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General Training Guidelines – March 30, 2011

With spring approaching, its a good time to beef up your training. Here are some general reminders that will help!

Attitude

• Act the way you want your puppy to act
• Make all interactions fun
• Stay calm, relaxed and confident

Socialization

• Play “Check it out”- bring puppy to new thing and treat
• Watch for any signs of fear and happily remove puppy from situation
• Continue to expose to people, kids, dogs, noises, traffic, etc.

Training a new behavior

• Use lure to get behavior
• Give it a name only when you are SURE you’ll get the behavior
• Fade lure quickly – use reward, not bribe
• Reward while puppy is still doing desired behavior, not after he moves
• Make it fun
• Make it harder – different places, distractions, duration
• Practice Release word – OK, All Done!!
• Don’t over use puppy’s name

Leadership

• No ‘free lunch’
• No ‘free feeding’/ pick up food bowl after 20 minutes
• Sit/Wait for everything they want
• Apply to games, attention, walks, feeding

Taking Treats Nicely

Do NOT feed/treat puppy if he grabs for treat. Practice at home with no distractions, then outside. Puppy may get grabby in new environment or when over excited. See me for various techniques.

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Spring is Here! – March 25, 2011

If you got your puppy over the winter or late last fall, be prepared for your puppy’s first springtime experience. This is truly like being a kid in a candy store for your puppy.

Your puppy is now experiencing the sights, sounds and scents of spring. His senses are picking up hundreds of things that we are not even aware of. It’s very exciting and very distracting.

If your puppy is approaching the 6 month mark, then he is entering adolescence at this same time. This is like a double whammy. Adolescence means that your puppy is gaining confidence, testing his boundaries and wants to explore. Combine this with his first springtime experience and all your training may seem to go out the window. Your attentive clingy puppy now could care less about you once outside.

Now is the time to beef up your training. Be aware that the level of difficulty in getting your puppy’s attention outside has jumped about 5 grade levels. When outside, get closer to your puppy and start from scratch to train name response and come.

Work at a level where your puppy can be successful – which may be just outside your front door to start. Don’t get frustrated and repeat commands. Help your puppy focus on you by using a food lure like you did in puppy kindergarten.

Be patient and have fun!

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Housetraining Your New Puppy – March 23, 2011

1. The best way to house-train your puppy is to consistently and generously reward him for going in the right place and prevent him from going in the wrong place.

2. You want to teach your puppy the ‘rewarding’ place to go and to give him plenty of opportunities to eliminate there. This means pro-actively taking him out every hour or so when he’s awake, after naps, after eating and after playing, as well as first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Stay pro-active about bringing your puppy outside – don’t expect him to let you know he has to go. As you build up a consistent reward history for him going in the right spot, he will be more motivated to go there.

3. Make sure you bring your puppy out on leash so you can control where he walks and sniffs. Go to the elimination area and just stand there and let him walk around and sniff a bit but keep him in the general area. Be aware that any distractions will interrupt his peeing or pooping – cars, people, squirrels, etc. Watch for signs that he is about to go so you recognize them over time. A small puppy may only pause briefly to pee so you need to be very observant.

4. As soon as your puppy finishes, verbally praise him and give him 5-6 tiny treats in a row. If he doesn’t go, bring him back and take him out 5 minutes later. Watch him carefully when you do go back in because that may be where he is more comfortable going. Continue to go out every 5-10 minutes until your puppy goes and then lavishly praise and reward him with high value treats. Make sure you’re with him when he goes so A) you know that he went and B) to teach him that it is rewarding to ‘go’ when he is next to you.

5. Next, you want to start tracking your puppy’s elimination schedule so you can anticipate when you need to take him out. When inside, watch for sniffing or circling as a sign that he needs to go and ‘when in doubt, take him out’. If he does have an accident inside, calmly clean it up with a proper odor eliminator and take note of when and where the accident happened so you can be more diligent about preventing it next time.

6. Punishing your puppy after the fact does no good –he won’t understand why you’re yelling at him so don’t it. Just be more observant next time. The first few weeks of owning a puppy are some of the hardest and most important. Spending extra time and effort now will pay off in a big way. If your puppy has an accident inside, take a newspaper, roll it up and hit yourself in the head with it!

7. Once he’s going regularly in his spot, start putting this behavior on command- use whatever phrase you want but be consistent: “Hurry up”, “Do your Business”, “Do Potty”, “Potty time”, whatever. Start saying the command as your puppy starts to go. Don’t say it when you’re not sure – we want him to associate the command with the correct behavior. Eventually start saying the command earlier and it will be his cue to go. This will come in very handy on a rainy or cold night when you want him to go quickly so you can get back inside.

8. Finally and the most important, the only way for you to prevent your puppy from going in the wrong place is by using 100% management and supervision. This means that when you can’t watch your puppy, he’s in his crate and when he is out of his crate, he’s never out of your sight. You’ll need to gate off a small area of your kitchen or family room or have your puppy on a leash attached to your belt.

Good luck and happy training!

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Teaching Your Dog Not To Jump – March 20, 2011

This is one of the most common training issues I get asked to help with. Basically, this involves teaching your dog that sitting for attention and greetings is more rewarding than jumping.

Here are some tips:

Jumping is a perfectly natural dog behavior. However, it may not be the way you want your guests greeted when they come to your house. You have already worked on sit for petting with a person approaching and here are some ideas for addressing the specific situation of people walking in the door at your home (which is different to your dog)

• Prevention-If you know someone is coming to your house, put your dog away while your guests arrive. When their coats are off and your guests are comfortably seated, release your dog. If is best if you initially have a leash on your dog and you ask him to do some sits/downs/tricks. This diffuses the need for a greeting ritual

• Alternate behavior- Give your dog something to do that is incompatible with jumping on your guests. Ou can ask your dog to sit or lay down at the door or send your dog to his mat. These will all work, but will require practice. Your guests will be one of the most intense distractions your dog will face. Your work on Leave it, Sit and Down will help

• Four on the Floor- Some people prefer to teach their dog an active greeting as long as he keeps all four feet on the floor. You can train your dog to do this by C/T each time his feet hit the floor. Extend the time that his feet remain on the floor by withholding the click (just like you did for increasing the length of sits and downs)

• Consistency – It is imperative that you be consistent about the behavior that you expect from your dog when guests arrive. Put a sign on your door to explain what is going on. This will not only give you a few extra seconds to put your training plan in place, but will also educate your guests about what is expected from them. Make sure they understand that they should not reinforce the dog (with pats or smiles) for inappropriate behavior

• Leave dog treats outside your door. Show your guests how to lure your dog into a sit. Your guests can then throw the treat down the hall to get the dog out of the vicinity of the door. If your guests are consistent in asking for a sit, your dog will begin to offer a sit when he hears someone at the door.

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GET GOOD BEHAVIOR SPONTANEOUSLY! March 16, 2011

Wouldn’t it be great if your dog naturally offered you good behaviors all the time? Just think about life with a dog that you didn’t have to nag to get them to sit, down or watch you. Is this an elusive dream? NO! It’s all possible and quite easy to achieve. To start this process you can do a couple things. The first way is to capture the behavior when it occurs. This basically means catch your dog in the act of doing something good, mark it with a word like “YES” or clicking so he knows he did the right thing and reinforce him with a treat. I prefer to use this technique whenever possible. For example, wait for your dog to sit on his own, yes/click and treat.

The second way is to lure the behavior. With this technique, one would use a food lure to get the dog to do the behavior, yes/click and reinforce him. Once the dog understands how to do the behavior, you can begin to teach him to offer the behavior on his own.

For sits begin by asking for or luring a couple sits to “prime the pup” and then reinforce. Now move so the dog will get up and you just stand there and smile at your dog. You can talk to him, but don’t cue the sit in any way. The second he sits, YES/CLICK and treat. Repeat every time he offers the sit. The more you reinforce it the more ingrained it will become, until your dog begins to offer it as a default behavior any time he wants something or doesn’t know what else to do. For eye contact carry some non-perishable treats around with you or stash them around your house. If your dog spontaneously gives you eye contact, YES/CLICK and treat. Repeat this often.

For downs repeat the same process you used for the sit. Lure a couple downs and then just wait for your dog to offer it on his own. Be sure to reinforce him when he does. If he doesn’t offer the down on his own, help him out by using the down hand signal only and reinforce when he does. Now gradually fade out your hand signal. For example, if you currently have to move your hand all the way to the floor to get your dog to down, the next time stop your hand 2 inches from the floor, etc.until you don’t have to indicate the down with your hand at all. This is a good spontaneous behavior to teach dogs who jump on people.

Reinforcement doesn’t always have to come in the form of treats, although using treats at first will speed things up. If can be a toy, a kind word, a smile, petting, a walk, chasing a squirrel, etc. Be sure to always reinforce good behavior in some way every time.

Most dogs do not like to be pet on top of their heads initially. They usually don’t mind if you come back to their heads, but most do not like the sight of your hand coming down towards their heads. It can be intimidating to them. When you reach your hand towards your dog’s head how does he react? Does he look away, back up, lick his lips, yawn, duck his head or run away? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your dog does not want to be pet on the top of his head.
Keep in mind that in the winter when it’s dry and there is a lot of static electricity if you pet the top of his head and shock him, you’ve not only NOT reinforced him, but you’ve punished him too. Remember, reinforcement must be reinforcing to your dog not you! If your dog does not like it, it’s not reinforcing.

Get in the habit of observing your dog and then reinforce them for good behaviors. He won’t feel compelled to do bad things to get your attention because doing good things will always pay off for him. Train yourself to be more in tune with your dog and you will be on your way to a loving, well-mannered and respectful relationship.

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Tips for Calling Your Dog – March 14, 2011

Now that spring is almost here and the snow is melting, your dog will be even more distracted outside with new scents and sounds. This is a good time to practice calling your dog to come. Here are some tips:

The two most important things to remember are to always praise your dog when they come to you – and set yourself up for success.

• Teach your dog that ‘Come’ means – run to me, there’s a party over here!
• Never say ‘Come’ when you think your dog may not do it
• Only call your dog to come when you KNOW you can make them, not hope that they will
• Always balance distance and distractions for level of difficulty – ie, work at a level where your dog can be successful. If there are distractions, work at a short distance away. If there are no distractions, you can be farther away
• Do not call your dog to ‘Come’ for anything she doesn’t like
• Never call your dog in anger
• Call your dog only once – and then make her come or walk away
• Always praise and reward your dog for coming to you- make sure you reward and praise a lot!! (a full 20 seconds of petting for example)
• Never punish your dog for coming to you – even if it takes awhile for him to get there.
• Never chase after your dog
• Get your dog to chase you if you don’t have control
• Practice first indoors with no distractions
• Use a food lure at dog’s nose and walk backwards to start the behavior
• Practice “Find It” and “Hide and Seek” to train the recall
• Practice calling ‘Come’ for mealtimes and for walks
• Practice 10 times on each outdoor leash walk (intersperse walking backwards and calling your dog)
• Gradually add distractions and different locations
• Practice outside on a long line –first with no distractions, then add distractions
• Use high value food rewards when practicing outside
• Don’t expect to get from kindergarten to graduate school quickly – this takes time!!
• Practice “Gotcha” so your dog is used to having its collar grabbed
• Say name first, make sure you have attention, and then call Come
• Praise your dog as they come to you
• Do NOT repeat the command
• If your dog does not come, go get him, show him the treat he missed out on and eat it yourself (make sure it is edible by you), making a huge deal over how good it was. Repeat if necessary but this should work for independent dogs.

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General Training Guidelines – March 11, 2011

Here is a review of some general training guidelines that provide a good foundation for all of your interactions with your pooch.

Attitude

• Act the way you want your puppy to act
• Make all interactions fun
• Stay calm, relaxed and confident

Socialization

• Play “Check it out”- bring puppy to new thing and treat
• Watch for any signs of fear and happily remove puppy from situation
• Continue to expose to people, kids, dogs, noises, traffic, etc.

Training a new behavior

• Use lure to get behavior
• Give it a name only when you are SURE you’ll get the behavior
• Fade lure quickly – use reward, not bribe
• Reward while puppy is still doing desired behavior, not after he moves
• Make it fun
• Make it harder – different places, distractions, duration
• Practice Release word – OK, All Done!!
• Don’t over use puppy’s name

Leadership

• No ‘free lunch’
• No ‘free feeding’/ pick up food bowl after 20 minutes
• Sit/Wait for everything they want
• Apply to games, attention, walks, feeding

Taking Treats Nicely

Do NOT feed/treat puppy if he grabs for treat. Practice at home with no distractions, then outside. Puppy may get grabby in new environment or when over excited. See me for various techniques.

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Welcoming Visitors to Your Home – March 9, 2011

It is important that your dog can stay calm when visitors enter your home. Some dogs are just very excited and some dogs become a bit territorial.

To help your shy/fearful/reactive dog to relax and accept visitors, begin your training routine with only one person. After your dog will relax with that person, you can invite another and then two more and so on until your dog can be comfortable with a group.

Make sure that your dog is somewhat hungry and invite your helper over to train at a time when you can do this without other distractions going on. Have two bags of treats ready (one for you and one for your helper) which should be something special that your dog really loves such as bits of cooked chicken, thinly sliced hot dogs, etc. A variety of treats is even better. If you think your dog will try to jump up and grab the treat bag or bowl, keep the treats in a handy pouch/fanny pack.

If your dog is simply very excited, work with him on leash and ask him to sit when the doorbell. Use enough tiny treats to get him into a sit and KEEP HIM SITTING as your guest enters the house. Then you can allow a nice greeting.

If your dog behaves aggressively at the door: When the door bell rings, confine your dog in another room until your visitor is settled. Then, if your dog is able to attend to your direction, bring him out on leash. (Otherwise, allow your dog time to calm down, then run him through a few Sits and Downs behind the closed door before bringing him out on leash). Choose a seat several feet away from your guest. Place your dog in a Down-stay by your side. Your guest should ignore the dog and both of you should maintain a low key manner. If your dog begins to bark or growl or show other signs of distress or tension, calmly but quickly take him back to his crate or safe room. If your dog behaves well and remains calm and quiet on his Down-stay, praise him and feed him some treats. When he seems relaxed, allow him to approach (while you loosely hold the leash) to within 3 feet of the visitor, who should avoid staring and NOT try to pet him. Ask your visitor to tell your dog to Sit, and if your dog complies, you and your visitor can praise him and toss him a treat. Then return him to his resting spot.

Now drop the leash and allow your dog to freely wander around the room. Meanwhile you and helper should talk to one another and pay little attention to the dog as you drop treats on the floor. If the dog only takes your treats and not your helper’s, slow down your treat delivery and ignore his attempts to solicit your attention.

If your dog begins to eat your helper’s treats, she/he should continue to ignore the dog. If the dog seems to be getting more comfortable with your helper, then the helper may try offering a treat from her hand without making any attempt to touch or pet the dog.

If your dog seems relaxed, call your dog back to your side and have your visitor stand up. Allow your dog to approach your standing visitor for tossed treats. If this goes well, your standing visitor may offer treats from her hand. Before your visitor turns to walk away and leave, call your dog back to your side and pick up his leash. If your dog shows any signs of arousal, put him away before escorting your visitor to the door.

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Better Doggy Nutrition – March 4, 2011

As I work with clients who want the best for their puppies and dogs, I’ve realized there is a real gap in knowledge about dog food.

When I ask about portions, I’ve learned that most people don’t read the package label for recommended daily portion let alone the ingredients list. There are so many choices, how does one begin to make sense of it all?

This is an excellent site with great information,
www.dogfoodproject.com

Check out the links on the left side of the site – Label Information 101 and Indentifying Better Products. Then you will have a much better base of information to chose what you want to feed your dog.

Locally, Active Paws in Waltham carries a large selection of high quality foods and Kara has extensive expertise in doggy nutrition. She is especially helpful if your dog needs a special diet due to any medical conditions. Check out www.activepawspetsupply.com.

Don’t limit yourself to recommendations made by your Veterinarian. There are many good choices for you and your 4-legged companion.

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Doggy Training Q&A and Demonstrations March 10th

I want to take this opportunity to invite you and your pooches to come to The Picture People at the Burlington Mall on March 10th any time from 4 pm on.

The week of March 7th, The Picture People is sponsoring a Pet Portrait contest and dogs are allowed in the mall during this time. Yeah!!

There will be various pet care professionals conducting lectures and demonstrations throughout the week of their promotion.

Check it out and come join us for the fun.

http://www.picturepeople.com/petcontest

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