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Preview: Dog Training Tip of the Month from Animal Behavior College

Dog Training Tip of the Month from Animal Behavior College

Weekly tips about dog training.

Published: Fri, 26 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700


How to Give a Dog a Pill

Sat, 09 Jan 2015 00:00:00 -0700

The Pill Chore


Remember the time you hid your dog’s pill in his food bowl and watched him gobble his food while you smirked, thinking how clever you are? Then your dog walks away and the bowl’s only contents are the tiny pill. We’ve all been there. No matter what size the pill is, it can sometimes be a huge chore getting your dog to swallow it.

We’ve all tried disguising the pill in a piece of meat or cheese, and sometimes that is all it takes. For some dogs, though, that won’t do the trick. In fact, dogs can start to associate the bad taste or feeling from the pill (sometimes nausea from antibiotics) with food, which can lead to them not wanting to eat at all. This is a good reason to stay away from mixing the pill with your dog’s food at mealtime.

It can be extremely stressful when your dog keeps spitting out the pill and it starts dissolving as you keep stuffing it into different foods. Try these different methods to avoid the stress and hassle of pill administration.

Use a Distraction

Mix the pill(s) with other treats and hold a positive and upbeat training session. (Contact your local dog trainer to help you teach your dog fun tricks.) Your dog will be happily distracted by the training session and the numerous treat rewards that he won’t notice when the pill is mixed in.

Use Different Food

Don’t always disguise the pill in the same type of food. As mentioned earlier, dogs can associate the bad feeling from the pill with a type of food. If you always stuff the pill in cheese, your dog will decide that cheese is not his favorite. Instead, make sure to frequently give that type of food as a reward—you can put a pill in the cheese once out of the 20 times your dog gets it as a reward it.

Tilt Your Dog’s Head Up

Keeping your dog’s head up can help ensure he swallows the pill. If you give your dog one treat with a pill in it and he lowers his head while chewing, chances are you’ll see the pill drop to the floor. There are two ways to do this without having to physically hold your dog’s head up.

The first (and my dog’s favorite) is to use peanut butter. I hide the pill in a spoonful of peanut butter, give my dog a simple command, such as “Shake,” and then hold the spoon up while she licks it clean. The second way is to use the jackpot reward technique, wherein you give your dog several treats sequentially one right after the other. Have six or seven small treats in your hand along with the pill. Give your dog a simple command and then excitedly reward him with one treat right after the other, delivering the pill as the third or fourth reward.

Make it a Game

Lastly, you can try incorporating games. If your dog is good at catching treats in his mouth, make it a game by tossing 10 to 15 small treats (one at a time) with the pill mixed in the middle. Alternatively, consider using a puzzle toy. These toys are a lot of fun for dogs and provide them with mental stimulation. There are many different kinds, but they all involve your dog either pushing with his nose or pawing a piece of the puzzle to reveal a treat. Your dog will be so focused on getting all of the treats that he won’t notice the pill mixed in.

If you are still experiencing trouble administering pills to your dog, consult with your local veterinarian or dog trainer.

By Cara Leiderman

How to Catch a Stray Dog

Fri, 04 Dec 2014 00:00:00 -0700

Catching a Loose Dog


At one time or another while driving, we have all seen a dog wandering hopelessly around a street. He could have gotten out of his yard, or perhaps was dumped by his owner. Either way, if you are a caring person, your first thought is to try and catch him. Here are a few tips that can make it easier, and safer, for you to catch a loose dog.

Have a slip lead and offer treats

Make sure that you have a lead handy as a stray dog might not have a collar. A slip lead is the best tool. Treats would also be helpful. If a dog has been wandering for a while, he might be very hungry and more willing to approach you if you have food. Try throwing a few treats toward the dog and then turn sideways so as not to frighten him.

Some dogs might come right up to you, happily accepting your help, while others might be frightened and run in the opposite direction. Do not grab at a loose dog as some will be very scared and sudden movements might frighten the dog even more. Instead, move slowly and don’t try to immobilize the dog.

Run away from the dog

A common mistake people make when trying to catch a dog is chasing it. Have you ever noticed that when you chase your own dog he just runs away and acts like it is a big game? That is exactly what a loose dog will do as well. You are actually better off running in the opposite direction in the hopes that the dog will then chase you.

Calling to the dog or patting your legs in an attempt to get the dog to come to you is another frequent error. If the dog is in a heightened state, this could cause him to react negatively. He could bolt in the other direction and possibly run right into a dangerous situation.

Use calming signals

While dogs don’t understand the English language, they do understand body language. You should use calming signals to show the dog you mean him no harm. A few of these signals include yawning, blinking and moving from the side instead of head on. In addition, you should approach slowly and lower yourself to the ground. You are less likely to look intimidating if you are on the dog’s level.

Use a magnet dog

As dogs are pack animals, they could be more likely to trust a four-legged friend over a two-legged one. You can use what is known as a “magnet dog” to lure the wandering pup to you. The magnet dog should be friendly and playful. This may entice the dog to come closer to you so you can safely catch him.

Trap him in a confined area

Finally, if possible, you should attempt to use a yard or a gate to fence the dog in. This will trap him in a confined area until you can call animal control to come rescue him.

While your intentions are good, you can’t really know how the dog is feeling about your rescue mission. Remember that safety must be your main concern—yours and the dogs. Make sure to call animal control to assist with the situation.

By Brittany Sorgenstein

How to Bond with Your Dog

Tue, 03 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0700

Bonding With Your Dog


Studies have shown that dogs become severely depressed in shelters after just a few weeks of being there—and some dogs are there for much longer. Luckily, most adopted dogs will happily adjust quickly to their new family and home. However, there are some dogs who need a little extra help to feel comfortable and bond with the other animals and humans in their new household.

To learn about proper introductions between dogs in a household, read Animal Behavior College’s training tip titled “Introduction of Multiple Pets into the Same Household: Dog vs. Dog

Establish Your Status as Leader

To start, help your dog understand that you are the leader. Dogs who know who their leader is don’t have to take the leadership role themselves, making them feel more confident and relaxed. Leadership exercises include eating before you feed your dog, walking through doorways first, and not allowing your dog on the couch or your bed. To review all of the exercises for establishing your role as the leader, read the training tip titled “Leadership Exercises

Enroll in a Fun Class

Many people will enroll in a group basic obedience class with their newly adopted dog and while this benefits most, sometimes it isn’t enough for dogs who haven’t bonded with their handler yet. If you have a dog like this, consider enrolling in a trick class. Trick classes are generally lighter and more positive than obedience classes and are a lot of fun for the dogs and handlers. Agility is another type of class to consider. Agility classes really help shy or fearful dogs gain confidence and bond with their handlers. There are many other fun adventures or game-style classes for dogs that are worth looking into, such as nose work, Flyball, disc, and dock-diving.

While basic obedience is important for every dog to know, it might be helpful to start with something that’s just for fun first. Then, enroll in a group class for obedience or consult with a dog trainer in a private lesson.

Communicate Clearly

Clear communication is essential, especially when working with a shy dog. For example, many people tell their dogs, “Off,” when the dog is on the couch, but fail to tell her what they want her to do instead. This creates a confused and insecure dog who won’t rely on their direction. It is important to consult with a professional dog trainer to make sure your technique is correct. Only use positive techniques when working to bond with a dog. Reward your dog when she does something good by using long and slow strokes to pet her and give her a great food treat or chew toy. You can also consider learning about pet massage for your dog.

Exercise With Your Dog

Lastly, exercising your dog on a daily basis greatly helps her bond with you. You can go for a walk or hike, or play fetch in your backyard. Always have a positive attitude and give your dog clear and loving guidance. If after a few weeks of practicing these techniques, you are still not seeing the results you want, don’t hesitate to contact a local dog trainer for more tips on bonding with your newly adopted dog.

By Cara Lederman

Training Your Dog Through Your Tone

Fri, 09 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0700

Watch Your Tone


Building a strong relationship with your dog is essential to successful dog training. At Animal Behavior College, we teach the importance of positive-reinforcement training. This style of training strengthens the bond and allows for clear communication between owners and their dogs. Clear communication and having an understanding of what your dog responds to best will help you greatly in your training.

Dogs respond best to a happy and upbeat tone of voice. This is critical when you need to redirect your dog. If your dog is barking at something, say his name followed by “That’ll Do!” and, if necessary and your dog is on a leash, walk backwards to assist your dog with turning his body so he can face you. Once you have your dog’s attention, praise him and then distract him for a few minutes by practicing some known obedience cues. Barking is a self-rewarding behavior, so if you use a happy tone of voice it will attract him. Your dog will realize it is rewarding for him to focus on you. Below are scenarios where you should watch your tone.

Attacking Another Dog

When a dog is barking and lunging at another dog or person, it is common for owners to yell “No!” at their dog. However, yelling usually doesn’t make the dog stop and turn around to focus on the owner. The dog might just think his owner is joining his barking to get the bad person or dog away.

Ruining Your Furniture

Another scenario is when an owner finds a chewed up pillow and calls the dog over to yell “Bad Dog!” Many think their dog understands that chewing the pillow was bad because of his dog's response, which is usually cowering with his tail between his legs or submissively lying on his back. Unfortunately, the dog doesn’t make the connection between his owner’s anger and the chewed pillow—the dog is just responding to the tone of voice.

Playing with Other Dogs

Another important instance to remember to use an upbeat tone of voice is when your dog is becoming too emotional when playing with another dog. What begins as appropriate play between two dogs can escalate into a fight if the dogs are not periodically separated and thus become too aroused. Before your dog gets to this level, use that happy voice to call him over to you. At that point, reward him and have him in a down-stay for a few minutes before returning to play. Of course, always have a backup plan for these situations, such as a deterrent spray, if you are unable to redirect the dogs and a fight breaks out. Remembering to stay calm and confident when working with your dog will bring great results. Dogs are sensitive to the emotions of their owners, so use that knowledge when communicating with your dog. If you are in doubt of your techniques with your dog, don’t hesitate to contact your local certified dog trainer.

By Cara Lederman

When Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

Fri, 22 May 2014 00:00:00 -0700

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation anxiety is one of the most difficult problem behaviors to address. It is also extremely hard to witness. Not only is it a problem for the owner, but the dog is affected negatively as well. The levels of separation anxiety vary greatly, as do the symptoms. It is important to treat the anxiety as soon as possible, as your dog could potentially hurt himself.

Separation Anxiety Symptoms:

  • Barking or howling: This could be a symptom if the barking or howling is not triggered by any other stimuli.

  • Chewing or digging: Some dogs will chew or dig at doorways when left alone. This could result in injuries such as broken teeth or nails.
  • Escaping: This could occur when your dog is left alone. He might try to dig at or escape through windows. This is another time where the result can be broken nails or scraped paws.

  • Pacing: If you notice that your dog is pacing in a specific pattern, this might be the result of separation anxiety.

Note: If your dog is doing any of the above behaviors when you are present, the cause could be something other than separation anxiety.
To solve the issue of separation anxiety, you must be patient. It is a long process that takes dedication and understanding.

Crate For Comfort

One of the basic tools you can use is a crate. The crate serves as a “den” for your dog and should be a place where he feels comfortable. You need to desensitize your dog to his crate and make it an enjoyable place for him to be. Provide him with a stuffed Kong and plenty of chew toys when he’s crated. This will give your dog a comfortable place for him to go while you are not at home.

Homecoming Desensitization

If you are like many people, you probably give your dog a lot of attention when you get home. However, you might not realize that this could be the cause of your dog’s anxiety. It is important to not make your coming and going a big deal. You should ignore your dog for a few minutes prior to departing and when coming home. You can desensitize your dog to your leaving by going through your normal routine. Put on your shoes, pick up your keys and walk out the door. In the beginning, only leave for a few seconds, then come back in. Continue to do this while slowly increasing the time you are outside.

Background Noise

You could also play some music or leave the television on when you leave. This gives the dog the idea that he is not alone.

Be A Leader

It is also important that your dog feels that you are a strong leader. You should implement all the leadership exercises as explained in the tip “Leadership Exercises” under Canine Communication. If your dog knows you are his leader, he is less likely to feel anxious when he is alone.

We all know we cannot be with our four-legged friends all the time, but by employing these few tips, you can ensure your dog will be happy and healthy while you are away.