A Simple Key to Canine Friendly Holidays

Top Quote Does your puppy or dog add to holiday cheer or create holiday trouble? Problem behaviors can be easily solved according to Paul Owens, professional dog trainer and a best-selling author who is well known for his positive reward-based methods. End Quote
    QuoteTeaching a dog to do what you want, instead of punishing her for doing what you don't want, is what nonviolent, compassionate training is all about.Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) December 10, 2012 - Does your puppy or dog's holiday greeting consist of knocking Grandma over when she arrives with presents? Or does he think that the food on the dinner table is just for him? Or treat every holiday gift as his own, excitedly ripping them open to play with as he likes?

    Professional dog trainer and best-selling author Paul Owens says most puppies and dogs can easily be trained with compassionate, nonviolent methods so that problems such as jumping on guests, barking, raiding the dinner table, or running out the door whenever it is opened can be eliminated. Owens is known by many as the "original" Dog Whisperer and is the author of the books, "The Dog Whisperer" and "The Puppy Whisperer." His work is featured on the DVDs, "The Dog Whisperer Vol. 1, Beginning and Intermediate Dog Training for Puppies and Dogs" and "The Dog Whisperer Vol. 2, Solving Common Behavior Problems for Puppies and Dogs."

    Owens says that most people know what they DON'T want their dog to do and their only solution when he does it is to punish the dog - and that doesn't feel good or create a holiday spirit for the person or the dog.

    According to Owens, the key to turning around troublesome behaviors is to focus on safety and "substitution." In terms of safety, Owens suggests that people think of the ways a baby or toddler is kept safe and says the use of kennels (crates) and baby gates can go a long way toward solving puppy and dog problems. The other aspect to problem solving is known as "substitution."

    Owens says, "Substitution is easy, you simply reward your dog for doing a behavior you WANT, rather than punish her for behaviors you don't want. Let's look at the example of a dog who runs out the door as soon as it is opened. It doesn't take long to teach a dog substitutions, such as 'when the doorbell rings, I'll teach my dog to go to his dog bed and lie down.' So, by first teaching your dog to lie down, then progressing to adding the signal of the doorbell, you have solved the problem. In other words, the doorbell becomes the signal to run to the bed and lie down. Your dog then knows what you want and does it automatically - and he's no longer being punished for doing what you don't want."

    Owens says, "Most puppies and dogs can easily learn to substitute signals and new behaviors for old ones with several five or ten minute sessions of practice a day, just in time for the holidays! Just like anything else, the length of time it takes has to do with how long the bad habits have been going on and your own training consistency and skill. But almost every dog can be easily trained to substitute 'lay down,' 'go to your bed,' 'get a toy,' or 'sit' for the disruptive behaviors that cause problems for family and friends."

    Other examples Owens gives of teaching substitutions include:
    * For a dog who steals food off the kitchen counter or table, teach the dog to sit or lie down or run to their bed whenever you place food on the table.
    * For a dog who jumps on people when they walk in the door, teach the dog to run to their bed whenever people walk in the door.

    Owens is one of a growing number of positive dog trainers whose methods are based totally on reinforcement and rewards, rather than methods that use punishment or emotionally exhaust an animal in order to change behavior. He says, "In almost every case, your puppy or dog wants to avoid unpleasantness and be rewarded instead. Teaching a dog to do what you want, instead of punishing her for doing what you don't want, is what nonviolent, compassionate training is all about."

    Owens says, "In addition to my books and DVDs, I offer lots of free video clips and free advice on my website, But if you get confused or stuck on how to teach your dog a behavior and want to contact a professional dog trainer in your area, be sure to inquire about his methods and choose one who only uses positive methods. This is especially true with fearful or aggressive dogs. Safety is always first."

    For the holidays, and throughout the year, you can keep your dogs safe and happy with the tool of substitution. And while you're at it, give that four-legged friend and family member of yours the gifts of praise, treats and belly rubs.

    Owens' website, offers free advice and free training videos, as well as DVDs and books on basic dog training and solving common behavior problems. A free sample of Owens' DVD, "The Dog Whisperer, Vol. 2: Solving Common Behavior Problems for Puppies and Dogs" is available on the topic of Kenneling on YouTube at

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