No one gets a dog anticipating problems.

It is very frustrating dealing with behavior problems that try your patience and/or cost you more and more money all the time! Whether your dog is destroying your belongings (chewing on rugs, furniture, drywall), not coming when called, is struggling with socialization, aggression, reactivity, anxiety or is a rescue dog trying to learn the way of their new world we can help!

All dog owners communicate with their dogs every day, but that does not mean their dogs clearly understand them. Humans can unintentionally give their dog mixed signals that set them up for misunderstanding, which on the surface looks like the dog’s just choosing not to pay attention. All of these problem behaviors and miscommunication can be managed or completely eliminated, so let us show you how!

We want to give you back that loveable pet who used to make you smile all the time, before they started driving you crazy!

Raising Your Puppy

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

It can be stressful, messy and sometimes painful when going through those early puppy growing stages! With our help, we can stop bad behavior before it’s a problem. Habits like chewing, digging, and anxiety can be prevented during the early stages of life.  We can prevent so many behavioral problems that we see in older dogs. Did you know that most adult dogs that experience significant problems have had some kind of bad experience or lack of experience early on in life? Don’t let that happen – get awesome puppy training while your pup is young.  Experiences from the time they are born until 16 weeks will last a lifetime and it is important that we get it right! Prevention and ensuring positive upbringing is key and we are here to do just that!

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Problem Solving

All dogs are designed to be productive and task oriented

It’s frustrating and embarrassing when your dog is jumping on every person they see, digging up the yard or destroying the house with their chewing. Not only is it stressful but it can become costly, too. We can help get these behaviors under control! All of our training programs are created to work through your dog’s specific behaviors and help them learn how to control their impulses. We want to help you get back to smiling with your pet, instead of pulling your hair out!

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Socialization

Socialization is the key component to having a balanced dog

Socialization is the key component to having a balanced dog.

Our dogs by nature have social desires that need to be met but all socialization is not always good socialization. Whether it is proper socialization at a young age, or your dog needing to learn appropriate social skills to be in a pack, or teaching coping skills for a dog with social anxieties or fear of other dogs we are here to help!

Socialization is a fundamental part of what we do to help you and your dog on the way to a balanced life. Dogs need plenty of physical exercise as well as mental exercise in order to feel balanced and productive. It is so crucial for young dogs to learn the skills to understand that not every dog wants them all in their face. Learning how to have good manners with ALL kinds of temperaments may save your dog from harm in the real world.

Our “recipe for success” includes combining meeting social needs and understanding that all dogs are designed to be productive and task oriented. In other words, they need a “job” in order to feel balanced.  By engaging our dogs mentally and teaching them to process information, perform desired behaviors, and use some impulse control, and teach proper and successful social interaction we are able to build a relaxed, well behaved dog that is a positive part of your life.

You will be amazed at how much happier your dogs will be when they are using their brains and their needs are being met!

Owners, in turn, feel happier when they have a reliable dog who is fun to be around.  Who wouldn’t rather include their dog in their lives instead of having to leave them home or locked away because they are unmanageable?  We can help you have the dog you have always wanted who is polite to your guests, can be calm in a hectic environment, and knows that with obedience comes more freedom!

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Rescue Rehab

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

We have worked with all types of dogs with every behavioral issue, and we absolutely love rescue rehabilitation. We commonly see rescue dogs that are extremely nervous and those that are wild and out of control.

Those that are nervous dogs are typically afraid of everything in the world, making it difficult to even step through the door for walks or potty breaks due to their fearfulness. This can be a result of physical or mental abuse ( from under socialization or neglect.) They have little to no trust in humans and their environment. Through a structured obedience program, we can help these pups gain confidence and trust. We get a ton of joy being a part of their journey to a more happy and stress free life!

Another result in poor socialization can be the dog that lacks ALL self-control and is bouncing off the walls. These are the dogs that are destructive to their environment, dragging you to everything they see, and a master of escaping. More than likely they have had multiple homes and just as many stays in a shelter, and have learned that their attention comes from poor manners. We can show them that they can get all the things that they crave by making better choices. We can also show them that they are capable of exercising impulse control, using that brain in a more positive fashion and that ultimately good things come from great manners!

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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 Grand Rapids 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 Dog Wizard Grand Rapids, 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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