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The Sit Savant

 

Most of us take the sit command for granted. After all, it was probably the first command we taught our dog – and it was so easy! But does your dog really know the sit command? Or does he think it means just touch his butt on the ground, pop right up and get a treat?

A really good sit can help with all sorts of control issues such as:
– Easily distracted dogs
– Door dashers
– Overly exuberant greetings
– Dogs who jump up on people
– Leash pullers
– Leash and other forms of aggression

Work on teaching your dog to sit until they are released. Just as if it were a stay, or a wait. Sit until given the release word. And to sit no matter what is going on.

For our purposes, you may want to use two different commands:
SIT – means facing you
CLOSE – Means in heel position at your left side. This position allows you to have more control over your dog in difficult situations.

The goal is to “proof” the dog using the following:

Duration – how long the dog has to sit

Distance – how far away you are from the dog

Distractions – level of distraction while in the sit

Different locations – work in one place first – then change

Examples:
Practice sits with your back turned to the dog, a bag on you head, around a corner, you get the picture. Sit won’t work in the vet office if you haven’t worked through distractions or a different picture than you in the kitchen with a treat! Practice sits when your dog is very excited, so she ‘sits on a dime’ (like stopping on a dime).

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Tips for Nice Leash Walking

Make walking by your side a positive experience.

Screaming “heel” or “no pull” at your dog does not work and is certainly not fun. Instead, randomly reward your dog with a yummie treat when he’s by your side as you reinforce his behavior with the word “close.” Don’t use the phrase “good dog” — because your dog has no idea what he did that was good, so how can he repeat it? Instead, acknowledge the behavior by naming and rewarding it. Once your dog is consistently walking close to you, you can begin to give him “jackpots” — where you randomly reward him with a quick series of 5-6-7 treats, one after the other. He can always have “dinner on the go,” with you feeding him his treats along the way for walking correctly. You can also bring his favorite toy along and walk to the dog park: His reward for walking correctly, once you arrive, is that he gets to play with it and you!

Eliminate choke chains.

I believe devices that cause a dog pain, such as choke chains and prong collars do not belong in dog training. Using painful tactics only teaches a dog to be fearful of our causing her pain rather than strengthening our relationship. There are better and more effective ways to communicate with her. We want our dog to want to be with us by our side — because we give her clear boundaries as well as constant praise and reward for the desired behavior. Instead, use a flat collar and follow my method to ensure a stress and pain-free way to teach your dog to walk with you, all the while creating a deeper bond between you. Using a No Pull Harness or Gentle Leader can help a strong puller and make your training easier.

Keep the same length of leash at all times.

To keep your dog from pulling on his leash, you must teach him that he only has a certain length of leash available and that you’re in control of it. It’s a mistake to use a retractable leash in the teaching phase, giving him a longer leash anytime he wants it. Save the retractable leash for the everyday phase of walking, once he has learned how to walk correctly by your side and not pull you down the street.  When you hold the leash with your hand, it’s easy for your dog to pull away by forcing you to extend your arm. It’s also important that both your hands are free, assisting you in planting your body when he’s pulling. So wear a sturdy belt, slip the loop end of the leash around it, and fasten it snugly around your waist.  As your dog walks correctly down the street with you, remember to repeat the word “walk,” reinforcing his behavior.

Hold your ground when your dog pulls on the leash.

When your dog begins to pull on her leash, stop, plant your feet, lower your center of gravity and hold your ground like a sumo wrestler. She must learn that the walk (what she wants) will only continue (her reward) if she is not pulling on her leash and on you. Call your dog back to your side before you starting walking again. Another method is to turn and go the other way each time your dog pulls ahead. If your dog is a serious puller, start walking by a railing or fence that you can grab onto as you stop.

Resume walking only after your dog stops pulling on the leash.

As soon as she backs up — even a little bit — creating some slack on the leash, resume the walk with the phrase “let’s walk.” The minute she starts to pull on the leash again, you must hold your ground as before, continuing only once she backs up and creates slack on the leash.

Constantly talk to and praise your dog along the way.

This is a great way to keep him in tune with you and your pace. Just like a child, if you don’t pay attention to your dog, the message you give him is that he’s on his own and can do whatever he pleases. And when you ignore your dog as he’s walking correctly, and only give him attention when he’s walking incorrectly, he’ll be more prone to continue the unwanted behavior just so you’ll notice him! So stay focused on your dog during the walk and make calls on your cell phone at another time. Most dogs respond very quickly to this method, and you will find that if you and everyone that walks your dog (don’t forget about the other family members and the dog walker) are consistent, you’ll soon look forward to the fun you’ll have on your walks together.

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Puppy Socialization Rule of 12’s

Socialization is one of the most important things to focus on with your new puppy.  Here is a list of things you can do.

Make sure all experiences are safe and positive for the puppy. Each encounter should include treats and lots of praise. Slow down and add distance if your puppy is scared.

By the time the puppy is 12 weeks old, it should have:
(or start right away if puppy is over 12 weeks)

Experienced 12 different surfaces: wood, woodchips, carpet, tile, cement, linoleum, grass, wet grass, dirt, mud, puddles, deep pea gravel, grates uneven surfaces, on a table, on a chair, etc.
Played with 12 different objects: fuzzy toys, big and small balls, hard toys, funny sounding toys, wooden items, paper or cardboard items, milk jugs, metal items, car keys, etc.
Experienced 12 different locations: front yard, other people’s homes, school yard, lake, pond, river, boat, basement, elevator, car, moving car, garage, laundry room, kennel, veterinarian hospital (just visit), grooming salon(just visit), etc.
Met and played with 12 new people (outside of family): children, adults, men, elderly, people in wheelchairs, walkers, people with canes, crutches, hats, sunglasses, beards, etc.
Exposed to 12 different noises (ALWAYS keep positive and watch puppy’s comfort level- we don’t want puppy scared): garage door opening, doorbell, children playing, babies screaming, big trucks, motorcycles, skateboards, washing machine, shopping carts rolling, power boat, clapping, loud singing, pan dropping, horses, vacuum, lawnmowers, etc.
Exposed to 12 fast moving objects (don’t allow to chase): skateboards, roller-skates, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, people running, cats running, scooters, vacuums, children running, soccer, squirrels, cats, etc.
Experienced 12 different challenges: climb on, in, off and around a box, go through a cardboard tunnel, climb up and down steps, climb over obstacles, play hide & seek, go in and out a doorway with a step up or down, exposed to an electric sliding door, umbrella, balloons, walk on a wobbly table, jump over a broom, climb over a log, bathtub, etc.
Handled by owner and family 12 times a week: hold under arm like football, hold to chest, hold on floor near owner, hold in between owners legs, hold head, look in ears, mouth, in between toes, hold and take temperature, hold like baby, trim toe nails, hold in lap, etc.
Eaten from 12 different shaped containers: wobbly bowl, metal, cardboard box, paper, coffee cup, china, pie plate, plastic, frying pan, Kong, Treatball, Bustercube, spoon fed, paper bag, etc.
Eaten in 12 different locations: back yard, front yard, crate, kitchen, basement, laundry room, bathroom, friend’s house, car, school yard, bathtub, up high, under umbrella, etc.
Played with 12 different puppies(or safe adult dogs)as much as possible.
Left alone safely, away from family and other animals (5-45 minutes) 12 times a week
Experienced a leash and collar 12 different times in 12 different locations.

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