Hi everyone, I hope you are all getting excited for Doggy Yoga (aka DOGA) taking place this Saturday (July 13th) at 10:30, in Liberty Village Park. This is a free community event, and you are welcome to come with our without your dog.
To see my first DOGA tip, click here.
Today's tip is multi faceted, so buckle up!
Bringing a "pacifier" to DOGA
We know our dogs, and we know bringing them to an outdoor event with lots of humans & other dogs might be a little overwhelming for them. While I gave tips on how to teach your dog to settle (you can see it on the event facebook page under discussion), I wanted to also mention using a pacifier to help keep your dog nice and settled.
What is a pacifier? Well, we all know what pacifiers are with human babies - so why not apply the concept to our dogs. At the school I teach at (When Hounds Fly, they are the bomb), they started a new practice for group classes where dog parents are asked to bring a "pacifier" to class. They are instructed to give the dog the pacifier while the instructor is, you know, instructing. These times can get boring for the dogs, and that's when you get a dog that demand barks/whines/etc. By having the pacifier ready, you are able to appropriately prevent the demand/boredom behaviour from happening in the first place. (If you wait until the dog is barking/whining and THEN give the pacifier, you are reinforcing the undesired behaviour - so the key is to be one step ahead of your pup and "pacify" them when you know they will likely become a little stir crazy).
Anyway! Appropriate pacifiers for dogs are stuffed Kongs, treat dispensing toys, or long lasting chew sticks (like bully sticks/yak cheese sticks/beef tendon etc). These are all wonderful at keeping our dogs busy and pacified. I highly recommend you bring along a pacifier if you know your dog may be getting a little antsy (which like, fair enough haha this is a very exciting day).
Being SAFE with our pacifiers - resource guarding
It would be irresponsible of me to ask you all to bring pacifiers without talking about resource guarding. I am planning on doing a very in depth post/video about resource guarding - but for the purpose of today's post I will keep it simple.
Resource guarding is where our dogs have an item that they see valuable (aka their pacifiers) and will do what it takes to prevent it from being stolen. At the most minor level this involves either gulping the item down, or turning their head away. At a more severe level, this involves growling and even biting in order to protect the resource. Dog's will resource guard from us humans, but also from other dogs. When it comes to us, we can offer our dog a trade in order to get the pacifier back ("hey! here's a handful of treats!" and while dog is eating treats, you remove the pacifier). However, when it comes to other dogs - they don't offer any sort of exchange or trade, and so we need to make sure we have safety protocols in place for our pacifiers to prevent any dog to dog resource guarding.
When we first get to the event, there will be a lot of moving around with people coming in and out. During this time, please just periodically reinforce your dog using treats. Keep the pacifiers safe and tucked away. Once everyone is settled and on their yoga mats I will instruct you that it is time to give your dog their pacifiers. Only then may you give your dog the high value item. It is also critical that you keep your dog ON LEASH, and don't let fido stroll over to another dog's pacifier. We don't want any thieves and we don't want any drama over resources. Keep your dog in your station, and everyone will be set!
So in summary: