Monday, September 10, 2012

Helping your dog with thunder storms

This is a great quote about animals....."Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to." by Alfred A. Montapert

Our dog Toby, a Chessie who lived life big, created wonderful memories and who inspired PAWsitive energy wherever he went. 
I love being a radio host and talking to pet experts, authors and pet lovers.  On PAWsitive Radio I talked about the great stories I hear from other pet owners about their dog and pets, other people's pets and lessons they have learned from pets.  I shared a few lessons I learned from our dog Toby.... Patience! Persistence! Consistency! and Trust.  I also had the opportunity to learn from dog trainer and expert
Georgina Bradley. 

Georgina, is an entrepreneur, certified professional dog trainer, owner of DogStars Training Academy. 30 years of animal experience and passion to everything she does. She has worked with animals in the film industry, supplying dogs to events like the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and was a SPCA dog assessment officer. She worked with the animals as the trainer on the movies 101 Dalmatians, and Homeward Bound II. She uses positive reinforcement training and encourages the dogs to think and the humans to understand how dogs communicate, which builds a strong relationship and trust between the two.

The most typical training issues are: leash training, aggression, pulling on leash, jumping up, biting, and house training puppies. Georgina shared some tips that pet owners and pet parents can implement right away.

1) Social your pet with other animals (walking in public, dog parks, attending obedience training, agility classes, dog sports, etc.)

2) Positive Reinforcement techniques: believe in what your dog can do. Help your pet build confidence. Don’t play on or reinforce their anxiety. Smile, your dog understands your non verbal communication. Praise the right behaviours immediately. Find something other than treats that motivates the dog (e.g. a special word, a toy, etc)

3) Watch what you transfer down the leash. If you are nervous, you transfer that down the leash. I loved this tip because it reminds us as pet owners/pet parents to be so aware of what we are giving off to our pets.  When I discovered not play into our dog Toby's fear of thunder, his response changed dramatically. I used to reassure him "Toby, everything's fine." or "It's ok Toby" or similar comments, and keep petting or cuddling him. When I discovered that I was transferring fear instead of reassurance I was really quite surprised. But not nearly as surprised when the trainer suggested that during the next thunder storm I resist my need to reassure Toby, and play his favorite game instead.  As soon as the first thunder clap hit, I grabbed Toby's Kong and said "Let's Play, Toby! Get your Kong" and I tossed it a few feet away. As he grabbed the Kong another thunder clap roared through the house. I smiled and laughed (still resisting my urge to simply reassure him) and said "bring it here Toby". Tail wagging he happily returned the Kong. We did this a number of times then I said "Lay down on your matt." which he did. The next thunder clap alarmed him and he got and paced and again.... I resisted the need to reassure him and gently moved his kong around on the floor with my foot. His anxiety was noticeably reduced.  This training was wonderful for Toby, and for me.

To listen to the radio show with Georgina, visit:

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