4 Steps to an Emergency Distance Sit

With a little practice you can develop and absolutely rock-solid, long-distance, sit-stay that can save you from most dangerous or embarrassing situations your dog could get into. The secret to off-leash control is to thoroughly integrate fun training into all of your dog’s off-leash activities. Total integration of training and play should be your aim from the very start. Interrupt your dog’s off-leash activities every minute or so. Every time you interrupt an enjoyable activity by instructing your dog to sit, for example, and then allow him to resume the activity, you are reinforcing the dog’s prompt sit with a powerful reward. The more you interrupt your dog’s play, the more you may reward him for sitting promptly.

First practice the following exercises in safe, enclosed areas. This can be when your puppy is off-leash in your house or yard, when he is playing in puppy classes, during puppy parties, or when off-leash in dog parks.

1. Every minute or so, run up to your puppy and take him by the collar. Praise the pup, offer a tasty food treat, and then tell him to go play again. At first try this in a fairly small area, such as your kitchen with no other distractions. Then try it with just one other puppy present. If you have difficulty catching your pup, have the other owner grab hers at the same time. Then try with a couple of other puppies present. Gradually increase the number of puppies and size of the area until your puppy is easy to catch when playing, for example, in your fenced yard. Use freeze-dried liver treats during this first exercise so your pup quickly comes to love having his collar grabbed.

2. Once your puppy is easy to catch, dry kibble will suffice. Now, instruct your puppy to sit each time after you take him by the collar. Use the food to lure the puppy into a sitting position, praise the pup as soon as he sits, offer the piece of kibble as reward, and then tell him to go play.

3. By now your puppy should feel completely at ease with your running up to reach for his collar. In fact, he probably looks forward to it, knowing he will receive a food reward before resuming play. You may find your puppy sits in anticipation of the food reward. This is good, because the next step is to instruct your puppy to sit before you reach for his collar. Run up to your puppy and waggle a piece of kibble under his nose, and once the puppy homes in on the food, use it as a lure to entice him to sit. Praise your puppy as soon as he sits, offer the kibble as a reward, and tell the puppy to go play.
It is vital that you do not touch the puppy before he sits. Some owners are impatient and physically sit the dog down. If you have to rely on physical contact to get your dog to sit, you’ll never have reliable off-leash distance control. If you are experiencing difficulties, go back to using freeze-dried liver.

4. Now that your puppy sits promptly as you approach, you can teach him to sit from a distance. Again try this exercise around the house without distractions before trying it with other puppies present. Sit in a chair and without moving a muscle, calmly and quietly say, “Puppy, Sit.” Wait a second, then rush toward the puppy saying, “Sit! Sit! Sit!” in an urgent tone but without shouting. Praise your puppy the moment he sits, take him by the collar and let him sniff the kibble. Then quickly take one step backwards, and instruct your puppy to “Come” and “Sit.” If your puppy sits promptly, offer the piece of kibble as reward and then let him resume playing. As you repeat this over and over again, you’ll discover that fewer and fewer repetitions of the instruction to sit are necessary before your puppy complies. Also, with repeated trials your puppy sits sooner and sooner and with you farther and farther away. Eventually your dog will sit promptly at a distance following a single softly spoken request.

From now on, whenever your dog is off-leash, repeatedly and frequently interrupt his activity with numerous short training interludes. Ninety percent of the training interludes should be as short as one second. Tell your dog to sit and then immediately say, “Go play.” Your dog’s quick sit is proof that you have control, so you needn’t push it. You needn’t prolong the sit stay. Instead, quickly tell your dog to go play so as to reinforce the quick sit. In one out of ten training interludes practice something a little different. Once your dog sits, instruct him to sit-stay or to down-stay. Or walk up to your dog and take him by the collar before telling him to resume playing.



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Walking on Leash without Pulling

Walks with your puppy will be so much more enjoyable when they can walk without pulling or criss-crossing.   This is a great way burn both physical and mental energy as well as bond with your puppy.

Warm up your puppy by teaching him to stay with you on a loose leash

  • With the leash held in your right hand and your puppy facing you, walk backwards and place a treat by your left foot.
  • Repeat this 3-4 times and the 4th time, stop as your puppy takes the food and start walking forward.
  • As your puppy looks up at you, immediately praise and reward.
  • Take a few steps forward with your puppy next to you, praising and rewarding.
  • Then repeat the walking backwards exercise a few more times and walk forward a little more each time.

Walking with your dog

  • Start by holding the leash in your right hand staying very relaxed and take up any slack in the leash.
  • Have food available in your left hand so you can reward your dog when he is paying attention to you and walking nicely by your left side.
  • Be consistent with your training walks by stopping any time your dog moves ahead of you.
  • When this happens, lure your dog back to your left side, almost behind your left foot so when you start walking forward your dog is in the proper position.
  • Walk with your head high and shoulders facing forward
  • Praise your dog any time he looks at you and give him a treat when he is walking next to you.
  • You may need to reward for every step initially but then you can build up to longer walking between rewards
  • Try to catch your dog with praise and rewards BEFORE he gets ahead of you
  • Teach your dog to stop and sit next to you every time you stop.
  • If your dog criss-crosses in front or behind you, lure him back into position – don’t you move to accommodate your dog.
  • If your dog lags behind, energize him with praise to move him forward.
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Some Guidelines for your New Puppy!

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 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 . 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. Following these simple rules of what NOT to do can help create the dog of your dreams as opposed to a canine nightmare. The basics are the same as in child raising. Be fun, be fair, but be firm (the 3 F’s) and set limits. Children are happier when their parents are obviously at the helm, and so are dogs. Dogs need strong leaders if they are to be model canine citizens.

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Welcoming Visitors to Your Home

Does your dog ‘go crazy’ when the doorbell rings? Does he bark and/or lunge aggressively at visitors?

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 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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Children and Dogs

Children and dogs can make great companions for one another. Dogs can help kids learn to respect life and to care responsibly for another being.  Children can enrich dogs’ lives by being social companions, friends, and playmates. However, if both are not taught to behave properly around each other, dogs and kids can frighten and injure one another.

Potential Problems Between Children and Dogs

Dogs often view children’s quick and unpredictable movements as either threatening or an invitation to play. Dogs may think of small children as playmates because kids are often at eye level with dogs. Either the child or the dog, or both, may become too excited and out of control during play, and either may be injured or frightened. For example, when children and dogs play chase with each other (not a recommended game!), the dog may jump on the child and knock him down or the child is frightened, falls on the dog, and the dog is hurt.

In addition, children are still learning about their world, and may pull a dog’s tail, ears, or otherwise handle him roughly without realizing they are hurting the dog. Children may throw things at the dog, just as they would throw things at each other, again without realizing this will frighten the dog or even cause the dog to bite them. These examples illustrate why constant parental supervision and guidance is critical to ensure children and dogs can be safe with each other.

Helping Children Be Good to Dogs

Children must be taught how to approach and interact gently with dogs. Tell your children to always ask the dog’s owner if they can pet the dog. They should stand still and let the dog come to them rather than walk into the dog’s space. Dogs communicate through body postures and to dogs, reaching over their heads, facing them, leaning over them and staring are all threatening behaviors.

Instead, a child should allow the dog to sniff a closed hand held close to the body and then scratch the dog under the chin instead of reaching over the dog’s head. Teach children how to play fetch with dogs and to use toys to play rather than wrestling or playing physical games with the dog. You will also need to train your dog to “drop” a toy when requested. While there is nothing inherently wrong with tug-of-war games (contrary to popular media, this doesn’t cause dogs to be aggressive), you’ll need to gauge the temperament of both your dog and your children to determine if both could play tug without becoming uncontrollable. Your dog must  know the “drop” or “give” command to play this game and must know to stop when told to do so.

Helping Dogs Tolerate Children

Dogs must learn, through socialization and training, how to be at ease around kids and behave appropriately around them. Socialization to children is easiest and most effective during puppyhood—between 6 and 12 weeks of age—and may prevent adult dogs from being fearful or aggressive toward children.

Under supervision, have children handle the puppy and give the puppy treats. A good trainer can help you teach your puppy not to mouth or nip at children.

Older dogs without much experience with children need to have supervised, gentle, careful interactions with them by associating good things with children. To acclimate your dog to being around children, both how close the children are to your dog and what they do, should be controlled.

First, have the kids sit quietly at a distance as you give your dog treats and pet him quietly. Have the children come gradually closer and toss treats as they walk by your dog. Eventually they can offer your dog a treat from an open palm rather than holding the treat in their fingers.

Watch your dog’s reactions for signs of fear or threat. Go slowly and don’t force him to endure more than he is comfortable with. The goal is to make good things happen for your dog when kids are present. If you see any sign of fear or aggression, you may need professional help to acclimate your dog to children. Talk to your pet professional about help or a referral.

Not all dogs can live safely with children. In some cases the dog may need to be rehomed to a family without children.

What Not To Do

Never, ever leave young children and dogs together unsupervised no matter how well behaved you think both of them are. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye and either the child or the dog can be injured. Even though children and dogs can play together fabulously, your dog is not your child’s personal play toy. You must set reasonable limits for both your children and your dog. Don’t allow your children to play roughly with your dog, or your dog to be overly excited and out of control with your kids. Don’t use physical punishment for misbehavior on the part of either your children or your dog.


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