Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Why You Should Never Shout At Your Dog

Alan | August 21st, 2012
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If you have a new puppy in the house and are unclear about whether or not you should use yelling as a way to get him to stop doing something wrong or barking too much, then this article should clear up your confusion. If anything, you should learn the simple fact that yelling at your dog it does nothing to fix a problem, stop what he’s doing, or induce any type of positive reinforcement.

Yes your dog may stop doing a certain activity temporarily after yelling at him, but he will only return to whatever behavior he was displaying which made you angry in the first place. Why? Because when you shout at your dog it does nothing to fix the issue, yelling only works as a temporary solution.

Most puppies think of their owners as other dogs. And when you start yelling at your pet, it only increases how excited he is about the situation. You also cause your dog to create a negative association between yelling and how he feels around you. He will soon start to connect yelling with the idea that he is disliked or unwanted, and will not have the ability to know that he is actually breaking a rule that you are trying to establish.

Not All Loud Voice Commands Are Bad

Even though yelling at your dog is considered to be of poor communication skills, there are definitely times when you need to firm up the tone of your voice and change the way you come across to him. There are three general forms of communication in terms of the way you speak to your dog that you can apply:

1. The soothing tone of voice. A soothing and delightful tone of voice should be used whenever you want to give praise to your dog. When you communicate this way, you should be able to relax and soothe him as opposed to creating excitability. Speaking to your puppy in a soothing tone of voice makes him feel secure and proud knowing that you are happy with him.

2. The second tone of voice used when communicating with your dog is more of a direct tone. A direct tone would be the same way you give commands to your puppy when you want to get his attention. It should be short, firm, and authoritative.

3. The third general tone of voice you can use with your dog is more of a disciplinary tone. However, you must learn to draw a fine line between a disciplinary tone and a yelling tone. Remember, you do not want to yell your dog but there are certainly times when you need to get across to him to back away from something quickly or to stop doing something immediately, all without actually scaring him off with shouting. Personally, I like to use two syllables such as “DOWN BOY” or “SPARKY NO”.

Train Your Dog Not To Run Through Open Doors

Kate | August 3rd, 2012
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Teaching your dog or puppy to wait is an invaluable training command that will not only improve his behavior, but can also save his life.

One of the most common problems that many dog owners have is preventing their pets from darting through the door at any given chance they get. As you can probably guess, this behavior can cause your dog to run from the house and face injury or even death from oncoming traffic.

The Wait At The Door Training Procedure

Step 1: Have your dog sit by your side as you face the door (inside of the house). Be sure that the door opens away from you. The idea is to show your dog that an open door does not mean it is okay for him to leave.

Step 2: Now give him the wait command as you reach for the door. If your dog does not move, say Good Boy and give him a treat. However, if he starts to move towards the door, give a cheerful No No, and get him to sit down again. Do not scold him, keep it positive. It’s supposed to be fun and productive.

Step 3: Repeat the process, but the next time do not reach very far for the door, a few inches with your arm will do. If your dog remains sitting then continue with the procedure while each time adding more length as you reach for the door. Your dog should be sitting until you actually touch the handle and jiggle it. Again, reward him with a treat for sitting still.

Step 4: Next, reach for the door and slowly opened it just an inch or two. Reward your dog if he sits still. And again, if he starts to move towards the door then say No No and sit him back down again. Repeat the process while you continue to open the door more and more each time.

Step 5: Your dog should be doing quite well by now. When you are able to open the door all the way while your dog remains sitting, the next step is to walk through it, turn around and face him. Wait about 15 seconds and then walk back to the dog and give him a treat. Every now and again you should walk through the door and call your dog to come to you as you stand on the outside porch. Give him the sit command along with a treat.

The End Result

Eventually, with enough practice and repetition of the above five steps, your dog will automatically sit every time the door opens up. Because of the training procedure he learned, his instincts will tell him to sit patiently and await for permission to walk through.

Leash Training 101: Start With The Correct Collar

Kate | July 29th, 2012
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One of the best leash training methods created today does so that encourages the dog to develop awareness of its owner. To begin, you should use a sturdy, flat or rolled buckle collar made of leather or nylon.

Although popular among obedience trainers, slip collars – which tighten and release in response to tension – are not necessarily a good choice for teaching leash manners. Most dogs are overly excitable on the leash and often pull heedlessly against this type of collar, sometimes resulting in damage to the trachea. Though appropriate in the right hands, this collar is best left to those experienced in its use.

For the determined dog that already has a habit of pulling, the headcollar is the most effective training tool. This relatively recent innovation loops around the top of the dog’s neck and muzzle. The loops are attached by an additional strap on each side of the head and one below the muzzle. The leash attaches to the headhalter, the concept is based on the simple physical rule that where the head goes, the rest of the animal must follow.

The headcollar turns the dog toward the walker whenever tension is applied as it simultaneously tightens around the muzzle and back of the head, encouraging the dog to move in the direction of its owner to release the pressure.

Specifically designed to offer a gentle alternative to other collars, initial hands-on instruction from a trainer who is familiar with its use is still a good idea in order to have the proper fit and more effective method.

For the standard size breed that is around six months or older, a prong, or pinch collar, may work best and also for the adult dog that naturally pulls. Made to constrict in response to applied tension, then instantly expand again when tautness is released, this metal collar has large prongs that turn inward around the dog’s neck, creating what could be described as a blunted, teeth-like effect.

As with the headcollar, correct fit and size are important and are best judged by a trainer well educated in proper prong-collar usage. One that is too tight pinches the dog continually, which is counterproductive to training and cruel to the dog. One that is too loose loses its effectiveness.

A properly fitted prong collar should sit high on the dog’s neck, just below the ears. You should be able to slip your fingers underneath the collar when pressure is not applied, but it should not be so loose that it slips down around the trachea.

Despite its somewhat formidable appearance, the correct use of a prong collar simply gives the dog cause to stop and take notice of its owner. The prongs only pinch if pressure is applied, such as when the dog pulls. The pinch is in direct relationship to the amount of pressure applied.

The more pressure that is applied, the harder the pinch will be. Prong collars work well for leash training because the dog controls how much pressure it puts on its collar, and therefore, controls the amount of pinch it receives. This allows the animal to avoid the pinch by maintaining slack in the lead.

How To Get Your Puppy To Stop Stealing Clothes

Samantha | July 28th, 2012
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Puppies are like little children in that they need constant discipline and a watchful eye to be sure that they can learn the rules of your house. Some puppies have major behavior problems, while others display the typical scenarios, such as stealing clothes and other small items around the house as if it were a game.

Puppies are notorious for stealing anything that they can get their mouths on and then run away with it. At first this little habit is cute and very comical. However, after a while it needs to be seriously addressed because as the puppy matures into an adult dog, he will think that he is allowed to eat anything in the house, including your expensive shoes and nice furniture.

There are several ways to handle a puppy that is stealing your cloths and other items from around the house. One way to get your puppy to drop something from his mouth immediately is to simply walk out of the room and shut the door behind you. For example, let’s say you are in your room and your dog grabs a sock from the corner closet and runs around the room avoiding you at all costs. This is just a game to him, nothing more. So what you need to do is quickly have him lose interest in the game by just leaving the room with the door closed. In less than 10 seconds your puppy will drop the sock and start crying for your presence.

Another way to distract your puppy from stealing clothes and other small items is to distract him by running to the door and shaking your keys so that he understands that you are going to take him outside (dogs quickly associate the jingle of keys to someone leaving the house).

Now take the dog into the yard or the sidewalk for just a few minutes. If you do this enough, eventually your puppy will be able to stop playing his little thief game anytime you shake your keys. It’s all about distraction and training your puppy’s mind to associate something else of importance whenever he attempts to break the rules.

Last but not least, as I always recommend for most common behavioral problems with dogs, get yourself a small water bottle that you can use to squirt your puppy. Of course you do not want to torture your dog by squirting them in the eye or anything like that, but a little spritz of water can go a long way when trying to get your dog to stop whatever behavioral problem he keeps getting into.

Whenever you see your puppy grabbing something and running around the house with it, give them a quick squirt and a firm “no” command. He will be so surprised and shocked that he will quickly drop anything from his mouth while learning that this is one rule he cannot break.

How To Combine Playtime With Obedience Training

Alan | December 15th, 2008
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Puppies are like children in many ways. They need constant care, supervision, and a lot of affection. Having both together, your kids and your dog, especially during playtime, require extra supervision and patience. The key is to teach your child how to play with the puppy and for the puppy to understand that he needs to listen to the child the same way he listens to you and the other adults in the family.

Always Use The Same Commands

It is important for your child to use the same commands that you and the rest of the family use. Doing so teaches your child to use the commands with respect toward the dog. At the same time, your puppy will realize that he needs to obey the childs commands, thus teaches both to respect one another.

It sounds like it can be quite a handful, but it is also a lot of fun. Combining training and playtime helps to create a closer bond between your child and puppy. Let them run together and then see how fast your child can command the puppy to stop and sit. The puppy needs to learn to sit and wait while your child to throw a toy for your puppy to retrieve. Your child can also train the dog how to roll over by rolling in the grass while having the puppy mimic him.

There are many other ways you can incorporate training and fun between your child and puppy.

Some helpful rules to keep in mind

1. Your dog should understand who the leader is. If he has an instinct to herd, dont let him herd your child. Doing so will make the dog think that he is in charge and will not obey your childs commands.

2. No roughhousing whatsoever. Discourage aggressive play at all times. Do not let your child drag, pull, wrestle, hit, or poke the puppy, even in a playful way. Your puppy may react differently and may jump and bite. At the same time, do not let your puppy jump on your child. A four year old German Shepherd can easily knock down a 6 year old child.

3. Teach your child to respect the puppy, and vice versa. Your child should learn how to properly treat the dog, which will then earn him the respect and leadership from your puppy.

4. Establish consistency. Puppies learn through repetition. Your child needs to understand that commands that we teach him are firm and absolute. If the puppy doesnt obey the command, the child should repeat the command until the puppy does what he is told to do.

5. No squeezing. Hugging the puppy too tight can result in injury.

6. Always be there to supervise playtime, especially if you have a young child and/or you have a new puppy. This way, you can easily intervene if things get out of hand.

Helping A Dog To Adjust After Bringing Home A Baby

Samantha | October 31st, 2008
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I was lucky – my Beagle-mix (Chloe) adjusted to our new baby well. In fact, she would scratch at the bedroom door every time my daughter, Sophie, cried – just in case I was able to tune out the walls (not a chance!).

Chloe would also leave my warm bed to lie on the couch with us during those middle-of-the-night feedings.

However, I’m not sure Chloe would have welcomed home baby Sophie with eager licks and wags had I not taken the time during those (long) nine months of pregnancy to prepare her for our expanding family.

Here are some of the same times I used, and ones you can use as well, for helping your puppy adjust to sharing the spotlight:

Create A New Routine

Babies have a tendency to run on their own schedule, especially during the early months when they still have their days and nights mixed up. Veterinarian Karen D. Willinger, V.M.D., PhD., suggests getting your dog on a schedule near what you expect it to be when the baby arrives.

Dr. Willinger goes on to say, for example, because babies fall asleep easily in a stroller, you can plan walks with the dog around the baby’s naptimes, walking the dog while the baby sleeps in the stroller.

Positive Reinforcement Goes A Long Way

Another suggestion from the experts is to help your dog associate the baby with good things. Before the baby arrives, have another family member bring home a blanket from the hospital for your pup to sniff, which will help acclimate it to the smells of the baby (some pleasant and others not so much) that will soon fill the house. Try giving your pup its favorite toy or treat while you bathe, feed or rock the baby.

Meet & Greet

First and foremost, never leave your dog alone with the baby! Supervision is necessary for everyone’s safety not to mention peace of mind because a newborn baby’s jerky muscle reactions can trigger a dog’s prey drive (the instinct to chase and kill animals).

When the introduction day finally arrives, take it slow. Dr. Willinger suggests keeping your dog on a leash at first, allowing it to sniff the baby while you watch for signs of fear or aggression. Signs of aggression include pinned-back ears, growling, snarling, or loud, forceful barking. In contrast, a fearful dog will whimper, tremble or quiver, and tuck its tail between its legs.

With proper preparation and positive reinforcement, both of your babies can learn to happily share the stage. Remember, Dr. Willinger says, puppy and baby interaction is all about what you as the dog owner and new parent are comfortable with.

How To Help A Dog With An Abusive History

Sarah | July 2nd, 2008
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Last year, Angela, a single mother of three teenage boys, had been in contact with the Greyhound Pets of America (a rescue group that finds homes for retired racing greyhounds). She asked the group if they had an adult dog that would get along well with cats, as Angela also loved cats and had several of them.

A lovely greyhound named Bronze fit the bill. Just several days later Bronze was welcomed with loving arms in his new home.

Bronze didn’t know a lot of small things right away, such as how to climb up steps or comprehend a see-through glass door and windows, etc. He did not know how to play and was very weary of people, particularly very tall, thin males. And something also peculiar he was literally afraid of his own shadow!

Any of these things caused fear in Bronze, and the resulting behavior was aggression, snarling and growling. Angelica was worried that his behavior would go beyond this reaction, leading into biting or attacking.

Soon Bronze showed fear towards another specific occurrence: Anytime Angela’s brother would come to visit, and wearing his usual leather jacket and ball cap, Bronze would again start his aggressive stance and snarling. The same thing happened when Angela’s sons would come home with their noisy friends.

The Cause Of Bronze’s Fear

As you know, Bronze was an ex-race dog, so once Angela was able to contact a canine psychologist, the doctor was able to identify the problem right away. He had asked Angela to obtain a picture of the dog’s ex-trainer, which turned out to be a very tall, skinny man that wore a long black coat, along with a specific hat that resembled a baseball cap.

Add to this evidence the obvious experiences of the dog having raced at the track: lots of noisy people, confinement, guns firing, running, more confinement, lots of harsh training commands from his trainer it was no wonder why Bronze reacted the way he did when he was adopted.

Managing these issues was not going to be an easy task. It required Angela to have constant vigilance. The doctor instructed her to remove the noisy teenagers from his presence, teaching Angela to be cautious of how she gave commands to Bronze, as well as have her brother remove his black leather jacket and ball cap when visiting.

In time, Bronze was able to calm down and within 12 months was less afraid of noise and the appearance of any man that resembled his past trainer became less of a threat. Bronze lived to be thirteen years old and because of his new owner’s love and care to learn to communicate, he was a lucky dog one that enjoyed the right that every canine has to be loved and included in a real family.

What You Can Learn From This Story

If you are also considering bringing home an adult dog that has had a history of competing in sports, such as a racing dog, for example, then prepare yourself by taking lessons from the above story. It will not only teach you how to communicate with your problem dog, but could also save him or her from being sentenced to a lonely life inside of the pound.

Why Your Dog Absolutely MUST Have A Crate – Part 5

Gemma | December 24th, 2006
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Are you ready for a quick and easy 5-step crate training plan for your pup? Repeat each of the following steps for one day or one week, depending on how well your puppy takes to crate training. Move onto the next step once your pooch is confident with the previous step.

Day 1/Week 1: Introduce your puppy to his new crate by opening the door so it won’t close on the dog accidentally. Be prepared to spend some uninterrupted time with your puppy and sit down next to the crate for a few minutes.

Put some toys and a blanket inside the crate. Your puppy will toddle over it. When it does, pick up a toy from the inside, show it to your puppy and gently toss the toy inside the crate so that it hits the back wall and makes a noise.

Chances are, your puppy will be curious about the toy and where the noise came from, and may walk over the threshold to check it out. If your puppy goes inside on its own, reward it by tossing in a little treat so it hits the back wall of the crate, too. Repeat the process a few times.

If your puppy doesn’t go into the crate, toss some treats near the crate’s door and encourage your puppy to eat the treats. As your puppy gets closer and no longer seems afraid of the crate, throw a few treats inside and tell it to go get the cookie. Make a big fuss by saying, Yeah, Yeah Good Puppy!

Day 2/Week 2: Take your puppy to the crate and toss some treats inside. When your puppy goes in the crate, verbally praise it again. Repeat this process several times. This is also a good time to put your puppy’s food bowl inside and feed it a meal inside the crate, but leave the door open. Your puppy will begin to associate the crate with yummy experiences, which is a good thing. After a few meals, your puppy will run inside and wait for you to put the food bowl down.

Day 3/Week 3: When your puppy is comfortable with dining a la crate, try closing the door while it’s eating. When it’s done, open the door after a few minutes. Repeat at the next meal, but increase the amount of time the door is closed each time.

Day 4/Week 4: While feeding your puppy inside the carrier with the door closed, go to another room for a few minutes so you’re out of sight of your puppy. When you return, let your puppy out. Repeat and gradually increase the time you’re away.

Day 5/Week 5: In addition to feeding your puppy all of its meals inside the crate, try putting it inside after playtime and right before naps. Use a verbal command, such as go get a cookie, and toss some treats inside, making sure they hit the back wall noisily. When it goes inside after them, close the door for a few minutes. If your puppy settles down for a nap, walk away to another room. Repeat.

During the day, your puppy will be fine inside for up to about three hours. If you have to leave a young pup alone for an entire day and an outdoor area isn’t available, try taking the door off the crate and putting pup and crate inside an exercise pen or a gated safe room. This way it can go in and out of the crate and still have the freedom to move around.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3 | Read Part 4 | Read Part 5

Why Your Dog Absolutely MUST Have A Crate – Part 4

Gemma | December 22nd, 2006
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Once you have a crate, begin training your puppy to use it right away. Some puppies are just naturals and pick up the den idea the moment they see it. Set it down on the floor, open the door and watch the pup toggle right in to check it out. If there’s a comfy blanket with some interesting toys inside the crate, a pup may stay a while all on its own.

Other puppies need more coaching. Here is where your patience comes in handy. The best crate training is a slow, positive experience and doesn’t happen overnight. It may take a few days, weeks, or even months before your puppy feels completely comfortable in its new digs.

This depends mostly on how determined and confident you feel about having your puppy sleep in a crate. If you’re unsure, your puppy will also be skeptical. If you don’t give up on the training, your puppy will learn to accept the crate faster.

There Are Two Important Rules Of Crate Training:

1) Don’t place your puppy’s crate in the garage or in a room where it can’t see you. The puppy will feel abandoned, and will bark or howl until you show up again, making it an extremely long night, as well as delaying the crate training process.

During the daytime, put the crate in the room where you spend the most amount of time. Come nighttime, move it into your bedroom. That way your puppy will feel secure that you’re nearby. If it whimpers during the night, it probably means potty time. Take your puppy outside without playing with it, and it will go to the bathroom and go right back to sleep in its crate.

2) Don’t let your puppy out of the crate when it’s barking or whining. This just rewards the pup for behavior you don’t want. Under no circumstances should you rescue the puppy, because this just teaches it that if it shrieks long enough it will get its way. Wait until your puppy is quiet before letting it out. Once he starts to calm down and stops making noise, then let it out of the crate.

Tip: How To Handle Crate-Haters

There should be no barking in dog crates. If your dog continues to bark in its crate, go back to the basics and repeat the crate training steps. Your puppy may also need a bit more mental stimulation. If so, try increasing your pup’s exercise so it’s pleasantly fatigued before crate time.

For barking puppies 4 months and older, sometimes you just have to ignore the noise. Pups have more opinions as they get older, and if you know that your puppy is nearly crate trained, isn’t hungry, or doesn’t have to go to the bathroom, it’s best to ignore him. The goal is to teach your puppy that a crate is a pleasant place to be.

Now if your puppy has a hard time whenever you leave the house; runs from room to room looking for you; or cries, whines or barks until you return, it will probably do the same thing if you put it inside a crate.

To make your puppy feel more at ease during your absence, try leaving for a short time, around 5 to 10 minutes. This way, your puppy quickly learns that you’re coming back. Other puppies may just bark for a few minutes when you leave, but they’ll eventually quiet down.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3 | Read Part 4 | Read Part 5

Why Your Dog Absolutely MUST Have A Crate – Part 3

Gemma | December 21st, 2006
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Going Crate Shopping

Once available in only two styles and one color wire or molded plastic in basic beige pet carrier crates nowadays come in a variety of materials and colors, and in several basic types. There are advantages and disadvantages to each model, depending upon how you want to use your crate.

Plastic Carriers, The Most Popular

The plastic models have ventilation on each end and is the only one of the crate types that airlines accept for transporting a dog. It gives the dog the most protection from anything dangerous that may be falling inside, and keeps the dog warm during cold weather.

When you purchase a crate, it usually comes disassembled in three big pieces: a top and bottom section, and a metal door with a locking device. You’ll also receive a small plastic bag containing all the screws needed to put the carrier together. Don’t worry it’s easy to do. You don’t need any special tools and the sides snap together within minutes.

Plastic crates range in price, depending upon the precise design. Although the doors on most of these models open on one side, some styles have doors you can open on either the right or the left sides, and some have different types of locks. Other crates may have wheels on the bottom for easy transport, or may have sloped sides designed to fit into a car a little easier.

Important Tip: When choosing a plastic crate, look for a model that is labeled Airline Approved by the manufacturer because it indicates the strongest, sturdiest design.

Wire Carriers

Resembling cages, wire crates have a metal or plastic pan on the bottom that you can remove for easy cleaning. Although wire carriers are okay for dogs, they may not be the best choice for puppies. The spaces between the wire bars look small, but a puppy of most breeds might get a toe or foot caught between the bars or in the space between the bottom pan and the bar.

Wire carriers are great to use during the summer because the greater ventilation allows air to flow through to keep your dog cooler. If it’s hot and you’re using it outdoors while camping or picnicking, be sure to place a shade cloth or sheet across the top to keep your dog nice and cool. You can also purchase an electric clip-on fan to help cool your dog.

Some wire models collapse and fold flat for easy transporting. If you’re using a wire crate in your car, find a model that fits your car the best, with doors either on the sides or on the front, or with a square or a slanted top. The top of a wire crate isn’t solid, so some dogs may feel a little vulnerable, especially those that are a little insecure. You may want to consider covering it with a sheet or large towel.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3 | Read Part 4 | Read Part 5