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Unleashed Reading…Helpful articles for healthy, happy pets

Articles herein are shared with permission via Chris Haworth / Manners Unleashed





Fear, Reaction and Aggressive Issues
Flea Season
Get Rid of the Food Bowl

Separation Anxiety
The Barker


The Barker
Article Written By: Chris Haworth / Manners Unleashed

Bark Bark Bark

Characteristics of a Barker

Studies have been done to try to determine which dogs are more likely to be barkers. Although there was no difference in the percentage of excessive barkers between males and females, there was a breed difference. Hounds, Terriers, and some herding breeds tend to bark more. That is not surprising, since this is one of the characteristics for which they were bred. Excessive barking can occur in purebred dogs as well as mixed breeds.

Reasons for Barking

Many excessively barking dogs do so out of boredom, loneliness, and frustration.  Other dogs bark out of fear or defense of their property. Being located near a busy sidewalk or other stimulus will cause many dogs to bark a lot. And, as discusses previously, some breeds have been bred to be vocal, so it can be difficult to eliminate an inherited trait.
Barking is a perfectly natural canine behavior and is one of the most difficult to modify, as it is a self-reinforcing activity for many dogs.

How to Reduce or Eliminate Barking

Walk and train daily! A physically and mentally exercised dog simply does not bark as much.

“But my dogs have a big back yard to run in all day.”

This does not take the place of putting a leash on your dog and going for a walk. Typically, any activity your dog does in the yard is unfocused, often destructive and a nuisance (barking) which they are rehearsing daily and being self-rewarded for.  They tend to become hyper-vigilant to every sight and sound when unsupervised, which can lead to excessive barking in other scenarios.

Walking at your side challenges and fulfills many of the natural canine instincts. It is mentally challenging as they learn to defer to you and exhibit attention, focus and self-control. They’re exposed to new sights, smells and stimuli, which is great for continued socialization and confidence building (two of the biggest reasons for excessive barking).

The walk is structured, and gives a sense of calm to your dog if done consistently. If you only manage 1-2 walks a week of course your pal will be overly stimulated, hyper-motivated and act as if he’s a maniac, on walks and at home. If you’re avoiding walks with your dog because of his leash manners or reactivity to other people or animals, then those are the behaviors that need addressed.

Mental activity such as daily short training sessions for foundation manners uses 25% of the body’s energy. Think how tired you are after a busy day at work. Even if you’ve been sitting all day, brain work is draining. Remember, a tired dog is a quiet dog.

Give them back a job other than barking at every sound and leaf that blows across the yard.   Put the food bowl away, and let them work for their calories.  (See Get Rid of the Food Bowl for a Better Behaved dog).

Other helpful techniques:

Train a “quiet” command. Say “quiet” or “enough” wait for 1 second of silence and reward. Lengthen the duration of silence slowly and always praise your dog’s efforts.
It’s easier to modify the environment than the dog. If he’s yapping at passerby’s or delivery people, then it becomes a cycle of bark/reward. Here comes the mailman…”Woof, woof, woof!”, And there he goes. HA! Showed him. The dog is reinforced time and time again as people walk by the house. This can set the stage for hyper-vigilance as we discussed earlier. Close the curtains or confine him to another part of the house.  Problem solved.
“He starts barking as soon as I get on the phone!”

* “Woof woof”, you look at them, maybe say something to them. The very nature of barking gets your attention, even if it’s just a look, you’ve reinforced that behavior. The dog has learned to bark in variety of situations, many of them inappropriate, to get something it desires. Remember to acknowledge and praise them when they’re quiet and ignore them when they are barking for attention. If they’ve been successful with the bark/reward game for any length of time than it will take longer. Actually it will get worse before it gets better. They will go through something called an extinction burst. Because barking has been successful in the past, but suddenly doesn’t work anymore…they will bark louder and longer to achieve their goal. Knowing this should give you the wherewithal to endure and ignore! If a behavior isn’t reinforced it will extinguish.

* Yelling may reinforce your dogs barking as well. It tends to add to the excitement or anxiety of the already intense situation, and make it worse. If you need to interrupt the noise try dropping a can of pennies on the floor or smacking a counter top, then immediately redirect him to another activity.

* Train an incompatible behavior. My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel barks when people drive into the driveway. I’m teaching him to go to the porch, sit and wait until I’ve given a release cue. It gives him something to think about and tends to diffuse the vocalizations. Inside he is to go to a certain spot in the entry and sit. It’s a process, so be patient and consistent.

* I always recommend training first but the citronella spray collar has worked effectively in conjunction with a training program for many clients. There are also many high frequency collars and devices that may work for your dog as well.

These are just a few techniques to get you started. I understand that every dog and situation is different, and that there are few behaviors as frustrating as excessive, incessant barking.

For more helpful articles by Chris be sure to check out: http://www.mannersunleashed.com/blog/

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Fear, Reactive and Aggression Issues
Article Written By: Chris Haworth / Manners Unleashed

Resource/food guarding, on-leash reactivity to other dogs, nervous around kids, and on and on and on..

This is a huge subject and unfortunately, all too common. Often times however, the behavior seems far worse than it is, and is a fairly straight forward remedy. Other times, well, it’s not so straight forward.

I know you’re embarrassed, frustrated, and wish he would just STOP it.

This is a behavioral issue near and dear to me. My 2 year old aussie/ border collie, Emmy, had many reactive issues. I was certainly in denial early on, “how could my own dog be aggressive?” It forced me to do many, many hours of reading, research and seminars on the subject.

Since those early days I now know that much of her behavior is genetic. Other manifestations of her breeding are a low tactile/high opposition reflex. This basically means she doesn’t necessarily like to be touched, especially by strangers, has restraint issues and is extremely space sensitive.

This is true not only of many herding breeds but more dogs than you would think. Labrador and Golden Retreivers tend to propagate the Myth that every dog should be friendly, happy and outgoing to everyone in every situation, all the time. Wow, that’s alot to ask. We don’t expect that from a cat, or horse or any other animal. Heck, are we friendly, happy and outgoing, to everyone, all of the time…not me.

I’m not saying that it’s okay for your dog to act aggressively or “over the top” whenever he feels the need. To the contrary, let’s teach him alternative ways to deal with his fears, anxiety, hyper motivation, etc. as well as showing you ways to be a better advocate and leader for your buddy.

There’s enough information about aggression and related issues to give a seminar here, but for now suffice to say, there are ways to help most cases.

Emmy and I now live a reactive free life. She can be off leash anywhere without me worrying about an inappropriate response, loves other dogs and doesn’t mind the occassional pet from a stranger. I also use her during some of the training sessions with aggressive, “over the top” dogs to act as the neutral, well mannerd, calm dog. She’s got great body language which helps to put the other dog at ease.

We’ve come along way for sure. Maybe we can help you. If I feel like a professional other than myself would be more appropriate for your case I also have some fantastic referrals. Drop me an email or give me a call. Let’s talk about some options.

For more helpful articles by Chris be sure to check out:
http://www.mannersunleashed.com/blog/

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Flea Season
Article Written By: Chris Haworth / Manners Unleashed

Flea season is upon us, and the best control for these adaptable, blood sucking annoyances is prevention.

There are many flea remedies on the market that may be safer than even just a few years ago; however, anything that says “avoid contact with skin” is something I may think twice about putting on my dog.

These are some alternative suggestions:

Flea Facts

Fleas are highly adaptable and can reproduce at an alarming rate. The lifespan of a flea is about 90 days and a single flea can lay as many as 60 eggs per day.
Eggs take from 2 days to 2 weeks to hatch depending on temperature and humidity.
Most fleas are living in your dog’s environment, rather than in its fur. Every flea found on your dog may mean approximately 30 more in your house.
Most flea eggs are laid when humidity is high and temperatures are between 65°-85° F, and they prefer dark, moist environments.
Fleas can be carriers of tapeworm.

Controlling the tiny beast:

First off, inspect your dog. Typically fleas will congregate around the base of the tail and belly. If you find small black particles in your dog’s coat, it is probably flea feces. If you’re unsure place a few on a damp paper towel. If they turn red, you have fleas to hunt down.

Diet- Good nutrition will reduce your dog’s susceptibility to fleas by increasing his immune system and encouraging a healthy skin and coat. Dry unhealthy skin causes itching and reactions to fleabites are more severe. The fleas didn’t cause the skin ailments; they only worsened a previously existing problem. By feeding a high-quality, natural diet, free of additives and preservatives, you improve your dogs health and increase protection from fleas.

Fatty acids that are rich in omega-3, like fish oil and flax seed oil, also promote a healthy coat and may help to combat inflammatory reactions caused by flea bites.

(Check my Resources & Tools page for Natural Health food stores).

Grooming- Bathe your dog weekly with a natural, mild shampoo (no chemical laden flea control shampoos please). Start at the neck and liberally lather the entire body. Leave on for at least five minute as the suds drown the fleas.

For most dogs five minutes in a tub is an eternity, so I always arm myself with small, tasty treats or better yet, a thin thin layer of peanut butter covering a plate? As I hold the plate for my dog to lick, the minutes tick away. Sneaky! And you’ve added a positive association to bath time.

Finish with a lemon rinse and allow to air dry. (Lemon rinse recipe: slice a whole lemon and drop into a pitcher of very hot water, allow to steep overnight…easy, huh?). The residual citrus odor is a flea repellant, and also helps tone unhealthy skin.

There are many great natural sprays containing other safe repellants such as: pennyroyal, neem & tea tree oil, eucalyptus, cedar wood, or lavender that I use daily as well. (Found at the natural health stores on Resources & Tools page.)

Flea combs are also effective. They remove fleas and help monitor the extent of your bug problem. Have a dish of soapy water near to drown any found fleas.

The Yard- Keep the flea population down in your yard by using beneficial Nematodes. These are microscopic worms that eat flea larvae and many other lawn infesting pests. They can be applied using a watering can or a sprayer attached to your hose. Place them in moist, shady spots around your house as nematodes nor fleas survive in hot sun. Many garden stores carry them (Watsons & the Windmill), as well as online sources.

The House- Vacuum often & thoroughly! I sprinkle a teaspoon or so of Diatomaceous earth (a desiccant which dehydrates fleas) on the floor and vacuum it up so any flea larvae are killed in the bag. Vacuum carpets, under furniture, beds and throw rugs, sofa cushions, corners and floorboards. This is where the majority of your problem lives. By breaking the flea’s lifecycle every few days they won’t be able to proliferate.

Once you’ve cleaned well apply Diatomaceous earth. It cuts through the flea’s exterior causing it to dehydrate and die. It’s safe to use around pets and children. Follow the package directions. I get mine from The Mud Bay Granary.

Wash any bedding the dog sleeps on 1-2 times per week in a hot soapy washing machine and dry in a hot dryer. I recommend choosing bedding that’s easy to wash often during flea season.

Daily I quickly sprits my dogs with a natural repellant that’s good for their skin and coat, and once a week I do flea prevention around the house, wash all the bedding, vacuum then re-apply the diatomaceous earth in the house and my vehicle. It really doesn’t take long and prevention is much easier than trying to eradicate a full on flea infestation!

Help from your veterinarian

Dogs can have an allergy to the saliva of a flea bite, so it may only take one bite to send your dog into an “itching, scratching” nightmare. For these dogs natural methods may not be sufficient to relieve the problem and you may need to speak to your vet about alternative treatment.

Good Luck and enjoy a healthy dog & flea free season.

For more helpful articles by Chris be sure to check out: http://www.mannersunleashed.com/blog/

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Get Rid of the Food bowl
Article Written By: Chris Haworth / Manners Unleashed

…for a happier, better behaved dog

Think about where dogs evolved from thousands of years ago. They used to have to hunt and scavenge for food most of the hours of the day using the innate senses bestowed upon them. Once they caught or found something, their energies would be directed at dissecting and consuming it.

Now we put the same, pre-measured food in the same bowl, in the same spot at the same time each day. Or worse, leave it down all day like a buffet. Boring!

Hardly surprising then, they have found other ways to fill the hours. Excessive barking, destroying furniture and shoes, digging up your flower beds, anxiety behaviors, and so on. We’ve essentially taken away their job, in an attempt to make their life better.

When I have a consultation with a new client, regardless of the behavior I’m there to solve, one of the first questions I ask is how, when and where the dog receives their food.

Most dog breeds were bred to perform a job for humans, most dogs have some level of prey drive, and ALL dogs like to eat. I’m not buying the excuse “my dog isn’t food motivated.” As long as there are no medical conditions inhibiting appetite, eating is a survival instinct and dogs want grub.


Have you ever seen your dog play with their food, hide it, dump it or toss it around? They’re trying to make it more interesting. Give them back their job and make finding calories more challenging.

Kongs

Kongs are a must in every dogs home. They’re a solid rubber, hollow toy perfect for filling with food. Start very simply by filling it with your dogs kibble and a few higher value chunks of food like chicken or low fat turkey dogs. As your dog investigates and moves the Kong around, food falls out. They soon learn how to expediently remove the contents.

Once they start to understand that this is their new food bowl you can start making it more challenging.  Fill with kibble about two-thirds full and top off with something squishy like Kong Paste or peanut butter. Now your pal learns to lick out the soft stuff to get to the kibble. At this point you can go two directions. Either freeze the concoction to make the top layer harder to get through or add less kibble and more soft food.

When I add more soft food to the Kong I start to use healthier choices such as a great quality canned food, cottage cheese or scrambled eggs. If you go with more soft stuff don’t start freezing yet. Allow them to be successful extracting it at room temperature first.  For the dogs that never really get to that inch or so of soft food at the very bottom, I simply fill the bottom third with kibble.

Both my dogs are “kong-a-holics” and always prefer a challenging Kong to a boring, easy bowl of food. My favorite Kong stuffing recipes for Emmy and Cody are slightly scrambled eggs, mixed with kibble. The omelet like goo goes in the Kong, and the Kong goes in the freezer for several hours.  I also keep several cans of high quality dog food on hand and layer tuna & cottage cheese with it in the Kong. Again it goes in the freezer. Freezing makes it less messy and takes longer for the dog to work at it.  If I need to be gone several hours I make 3 Kongs each dog. If I would like them to be quiet for an hour while I work with clients I’ll give them 1 each.


Feeding Kong’s in the crate is great way to give a positive association with being alone. For new puppies that need to be put in a laundry room for several hours, this is another safe and positive association. For appropriate size and strength go to Kongcompany.com or ask the experts at the Health food stores I’ve recommended in training resources & tools.

Chicken Feed Method

Dogs are expert “sniffers” That’s the natural way they used to find food. Instead of putting their breakfast in a food bowl, take their morning portion of kibble and toss it all over the back yard or in every room of the house. It keeps them mentally focused & stimulated making sure they’ve tracked down each calorie. And when they’re busy hunting kibble, they’re not busy digging, barking and destroying furniture.

Come & Find It

This is a great training exercise, as well as an interactive way to feed your dog. You can even be sitting in your favorite chair watching the news while you do it.

Measure out your dog’s meal and place it in a cup or bowl next to you. Toss a few pieces of kibble to the other side of the room and say “find it!” or “get it!” Let them hunt it up themselves. If you keep showing them where it is or repeating your cue they’ll learn to rely on it. Soon they will become self reliant and their instincts will improve. When they find it say “Cody, Come” in a cheerful voice (say it only once). When they come back to you feed a few pieces w/ lots of verbal praise as well. Then toss a few and say “find it!”, again. This is an excellent way to practice the recall and interactively feed your pal. Great rainy night game as well.


Tip: if they insist on jumping on you or trying to get to the food simply pick up the food, stand up and leave without ANY emotion. They’ll soon learn to respect your space and understand that as their fair consistent leader, you’ll be in charge of doling out the good stuff.

Buster Cube, Talk-to-me ball, & other interactive feeding toys

Are fun & suitable for filling with kibble.

Pack leader (Dominance = Priority access to resources)

Portion out your dogs daily allowance of food for the day and put it in baggie. Keep several pieces in a pocket and throughout the day ask your dog to do simple commands. Sometimes you’ll deliver food, sometimes a game of fetch and sometimes verbal praise. He’ll never know what the reward will be only that he enjoys being asked. Every once in a while I’ll just toss a small handful out of the blue, and say “find it!”

I keep training and playing equally exciting and rewarding for my dogs. Sit gets a game of tug, come gets “find it!”, and stay gets a belly rub.

Mix it up; let your dog enjoy working for his daily meals, as well as playtime and attention.

Get rid of the food bowl…for your happier, well behaved dog.

For more helpful articles by Chris be sure to check out: http://www.mannersunleashed.com/blog/

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Tips for Separation Anxiety
Article Written By: Chris Haworth / Manners Unleashed


I most often see this in small breeds and rescues, but it can certainly afflict any dog. It’s heart breaking, pathetic and extremely frustrating for all. There are many layers of treatment to address this behavior, and owner dedication and patience is a must, but often the problem can be remedied.


Here are a few tips:

1) More exercise. There’s a reason I put this first on the list. Pent up energy comes out one way or another, usually in a negative form. Get up early and walk your dog for 20-30 minutes. Exercise raises seratonin levels (the neurochemical in the brain that promotes a sense of calm) and can help reduce anxiety.

2) No excessive attention prior to departure or upon return. Keep “hellos and goodbyes” low -key.
Most behaviorists recommend ignoring the dog completely for 10-20 minutes when you leave and come home. I know  this is difficult, but essential to get your stressed out buddy over this thing.  The key here is that you don’t acknowledge them until they are calm…If that’s 3-4 minutes, than that’s when you can say ‘hello’—calmly!

3) Change your departure routine. Grab your coat and keys and then just go sit down. Walk out the door, then come back 10 seconds later, like nothing happened. Modify the sequence of events so your dog doesn’t get a chance to even start the anxiety symptoms let alone get into a full-blown panic attack. This starts to change the mental habituation that accompanies the physical manifestations. Practice on the weekends as well when you have more time to dedicate to  desensitizing your dog to your leaving.

4) Be careful not to reward insecurity or timidity. Act as though everything is fine. Does this sound familiar? “Mama loves you –Be  a good boy– it’s OK!”      Yep, we’ve all been there, but QUIT IT. It can actually become a cue or a switch to intensify the anxiety.

5) Weaken her dependency on family members when you are home. This doesn’t mean you can’t interact with her, just don’t be so excessive and accessible with attention and affection. The key here is to get your pal calm and confident on their own, whether you’re home or not. This again is difficult on family members. Think of it as ‘tough” love.

6) Natural remedies such as Rescue Remedy  or a Dog Appeasing Pheromone Collar can calm anxious behavior and gently take the edge off.

7) For severe cases, Anti anxiety medications are often used, (talk to your vet about appropriate options) and in conjunction with the other behavior modification techniques, your dog could be more mentally and physically healthy and happy.


For more helpful articles by Chris be sure to check out: http://www.mannersunleashed.com/blog/

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