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Fine Tune Your Training – July 29, 2010

– Provide lots of feedback (praise for good, ‘uh-uh’ for no)

– Provide prompt feedback and reward for what you want (ie, don’t reward sit when your dog gets up)

– Raise criteria gradually, one step at a time, and keep asking for more

– Give your command only once and wait or help your dog do what you want

– Make sure your dog knows the behavior before you start using the command

– Don’t call your dog to come from a distance if you have no control over making it happen.  Always reward your dog for coming to you

– Different locations and distractions require training from scratch

– Don’t give things away ‘for free’ – always ask your dog to ‘say please’ with sit, down, eye contact, wait, etc. for things they want

– Dogs still need practice

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Puppy Biting and Nipping – July 27, 2010

1. Puppies explore with their mouths just like babies explore with their hands.  Puppies have sharp teeth and weak jaws – so this is the time to teach them to bite gently – and then not at all – before they develop the strong jaws of an adolescent dog. It is important to teach your puppy to reduce both the force and frequency of his biting.

2.  To do this, play with your puppy.  Sit on the floor and purposely put your hands near your puppy’s mouth.  If you feel a hard bite, say Ouch! And stop playing. If your puppy stops biting, lure him into a sit and reward and start playing again. If your puppy ignores the ‘ouch’, and continues to bite, say OOOWWW and leave the room.  Come back after a 20 second time out and do a little sit/down training before starting to play again.

3. An excellent way to practice this is to tether your puppy in an area where he can’t have any fun except with you.  Sit on the floor and play with your puppy and when you feel hard bite, say Ouch! Then get up and leave the area for 20 seconds.  Repeat this 10 times in a row twice a day.  You should be able to play longer and longer between hard bites. Then start reacting to the softer bites as well.  If you have children, each person should practice this exercise separately, starting with the adults.

4. Another way to teach your puppy to have a ‘gentle mouth’ is to hand feed him.  Your puppy only gets the food when being gentle – and not grabby. If your puppy likes to bite and grab pant legs, stop moving immediately and interrupt him.  Call his name and then ask him to do something else such as Sit.

5. Be aware that when your puppy is excited, he’ll be more mouthy and bitey.  So first practice when he’s calm.  When he is calm, you can do a lot of gentle petting and give him a nice belly rub.  If he bites, then all petting stops for 20 seconds.  Another consequence to biting is 30 second time out in his crate.  Don’t do this in anger – it’s just a neutral consequence to his biting – “Oops – time out – in your crate.”

If you don’t see an improvement in reduced biting, consult a Certified Professional Dog Trainer in your area.

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Housetraining Tips – July 26, 2010

Observation

It’s up to you to make sure your puppy does not make mistakes indoors in the first place.  The more that happens, the more he’ll think it’s OK.  This means that good and constant observation on your part is essential to preventing indoor accidents.  To help with supervision, loosely tie his leash to you or tether him where you can see him.  (Do not leave him tethered while unsupervised!).

Restrict his Movements

Make sure you never leave your puppy loose and unsupervised during the housetraining period.  This means that 100% of time you are either watching him, or he is in his crate or X-pen.

Feeding Times

It is important that you regulate your dog’s food and water intake.  Pay closer attention to your dog for the hour or so after feeding so you can be ready to take him out.  Most puppies will want to relieve themselves 15 minutes after eating.  Leave food out for 20 minutes, then remove it, whether your dog has finished or not.  Don’t worry if he doesn’t finish – he won’t starve himself.

Reward

Reward your dog every time he eliminates outside.  Be there to praise while he’s going (low key praise so you don’t interrupt him) and treat immediately afterwards.  You may want to save his very favorite treats for these rewards and use these treats only for housetraining rewards for now.  Use going for a walk as an additional reward.   If puppy does not eliminate, bring him back inside, and try again in 10 minutes.  Then go for your walk – the walk is a reward for going outside, not a bribe to entice him to go.

Go With Him

Make sure you go with your puppy every time so you are present to praise and reward.  Also, this way you know for sure whether or not he has eliminated.  Also, you don’t want him to learn that it is OK to go when you’re not there (as in indoors when he’s unsupervised!). Go to the same spot or area every time so your puppy associates this as his potty area. 

Adding a Cue

When you see your dog about to relieve himself you can add a cue such as ‘good pee’ or ‘hurry up’ or ‘do your business’.  Make sure to say this only when you know he is about to go.  After a while, you can use this cue to get him to go right away (very handy for the 11 pm and bad weather potty trips).

He’s Just a Puppy

A general rule of thumb is that a puppy can ‘hold it’ about 1 hour for every month of age.  So a 4 month old puppy can hold it for 4 hours.  This is breed dependent and smaller dogs will need to go more often.  Plan your training schedule accordingly.

Eliminate Odors

Make you thoroughly clean and deodorize any indoor accidents.  Any remaining scent will entice your puppy to go in the same spot.  You can try feeding on accident areas – puppies do not like to eliminate where they eat – which is why the crate is effective.

Record Keeping

Keep a chart on your refrigerator of you puppy’s elimination schedule so you can start to detect patterns and take him out based on those patterns.

Persistence

It will take time for your puppy to fully understand that he is not allowed to go inside.  Your dog may have an occasional accident when he is 6-12 months old.  Be diligent and patient.

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Games to Train Your Dog – July 23, 2010

GO WILD & FREEZE”

This is a GREAT game for energetic dogs that jump on people when overexcited.

This game teaches dogs to sit politely when asked to, even when very wound-up. Go Wild & Freeze becomes even more fun when children are included as players in the game because it teaches the kids a positive way to play with their puppy and manage his behavior.

What to do: First teach Fido to sit for a treat by holding one just above his nose then raising it slightly and moving it toward the back of his head. As the dog reaches upward for the treat, his rear will go to the floor in a sit. Click and give the treat.

Next, teach the kids and other players how to get the dog to sit for treats.  Now you’re ready to start the game!

Call “Go Wild!” and have everyone jump around, wiggle, wave arms, and make happy sounds. After a few seconds, call “Freeze!” and have everyone stop and stand tall. When the action stops, the player closest to the dog asks him to sit and rewards with a treat when he does.

Then start another round. Each time wait a little longer before calling “Freeze”… after a few rounds, Fido will automatically be sitting when the players stop and stand tall.

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How to Create a Motivating Toy – July 21, 2010

People will often lament that their dog is not “into” toys. Some dogs will not innately want to play with toys but you can create the desire within them with a little work on your part. If your dog is really motivated by food and has never shown any interest in toys, an option available to you is to take the motivating toy you have chosen to work with and simmer it in a pot of liver, or chicken broth to make it more attractive to your finicky hound. BE LEERY–if you choose to go this route, be very careful your dog is never given an opportunity to be alone with this wonderful smelling toy or THEY MAY EAT IT. The key to training old Rover to play with you and your toy is that you are SINCERELY interested in playing with your dog. If you are truly not having fun, your dog will quickly realize this and will be even more reluctant to join in. So be sure that you are both enjoying yourselves.

– Choose a throwable toy–i.e. one that you can toss, but won’t roll too much, like a tug rope, or a ball in a sock or a stuffed animal.

– Attach this toy to a light line, string or lead that is about 3 meters long.

– Put the toy in a drawer in the midst of your living area–example, in the kitchen or somewhere else that is easily accessible at all times.

– Before each meal start to act a bit loony. While saying really fun things to your dog (like “oh no”, “what is it”, “do you want this”, “where’s your toy”, etc.) walk, dance, skip…basically act goofy while you make your way over to the special drawer.

– S-l-o-w-l-y open up the drawer while continuing to say nutty things to your dog.

– Stop talking momentarily (a pause for effect) and then pull the toy out of the drawer, like you just unexpectedly came across a $50 bill and run with it into the next room.

– Swing the toy above the ground while acting nutty to show the dog what a great time you are having with this fun toy.

– Dance around for a few more seconds and then toss the toy out like a lure on the end of a fishing pole.

– Drag it around but BE SURE THE DOG DOES NOT GET HIS MOUTH ON IT.

– This whole process should only take 1-2 minutes the first time you do it.

– End your fun game, which didn’t include your poor dog, by running back to the drawer, your toy in tow snatching it up and quickly putting it back in the drawer with a phrase like “oh no, it’s gone”.

– You may then proceed about your regular routine as if nothing out of the ordinary just happened.

– Re-enact this performance 2-3 times a day. After the second day, allow the dog to get his mouth on the toy if he is really keen–but only for a few seconds. Pull on the line to try and steal it from him. Once you get it away (be sure you are taking it from him in a very informal, fun way), play with it a little more by yourself before quickly putting the toy away.

– Gradually progress, letting him play with you and the toy (tog of war style) a little more each time until you have a dog who loves to see the toy come out.

– Do not allow him to play with this toy at any other time except during this routine

– Ideally, you should remove any other toys that are lying around the house during this time. Leave out only things your dog can lie down and chew on by himself, such as his chew bones.

– Before you know it you will have a dog who is as nutty about this toy as you apparently have been!  You can now use playing with toys to train TAKE IT, DROP IT, WAIT, etc.

– This method works particularly well on new puppies.

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Adolescent Changes – July 19, 2010

 

A dog’s adolescence is the time when everything starts to fall apart, unless you make a concerted effort to see it through to the stability of adulthood. Your dog’s adolescence is a critical time. If you ignore your dog’s education now, you will soon find yourself living with an ill-mannered, under-socialized, hyperactive animal. Here are some things to watch for.

Household etiquette may deteriorate over time, especially if you start taking your dog’s housetraining and other good behavior for granted. But if you taught your pup well in his earlier months, the drift in household etiquette will be slow until your dog reaches his sunset years, when housetraining especially tends to suffer.

Basic manners may take a sharp dive when puppy collides with adolescence. Lure/reward training your puppy was easy: you taught your pup to eagerly come, follow, sit, lie down, stand still, roll over, and look up to you with unwavering attention and respect because you were your pup’s sun, moon, and stars. But now your dog is developing adult doggy interests, such as investigating other dogs’ rear ends, sniffing urine and feces on the grass, rolling in unidentifiable smelly stuff, and chasing squirrels. Your dog’s interests may quickly become distractions to training, so that your dog will continue sniffing another dog’s rear end rather than come running when called. (What a scary thought, that your dog would prefer another dog’s rear end to you!) All of a sudden he won’t come, won’t sit, won’t settle down and stay, but instead jumps up, pulls on-leash, and becomes hyperactive.

Bite inhibition tends to drift as your dog gets older and develops more powerful jaws. Giving your dog ample opportunity to wrestle with other dogs, regularly handfeeding kibble and treats, and periodically examining and cleaning your dog’s teeth are the best exercises to ensure that your adolescent dog maintains his soft mouth.

Socialization often heads downhill during adolescence, sometimes surprisingly precipitously. As they get older, dogs have fewer opportunities to meet unfamiliar people and dogs. Puppy classes and parties are often a thing of the past and most owners have established a set routine by the time their dog is five or six months old. At home, the dog interacts with the same familiar friends and family, and is walked, if at all, on the same route to the same dog park, where they encounter the same old people and the same old dogs. Consequently, many adolescent dogs become progressively de-socialized toward unfamiliar people and dogs until eventually they become intolerant of all but a small inner circle of friends.

If your adolescent dog does not get out and about regularly and few unfamiliar people come to the house, his d-socialization may be alarmingly rapid. At five months your dog was a social butterfly with nothing but wiggles and wags when greeting people, but by eight months of age he has become defensive and lacking in confidence: he barks and backs off, or he snaps and lunges with hackles raised. A previously friendly adolescent dog might suddenly and without much warning be spooked by a household guest.

Puppy socialization was a prelude to your safe and enjoyable continued socialization of your adolescent dog. However, your adolescent dog must continue meeting unfamiliar people regularly, otherwise he will progressively de-socialize. Similarly, successful adolescent socialization makes it possible for you to safely and enjoyably continue to socialize your adult dog. Socialization is an on ongoing process.

Dog-Dog Socialization also deteriorates during adolescence, often at an alarming rate, especially for very small and very large dogs. First, teaching a dog to get along with every other dog is difficult. Second, it is unrealistic to expect a dog to be best friends with every dog. Much like people, dogs have special friends, casual acquaintances, and individuals they don’t particularly like. Third, it is quite natural for dogs (especially males) to squabble. In fact, it is a rare male dog that has never been involved in some physical altercation. Everything was fine with young pups playing in class and in parks, but with adolescent dogs, the scraps, the arguments, and even the play-fighting seem all too real.

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Teach Your Puppy Watch Me – July 15, 2010

Watch Me or “watch” is like sit, but you hold the treat in your hand next to your face so that he’ll focus on you. If he’s not comfortable with your face, use your chest or some other part of your body near your face. The treat has to be great, not a biscuit. Treat has to initially go to the nose, almost in their nose. Then lure up to your face. Don’t lean forward. Stand up straight, let him do the work, then when he’s looking give him something to watch. Hold treat next to your cheek. Then praise, then pause, then treat. If you speak and move simultaneously, what happens first is that the motion will happen first, but you want him to hear the praise first, then get the treat.

The first time you teach watch you do it at home with no distractions. Remove distractions. As he becomes good at it, add distractions, ie kids playing ball in the den next door, doorbell rings, etc. No dog distractions at this time. Your kids walking past, maybe in yard with minimal distractions. Then try it with unfamiliar dogs that are a long ways away. You want to build a foundation before your dog gets too emotionally aroused and upset. Where to practice? Parks, on walks, vet clinics, Petco and PetSmart.

Four phases of watch training 

1. Watch, with no distractions

2. Increasing levels of distractions

3. Introduce low level dog distractions, unfamiliar dog far away

4. Introduce dogs closer and closer, with unfamiliar dogs, nonreactive dogs 

The Steps are: 

  1. Say WATCH or LOOK
  2. As soon as dog makes eye contact, praise
  3. Treat!
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Games to Train Your Dog – July 14, 2010

GO WILD & FREEZE”

This is a GREAT game for energetic dogs that jump on people when overexcited.

This game teaches dogs to sit politely when asked to, even when very wound-up. Go Wild & Freeze becomes even more fun when children are included as players in the game because it teaches the kids a positive way to play with their puppy and manage his behavior.

What to do: First teach Fido to sit for a treat by holding one just above his nose then raising it slightly and moving it toward the back of his head. As the dog reaches upward for the treat, his rear will go to the floor in a sit. Click and give the treat.

Next, teach the kids and other players how to get the dog to sit for treats.  Now you’re ready to start the game!

Call “Go Wild!” and have everyone jump around, wiggle, wave arms, and make happy sounds. After a few seconds, call “Freeze!” and have everyone stop and stand tall. When the action stops, the player closest to the dog asks him to sit and rewards with a treat when he does.

Then start another round. Each time wait a little longer before calling “Freeze”… after a few rounds, Fido will automatically be sitting when the players stop and stand tall.

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Teach Your Dog to Say Please – July 12, 2010

Teaching your Dog to Say Please

In any home, whether it has dogs in it or not, good manners are appreciated. Things like pushing past your parents to rush outside or bugging them for candy while they were working were probably not allowed when you were young and they show that your relationship with your dog is not as strong as it could be.  There’s no need to yell at your dog when he does things like bark or whine at you for attention. What you need to do is teach your dog how to SAY PLEASE.

As with all of the training methods that we recommend, we want you to set your dog up for success. Tell the dog what you want her to do (in words that she knows or by reinforcing behaviors you like), and ignore the tricks you don’t want in your dog’s attention-grabbing toolbox. You get what you pay for with dogs.  If it works for them, they’ll keep doing something, even if you don’t like it.

The Say Please Protocol is also called “Nothing In Life Is Free,” because you allow the dog to earn his keep. It’s a way of living with your dog that will help him behave better because he trusts and accepts your leadership and is confident knowing his place in the family.

How to teach your dog to Say Please

 First, teach your dog some behaviors that he can do on cue.  Use positive reinforcement methods to teach him some cues.  At first, SIT is quite sufficient. This will be your dog’s default way of asking you for something. DOWN and STAY are also useful behaviors. “Bow,” “Speak,” “Sit Pretty”, and “Roll over” are fun tricks to teach your dog.

Once your dog has mastered one or more cues, you can begin to ask him to Say Please. Before you give your dog the things that it likes most in life, (food, a treat, a walk, a pat on the head) he must first respond to one of the cues he has learned.  One way is to simply have your dog sit for everything, so that he his default method for getting what he wants is to sit. Soon, you won’t have to ask for it; you can just stand there waiting and he’ll offer a polite sit, to see if it works.  You can ask him to do other cues as well, although the sit is your dog’s primary way to Say Please.

Once you’ve given the cue, don’t give Fido what he wants until he does what you want.  If he barks at you or knowingly refuses to perform the behavior (unlikely – he probably just doesn’t understand), walk away, come back a few minutes later, and start again.  Keep in mind that he may not actually know the cue in the context you are asking, and may need extra help at first. Or he may be so excited about the toy/treat/leash that he temporarily forgets everything he knows. “Extra help” includes a visual signal or even a lure. If you think the dog knows the cue and you end up using a lure, don’t feed the dog the treat that you used for the lure at that time (we don’t want to reward non-compliance!).

The Benefits of Teaching Your Dog to Say Please

The best benefit is that your dog practices the cues that you have taught in many situations, with many different kinds of rewards. Instead of having to do a long training session, you can practice behavior that the dog already knows throughout the day. Your dog no longer has to ask, “Why should I listen to my human?” because the rewards are things that he wants in his everyday life, not just food.

Some dogs display affectionate behavior that borders on being “pushy,” such as nudging your hand to be petted or worming their way onto the furniture to be close to you. Dogs don’t do these behaviors because they are mean or bad dogs. They do them because they work. Period. Requiring your dog to Say Please first shows your dog the polite way to get what it wants. If you simultaneously ignore the unwanted behaviors, they will disappear and be replaced with a nice sit.

Fearful dogs may become more confident by ‘obeying’ cues, because it allows the dog to understand some of the rules of the game.  Making your dog or puppy Say Please before dashing off to do what she wants can help keep her out of harm’s way (in the car, at the door, et cetera).  In a multiple-dog household, making each dog Say Please and releasing them by name can bring some peace and order to your life!

 

 

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New Puppy Guidelines – July 9, 2010

Don’t Expect Your Pup To Understand Sentences

It’s okay to babble along to your pup as you care for it, just don’t expect it to understand anything you’re saying. It will only understand the tone of your address. Dogs can learn a number of word cues (“commands”) – even hundreds of them – but they are just that, word cues. A pup can and should be taught at least a few words of human language. In English, “Sit!” and “Dinner!” are a couple that might be useful on occasion. But if you tell the dog, “Sit in your Dinner”, the meaning is lost. Dogs do not have a language center in their brains like humans do, and they cannot fathom syntax. Use one-word commands when communicating. Say the word clearly. Say it only once. And say it with importance. Reward the desired response immediately. Do not use the pup’s name when addressing it (unless the pup is at a distance). Do not repeat commands. Dogs hear even better than we do. Their “deafness” is usually not attributable to poor hearing. It is selective – they choose not to obey. Remember that if a dog does not respond to a verbal cue it should not be punished. The opposite of reward is not punishment – it is no reward.

Don’t Allow Young Children (Under 6 Years Old) To Interact With Your Pup Unsupervised

It comes as a surprise to many people to learn that children and puppies, though both cute, cannot be trusted alone together. Bad things can happen. Children are naturally curious. Often a child will do “something bad” to the pup by way of experimentation. In one case, a dog bit a child and the dog had to be euthanatized. On post-mortem it was found that the child had jammed a pencil into the dog’s ear, snapping the end off after penetrating the dog’s ear drum. If accidents like this are to be avoided, complete supervision is necessary. It’s not usually the dog that starts the trouble, it’s the child. If you can child-proof your dog, there should be no cause for concern.

Do Not Feed It Human Food: Do Not Feed It From The Table.

Puppy food is best for pups (AAFCO approved, is most desirable). Adding an assortment of human foods in who-knows-what quantities will not only detract from the optimal (proprietary) food but will encourage fussiness. Also, if the human food is fed from the table, you will wind up with a dog that mooches around the table at mealtimes, always begging for food. Start out the way you intend to continue. Set limits and be firm about them.  Make sure that you feed your pup a good quality food.  This is essential to his good health.

Do Not Expect Love And Attention To Substitute For Good Puppy Parenting .

Young pups are so adorable that it is very tempting to always give them all of the love and attention you possible can. But it is also important to set limits of acceptable behavior. This is especially important as they go through the canine equivalent of “the terrible twos” at about 4-5 months of age. Bad behavior, like excessive or hard nipping, should be punished by immediate withdrawal of attention (following sharp exclamation of a word like “Ouch” or “No-bite”). This is how puppies communicate their likes and dislikes to each other. Spare the “Ouch” and spoil the dog!

DO NOT SUPPLY ALL THE GOOD THINGS IN LIFE FOR FREE

One simple rule is to make the pup work for food and treats. “What’s work?” you ask. It’s having the pup “Sit” or “Down” in order to receive food and treats (like Grace). This will make sure that the pup always views you as its true (resource rich) provider and, therefore, leader. Problems of owner-directed aggression downstream can be all but completely addressed by this simple measure. Don’t give everything away. Insist on good puppy manners: Manners maketh the pup.

DO NOT EVER GET ANGRY WITH YOUR PUP

Work hard to remind yourself, whatever happens, that this is a baby you are dealing with. If you lose your cool, you will act incorrectly, your puppy will think you have gone crazy, and you will lose its respect and trust. Be a good puppy parent. Think cool.

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