Is Tug Of War A Good Game To Play With Your Dog?

Is Tug Of War A Good Game To Play With Your Dog?

Tug of war is a very common game that many dog parents and trainers use to either just play or train their dog.

Tug of war game is basically a game where you get a rope or a toy, you give it to your dog to grab and then you start pulling. A lot of dogs love this game.

So is it a good idea to play this game?

Yes, BUT you need to be careful with 3 things: 

  1. Your dog needs to knows how to release on cue when you ask. 
  2. Never let your dog get aggressive while playing. 
  3. You need to know how to finish the game, not your dog.

Tug of war should be a game. Every game has rules. There’s no such a thing where a game doesn’t have rules. That doesn’t exist. If there’s no rules, there’s no game and if there’s no game there’s no fun. 

Try to go to a soccer field, throw a ball and explain no rules. Then add unruly kids with no boundaries. See what happens. GOOD LUCK! Obviously that’s no going to end up well. 

So if you want to play tug of war make sure you master those 3 things. 

What problems can tug of war cause?

Tug of war can become problematic If you can’t master those 3 things. If you can’y control the game I would not advice to play tug of war. Why? Because tug of war is a game that nurtures and encourages prey drive behavior. This is not a bad thing on itself, but if you don’t know what you’re doing it can lead to all kinds of direct and indirect problems.

A Direct problem is your dog getting aggressive while playing and developing resource guarding aggression. 

An indirect problem is that your dog learns to get his or her way. This not only can damage your relationship, but can show up in other behaviors or situations. Your dog starts learning that when he/she gets aggressive you listen to him/her. Aggression slowly gets reinforced because it works. And precisely because It works, your dog will try it in different situations. 

NEVER reinforce aggression or leave it unchecked. “This is when I hear stories like: “Out of the blue my dog did this or that . _- I was shocked!” It wasn’t out of the blue. It’s was slowly brewing because you did not pay attention to important details. 

Having said that, is not that hard to put some structure and rules while playing tug of war. If you do so this game not only can be a lot of fun, but it can be a great activity to your dog out.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved January 2023

What’s The Difference Between Leash Reactivity And Leash Aggression?

What’s The Difference Between Leash Reactivity And Leash Aggression?

There’s been a lot of confusion between this two terms: leash reactivity and leash aggression. I’ve even read very strange and confusing explanations of these two labels. 

Let’s start with leash reactivity

Why’s is my dog reactive towards other dogs only on leash?

This a a very common problem, especially in big cities.  The outcome is usually your dog barking, lunging or attacking other dogs or humans when they are on leash. Sometimes dogs can redirect and bite it’s own handler when this happens. 

Most of the times very social dogs want to meet other dogs while they are walking on the leash. They have friendly intentions and they just want to say hi to other dogs. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Maybe the other dog has kennel cough, or doesn’t have the vaccines yet,or is an aggressive dog, or the owner just doesn’t want to stop. Maybe your is dog too crazy and the other dog or person doesn’t want to interact. 

When this happens dog parents tend to pull on the leash to keep their pup away from other dog/s out of respect.They restrain their dogs maintaining constant tension on the leash. When you do this consistently every day your dog slowly starts becoming more frustrated. You start noticing more excitement, some friendly barking, kind of wanting to say hi and you don’t think much of it.  Eventually this starts escalating and your dog start loosing it more and more. Suddenly one day your dog explodes and starts growling, lunging and showing teeth when he sees another dog. What started being friendly, it turned into frustration and ended up being aggression.

So what’s the difference between Leash Reactivity and leash Aggression?

The difference between leash reactivity and leash aggression it’s just a matter of intensity. Leash reactivity is just your dog pulling on the leash out of excitement trying to say hi to another dog. There could be barking, franticness and a lot of pulling, but your dog’s intentions are friendly. When you continue this behavior on leash your dog starts getting frustrated. Leash aggression is when that frustration starts penting up throughout time and it turns into aggression. At this point if you let your dog go it can turn to be a bite or a fight depending on the other dog’s response.  

Why does this happen?

This happens because the leash becomes the source of frustration and the leash pressure becomes the trigger. 

The problem here is never the dog. The problem is the human. There’s no leash without a human. So it’s either because of the constant tension on the leash provided by the human, or the human pulling or yanking at the wrong time with the leash. 

Leash aggression is always caused by the lack of leash communication skills between you and your pup. Wether you created the problem or you already adopted your pup with this problem, it was created by a human at some point.

Why is my dog biting me when he sees another dog?

This is called redirection. Some dogs with leash aggression when they are hold back and they don’t have an outlet of their aggression they redirect their frustration into whatever is closer to them. Sometimes is you, sometimes is another dog that is next to them and sometimes is another human. 

Do I need to use a prong collar or an electric collar to fix it?

No you don’t. You can, but there are different ways to solve this problem without having to use a prong collar, an e-collar or corrections. 

How do I know it’s leash aggression and not just aggression?

When your dog is social at doggy day care or can meet other dogs off leash, but is reactive only on leash, then it’s leash aggression. If your dog is always or sometimes aggressive with other dogs off leash, then it’s not leash aggression. Your dog needs to be socialized. Thats a different problem. Having said that, your dog can have both problems Leash aggression and poor socialization skills.

Will my dog grow out of it?

NO, if you don’t do anything about it, it will get worse.

Can you fix leash reactivity or leash aggression?

Yes! Absolutely. With proper training and good leash communication skills this can be fixed. Sometimes pretty fast without using corrections, prong collars or e collars. The first step is to make sure you can walk your dog with no tension on the leash on a regular basis.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved January 2023

How NOT To Enter A Dog Park With Your Dog 

How NOT To Enter A Dog Park With Your Dog 

Are Dog Parks Ok?

Dog parks or runs can be very beneficial for your dog if you know what you are doing. If you want to read more about dog parks click this link to learn more about it: Are Dog Parks A Good Idea?

 I’ve heard numerous well known trainers talking badly about parks and not recommending going any near them. This is usually because they are not specialized in Family Dog Training. They are usually specialized in agility, high obedience training, dog sports or working dogs.

How NOT to enter a dog park?

More often than not, well intentioned dog parents and dog trainers enter the park by asking their dog to sit, then wait and 10 seconds later they release their dog. Some more advanced obedience dogs they do this even without the leash. Wether you do this on leash or off leash is not relevant.

So what’s wrong with this? Isn’t this advanced obedience training?

Yes, but this is the wrong place to do this. Why? Because when you do obedience training you’re penting up your dog’s drive with a “command” or “cue” and your dog is waiting for a release. By the time you release, all that pent up energy and anticipation is like a balloon under water. So you are basically sending a torpedo to the park. Which means that your dog is most likely in the wrong state of mind. In other words your dog is on high excitement, high-arousal, high-drive mode, high dopamine etc. This mindset might work very well for performance and obedience. The problem is that at this sate they can miss a lot of social cues from other dogs and people. They also loose awareness of their environment, since they are mainly focused on a task or on you. Your obedience training can actually make it worse.

 If you are a very good trainer, your dog might listen to you, but at some point your dog is either going to get into trouble or attract trouble. And this is why Dog Trainers hate parks, because obedience doesn’t work well in parks. What works is a controlled state of mind on your dog where your dog slowly develops great dog social skills.

An even worse way to enter a dog park is restraining your dog on a leash, while your dog is pulling like a maniac and then unclipping the leash. If obedience (cue and release) is sending a torpedo, doing this is sending a nuclear missile. It’s most likely not going to end up well. 

So how do you enter a Dog Park?

The best way to enter a dog park is by calming your dog down.  Your dog should be with no tension on the leash and in a calm state of mind. This doesn’t mean your dog cannot run or play with other dogs. What this means is that your dog is in a state of mind where he or she can pick up on dog social cues and adjust to every dog. 

The more they practice self control and awareness, they better coping skills they get. This has to do with behavioral dog training not with obedience or advanced obedience training. Family dog training is 90% of the time behavioral training (state of mind), while obedience or advanced training is Classical or Operant Conditioning Training which is based on consequence (reward or punishment)

 Best well behaved dogs I’ve met are not from dog trainers, They are from dog owners that tap into this intuitively. They are not highly trained dogs that attract attention on instagram. They are well behaved happy dogs that no one notices or cares because they are just doing their thing. You will find most of this dogs in dog parks not on instagram accounts. 

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved January 2023

Are Dog Parks A Good Idea?

Are Dog Parks A Good Idea?

Are Dog Parks a good idea?

In my opinion the answer is YES, but like with most things it comes with some trade offs and responsibilities. I disagree with trainers that discourage people from using dog parks instead of training people on how to use them.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of the park you need to consider 3 things: 

  1. To raise and to have a well behave dog
  2. To have a solid recall 
  3. To look out for aggressive dogs or owners that are not paying attention to avoid trouble. 

What are the benefits?

Dog Parks or dog Runs are a great opportunity to let your dog off leash, socialize with other dogs and run for a bit if that’s what they need. Dogs usually love going to open outdoor spaces for a change and be around their own peers.

 If you live in a city, It’s also a great opportunity to be outdoors and get some fresh air. A lot of dog parks  are also beautiful. If you love nature it’s a great way to re-connect or disconnect from our daily routines. 

I truly believe that the benefits of Dog Parks and Dog Runs outweighs the drawbacks by far. In many cities and towns it’s a privilege to have spaces for dogs where they can socialize and run safely off leash. We should keep advocating for dogs with this kind of wins. 

I also think that is been a huge win from the dog community efforts. We should embrace it not criticize it. 

Why do dog parks have a bad rep?

I’ve  heard a lot of trainers and read many blogs not recommending Dog Parks because it’s going to ruin your dog’s training. I personally don’t make decisions out of fear. I think you’re much better off giving exposure and teaching coping skills to your dog than avoiding and making their world smaller out of fear. 

The other argument against dog runs is that things can happen in parks. Although this is true,  crime also happen in cities or towns. That doesn’t mean we need to run to the hills and live in the mountains out of fear. 

Why some dog trainers hate Parks?

This is usually because they are not specialized in Behavior or Family Dog Training. They try to impose their obedience training routines to their dog in the park. They get frustrated because other dogs jeopardize their training. This is fundamentally the wrong place to do this.

Most trainers do obedience training by putting their dogs on high arousal, high dopamine or high motivation mode. This dogs are usually focused on a task and/or on the trainer not on the other dogs. This tasks are usually commands like: “wait” (pent up energy) and release : “get it”(release of the pent up energy). Basically you’re putting your dog in the wrong state of mind and with a tunnel vision focused on you not on the environment around them. This can cause several potential problems: 

1 Your dog will miss social cues from other dogs. 

2.Your dog will get frustrated with other dogs for getting in the way of his obedience. 

3. If your dog is highly trained to the level of ignoring distractions, then other dogs will get frustrated with your dog for ignoring them. 

So, what kind of training should I do in dog parks?

A park is where you should focus your training first on behavior and social skills not on obedience. Social skills, self control and boundaries is what’s  going to give true freedom to your dog. When your dog has good social skills you’ll be able to let your dog off leash out of trust not out of your ability to micromanage every step out of the way.  

What’s the real issue?

The big gap between a well behaved dog and a dog with advanced obedience skills is greatly misunderstood. Behavior skills are based on self control. Obedience skllls are based on impulse control and high arousal training (high dopamine). A lot of dog trainers are confusing people with this, because they don’t know what they don’t know.

If you keep putting your dog on high drive obedience training in a dog park at some point your dog is going to get into trouble or attract trouble. This can feel very good and empowering for the human, but it’s not giving the dog the opportunity to cope and learn how to behave in the environment they’re in. This is basically the difference between behavioral training and obedience training.  Behavior Training is focused on the state of mind of your dog not on high performance. I’m not saying you should not do any obedience training in the park, but the main focus should be on behavioral training not on obedience training.  

In conclusion

I’ve been going for over 15 years to dog parks in different countries and it’s been a great source of joy and happiness for me and for my dogs. My dog’s training have not been ruined by other dogs. As a matter of fact its’ a great place to practice advanced ‘Recall’, dog socialization and build self confidence if you put some effort into it. 

I have hundreds of case studies where Dog parks and dog runs had helped dogs in many different ways.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved December 2022

What Is “Extinction” In Dog Training?

What Is “Extinction” In Dog Training?

What is Extinction In Dog Training?

Extinction in dog training refers to the process of discontinuing a certain behavior by removing the reward or reinforcement that the dog receives for that behavior. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as by ignoring the behavior or by providing an incompatible behavior. 

What’s an example of extinction?

For example, if a dog barks excessively, the owner may choose to ignore the barking behavior instead of giving the dog attention or treats. This will eventually lead to the dog barking less, as the behavior is no longer reinforced by the owner’s attention. Similarly, if a dog jumps on people, the owner may teach the dog to sit instead of jump, and reward the dog when it sits. This will lead to the dog jumping less, as the behavior is no longer reinforced by the owner’s attention.

Another example is when a dog is barking for food, the owner may choose to not feed the dog until it stops barking. This will eventually lead to the dog barking less, as the behavior is no longer reinforced by the food.

Does it work?

Not always, but It’s important to note that extinction can be a slow process and it may take time for the dog to understand that the behavior is no longer being reinforced. Additionally, during the extinction process, the behavior may temporarily increase before it decreases, a phenomenon known as the “extinction burst.”

What’s the science behind extinction in dog Training?

In dog training, extinction refers to the process of decreasing or stopping a behavior by no longer reinforcing it. The science behind extinction in dog training is based on the principle of operant conditioning, which states that behaviors can be increased or decreased based on their consequences (rewards or punishments). When a behavior is no longer reinforced, it will eventually decrease in frequency and may eventually stop altogether, this is known as the extinction of a behavior.

What you need to know

Extinction is a tool in dog training, allowing owners to discontinue unwanted behaviors by removing the rewards or reinforcements that the dog receives for that behavior. One of the most important key takeaways is to be more mindful about what behaviors you’re reinforcing and rewarding without being aware of. Ex: a  lot of dog parents give a lot of affection and love when their dogs jump on them. Most of the time they are not even aware of it. Affection, love and engagement are all reinforces that are encouraging that behavior. Then they complain about their dogs jumping on them or on guests. 

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved January 2023