Why Is My Dog Eating Everything? What Is Pica?

Why Is My Dog Eating Everything? What Is Pica?

Dogs have been known to have a voracious appetite and often eat things that are not even food. This behavior is commonly referred to as “pica” and it can be concerning for dog parents. This is not a very common behavior in my experience, which is why not everyone knows about it.

 But why do some dogs eat everything in sight?

Here are some reasons behind this behavior and what you can do to help your pup.

  • 1. Nutritional deficiencies: Dogs that consume non-food items may be lacking essential nutrients in their diet. They may be trying to fulfill their nutritional needs by eating items such as rocks, sticks, or even paper. Consult with a veterinarian to determine if your dog is deficient in any nutrients and if a dietary change is necessary.

  • 2. Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as digestive issues, can cause dogs to eat non-food items. If your dog is exhibiting this behavior, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health problems.

  • 3. Boredom: Dogs that are left alone for long periods of time with nothing to do can become bored and turn to eating anything they can find as a form of stimulation. Providing plenty of interactive toys and engaging activities can help alleviate this behavior.

  • 4. Hunger: A dog that is constantly hungry may start eating anything in sight to satisfy their hunger. Make sure your dog is being fed a well-balanced diet in appropriate portions and consider feeding them more frequently if necessary.

  • 5. Attention seeking: Some dogs may engage in pica behavior as a way to get attention from their owners. If this is the case, it is important to teach your dog self control and the ability to relax without seeking for attention on demand. Behavioral training will easily solve this problem rather than scolding or punishing them when they do.

In conclusion, there are several reasons why dogs may engage in pica behavior, including nutritional deficiencies, boredom, hunger, medical conditions, and attention seeking. If your dog is exhibiting this behavior, it is important to consult first with a veterinarian to determine if the underlying cause it’s medical and with a behavioral trainer to develop a plan to address it. With the right support and training, you can help your dog break this habit and lead a happy and healthy life.

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

Growling and Snarling. How Should I Handle It?

Growling and Snarling. How Should I Handle It?

Dogs growling and snarling can be both alarming and confusing for pet owners. Understanding what causes dogs to make these noises, as well as how to respond to them, is crucial in maintaining a safe and harmonious relationship between pet and owner.

Growling is usually a form of aggressive vocalizations that dogs use to communicate their feelings and intentions. It’s important to note that sometimes dogs growl while playing with other dogs or with humans. It’s very common for dogs to growl while they are playing tug of war for example. These kind of growling is not aggressive and it’s ok.

What’s the difference between growling and snarling?

 Growling is a low, guttural noise that a dog makes when it feels threatened or defensive, while snarling is a more intense and threatening noise that is often accompanied by bared teeth and a wrinkled snout.

Is growling or snarling always aggressive?

It is important to understand that growling and snarling are not inherently aggressive behaviors. Rather, they are ways that dogs communicate their discomfort, fear or dominance in a situation. For example, if a dog is growling at a stranger who has approached it too quickly, it may be trying to signal that it is scared and wants the person to back off. On the other hand, if a dog is snarling at another dog that is trying to take its food, it may be trying to assert its dominance and protect its resources.

Should I ignore growling and snarling?

NO. It is important to take growling and snarling seriously, as they can be indicators of deeper issues such as fear, anxiety, or aggression. These issues can escalate over time if not addressed, potentially putting the dog and its owner in harm’s way.

If you notice your dog growling or snarling, it is important to assess the situation and try to determine what is causing the behavior. This may involve seeking the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to identify any underlying issues and develop a training plan to address them.

What should I do when my dog growls?

If your dog is growling or snarling in a dangerous or aggressive situation, it is important to remove the dog from the situation and create a safe, low-stress environment for it. This may involve confining the dog to a crate or a separate room until he or she has calm down.

It is important to address a dog for growling or snarling and guide him or her into calmness as soon as possible in a safe manner. Reinforcing calm and relaxed behavior although it’s advisable ultimately won’t change the behavior itself. In order to modify aggressive behavior you need to change the emotional response of your dog to the trigger or environment that causes it at the moment it’s happening. This may need some high level skill of Behavior Training with a good plan and strategy. Your relationship with your dog is also a crucial factor to a successful outcome. Without a relationship where your dog fully trusts you and respects you, overcoming any behavioral issue is going to be close to impossible. 

What should I not do when my dog growls?

Do not scream or yell to your dog. This could potentially make it worse since it can trigger more predatory behavior and higher arousal on your dog. Do not make fast movements or rush into action. If you are in danger freeze and wait until the dog calms down. 

What other things can I do to prevent growling?

In addition to addressing any underlying behavioral issues, it is important to provide your dog with plenty of exercise, socialization, and self control skills to help keep your dog happy and relaxed. Incorporating behavioral training in your dog’s life paired with obedience training is a must in order to overcome aggression. 

What’s the most dangerous sign of aggression?

Growling or snarling are easy to read signs that can predict behavior. But the most dangerous sign of aggression is the one that is in silence. The dog usually makes eye contact with the target, tenses up and gets ready to strike. The next move is the bite and it happens fast. Never make eye contact with a tense or aggressive dog. If you do break the eye contact as fast as possible without moving your body. You only need to move your eyes. If you make fast movements with your body you’ll trigger the bite.

In conclusion, growling and snarling are important forms of communication that dogs use to signal their feelings and intentions. While these behaviors can be alarming, it is important to understand their underlying causes and take steps to address them in a positive and effective way. With the right training and care, you can help your dog overcome any behavioral issues and build a happy, harmonious relationship.

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

At What Stage Puppies Grow The Most?

At What Stage Puppies Grow The Most?

Puppies are adorable little bundles of energy that bring joy to many households. As they grow and develop, it’s important to understand at what stage they grow the most. A good frame work is to divide it into basically 4 stages:

The first stage of puppy growth occurs during the first few weeks of life. During this time, puppies are born with a very low birth weight and are primarily focused on survival. They will spend most of their time sleeping and nursing, and will not experience much physical growth.

The second stage of puppy growth begins around the age of 4-6 weeks and lasts until around 3-4 months of age. During this time, puppies will experience a rapid growth spurt, and will gain the majority of their weight and height. This is the stage when puppies will grow the most and where they still need a lot of sleep. 

The third stage of puppy growth begins around 3-4 months of age and lasts until around 6-8 months of age. During this time, puppies will continue to grow, but at a slower rate. They will also begin to develop their adult teeth and will start to lose their baby teeth.

The fourth stage of puppy growth begins around 6-8 months of age and lasts until around 1 year of age. During this time, puppies will reach their adult size and will begin to develop their adult body shape. They will also begin to reach sexual maturity during this stage.

It’s important to keep in mind that different breeds of dogs will have different growth patterns and will reach different milestones at different times. However, understanding the general stages of puppy growth can help you better understand and care for your furry friend.

It’s worth to pay attention that puppies grow the most during the second stage of growth, which begins around 4-6 weeks of age and lasts until around 3-4 months of age. This is when they will experience a rapid growth spurt, gaining most of their weight and height. This is also usually when they are still teething and their attention spin is very low, so they can get a little more feisty.

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

Why Is My Dog Chasing His Tail?

Why Is My Dog Chasing His Tail?

Dogs are known for their playful and curious nature, and a common behaviors is chasing their tail. But why do dogs chase their tails? Here are some of the reasons behind this behavior:

  • 1. Entertainment : Some Dogs need more mental and physical stimulation than others. In order to stay healthy and happy sometimes they tend to resort to self-entertainment, such as tail chasing.
  • 2. Fixation or obsession. Some dogs can develop an obsession or fixation and they can’t stop doing it for a long period of time. When this happens it feels off and it does not look like entertainment from the outside. Sometimes they can injure themselves 
  • 3. Instinctual behavior: Chasing their tails may be an instinctual behavior passed down from their wild ancestors. Wild dogs used to chase their tails to catch fleas, ticks, and other parasites.
  • 4. As an outlet of excitement and happiness. Some breeds like Pomeranians tend to spin around as an outlet of excitement and expression of happiness. 
  • 5. Attention-seeking behavior: Dogs love attention, and some may chase their tails as a way of getting it from their owners. If the dog receives positive reinforcement, such as attention, treats or praise, for chasing its tail, it may continue to do so as a way of seeking attention.
  • 6. Medical Reasons: In some cases, tail chasing can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as skin allergies, anal gland problems, or neurological disorders. If your dog is excessively chasing its tail, it is important to have it examined by a veterinarian to rule out any medical problems.

In conclusion, tail chasing is a common behavior among dogs and can be driven by a variety of reasons, including boredom, instinct, attention-seeking, and medical conditions. It is important to understand the underlying cause of the behavior and provide the necessary stimulation, attention, or medical treatment to keep your dog happy and healthy.

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

What is The Difference Between Obedience Training and Behavior Training? 

What is The Difference Between Obedience Training and Behavior Training? 

 

There is a big difference between Obedience Training and Behavior Training. These two methods or approaches are usually misunderstood even among some professional dog trainers. I very often see a lot of dog trainers trying to solve behavior problems with obedience ( “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “leave it”, “go to your place”  etc).  Flooding your dog with cues and commands does not change the underlying behaviors that are usually already imprinted or conditioned in the dog.

But before we dive into the difference of these two approaches and how we can integrate them, I want you to ask this bext question:

 

Do you want a family dog or a highly trained dog?

 

Answering this question and having clarity on what you want or need from your dog can safe you a lot of time, headaches, money and what’s more important it can help you give the best life to your dog. 

Family dogs usually need more Behavior Training (manners and self control), while highly train dogs need more Obedience Training ( Skills, performance and impulse control)

Your dog can know 100 “cues”, “commands” and “tricks” and yet still have a lot of behavioral issues.  Does this phrase sounds familiar to you? :

”My dog is very smart and sweet, but ….”

This happens because your dog can be very good at obedience (Impulse control) but have no control of his emotional responses or state of mind (Self control). Obedience is about learning skills, behavior is a way of being. Obedience has to do with performance, behavior has to do with social skills and having self control of emotional responses. 

 

Obedience Training vs Behavior Training.

 

What’s Obedience Training?

 

Obedience Training is your capacity as a human to teach your dog to respond to cues or commands. For example If you say “sit” your dog sits down or if you say” go around my legs and go to heel position” your dog will do that as a response of your cue or command. Obedience is based on performance and skillsets : sit, down. stay, heel, bring me etc. Obedience uses motivation, rewards and consequences. Wether the consequence is good (ex a treat) or bad (ex punishment) it’s still based on consequence. 

In teaching obedience some trainers use positive reinforcement and some trainers use positive reinforcement and punishments. But no matter what method you use your goal is to teach your dog to respond to your cues and to tell your dog what to do. For me in Obedience Training, Positive Reinforcement is king. This method is great to teach your dog to DO things. Ex: sit, stay, go to your place, leave it, bring me the news paper, come when called etc. 

Positive Reinforcement is very effective because dogs tend to do what’s reinforced with rewards. So if you want to teach your dog to Do something is a no-brainer to use rewards and motivation to do so. In order to have good and fast responses we as trainers need to make it fun and get our dogs excited and motivated. 

This way they learn fast, they are happy and it’s fun.  You can start with simple cues like “sit” or “stay” and move on to more complex skills like agility courses. In either case you want your dog to be motivated, excited and happy to learn. 

There’s a catch though, this is not so effective when you want to teach your dog NOT to do things. Does this mean we have to punish our dogs when we want to teach them NOT DO things? The asnwer is No and I will explain what’s the alternative soon, but before going there let’s talk about breed and Obedience Training. There’s this understanding and mantra that is often repeated among the dog community that dogs need a Job and that we should fullfil their breed. 

 

Should I Fullfill the dog’s breed because they need a job??

 

Dog trainers put dogs on high arousal and high dopamine to tap into the dog’s “high drive”in order to perform and win competitions like agilty, dogs sports and things like that. Why? Because they get faster obedience and it looks great in their reels or youtube videos.

 The problem with High Obedinece Training is that you can tap into their breed and nurture it. This can backfire when dealing with some unwanted behaviors like herding scooters, chasing kids, excessive barking, obsessive bahviors, attacking strangers, protecting your house/you or fighting with other dogs. Regular Family dog owners do not benefit from nurturing the breed of their dog. The most obvious examples are Pit Bulls or Dobermans whom were breed to fight or cattle dogs with herding tendencies that will chase bikes, kids, runners or anything that moves. 

 

So, How do you teach your dogs Not to do things? 

 

The answer is with Behavioral Training. When you have a family dog, usually this “Not to do things” are unwanted behaviors like excessive barking, pulling on the leash, biting, aggression, jumping on people, resource guarding, destructive behaviors etc.

All these behaviors are not fixed by encouraging excitement, high arousal, high dopamine or high drive. Quite the opposite. These behaviors can only be modified with self control, calm energy, boundaries and a sound state of mind. 

When dealing with these behaviors all of a sudden the excessive encouragement of excitement, high arousal, high drive and high dopamine used in Obedience Training are not going to help. Even worse, they can backfire if you’re not careful. 

Behavior Training is based on emotional state of mind, self control and social skills. Training and Conditioning is about micromanaging and redirecting every move the dog does without really working on the state of mind of the dog. 

 

What’s Behavior Training?

 

Behavior is based on Agency: your dog’s abilty to control their state of mind and your dog’s ability to control their emotional responses to environments or triggers. 

Behavior  training has to do with helping your dog to be in a sound state of mind. The skills needed are self control, respect and boundaries. It is based on your body language skills, energy control and mastering techniques that changes the emotional response of your dog, not necessarily redirecting them all the time. These techniques can include desensitation, counter-conditioning, enrichment, differential reinforcement, ABA and Coping Skills and Social 

A different way of seeing this is thinking of Behavior as social skills (being in a controlled state of mind and emotionally sound) and thinking of Obedience Training as going to Harvard or Yale, where you can learn very specific skills.

The one that will put you in trouble is the lack of social and behavioral skills (Behavioral Training). In other words you are not going to go to jail because didn´t go to Yale, but you will go to jail if you destroy Yale.

In animal world this has nothing to do with being ¨good¨ or ¨bad¨, it has to do with being ¨in a controlled state of mind¨ (green zone) or in an out of controlled state of mind¨ (red zone).  If your dog is in the wrong state of mind, no matter how much training and conditioning you´ve worked on, your dog wont´t listen. Any animal on fight/flight state of mind will not listen to anyone unless you force them. And forcing does not create acceptance it creates resistance.

To change behavior you basically need three things: 

1. The ability to master techniques to change your dog’s state of mind or emotional response to triggers or environments.

2. Effectively communicate with your dog: Body language and energy. Different from hand signals and treats. 

3. A solid relationship with your dog where your dog fully trusts you. This has to do with parenting not with dominance.

 

Conclusion.

 

In a nut shell Obedience Training is a method for learning skills, while Behavior Training is a way of being where your dog learns to control him/herself.  

Knowing when and how to use and integrate this two different approaches: Obedience Training and Behavior Training is key in order to create and to maintain a harmonious relationship for any family dog. If you have a family dog and you’re interested in learning how to have a well behaved and well trained dog click this link Pawmos Online Dog Training.

 

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