Blog


 

My name is Dan Perata and I want to welcome you to my dog training blog.  I’ve created a forum for dog owners to ask questions and share their concerns regarding their canine companions.  My goal is to be a resource for you in all things dog.  Each week I will address a different topic relating to dog behavior, training and ownership. 

I will cover common concerns such as separation anxiety, various degrees of aggression, housebreaking, leash pulling, and crate training, as well as, atypical topics like dog psyche, dogs and other animals including wildlife, the importance of nutrition, new babies, the aging companion, and traveling with your pet.  

If you have a topic you’d like addressed, please email us at blog@danperata.com.  We will do our best to cover your subject matter.
 

Puppy Socialization 101
6/5/2014 12:00:00 AM
Who Wears the Leash in Your House?
11/15/2013 12:00:00 AM
Communication
10/9/2013 12:00:00 AM
Introducing Your Pet to Your New Baby
9/16/2013 12:00:00 AM
Welcome to Dan Perata's Training Blog
8/22/2013 12:00:00 AM
Puppy Socialization 101
6/5/2014 12:00:00 AM



You've got a new puppy and you are looking forward to many happy years of bringing your dog with you nearly everywhere - the dog park, long hikes, friends' houses, road trips, campsites, your neighborhood, maybe even the local cafe where he can loll at your feet and thump his tail charmingly at all who pass by, inviting pats on the head and belly rubs. You envision your dog as an ambassador for his species, a friendly and relaxed diplomat able to charm your friends, other canines at the dog park, children and maybe even - gasp! - cats (perhaps there is hope for world peace, after all). 


So how do you bring up your pup to become this social butterfly, this gracious and amicable friend to all? You might think it's very simple and only a matter of giving your new puppy exposure to as many adults, children, and other dogs as possible, letting any and all pet and cuddle her or engage her in play.  Surprisingly, you'd be wrong, according to San Francisco dog trainer Dan Perata, a canine behaviorist with 25 years of experience coaching people - and their dogs - on the nuances of good canine citizenry. 

 

When it comes to the dog park, it may be tempting to put your puppy down and let him 'make friends' and play with all the other dogs, but the problem with this, says Dan, is that by and large the other owners aren't closely watching their pets in the way he recommends and the environment isn't nearly controlled enough for a puppy's introduction to the social world of dogs. 

 

"The ideal situation is one in which you can carefully introduce your puppy to a group of other dogs whose owners are equally invested in monitoring and controlling the dynamic," explains Perata, "and where behavior can be vigilantly observed and positively or negatively reinforced as needed." Try asking your dog-owning friends to make 'play dates' with you in a safe space where only your own dogs can hang out and play, thus eliminating the wild card of an unknown dog and its owner. You can also enroll your puppy in training classes, the ultimate in a controlled canine interactive environment, or have them spend time at 'doggie day care,' where professionals will likewise work on proper doggie etiquette with your latest family member.


Nothing attracts a crowd like a cute new puppy.   You might find yourself dealing with multiple requests to pet your pup on your morning walk. It might be tempting to smile and say yes and then stop to let your pup greet the stranger, accepting pets and perhaps even putting his paws on the new person. This is a big mistake, says Dan, cautioning "What you've just taught your dog is that you are not his master, but everyone is, and that's a recipe for disaster." 


Dan suggests responding to the friendly stranger with an answer of yes and a request that they wait just a minute. Keep walking your dog past the person and then, several feet away, stop, turn, and make your dog sit. Tell the stranger your dog's name and allow her to call your dog to her, something along the lines of, 'This is Spartacus, go ahead and call his name.' Once the stranger calls your dog you may allow it to go greet her while you vigilantly monitor his behavior and reinforce proper manners such as not jumping up and putting paws on others. 


"Now what you've taught your dog is that you're the pack leader and that it follows your direction and no one else's," says Dan, "as well as basics such as not to jump up or make overtures to strangers." 

 

These early socialization techniques are only the first building blocks to good dog manners and the beginning of a lifetime of healthy, safe interactions with people, children, and other creatures. Please check back with us for more techniques on socialization and other topics related to happy, healthy, well-behaved dogs.  Feel free to email us your concerns and questions (nothing is too off the wall, we promise - we've heard it all!) to San Francisco dog trainer Dan Perata and the whole Dan Perata Training family at: Fetch@danperata.com

 



Who Wears the Leash in Your House?
11/15/2013 12:00:00 AM

Pack Hierarchy and How it Relates to You


We’ve all seen or heard about it.  That family that’s afraid of their own dog.  It might even be you!  Or the small dog that barks incessantly and tries to threaten much larger dogs or humans.  These behaviors are a result of an imbalance of hierarchy in the home.  Dogs look to their human for guidance and direction.  When the dog feels like their human is not capable of leading, bad habits develop.  Dogs are very social animals that are born with a dog pack mentality.  It is important you understand how your dog thinks and operates.  Understanding their thought process and acting in a way to maintain leadership will allow you to have a well balanced, socialized pet. 

 

A wolf pack has a hierarchy with two alpha leaders consisting of a male and female followed by betas and the lowest member of the pack the omega.  The alpha male usually makes all of the decisions for the pack.  He decides where and when they hunt.  No one else eats until he says they can.  There is a strict order.  He is the only one who is allowed to mate with the alpha female.  Additionally, he gets the best spot to sleep which translates to comfort and protection from the elements.  The alpha pair does not accept insubordination.  If a lower pack member does not do what the alpha male says they receive swift and immediate punishment and sometimes banishment from the pack.  The pack is reliant upon every member following the rules set by the alpha pair for their survival.

 

Each member communicates dominancy, subservience and direction via body language and energy: stiff legs, direct eye contact, alert tail and increased energy can be signs of dominancy or aggression; head down and away, avoiding eye contact, giving space, tail down are signs of subservience.  Pack members observe the body language of one another to know how to react.  Similarly, your body placement, eye contact, and energy level all tell a dog how it should behave.  That is why learning to transfer your energy to your pet in a calm assertive way as the alpha dog of your personal pack will illicit the obedience you want. 

 

Once you let your dog get away with bad behavior you are creating a problem.  An insubordinate pack member in a wolf pack is disciplined immediately to keep order which furthers the health and happiness of the entire pack.  When every member behaves in their designated roll the chance of injury or starvation decreases.  Similarly, dogs need rules; as the pack leader you need to establish and maintain the rules to ensure compliance and harmony in your home.  You need to teach your dog to do things the right way in a calm assertive manner rather than just saying, “NO!” to the bad or spanking your pet.  You want to make doing the right thing the accepted and expected choice.  I can teach you how to make this happen in a session, but the way to start is for you to establish your place as leader in the pack.

 

To establish your leadership you can do things like: win at tug-of-war which shows you are stronger, eat first like the leader of the pack, place food on the ground but make your dog wait until you say it’s okay to eat it, and move your dog out of your way instead of going around him or her which translates to your dog yielding to your superiority.  Not letting your dog sleep on your bed is another way to establish leadership as the alpha member of the pack gets the best sleeping spot; when you let your dog sleep on your bed you are giving him or her equal footing in the relationship. 

 

Your dog looks to you for direction as the leader of the pack.  If you are not a calm assertive leader he or she will try to take over as the leader or do what he or she thinks is best.  Your dog will make the decisions for you both, but they’re usually poor ones.  If your dog does things like nip at you when you try to move him or her, growls at you when he or she is eating her food, not come when you say here, etc., you are not being recognized as the alpha in your personal pack.  In a wolf pack, no definite leader creates chaos which then leads to fighting and death.  Order is essential for pack survival.  The same goes for the continuity of your home.  If your dog becomes the pack leader trouble will ensue since your dog cannot perform the alpha roll of feeding the family.  Your pet cannot drive to the grocery store for food or pay the electricity bill for heat and so on.  That is why learning to establish and maintain your roll as pack leader is essential to harmony in your home.  You want to teach your dog how to act, not the other way around.

 

There are many different ways to correct your dog, but teaching it the right way to do something is the most effective way.  You will have to lead less when your pet knows the right way to do something as it knows its place and roll in the pack.  When you both know what to expect from one another you will have better communication and therefore a happier environment.  Hopefully, you’re holding the leash not wearing it.  However, if you are wearing it you are not alone and I’m more than happy to help you gain and maintain the alpha spot in your pack.  Please contact me.  I look forward to making your life easier.

 

 

 


Communication
10/9/2013 12:00:00 AM


How do you communicate with your dog?  Do you rely upon treats to elicit certain actions?  Do you have long verbal conversations?  Does your dog ever talk back to you?  Most likely not.  I like to joke and tell people there’s a reason dogs are called man’s best friend--because they don’t talk verbally!  Can you imagine the stories your dog could tell about you?  Most of us shudder to think about it.

Over the years I’ve seen many repetitive problems between people and their pets.  Most of the issues lead back to a failure of communication.  As humans, we rely mostly on verbal communication to express our physical and emotional needs or desires.  Often times we try to do the same thing with our pets.  Dogs have an amazing capacity for associating words with things or actions because they are a learned animal, meaning they observe and remember patterns.  If you get up every morning at the same time to start the coffee and let your dog out, he or she learned your pattern and knows what to expect at what time.  If you change that pattern by trying to “sleep in,” your plan may be foiled by your dog pacing next to your bed anticipating your usual pattern.  Verbal communication such as obedience commands like “sit” and “here” are another form of a pattern; they are repetitive words associated with a specific action.  The average number of words a dog knows is constantly debated; however, dogs who live with the hearing impaired or who themselves are deaf still can communicate with their owners...  Why?

The answer is energy.  Although your pet may be learning words through your verbal language, he or she is mostly relying upon your energy to discern what you are trying to say and whether or not you mean it.  You are the pack leader and your dog looks to you for direction.  A wolf or dog pack has a hierarchy.  Each member communicates dominance, subservience and direction via body language and energy: stiff legs, direct eye contact, alert tail and increased energy can be signs of dominance or aggression; head down and away, avoiding eye contact, giving space, tail down are signs of subservience.  Similarly, your body placement, eye contact, and energy level all tell a dog how it should behave.  That is why learning to transfer your energy to your pet in a calm assertive way will illicit the calm focused response you want. 

Your non-verbal cues like body language, hand signals, eye contact and energy are much more effective at communication than verbal language.  If you’ve ever had children you’ve probably experienced waking up just before them even though they didn’t make a sound.  You felt their change in energy.  Your dog does the same thing with you.  Have you ever witnessed an animal behaving oddly or heard a dog start barking before you felt an earthquake?  That animal picked up on the change of energy in the environment.  In the last two tsunamis very few land animals died.  Birds, elephants, domesticated and non-domesticated dogs were seen moving to higher ground before the tsunami hit.  They felt the change in energy and knew how to react to it.  The same thing occurs with the energy you project.  The energy you give off is felt and interpreted by your dog.  Maybe your pet sits by the door before you go on a vacation even though you haven’t even started to pack.  How could they know what is going to happen?  Your change in energy level communicated your plans to your dog. 

Here are some typical examples of communication break downs between owner and pet that can be resolved through learning how to focus your energy: 

People who have a skittish or nervous dog tend to directly face and loom over their pet while calling it in a sweet voice.  Their verbal language is saying they aren’t a threat, but their energy and posture are communicating something else.  Instead, keeping your energy level calm and consistent, making your presence smaller by squatting and turning slightly away with minimal to no eye contact will invite that animal into your space and communicate you are not posing a threat.  There is no energy transfer when you make zero eye contact which puts the nervous animal more at ease.  You’ve taken a subservient roll with your energy and body language; as a reward, the dog has come into your space.

On the other hand, you may have a confident dog that fails to listen to your commands.  Do you tell him or her to stay at the door and the second you open it they bolt through it?  When your dog is in front of you it cannot see your eyes or body language and therefore he or she takes off in spite of your verbal cue to stay.  When you back your dog away from the door, face him or her, make eye contact and tell your dog in a calm assertive voice to stay, you are saying you own everything behind you.  Your body language, direct eye contact and calm energy are communicating your dominance as pack leader.  Your dog reads these non-verbal cues and obeys your command.

Another common communication break down is seen in the dog that jumps in your or your guests’ laps.  If a dog starts jumping in your lap it’s because you initially transferred your energy to the dog; they cannot handle the increased energy, so they share their exuberance with you.  Dogs are learned animals and will repeat patterns until your body language and energy says otherwise.  If this behavior has given them attention before, they will repeat it.  Use your body language and energy to your benefit not detriment.  If you pet the dog and laugh while saying “off” or “down,” your words have no meaning since your increased energy and body language are encouraging the behavior.  Instead, stop petting them until they back off and reward them for their calm proper state of mind when they are sitting or laying down.  They will start to associate love and attention with being calm.

Proper communication through body language and energy is the key to having a companion who respects and loves you and is a pleasure to be around.  Learning how to transfer your energy in a positive way is simple and can be accomplished with time and consistency.  Thanks for reading!  I’d love to hear your feedback.  If you have any questions, or feel you need more hands on help, please feel free to contact me.  I operate my dog training business out of the Bay Area and I look forward to hearing from and working with you.


Introducing Your Pet to Your New Baby
9/16/2013 12:00:00 AM


THIS WEEK’S TOPIC:   Introducing Your Pet to Your New Baby

For parents, a new baby is a joyous, exhausting and often trying time.  Getting the new member of your family settled into your home requires you to change: your schedule, the layout of your home, your sleep, what you eat, etc.  Babies require non-stop attention and are the new focus of your world.  Eventually, you settle on a some-what predictable routine again, but parents, especially new ones, are often overwhelmed with their parental duties and lack of sleep from a newborn that needs to eat every two hours.  Your patience is thin and your time for other things is limited.

While your once predictable schedule is now in chaos, so is your dog’s schedule.  Dogs are predators and thus rely on predictable patterns and pack mentality for their daily routine.  You are the pack leader and therefore you establish the schedule.  Your dog observes your routine and therefore knows what to expect to happen throughout the day.  Whether you realize it or not, you communicate with your dog through your energy. 

  Have you ever been expecting company and seen your dog on alert or constantly going to the door even though you never even looked out the window?  Maybe he or she started barking before your guests arrived.  Although you didn’t verbally tell your pet guests were coming your energy and body language did. 

 As you neared your due date your energy changed.  You were anticipating the birth of your baby.  Your pet probably became more watchful to see what was going to happen.  You went into labor and left your pet at home for a few days.  When you returned, you brought a foreigner into the home and your routine changed.  Just like humans, some animals adapt to change and circumstances better than others.  I’ve heard many people referring to their dogs as their “furry babies” or “four-legged children.”  Your dog might be used to having all of the attention and could become jealous or feel scared, isolated, displaced, or threatened by your human child as most of your focus switches to the baby.  Your job as pack leader is to make the transition of your new family member into your home as comfortable as possible for your pet; this helps ensure the safety of your child and the well being of your dog.  Your dog is struggling to learn the new schedule and adapt to the new patterns, sounds and scents in the household.  Understanding your dog’s psyche can help you prevent problems.  Not placing the dog in a situation where he or she feels they need to protect themselves can be critical. 

 I suggest that you help prepare your dog ahead of time for these changes to minimize the shock.  Here are some simple, but effective steps:

1.    Set-up the nursery ahead of time so you and your pet are prepared for the baby.  This will minimize stress for both of you and give your pet a chance to become accustomed to the new layout.

2.    Introduce new scents like wipes, diapers, lotions and shampoos to your dog so he or she is familiar with the baby smells and accepts them as part of your household. 

3.    Make noise with the baby toys.  Shake rattles, turn musical toys and mobiles on and off, open and close high chairs and play pens.  When the baby comes, the dog will already be accustomed to these noises and less likely be afraid or intimidated. 

4.    While in the hospital, have a family member or friend take an article of clothing worn by the baby, like a knit cap that was on the baby’s head, to your house and let the dog sniff it; introducing the dog to your baby’s scent ahead of time can make the transition easier.

5.    Expect your pet to be curious about the baby and praise him or her as much as possible for their positive reactions.  Yelling or being aggressive towards your dog when it expresses interest or disinterest can set up a negative vibe towards your child.  Let your pet take their time getting to know your baby.

6.    Setting boundaries for your pet is okay.  For example, not allowing your pet in the baby’s room or play area is acceptable, but you want to be firm, not aggressive.

7.    Let your dog know it can always leave the room or situation if it’s uneasy.  Flight, in this case, is okay.  This can help protect your child.

8.    Try, if possible, to take some time daily to acknowledge, pet, or brush your dog so they know they are still loved and haven’t been forgotten.  If you find you don’t have time for a while for your daily walk consider asking a friend or family member for help or hiring someone.  Less stress on you means less stress on your dog.  Exercise also helps your dog’s disposition and stress level.

 I hope you find these tips helpful!  A new baby is precious; having synergy in your house is possible.  You can have children and pets.  If you have any questions, or feel you need more hands on help, please feel free to contact me.  I look forward to hearing from you.


Welcome to Dan Perata's Training Blog
8/22/2013 12:00:00 AM



Good day, my name is Dan Perata, and the plan here is to communicate useful content as often as possible, covering all areas of training and dog ownership. We will be discussing canine energy, separation anxiety, variations of aggression, introducing new pets to kids, and new kids to pets. Communication, crate training, housebreaking, leash reaction, and an expansive and ever developing multitude of other topics! Got a subject you would like to see covered? Drop us an email request at blog@danperata.com and we’ll do our best to include. I truly look forward to being a comprehensive resource of all things dog!!!

The first area we are going to cover is the walk. If you are an existing client, or plan to be one soon, you will hear me say, “It all begins with the walk”, followed by my second favorite saying, “Relax and keep moving!”

The most common complaint that I receive from prospective clients is that their dog does not walk well on the leash. You know why? Because going outside of its home on a leash is a scary thing for a dog at first. And if it doesn’t trust its owner’s decisions, it will rely on its two main lines of defense—flight or fight!

Having your pet walk comfortably on a leash next to your side is not only a great pleasure, but is a cornerstone to your dog’s behavior and training process. You have to keep in mind that you are constantly having a conversation with your dog through the leash. Specifically, your dog communicates on energy and smell.  Because of these sensory perceptions, your dog is constantly reacting to its environment. How many of you can relate to this scenario?  Go out for a walk, and your dog is out in front, pulling you down the street, nose to the ground sniffing everything and anything, constantly scanning its surroundings, and no longer following your commands. Sound familiar? Your dog is walking you! Allowing (insert name here) to lead inadvertently puts him in charge!  This behavior leads to a host of other more severe issues, including separation anxiety, leash aggression, and lack of recall, to name a few.

So why does your dog react this way to the leash? If the leash is taut, a few things are happening: 1. Your dog is not paying attention to you, and 2. He perceives that leash as negative energy and a reminder that he cannot use his first line of defense, flight.

To correct this behavior, we will take a walk together and work on leash skills, which train both you and your dog.

Remember, you always want to make the decisions for your dog, not the other way around, and the leash is the first place to start!

Welcome to the path!!!

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