Getting your dog to look at you…

One of the biggest complaints I receive from pet owners besides barking and jumping is that their dogs simply will not pay attention to them in public. They are so distracted.  Here are some simple tips to teach your dog to acknowledge and check in with you. Remember the more that you reinforce a behavior, the more likely it is to increase.

  1. Have your dog earn all of their rewards.  For me this is the most important foundation to all training.  It is simple, easy and once made a part of your everyday routine establishes your position as leader.  Waiting for the food bowl, having your dog wait and then on permission follow you outside, waiting when crossing the street and asking permission before being allowed on the sofa by offering a behavior are all a part of the plan.
  2. Teach your dog to look at you. Start in a quiet place like your home, then move outdoors and try different venues like pet stores and banks.  One way to do this is  to praise your dog every time they look at you. Another is to actually teach this behavior by taking a treat and placing it up by your nose so that as your dog looks at you they look into your eyes.  A quick ‘Yes” to confirm their success. Then once they understand see if you can move the treat to the side of your face, say their name and get eye contact.  Say your dog’s name and then WAIT for them to look at you. Say it once.  And when they do big praise and a nice treat.
  3. Be interesting! Besides using your voice you can pat your leg, change your pace and your voice, use a sound that catches their attention, master silly walks.  The goal is to be far more interesting than anything else in the environment. Squeak a toy, whistle or prance and when you get that look praise and treat.
  4. Take your training on the road. In the photo above Krista and I are practicing at Porcelanosa in Ramsey, NJ. Ask permission from local store owners. Pet stores are a good place to start, moving up to local banks which for the most part are dog-friendly. Remember to bring a treat pouch so you can work hands-free, wear comfortable shoes, and have your dog go to the bathroom BEFORE you even think of entering the store. When training outside the home I make sure that my dog will WAIT until I give her permission to leave the car and before entering any building.  Most pet-friendly shop owners will be thrilled to see that you have practiced this skill. And once your dog has begun getting in the habit of working for you it just gets better and better!

What treats do I use for training in public?  Cooked chicken, beef and cheese cut up into very small pieces.  When the weather is warmer I bring a small lunch tote with ice to keep things fresh.

My next article is dining with your dog in public.

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Copyright Canines Can Do, llc® Dorice Stancher 2016, all rights reserved.

 

Teach your dog to walk nicely on leash

Get your walking started off right!

  1. Teach your dog to pay attention. Before you even put the leash on make sure that you train your dog to look at you. Say their name and treat when they turn to make eye contact with you. Practice in a variety of places and use high value rewards and praise.  All dogs should learn the “touch” command where you present a flat palm and they touch with their noses.  This will help your dog to learn to follow your hands and to help you get them in the right position.
  2. Choose your equipment wisely. I like the use of a 6ft. leash preferably made of leather, and either a flat collar, martingale or the Easy Walk harness. I do not recommend the use of a slip or prong collar especially on a puppy.  This is because of the damage that can happen to the trachea if the collar is not positioned properly, and the fact that in the very beginning your dog will pull and be strung up in a very uncomfortable walk.  And they may equate the choking and pain with the approaching child or dog that they just can’t wait to greet.
  3. Take the time to practice heeling patterns. This teaches your dog when to move and how to follow closely by your side.  When teaching heeling we often face our dogs firs treating them for coming and then turning forward in the heel position. Another popular method is heeling around cones at different paces in a figure-eight.  The main thing is to be creative and do the opposite of what your dog wants to do.  In order to engage your dog you should change your pace to make things interesting. And you can bring a small toy with a squeaker to engage their interest.  Don’t forget to bring some tasty treats and praise for good behavior.  Practice makes perfect!
  4. Shape heeling behavior by using walls. One of the easiest methods to teach heeling is to find a long building in a safe area where you can practice with your dog on your left side against the wall creating a narrow space so they are focused on proceeding ahead by your side.
  5. Be patient and have fun! On your first experiences teaching your dog to walk you may not get very far but with patience your dog will be a willing companion.

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Dorice Stancher, MBA, CPDT-KA , Master Trainer Canines Can Do, llc ®

http://www.caninescando.com

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Your Dog from Lunging

It’s loud, embarrassing and drives many dog owners to just give up walking.  Lunging and growling at other dogs and people can be a challenge, but with the help of a professional trainer and a few changes in the way you handle your dog,  you can get this behavior under control.

  1. Have your dog earn all of his rewards including meeting another dog. When dogs are not given limits they simply try to take what they want. When you have your dog earn his food and treats,  wait politely as you go through doorways first, and in general respect you he is more likely to listen to you.  Have your dog learn to do something like touch your hand or sit in order to earn the opportunity to meet a friend.
  2. Teach your dog to look at you. So many dogs will just ignore their owners when in pubic.  Start training in a quiet place using high value treats and then gradually add distractions.
  3. Learn and practice heeling in a circle. Heeling in a circle and adding U-turns helps you control what your dog sees and has access to.  It puts you back in charge and allows you to move away from the other dog under control and with confidence.
  4. Use an Easy Walk harness, Gentle Leader or similar product. Sometimes dogs will lunge out of fear and adding the pain of a prong or choke collar not only can harm your dog but actually increase anxiety. This is because your dog may actually begin to associate the discomfort with the approach of the dog or human.
  5. Use a marker sound or word to indicate success. When teaching a new behavior your dog will need to know he is on the right track.  I use the word YES or a clicker to isolate and reward good behavior.
  6. Be patient and practice often. Change does not happen right away and takes multiple reinforcement.
  7. Consult a force-free trainer. Since anyone can say they are a dog trainer make sure that your prospective candidates have the CPDT-KA designation and discuss and observe their training style.

Put on your walking shoes, bring your soft and high value treats and get started training your dog to be a pleasure walking!

©Dorice Stancher, MBA, CPDT-KA  Canines Can Do, llc

 

Celebrity Trainers Can Create Owner Frustration

It all started a few years back when love him or leave him, Caesar Milan hit the airwaves with the blessings of National Geographic, a household name that was synonymous with those yellow banded periodicals showing glimpses of cultures from around the world. And since that time there have been many other dog trainers using the medium of television, You Tube and the like to entertain, illustrate their training “style” and get the all-important marketing message across. But do these 20 minute or less snippets cause more harm or good for the pet owners trying to bring about change with their own dogs?

Can those 20-minute episodes sandwiched between diaper and  kibble ads that address more serious issues like aggression or separation anxiety cause more HARM than GOOD?  The answer is yes. According to a recent article in the Boston Globe instant gratification has caused us as a society to be less patient.  According to the article:

“The need for instant gratification is not new, but our expectation of ‘instant’ has become faster, and as a result, our patience is thinner,” said Narayan Janakiraman, an assistant marketing professor at the University of Texas, Arlington.” And according to Phil Fremont-Smith of ImpulseSave, a Cambridge company that encourages individuals to save through an app that tracks spending and sends congratulatory messages, “We’re not wired to think about the long-term anymore.”

Dogs are long-term commitments, and anyone that has ever encountered serious behavior issues will tell  you that it can take weeks or even years to counter-condition and build or change behavior.  It is a time consuming process.

And yet I have customers who will ask me why it takes so long for their dogs to learn the behaviors they saw rectified on television in just 20 minutes. I am not surprised. It is a natural response.  And often they feel frustrated and depressed when faced with the reality of their situation. That training takes time and dedication.

What will they do? They can take on the task themselves or they can shop for someone else to train their dog.  Don’t get me wrong…I have “Board and Train” clients but quite honestly it all comes back to the owner building a bond with the dog through daily interaction.   And I tell them this right up front.  And then they have to make a decision.

And those that choose to stick with their dogs…to invest their time and patience in their pets…they have truly amazing results. I smile when I see them parading through Valley Hospital or the local libraries with their therapy dogs.  They show me photos of their families growing up with the dogs. Their trips to visit colleges together and family vacations are all wonderful to see and share.

Life is about making choices. And when it comes to dogs we need to step back, take a deep breath and realize that spending time with our dogs and training them is time well spent.

 

Take Back Your “Alpha”

The word “alpha” has become one of those “don’t go there” words since it is often used to justify excessively harsh behavior, or to put forth the erroneous comparison of dogs and wolves.  But too often in an attempt to train positively, many dog parents will completely give up their position of power and rank within their dog family hierarchy.  This is not a good thing.

For me the term “alpha”  means strong and consistent leadership.  It is a person who makes rules and then sticks to them.  And when authority is challenged it is dealt with in a clear and concise manner, and without cruelty.  The best alpha is confident, has a game plan, sticks to it and when there is a need for corrections does not bite when a growl will do.  Being a strong leader takes courage. And when we step up to the challenge we can help fearful dogs gain confidence, stop dog fighting within our homes and keep our dogs well-trained.

It is a known fact that dogs thrive on consistency. In an attempt to be good pet parents, many will give in to demands or negotiate with their dogs in an attempt to win them over through bribery or accepting non-compliant behavior.  This is a mistake. Trained behaviors begin to unravel until one day it happens-your dog gets loose, is headed for the road and you can’t get them to come back.  They were allowed to make their own choices little by little, until one day they decide to take charge with potentially disastrous results.

Some frustrated owners at this point will put their dogs with a trainer who will “fix” their dog for thousands of dollars over the course of weeks, using aversive methods such as e-collars and prongs. They bar the owner from witnessing their methods, deliver a “trained” dog and over time the behavior falls apart as the owner starts to give in to the dogs demands.  And some dogs cannot handle the rough treatment.  I was savagely bitten once by a Wheaten puppy that had gone through a program like this in NJ at 6 months.  It remains on Prozac to this day and wears a muzzle in public. Being an good pet parent is a commitment and is hard work.  But it can be done in a way that builds a strong and reliable bond based on respect between the handler and the dog.

Here are 5 tips to taking back your leadership position:

  1. Set the rules early, make sure all family members are in agreement and begin training at home and in multiple settings to make certain that the dog understands that “sit” means sit no matter where they are.
  2. Once a behavior is taught through the use of reinforcement and motivators (food, praise, play, touch, free space) and understood through multiple repetitions in multiple settings,  compliance is reinforced.
  3. Behaviors are taught with distractions and in the case of multiple dogs, each dog is taught the behavior separately and then reinforced.
  4. When a dog disobeys it is held to task. A corrective word or sound marker can be used and the behavior once again reinforced, checking to see where the behavior has broken down.  When was the last time you used this command? Practice makes perfect.  And when your dog complies be sure to pay them off with one of the five motivators.
  5. Don’t give in to sloppy behavior. Many owners fall prey to the “just this time” thinking and ultimately this can lead to a breakdown in response.  Say what you say and mean what you mean. Positive training does not mean permissive.

As you are training remember that trust can be a very dangerous thing.  I can guarantee that dogs will behave like dogs almost 100% of the time and that is why when in public using a leash can be so important for controlling and re-directing behavior. Distractions and new situations can throw off even the most well-behaved canine.  I knew a dog once that was a tremendous obedience champion until one day an animal escaped from the zoo and he was gone for days following it!  When working in public the use of a long line (not a flex-lead) should be a part of your tool kit.  My next post will show you how to use SOUND to teach your dog how to be more responsive.

Copyright 2016 © Dorice Stancher/11666274_1135397353155251_7128176675293338049_nCanines Can Do, llc.  All rights reserved.

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Happy Thanksgiving friends and family!  Here is a quick guide to surviving Thanksgiving with your dog. Yes I know your dogs are the perfect family members but sometimes things can come a little unhinged with all the food and humans coming in and out.  So here are some tips to help with the holiday…

  1. Exercise for you and your dog.  Think of a ball toss but even better is at least a nice walk.  Add in some mental exercises like waiting to cross the street, turns, etc. as mental stimulation is good for the both of you and can be tiring to your dog.
  2. Who will be the responsible human? Will it be your niece the dog-lover who wants a puppy?  Whoever it is, make sure they take your dog out for regular potty breaks.  Have a supply of stuffed Kongs or bully sticks to give your dog when they are in “quiet time”.
  3. Greet guests with your dog on leash (6 ft. or shorter) and please no flexi-leads, or have an established quiet place like their crate, away from the action. When greeting guests step on the leash and allow your dog to sit or stand but not jump.  Teach the humans to keep their hands low. Have a toy handy to give your dog as dogs usually will not jump with a toy in their mouths.
  4. Do not allow guests to feed your dog near the dinner table and monitor what is fed to your dog.
  5. Have fun and look and count your blessings.

 

It’s Time to “Do More With Your Dog”!

Trick Training Helps to Keep Dogs in their Forever Homes
by Dorice Stancher, MBA, CPDT-KA, CTDI ©2015 Dorice Stancher, All rights reserved.

Dancing with your dog is another form of trick training and fun for the both of you!

Dancing with your dog is another form of trick training and fun for the both of you!

Want to get pet owners to train those new puppies right into adulthood? The answer may be simply introducing them to the “Do More With Your Dog” program created by famous Hollywood trainer and AKC Competitor, Kyra Sundance. This goal-oriented program creates a solid foundation of obedience in the format of simple “tricks” which owners track and apply to titles. Many of the behaviors recognized can actually be found in parallel tests such as the AKC STAR puppy program and the AKC Canine Good Citizen program. And there are also more complex behaviors that can possibly land a movie role.

Dr. Cindy Otto, Executive Director and Founder of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center credits the program with saving her relationship with her dog, a Bichon mix that had flunked obedience. She feels that this program is less stressful than obedience tasks, yet keeps dogs learning. “The component of failure is not there,” she said. “ Older dogs, young dogs are engaged and vibrant and the pedestal training helps with veterinary exams too,” said Otto. She is certified as a trick trainer with the program and recently held a workshop for pet owners. As the DMWYD program grows globally it is only a matter of time before we see more Wheaten Terriers listed on the website’s “wall of champions”.

There is no compulsion or aversive training here. The accent is on fun and positive reinforcement to create drive for both the human and canine partner. The behaviors are applicable to many AKC competitive venues including conformation, obedience, agility and more. But the best part is that owners can access learning videos and be a part of an online community of fellow tricksters for free.

The SPARK teams found on Facebook start the first of every month and guide participants through a list of behaviors to title at one of several levels. Each week new videos are posted and participants are encouraged to “strutt their stuff” and earn titles. By reducing the barriers to training, including accessibility and cost, and encouraging creativity and training in all settings, people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds worldwide have embraced the program. And it continues to grow and benefit all types of dogs. Senior dogs needing mental stimulation can work with modified skills and dogs with anxiety thrive and develop confidence as they build a relationship based on trust, praise and having a good time learning.
Most recently I have incorporated trick training into not only my classes and private training, but with training my very own Wheaten Terriers and have found it to be quite addictive. Once you see what the breed is capable of as mastery reveals amazing feats, it is enticing and a little addictive to venture on and experiment pushing things further. Here’s to having more fun and embracing the joys and adventures of training!

FMI on classes in Northern NJ please visit http://www.caninescando.com

For more information on the program visit: http://domorewithyourdog.com