All posts by Andrew Ledford

I have trained security dogs, police dogs, movie dogs, and a whole lot of pet dogs. I have helped people with all types of dog behavior and training problems. There have been hard to control service dogs to tiny toy tea cup breeds. I have been training dogs since was 11 years old, although I usually don't count my years of experience until after the age of 18. I like all animals but have a special fondness for dogs. My two big passions are helping people and dogs. You can read more on my personal site or G+ profile

German Shorthaired Pointer Training and Temperament, Plus Rescue Video

I have had a couple of German Shorthaired Pointers (GSP) in my time. One was the most hyper dog I ever owned and the other was quit calm as German Shorthaired Pointers go.

German Shorthaired Pointer Playing
German Shorthaired Pointer Playing

German Shorthaired Pointers are great dogs that are a fairly new breed; they were developed in the 1800s. All the German Shorthaired Pointers I’ve owned and worked with have been very trainable. My fist Pointer was one of my best trained dogs. This breed is usually quite active and benefits from a good deal of exercise. As with all active or hyper dogs you may have a bit of a challenge with impulse control. However, with consistency and a little extra work this breed can become very reliable.

German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy
German Shorthaired Pointer Puppy

If I had a choice I would prefer getting a pet quality GSP from show lines as opposed to hunting lines. Being shown in dog shows is equivalent to undergoing a very mild temperament evaluation and tends to favor calmer dogs. Not that all show dogs are calm, but in general show dogs are bred to be calmer than hunting dogs.

GSP Puppy
GSP Puppy

The GSP is bred to hunt in one of two ways. The first is where hunting is done on horseback and these dogs tend to range farther afield. The second type of dog is bred for hunters on foot and they tend to stay in closer to the handler.

German Shorthaired Pointer Retrieving From Water
German Shorthaired Pointer Retrieving From Water

German Shorthaired Pointers are versatile game dogs and can be used to hunt game other than birds. They also tend to be fairly good watchdogs. My first GSP was good at letting us know when someone was approaching the house, although she was extremely friendly. My second pointer, the really calm one, was not such a good watch dog, but she was a wonderful dog overall. Both of these dogs came from the pound. The second dog was a rescue I trained and rehomed, she was a great pet, even for a first time dog owner. My first GSP was a handful and required quite a bit of training. I had my first GSP when I was in high school, so I had a lot of time to train her. She was a great dog, it just took a bit more work to get her under control.

GSP At The Park
GSP At The Park

It is believed German Shorthaired Pointers were created by breeding a descendant of Spanish Pointers with German hounds mixed with a dash of English Pointer. I plan on talking a little about German hounds in the next video post.

As with many breeds it’s desirable to have a GSP with dark eyes. I think there is a good reason that light eyes in the GSP are considered a fault. The most common coat color for German Shorthaired Pointers is liver and white or all liver. In this video you will see a dog with a black and white coat while not sanctioned by the American Kennel Club it is one of the colors found in the GSP.

Even though German Shorthaired Pointers do have short coats they shed a lot. I found my old dog’s hair in furniture and other places over 10 years after she passed away.

In this video the people from German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue talk about the breed’s traits and what kind of home they will best fit into. They also talk a little about some medical problems you may encounter with the breed.

I need to mention one trait that can lead to medical complication and that’s the German Shorthaired Pointers susceptibility to gastric torsion. Being a deep-chested and active breed can be a deadly combination. Dogs with these two traits are more susceptible to gastric torsion. Gastric torsion is where the stomach flips over and without immediate medical attention the dog will die. Instead of feeding one large meal a day I usually feed deep-chested dogs smaller amounts of food several times a day. Feeding smaller amounts of food helps avoid gastric torsion.

German Pointers are probably my favorite of the pointing breeds. However, out of all pointers I think Vizslas are probably the best choice for the average family.

Vizsla And German Shorthaired Pointer Puppies
Vizsla And German Shorthaired Pointer Puppies

If you need help teaching your pointer basic dog obedience and/or impulse control, for those overactive moments in life, please give me a call so I can get the necessary information to help make your dog the best that it can be.

Wishing you the best in dogs and the best in life,
Andrew Ledford
Southern California Dog training

Orange County Pet Expo Video

I now have a program on Long Beach Local Television called Dogs By Andrew. This is our first on the air dog show, however we have many shows to come. Most of the shows in the near future will be about the different breeds we met at the expo.

Andrew from OC Dog Training at the Pet Expo
Andrew from OC Dog Training at the Pet Expo

I am fascinated by the many dog breeds and they all have unique traits that at one time had a particular purpose. While the dogs of the past may have been working dogs, today’s dogs tend to be bred more and more for house pets.

I am wishing you the very best in dogs and in life,
Andrew Ledford

Getting A New Rescue Dog

Temperament Testing Rescue Dogs
By Andrew Ledford    –

The first dog in the series was very active and animal oriented in a friendly way. In the photo it is looking at another dog and ignoring me. This dog also did well when presented with a novel visual stimulus.
The first dog in the series was very active and animal oriented in a friendly way. In the photo it is looking at another dog and ignoring me. This dog also did well when presented with a novel visual stimulus.

Impromptu rescue dog evaluation at the Long Beach Pet Expo
The Long Beach Pet Expo was a lot of fun. I had the chance to meet a lot of dog friendly folks and saw many of Long Beach’s finest canines.

While at the expo I met up with a friend from a social media group I belong to. She was with her sister who was looking for a new dog. When getting a dog it’s good to keep in mind that it is better to get a good dog and do just a little training than get a dog that doesn’t match your lifestyle and do a lot of training.

Getting A New Dog
When looking for a dog, you need to consider what the dog’s environment will be like and your lifestyle. You also need to think about how other household members will interact with the new dog? In this pet expo scenario we had to consider the dog would need to live with two resident cats. One cat is bold and the other a bit more sensitive.

The second dog I looked at was younger and was also a bit fearful. It took some time to get this puppy to come to me.
The second dog I looked at was younger and was also a bit fearful. It took some time to get this puppy to come to me.

The next consideration is the individual dog’s personality. It’s important to remember that a puppy’s personality may change as it goes through different developmental stages. This means that a puppy’s personality is not as stable as that of an adult dog.

However, there are some traits that tend to be part of the puppy or dog’s core personality. One of these is sensitivity. I seldom see a very fearful or sensitive puppy develop into a fearless dog. It’s good to keep in mind that even a sensitive dog can be taught to act more confident through training. Although confidence gained through training is a little different than natural confidence.

Puppy and adult dog temperament assessments
The outstanding pet dog has a remarkable combination of traits. These traits are quite unusual in the world of animals. Some, but probably not all of these traits can be more or less evaluated before we get a new dog.

When testing a puppy be careful not to use too much pressure. I tend to use less stressful assessment techniques with young puppies than with an adult dog. While evaluating the dog it must be stressed enough to get a realistic appraisal without pushing the dog past its individual limits. No matter what the dog’s age, do not to push it past a certain threshold. Whether you’re evaluating a puppy or adult dog, you must be able to read the dog and know when enough is enough.

On the first try this puppy approached me with some caution.<br />This pup would have done quite well if we were evaluating it with dominance subordination criteria. I did several of the standard puppy temperament tests with this dog and it did well with them. I did not do any of my usual stress tests because I thought this pup was too sensitive for them. I would expect this dog’s behavior to change when it gets settled into a new home.
On the first try this puppy approached me with some caution.
This pup would have done quite well if we were evaluating it with dominance subordination criteria. I did several of the standard puppy temperament tests and the puppy did well with them. I did not do any of my usual stress tests because I thought the pup was too sensitive. I expect this pup’s behavior will change as it gets settled into a new home. Take a look at New Dog Syndrome
Here I am evaluating the puppy with gentle touch instead of more forceful play
Here I am evaluating the puppy with gentle touch instead of more forceful play

Five temperament traits to test

  1. Fear
  2. Recovery
  3. Activity level
  4. Overt aggression
  5. Guarding

When temperament testing a dog or puppy there are several personality traits to evaluate. The first is to see how the dog reacts to social and environmental stress. The second is to see if the dog habituates to stimulation and/or recovers from the stress. Third, try to determine the dog’s activity level. Next would be testing the dog’s tendency to be overtly aggressive. It’s also good if you can test for guarding behavior.

Here I am looking for recovery after some very light stress.
I want to see if the puppy can recover from being stressed. It did show good recovery, but I used very little pressure in the evaluation

Some people may also have additional behavioral or trait criteria if the dog is needed for a certain kind of work or for a dog sport. If you really need the dog to have a certain trait, learn what that trait looks like in an adult and a young puppy. Keep in mind that you may not be able to accurately predict how the pup will develop. When I was working with police dogs it was customary to only get adult dogs that could be fully tested.

Many of the old puppy temperament tests talk about dominance and submissiveness. I don’t usually use these term with puppy tests. Instead I think in the terms of sensitivity, fear, and recovery. A dog can look quiet and submissive but really be overly frightened. It may take some time for this type of dog to feel comfortable in its new home and show its real personality. When looking for a dog, be aware that an overly confident, independent, or insensitive dog may also prove to be troublesome for many people. Dogs on both ends of the scale should be considered carefully by most people looking for a pet, especially first time pet parents.

While this dog was quite hardy it did not respond well to many of the social cues I test for. Not responding to human offered social cues may have many causes.
While this dog was quite hardy it did not respond well to many of the social cues I test for. Not responding to human offered social cues may have many causes.

When I have a large pool of dogs to select from I try to pick a dog that’s fairly confident, but responsive to social cues from humans and with a low level of overt aggression. I also like to see a dog that gets along with other dogs and preferably other animals like cats.

We can think of the dog’s sensitivity level on a hierarchy. What I call the sensitivity hierarchy. I usually think of it as a linear graph going from 1 to 100, but we can also think of it as a half circle with the majority of dogs towards the sensitive side. Another way to think about the distribution of core traits is a bell curve. Why are more dogs fearful as opposed to fearless?

Fear has survival value.
For thousands of years fear kept dogs alive. I have spent time watching wild and feral dogs and the ones that have some fear are better at avoiding being harmed by humans. I have also seen a similar trend in two populations of feral cats I watched for several years.

In most of the world, animals are not treated very nicely by humans. Fortunately dogs have developed a rather remarkable acceptance and trust of humans. So even if they are a little fearful of people they still show what to us looks like unconditional love.

One reason this dog was less responsive to me could be due to the dog having been in a crate combined with its active nature. I think it may also have something to do with its past experiences with people. Often young dogs will act this way because people have inadvertently rewarded this type of behavior. This dog was too active for one of the cats or else I would have spent more time evaluating its response to human cues.
One explanation why this dog was less responsive to human social cues could be due to the dog having been in a crate for sometime, combined with its active nature. I think it may also have something to do with its past experiences with people. Often young dogs will act this way because people have inadvertently rewarded active unfocused behavior. This dog was too active for one of the cats or else I would have spent more time evaluating its response to human cues.

Activity Level
A dog’s level of activity can also influence its behavior and how it fits into your lifestyle. Very active dogs display more units of behavior in a given amount of time. By behaving more they are more likely to perform some behavior the owner thinks are problems. All things being equal, I would say that an active dog is also more likely to exhibit undesirable behavior than a calm dog. This does not mean all active extreme dogs misbehave. But they do have a higher tendency to misbehave. Fortunately training can often channel this active energy. Training can redirect the dogs drive toward more desirable behavior. When looking for a new dog be cautious of a super calm dog. It’s not uncommon for a very calm dog to either be very afraid or sick.

A big plus for this dog is that it responded very well to forceful play with little signs of stress.
A big plus for this dog is that it responded very well to forceful play with little signs of stress.

Overt Aggression
Aggression is an interesting subject that would take a lifetime to explore. While we may never fully understand it, as citizens of the world we should learn as much as we can about it. Aggression can take many forms from highly ritualized aggression seen in play to overt aggression where the dog is trying to kill. I like to select dogs that are not high in aggression. Even when I am selecting a dog that will be used for protection training I try to stay away from very aggressive dogs. Again there is a hierarchy of aggression. I think of this hierarchy or scale going from 1 to 100. The best pet dogs are not higher than 35 on the scale. If a dog is very emotionally stable then I think a dog up to about 50 will have very little chance of biting someone it shouldn’t. The higher the dog’s level of aggression the more the dog and owner need training. However, if the aggression is associated with other behaviors such as guarding it can be more of a problem.

In this picture you can see this dog was quite possessive of its toy. There was no growling or overt aggression, but there was a “you can’t have it” attitude. I think this dog has potential to be a great dog in the right home. However, it would need some training to harness all that energy and teach it to be more responsive to people.
In this picture you can see the dog was quite possessive of its toy. There was no growling or overt aggression, but there was a “you can’t have it” attitude. I think this dog has potential to be great in the right home. However, it will need some training to harness all that energy and teach it to be more responsive to people.

Guarding
I consider guarding as a special part of the aggression equation. Playful guarding like play growling is nothing to be concerned about. However, more serious guarding is something every dog owner should be on the lookout for.

Guarding and possessiveness are related but not exactly the same thing. Are you interested in protection dog sports? If you are, then you may want a dog that shows some possessiveness,, but still without overt aggression. Often aggressive guarding of food, toys, the bed, and people can be managed through proper training.

The selection criteria you use to get a dog should match the reasons you’re getting a dog. We each have different needs. For each important trait you need to determine what you consider an ideal level or intensity as well as the level you can live with. You will probably find a dog that falls somewhere in-between the two.

If you’re considering adding a new dog or pup to your home give me a call at

It is better to have some idea of the behavior to look for before you bring that bundle of love into your home than after problems begin.

I am wishing you the very best in dogs and in life,
Andrew Ledford

How Do I Get My Dog To Like My Cat?

It’s not uncommon to introduce a new dog into a household that already has a pet. It is most common for people that have dogs to add another one. I did a short article about having two dogs in a families a while back. While two or three dog households are quite common, I also get calls from people who have one or more cats and are adding a dog. Adding a dog to a cat household has some special challenges.

Some things to consider when adding a dog to a cat house

  • How old is the cat?
  • How old is the dog?
  • How does the cat take to the dog?
  • How does the dog take to the cat?
A Dog Can Like a Cat
A Dog Can Like a Cat

Aggressive and fearful animals are more difficult to harmonious integrate into a balance and stable multi species living arrangement. If both the dog and cat are aggressive and/or fearful it will be more complicated. You may never be able to have the two together. However, with careful management they may be able to live in the same house without getting to each other.

If only one of your pets is a problem there is a better chance of multiple species integration.

If you have an adult cat that is fearful and a young puppy your chances of integration is fairly good. In this case it will be a matter of socializing in such a way as not to stress the cat too much, yet expose the pup enough that it bonds with the cat.

Training the cat to like the dog will require a bit of creativity. I have worked with quite a few cats ranging from very social to very fearful. In the 80s I helped care for up to 70 feral cats. At that time I also offered cat training as a separate service. Now I only do cat training as part of a dog training program.

The sociable cat

With a people friendly cat we can sometimes use the person as a calming agent and as reinforcement. For people friendly cats this works more than 50 percent of the time. However, when using this method one must take precautions to avoid accidental harm to the human and sometimes the cat.

Fearful cats

For very fearful cats and cats that are not overly people friendly we may be able to manipulate the environment to help accustom the cat to the dog.

Sometimes a dog will not be hostile toward the cat but too energetic in its play. We especially see this in puppies and young dogs. These dogs need to learn impulse control. I would also recommend teaching the playfully active puppy to respond to standard obedience commands. Having command control will give you the ability to manage the pup’s behavior when it gets too forceful.

I also work with quite a few adult dogs who are being adopted into a house that already has a resident cat. This can pose some additional challenges. First we need to determine how much of a threat the dog is to the cat. This is not always possible, but I can get a good idea by observing the dog. Some older dogs will never be good with cats. Then there are other dogs who will only be good with the cat in the presents of a human with authority.

Dog Playing With Cat
Dog Playing With Cat

I have heard people say that you should just let the cat give the dog a couple good swats. The idea is after getting smacked by the cat the dog will learn to leave the cat alone. This works sometimes. It would probably work best in a scenario with young dogs. However, there are times when it is not practical or the right thing to do. I have had several German Shepherd Dogs who would not be at all deterred by any domestic cat. My last dog was one of these. He would let a cat play with his tail and show indifference if I was around. However, if I was absent he would go after and get cats rather quickly. If a small person (someone under 130 lbs) was holding the leash he had no qualms about pulling them along behind as he continued his forward drive for the cat prize. The dog I had in high school was much worse. That dog would chase anything. I had a rather dog aggressive and crafty cat at the same time. Needless to say the cat and the dog did not get along. The cat would lure the dog under the bed then scratch him. The dog acted as though he didn’t care. He wanted the cat no matter what. Fortunately we learned how to manage both the dog and the cat so that neither one would harm the other.

No matter how good your new dog and cat combination seem to be getting along, I would not leave them alone together for at least 6 months. During this time you will have a chance to observe any behavior that may indicate there could be a problem. By going through a dog training program I would hope that you learn the subtle tell tale signs of possible problems. If you are in one of my training programs you can always call me for a follow-up phone consultation.

Wishing you the best in dogs and in life,

Southern California Dog training

Who was the most popular dog at the Long Beach Halloween Dog Parade?

Many of my readers know I have posted pictures of the Long Beach Dog Parade for several months on my Google Plus page. While Google Plus does not have as many people as FaceBook it is easier to connect with fans who like your business. I wanted to use this ease of contact to share the photos with the least friction possible. As I was nearing the last pictures I decided to see which ones were most popular and pick a top dog of the year. I was working the day of the parade so I didn’t have time to stick around to see who the official winner was. But I can tell you who the Adaptive Dog Training Google Plus winner is.

This probably isn’t a totally fair competition. When I started sharing the pictures I was not planning on telling everyone who the most popular dog was, so I posted them across my Adaptive Dog Training business page, my profile page, and the Dogs Community. There were several great costumes of both people and pets at this year’s parade.

The winning dog did the best across those networks. The other dogs, well they did better in some networks than others. So I could have three runners up and to complicate things even more, some pictures where shared in only one network.

I believe all of the dogs except the winning dog got more +1 on my profile and the Dogs Community. I imaging because both of those networks are larger.

Here are the most popular dogs posted to the Business page.

Rescue Dog looking for a home at the Halloween Parade
Rescue Dog looking for a home at the Halloween Parade

I was surprised to see one of the rescue dogs looking for a new home ranked quite high in popularity. I don’t think this dog was even entered into the official parade.

Pink Dogs with a message
Pink Dogs with a message
Tony the Tiger Great Dane
Tony the Tiger Great Dane

 

There were a lot of Great Dane at this years parade.

Big Star War Dogs
Big Star War Dogs

Notice the cute hotdog in the lower right

Hot Air Balloon Great Dane
Hot Air Balloon Great Dane

 

and the Winner is Spot the Great Dane with a Wonderfully Colorful tail sock

Great Dane Spot with a Tail Sock
Great Dane Spot with a Tail Sock

Wishing you the best in dogs and in life,

Southern California Dog training

Philosophical and Social Implications of Dog Training in Society and on Communities

I started this article for a new project I am working on. As I was writing, it occurred to me that pet owners and others may benefit from some of the information.

Let me start with a synopsis of my bio. I first started training when I was around 11 years old. In high school I was fortunate to train with William Koehler. After high school I started training dogs in Long Beach and Paramount California. I worked for several security companies and even managed one when I was around 19 or 20. I have trained police dogs and dogs for television and film. In the early 80s I started doing positive reinforcement training using food. At that time training with food was very much discouraged by most dog trainers. In the mid 80s I had a cable TV program and I have written two books.

The Benefits Of Dog Training

Showing the benefits of dog training - this Labrador Retriever is sitting nicely at the door
Showing the benefits of dog training – this Labrador Retriever is sitting nicely at the door

Dog training can teach people how to better manage behavior. While we are learning about managing our dog’s behavior we are also learning about managing behavior in general. The style of training used will orient a person towards different aspects of behavior management. A soft style of training will teach soft styles of getting behavior. A hard style will encourage a more straight to the point hard style of behavior management.

While these two styles of behavior management can be thought of as opposites, they each contain a bit of the other. I like to think of each style a bit like the concept illustrated in the yin yang symbol. Even in the black there is some white and in the white there is some black. One training style can be thought of as feminine and the other masculine. It is good to know about each style of behavior management, even if you prefer one over the other.

If you prefer the soft style of training, that’s great. For society to evolve, the soft style is probably going to be the one that leads toward survival of our species and the world. If you prefer the hard style that can be good too, others will appreciate your ability to take control and lead as well as value your effectiveness. We need to understand that we live in a culture that’s ruled by the hard style of behavior management. When navigating life we need to be aware that our culture relies on primitive and punitive rules more than on love and acceptance. I also enjoy history so let me make an observation and comparison about this in relation to the prevailing religion in the United States.

Religion controls lot of our behavior so I think it’s appropriate to mention it in this section. The moral rules that govern society are more in line with a 4th century army general = Constantinian, than the Christianity taught by Christ. While Christ could be aggressive such as when he gave exploitive bankers a thorough whipping, he was primarily an advocate and promoter of the soft style of behavior management. As world cultures continue to mature those working toward a just society need to refine and integrate soft styles of behavior management while navigating a world controlled by the hard. Training with a reinforcement oriented system can show us the way to a better world.

Responsibility

It’s every dog owner's responsibility to have their dog under control
It’s every dog owner’s responsibility to have their dog under control

As I have mentioned in my Book “Best Friends Learning Together” I think dog owners need to be more responsible that other citizens. We need to set an example and be at the forefront of keeping dogs a socially acceptable part of our culture. This is an area that encompasses the larger culture we live in as well as the micro dog cultures we inhabit. As B.F. Skinner alluded to, we all come under the control of our culture. We need to make sure there are positive dog cultures out there to support the further development of dogs and humanity.

Just as animal rights initiatives have changes social norms so too will new forms of dog training. It is very likely that rules from dog training will play an important role in the development of our nation’s cultural. The foundation for these changes were made in the 50s and 60s, but putting them into practice is easier said than done. I believe many of these practices will start in dog sub cultures, then work their way into the larger national culture. The difficult part will be for the positive dog cultures to not become the thing they want to replace. This is an interesting phenomena that occurs when groups begin to feel self righteous. It can be observed not only people but to some degree in animals too.

What behavior is essential for being a good neighbor?
One practice that makes dogs more socially acceptable and helps to safeguard the health of others is picking up after our dogs. If we expect others to accept our pets we need to be good neighbors and make sure our dogs are not a nuisance. Training your dog can also help by ensuring the dog in your care has good manners when in public. Dog training will also decreases the chance a dog will be aversive or disrupt neighbors when it is at home as well.

Dog Ownership And Public Health
Dog owners can play an important role in public health. The whole adopt from a dog pound movement was really in response to a government problem that started as a solution to a public health policy. When the government decided to remove dogs from their natural environment and impound them they created several other problems. You need to understand that caring for and housing a lot of dogs cost a lot of money. Impounded dogs also created a big public relation problem. It turns out the public was not happy with dogs being scooped up and killed in mass. To solve these problems local governments used animal rights groups to promote cost reduction spay, neuter, and adopt programs. People who are interested in animal welfare have an incentive to help the animals and local governments have a huge incentive to save money. Putting the blame of overcrowded dog pounds and the killing of impounded dogs on others has also helped solve some of their Public Relation Problems.

As a society we need to be careful with our animal control policies or we’re likely to create some undesirable long term side effects. Many of these policy changes have roughly paralleled a PR strategy to change the term dog pound to the euphemism animal shelter. But I believe a rose by any other name smells the same. Over the years it has been very interesting to watch animal control policies develop. It is also insightful to observe how other countries are addressing the same issues.

When the government’s response to animal centric health issue collided with public sentiment we saw the impact dogs can have on culture. However, I believe it’s economics more than anything that’s helping to change the dog pound system. Official policies and public sentiment both have positive and negative effects on our dog populations. Depending on future policies some of the negative effects could be very long lasting. The positive effects can also be long lasting. Hopefully the positive benefits will not be drowned out by the punitive nature of society.

Zoonotic Diseases
Zoonotic diseases are animal disease that can be transmitted to humans. While most people don’t think too much about these, there are some that need to be considered. There are also new diseases evolving the capacity to cross the species barrier all the time. Developing an awareness of zoonotic diseases and good animal husbandry practices plus good hygiene will allow pet owners to be part of a public health solution. There is a growing movement called the One Health Initiative that I think all people should be familiar with.

The One Health Initiative
This is the wikipedia.org definition of One Health
One Health has been defined as “the collaborative effort of multiple disciplines — working locally, nationally, and globally — to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.”

Many of the serious diseases of humanity are those that started in animals and crossed the species barrier to humans. I think one of the biggest reasons to be proactive with our animals is to make society better for both people and animals.

The single most important precautions dog owners can take to keep society safe while safeguarding their dog’s well being is to properly vaccinate their dogs.

Social And Cultural Implications of Dogs In The Community

Well behaved dogs have a cohesive effect on local communities
Well behaved dogs have a cohesive effect on local communities

Well behaved dogs have a cohesive effect on local communities. Where anti social dogs tend to have a disruptive effect on the community. This was clearly illustrated with a trip I recently took to a local park. I had a very amiable dog and another person at the park had an out of control and very aggressive dog that they could not handle. The aggressive dog made it so I had to leave the park and I’m sure other people with dogs left soon after I did. That one irresponsible dog owner disrupted the tranquility of every dog owner who was visiting the park. In fact this one out of control dog had the potential to disrupt the lives of the whole neighborhood. I’m sure it also intimidated many non dog owners too, especially those with small children. In contrast my dog was happy to see other dogs as well as people and encouraged positive social interaction with people.

As people see each other in the neighborhood on a regular basis they get to know each other. This begins to form the network that is so important for a sense of community. I would venture to say that in general people who walk their dogs on a regular basis know more of their neighbors than those who do not have dogs. Those who walk their dogs also know the neighborhood better and can tell you about the condition of the neighborhood and what kind of people live in the immediate area. We also know about safety issues, park activities, if park sprinklers are working properly (a big deal during drought in the south west) and who the homeless are and when they’re at the park. Dog walkers are the eyes and ears of the neighborhood.

Getting back to health, walking a dog has many health benefits. Walking the dog is a great way to encourage not only more social engagement within the community, but also a way to improve the health of the community. I know many people with diabetes who are suppose to do more walking. They tend to enjoy walking more if they have a well behaved dog to share the walk with.

Teaching about responsible pet ownership also improves the quality of life in a community by helping to control nuisance dog behavior and can provide guidance for long term harmony between animals and people, which ultimately impacts both public safety and public health.

By studying dogs we can get a better picture of natural systems. When we understand natural systems we will be able to make better decisions. Making good decisions about natural systems helps create well planned policies that have long range implications.

If you know about dogs you know about life!
Andrew Ledford

How To Keep Two Aggressive Dogs In The Same House

By Andrew Ledford 714-827-4058

Keeping dogs that are aggressive toward each other is not a problem most people have. However, it is a problem I encounter enough that I wanted to write about it. Actually what motivated me to write this was working with a couple of dogs who do not get along. You may not own two incompatible dogs but there is a good chance at some point you will have a dog visit that doesn’t get along with yours, or you may go on vacation with dogs who don’t like each other.

I have never trained Long beach police dogs, this photo was taken at one of their events. However I done some work with Long Beach Police.
I have never trained Long beach police dogs, this photo was taken at one of their events. However I have done some work with Long Beach Police.
When I had a Long Beach Cable TV program Officer Stuart and Kon the German Shepherd Dog were frequent guests. At that time I also got to attend and video several of their officer survival courses.
When I had a Long Beach Cable TV program Officer Stuart and Kon the German Shepherd Dog were frequent guests. At that time I also got to attend and video several of the Long Beach Police K9 officer survival courses.

When I was younger I mainly worked with aggressive dogs doing police and security work. Often we had several dogs in the house or kennel that really enjoyed having a go at each other. It seemed quite natural to just keep them apart. I know many of the people I work with think it’s unnatural to keep their pet dogs separated. I just want to point out that this is one option. Even if you only use separation as a temporary option.

I have managed a kennel with over 60 security dogs. These dogs would all be let out at the same time and they were housed two dogs to a run. They had to learn not to fight when let out and when being fed. It took a few weeks but they did learn real fighting, fence fighting, and excessive barking was not allowed.

I remember one day while picking up pans one dog got out and cornered me. I thought I was going to do battle with that dog. Fortunately the owner of the security business/kennel came out gave the dog a stern command and it went right back into its run. This incident emphasized how important one of my rules is. That rule is always secure the latch on kennel runs. This applies to gates too. You will read a bit more about this rule later.

I am going to go over environmental management more than training. While training is important, it may take some time before both dogs are trained. However, you can start managing the dog’s environment right now.

The first and the obvious solution to preventing dog fights is don’t let the dogs get together. This is often easier said than done. It takes cooperation from all the people who have access to the dogs. While teaching everyone to keep the dogs separated is part of a management strategy, we cannot rely on people doing it. At least we can’t rely on everyone in the house successfully managing this behavior without some planning and good environmental design.

Usually one or both dogs are motivated to engage the other. Often they are looking for that window of opportunity. The unlatched door, careless guest, or obliging child. Dogs can move mighty fast and it is never pleasant to break up a dog fight.

We can keep the dogs separated by confinement and restraint. I prefer confinement, but a combination of confinement and restraint may sometimes be useful.

Confinement involves having one or more barriers between the two dogs. Restraint could be keeping one or both dogs on a leash.

As a general rule I use at least two barriers to keep the dogs away from each other. If you are using two dog runs/kennels make sure the dogs cannot do any fence fighting. To discourage fence fighting have the runs away from each other. I used to have a small kennel in the desert and I always had at least one dog run away from the others. The separate kennel was for that problem dog that just didn’t get along with others. Eventually the problem dog would be integrated into the general dog population, but it would start off away from the others.

The snap keeping the latch closed is located behind the plant.
The snap keeping the latch closed is located behind the plant.

You will also want to make sure no one accidentally lets the dogs out. A motivated dog can breach a barrier in several ways. One way they can get past the barrier is learning how to open a gate or door. This is how the security dog that cornered me got out. You need to make sure the dogs can’t let themselves out or in. I usually secure the gate latch with a snap, gate hook, or lock.

Having two gates satisfies one of my rules for dog safety – keep at least two barriers between the dog(s) and the problem.

I once had a very aggressive and somewhat unstable German Shepherd Dog and my rule for him was to have at least three barriers between him and the public. I also took the extra precaution that his dog run/kennel was to always be locked.

The three barrier rule is also good for some households with dogs that are very aggressive toward each other. It gives an extra measure of security when more than one person makes a mistake at the same time. It may seem unlikely that two people would be opening each gate or door at the same time, but the scenario is more common than you would think.

A dog run inside a gated side yard will add the extra barrier to a two dog run setup.

You can also crate one dog and put the other in a dog run or secured side yard. If people keep all the house doors closed you now have three barriers between the two dogs. There can be some negative consequences to this method, so I recommend consulting a dog trainer before you choose using a crate. Especially if you use it more than occasionally.

One of the biggest rules that must be followed is to always close Doors or Gates.

Dog Safety Rule Number One
Close the Door! Close the gate!
The door cannot be left open – not even for a second.

Another option although less reliable, is to use a baby/puppy gate
An Ex Pen is good but another option, although less reliable, is to use a baby/puppy gate

There are some extra safety measures that can be taken for dogs that bolt doors. As a temporary solution I will sometimes put an exercise pen (ex pen) up as a barrier to the door. If the ex pen is not secured a determined dog will crash right through it. Even if it is secured it may only give you a few extra seconds to react. But those few seconds can be a life saver.

Some people will find that a quick closing mechanism on the door is a good investment. This is particularly true if there are a lot of children in the house and it can also assist forgetful gardener/lawn care workers.

It has been my experience that having just a house door separating two or more aggressive dogs is not enough. It is too easy for someone going through the door to let a dog to slip past. What I find happens more frequently is that many people will not completely close the door. This is what happened with the dogs that prompted this post. In breaking up the dogs fighting I injured my hand. It has been over three months and my hand still hurts. For a couple of months it was my whole arm that ached. My use of that arm was limited for at least the first month. If you only have house doors separating the dogs you should invest in at least a couple of ex pens to put up around the inside of the house and the outside as well.

I also suggest installing self closing security doors leading to the yard and have security doors for sliding glass doors as well. These are improvements that will provide additional benefits other than keeping the dogs away from each other.

An alarm system that lets you know when a door is left open would be another good add-on that could be very helpful. It will also assist in teaching the humans to close doors.

This Chow Chow with wearing a Muzzle had a few issues
This Chow Chow wearing a Muzzle had a few issues

Another option and one that I usually classify more with training is getting the dogs used to wearing a muzzle. Teaching a dog to wear a muzzle should be part of regular pet training. There are several scenarios where having a muzzle on the dog may be necessary. If I remember right all sheriff dogs needed to wear a muzzle when being transported in a helicopter. Being comfortable with a muzzle will be useful when transporting and housing dogs in emergencies such as earthquakes and fires. Both of which we have a lot of in California.

Wishing you the best in dogs and in life,

Southern California Dog training
714-827-4058

One or Two Dogs and Behavior Problems Associated With Multi-Dog Families

What are some problems encountered when more than one dog lives in same house?

By Andrew Ledford 714-827-4058

Many people believe having two dogs will reduce behavior problems. The logic is two or more dogs will keep boredom away. But is it really true that the companionship of another dog will keep them out of mischief? People who are away from the home a lot are especially likely to get two dogs at the same time. In some scenarios having two dogs to keep each other company will work. However, I’ve seen many dog behavior problems amplified by having two or more dogs in the house.

Two German Shepherd Dogs in a Board and train program
Two German Shepherd Dogs in a Board and train program

Why would this happen? One reason is because there will be some competition between the dogs. Even mild competition can exaggerate destructive behavior. Competition and the desire to play tug can result in destroyed pillows, carpets, and other fun to play with items.

Competitive group play can also be seen in digging. If you have ever watched a group of dogs hunting rats you will see some intensive group excavation. I have observed this most vividly while living in the desert where there are a lot of kangaroo rats that live in sandy soil. I have seen the same hunting strategy without the digging in feral dogs that hunt on more solid terrain. Even if your dog is not chasing rodents it may like to play as though it is. In Southern California I have seen quite a few dogs that like to dig up the big white grubs living under the lawn. Other favorite digging targets can be sprinklers and sprinkler wires.

There are also some undesirable social behavior patterns that dogs in a two dog household are more likely to display. One of these is jumping on people. I have noticed that two dog households have dogs with a higher tendency to jump on people. I think this could be due to the dogs jumping on each other throughout the day. Jumping on others becomes a standard form of social interaction. While the dogs know people and dogs are different they tend to use jumping to interact with both. Even when the dogs are taught not to jump the training tends to break down faster because the dogs are highly rewarded for jumping on each other.

Barreling into people can have a similar cause as jumping on people. Many dogs delight in rough play and would like to interact with their humans the same as they do with their doggy friends. Fortunately these behaviors can be modified and managed with a well designed training program.

Another problem I see in households with two or more dogs is related to having dogs from the same litter. I have observed that when siblings are raised together it’s not uncommon to have one brave dog and one overly sensitive dog. Bringing out an overly sensitive dog who lives with a brother or sister can be time consuming. However the benefits will outweigh the effort. In the process of making the dog more emotionally hardy you can also teach it to be more independent. Being overly dependent on a brother or sister is another problem encountered with two or more dogs from the same litter.

Being overly dependent on another dog can lead to separation anxiety. Developing separation anxiety is especially prevalent when siblings are raised together. Over dependence on another dog is likely to occur when any young dogs are raised together. It might not seem like this will be much of a problem, until you need to take one to the veterinarian or in for grooming. Sibling overdependence is something I teach dog owners how to manage when working with two dog families. To get the best results it is ideal to start a training program when the dogs are still puppies, under 16 weeks old.

Best practices for having a two dog family.

Even when you have dogs that are different ages in the same house it’s best to get one dog at a time. Get the first dog trained and then introduce the second dog. You may still have problems, but statistically you will have fewer problems. You’ll also find that if behavior problems are encountered it’s easier to correct or train one dog at a time.

If you are getting a new dog you may also like to read my article about how a dog settles into its new home – New Dog Syndrome

Wishing you the best in dogs and the best in life,
Andrew Ledford
Southern California Dog training
714-827-4058

Dog Training Season Begins 2013

Leash Training a Pit Bull in North Orange County
Leash Training a Pit Bull in North Orange County

Families with dogs this is the beginning of the dog training season. Yes that’s right, starting today here in California and many other states we get an extra hour of daylight with the beginning of daylight saving time.

Now my evening classes will start being done with a little more light, instead of being done when it’s dark.

Yes that’s right, daylight savings time starts today. Here in California and many other states we get an extra hour of daylight. That means it will be light when people get home from work. Which means more people will be spending time with their dogs after work.

Spring is the time of the year when people spend more time outside with their dogs. When spring is in the air people are walking their dogs and taking them to the park. Don’t you think it is a good idea to spend some of that time teaching your dog a few useful skills?

Give me a call and we can start a dog training program tailored to your dog’s personality and the dynamics of your household.

Wishing you the best in dogs and the best in life,
Andrew Ledford
Southern California Dog training
714-827-4058

 

How Do You And Society View Controlling Others and Controlling Dogs?

I am beginning to think I have opened a subject too big to cover in a dog training blog. This series would be best on a Philosophy and culture website or my personal site. While the article is about training it goes beyond training. The subject involves control in general and to what degree are we willing to force our desires onto another. What form does our preferred style of force take?

It appears that at least some to these posts will not be focused on dog training, but general ideas related to controlling others. I feel it is important to consider these issues when training our dogs. Control will come up as a major theme when you embark on a dog training program and even after you have quit formal training. Training never ends. You are training your dog anytime you interact with it. Your dog is always learning about its environment.

The Dogs Environment Matters in Dog Training and in Controlling Behavior
The Dogs Environment Matters in Dog Training and in Controlling Behavior

How the Environment controls behavior is a worthy area of consideration. The environment plays a part in controlling many aspects of dog training, self governance, and interacting with others. The Environment is a huge controlling variable.

The “Is Positive Reinforcement Best” series is setting the stage to work through the linguistic wrangling of a contentious question. I want to find an answer that will cut through the emotional clutter. Originally I intended this to be a short series of posts. Now I don’t know how long it will be. As I ponder the illusions and practices of controlling our dogs the project has become much more interesting.

One of the interesting attributes of dog training is it can take on many of the roles and functions found throughout society. It is a mix of Culture, Philosophy, Strategy, Science, Economics, Mythos and Personal Beliefs.

Dog training encompasses the human experience. Dog training gives us a way to both express and model what it is to be human. We can see the best and the worst of humanity in the human/dog experience. Dogs are micro cultures within a household and they are also players in a macro culture influencing world politics.

Edshu The Dog Trainer
Edshu The Dog Trainer

I have a wide area of interests so I may reference ideas that are culturally different than what is familiar to most. The figure of Edshu is from an African tradition. The Edshu story I am most familiar with is his causing mischief by wearing a red and black hat. It is quite common for me to don my imaginary black and red hat when I have some question that needs to be answered. In this series I am afraid I am going to wear that hat. So please forgive me I don’t want anyone to be judged or condemned because of my hat or my insight. The Edshu story as I learned it is a little different than the wikipedia version.

So many blogs I read are the same old thing; they just repeat what other people say.

I have read that when people explain what others want to know about it’s called being a thought leader. I may do that in this series of articles, but I hope to accomplish something more. Hopefully I can do more than explain an aging argument or an entrenched dogma. I hope to add new meaning to an old question. Find new answers and help people gain new insight. I do not desire to be a thought leader as much as I try to be a thought innovator. You wouldn’t want me to just rehash the same old thing would you?

When I first started training with food it was a time when most people condemned positive reinforcement training
When I first started training with food it was a time when most people condemned positive reinforcement training

One problem with innovation is it can be controversial. When I started using positive reinforcement, I was constantly told I could not do that with dog training. I took a lot of heat for my training style and my views of how best to control the dogs I worked with. Now some years later there is a new all positive reinforcement culture that has developed some interesting qualities of its own.

Until next time

Wishing you the best in dogs and the best in life,
Andrew Ledford
Southern California Dog training
714-827-4058

Questions About All Positive Reinforcement Dog Training Is It really Best For Our Pets?