Blog posts tagged with ‘training’

We found 18 results tagged with 'training'.

Problem barking in dogs

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Dogs are social animals

Barking and other forms of vocalisation serve as a form of communication and are considered normal behaviour for dogs.  Tensions arise when a dog is considered to bark excessively.  Here we take a look at what you can do to help prevent and reduce problem barking.  

Dogs are social animals

Barking is considered a normal behaviour for dogs.  Barking and other forms of vocalisation serve as a form of communication between individuals, such as to alert to an approaching threat.  This ability was a seen as a good thing when humans were domesticating the dog.  Breeds were developed based on individuals who were very good at alerting us to danger.  A dog's hearing is about 4 times better than ours, and things they can hear (from some distance away) can be very arousing to a dog, whose response is often to bark.

Many dogs also vocalise when they are frustrated, excited or anxious.  If dogs are left alone for long periods, they may become under-exercised, under-stimulated and may bark as a result.         

Tensions arise when a dog is considered to bark excessively.

How can I help prevent my puppy becoming a barker?

There are quite a few things you can do when you first bring your puppy home to reduce the chance they will develop into an excessive barker.

Positive Socialisation

Ensure that your puppy is positively socialised, and that this continues for life.

Socialising your puppy involves introducing them to a whole range of new experiences including meeting different types of people, dogs, other animals, places, smells and noises.  It’s important that these interactions are a positive experience for your puppy.  Introduce them to new situations gently and reward them for calm behaviour. 

Dogs that are under socialised may become fearful and suspicious of things they haven't encountered before.  These things will be seen as a potential threat, and something that the dog then barks at.

Encourage calm

Develop a routine that encourages your puppy to display quiet and calm behaviour.  Teach your puppy that it's OK to be alone for short periods and encourage their love of chew toys which helps keep them mentally stimulated.

Crate training helps reinforce happy, quiet time and teaches your puppy that the night is for sleeping, not for barking at cats or possums!

Training

Teach your puppy to 'speak' on cue, along with the alternative command 'shush' to stop the barking.  This is a lot easier than trying to teach your puppy to be quiet when they are barking excessively (and in an aroused state).  By practising these commands when your puppy is calm and focused, they'll make the learning connection.  You then have an effective cue to offer them when you want them to stop barking.

My dog seems to be barking a lot, what can I do?

Ideally, determine the cause of the barking.  Keep a barking diary where all members of the household (as well as neighbours) note down the times of day when the dog barks.  From this, it may be possible to understand what triggers the barking. 

Another option, especially if your dog only seems to bark when you’re not home, is to use video surveillance to observe what your dog is doing.  Only when you understand why your dog barks can you start working to reduce the noise.  Options include changing the way your dog is managed, changing the places they have access to, covering over fences or gates to reduce visual stimuli or allowing your dog a better view of the world.  Sometimes the answer is to bring your dog inside the house when they are most likely to bark, or when you're not at home.

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Puppies and chewing behaviour

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This is an image of a puppy with a stick in their mouth

Nom nom nom

Given that puppies learn through mouthing behaviours, it's normal for puppies and dogs to chew on objects.  Many pet parents find that chewing behaviours start to increase in intensity when their puppy is around 4 to 6 months of age due to teething.  Chewing helps a dog achieve a number of things, so let's take a look at how you can help manage chewing behaviours in your puppy.

Nom nom nom

Given that puppies learn through mouthing behaviours, it's normal for puppies and dogs to chew on objects.  Many pet parents find that chewing behaviours start to increase in intensity when their puppy is around 4 to 6 months of age due to teething.  

Chewing helps a dog achieve a number of things.  For puppies, it’s a way to help relieve teething pain when the gums are sore and new teeth are erupting.  For older dogs, chewing helps exercise the jaws to keep them strong, as well as promoting dental health by helping keep teeth clean. 

Chewing also plays an important role in alleviating boredom and can help a puppy self-soothe which relieves mild anxiety or frustration. 

Tensions can arise over what is being chewed - a chew toy is fine, your new shoes are not!

How can I stop my puppy from chewing everything?

Given the benefits that chewing provides to puppies, we don't want to inhibit the behaviour but we do need to teach a puppy what is okay to chew and what is not. 

By offering a range of chew toys, and rotating them regularly to maintain their novelty factor and prevent boredom, you can show your puppy what is acceptable to chew.  Provide a range of different toys with varying shapes, textures and flavours. 

As part of puppy proofing your home, be sure to remove any items you value out of your puppy’s reach to prevent them being chewed.  This also helps ensure your puppy's safety (think chewed electrical wires). 

Ensure that the chew toys you offer your puppy are safe.  Inspect them regularly for signs of wear and replace any damaged toys.

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Urine marking in cats

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This is an image of a cat relaxing.

Communication

In the wild, cats are mostly solitary, they rarely meet with other cats.  However, they still need ways to communicate effectively with each other.  Urine marking, or spraying, is one clever they can exchange information.

Communication

In the wild, cats are mostly solitary, they rarely meet with other cats.  However, they still need ways to communicate effectively with each other, such as to establish territory or indicate a willingness to mate.  Cats also try to avoid conflict. 

One communication method they use is via a system of scent-based ‘signposts’ using urine marking or spraying.  

Your kitten or cat may display urine marking behaviour too, and what's more, these signposts are continually refreshed to keep them up to date.

Spraying or a litter tray problem?

It’s important to work out if your cat is urine marking or having an issue with using their litter tray.  Remember that cats who urine mark will also urinate in their litter trays.  However, there are some clues to look for to help you work out what’s going on.

Vertical surfaces

Urine marking usually occurs on vertical surfaces.  A cat about to spray tends to back up to a vertical object such as a wall and displays an erect body posture with tail pointing straight up in the air.  Urine is then sprayed onto the vertical surface.  It’s not uncommon to see the cat’s tail and even their whole body twitch while they’re spraying.

Volume

The amount of urine that a cat releases for marking purposes is usually less than the amount they void when urinating in their litter tray.

Smell

As marking is a form of communication for cats, sprayed urine is particularly strong smelling.  This is because it contains chemicals including pheromones that help to convey additional information.

What should I do if my cat is spraying?

In some cases, urine marking can be a sign that your kitten or cat is feeling insecure, perhaps believing their territory is under threat.  If you’re having to deal with unwanted wee, don’t worry – there are lots of things you can do to help prevent it:

• Have your cat desexed to reduce their desire to urine mark.  Desexed cats of either gender can still spray, but entire male cats tend to do it the most

• Avoid using ammonia and chlorine cleaners as these smell similar to cat urine and may actually encourage marking behaviour

• Try not to clean up the wee while your cat is around as disrupting the scent might make them more stressed

• Clean the affected area with a 10% solution of biological washing powder, and spray it with an alcohol such as surgical spirit

• Soon after you’ve cleaned the area, encourage your cat to play there as this will help them feel more secure

If the problem continues, talk to your veterinarian for further advice.

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Scratching behaviour in cats

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

Scratching

Scratching is a normal feline behaviour that serves a range of important functions for a cat.  However, in the interest of a happy co-existence with your kitty, it’s important that this behaviour is directed onto appropriate surfaces.  Training is best started early on in kittenhood.  Read on for tips to help save your furniture.

Why do cats scratch?

Scratching is a normal feline behaviour. 

It’s used to groom nails, for marking territory (both visual as well as scent signals) and to help cats stretch and condition their muscles.  Most cats have 5 claws on each front leg and 4 claws on each hind leg, for a grand total of 18 claws.

Given that scratching serves a range of functions for a cat, it’s not a behaviour that can be stopped.  It is however a behaviour that needs to be directed onto appropriate surfaces.  Your kitten needs you to help them understand what is okay to scratch and what isn’t.  The effort you put in will be a life saver for your furniture and other valuables.

What do cats like to scratch?

In general, cats are attracted to textured surfaces and items they can sink their claws into.  However, different cats prefer different scratching surfaces, so initially you might like to offer a range of surfaces and see what your kitty is fond of.  Common materials to try are sisal rope, cardboard, carpet, rough fabrics and wood. 

Cats will often have a scratch after they wake from a nap and when they want to mark their territory.  They also like to scratch when they’re excited about something.

How do I prevent my cat scratching the furniture?

Ideally begin training to use the scratching post while your cat is young.  Supply both vertical and horizontal surfaces covered with your cat’s preferred material.  Make the scratching surfaces desirable by placing catnip or treats on them and train your cat by encouraging them with a toy held part way up, and reward the cat for using it.

If the cat prefers another material, such as the couch, attempt to get an appropriate item covered in a similar material.

Never punish your kitten or cat if you see them scratching an item they shouldn’t, as this will only teach them that scratching the item while you are around is scary.  Your cat will likely continue to scratch it when you are gone.

A better method is to cover the inappropriate item in double sided sticky tape or another material such as plastic which makes the item aversive at all times.  Meanwhile, positively reinforce the cat with praise and treats when they scratch the appropriate item.

Nail care can also help reduce inappropriate scratching.  Pair nail trims with positive reinforcement eg treats to create a positive association for your cat.

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Socialising your kitten

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This is an image of two kittens playing.

Positive socialisation practices are critical for your kitten                                                              

What your kitten experiences in their first few months will influence the rest of their life.  In fact, their early experiences shape their future character.  Cats that are under socialised may become shy and fearful.  In contrast, kittens that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident adults.   

Positive socialisation practices are critical for your kitten                                                              

What your kitten experiences in their first few months will influence the rest of their life.  In fact, their early experiences shape their future character.  Cats that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident adults.  

Socialising your kitten involves introducing them to a whole range of new experiences including meeting different types of people, other animals, places, smells and noises. 

Positive socialisation

Be sure to present socialisation experiences in a gentle way that helps your kitten become accustomed to them.  Reward your kitten for calm behaviour and move only at a pace your kitten can handle.  If your kitten seems nervous or fearful, that's your cue to slow things down.  The aim is for new experiences to be presented in a positive way so that your kitten can develop into a relaxed, confident cat.  

Remember that it's still important that socialisation continues throughout your cat's life. 

Here are some typical situations in which kittens should be socialised:

Environment

  • Drive in the car
  • Trips to the vet.  Have your kitten weighed, handled and restrained for a health check
  • Using a cat carrier
  • At home, exposure to different floor surfaces, steps, tools, cleaning, working, music, pram
  • Outside (while on a harness) exposure to bicycles, gardening

Other animals

  • Other cats and kittens (all well-socialised and fully vaccinated)
  • Dogs (only cat-friendly ones)
  • Farm animals
  • Birds (in a manner where the bird is safely able to get away)
  • Any other animal they may come in contact with during their lifetime

Situations

  • Visitors in the home,
  • Being groomed
  • Having a picture taken
  • Being held (in a manner where they are never afraid and never dropped)
  • Tooth brushing
  • Nails clipped
  • Playing with a variety of toys

People

  • Children
  • People wearing glasses, hats
  • People with beards
  • Loud and timid people 

By providing your kitten with a wide range of positive socialisation experiences, you'll help them develop into a sociable and well-adjusted cat.

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Walking on the leash

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Did someone say 'walkies'?

Getting out and about on walking adventures is one of the best parts of life with a dog, but all puppies need time to get used to walking on the leash.  Follow our tips and you'll be strutting your stuff in no time!

Did someone say 'walkies'?

Getting out and about on walking adventures is one of the best parts of life with a dog, but all puppies need time to get used to walking on the leash. 

Follow our tips and you'll be strutting your stuff in no time!

How do I get my puppy used to walking on a leash?

Practice attaching a light leash to your puppy’s collar and encourage them to walk around the room.  Initially, allow your puppy to drag the leash along the floor.  Next, pick up the end of the leash and encourage your puppy to come toward you.

As your puppy moves forward, praise and reward them.  If your puppy sits and refuses to move, change direction and call your puppy towards you with an enthusiastic tone of voice.  When your puppy comes, praise and reward them. 

Keep practice sessions short and fun, so that your puppy enjoys them and views the leash in a positive way. 

How do I stop my puppy from pulling on the leash?

Your puppy should learn that pulling on the leash results in stopping, rather than going forward. 

Attach a leash to your puppy's collar and then encourage your puppy to stand near your side.  Attract your puppy’s attention by saying their name and then start walking forward.  When your puppy is walking by your side without pulling, praise and reward them. 

If your puppy pulls on the leash, stop so that your puppy cannot continue forward.  You can then encourage your puppy back to your side and begin moving forward again.  It can help to lure your puppy into position with a treat or a toy. 

Special harnesses and halters are available which can help prevent large or strong puppies from pulling on the leash.  These may be useful but should not be used as a substitute for training a puppy to walk without pulling.

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Ouch! Puppy mouthing and biting behaviour

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This is an image of a puppy with a toy.

Sharp puppy teeth

Spend a few minutes with a young puppy and you’ll soon become aware of just how sharp those puppy teeth are.  Puppy play can quickly turn rough, but it’s important to remember that your puppy isn’t trying to hurt you.  Puppies are learning about the world, and they use their mouths to explore.  You need to help your puppy learn appropriate behaviour, so that play time is a fun and bonding experience for you both.  Let’s take a look at what you can do.

Sharp puppy teeth

Spend a few minutes with a young puppy and you’ll soon become aware of just how sharp those puppy teeth are.  Puppy play can quickly turn rough, but it’s important to remember that your puppy isn’t trying to hurt you.  Puppies are learning about the world, and they use their mouths to explore.  You need to help your puppy learn appropriate behaviour, so that play time is a fun and bonding experience for you both.  Let’s take a look at what you can do.

Play fighting

Puppies aren't able to use their hands, so they use their mouths instead.  It's normal for puppies to bare their teeth, growl, nip and bite their litter mates.  In fact, play fighting begins to develop in puppies from 2 to 3 weeks of age.  Puppies also mouth on things around them which often includes their mum.  It's often mum who is the first one to let a puppy know if a bite is too hard, or play is too rough as she starts to teach her litter 'bite inhibition'.  A puppy's litter mates also help with this too.

Learning bite inhibition

It's important to teach puppies to inhibit their biting when interacting with humans and other pets.  What might seem cute while your puppy is young can become a serious problem as your puppy grows.  You don't want your puppy biting hard or biting children.  Bite inhibition is something that every puppy needs to learn, and they'll need your help.  That way they learn how to control themselves so they can develop into a well behaved, balanced adult dog.

What should I do if my puppy is mouthing and nipping?

Think about how you play with your puppy, and encourage gentle play right from the start.  Remember that your little puppy will grow, and you want them to be well mannered around people of all ages.

A range of safe and appropriately sized chew toys are a must for every puppy.  When play becomes more vigorous, redirect your puppy by placing a chew toy in their mouth.  Your puppy then learns that this is an appropriate item to mouth on.  In the early stages, you'll need to redirect your puppy a lot so be consistent and have plenty of chew toys on hand.  

If your puppy bites you, make a short sharp yelping sound just like a puppy in pain would.  Your puppy is most likely to be startled and stop biting you.  At the same time withdraw your attention from your puppy and ignore it.  This shows your puppy that when they bite, the fun and play stops.  When your puppy is calm, gently praise and reward them. 

Positive reinforcement

Remember not to punish your puppy, as this affects the bond you are trying to develop with them.  It also gives your puppy attention when they are displaying undesirable behaviour which can back-fire on you and actually encourage the behaviour that you don't want to see.  When your puppy engages in well-mannered play, offer food rewards and verbal praise to reinforce the behaviour.  

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Crate training your puppy

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This is an image of a puppy sitting.

Have you considered a crate for your puppy?  

By nature, dogs like cosy, enclosed spaces to rest in, especially if they're feeling unsure about things.  A crate provides this safe refuge for a puppy, who can seek it for some time out.  A crate is also a great way of teaching your puppy the boundaries of the house while keeping them safe and secure.  Crates can be made of various materials such as plastic or collapsible fabric or wire.  A crate should be big enough so that your dog can stand up, turn around and lie down.     

Have you considered a crate for your puppy?  

By nature, dogs like cosy, enclosed spaces to rest in, especially if they're feeling unsure about things.  A crate provides this safe refuge for a puppy, who can seek it for some time out.

A crate is also a great way of teaching your puppy the boundaries of the house while keeping them safe and secure.  Crates can be made of various materials such as plastic or collapsible fabric or wire.  A crate should be big enough so that your dog can stand up, turn around and lie down.                                                                                                                                                               

How do I 'crate train' my puppy?

Initially, your puppy may need to be ‘crate trained’ and this should always be done in a positive way and at a pace that suits the puppy.  Ensure that the crate looks inviting and let your puppy go over and investigate it.  

 

You can place food rewards around the entrance of the crate, as well as place a few inside.  Offer your puppy verbal praise to encourage them to view the crate as a great place to spend time.  Your puppy will soon be keen to explore.

 

Once they enter the crate, don’t close the crate door just yet, let your puppy enter and leave the crate as they would like.

With practice, your puppy will become more comfortable spending time in their crate and you can close the door.  If your puppy whines, ignore this behaviour and let them out as soon as they are quiet.  Slowly build up the amount of time your puppy uses their crate. 

Using the crate at night

When your puppy is happy spending some time in their crate, you can start to use it at night.  Provide your puppy with chew toys to help them self-settle in their crate.  Remember that young puppies will need regular toilet breaks every 2 to 3 hours, so set your alarm clock.  Trips to the toileting area should be done in a quiet and calm manner, so as not to signal to the puppy this is play time.  Once puppy has relieved themselves place them back in their crate to settle. 

With some practice and patience, your puppy will come to view their crate as a wonderful place.  They now have a safe place to go when they need a rest or some time out.  A crate can come in handy for other reasons too such as if your pet needs to be confined, for example, after surgery.  A crate also makes a great portable home, which can help a pet feel settled if you go on holiday together.

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