February is one of the busiest times for dog trainers because this is when dogs having been cooped up from cold winter days are bouncing off the walls, jumping on countertops and chewing on hands among other things. “But I walk him,” many owners will say. But sometimes our estimation of the amount of exercise or frequency can get a little like my Weight Watcher’s log ins…a bit fudged. Or the walk may consist of multi-tasking and not much interaction. And with sometimes long days spent in the crate things can get a little ho-hum and the urge to be naughty to gain attention becomes so tempting. What is an owner to do? Mental exercise can actually tire a dog more than physical exercise and can help to get destructive behavior under control by re-channeling and creating a canine Einstein. There are many fun mental activities and games that the whole family can participate in. Dog pulling on the leash? How about setting up soccer cones inside or out and doing weaves, figure eights and circles. You can add rugs for pause spots and place a broomstick across two chairs and voila’ instant indoor agility course! Want to train your dog to use his head and his nose. Hide his treats and put him in a WAIT and then release with OKAy asking him to GO FIND. After assisting him the first one or two he will catch on very quickly. Or if you love music and dancing pick a favorite tune and choreograph a routine including spins and steeping forward and backward keeping your dog guessing as you sashay across the floor. Your dog will thank you with better behavior and you will feel better too!
1. Have your dog come to class HUNGRY and bring something of high value as a treat when training. Those hard biscuits and dried kibble just may not cut it with all the distractions so make it special based on your dog’s dietary restrictions. Some of my favorites include cheese, cooked hot dogs, chicken, freeze dried meat from Omaha Steaks for Dogs, cooked liver, etc. WIll your dog get fat? Not if you reduce this amount from his daily intake. Will he become treat dependent? We use intermittent reinforcement with treats gradually raising the bar for performance, and substitute praise and petting kind of like a roulette of payoffs.
2. In the home between classes training is part of everyday life. Training sessions are ANY time you are with your dog. They do not have to be long. In fact five minutes here and there can be very effective. I often train between television commercials and when cooking in the kitchen. And remember always for your dog they must EARN EVERY REWARD. It’s like saying “please” and it will help get your dog to understand you are his fearless leader. Does your dog sleep in bed with you? Alas, your task will be more difficult since he equates himself as your equal with this high honor. To restore the pecking order have him get off and on. If he won’t comply then opt for separate sleeping arrangements until the obedience is under control. I use the crate and invite the girls up when I want to. It is not their decision. Going outside, leaving the car and entering a store always requires that my dogs go AFTER me. They must wait. This also teaches self control.
3. Train in many places. Here I am training at Porcelanosa in Ramsey, NJ. I have also trained at the Apple store in Chestnut Ridge and other public places including the entrance to Home Depot. Again high-reward treats and a hungry dog will help with this in addition to patience and consistency. You will need to work up to this level but it is totally worth it! I am having a FREE walk 2/9 at 1 pm in Glen Rock by the Duck Pond. Here is a chance to meet other owners and train with new distractions. And we always have fun!
4. Get the entire family on board. The more impressions that you have or experiences that are consistent with everyone the better your training will be. I encourage families to post a list of their commands with their meanings on the refrigerator. Keep it simple with four or five basic ones. This way when company comes you can figure out what words you will use to command Fido. And if Fido ignores you and you keep saying the word he will learn that he doesn’t have to do it. They are smarter than we think.
5. Consider a private lesson. I am not trying to drum up business. Really. I have many customers. But honestly I find that a one-hour lesson often helps owners get on track and sets a nice foundation for future training.
6. When in class get started with your dog right away. If you can multi-task as I give brief instructions you may continue to work with your dog. You may ask questions but for the sake of fellow students they must be short as we progress through the lesson. The last five minutes of class are for all other questions on any topic.
HOMEWORK: Please watch this video and do these exercises: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7V3EwEoPF7Q You can use the clicker or YES
NEXT CLASS: Lots of Loose Leash Training
Here are some excellent training resources…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csuMGROvvVU&feature=related Teaching a Polite Greeting (note the use of YES it is like using a CLICKER)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfiNFtembDA We will be doing this in class
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDFL14SYUk8 Teaching your dog to STAY (I like this series of free videos)
http://centerforshelterdogs.org/Home/DogBehavior/ProblemsandManagement/JumpyMouthy.aspx Interesting video on the Jumpy/Mouthy Behavior
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX3ChYTrpYs Learning self control at the doorway
With adult dogs it is challenging to undo existing behaviors but it can be done with patience, persistence and re-training for the human and canine members of the family. If training more than one dog tackle this challenge with one dog at a time for initial training. Have your materials for training near the front door or where most of the greetings take place. Here is what you’ll need-a jar of soft treats (I use a plastic air-tight container), a leash and either a clicker or your marker word. I use “YES”. You will also need a willing accomplice. When dealing with small dogs it is an easier matter to ignore and praise the not jumping, but with a lab this is another story! Have your willing “guest” practice approaching the dog without coming in the door initially. The handler should praise for four feet on the floor, click and treat. If the dog comes up as approached the guest should fold their arms and retreat. It is important to not severely correct at this point. We are teaching self-control and the jerk and correction often excites the dog even more and results in more of an urge to lunge. Repeatedly have your friend approach and if the dog stands or sits MARK with the clicker or YES and work up to success. (Remember in order for the CLICKER or YES to have meaning we need to introduce this to the dog firsthand. I usually say my dog’s name and then YES or CLICK when they look me in the eye). ANother way to practice no jumping when alone is to secure your dog to an immovable object and then practice approaching in the same manner, praising for a sit or stand as approaching and turning away with not attention, arms folded if jumping occurs. Try it! This really works!
This may just look like a pretty pose but it took training to get that stand “just right”. Krista likes all eyes on her as a show dog but she also likes to learn new things like all dogs do. I have taught her to swim, pull me while cross country skiing, dance, swim and paddleboard and do about 50 tricks. Dogs really “can do” and so can yours!
It might seem cute when your puppy chews on your fingers, until you feel those sharp little teeth! Ouch! It’s time to put an end to puppy play biting. While it’s natural for your puppy to want to explore the world around him with his mouth, it’s just not acceptable in our homes.
When nipped at most people pull their hands away. Dogs see this as a game and it reinforces their urge to want to bite even more. Shouting won’t make the behavior stop. And hitting is out of the question. So what to do? You can say “Ouch” and walk away from the puppy. We don’t want to reward the biting with attention. You can also offer an acceptable chew toy in order to re-direct the behavior. Another option is to put a deterrent on your hand and clothing (dog and child safe of course) so that the puppy realizes you aren’t very tasty. Remember, everyone in your home must be consistent in order for training to be successful. It also is a good idea to teach your dog that “everything has a price” so that he knows that all his “good stuff” comes from you.
January is a busy and critical time for new dog owners. This is the “make it or break it” period when dogs have either found their “forever homes” or are left at shelters.
Training above all should be positive and reinforced daily, even if only for a few minutes at a time. Veterinarians recommend even-handed training with positive rewards such as food, praise and play. Choking and forcing is definitely a thing of the past. And electric collars should never be used to train a puppy.
Above all, training should be a special stress-free time when you can learn to communicate with your dog and revel in his abilities thanks to your efforts. The time you invest will improve the quality and enjoyment of your pet and hopefully build a bond to last a lifetime.
Dorice Stancher, CPDT-KA
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers
The APDT is a professional educational organization of trainers who are committed to becoming better trainers through using positive, dog friendly methods based on sound scientific principles. With over 5,000 members worldwide, the APDT provides professional dog trainers with a respected and concerted voice. The APDT promotes caring relationships between dogs and people and works to increase public awareness of dog-friendly training techniques. For more information, visit the Web site at http://www.apdt.com.
Dogs are the most wonderful and amazing creatures. They give so much love without asking for much in return…a warm bed, food and water. They don’t care what you look like, or smell like, or what car you drive. The love unconditionally, and are there when we need them perhaps even more than some humans we know. Let’s face it, they deserve more than a 15 minute walk in the dark when we come home from work.
This is where Canines Can Do can help. Make it a special night out with your furry kid and have some fun training with us. Our obedience classes cover more than just the basics. We will introduce you to the fun of scent training, tricks, therapy work, agility and more! It’s all about having fun with the best partner you’ll ever have…your dog!
My first positively trained dog was Duffy, a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier that took me on many adventures. I was told this was a stubborn and willful breed that I would have to use punitive methods with to get results.
Fortunately I had some excellent mentors including Bill Delaney (deceased) the original owner of The American Canine Academy and Betsy Scapicchio, owner of Top Dog Obedience School, and we wound up winning titles including High in Trial as novices at the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America National Specialty! Duffy became a therapy dog, a therapy evaluator dog, an AKC ACE nominee, a NJVMA Silver Award winner, the spokes dog for the American Cancer Society (ACS) Dogswalk Against Cancer/Bark for Life appearing on television, won the ACS and earned the Wheaten Ambassador Award (Canada). An annual award given in his memory to deserving Wheaten Terriers that help their communities.
Here we are winning High in Trial at the National Specialty of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America. I think Duffy knew he did something special.
After competing Duffy always enjoyed climbing trees just for fun.