How Do I Get My Dog To Trust Me More?

Dogs are our loyal companions, and getting their trust is essential for developing a strong and healthy bond with them. Building trust with your dog is a process that requires kindness, clarity, confidence and competence.

Love is all you need?

There is a misconception that you’ll get trust from your dog by just being kind, loving and compassionate. This is not true. Animals, including humans, do not think like that.

Being kind, loving and compassionate is where you should come from. At least that’s my philosophy.  Any animal lover comes from kindness and from compassion. But that’s not entirely what you trust, that’s just the starting point. Although it’s a must, it doesn’t stop there and it’s not enough. 

When you trust someone is because he or she knows what they are doing, not just because they are kind or compassionate. Dogs and animals in general are the same way.

Let me give you an example. If you are in an airplane would you trust a kind and compassionate pilot that doesn’t know how to drive? Of course not. Would you trust a pilot that is insecure, incompetent or not qualified to drive? You wouldn’t, even if he or she was a very nice person. 

When you really think about it what you trust is competence and confidence on top of kindness. The reason why I emphasize this is because most dog problems that I deal with don’t come from the lack of compassion or kindness. The problem is usually the lack of clarity, confidence and knowledge. Without clarity, confidence and knowledge, competence becomes an impossible task. 

What’s the missing piece? 

If you are a kind and a compassionate person the main way to gain trust with your pup is with guidance and leadership. By leadership I don’t mean being the Alpha or using dominance. I mean taking the responsability to guide and being accountable for it. Like parents do. YOU are responsible of your dog’s behavior and education. The difference between leadership and dominance is that the first one comes from acceptance and the latter one comes from imposition, force or fear. 

Your dog won’t trust you if you don’t give guidance and lead with kindness, clarity, confidence and competence. The same way you wouldn’t trust someone that doesn’t have those virtues. 

Here are some game changers to build trust with your dog:

1. Communicate Effectively:

Dogs communicate through body language, so it’s essential to learn to read your dog’s body language and respond appropriately with your own body language. This will help you to understand your dog’s needs and feelings better, and it will help your dog understand you better. This will make your dog feel understood and valued and will take your trust to higher level.

2. Be Patient:

Building trust with your dog sometimes can take time. Be patient with your dog and allow them to adjust to their new environment at their own pace. 

3. Develop good timing skills. 

Good timing means to read the rhythm of your dog’s learning and adjusting process. Allowing your dog/s to learn and grow at their own pace doesn’t neccessarily mean slow. Finding the rhythm and the learning pace of your dog it’s an art form and can safe you a lot if time and frustrations. Is like syncing with your dog.

4. Respect their uniqueness:

Every dog is different and it’s essential to respect this. If your dog seems uncomfortable or scared in certain situations, don’t force them to do something they don’t want to do. Instead, work with your dog and help them overcome their fears at their own pace.  Helping a dog overcoming fears takes trust to a whole different level.

5. Be Consistent:

Consistency is crucial when building trust with your dog. Guiding in a consistent way will make your dog feel safe, secure, and comfortable in their environment, and it will help them to trust you more.

6. Set up clear boundaries:

Dogs feel safe when they have a clear understanding of what’s permitted and what’s not. When you don’t know the rules you can’t play the game. You don’t need a lot of rules, but the rules need to be clear.  When rules are not clear, dogs become anxious, restless and aggressive. Providing structure and clarity will make your dog really trust you.

In conclusion, building trust with your dog is a process that requires kindness, clarity, confidence and competence. Building a strong and healthy bond with your furry friend  will last a lifetime.

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

Why Dogs Mark? What’s Marking?

Why Dogs Mark? What’s Marking?

Dogs are fascinating creatures and have unique behaviors that make them who they are. One of these behaviors is marking with urine, and it is an instinctual behavior that can be seen in both domestic and wild dogs.

What’s marking?

Urine marking is the act of a dog lifting its leg and depositing small amounts of urine on vertical surfaces such as trees, bushes, or even furniture in the home. This behavior is more commonly seen in male dogs but can also be seen in females. Dogs mark their territory as a way of communicating with other dogs, and the scent of their urine serves as a signal to other dogs that this is their space.

Why dogs mark?

There are several reasons why dogs mark with urine. 

In cities and urban areas is very common that dogs may mark with urine as a way to relieve stress or anxiety. Dogs that are nervous or stressed may mark more frequently, as it provides them with a sense of comfort and security. This behavior can also be a result of changes in their environment, such as moving to a new home or the introduction of new people or animals into their space.

Dogs also mark to establish territorial boundaries. Dogs have a natural instinct to protect their space, and marking with urine is one way they communicate this to other dogs. This behavior is especially common in male dogs who are trying to establish dominance over other dogs. The scent of the urine will tell other dogs that this is their territory, and they are the dominant dog in the area.

Another reason why dogs mark with urine is to signal their reproductive status. When female dogs are in heat, they will mark more frequently, and their scent will signal to male dogs that they are ready to mate. This is a way for female dogs to attract potential mates and communicate their reproductive status.

Summing up

Marking with urine is a natural behavior for dogs, and it serves several purposes. It is a way for dogs to communicate with other dogs, establish territorial boundaries, signal their reproductive status, and relieve stress and anxiety. Understanding why dogs mark with urine can help us better understand and manage this behavior in our pets. If you are experiencing a problem with your dog marking in the home, it is important to consult with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer who can help you find a solution.

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

Alpha Dominance Theories. Myth? Or Science?

Alpha Dominance Theories. Myth? Or Science?

Dominance in animals is a concept that describes a relationship between two individuals or groups, where one individual or group is able to exert control or influence over the other. This control can manifest in a number of ways, such as access to resources, mating opportunities, or social status.

The scientific consensus on dominance in animals is that it is a complex phenomenon that can be influenced by a variety of factors, including physical size, age, sex, and social experience. Dominance relationships can also vary depending on the specific species and social structure of the animal group in question. 

In many animal groups, dominance is established through aggressive interactions, such as fighting or displays of strength. However, in some cases, dominance can also be established through more subtle behaviors, such as posturing, vocalizations, or even changes in body posture or facial expressions.

Is Dominance important and relevant in dogs?

The more you can understand dog’s true animal nature, the better decisions and care you will be able to provide to your dog or dogs. Dominance and dominance hierarchies is something to consider when dealing with dog’s behavior. A good diagnosis is always a must in order to achieve a good outcome. 

The problem is that dominance can be easily misinterpreted and misapplied by dog owners and trainers. There are two different tendencies or trends that can lead to bad outcomes:

  • 1. The Alpha Theories. This theory has the tendency to think that most behavioral problems are caused because of dominance issues and solved by reestablising dominance hierarchies. This is specially true with aggressive dogs. Most aggression issues that I’ve worked on are not because of dominance status. Some of them are, but there are a wide variety of reasons for aggression. Ex: fear, specific triggers, frustration, restrainers such as a leash or a fence, negative associations , etc. Assuming that all or most issues are related to dominance is misleading and potentially dangerous. 

 

  • 2. The Deniers. This new trend has the tendency to deny that dominance issues do exist. They tend to avoid addressing dominance hierarchies as part of dog’s social interactions with both dogs and humans. Denying this and not addressing it when it is an issue it’s not helpful and can get you stuck in a never-ending loop of behavioral problems. 

 

Why is it so controversial with dogs and appears to be no consensus?

There’s been a crusade to prevent animals from being abused in the name of dominance. While this crusade is based on a noble cause which I applaud and support, on it’s way had somehow distorted the concept of dominance and in some cases even tried to ban the use of the word “Dominance”. 

This dogmatic approach is not science, although some supporters claim to be science-based. Let’s be clear, denying the existence of dominance and hierarchies in the animal kingdom it’s simply wrong.

 Scientific consensus says that most organisms organize themselves into hierarchies. It is also known that the fundamental biological mechanism for the regulation of hierarchy is serotonin. This is not disputable. Hierarchies are not a construct, they are observed in nature and they are 350 million years old.

Here is a good article on this subject from University of Cincinnati by Michael Miller: Unlocking the misteries of the pecking order 

How dominance affect dog’s interactions?

It is important to note that dominance in animals does not necessarily imply cruelty or oppression. Rather, it is a natural part of many animal social structures, and can help to maintain stability and order within the group. Additionally, dominance relationships can often be fluid and change over time, as individuals gain or lose social status or as the group dynamic evolves.

Disagreements still occur among dogs that have formed healthy relationships with each other. Some dogs can display socially inappropriate behavior and will challenge the stability and order within the group. 

While dominance hierarchies in dogs can be a natural part of their social behavior, it’s important for dog owners to be aware of the potential consequences of these hierarchies. In some cases, dominant dogs may become aggressive towards other dogs or humans, leading to fights and injuries. Additionally, dogs that are constantly subjected to dominance behaviors may become anxious or stressed, which can have negative effects on their overall health and well-being.

Good reads on these matter are authors like Elizabeth Hoobson:  (2022 edition) New preprint: pertutbetions shift social dominance patterns or Thorleif Schjelderup-Ebbe 

Should I assert dominance to my dog with alfa rolls?

The short answer is NO. During my first year of training dogs over a decade ago, I practiced successfully alfa rolls a few times. I soon stopped doing it. There are several problems with this:

  • 1. Alfa rolls do not solve the underlying behaviors and emotional responses of your dog in the long term in most cases.

 

  • 2. It’s not easy to do. WHY? Because submission doesn’t come from asserting physical force. Submission is an offered behavior from the surrendering individual, not one that’s purely enforced. I did 14 years of Judo and Jujitsu so I know very well how to apply this techniques. I’ve experienced both ends. Most people don’t know how to do this. If you’re using pure force, you are doing it wrong and you will never achieve submission. Most probably you’ll get bitten or you will shut down your dog into a fear loop. 

 

  • 3. There are many other ways where you can set rules and boundaries through Body language, controlled games and routines without confrontation, physical force or intimidation.

 

  • 4. By doing alfa rolls you’re risking doing it wrong, doing it for the wrong reasons, doing it to the wrong dog and getting bitten or installing fear in your dog in many cases. Not only you will have not solve anything, but you would have make it worse 

 

  • 5. It is not a pleasant experience for neither the human or the dog.

There are many different ways to set up rules and boundaries to your dog without asserting dominance or being confrontational. Having said that rules and boundaries are absolutely necessary. 

In conclusion, dominance is a common trait observed in many animal species and refers to the hierarchical ranking of individuals within a social group. While dominance hierarchies are often associated with aggression and conflict, they can also have positive effects on social cohesion within a group. Dominance is a complex concept that It is important to understand and should not be treated lightly when conflict arises. If you think your dog or dogs are struggling with dominance issues I would highly suggest to ask for help from an experienced specialized trainer in this issues. A basic obedience class is not going to get you very far and an inexperienced handler or trainer can make things worse.  

 

© 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

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

3 Mistakes That Will Lead To Leash Reactivity or Leash Aggression

3 Mistakes That Will Lead To Leash Reactivity or Leash Aggression

“Heeling” is different than Leash communication skills

It’s a very common mistake to think that if you teach your dog to “heel” your dog won’t have leash-reactivity or leash-aggression. This is not true.

For over 10 years I’ve trained hundreds of dogs with leash reactivity or leash aggression. Many of them had perfect “heeling” skills. How’s that possible? True “heeling” skills are off-leash skills and even if you use a leash for safety the whole purpose of “heeling” is to teach your dog to be next to you at all times without using the leash. So where’s the problem then? The problem is exactly that, that you never learn how to communicate effectively with the leash in a gentle manner. 

On top of this, If you live in a big city asking your dog to “heel” all the time not only is unrealistic, but is not healthy. Dogs should be able to walk calmly on leash with no tension experiencing their environment and without having to be on heeling position. 

Leash reactivity/aggression is always created by humans:

It takes one or two mistake on your part when you use the leash the wrong way for your dog to start developing leash reactivity. 

Here’s an example of what usually happens: You are training your dog heeling position in a calm environment with very little distractions and all of a sudden something out of the ordinary shows up. It could be a truck, a wild animal, a loud noise. Your dog starts loosing it and now you start puling on the leash to keep your dog safe. If you don’t have good leash communication skills chances are you’re going to make one of this 3 mistakes mistakes. 

At this point things can turn south pretty fast, even if your dog keeps improving on “heeling”.

3 mistakes that will create leash reactivity or leash aggression:

  • 1. Maintaining tension on the leash. If you keep restraining your dog without knowing how to release tension on the leash, your dog is going to get more umped up and more reactive. You need to teach your dog not to lean into pressure. Most importantly you need to train yourself how to do this. Rule #1 on leash skills is to communicate with tension-release. You always reward the release and not reward for pulling. 

 

  • 2. Pulling backwards. The most common reaction when a dog is pulling is to pull  directly backwards. When you do this what you’re going to get is opposite resistance. Which means that your dog will pull harder and will probably get to stand in two legs. At this point you’ve lost your dog. This is a red flag that your doing it wrong. If you need to pull, always pull to the side, never pull backwards. 

 

  • 3. Using corrections and yanking your dog as a punishment for bad behavior after the fact. If your dog is already pulling and going crazy, this is only going to make things worse. True behavior modification is never achieved by correcting behavior after the fact with punishment. Suppressing behavior or emotional responses from your dog is going to lead to other problems. It’s also not the best way to build a solid relationship. Behavior modification is not about correcting behavior, is about not letting behavior to happen in first place.

 

When using the leash make sure you avoid  the above mentioned mistakes. 

 

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