Why Do Dogs Bury Bones? You’d Be Surprised

Why Do Dogs Bury Bones? You’d Be Surprised

Dogs never cease to amaze us with their fascinating behaviors. Among these actions, the act of burying bones has captivated dog parents for generations. Have you ever found yourself wondering why your pup diligently digs a hole in the backyard or carefully stashes their prized possessions in the garden? Let’s go over the secrets behind this instinctive dog behavior, tracing its roots back to the wild ancestors of our beloved pups.

1. Why They Do It: Instincts from the Wild

Understanding this behavior takes us into little evolutionary journey. Domestic dogs share a common ancestry with wolves, and the practice of burying bones can be traced back to their wild instincts. In the wild, wolves buried surplus food to shield it from scavengers and create reserves for leaner times. This survival instinct has been passed down through generations, with specific breeds, such as Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, and Terriers, displaying a heightened inclination to bury toys and food due to their historical roles in digging for underground prey.

Moreover, dogs exhibit a hoarding mentality, a reflection of their pack instincts. Burying bones becomes a way for them to secure resources within their family “pack,” even if that pack comprises their human companions. Scent marking, another layer of this behavior, allows dogs to leave their mark on buried treasures, creating a connection through their acute sense of smell. In essence, your dog may be engaging in a complex dance of survival instincts and pack behavior when burying bones.

Additionally, dogs might resort to burying bones as a stress-relief mechanism during times of change, excitement, or anxiety. Just as humans save leftovers for later, dogs may bury bones for a future, more suitable time to enjoy their tasty treats.

2. When You Should Be Concerned

Now that we’ve uncover the mystery behind why dogs bury bones, let’s get into effective strategies to manage this behavior, especially when it seems like your garden is transforming into a doggy excavation site. The concept of resource abundance plays a crucial role here. Mimicking the natural ebb and flow of resources in the wild can help curb excessive burying tendencies.

Instead of giving more toys to keep them busy, limit the number of toys or bones available to your dog at any given time, providing just one or two and rotating them weekly. This not only prevents an overflow of resources but also stimulates your dog’s curiosity, preventing boredom. Timing is also crucial; avoid giving your dog a bone immediately after a meal when their stomach is full, as they are more likely to bury bones when resources are in surplus. Engaging in interactive play fosters a stronger bond and reinforces the idea that resources are shared, discouraging hoarding behavior.

Consider the breed-specific tendencies related to digging. Breeds originally bred for digging may display more confidence in burying behavior. Understanding these breed nuances can further aid in managing your dog’s natural instincts.

3. What to Do About It: Should You Worry?

While burying things is a natural and instinctive behavior, considering potential concerns and taking proactive measures is essential for a harmonious household.

Potential Concerns:

a. Paw and Nail Injuries: Digging in areas with a rigid substrate can lead to abrasions and discomfort for your furry friend.

b. Indoor Damages: Burying behavior may extend indoors, resulting in damage to items like pet beds and couch cushions.

c. Stress for Both: Constant worry about belongings and disapproval can create stress for both pet parents and their dogs.

What to Do:

a. Do NOT Create a Designated Digging Area: Do NOT redirect your dog’s instincts by providing a designated digging spot in your backyard filled with loose soil or sand if you don’t want to encourage that behavior or if your dog starts obsessing about it. 

b. Understanding Breed-Specific Behavior: Recognize that certain breeds are more inclined to bury items and tailor your approach accordingly. 

c. Work the breed out: If your dog’s breed encourages this behavior and you have a family dog, work on behavior training to start working the obsessive side of the breed out of your dog.. Certain breeds are prone to obsessions. Have in mind that breed was created by humans not by nature

d. Implement Behavior Training: Help your dog regulate compulsive behaviors by teaching self control and self management.

e. Supervision and Management: Keep an eye on your dog, intervening when needed and reinforcing boundaries. 

In conclusion the mystery behind why dogs bury bones lies in their deep-rooted instincts inherited from their wild ancestors.

While this behavior is natural and instinctive, it’s crucial for pet parents to be aware of potential concerns and take proactive measures for a harmonious household. Paw and nail injuries, indoor damages, and stress for both the pet and owner are important factors to take into considerations. Managing this behavior involves a thoughtful approach, considering breed-specific tendencies, resource abundance, interactive play and behavior training if needed.

Effective strategies, such as limiting the number of toys, understanding breed nuances, and engaging in behavior training, can help strike a good balance.

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

“Leash-Free Living: Is Your Dog Park Ready for Off-Leash Adventure?”

“Leash-Free Living: Is Your Dog Park Ready for Off-Leash Adventure?”

In the world of dog ownership, the idea of letting your dog roam freely in parks, dog runs, or on beaches seems idyllic. There’s a common misconception that in these off-leash environments, dogs will naturally figure things out and tire themselves out in the process. However, the reality is far from it. Allowing your dog to run, play, or fetch in an “out of control state of mind” or in an unstructured environment doesn’t lead to exhaustion but rather restlessness and heightened excitement. This often leaves pet parents puzzled when their dogs remain full of energy despite hours of daily exercise.

Think of “Off Leash Park Time” as a sport or game with rules. Without these rules, it can quickly turn into chaos, much like an unsupervised playground of toddlers. As any parent knows, a lack of rules and structure leads to crying, fighting, and tantrums. Similarly, in off-leash areas, unstructured play can result in restlessness and stress, manifesting as destructive behaviors or tantrums at home. 

Contrary to popular belief, an off-leash dog park or run is not a natural wilderness where dogs establish their own rules and structure. In reality, these environments are created by humans and come with a set of rules that dogs need to follow. The constant influx of different dogs in these spaces makes it challenging for them to establish any form of consistent structure, and chaos can ensue with the introduction of a single new dog. 

Although some times dogs off leash in a park can figure it out, that’s usually because only well behaved dogs tend to go to off leash parks. But it takes one dog to start creating chaos and that dog can be your dog if you’re not careful.

Excitement is often mistaken for happiness, especially when dogs anticipate a trip to the park. However, unchecked excitement without limits or rules can quickly lead to “out of control” behavior, encompassing issues like excessive barking, rough play with the wrong dogs, fixations, aggression, and possessiveness over toys. The root cause? Lack of boundaries and rules from the outset.

To make the most of off-leash experiences and maintain control, consider the following steps in more detail:

1. Controlled Walks:

Start controlling your dog’s behavior from the moment you leash them up at home, not just when you reach the park. Walking should be a controlled, tension-free experience. Encourage loose-leash walking, where your pup walks beside you or slightly behind you, without pulling. This sets the tone for a calm and controlled entry into the off-leash environment.

2. Entrance and Leash Removal:

Ensure your dog enters the park in a calm state of mind. If your dog is overly excited or pulling at the leash, take a moment to wait until they settle down. Only remove the leash when they are not pulling or exhibiting excessive excitement. This simple step can prevent the release of pent-up energy in an uncontrolled manner.

3. Constant Movement:

Encourage your dog to follow you by changing locations within the park. If the area is spacious enough, consider moving from one spot to another rather than remaining stationary. This keeps your pup engaged and focused on your actions, fostering a sense of connection. A dog that is mentally engaged with its owner is more likely to exhibit controlled behavior.

4. Setting Limits:

Establishing boundaries during play or interactions is crucial. Call your dog to you for a break, particularly if their excitement levels are escalating. Intervene when play becomes too rough or if things are about to get out of control. Temporary leashing can also be a useful tool to help your dog calm down. These strategies may vary based on your dog’s unique personality and the specific situation, emphasizing the importance of adaptability. 

Creating and maintaining harmony in an off-leash environment is a nuanced process that requires awareness and effective communication with your pup. Remember, there are no strict rules written in stone—each dog and situation is unique. By adopting a thoughtful and proactive approach, you can ensure that off-leash time becomes a positive and controlled experience for both you and your dog.

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

Is Your Puppy Training Plan Missing These 4 Key Elements?

Is Your Puppy Training Plan Missing These 4 Key Elements?

When it comes to raising a well-behaved and happy puppy, understanding the nuances between training and behavior is paramount. Mastering the application of these two concepts can be the key to fostering a harmonious relationship with your pup. In this article, we’ll dive into the four essential elements that could be missing from your puppy training plan.

1. Differentiating Training and Behavior: The Foundation of Success

Before diving into the specifics, let’s revisit the core principle of distinguishing between training and behavior. Knowing when and how to employ these approaches forms the foundation of effective puppy parenting. 

Behavior 

Giving structure and setting clear boundaries provide calmness and self-control to your dog. It also builds up trust. Provides clarity on what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t. Boundaries has nothing to do with punishment, dominance or being the alpha. It has to do with clear guidance. Boundaries is not about punishing for bad behavior is about not letting unwanted behavior to happen. 

Obedience/Training.

Working on obedience with positive reinforcement and games provides excitement and fun. It builds performance and it teaches commands or cues like: come, sit, stay, go to your place, drop it etc

Both are important, and you should always aim to have a good balance of both.

The first one, structure and clear boundaries, it’s what takes care of most behavioral issues. The second one obedience and training, teaches dogs commands, cues, and tricks.

2. Socialization: Building Strong Foundations

  • a. Socializing with People: Exposing your puppy to various individuals in different settings is crucial. Encourage interactions with men, women, and children to help them become comfortable and well-adjusted in diverse environments.
  • b. Socializing with Other Dogs: Puppies, having been separated from their littermates, naturally thrive on playtime with fellow canines. This interaction not only provides exercise but also imparts essential social skills, boundaries, and bite inhibition. It replicates the lessons learned in the canine community and contributes to a well-rounded, socially adept puppy.

Moreover, your role as the new parent involves providing structure and guidance, mimicking the role of the mother and adult dogs. Boundaries, structure, and playtime are integral aspects of effective puppy parenting.

3. Teaching Independence: Preventing Separation Anxiety

Dogs, inherently social beings, may struggle with solitude. To avert potential separation anxiety issues, it is imperative to teach your puppy to be comfortable when left alone. Failure to do so could result in incessant barking, whining, destructive behavior, and even inappropriate elimination. As a responsible dog owner, perfecting the art of leaving your puppy alone is crucial for their well-being.

4. Recall Training: The Key For Freedom!

Imprinting the “Come When Called” cue, also known as Recall Training, is a pivotal aspect of your puppy’s education. Puppyhood provides a unique window of opportunity to instill this command, offering a lifetime of benefits. Similar to how humans grasp languages more efficiently in their formative years, puppies absorb cues like “come when called” more readily during their early stages. Seizing this critical period allows you to establish a strong bond with your puppy and ensures a reliable recall throughout their life.

A well-rounded puppy training plan encompasses differentiating between training and behavior, socialization, teaching independence, and imprinting crucial commands like “come when called.” By integrating these elements into your approach, you set the stage for a fulfilling and positive relationship with your puppy, laying the groundwork for a well-behaved and joyful companion.

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

Cracking The “Come When Called” Code: Your Dog’s Best-Kept Secret”

Cracking The “Come When Called” Code: Your Dog’s Best-Kept Secret”

“Come when called,” commonly known as recall training, is arguably the most critical cue for any dog owner to perfect. While it may seem straightforward, there are numerous nuances to consider, and overlooking them can jeopardize your results. However, there’s a hidden secret that can make all the difference in your recall training journey.

Factors such as avoiding the use of food lures, gradually phasing out treats, mastering your body language, comprehending reinforcement, success rates, and introducing distance and distractions are all essential components of recall training. But there’s one element, often underestimated, that can have a lasting impact on your dog’s recall. On the flip side, if you get it right, recall training becomes a breeze. So, what is this elusive secret, and how can you unlock its potential?

To uncover this hidden gem, we first need to acknowledge that there are five crucial stages of recall training. Among them, the initial stage is the simplest yet most vital: “CLARITY.”

Let’s deep into the concept of clarity and understand why this stage, and the correct sequence of events, is of vital importance. As Winston Churchill once said, “Luck is in the taking care of the important details.”

The first stage, “CLARITY,” centers around making the command or cue “come” absolutely clear in your pup’s mind, and ensuring it works like a well-oiled machine.

This means that when you say “come,” your dog should respond fast and automatically. This process is known as “conditioning” or, for those interested in the finer details, “classical conditioning.” Why is this so crucial? Because this is what imparts the true meaning of “come” to your dog. You are conditioning your dog to have an automatic, immediate response to the word “come.” It’s not a thought process; it happens automatically and is rewarded. Understanding this concept is essential.

Let’s illustrate how classical conditioning works with a simple example: think of a dog, a bell, and hidden food. You ring the bell and then present and provide food. Crucially, there should be a delay between the bell sound and food delivery. If you repeat this process enough times, something fascinating occurs. When you ring the bell without offering any food, the dog starts salivating. Essentially, the value of the food becomes associated with the bell.

The bell alone, without food, now triggers salivation. It’s essential to know that salivating is an automatic response, not a conscious decision. In other words, the dog doesn’t choose to salivate; it occurs automatically through association. This process is known as conditioning, more specifically, “classical conditioning.”

Understanding the difference between triggering a response (classical conditioning) and reinforcing a response that already occurred with food (operant conditioning) is crucial for establishing clarity from the beginning.

Why is this understanding important? Because reinforcement (operant conditioning) rewards a behavior that has already happened, while an automatic conditioned response (classical conditioning) initiates the behavior. These are two entirely different processes, each serving a distinct purpose over time. This is a point that many people often overlook or misunderstand.

But let’s get practical, as promised. Here’s how to create that automatic conditioned response and discover the hidden gem. Pay close attention:

Important Tip: In Stage 1, your dog should be excited and a little riled up. Without excitement, you won’t achieve the speed you need in your recall training.

Stage 1: CLARITY! Your goal in this stage is to ensure that the command or cue “come” is crystal clear in your pup’s mind and that it works.

To establish this clarity and a strong conditioning foundation from the outset, conduct your training indoors, free from distractions and at a close distance. Why? Because distractions and distance can interfere with the meaning and imprinting of the word “come.” In this initial conditioning phase, you’re imprinting a swift response in your dog when you say the word “come.”

Step 1: Begin by grabbing a treat (or your dog’s most high-value reward) and stand very close in front of your pup. Get your dog’s attention with the treat, but do not use it as a lure. Simply show the treat to your dog.

Step 2: Say “come” and pause for half a second. Then move away quickly and backwards, facing your dog. Be cautious not to trip over any obstacles behind you.

Step 3: When your dog comes to you, deliver the reward as close to your body as possible. Do not ask your dog to sit or wait. Just provide the reward. You are teaching one thing: “come,” and that’s it. Introducing other commands or cues at this stage can hinder clarity and the conditioning process. This is particularly true at the beginning when you’re teaching your dog what the word “come” means.

Step 4: Repeat this process 3 to 5 times. Then take a break for 30 seconds, or wait until your dog becomes distracted with something else. Afterward, say the word “come” again. If your dog responds by coming to you, you have successfully taught your dog the meaning of “come,” and the conditioning is working. If your dog doesn’t come to you, wait for a good hour, and repeat steps 1 to 3 until your dog grasps the meaning of “come.” Stick with Stage 1 until “come” truly means “come.” Do not exceed 5 to 6 repetitions of steps 1-3, and always stop when your dog is eager for more.

Remember, you are merely associating the word “come” with an action (coming to you) and rewarding it with a treat, ball, or favorite toy. This initial stage serves as the foundation for your recall training. Without a solid foundation, all your training efforts may crumble. So there you have it, the key to unlocking the perfect “come” command!

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

 

How to Foster Confidence and Self-Esteem in Your Dog.

How to Foster Confidence and Self-Esteem in Your Dog.

How to Foster Confidence and Self-Esteem in Your Dog.

According to Learning Theories, Positive Reinforcement is widely recognized as the best and, in fact, the only effective way to impart skills and build self-confidence. However, there are two subtle nuances and flaws within this statement that deserve your attention:

1. Learning skills are distinct from behavioral skills.

2. Self-esteem and resilience also develop when faced with failure and adversity, not solely in times of success.

It is crucial to emphasize that Positive Reinforcement remains an essential tool for nurturing confidence and self-esteem in your dog. Positive Reinforcement stands as the primary method for teaching dogs new tasks or skills, as it hinges on motivation and rewards. Yet, it is not the sole element at play and for many dogs it is not enough.

Let’s talk about  those two very important aspects that you should consider to build self esteem in your dog:

1. Learning Skills vs. Behavioral Skills

Boundaries, rules, and discipline fall under the realm of social behavior and coping mechanisms rather than learning theory methodologies. These are two distinct fields. To illustrate, let me share an example:

Years ago, during my tenure as a jazz musician, I began teaching music to troubled kids in the South Bronx Projects. My teaching approach was rooted in positive reinforcement, yielding fantastic results. Why? Because there were two other staff members responsible for discipline; they adeptly set boundaries and rules, maintaining clarity with the children. My role revolved around the enjoyable task of music instruction, while theirs involved handling conflict and behavioral issues. It’s evident that these roles differ significantly.

I want to stress that, in behavioral training, there is no requirement for physical corrections or the use of tools like prong collars, e-collars, or choke chains. While these tools might have their place when used by knowledgeable trainers, they do not align with my training philosophy and are not, in my opinion and experience, necessary.

2. Self-Esteem and Resilience in the Face of Challenges

Teaching your dog to navigate through distressing situations contributes not only to enhanced self-esteem and resilience but also to self-control, a vital skill in behavioral training. Confronting unfamiliar or uncomfortable circumstances and mastering them cultivates resilience and confidence. This capability enables your dog to respond appropriately and independently when confronted with conflicts. The goal is to teach your dog the ability to cope and react autonomously when conflict arises. Which is what Behavior Training exercises are about.

Relying solely on Positive Reinforcement may lead to a constant need for redirection and the offering of alternative behaviors.

In contrast, behavioral training exposes your dog to stressful situations while maintaining a manageable level of discomfort (under threshold), allowing your dog to learn coping skills, independent thinking, and the power of true choice. This fosters self-control and the development of social skills not impulse control and obedience performance skills like “sit”, “down”,  “wait”,  “place”, etc 

Consider the following example:

If another dog barks and lunges at my dog, my objective in Behavioral Training is not to command my dog to “sit” and “wait”. Instead, my aim is to equip my dog with the skill to control his reactions. It becomes his choice to either ignore the dog, attempt to facilitate socialization, or move away. These choices come from my dog’s self-control, as opposed to my direct commands like “sit,” “wait,” or “leave it.” The ability to control his responses and remain in the “green zone” characterizes Behavioral Training. Conversely, instructing my dog to “sit,” “stay,” or “leave it” constitutes Obedience Training, focusing on conditioned learning from external cues.

Let’s take another example: jumping at guests. 

Dogs jumping results from overexcitement and human reinforcement. In Behavioral Training, the goal is to teach your dog to manage his excitement during guest interactions, preventing jumping from occurring. This avoids the need for correction or redirection. Dogs naturally greet by sniffing and investigating, not by jumping. In Behavior Training we’ll teach the dog to greet guests without jumping. 

In Obedience Training, the objective is to condition your dog to “sit” and “wait” for guests. The issue with Obedience Training arises when dogs lack self-regulation, potentially breaking the “stay” command or barking while in the “place” position. The fundamental problem with this approach is that your dog is “waiting”. At some point you have to release him/her. When you do, then they usually jump on your guests. The other problem is that a lot of high energy dogs, who are usually the jumpers, will bark excessively while waiting in their “Place position”. Teaching your dog to “wait” on Place is not the same as teaching your dog to greet your guests without jumping. 

Behavioral Training exercises and methods are designed to teach your dog self regulation and independent thinking. This eventually translates into social skills and coping skills which will enhance self esteem and self confidence. Obedience Training is designed to condition your dog to obey your cues on command with positive reinforcement. Very different outcomes and methodolgies.

Trends and misleading mantras:

Now, let’s address a recent trend promoting the idea that confidence and self-esteem can only be nurtured through positive reinforcement, banning the use of the word “No,” and cautioning against establishing boundaries.

This mantra goes as follows: “Never tell your dog ‘don’t do that’; instead, teach them what to do.

As with any decision in life, there are trade-offs to consider. To adhere to this mantra, you must navigate a complex labyrinth of environmental control until your dog reaches a state of readiness. This complexity arises due to a lack of clarity regarding boundaries.

In my experience, this mantra has led many dog parents to frustration, failure, and considerable distress for extended periods of time. It does not apply universally to all dogs. I am well aware of this because I find myself busier than ever, inheriting dogs that have gone through programs and protocols failing to establish clear and direct boundaries.

There are methods to impart clear boundaries and rules without resorting to force, corrections, or dominance-based Alpha theories. This reflects my vision and what I have successfully accomplished over the past 13 years designing exercises and routines to teach dogs self control through Behavioral Training.

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