December Newsletter - The Hedland Bark Post

Dog / Dog Play - How to make sure your dog has fun!

Everyone wants their dog to be able to play with other dogs and social time for our dogs is a really important part of having a behaviourally healthy dog! But one mistake I often see being made is dogs who are allowed to play free for all. I see dogs who have no manners practicing inappropriate play, dogs who aren’t really enjoying the play at all, dogs who won’t respond to their handlers once they spot another dog and many other concerning behaviours. Dog play shouldn’t be a mish mash of over stimulated body slams. In fact good play should include lots of pauses and self handicapping! All the dogs should be having fun and it should not escalate into frantic, over the top play. It is not beneficial when suddenly the play leaves your dog more stressed then it was before hand, and it is not beneficial when your dog is learning to ignore you in favour of other dogs. So how do we make sure our dogs are getting the most from play?

Tips to keep dog/dog play fun, appropriate and safe!

1) Use access to other dogs and play as a reinforcer for good behavior! Instead of letting your dog off lead while they are pulling, barking, lunging at the other dogs wait for them to focus on you and THEN let them off leash. This creates a dog who looks to you for access to that reinforcement rather than misbehaving.

2) Look out for and encourage ‘good’ play behaviours these include self handicapping (pulling their punches), offering play bows, switching roles (I chase, then you chase) and short pauses or breaks in play.

3) Watch out for and prevent ‘bad’ play behaviours, these include humping, frantic play, chinning over each others backs, playing up in the air like horses or pinning the other dog to the ground. If you see these, separate the dogs and enforce a short break expecting calm before allowing them to play again.

4) Practice calling your dog away from other dogs during play and reinforce them heavily for it (lots of chicken!) and then let them go back to playing. This will mean if you every have to quickly call your dog away from play or another dog for any reason they will respond without hesitation!

5) Ensure your dogs are taking breaks! Appropriate dog play should only last 5 - 10 minutes and then the dogs should break off to do other ‘dog things’ such as sniff, pee on things and check out the environment. Play that goes on longer than this often becomes over aroused and can tip into inappropriate or aggressive behavior if not managed.

Upcoming Classes - November, December and January

We have the following Group Classes upcoming over the next few months! Check online for more!

  • DogTag Puppy Primer Class - 8 to 20 weeks - Thursday 16th November at 6:15pm for 6 weeks.

  • DogTag FREE Puppy Parenting 101 - <16 weeks - Monday 27th November and December 18th at 7pm

  • DogTag Puppy Primer Class - 8 - 20 weeks - Starts Thursday January 11th at 6:15pm for 6 weeks

  • DogTag Canine LifeSkills 2.0 - All ages - Rolling Enrollment, classes every Tuesday 6:15pm and Thursday 7:30pm

Enroll online to secure your place -

Training, Why it is so important!

No one gets a dog intending to leave it in the backyard all the time nor do they get a dog with the intention of dealing with behaviour problems. And yet these things are extremely common. In fact behaviour problems account for the largest number of dog deaths in our country each year


Behaviour problems regularly sentence dogs to a life of seclusion, boredom or stress. It is so important to pre-empt issues and train and socialise your dog as early as possible. Don’t wait until your dog is displaying issues to contact a trainer or start a class. Instead be proactive. Taking your dog to Puppy Class and/or adult training/obedience classes is the equivalent of sending your child to school. It is a necessity not a luxury. This is how they learn to interact with the world, to behave appropriate and how to cope with and handle themselves in different situations. They need this guidance to navigate our very exciting, potentially scary human world on a day to day basis. Additionally training/classes is a great way to build a strong bond with your dog! A trained dog is a dog that is easily included in day to day activities, family outings, camping trips and much more. This inclusion and the enrichment is provides to your dog in turn prevents your dog from developing nuisance behaviours such as barking, digging, escaping and chewing. The benefits are endless for both you and your dog!

Mat / Stationing Training - Tips and Tricks

Got a dog who is always under your feet? Maybe they can’t settle when you have visitors or when at the vet clinic? Drooling on your lap while you eat dinner? Mat / Stationing Training is a fantastic solution to these common, niggling issues! What is mat training? Mat training is where we teach our dogs to station their body to a mat or other target item/area and to sit/drop and stay in this spot until released. Why mat train, can’t I just teach my dog NOT to do those things? When working with animals (dog, cat, human or otherwise) it is pretty hard to define ‘not’ doing something, it also does not give the animal a more appropriate way to gain the reinforcement they are gaining from the behaviour you do not like. It is important instead to provide our animals with an alternative, incompatible behaviour that will earn them the same or similar reinforcement. As living breathing creatures, animals are always behaving, the best way to make sure they are doing what you like them to do instead of what you would prefer them not to do is to provide them with an appropriate reinforced behaviour. So how do you get started?

1) Choose your station, I like bath mats from KMART (make sure you find something appropriately sized for your dog).

2) Put it down on the floor at a time when you would like your dog to use it, place it close to the area your dog would be anyways, ie: just near the kitchen door.

3) Everytime your dog touches the mat say ‘Yes’ and throw them a treat (you can use their daily meal for this!).

4) Once they start spending more and more time on the mat, wait until they sit or drop before you say “yes’ and throw them a treat.

5) If they stay on the mat for periods of time say ‘yes’ and throw them a treat intermittently. If they get up, just ignore them until they go back.

6) Practise in lots of different situations at home and then out and about, always start with the least distracting situation and then work up to the more distracting situation. That's all for this month, check back inJanuary for more training tips and tricks!

#newsletter #hedlandbarkpost #dogplay #dogbehaviour #dogtraining #mattraining #stationingtraining #dogdogplay

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