Dog redirecting: if not this, then what?

I’m by no means a dog trainer. A meeting with my dogs will surely attest to this fact. However, one of the biggest “wins” I’ve had with my dogs lately is eliminating the words “no” or “stop,” and replacing them with what I DO want the dogs to do. In dog training circles, this is called redirecting, and I find it a lil bit brilliant.  (I’m pretty sure it would also work on kids and/or spouses, but don’t quote me on that. Or do quote me, and you’re welcome.)

 Dog redirecting: if not this, then what?

Here’s how I use redirecting

In the past, if I said “no” or “stop” when my dogs did something undesirable, I think there wasn’t a complete understanding from them, evidenced by the fact that sometimes I got a blank stare. The dogs sort of looked at me like (and I’m paraphrasing them here) “if I can’t do this, then what am I supposed to be doing?”

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My dog is an introvert

It was only recently that I learned, and subsequently identified with, the term introvert for my own benefit. Sure, I’d heard the term thrown around, and I assumed an introvert was sort of a homebody, and someone that didn’t necessarily like other people. Turns out this couldn’t be more untrue. An introvert can be very social, can even be the life of the party when they deem it necessary, they just aren’t energized by it. Exactly, I thought! Instead, an introvert can feel drained by forcing themselves to be “on,” and will need time alone to themselves to re-energize.

Just like my dog.

 My dog is an introvert

It isn’t any secret that Izzie wasn’t properly socialized. At the time, nearly eight years ago, I thought if you had another dog, your dog would become social with that dog. Yep, I completely missed the mark on what socialization meant for a dog. And the dog she had for company was sort of mental, so that helped even less. Flash forward many years, and Izzie is a dog that is fearful in situations she doesn’t know, doesn’t really enjoy the company of many other dogs, and feels out of sorts unless she is in her comfort zone of familiarity. That comfort zone includes being left to her own devices, and only playing with her younger sister when the mood strikes.

So, what now?

Is Izzie’s need to keep to herself a bad thing? Not really.

Do I need her to be the life of the party at the dog park? Not at all.

Does she need socialization to get over her fears? Absolutely.

So, while respecting her individuality as a dog that prefers the company of herself (plus pillows), I’ve been slowly working with her on her socialization. Slowly has been the keyword. She still doesn’t like leaving her comfort zone. She still is not quite sure why she should have to be out and about. And although she loses her mind with excitement the second you mention going somewhere in the car, she pants incessantly the entire trip.

Realizing my dog is introverted has made me realize that training works best when it’s done in short increments of time, and gives her time to “recharge” afterwards on her own. I’ve also learned that socialization and social aren’t necessarily the same thing. I want and need her to be acceptable around others (socialized), but she doesn’t have to love and seek out the company of others (social).

Have you had luck with training an introverted dog?

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Intentional or not, dogs learn

One of the best tips I ever read regarding training dogs was something along the lines of “even when you’re not intentionally teaching them, dogs learn.” In other words, if you aren’t correcting a behavior in your dog that you don’t want, you are essentially condoning that behavior.


I have to admit that I haven’t been consistent in the training of our dogs. And as a result, which should come to no surprise to anyone, they have a few…err…issues.

 Intentional or not, dogs learnBelieve it or not, Maddie graduated from not one, but two, training classes. Here she is pictured, with my husband, as she passed level two training a few years ago. I’m still convinced it was sort of a pity pass. Maybe like “no Schnoodle left behind” or something?

At any rate, Maddie is actually a very smart dog. But Maddie has focus issues. When she can focus, she’s a rockstar, but focus is not her strong suit. As a result, we stopped working with her as much because it seemed frustrating for everyone involved. She also has barking issues, and everything we were trying wasn’t really helping. She is an awesome and loving dog, and she’s mostly fine in the house, but not really a dog we could take places. And we wanted to change that.

So, a few weeks ago, we bit the bullet and signed up for an evaluation with a veterinary behaviorist. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve admittedly watched a few episodes of what I assumed were animal behaviorists on tv, and frankly, it’s usually a problem with the people. I became prepared for the behaviorist to tell me it was entirely my husbands our fault.

As it turns out, we didn’t really understand where Maddie was coming from. She had needs that weren’t being met. And our approach wasn’t necessarily what was right for her, even if it had worked with other dogs. Speaking to a veterinary behavioral professional really gave me some insight into what it is going to take for Maddie to effectively learn what she should learn.

Not very far into our reinvigorated focus on training, Maddie loves to learn and be guided. She has been doing well. She is not very food motivated, but is eager to please, and loves to be praised for doing the right thing. This time, what Maddie learns will be intentional.

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Guest Post: raising Bosco, a German shorthaired pointer

I have a German shorthaired pointer, and let me tell you, they are absolutely crazy! For one, they are a hunting breed. I’m not a hunter. This obviously created an ownership dilemma that caused me to get creative throughout training.

My dog’s name is Bosco, and he’s a classic German shorthaired pointer (GSP). He’s 7 months old and some days he seems younger and other days he seems older. It’s totally unpredictable. He’s all over the place, mentally and physically. Having said that, he’s also come a long way and is starting to fit nicely into a routine.

 Guest Post: raising Bosco, a German shorthaired pointer

Photo of Bosco by Griff Haeger.

Below I list some quick ways that I was able to harness the energy of Bosco, with the goal of helping future owners of German shorthaired pointers.

I taught him how to win

This particular breed of dog is one of the most difficult that I’ve ever dealt with. However, the breed is also very desirable in the sense that once they are trained, they become a wonderful acquaintance. My first step in training Bosco was to teach him how to win. I noticed from the very beginning with Bosco that he always wanted to do things his way. Whether this behavior is the result of his biology or not, I wanted to control it immediately.

 How I did it:

I fell back on the traditional method of dog treats to train him on the basics. For instance, I would show him that I had a treat before hiding it from view. I would wait patiently until he backed up and sat down. Just as he did so, I would provide the treat. I did this over and over. I got control quickly and he learned to listen to me and respect my personal space. For broader training, I learned what he enjoyed, and then showed him when it was tolerable for him to do those things.

 I helped release his energy!

Sometimes pet owners fail to truly understand what makes their animal click. With German shorthaired pointers, movement and action make them click. I knew this going in and am very thankful for the knowledge. As I’m not a hunter, I had to take into account the biology of Bosco and what it would mean to our relationship. His breed has evolved over years and years to form a creature of rambunctious energy and playfulness. I had a plan from the beginning to incorporate him into my life and meet his energy demands.

 How I did it:

  • Golf: I take Bosco with me when I golf at a local course. Not many places allow this, but it’s a great idea if there is one in a particular owner’s area that does. It’s great exercise for both of us. He has plenty of space to run and I get to hit the links while having a leisurely stroll.
  • Frisbee: One of my best friends and I love to huck the Frisbee. This activity is also convenient where Bosco is concerned. Not only does he chase the disc, but the throws are usually of great distance. This gets the guy running! Any adventure that an owner can utilize to tire a GSP is immediately an ideal pastime.
  • Late night bike rides: When I first got Bosco I had a lot of trouble sleeping because he would continue living life until the wee hours of the morning. He didn’t ever want to hit the sack and get some sleep, so I got creative with my bike. My routine is to ride around the neighborhood three or four times before I head to sleep, with him chasing. This gets me outdoors at night and gives him one last chance to expel some energy. This idea has worked wonders.
 Guest Post: raising Bosco, a German shorthaired pointer

Photo of Bosco by Griff Haeger.

I respected him

German shorthaired pointers demand respect, and rightfully so. I did some research before getting Bosco and expected this from the get go. I can’t stress enough how important it is to respect this breed of dog. Not only are they smart, but they have high expectations with regards to their daily life and activity. Bosco is not the type of pet that could survive in a college apartment or sedentary household. I learned to give him what he needs before he demanded it. He began to respect me when he realized this.

How I did it:

I did my research on the breed and gauged his individual personality from day one. I got a sense of what he needed to sleep well at the end of the night and planned my activities around his needs. Oftentimes pets can totally change the livelihood of their owner, and in my case, this held true. My life is different, but much better, with Bosco.

German shorthaired pointers are great dogs. However, they need to have the right owner and caretaker. I don’t think I would be a sufficient guardian if I hadn’t done my research and altered my lifestyle to accommodate Bosco. I hope this article helps future owners of GSPs, because they are a great breed whether used for hunting or simply a family friend.

Griff Haeger is a dog aficionado. When he’s not taking Bosco for a crazy hike or fixing an air conditioner at work, he writes about natural dog food.

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Is your dog a terrorist that destroys your serenity? – new book

189921922 Is your dog a terrorist that destroys your serenity?   new book

Making the rounds on the talk shows this past week, Richard Cohen, spouse of morning show darling Meredith Vieira, has a new book out called “I want to kill the dog.” While, I’m definitely NOT a fan of the book title, which they ensure is tongue-in-cheek, I was interested to hear about their dilemma.

Apparently Richard refers to their rescue dog Jasper as “a terrorist that destroys your serenity.” With incessant barking, and clearly favoring Meredith to a fault, Richard feels the serenity of the household has become non-existent. Delivery men to the house aren’t safe. Guests reel back in horror at the dog’s behavior at times. And supposedly if Meredith goes to bed before Richard, Richard will be lucky IF Jasper lets him in the bed.

I have to say I can relate to many of the stories relayed by Richard, which are both good-natured, yet slightly twisted (hence the book title). He speaks about how he feels his wife places the dog on a pedestal, which gives the dog an inflated sense of ruling the home. He is used to dogs being dogs, not being coddled, which he says has been elevated to an art form with cute little Jasper.

So, the question begs to be asked. What do you do when having a dog in the home is clearly more beneficial to one spouse than the other? I’m sure my husband would like the answer to this, as well. And while I don’t have the answer because I’m getting the better end of the deal in our household with our two girls, I’d love to see the humorous book my spouse could write. Maybe it could be called “When I said I wanted 3 girls in the bed, maybe I should have been more specific.”

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