Do You Walk Your Dog or Does He Walk You?

Although February brings National Walk Your Dog Day, the weather in Columbus has been so cold it feels more like Keep Your Dog Inside Month.

This past weekend I saw lots of folks out enjoying a walk with their dog.  The snow has melted, the salt has rinsed away and it was finally above 45 degrees!  Actually, I think I saw more dogs enjoying the walks than humans enjoying walks.  It seems lot of dogs had pent up energy and had forgotten to walk nicely.

There are a number of things we should consider as we get back to our regular dog walking routine:

Do you have a 2018 dog tag on your dog’s collar?

Have you checked your walking equipment?  Make sure the collar fits and the leash is not worn thin.  If you use a retractable leash, check the entire length to make sure it’s not frayed.

Is it time for new walking equipment?  Should you consider a harness, Gentle Leader or Halti?

Are there “mean” dogs on your walking route? You might want to get a can of PetSafe SprayShield.  It’s a citronella spray that distracts an attacking dog.

Here are some other tips for walking your dog correctly from #GregKnowsDogs:

  • Never let your dog walk in front of you so you will be viewed as the pack leader.
  • Using a 6’ leash allows you better control of your dog.
  • Let your dog explore and sniff around.
  • Always pick up your dog poop.
  • Make sure to bring plenty of water for your dog.
  • Watch out for ice in the winter (and salt) and hot pavements in the summer.
  • Wear reflective gear if you are walking your dog at night.

I recommend walks to heel, not just a walk with minimal pulling.  Call me at 614-859-0612 if you need help getting your pooch to walk nicely by your side.  I also recommend you start with short, focused walks as you get back into your routine.  Happy trails and tails!

Doggies Can Get Back-to-School Blues

August in Columbus can mean balmy weather, an end to swimming outdoors, and most importantly, the kids going back to school. Whether your kids love or dislike the thought, there is one thing for certain: it will be quite an adjustment for your dog.

It’s not unusual for dogs or even cats to get depressed when the kids go back to school. There has been noise and confusion all summer and generally more time to spend with the dog. Some dogs even trot to the neighborhood corner, faithfully awaiting the arrival of the school bus. Or stare out the window while the kids are in school, eagerly awaiting their arrival. In dog trainer terms we often call this separation anxiety – which can lead to excessive salivating, barking, whining, chewing, digging and other destructive behaviors. Separation anxiety occurs when dogs become upset because of separation from the people they’re attached to.

So how can you make this transition easier for your dog?

  • Exercise. A bored dog is a mischievous dog. You’re going to have to ramp up the time you spend exercising with your dog, because exercise releases endorphins which are feel-good chemicals in your dog’s brain. Take longer walks or walk more times/day. If the dog is going to be home alone all day, consider getting a dog walker.
  • Smell. It will calm the dog if you leave behind a t-shirt or an article of clothing from the child who is going to be gone. The scent will relax him.
  • Get Used to a new Routine. Dogs thrive on routine. A week before school starts, slowly back off the amount of time the kids spend with the dog so he learns he is no longer the center of attention. If you normally take your dog with you to run errands, leave him at home. As you are leaving for the day, don’t confuse him by saying sweetly: “We’ll be home soon.” If he is anxious about you leaving, your high-pitched tone will reinforce that it’s okay for him to feel anxious. Don’t make a big deal about leaving; instead, just leave without saying anything.
  • New Toys. Dogs love new toys but they can get quickly bored with them. After a few days of playing with a new toy, put it away for awhile and then rotate them. Dogs particularly love toys that contain food where they have to work to get the treats out. This keeps their mind and body occupied. Dogs need something to do while everyone is gone.
  • Games. After school, have the kids play a rousing game of Hide and Seek, tug-of-war or fetch. Games give your dog a chance to play and have fun.
  • Secure Indoors:When the kids leave for school, keep your dog securely inside your home so he isn’t tempted to follow your child down the street. A crate may make him feel comfortable and secure.

The main thing is you must establish a new routine. Although the dog will be excited when the kids get home, give everyone a few minutes to relax before play time begins so the dog doesn’t get too hyper.

Also consider this: it may be a good time for your dog to go back to school too with some private dog training classes!

 

What To Look For In a Good Dog Trainer

Almost everyone can own a dog but not everyone can train a dog. There are many dog trainers to choose from throughout Central Ohio, and like any profession, there are some good trainers and some not so good trainers.

Choosing a good dog trainer and a good vet are probably the most important decisions you will have to make regarding your dog. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the hardest.

So, I almost lose my mind when I get an e-mail asking me to send a quote with a request to not call the prospective client.  I just shake my head.  Is that individual really going to hire a trainer based on an e-mailed quote????

Here are some things to consider, and DISCUSS.

First, your expectations of a dog trainer need to be realistic. Do you have a puppy? Chances are you are not going to be able to overcome some of the behaviors until the dog has grown up a little.  For example, I tell clients a pup doesn’t reliably come when called until six months of age.  Expecting it to be reliable before six months is like asking a second-grader to do algebra.  Some can but generally it’s unrealistic.

Second, remember that no dog trainer can “fix” dogs. Dog trainers train owners to identify the problems they are having with their dog so the root of the problem can be discovered. For instance, does your dog bark because he is bored, afraid, or aggressive? The solutions will make a difference once the behavior is clearly identified. A dog trainer gives you the skills to change your relationship with your dog … you will be trained and changed as much as your dog.

The third thing to think about is your budget, which is clearly a personal choice.  I have clients say “Is that all?  I expected more”.  And I have clients say “I can’t possibly afford that”.  It‘s important to have your budget in mind before you call the trainer.

Ask The Dog Trainer:

  • What method of training do you use? Is it based on positive reinforcement (praise), negative reinforcement (shock and prong collars) or treat training?
  • How long do the training sessions last?
  • How many years of experience do you have and what courses have you taken to be a dog trainer?
  • How many visits are included?
  • Where does the training take place?
  • What members of the household should be involved in the training?
  • Do I need to buy equipment from the trainer?
  • Is there a different price to train multiple dogs? Do all the dogs in the household have to be trained?

Ask Yourself:

  • What is your dog’s major issue that you want to address? Ask yourself: is it basic obedience like “sit”, “come” and “stay” or is it more advanced training like stopping your dog’s aggression.
  • How much time each day do you have to reinforce the dog training methods you have been shown?

Hiring a trainer is a big decision.  Base it on your “fit” with the trainer, not the price.