Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Which Leash To Use When Leash Training Your Puppy

Gemma | August 31st, 2006
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What could be more adorable than a tiny 10-week-old German Retriever walking down the street with its owner, pulling at the leash as it excitedly greets anyone who walks by? These little puppies put so much effort into seeing what’s going on and are almost always greeted with a pat on the head and a smile from passing strangers.

This is all cute and adoring, that is until the dog reaches a bodyweight of 50 to 60 pounds and is literally dragging its owner down the street on the leash. The once happily smiling owner is now gritting her teeth and doing all she can to keep the dog from pulling her down the sidewalk.

As strangers pass by it takes all of the owner’s muscle and might just to hold the dog back from getting its dirty paws all over these people. Eventually, these types of dogs who have no leash control end up spending all of their time in the backyard without ever being walked.

Leash Training Should Begin Immediately

Many dog owners who purchase a new puppy totally underestimate just how vital it is to invest time into leash training, and from as early an age as possible, especially when they have a pup that will grow 6 to 10 times it’s puppy size. They do not realize that training begins the instant their new dog comes home.

Any and all behaviors a puppy practices will become a learned subconscious activity. In time the dog will not think twice about what it is doing, even though it may be a wrong action that you disapprove of. In all fairness to the puppy, what do you expect if you ignore sound training principles early in its life? What choice does the dog have?

The Importance Of Having The Proper Leash

Having the right type of equipment can make or break dog training. Using the proper tools can either make your training experience pleasant and productive, or a complete waste of time.

What is the best leash for training purposes?

Fortunately, when it comes to leash equipment, you can’t go wrong with most of them. However, there is one type of leash that is not recommended for training purposes and that is the retractable kind.

Retractable leashes are available in all sizes and extend at different lengths. These leash devices are simply a plastic casing that fits into your hand which has a control trigger that either releases the leash to extend up to a certain length and can then be locked at the specific distance you choose.

Yes these types of leashes can definitely be a benefit for many situations, but for training a new puppy or even an adult dog, you need to have a leash that can provide constant tension on the dog’s neck.

You also need to keep a very short distance between you and your dog, which is very hard to do when using a retractable leash. With too much distance, your dog will have no concept that you are even walking with him.

Lastly, you must have consistent leash pressure and release moments in order for the dog to understand the commands you are teaching him, such as heeling. With a retractable leash, it can extend at different distances and be locked inconsistently. Your puppy may become frustrated as it perceives unfair and irregular corrections each time you vary the length and lock it in place.

Leash Training 101: Try Using Food Instead Of A Clicker

Gemma | August 27th, 2006
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Though clicker training garners results with leash training, not everyone is comfortable with it. Personally, I do not use a clicker when training my dogs. I prefer to keep the rewards mixed. A rub, praise, toy or food can be intermixed as rewards when you get the response you want.

Food is great for luring a dog into behavior, but once the dog has the concept, humans have a hard time of getting rid of the treats. Be unpredictable in your rewards, make a game of it.

Always impress upon the dog that the fun stuff comes when the leash is slack. Learn how to use your voice and facial expressions so that your dog wants to be near you. These are training tools that you never leave at home. Practice different pitches and sounds to see which attract your dog’s interest.

Many trainers have concerns about using treats, but they must remember the significance of raising the criteria. This means asking the dog to do more before giving it a reward. Your dog may learn to walk beautifully by your side as long as you keep clicking and treating, but what happens when your pocket is empty? Try to make him do a bit more during each walk go a bit farther between treats or ignore bigger distractions.

Despite its age, your adult dog will need the same considerations as a puppy during leash training. When the leash goes taut, help the dog understand why you stopped by using your voice to get his attention. If he is too busy barking or pulling forward something it finds particularly enticing, use treats or a toy to distract it from its mission.

Have these special rewards ready before hitting the known problem area and work to keep your dog’s attention. This will help your dog learn to ignore the bothersome barking dog or that tempting squirrel nest.

Understandably, we all would like instant results, but dog training seldom works that way. It may take weeks or even months to persuade the dog that pulling is no longer effective. Owners can become discouraged, concluding that they are doing something wrong or their dog is hopeless.

So in the end, even if the results are slow in coming, keep in mind that even 2 steps without pulling is progress, and you must praise, praise, and praise some more! Soon it will be 3 steps, then 4 steps, and so on.

The change won’t happy overnight, in a week, or even a month it’s going to take time, fairness and consistency, which means practice almost every day, perhaps for months. Overall, it’s a relatively small investment to achieve years of benefit.

Leash training is a deceptively difficult aspect of training. Dogs learn to pull much more readily than they learn not to. For those who do dedicate the time and effort needed to train leash manners, the results are worth it.

Leash Training 101: The Golden Rule

Gemma | August 23rd, 2006
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The majority of dog owners address the issue of leash training only once it becomes a problem. In the beginning, when walking their dog, they initially think it’s cute that a puppy pulls away the entire walk to the park because, they think, that the dog just can’t wait to play with its ball. But once this pattern of pulling in ingrained, it take patience to retrain.

No matter what equipment and training method you choose, experts will tell you to abide by one golden rule when teaching leash manners: any pulling by the dog means all forward motion ceases.

As soon as your puppy or dog puts tension on the leash, you stop every time! Ah, but rather than just stand there and make this a battle of wills, we humans outsmart our clever dogs and convince them that putting slack in the leash really works on their favor. Therefore, training will include treats, praise and other positive payoffs.

Add A Clicker To The Mix

Help your dog learn that it’s a good idea to stay close to you, that good things happen when you’re nearby. To achieve this goal, we suggest that you use a clicker, which is a small, handheld device that makes a click sound when pressed.

The click marks the desired behavior the second it occurs and is immediately followed by a treat. A clicker is a good way to cut through the environment clutter that is a part of most leash walks, and helps your dog to focus on you and what it’s doing to get paid.

The clicker helps teach your dog to ignore tempting distractions because you become more interesting to your dog than anything else.

Not surprisingly, a young pup that has never had a chance to develop the habit of pulling is the easiest to teach. First, gather up your training tools and snap the leash on the buckle collar. Start walking and talking to the puppy in a happy, friendly voice. As he turns to look at you and the leash goes slack, CLICK!

This interaction teaches your dog that you are, indeed, an integral part of being walked.

Note: Frequent clicks and treats while walking will help teach your dog that the big payoff usually happens within a one-foot radius around you. Most pups will begin to stick around in hopes of another reward.

Leash Training 101: Do You Have The Right Mindset?

Gemma | August 16th, 2006
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Leash training your dog is much more than actually following a few steps and guidelines. It’s the actual mindset of the owner that is the single most important element. Success or failure, joy or frustration all depend on how you approach your dog’s walking sessions.

Start your leash training off on the right paw, so to speak. If you have a puppy that is unaccustomed to a leash and collar, let it first adjust to the feel of a buckle collar only. Once it is comfortable wearing the collar, snap on a short, light line and watch while it drags that around. Leave the line on for 10-minute sessions a couple of times a day until your puppy no longer pays attention to it.

For an older puppy or adult dog that you have had fitted for a headcollar or prong collar, again, let it have time to adapt to the feel of this new device before snapping on a leash. Do not leave specialty collars on an unsupervised dog. Because both prong and headcollars tighten with pressure, a dog can suffer serious injury if the collar catches on an object. Pay close attention to your dog during these get-comfortable sessions.

It’s important that you approach training with the right attitude, because teaching leash manners requires absolute consistency on your part. Every walk becomes a training session, whether you plan on it or not. There is no such thing as We train when we walk after work, but all the other walks are just walks.

This is a difficult concept for people, as we are impatient, hurried, and often doing something other than paying attention to our dog as it walks.

While your dog is learning, there should be no rushed walks, no stops to chat with neighbors, no using the time to make a call on your cell phone, etc. You can’t expect your dog to become mindful of you during a walk if you consistently ignore it.

Likewise, recognize that your dog doesn’t pull on the leash to aggravate, annoy, punish or get back at you it’s simply a matter of cause and effect. The dog is thinking: I pull, you follow, and therefore, I get to where I want to go.

You must reshape this thought process. Put emotions aside, view your lessons as an opportunity to forge a new relationship, and decide that from this day forward you and your dog will learn how to enjoy your walking time together!

Free To A Good Home: Training The New Dog Owner – Part 4

Gemma | August 4th, 2006
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A yapping dog, guilty of excessive barking, can be a nuisance to everyone in your neighborhood. If this bad habit is not abated, Buddy could become the target of an irate neighbor-turned-poisoner.

You could likewise become the target of a civil suit. If you truly love Buddy, give him just four days of your time with proper schooling. In cases of excessive barking, rarely does it take the full four days for Buddy to get the message.

Your investment into a cheap toy water gun can actually be instrumental in saving your dog’s life. Fill it with water and keep it handy. There is a distinct difference in a dog’s bark when he warms off an intruder and when he is simply barking for the sheer joy of it it all.

Some will bark simply because they hear a canine relative barking in the distance, and some will bark simply because they’ve learned that it gets them some attention. If you go to your dog to quiet him down lovingly, you simply compound the problem.

Bringing you on the scene with his bark will have then resulted in a pleasant experience and you can be sure that it will be repeated over and over again. If you rush to your dog and beat him to quiet him down, again you compound the problem. Buddy will quickly learn to keep a safe distance between you and him… but he will still have accomplished his purpose, bringing you out to keep him company.

Here Is What You Do

When your dog is guilty of non-stop barking, put a smile on your face, calmly grab your water gun, and go to Buddy and give him a shot of water directly in between his eyes, accompanied by the verbal command OUT! and without another word, repeat the performance again.

Remember… one squirt, one verbal command. The key here is consistency. Adopt the attitude that whenever your dog barks he is asking you, in his own language, to come out and give him a squirt.

Within four days, your dog will interpret your actions in his own dog mind: That dumb clown sure don’t dig dog talk. Everything I bark, he thinks I’m asking to be squirted.

Within four days Buddy will learn to bark in a whisper. He will have come to the conclusion that you’re not hip to dog talk and rather than continue participation in your silly little game, he’d be much better off to keep his mouth shut.

Keeping in mind that dogs learn by association will go a long way toward helping you bring Buddy into the family fold. Don’t rely on cookies and dog treats as the rewarding experience. You can’t break a dog from excessive barking by stuffing his mouth full of goodies.

If discontinuance of a bad habit is desired, the pursuance of that habit by the dog must be accompanied by an unpleasant result. Beating your dog is not the answer, and will only create more problems.

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

Free To A Good Home: Training The New Dog Owner – Part 3

Gemma | August 2nd, 2006
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The most trouble that people have with new dogs that are kept out in the yard would be the transplant the shrubbery game. The cause here is one primarily of boredom. That’s right… sheer boredom. Dogs need toys of their own, just as small children do.

As a small child, I recall vividly the boring hour that separated my arrival home from school from my dad’s arrival home from work. The apartment was small, and I had no toys. I soon discovered that playing with dad’s coin collection was more interesting than staring at four walls.

It just so happened that the ice cream truck came by during that hour, and it wasn’t many such hours before the driver of the ice cream truck became the owner of my dad’s coin collection!

Buddy’s boredom will get him into trouble too. Buddy needs toys of his own, and these toys should be rotated periodically so that he doesn’t tire of the same toys. You can buy a baby a new fancy rattle, and it’ll keep baby occupied for a while. But he’ll soon tire of it unless you rotate that plaything with other playthings.

If you are content that Buddy has ample and adequate toys, but he continues to get into mischief by digging up your favorite plants, this bad habit can be cured by a similar method used for destructive chewing – the entire plant should be tied to his mouth for about an hour or more for each occurrence, and will become an unpleasant and unpalatable object within the time-frame of four days.

Hole Digging

Hole digging is another matter. The hole should be filled with water and the following procedure carried out with the thought in mind that Buddy wanted to go swimming or would not otherwise have dug the hole.

Buddy should have his head immersed in each instance that he sees fit to dig a hole. This should not be done while you are emotionally upset or appear angry. Rather, your attitude should reflect fun… fun… fun…

After five seconds under water, Buddy is released and allowed to retreat five or ten yards away to shake off. Try to coax Buddy back to the water hole, exhibiting surprise that he doesn’t want to continue the game.

When the next hole is dug, come upon the scene with elation that Buddy again wants to play the game. Fill the hole with water and find Buddy (who will be hiding if he saw you pour water into the hole.)

Repeat the dunking routine each time a fresh hole is dug. On the fourth day (remember that it takes an average dog four days to learn an average thing) call Buddy to your side, get on your hands and knees and YOU dig a hole!

Before you have a chance to fill your hole with water, Buddy will be gone in a flash, totally unimpressed with the game of hole digging you like so well. He will now go out of his way to make sure no further holes appear in the yard, and for good.

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

Free To A Good Home: Training The New Dog Owner – Part 2

Gemma | July 30th, 2006
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What makes a dog learn? Why does he do the things he does? Attempting to break the family dog of bad habits can be frustrating without the knowledge that it takes the average dog four days to learn the average thing.

Being unaware of this fact causes many dog owners to feel they’ve got the dumb mutt, when actually, they haven’t given Buddy a few hours, let alone four days, of proper schooling. Trying to teach Buddy without the knowledge that dogs learn by associating their actions with a pleasant or unpleasant result, can be equally frustrating.

With this knowledge firmly entrenched in our minds, let’s take Buddy, and transform him into a welcome addition to any family.

The most common complaint among most new dog owners is housebreaking. The old idea of rubbing the dog’s nose in it and throwing him out the door just doesn’t seem to meet with the desired success. Naturally not!

Dogs learn by associating their actions with pleasing or displeasing results. If a dog’s action of having an accident on the living room carpet results in the displeasing experiences of having his nose rubbed in it and then flung out the door, Buddy will learn in short order that it’s much more pleasing to have his accidents in locations where he can’t be seen having them – the bedroom, the kitchen, the closet, and any other out-of-the-way place that you don’t happen to be occupying at the time.

After all, every dog knows that he can’t be punished unless he’s caught in the act. The key here is that not only must the dog be chastised and shamed for eliminating indoors, but he must be rewarded with enthusiastic and genuine praise when he accomplishes the act outdoors. This means that you’ll have to accompany him outdoors as often as you can during the necessary four days that it will take to get the point across.

The second most common complaint is destructive chewing. Most dog owners fail to realize that Buddy must be considered a puppy until he reaches maturity at 18 months. This fact may be hard to accept if Buddy happens to be a Saint Bernard. It’s hard to label a 200 pound dog a puppy … but if he’s under 18 months, he is just that – a puppy!

Puppies need to chew. They require it just as a baby needs a teething ring. Unless the dog owner provides the chew toys, Buddy will provide his own. The first step in preventing destructive chewing is to provide adequate chews for the dog. Rawhide is fine, and if Buddy has trouble getting it started, run some hot water over it and soften it just a bit. Solid rubber play toys also work wonders.

An Easy Lesson That Works

If adequate chews have been provided, but Buddy still insists upon chewing your son’s favorite baseball glove, go ahead and give Buddy the glove the whole glove! All at once!

That’s right, stuff it as securely into his mouth as you can, then tie it there so Buddy can’t eject it. Carrying around a mouth full of glove that he can neither swallow nor eject, can turn such destructive chewing into a mighty unpleasing result.

Thirty to forty minutes of having to wear the object in the mouth does more to accomplish your task than any amount of beating. Among other things, such action as beating would cause Buddy to sneak, and do all of his destructive chewing in places where you’re not apt to catch him. The glove in the mouth method will actually give your dog an utter contempt for trying to chew other items.

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

Free To A Good Home: Training The New Dog Owner – Part 1

Gemma | July 26th, 2006
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The average American family consists of daddy, mommy, and 2.1 children. The .1 must, of course, represent Buddy, the family dog.

Buddy may have appeared, complete with a red ribbon, as a furry little bundle of Christmas cheer, nestled underneath a brightly decorated tree. But by the time the ornaments and branches have been ingested by Buddy, daddy begins to have second thoughts about Santa’s sense of humor.

Humble Beginnings

During his first two weeks in the new household, Buddy usually accomplishes one thing: changing the family’s routine! The accidents on the carpet, teething on the sofa cushions, and of course Buddy’s insomnia at 2:00 A.M., are all contributing factors to his ultimate banishment to the back yard.

To stave off the sheer loneliness of his exile, Buddy will invent toys and games out of whatever is available. One such game that is as popular with dogs as hide-and-seek with children, is called transplant the shrubbery.

In this game, Buddy merely selects the plant which he considers to be most out of place. Then, with meticulous care, the plant is exhumed.

Before the plant is relocated to a different part of the yard, there is a certain ritual that Buddy must put the plant through. What the ritual actually accomplishes, only Buddy knows, but it consists (among other things) of throwing the plant into the air, gaining more altitude each time.

When the ritual is concluded, it’s time for the transplant job. Studies show, however, that Buddy is usually so winded and worn out from the tossing job, that the plant lies dormant on the surface of the yard, and the transplanting is actually done by daddy, not Buddy!

The game starts over the next day, and the next, until all the plants have been exhumed, and the dog declares himself the winner. Staring about the yard, Buddy will see nothing else of interest at this point. However… in the next yard… as Buddy jumps the fence into your neighbor’s plants…

After the quarrel with daddy and the neighbors subsides, Buddy’s realm is usually reduced to the circumference provided by a long rope tied to a tree. This is a temporary measure, of course, and Buddy will do all in his power to ensure this. This means barking at everything and everyone.

While daddy mumbles something at Buddy, and returns to the house, the dog returns to his vocal attempts to chase the moon away. Out comes daddy. A few more words are aimed at Buddy, and viola! Buddy has discovered a new game. By barking, he cannot only chase things away, but can summon someone to momentarily keep him company!

Such are the antics of the family dog, whose future usually lies in a classified advertisement declaring… Free To A Good Home.

Don’t Make That Choice

For an investment of a few dollars, coupled with a little imagination, there need be no one-way ride to the pound for Buddy, or no pawning off the lemon to some other unsuspecting family.

A few bucks will buy you a water gun, a quick and easy dog training magazine to train you to deal with your dog’s antics, and an open mind to an understanding of a dog’s point of view.

In just a few days, you can turn frustration and the prospect of sending Buddy to the pound into a well-trained, respectable family pet.

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

Find The Object, A Cool And Helpful Trick To Teach Your Dog

Gemma | June 22nd, 2006
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Training your dog to learn new tricks stimulates his mind, increases its ability to analyze information, all the while giving you more knowledge of how your dog’s brain works. In addition, teaching him how to do tricks is a fun way to spend quality time with your dog, which then creates a closer bond between you and your pet.

Did you know that your dog is capable of learning hundreds of words as long as you apply patience and consistent training? For example, in the following trick called find the object, your dog will be learning how to identify a toy or a particular item by its name from a group of items. It’s a very entertaining game that will widen his vocabulary and activate his thinking process.

Teaching Your Dog To Find The Object

To start, line up several objects on the floor or a low table and ask your dog to find a specific one. Start with an item that he’s already familiar with, such as his food dish or his favorite toy, whatever that may be. Place the object in an obvious area right next to two other unfamiliar, non-fascinating objects, such as a book or a small piece of wood.

Then, point to all the items on the floor or the table and command your dog to find the dish. As soon as he picks up the right object, praise him by petting his head and perhaps giving him a treat. If he knows how to fetch, use the command and have him bring the dish and lay it down next to you.

Do not put the treat on the dish that he brought you because that will encourage him to only pick the dish from the group of objects that you laid out.

Next, place another item on the pile, one whose name is also familiar to your dog (such as a ball). Tell him to find that item and then go back and forth between the second object (the ball) and the dish.

Don’t scold him if he picks the wrong item, and don’t acknowledge it, either. Just keep saying the command find the object. Once he has master the game, do a more advanced variation of the game, where objects are placed in different locations and then telling him to find it.

The Right Type Of Communication Needed For Dog Training

Gemma | June 18th, 2006
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The most crucial factor that can spell the difference between success and failure in training your dog is attitude both yours and your dogs. While your family dog may have some pretty serious difficulties, your dogs right attitude toward training will help overcome even his most intolerable behavior. However, control of your dogs attitude rests entirely with you!

You need to mold your dog into the family member you want him to be where obedience and instant response will allow a relationship for you and your pet that is free from stress and frustration.

This article will deal only with training dogs between six months of age and older. There is a difference in training techniques when teaching a dog below the age of six months, and that age group will require methods specifically intended for puppies.

Teaching a six-month-old dog with kindergarten methods would be an insult to his intelligence, much like a college student would be offended if his instructor talked to him using child-like teaching techniques. Similarly, a six-year-old child would achieve nothing sitting in a classroom listening to a professor explaining the theory of relativity.

Setting Positive Attitudes While Training Your Dog

If your dogs training periods each day consist of nothing but commands, I can assure you that a negative attitude will develop from your pet. His daily routine is now being changed to include training sessions. It is up to you, his owner, to make these training periods something that your dog will enthusiastically look forward to.

You can achieve this simply by communicating verbally with the dog during training periods. Here lies another key that will spell the difference between mediocre and excellent performance from your dog. By communicating verbally doesnt mean the usual Heel and Sit commands. Literally talk to your dog. Say something like Good Boy.. Youre doing a great job Come on boy, you can do itetc.

Although your dog has no idea what you are saying, two things are actually taking place while youre talking to him. First, your enthusiastic and warm tone of voice reflects your positive attitude and motivates your dog into doing a great job in order to please you.

Second, this motivation then triggers a positive attitude in your dog. Commands, on the other hand, should be given in a completely different tone of voice. They should, in fact, sound like commands, and not requests. They are then followed by enthusiastic and loving praise as soon as the dog follows the command or when shown what his correct response should have been.

Keep in mind that the most important key to the success of your dogs training is communication. Talk to him, reflect your positive attitude in the tone of your voice and your dog will reflect his positive attitude in the excited way he welcomes each days training session.