Teaching Your Pup To Be Courteous & Well Mannered – Part 4

Gemma | October 18th, 2006
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You recently read several articles on the best ways to teach your puppy to be polite and learn his manners around the house and in front of people, mentioning the use of a tether. To help you better understand what a tether is and how to best make your own, the following information will help you:

Tether Time

A tether is a simple, 4-foot length of nylon-coated cable, with sturdy swivel snap hooks on both ends. Most of the cables commercially available are intended for tying a dog outside and are a minimum of 10 feet too long for most training purposes.

You can make your own training tether, or ask your local hardware store if they will attach the snap hooks to the ends of a 4-foot cable for you with the necessary ferrules (ferrules are the metal hardware used to hold the cable) and cramping tool.

The Basic Tether

Take a 4-foot length of 1/8 inch nylon-coated cable. Thread one end through one channel of the appropriate-size ferrule, then through the ring of a small but sturdy metal snap hook. Fold the cable back on itself, run it through the other channel of the ferrule, and crimp the ferrule on both pieces of cable to hold the end in place. Repeat with the other end. You now have a basic tether.

Tethering To Furniture

Wrap one end of the tether around the leg of a heavy piece of furniture and hook it onto itself. Attach the other end to your pup’s collar. Be sure the furniture is heavy enough to prevent your pup from dragging it around, and make a comfortable place for the dog to sit or lie down with a chewie or toy to occupy it.

This is an easy and convenient application of the tether for dogs that don’t tend to chew a lot. It’s not appropriate for most young puppies or other dogs who are inclined to gnaw furniture legs.

Tethering To An Eye Bolt

Screw one or more eye bolts into sturdy wooden studs, beams or other locations in your home that are strong enough to hold your pup if it pulls on the tether with its full weight. Remember, it might be small now, but your pup will gain strength as it grows!

Attach one end of the tether to the eye bolt and the other to your pup’s collar. This method involves a little more preparation, but is a better application for puppies and dogs that might chew. Again, be sure to provide a comfortable bed, along with chews or doggie toys to keep your pup happy.

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Teaching Your Pup To Be Courteous & Well Mannered – Part 3

Gemma | October 17th, 2006
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Polite Dinner Manners

In order to achieve polite puppy dinner behavior, you first have to define it. For example, I consider it polite in my household if my four dogs lie quietly at our feet while we eat. If they don’t beg, bark, whine or otherwise nudge us for treats, they get an occasional treat from our dinner.

You may, on the other hand, prefer to teach Sparky to lie on a dog bed on the other side of the room during meals. A tether’s your ideal management tool for this. Help your puppy acclimatize to being on the tether outside of mealtime so you won’t have to constantly interrupt your meals to train. This shouldn’t take more than one or two practice sessions. Meanwhile, use a crate or baby gate to confine your pup so you can have relaxed, puppy-free meals.

When Sparky has learned to accept tethering, set up his tether in the dining room away from the table, a distance that’s comfortable for you and at least far enough so the dog won’t be tripped over as the family moves around the table. Prepare a treat-dispensing toy or other interactive toy to keep him happy while you eat.

Occasionally, when your pup is relaxed and quiet, calmly praise him, and walk over to feed him a treat. In short order you can fade out the treats and Sparky will be content to share meals with you at a respectable distance. Eventually, the polite dinner habit will be so well-ingrained, you won’t even need the tether.

Thanks For Sharing

It’s normal for puppies to pick up everything with their mouths that’s how they explore the world. You can make life easier for you and your pup if you do a good job of management basically, keep non-chew objects out of your pup’s reach. Inevitably, however, Sparky will find a forbidden object, such as a book or a shoe; something of value to you; or something that might harm him.

When Sparky does find a forbidden object, your first instinct will be to run after him and grab it away, telling him he’s a bad pup – but stop – that’s the worst thing you can do. Plus, it’s a great way to teach him a delightful game of canine keep-away (from his puppy perspective). Instead, be proactive. Teach Sparky to give objects to you on cue. Then, when he grabs something inappropriate, just slip into training mode and ask him to give.

To teach give, offer Sparky a toy that he likes to play with. When he’s happily playing, offer him a treat. As he drops the toy to take the treat, say give and feed him the treat. Then toss the toy for him to play with again. What a cool game Sparky gets the yummy treat and he gets to chase the toy again!

After a few repetitions, start saying give first, then offer the treat in trade for the toy. With practice, he’ll learn to drop the toy on the give cue, and you can treat randomly but sometimes, not always, eventually stopping the treats altogether with just using praise.

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Teaching Your Pup To Be Courteous & Well Mannered – Part 2

Gemma | October 15th, 2006
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Polite Greetings

Everyone loves it when a tiny puppy jumps up to greet them. Awww, so cute! they say, but when that puppy grows up to be a full-grown Golden Retriever with muddy paws, it’s no longer cute. In fact, it’s down-right rude!

It’s very easy to teach a pup to greet people politely. It’s much harder to convince an adult dog who’s been rewarded for jumping up that he should now greet people politely. Wouldn’t you rather try the easy way?

The good stuff Sparky gets for jumping up is attention. When your pup jumps up, you look at him. You pet him. You talk to him. Perhaps you even pick him up and cuddle him. He learns that up is a desirable place to be.

At some point you decide that Sparky is too big to jump up anymore, but he does not know that. By then, it’s a well-established habit for him a reliable way to get the good stuff.

You try to stop giving Sparky attention for jumping up, but every once in a while, when the mood is right, you slip and pet him when he puts his paws in your lap. Uh-oh, big mistake! You are not reinforcing the impolite behavior randomly. Sometimes jumping up is rewarded, sometimes it’s not.

A randomly reinforced behavior becomes extremely durable it’s hard to make it go away because Sparky learns that if he just keeps trying, eventually the behavior will pay off, like a slot machine that gives up its fortune if you keep pulling the handle long enough.

You’re not the only one who inadvertently rewards your pup randomly for jumping up. Family members, passersby on the street who want to gush over your pup when you’re walking him on the leash, visitors to your home the entire world is a potential slot machine for your pup. This is where you combine good management with assertive insistence.

First, teach Sparky from the first day he sets a paw in your home that sitting politely in front of you earns attention. Jumping up makes you turn your back, walk away, or even step over or through a baby gate (a great management tool!) if necessary, leaving your puppy behind. Show your family how to respond in the same way so your pup learns the only way to get anyone to pay attention to him is by sitting.

When Sparky has learned that sitting is a rewardable behavior, and if you’re walking him in public and someone approaches, gently but insistently inform them that your pup must sit before they can pet him. Your leash is your management tool restrain Sparky so he can’t charge forward and jump up. Tell the person if Sparky jumps up, they need to step back until he sits again, then allow them to pet your dog.

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Teaching Your Pup To Be Courteous & Well Mannered – Part 1

Gemma | October 12th, 2006
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How can anyone not love puppies, with their milk-breath innocence, soft, baby-sweet expressions and clumsy explorations of a world completely new to them?

Rare is the puppy adopter who enters into the relationship with anything less than good intentions for a lifelong commitment to the new four-legged family member. Why, then, do so many adolescent dogs end up in animals shelters, abandoned by families no longer enamored of their furry teenagers?

Often, it’s because no one ever taught the puppy polite house manners. Successful puppy-raising requires a judicious mix of training, management and love. Too many puppy owners are long on love but short on the first two critical elements.

When your pup grows up and is still jumping on visitors, playing keep-away with your $125 dollar running shoes, and darting out the door and up the street when you’re frantically trying to get to work on time, the love starts to sour!

Such a shame, because management and training are easier than you might imagine. A puppy is a blank slate whose mission in life is to make good stuff happen. Sparky’s goal is to figure out how the world works what he needs to do to make the most amount of good stuff happen as often as possible.

His list of good stuff centers on physical and mental comfort and safety: food, water, play and social contact; warmth when he’s cold; coolness when he’s hot; soft surfaces to lie on; satisfying objects to chew on; and protection from the elements, loud noises and other scary stimuli.

If you manage your pup’s world so that desirable behaviors make good stuff happen, while inappropriate behaviors make good stuff go away, you’ll end up with a well-behaved grown-up dog who never has to fear ending up at a shelter. In order for that to work, you have to control the good stuff.

The Right Management Tools

It’s infinitely easier to raise a polite puppy if you use management tools such as crates, baby gates, tethers, doors and leashes. All living things repeat behaviors that are rewarding to them. If your pup is rewarded for impolite behaviors, those behaviors will increase. Behaviors that aren’t reinforced go away.

The environment can be infinitely rewarding. Sparky barks at the cat, the cat runs away. Sparky chases. He’s just been rewarded for chasing the cat (because cat-chasing is fun!), and he’s more likely to chase the cat again the next time he sees it. You leave a roast beef sandwich on the coffee table for a moment while you answer the phone. Sparky learns he can find good stuff on tables, and you then have a counter-surfer in the making. You get the idea.

The biggest benefit of training a pup is that it’s infinitely easier to prevent undesirable behaviors than to fix them. If you’re skilled at managing Sparky’s behavior by controlling good things so he gets them in return for doing things you like, polite manners are a cinch. It takes time, consistency all family members have to agree to follow the rules and a willingness to insist that the rest of the world follow the rules as well.

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Off-Leash Training – Part 4

Gemma | October 3rd, 2006
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Off-leash training is a transition because it is, most definitely, a slow process.

It would be nice if we could just reach down, unsnap the leash, and know that your dog would instantly obey the commands Come, Sit, Down, Stay, and Heel. Regardless of how proficient a dog may be in basic obedience while attached to the leash, his efficiency diminishes about 80% once the leash is removed.

While heeling, he will lag terribly, go wide on the turns, forge ahead and sit in front of you when you stop. Sometimes, it is as if the unsnapping of a leash erases everything on the memory of a dogs mind.

On a sit-stay exercise, without the benefit of a leash, a dog suddenly realizes that his owner is powerless to do anything in the way of correction in the event of disobedience. Should the dog then bolt and runs, the command Come falls on seemingly deaf ears.

To begin off-leash work without making the proper transition would be the same as standing a baby on his two feet to walk before he had even had an opportunity to perfect his crawling technique. On the other hand, to begin making the transition before your dog has demonstrated absolute perfection and control in his work on leash would be a total waste of time.

If your dog needs constant correction while heeling on-leash, he will need the same constant correction while heeling without the benefit of the leash; but without a leash, how are you going to make a correction? Your dog should be able to perform all basic obedience exercises willingly, smartly, and with no opposition, before you undertake the transition to off-leash work.

If you have followed proper obedience training from the very beginning, you will now begin to realize why so much emphasis was placed on correct heeling techniques.

You were constantly reminded to keep a belly of slack in the leash at all times. Instructions were explicit that dogs were not to be allowed to forge ahead and tighten the leash. One of the purposes, of course, was for the dog to get used to feeling no connection between him and his owner. Of course, if the dog spends ten weeks being restrained by the leash while heeling, theres not a bond of affection thats strong enough to hold that dog in the proper heel position once the leash is off.

If your dog is proficient in the commands Come, Sit, Down, and Stay, but requires constant tugging on the leash while heeling, spend more time correcting that deficiency now while you still have the help of a six-foot leather training leash. Use it while you can.

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Off-Leash Training – Part 3

Gemma | October 2nd, 2006
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Making A Correction While Using The A Line

The only difference between the A line and the B line is the thickness and weight of each. Shifting the B line gave the dog a feeling of freedom as compared to the weight and thickness of the six-foot training leash. The A line will give your dog even more of a feeling of freedom as compared to either the leash or the B line.

The technique is applied the same way, with one slight modification. Because the A line is so light, using it to make a correction would be meaningless. It would snap like a twig. Therefore, a way must be devised to give you the opportunity to correct your dog in the event he accepts this new freedom as a challenge. You can make the correction using a tab attached to the dogs collar.

A tab is simply a six-inch length of clothespin rope attached to the pull ring of the training collar. Its like a handle, ready to be grabbed should your dog needs to be corrected. While working your dog on the A line, always keep in mind that correction is not possible unless you physically reach for the tab on the collar. Do not try to make a correction with the A line; it will break and your dog will be heading at the opposite direction from the other side of the house.

The A line is strong enough to hold your dog and to prevent him from bolting, provided that the line isnt jerked up short. The tab is for correction. Two weeks working on the A line and your dog will be ready to work for you without any leash or line at all. But the tab must stay on!

During your work on both the A and B lines, continue to practice your work on the hand signal for the drop on recall, drop to the down position from a sitting position, and the drop from the standing position. By using the A and B lines, you can do this at a distance of eleven to twelve feet from your dog rather than a mere six feet.

You will be increasing the distance gradually as you progress through training, but do not try to get ahead. At no time should you signal your dog to drop to the down position if you are more than twelve feet away from him, until instructed otherwise.

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Off-Leash Training – Part 2

Gemma | October 1st, 2006
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The Stay Command Using The B Line

While executing the Stay command while the B line (five-foot long nylon line with the thickness similar to a kite string) is in use, you will have the advantage of stepping out more than just a leash length away.

Because the B line is five feet long and your leash is six feet long, this exercise using the B line will allow your dog to have a feeling of freedom he did not feel when just using the leash.

You are farther away now and the temptation to bolt or stroll away out of the training area might occur. Be prepared for such an occasion by making sure that you hold onto the leash. You will want to make a proper and timely correction should that occur.

Let the snap end of the leash lie fully on the ground while your dog is holding that sit-stay. The total length of your leash now is eleven feet and the snap in the middle puts all the weight at that spot. Keeping the snap up off the ground will have a tendency to pull your dog toward you.

Recall Using The B Line

When executing the recall using the B line, you will experience more difficulty than with any other exercise. This is because you will no doubt find it very hard to take up the slack of the leash and B line as your dog comes into you on that recall. But with a little practice, you will discover that you are getting faster and better at it.

Two to three weeks of work, alternating back and forth between the B line and leash, should be adequate. When you notice that corrections are no longer necessary when working your dog on the B line, you will be ready for the shift to the A line.

Using The A Line

The A line (five-foot length of ten-pound test salt water fishing line) is connected in exactly the same way as the B line. That is, one end of the line is tied to the ring of the snap of the leash. It must be tied through the ring rather than the snap to prevent the line from coming loose.

Make sure that the line is tied securely. Next, tie the other end of the A line on the dogs training collar, making sure that you tie it onto the same ring that the leash snaps onto. Finally, snap the leash onto the collar in the normal manner.

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Off-Leash Training – Part 1

Gemma | September 29th, 2006
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For those of you with dogs that are trained to heel accordingly, you are ready to make the transition into off-leash training.

What You Will Need

You will need two pieces of rope, five feet in length each. One of the pieces of rope should be strong and preferably made of nylon. The nylon line should be about the same thickness as a regular kite string. The second piece of rope should actually be a five-foot length of ten-pound test salt water fishing line.

The length of nylon line will be referred to as the B line, while the fishing line will be called the A line. You will begin by using the B line, so you may put away the A line for later use.

Tie one end of the B line to the ring of the snap on the leash. It must be tied through the ring rather than the snap to prevent the line from coming loose. Make sure the line is tied securely. Next, tie the other end of the B line on the dogs training collar, making sure that you tie it onto the same ring that the leash snaps onto. Then, snap the leash onto the collar in the normal manner.

You will notice that you are dragging a loop of line on the ground and either you or your dog will be getting your feet all tangle up, so pick up the B line slack and using a clothespin attach the B line excess right to the leash. This will keep it up and out of the way until you are ready to use it.

The first five minutes of your training period should be just as normal as always. Review all obedience commands so that your dog will be in the proper frame of mind for the upcoming lesson. The second five minutes of the training period should consist of nothing but heeling exercises. Do not go more than five feet in any single direction without either stopping, making a right turn, left turn, or about turn.

Do it fast and smartly so that your pet is performing like a real professional. Then stop and give him praise and a pat on the head. While he is preoccupied with the praise, unsnap the leash, in a nonchalant way, wrapping it into your right hand. One end of the B line is still attached to the ring of the leash and the other end to the ring of the training collar.

Put away the clothespin and prepare for a few more quick start-stop heeling exercises. Keep slack in the B line and do not allow the line to tighten. If your dog suddenly senses this new feeling of freedom and decides to goof off, he will be in for quite a surprise. Nylon does not break easily and a properly timed correction will produce a sudden revelation to your dog. He will discover that just because the leash is absent, the requirement for obedience is still there, and so is the correction for disobedience as well as the praise for a job well done.

Heel your dog back and forth, making right turns, left turns, about turns, and sudden stops while only the B line connects you to your dog. Just before your fifteen-minute training period is up, give your dog praise and snap the leash back on. Finish off the session with a bit more on-leash heel work.

For the next two weeks, you should alternate between working your dog on-leash and using the B line. Alternate back and forth, so that your dog wont be aware of which of the two he is attached to, and doesnt care either. Working with the B line can be a bit awkward and youll find that it gets in the way once in a while, especially on the recall exercise. But this transition is important so be patient.

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Obedience Training: Not Just For Show Dogs

Gemma | September 25th, 2006
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The time is now for the public to understand that obedience training is not just for pure bred show dogs or those dogs used for services like police work, public service, and military missions.

If fact, it is surprising that so many owners of mixed-breed dogs feel that their dog isn’t good enough or acceptable for formal obedience training. While it is true that many All-Breed Dog Clubs and Specialty-Breed Dog Clubs do discriminate and refuse to allow enrollment of mixed-breed dogs, dog clubs are simply just one place where dogs can receive formal obedience training.

The yellow pages and online search engines can help you find dog training classes in your area. With the exception of some dog clubs, mixed-breed dogs are welcome. And why not? The mixed-breed dog learns just as fast, and just as well as his pedigreed brothers.

Price of training is another area that has stopped so many people. Without actually inquiring, they assume that the price is prohibitive. Such is not the case.

In examining services from Georgia to California, and Maine to Oregon, we were perplexed to see no mention of price in advertisements for obedience training. The very absence of a price tag keeps many people from investigating any further. They are, of course, denying themselves the pleasure of owning an obedient dog.

The simple truth is that, formal obedience training classes are inexpensive. In some places, such training sponsored by city governments is free!

If a person truly loves his family dog, the tuition for formal obedience training must be considered as the soundest investment that could possibly be made. In less than 10 weeks – working with your dog just fifteen minutes a day your family dog will know and respond to words from your language.

He will come to you when called (instead of ignoring you or running in the opposite direction), he will sit when you tell him (instead of jumping all over your guests), and he will walk at your side like a lady or gentleman (instead of pulling you down the sidewalk like a trailer). He will lie down when you tell him and where you tell him, and he will stay where you tell him.

Many people who own watch-dogs are forced to confine them to back rooms when visitors come, simply because the dogs have not received formal obedience training. They fail to realize that a watch-dog confined to a back room is about as effective as a car without a key.

An obedience-trained dog knows the difference between no and okay. Not only can this training elevate the status of your family dog, it also instills in him the soundness of character that you never knew possible. And obedience-trained dog is not just a dog, but a welcome addition to any household.

Training Your Dog With Loose-Leash Training – Part 5

Gemma | September 23rd, 2006
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A final tip to help you with loose-leash training your dog is about helping your dog to walk in a specific spot.

Dawn Jecs, dog trainer and owner of Choose To Heel in Puyallup, Washington, teaches dogs to walk in a certain spot in relation to the handler. When they’re in that spot, the leash is loose. I teach the dog where I want it to walk, Dawn says.

Before Dawn starts training leash walking, she first teaches the dog to go to an area ahead at her left side, about 18 inches out and 18 inches ahead. This is close enough to hand the dog a treat reward or snap the leash on or off, yet far enough away that it’s not underfoot. When the dog goes to that place, Dawn praises and gives it a treat, then ends the exercise.

Dawn repeats this, without walking forward, until the dog easily goes to that rewarded spot. She teaches with the same cue she uses for walking: Let’s go. When the dog hears that cue, it immediately moves into position.

Then Dawn starts leash training. For a dog to learn to walk on a loose leash, it must get practice and success with the leash loose the whole time and not get to the end of the leash, she says. To accomplish this, Dawn praises and rewards the dog while it’s still in the area by her side, before it can tighten the leash.

Every three steps, reward the dog with verbal praise and treat it while it’s in the position it’s learning and the leash is loose, Dawn says. Then release the dog and start over. Each time, before walking, say, ‘Let’s go,’ and reward the dog for going into position.

A Final Word

Pick one of the methods we discussed that works best for you. Try it out for two to three weeks. You should start to see improvement right away and fairly steady progress, but you may hit a plateau where your dog stops improving for several days. If this happens, give one of the other methods a try. Some dogs respond better when several different positive techniques are used.

A puppy with polite leash skills is a joy to walk. Instead of dreading walks, you’ll look forward to them. Your arm won’t hurt, your pup won’t wheeze, and when people see you walking together, they’ll admire your puppy’s good manners.

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