No one gets a dog anticipating problems.

While being a parent and owner of a dog or puppy can be heart warming and fun it can also be overwhelming and even frustrating.  No matter the age or size a dog’s behavior can test your patience and deplete your pocket book. We have all heard of those dogs that chew up the shoes, rugs or children’s play toys but there are also the dogs that can destroy furniture and the house itself by chewing up doors and walls!  In some cases it can be quite the feat to answer the door while your dog is in the house because they are trying to either run outside or jump on whoever is entering. Maybe you have recently adopted your new best friend and both of you are trying to figure out the lay of the land and all the newness.  We can help with all of these things plus more!

You, as an owner, communicate with your dog every day, but just because you are talking to your dog and telling them what you would like for them to do doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog or puppy is understanding what it is that you are telling them.  This also doesn’t mean that you know what your pooch is trying to tell you either. Humans give all kinds of odd signals to dogs that confuse dogs and could alter the way you continue to communicate with them going forward throughout both of your lives. It is typical of dog owners to assume their dogs are stubborn, ignoring us, or not listening when in reality these dogs are just confused.  We can help you guys build up that line of communication and eliminate these problem behaviors through our educational programs!

Raising Your Puppy

It is very frustrating dealing with behavior problems that try your patience and cost you money!

A dog’s most influential part of their life is while they are a puppy, and it is crucial to set them up for success for the rest of their lives.

You could be thinking about adding a new adorable fluffy family member to your home, or you may have already gotten a puppy. Either way, the transition of having a new baby in the house can be fun, but stressful too. Questions you might be asking yourself are; if you and your family are ready for this new responsibility or how to choose the right puppy for you and your family. You may have owned a past dog that needed more management than the typical pup, and you want to make sure that this time around you can get that fun-loving, happy, friendly pup.

There are so many rewards to raising a puppy! Getting to those rewards though can be a journey and not always the fun running through a field of flowers with rainbows kind, but the type of journey you make running through the house chasing your pup because he is in the process of eating your sandwich you left on the coffee table and you just notice your sock is randomly wet kind. Let’s just leave it at raising your adorable bundle of joy can be a little messy at times, sometimes a little painful, and overall…stressful occasionally. We can help stop those bad habits before they even become a real issue. There are many instances where an adult dog could have been prevented from having major behavioral problems if they had been handled with care when that dog had been a puppy. The experiences of a newborn puppy to the age of a year can last a lifetime!

We can help teach you and your puppy how to socialize and engage with appropriately; other dogs, people, and their surroundings. We also cover safety, health, fun puppy interactive games, and general obedience commands.

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Problem Solving

All dogs are designed to be productive and task oriented

It can be disheartening when trying to figure out how to handle some of the behavioral problems that come with being a caregiver to a dog. Some issues will cost you tons of money as your dog may be destroying your personal belongings (rugs, furniture, drywall, cabinets, clothing, etc.).  Other issues that pop up can be embarrassing or a nuisance to your everyday life. Young, old, a rescue, or even a purebred dog, they can all end up with their own unique issues. You may currently own that dog that when they accidentally get out of the house, they love having you chase him or her around all the other neighbors’ yards! The good news is that we can help you find out why your dog is doing what he/she is and teach both of you how to fix it going forward.

We both know that you are reading this page because you and your dog are currently having a problem. Whether it is chewing, barking, jumping up on your or the counters in the kitchen, or even trying to dig their way to China in the backyard, there is a reason your dog is acting the way that they are. Here at The Dog Wizard Upstate, we thrive on learning about you and your dog and helping you understand one another. We can show you how to turn that negative behavior into a positive or productive one!

We understand that it can be emotionally draining at times when your pup is acting up. It is a dog’s nature to want to do something…anything to give themselves a job. They are productive workaholics since! That squirrel that just got chased up the tree, you guessed it, your dog is trying to earn his keep by ridding the area of vermin because in their mind they think it’s their job to do so. Dog owners don’t always see the work a dog does the same way, though, as they are getting dragged along at the end of the leash while their dog barks like a maniac chasing said squirrel.

Dogs want to be helpful and productive, you may or may not see that right now, but it is true nonetheless. They need mental stimulation and a job to do in order to feel balanced and happy. Our approach is by providing a more positive outlet for them to achieve their mental stimulation. We like to do this by teaching a dog obedience skills like sit, come, stay, etc.  When you engage a dog by teaching them new skills, or even challenging them to strengthen existing skills, you are engaging them mentally; they are learning how to process information, utilize self-control. They start performing tasks that are productive instead of deconstructive. Your dog will learn how to channel their energy into an incredibly valuable outlet!

When we start channeling the energy of your dog from negative outlets into positive ones the result is a balanced and calm state of mind dog. They become confident in what they are being asked to do and the job that they are doing. They are happy performing it because deep down, dogs want to make their owners happy and please them; it is just right now they don’t always know how to achieve that positive attention. To them, attention is just attention, and all of it means that you are interacting with them. Let us help you strengthen your relationship with one another and your communication.  Everything that we teach gains you and your dog more freedom, happiness, and opportunities to release their energy through mental stimulation and become a more confident and calm dog.

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Socialization is the key component to having a balanced dog

A lot of times, when you think of socialization, the general public thinks of dog parks or their dog being able to play with other dogs; however, it is not the case.  An under-socialized dog is labeled as afraid, skittish, and sometimes aggressive. The frustration a dog feels by being under-socialized can cause quite a headache for many owners.  Many owners are left confused as to why their dog is so afraid of their postman, walking up or downstairs, the garbage bag moving, some are terrified of even walking out the front door or getting in the car. A well-socialized dog is one that can be in all types of environments, around different people, and other animals, this doesn’t mean that your dog is expected to interact with these various distractions.

The purpose of this socialization is that your dog feels safe and confident around whatever life throws their way. We want safe interactions with all sorts of places, people, and things. Our training philosophy that we utilize for under socialized dogs is helping dogs make good association changes when interacting with something that it may be afraid of.  We work on positively changing their opinions through the use of consistency, structure, and confidence-building as well as lots of patience, love, and food! The results on changing a dog’s mind about something they are afraid of isn’t about forcing them to work through it, but instead, we are making sure that when they do have to go through something they are unconfident about, we make sure that each experience has left a positive impression and build off of that.

Let us help you, help your dog learn confidence and feel comfortable in their own fur.

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Rescue Rehab

We work with every type of dog coming from every background imaginable, and this certainly includes rescue dogs!

How rewarding is it to adopt a dog that truly needs to find a forever home? It is up there on the list; we can tell you that. Here at The Dog Wizard Upstate, we have dogs that come through our training programs that have all kinds of baggage from past lifestyles, and this definitely includes rescue dogs. Dogs are resilient creatures; their hearts are big and vastly forgiving and open to learning. We have helped dogs that have been returned to the rescue multiple times, dogs that have been from hoarding situations, neglected, abused, and even pups that their history is entirely unknown. We have helped those dogs stay with their forever families by working through their individual issues through obedience, structure, and compassionate attention.  We can help those under socialized, nervous, recovering from abuse, wild or out of control dogs through our balanced and caring training methods.

Abused Dogs

Those dogs that have been abused need help to learn how to trust again. The abuse they experienced could have been physical or mental; either way, those pups are typically terrified of the world around them and ordinary everyday things. Due to being afraid, it can sometimes be difficult to even get them out of the house to go for a walk to exercise. The bonding process of an abused dog to their new owner can end up becoming overly intense to the point the owner is unable to leave the dog even for a few moments. That pup ends up making their “people” the center of their entire existence, causing everyone to live more stressful and unhealthy lives. It is essential to help these dogs and their families add more structure into their lifestyles to help build up the confidence of their pups. It is wonderfully fulfilling for everyone involved watching the transformation these dogs can make when they start to realize that the world can be a safe and exciting place, watching them evolve into the trusting and noble creatures they were intended to be.

Bouncing Off The Wall Dogs

Everyone has heard those unfortunate stories of the dog that has been returned to the shelter from multiple different families because it was too wild and crazy, and no one could put up with them or handle them. This behavior is generally due to poor socialization, and it causes the dog to bounce off the walls and never learn to relax. These are the pups that drive people batty bolting out the front door and running away. They destroy everything in the house, jump on all the furniture and people. They drag you all over the place when you attempt to give them exercise by going on a walk and end up barking like crazy every time you pass another living creature (human, dog, cat…the possibilities are endless). The hard truth behind these dogs’ behavior is that the only thing they know is that this is the way they get attention. They don’t care if its negative attention to them; it is the fact that they are being paid attention to, and that is all that matters to them at the moment. How we help them work through this is by teaching them that the opposite is true and more rewarding to them. Through our obedience training programs, we can teach these pups how to problem solve, think, learn self-control, how to appreciate downtime. They learn that good behavior gets them way more attention that is positive.

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Aggression Rehab

In all cases of aggression, we begin by assessing “why” your dog is behaving aggressively.

Aggression is just as stressful for dogs as it is for dog owners! Since dogs have the same goal as humans- to get through each day with as little stress as possible- we owe it to them and to ourselves to help them resolve these issues. Aggression is not a natural state of mind for a dog, but rather, the result of negative experiences, frustration, fear, or lack of socialization. Sometimes it is a combination of these things, creating an even more complex issue. In all cases of aggression, we begin by assessing “why” your dog is behaving aggressively.

Below we have outlined several types of aggression that we deal with regularly and can work towards correcting. In all aggression cases, we require that the owners actively commit to following our guidelines and instructions following our Columbia training program. There are some forms of aggression, “predatory aggression” for example, that you cannot “solve” because it is directly linked to instincts. You may, however, be very successful in managing these instincts by teaching your dog impulse control and allowing appropriate outlets to use their prey drive.

Types of Aggression in Dogs

The most common forms of aggression we deal with are Fear Aggression (includes People and Children Aggression), Dog Aggression, and Predatory Aggression. People commonly misinterpret aggression and use incorrect labels when explaining it like, “my dog hates children” or “my dog hates other dogs”. Dogs do not react because they “hate” so much as they are responding from fear, possessiveness, or territorial instincts. In these situations, it is key that we properly reassign the leadership role to the humans (instead of the dog) so that the dog does not carry the burden of making such stressful decisions! It is amazing how significantly strong leadership can alter a dog’s need to be reactive in stressful situations. When a dog understands that its human is advocating for him and will manage high stress situations, we begin to see the dog making better choices and feeling calmer.

Type Symptoms Cause Commom
Fear Reacts when backed into a corner, reacts when people do something unpredictable, does not like it when people move fast or are loud, likes to sneak behind people to bite Poor socialization, lack of socialization Very common
Prey Fixates on animals (usually small), becomes very still when fixating, may drool when fixating Instincts, lack of mental stimulation Common
Territorial Possessive of areas where they spend a lot of time Instincts, long periods of time in one area, lack of mental stimulation Common
Dog Acts aggressively toward dogs that seem to pose zero threat Poor socialization, lack of socialization Very common
Children Acts aggressively toward smaller individuals Poor socialization, lack of socialization Common
Human Acts aggressively toward strangers Poor socialization, lack of socialization Common
Possessive Reacts unpredictably toward certain people or dogs that approach a specific owner Improper sense of entitlement, lack of leadership, lack of mental stimulation Common
Food or Toy Dog becomes very still and stiff when someone or another dog approaches with certain objects Instincts, history with food, lack of leadership Less common
Maternal Mother dog will become aggressive toward anyone or anything approaching her babies Instincts Very common
Pain Dog may bite when faced with pain, dog may act aggressive as a result of bad thyroid or bladder infection Medical issue Very common
Punishment Acts aggressively when expecting punishment Improper punishment from human Less common

Dog Aggression Is Common

Dog aggression is very common in today’s society.  A lot of dogs will react toward a dog that has posed zero threat.  This does not necessarily mean your dog is “dog aggressive”.  In most cases, the dog does not have social skills, which is a lot easier to work through than a true dog to dog aggression. Since aggression is NOT a natural state of mind for a dog, nor are dogs born aggressive something has shaped this behavior.  Nine times out of ten it is related to either lack of socialization or poor socialization which resulted in a dog making a “generalization” or an “overall negative association” with something due to one or two bad experiences.

An example of this type of aggression would be a puppy that was attacked by an adult dog at an early age (say 12 weeks) and this just happened to be the 3rd dog it had met. Because of this “scary attack”, the owners started “sheltering the puppy” keeping it away from other dogs for fear that he would be attacked again. So, what happened was the puppy had only met three dogs in his life and one attacked him.  The puppy grows up thinking: “there is a very good chance when I meet another dog I could be attacked”.  This puppy has a very high probability of being dog aggressive when he is older, but this will not show until he is about a year and half old. What the owner should have done is gone overboard finding as many friendly dogs as possible to introduce to their puppy to “outweigh” that one negative experience with the dog that attacked. If this puppy met 125 friendly dogs after that one bad experience chances are he will have forgotten about that negative one long ago and not develop an “anxiety” around other dogs.

Many dog owners don’t realize that social skills are something most dogs need to continue practicing throughout their life.  You really can never stop socializing you dog in order to keep their skills current. We hear a lot of owners say their dog used to get along great with other dogs, and for some reason they hate other dogs now. This is usually a case of a dog whose social skills have not maintained their social skills.  For some dogs, social skills have to be practiced very frequently in order to be good with other dogs. Keep in mind too, social skills are required to communicate with “strange” dogs, not dogs they know or see all the time.  If you are getting your dog around the same dogs all the time, that is not practicing social skills.

A lack of or poor social skills, is the leading cause to fear aggression. Even if your dog is the “initiator”, chances are they are still reacting out of fear or feeling uncomfortable. A great deal of aggressive dogs go on offense before they have to be on defense, and because it works for them, they continue reacting this way to solve the problem of “feeling uncomfortable”. What we do is find a different way to solve your dog’s problem and make them more comfortable in the situation from the start. Aggression is NOT a natural state of mind for a dog.  No dog wants to feel this way – they are looking for a way out – and we can help them.

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Separation Anxiety

One of the most common issues we see in dogs and it is one that will rarely solve itself.

Separation anxiety is one of the most common issues we see in dogs and it is one that will rarely solve itself. As pack animals by nature, when a member of the pack goes “missing” a dog feels extreme anxiety. In order to cope with this anxiety, a dog turns to often destructive or high-stress habits. At the The Dog Wizard Columbia , we have the skills and knowledge to help your dog gain the self-confidence to be alone and feel secure.

Typical Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

  • Paces or pants constantly while you are out of sight
  • Destroys things when you’re gone
  • Whines or barks when left alone
  • Escapes or attempts to escape when left alone sometimes resulting in bodily harm
  • Urinates or defecates in the house while you’re away
  • Follows you from room to room when you are home

Typical Causes of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

  • Left alone for very long periods of time consistently
  • Taken away from the mother too soon (less than 7 weeks)
  • Mother died at birth and puppy was raised by humans
  • Very abrupt schedule changes in the owner’s life
  • Dog has spent a lot of time alone in his life then becomes rescued and it gets consistent attention from owners that it is not used to
  • Over held as a puppy so it never learned independence
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