Paw-in-Hand Workshop 2014 Updates!!

A successful 1st workshop! As tiring as everyone was, I hope everyone enjoyed and learn a lot.

photo 1Friday & Saturday session. Cozy, relax and interactive session.

photo 2Sunday’s practical session.

photo 4Heidie the Corgi cross is an anti-social dog. She lunges at other dogs when in sight and walking pass. With positive conditioning session on socialisation, she cross her threshold step-by-step. Still lots of practice for her owner, Josephine one of the attendee.

photo 3Certificate presentation. Look at the smiles on their tired faces 🙂 It was a long and mental stimulating workshop for all 😉

Basic Obedience & Dog Behaviour Class

Finally!! We decided to start doing basic obedience classes after much persuasion from clients and friends.

That’s not all! Apart from the usual sit, down, stay & recall disciplines, we decided to include more fun and empowering knowledge about dog behaviour and psychology into our program. Whether it’s conducted in a group setting or in your home, this program will help every owner understand dogs better and know how to prevent unwanted behaviour from developing over-time.

Email us to find out more and to book a slot! Email us now! Hurry!

Basic-O 2014

Eyo & Toshi – Love, Hate Relationship

photo6-23
Working with Ezra from The Dog Behaviourist was a really positive experience for both our dogs and us as the owners as well. Ezra didn’t just leap-in and enforce rules blindly, he took the time to get to understand us and our situation, and customized a training plan based on our needs. We were particularly firm in our desire to only use positive training methods, and this was a perfect fit with Ezra’s style.

photo7He also helped us as dog owners – helped us understand them, how dogs learn, and the role we play in their development, their confidence and their happiness.

We had two different dogs with different challenges.

image (7)One was a 6 month old puppy, super excited and lovely but in need of some boundaries.

photo15The other was much older and very smart and obedient, but also very nervous and wary of strangers and her new little brother being in the house.

photo9With Ezra’s guidance we now have a much more peaceful home, with a well behaved but still very fun young boy, and the older girl is now much more accepting of his presence and they even play together and sleep in the same place.

B.

This is what we do…

Educating dog owners how we can work paw-in-hand with dogs in a respectful and positive way.

Clarification: “The difference between a dog trainer and a dog behaviourist is, a dog trainer is like a teacher, and a dog behaviourist is like a counsellor”. This being said, it doesn’t make either one of us more superior than the other, but being focus on what we are train to know and what we are good at. As dog behaviourist, we do not teach agility, search and rescue, etc… we will always refer to a dog trainer. Like wise, our friends who are trainers will refer behavioural cases to us. It’s about complimenting both profession and not going against.

Thanks to Temasek Polytechnic students from Mass Communications course who film this short documentary clip about our job here in Singapore. Great job done!

Paw-in-Hand Workshop 2014

Paw in Hand workshop is for everyone who loves dogs and wants to understand more about dogs.

Simply click here to reserve your slot. Slots are limited!
(if unable to click on ‘here’, copy link:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1LGTTe-u5QQaHZy8KP-gkBQCZgJB53RYIJazmDCFAejQ/viewform )

Paw-in-Hand Workshop 2014-A&PFor more enquiries, drop us an email.

Date of workshop: 28th – 30th March 2014
Workshop fee: S$280.00
Includes: Notes, Starter Package, Meals & Certificate of Participation
Location: 28th March @ Ang Mo Kio (Kawaii Pets Shop), 29th & 30th March @ Sengkang

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Time-Out!

I believe many owners have heard of and maybe even used this form of discipline on their dogs. It is called the “time-out” corner. As smart as it sounds, it is actually not
if the owner is not taught the right way of doing it.

A few of my clients were previously taught to discipline their dog by putting them in a time-out corner or room. Time-out originates from sports such as ice hockey or basketball. In such sports, the time-out box allows the player to cool down before getting back into the game, hence a similar idea was conceived for dog training.

Every trainer or behaviourist has our own methods and philosophy to help
owners with their dog’s behaviour. However, what is often missing is the understanding and psychology of how the time-out is going to work for the dog.
I am not a firm advocator of time-out because eventually, the time-out corner becomes a punishment corner for the dog if the owner fails to follow through with rewarding the right behaviour.Kerb-0001

A mistake I have often observed with this practice is, for example; Sam (owner) walks over to Buggy (his dog) because Buggy has been barking non-stop at Sam’s guest. Sam takes Buggy to his time-out corner which is a playpen. Sam closes the playpen and walks over to entertain his guest. At this point, Buggy has stopped barking because he is in his time-out area. After a couple of minutes, Sam walks over to Buggy’s playpen and invites Buggy to come out. The moment he comes out, Buggy runs all over the place excitedly and starts barking again. The cycle repeats and eventually, Buggy is left in the playpen until the guest leaves.

Do you think Buggy understood that he was not supposed to bark when a guest is present? Or did Buggy get to reflect long and hard enough in his time-out corner to learn that barking at guests is an inappropriate behaviour? No, Buggy did not get the message! All he got was a punishment which did not lead to a reward when he behaved. He was not rewarded for his calm behaviour before being let out of the playpen, that is supposed to be his calm and secure corner, now gets negatively associated with being punished. A follow-through with the discipline that you want to enforce is very important. After the follow through, as equally important is the reward for the right behaviour.

The right thing to do would be; use a sound to get Buggy away from the door. Lead Buggy to his resting area and reward him for staying calm. Give him a stay command. Then confidently turn and walk towards the door and attend to your guest. If Buggy gets up, repeat the process. He will soon begin to understand that he gets a fair treatment for being in the best behaviour, and he gets rewarded for it. Of course, this is just one out of several methods to help Buggy associate the right behaviour positively.Kerb 0002

To set the perception right, I prefer to call that time-out corner as “the dog’s sanctuary” instead. Your dog should relate that “sanctuary” as an area where it finds comfort and rest, with a very positive association. Some dogs like mine, relate that area with sleeping and chilling the whole day. Other dogs relate to that area as lots of food. Once your dog is able to associate the area positively, it will be a walk
in the park asking your dog to go to that area.

For instance, with my dog Vogue; each time my wife and I reach home, Vogue will run to the kitchen (due to the layout of our house, she has a very comfortable space
in the kitchen), hop onto her bed and sit. She will then wait for us to put our stuff down before she comes out again calmly. We have helped her associate her bed as a safe and positive place to be, rather than being at the door.

It takes consistency and patience to help a dog associate a right behaviour with the right discipline. Give yourself a realistic timeline to successfully help your dog the right way, and don’t rush it. Even if it takes 2-3 months, that is still better in the long run than rushing it and doing everything wrongly.

by Ezra Koh

*No dogs was harm in the process of taking the pictures. The dog is a good actor when there’s treats 😉 (he is an obedient dog)

Doorbell Obsession…

Ding Dong….. Woof woof woof woof woof woof…..

DoorbellHaving problems with your dog barking non-stop when the doorbell rings or when guest arrives? Here are 3 methods that we suggest you can try. However, always remember that you are helping your dog to associate positively to different / strange sounds in the house. Therefore, this will take time and consistency. We do not condone physical & hysterical practices such as caning, rolling newspapers, tennis rackets, spanking, kicking, pushing hard, shouting your lungs out, or banging your room doors down to get your dog’s attention. We want your dog to learn calmness and associate that doorbell, door knocking and guest entering the house are positive experience.

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Method 1: The Delicious Bell!
When doorbell rings or when guest arrives knocking on the door and your dog starts to bark non-stop, whether your dog shows signs of fear towards the sound or guest or whether your dog shows over-excitement – use a food lure. Something that your dog cannot resist. Something that’s so heavenly to your dog that your dog rather follows the food and not the doorbell or the guest. Use that to lure your dog to his/her resting area yet door is still visible to your dog and you. Lure your dog into a sit – down position will be the best, but we’ll start with the sit first. At this point, do not let your dog have the food/treat yet. Continue with the lure, then invite the guest in. Once your guest have entered your house, your dog can have the food/treat. Immediately, but calmly take out another food/treat and lure your dog to the guest (you can get your guest to sit or stand) and reward him/her with the food/treat. Following that, give a food/treat to your guest and ask your guest to lure your dog into a sit position and then feed him/her. You can repeat the exercise with your guest giving your dog food/treats as many times. What we want to achieve is for your dog to understand that the sound of doorbell or the sound of door knocking presents a reward with the right behaviour. After which, we will also achieve to help your dog understand that as long as you, the owner allows the guest to enter the house, your dog gets a reward for following your response to the guest by being calm. (By Ezra Koh)

Method 2: My Owner is the Doorbell!
Have one universal command for your dog to stop what they are doing and follow you – whether it’s attention to other dogs, squirrels, food in the ground or people at the door. When the bell rings, go to your dog, use the command from the hallway and walk away from the door. Whether to the kitchen, or to your room. If your dog follows you to the kitchen, reward your dog with a treat and have your dog wait while you answer the door. If your dog walks back to bark at the door, do it again – go to your dog, use the command from the hallway and walk away from the door. Before this exercise becomes possible, you can simply ring the bell and knock on the door every time you walk through the doorway or when you come back home. Now they hear the door bell it’s not such a big deal. (By Soubhik Banerjee)

Method 3: My Dog Warns!
After your dog barks twice or thrice when the doorbell rings, say “OK” firmly to stop/acknowledge your dog. If your dog stops barking, reward your dog immediately and ensure that your dog stops barking after that. If your dog continues, follow method 1 or 2, but after your dog barks twice or thrice. This is when you want your dog to warn your of strangers or when there’s someone at the door. (By Jeremy Lim)

Note: These methods work with consistency and a lot of practice, but it goes a long way. Of course you can only start using this methods if your dog do not present defensive behaviour or guarding behaviour at the door or to guest. If they do, consult a professional.

This article is put together by our team of dog behaviourist!

Home Alone…..

Vogue-AngBaoIt’s the 1st day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Singapore!! Happy new year everyone!!

As we celebrate the Chinese New Year with countless house visitations, exchanging of Mandarin oranges and for the unmarried, collecting of red packets $$, let us not forget about our doggies. Not everyone has the luxury of bringing along their dogs for house visitation as the culture in Singapore is still not very open and more Singaporeans are still on-the-way of being educated. With that in mind, don’t forget to walk your dog(s) in the morning before you head out for visitations. That’s not all – remember to leave mental stimulating toys or IQ toys for your doggies while the human is out filling stomachs with Chinese New Year goodies.

And lastly, don’t forget to walk your dog again when you come back. As much as driving in Singapore is really a pain and it’ll be really tiring, especially during this festive season, our responsibility as dog owners cannot be neglected. We have to continue learning the right way to live and work hand-in-paw with our dog(s).

Ezra Koh

Ouch! The Dog Bites!

DogBiteBittenAttackBloodBitTeeth6Why do some dogs bite? Many will respond “because the dog is aggressive”.

But are those dogs really aggressive?

In my experience, a dog will only bite if the person/owner has trigger off a stimuli that causes the dog to react in such a manner, or if the person/owner has disrespected the dog. Whether in terms of space invasion or stepping beyond the comfort zone of the dog, a disrespectful behaviour has been read by the dog. Here, I’m talking about dogs with no psychological issues.

You will notice that I’ve been emphasizing about respecting dogs in almost all my articles. This is because dogs are very sharp when it comes to reading the human body language and associating scent, sound and sight into a command or an action. This does not mean that when we respect dogs first, we become losers or followers. As I’ve explained before, this is pure leadership. Like I always share with others as well as my team of associate behaviourists, we must stay current with the latest research and move on from the old ways. Humility in learning makes one a stronger leader. Here at The Dog Behaviourist, we do not discriminate trainers or behaviourists who do not share our sentiments and methodologies. We are all here for the very same purpose – to educate owners about their dogs and to help dogs understand humans. Therefore, rather than comparing between various trainers and behaviourists, we prefer to study and learn from best practices. We often teach people not to carry unhappy emotions when training dogs because dogs move on fast and they don’t dwell on the negative (although latest studies have shown that dogs do carry certain emotions, but I shall cover that in another article). As we learn the same from dogs, we too, should keep moving on.
Showing Teeth
I’ve heard many times over that when a person/owner gets bitten, they blame the dog. Seldom do I hear anyone admit that it’s their fault for causing the dog to react in that manner. I shall emphasize that whenever a human gets bitten by a dog, it is always the human’s fault, never the dog. And I’m not even talking about unbalanced dogs or dogs that have been pushed to their psychological limits. I’m talking about our companion dogs as well as feral (stray) dogs. As a canine behaviourist, my very first priority is my safety and the public’s safety, then the dog’s safety. Let’s be really honest; dogs are way smarter than what most people assume them to be! They are intelligent animals and they instinctively know how to take great care of themselves. Therefore, with that level of respect to dogs, I always ensure that when handling a behavioural consultation, I do not act as a hero. I take care to stay sharp and alert. If I’m able to handle a reactive dog without getting bitten, I know that I’ve respected the dog, and the dog is respecting me in return. But if I get bitten, I know that I’ve disrespected the dog’s space or comfort level.
Dog Bite
In a recent session I had with a client, her dog Sally (not the dog’s real name) nipped my foot when I entered the house. At the first instance, it may seem like Sally was the one at fault. But in retrospect, I went in the door too fast, knowing that Sally is very nervous and defensive. Due to that sudden movement of the door opening and someone foreign walking in, Sally reacted, communicating to me using her mouth that she’s uncomfortable with me entering the door. This is my first time being nipped by a dog during a behaviour consultation session with a client. It was very clear that I’ve disrespected her space, failed to take heed in her high-tone nervous barking and went ahead to enter the door. When she used her mouth to communicate to me that she’s uncomfortable with my presence, she wasn’t baring her teeth. Her nipping was akin to how a sheepdog nips the heels of the sheep, only harder. The result: a small scratch on my upper foot.

I was once told that as long as you work with dogs, you will get bitten badly at least once. But I still choose not to hold this belief. In all my client consultations, I’ve never been bitten or nipped before. Yes, this was the first, and it shall be the last. All it takes is for us as humans, to learn how to respect dogs first. Be sharp and meticulous in reading and understanding the dog’s body language and its communication to us, and you can prevent not just a bite, but even a small little nip.

To conclude: don’t act a hero. Whether you are a trainer, behaviourist, dog handler, a volunteer in a shelter or an employee in a pet shop, educate yourself with dog’s behaviour and body language. If you are not comfortable handling a certain dog’s behaviour, don’t be too proud to turn away from it. And never be complacent when handling dogs even when you have long term experience in handling dogs. It just means you have more to learn from dogs.