Don't let your dog jump out of the car without being released. Teach and practice getting out of the car safely using Sit, Stay and Come. Watch how this works in the video below.
Filtering by Category: Obedience Skills
I have seen a very disturbing trend in the past 20 years of subdivisions utilizing covenants regarding fencing that are clearly "un-dog-friendly". The fences must not be over 36" high and require field fencing wire mesh that never blocks the view. The situation is intensified when the yard backs up to an open space walking path.Read More
I got married on January 8, 1978. My husband and I have been married 39 years, today. Woooo! Here we are that winter of 1978 with our two dogs, Oreo and Obi!
You may ask, "Why is that fact in a dog training blog?" Good question. Even better answer coming.
The behavior with the strongest rate of reinforcement is the one that will be maintained.
My husband makes the bed...without being asked. That's because he is rewarded (by me) on an intermittent schedule with something he values. He never knows which time I'm going to reward him and I'm not going to tell you what I reward him with (TMI), but, let's just say, it works.
What also works is that we tell each other we love each other, often. Not several times a day, but, many times a week. Why, after 39 years, do we have to declare our love for each other? After all, we said it to each other at the beginning of our marriage. Because that's one of the ways we maintain our relationship. We don't take each other for granted.
Here are some valuable tips on how to maintain your dog’s good behavior.
Prioritize which behaviors are the most important and reward these often. Use food, use games, use really sincere play and praise, but, it has to be something the dog can't live without! For me the prioritized behavior is a fluent response to "Come".
Every time you want to give your dog a treat, a scrap of last night's chicken, figure out a way to make it a training game. Don't just give it to the dog because they are sitting next to the kitchen counter staring at you.
Each month teach your dog a new trick. It doesn't have to be over the top, simple is fine, too. And when you train, reward the dog with food treats. This reinforces that the dog can win valuable rewards for "getting it right". Maintain the new trick by rewarding intermittently. That’s how the casinos do it in Vegas and as far as I know, it works for them!
Have you noticed that there are times when your dog can't respond to a cue that is normally easy? Have you considered that it may be you?
I've seen this phenomenon multiple times in my training classes. If the sound of the owner's voice is strident, as though the dog has already failed, the dog tries to appease the owner and that appeasement behavior isn't the sit, down, stay, etc... I recognize the dog’s body language, ears against the head, shoulders hunched, licking of the lips, squinting of the eyes, sidling up to the owner. But, sometimes, it doesn't look like this at all. Some dogs jump on you when they’re confused.
Some dogs will use a common “calming signal”, turning the head away and avoiding eye contact. It’s as if the dog is saying, "Hey, you’re making me nervous. You get a hold of yourself and I'll make eye contact when you're calm."
My Golden Retriever is, let's just say, not your typical Golden. When she feels that I am stressed or frustrated she doesn't respond to simple cues, like "sit" or "stay". Instead she slinks over to me, tucks her body close to mine or looks away. If I don’t recognize how I’m affecting her, we get stuck in that appeasement cycle with me slowly eroding her confidence. Then I take a deep breath, smile, relax and change the tone of my voice from "impatient" to "friendly" and she can cooperate normally.
We know that dogs are experts at reading body language, but, they are also masters at noticing when we are emotionally unstable. I love that she helps me recognize when I need to chill out. She reminds me that anxiety and disobedience or two completely different things.
Group obedience classes are a phenomenon in our culture that started back in the 60's The format rooted itself in our minds as the way to train our rookie dogs. But, is a group class the best context for your dog to learn what you want them to know?
The template for group classes started as a way for breed and obedience clubs to practice together to prepare for obedience trials. Punishment based training was the order of the day. All dogs wore choke chains to administer corrections for emotional outbursts or inability to respond to cues. It was a bleak time for dog training.
Should young or untrained dogs be trained in groups and in unfamiliar environments?
For some dogs, this distracting format is a valuable opportunity to learn impulse control and for the owners to learn techniques to get and keep their dog's attention. A large percentage of dogs have good to acceptable amounts of success in group classes. There are trainers well versed in helping a classroom full of owners integrate what they have learned into their specific home environments.
But, what about dogs who are leash reactive, fearful, timid or aggressive? Dogs with these emotionally based issues do not belong in a group environment. They simply cannot learn when their brains are operating in a fight or flight mode.
Imagine your worst phobia, let's say, fear of spiders. You are put into a room with several dozen large and small spiders crawling about the space and towards you. A teacher enters the room and says, "Open your algebra books to page 17..." Can you honestly say you would be able to concentrate on anything but keeping the spiders away?
Some owners believe that the group class format will include corrections for the dog's "bad" behavior. What the human fails to recognize is that emotions drive behavior. Punishing reactivity, aggression, or fear will suppress, not, eliminate the problem. Tossing the dog into the "deep end of the pool" and then expecting them to swim will produce a few survivors and many drownings.
There are wonderful group class trainers for dogs with mild to no reactivity and fear. And there are equally good and more appropriate options in private training for dogs who need to start their education in a comfortable state of mind. Most owners choose private training because it fits into a busy schedule. Many owners would benefit from recognizing dogs who need a stress free environment to learn new behaviors and skills.
Of all the commands we give our dogs, "no" is probably the most frequent and least productive. In human terms, imagine going to work in an office where your supervisor introduces you to your job in this manner: "Here's the office. I'm not going to tell you what your job is, but, every time you do something that's not part of your job description, I'll yell out, "NO!". How long would you be willing to work under those conditions?
"No" is simply not enough information, because it keeps the dog guessing about what is a legal behavior.
I like to call no a "place holder". A "place holder" cue should be something we can use to interrupt a behavior...until we gather our wits and give the dog a cue that replaces the behavior with something better or at least something incompatible. Before your head starts spinning, let me give you an example:
You dog may jump for joy when you get home. An incompatible behavior cue would be "sit" because if he's sitting he can't be jumping. Now you can calmly and quietly scratch your dog under the chin (if they are capable of sitting still) or you can grab a toy and toss it away from your body and say, "go get it". Again, he can't be jumping on you if he's chasing a ball. If you do this everyday for a month, the dog might start sitting instead of jumping or arriving expectantly with his ball, backing up slowly as he positions himself for a flying catch! But, you have to establish the habit.
Let's say your dog is barking at a squirrel in the yard. If you go out and say "no bark" (I still can't understand how that term became so popular), the dog doesn't understand that you mean for the next hour...or forever. So, they stop momentarily and you think you've got it all under control. Then the dog starts to bark again. He's done everything you've asked him to do, but now you're mad. The incompatible behavior cue I use for barking is "come" (which you need to work on daily with any dog). When the dog gets to me I reward them and then...and here's the big reveal, I take them inside the house and offer them something more productive to do, like a bully stick or a dog puzzle.
You have to remember that "no" isn't enough information. The dog has to do something, so ask yourself, what is a reasonable behavior for each undesirable situation . You can't say "no" and expect the dog to know what it is you actually want him to do.
The word "correction" has such a negative implication to me that when I hear it used by an owner, I get a little....well, negative. So, I looked the word up in the dictionary.
correction |kəˈrekSHən| Noun the action or process of correcting something • a change that rectifies an error or inaccuracy • used to introduce an amended version of something one has just said • punishment, esp. that of criminals in prison intended to rectify their behavior.
The last definition is the one that most people have in mind when they use this word to describe correcting their dog's behavior. The doing of physical harm to teach a dog what not to do.
But, looking at the origin of the word I find something that makes more sense:
ORIGIN Middle English: via Old French from Latin correctio(n-), from corrigere ‘make straight, bring into order’
I like the original intent of this word. There is no mention of physical punishment, merely the act of bringing order. This true definition fits so nicely with my training philosophy:
Discover what need the unwanted behavior fills for the dog.
Find a new way to fill that need.
Figure out what you want the dog to do in it's place and teach them to do it on cue.
Reward the new behavior with something the dog values, thus conditioning the new behavior to replace the old one.
Bring order to the dog's behavior.
So, how do I respond to owners who want to know how to correct their dog's behavior? I ask them the million dollar question:
What would you like them to do instead?
Leash Pulling has traditionally been "corrected" with sharp jerks of a leash connected to a choke chain. A leash correction can be very dangerous to your dog. There is a high risk of permanent tracheal collapse and spinal and nerve damage in the neck. They are painful to the dog. So why are we still using them? Why would humans want to hurt the dogs they love?
I offer as an alternative, patience. Breathe and count to ten or until the moment of leash pulling frustration passes. In moments of our arousal and tension, we need clear thinking to be in a problem solving mode. Here are some questions that you might as yourself:
What does the dog want when they pull or lunge and why do they do it?
What do you want the dog to do instead?
Are you letting the dog choose the speed and direction on a walk and then getting angry with them for their choices?
If dogs do what serves them, how do we reinforce the leash walking behaviors we want from the dog?
What in the environment is not helping solve the pulling problem?
What can the human do to change the dog’s state or keep them interested in us during a walk?
Have you ever tried to call your dog off of a squirrel?
It's hard to train a dog to come when called when they are in an aroused play/prey state of mind. You are literally asking the dog to shift gears from high acceleration to reverse. In these situations, I use “sit” instead of “come”.
I’ve learned to assess the situation before I choose a command to give to the dog. I don’t like to dilute the impact of “come” by saying it when the dog is unlikely to be able to interrupt their excited behavior.
I start by getting as close to the dog as I can. I say their name in a tone of voice that meets or exceeds their state of excitement. Very high pitched tones works for some dogs, while loud, firm tones work for others.
Once I can get the dog to notice me, I ask for a “sit” instead of “come” so I can walk right up to the dog, take them by their collar and walk them away. But, you can only do that if your dog has a really fluent “sit”. Remember to do it before you start repeating the Come command. And once you’ve said it, you must see it through to the end.
Lastly, work on “sit” in many different scenarios and with the dog on a leash so you can manage the outcome. Reward the sit whenever possible. Do the same with “come”.
Owners often believe that everything a dog does is associated with the owner.
"She did it because she was mad at me".
Here are some more likely motivations, with just a touch of humor.
Chewing On Their Owner's Things
67% of dogs said they did it because it felt good.
33% said it was because they were stressed and anxious.
89% said they did it because they were bored.
45% said they did it because it was left on the floor or coffee table.
17% said they did it because the cat told them to
96% of dogs said they bark because they're supposed to.
28% said they bark because they are anxious, nervous or frightened.
54% said they bark because that guy looked scary.
22% said it feels good.
36% said because you thought it was cute when they were a puppy.
90% said they bark because it works.
17% said they bark because the cat told them to.
81% of dogs said they ignore you because you talk too much.
86% said they ignore you because you confuse them.
77% said they ignore you because you always call them when they're really busy.
68% said you sound like you're "mad" and they don't trust "mad".
90% said they don't come to you when you call because there's nothing rewarding about coming when you tell them to.
17% said the cat told them not to listen.
Leash Pulling is the number one complaint from most dog owners. What are we doing wrong? Why is leash walking the hardest thing to train?
Most dog owners think the it's the dog's responsibility to read their mind, to know when the rules apply and when they don't. In other words, to make judgment calls. Imagine how surprised Bailey is when the owner snarls at him and jerks on his leash when he pulls her over to meet a new dog . He's been pulling her from bush to bush for the past 4 minutes. Why have the rules changed?
The rules of leash walking can't keep changing from one moment to the next. There's never a time when the rules don't apply.
Walk dog with your relationship, not with your leash. There is no need to use physical punishment of any kind to teach your dog to be your walking partner.
Be engaging. Be fun. Be a good walking partner.
Know what your dog enjoys on a walk and then give only allow the dog to do these things when you've given them permission. This way your dog doesn't have to guess whether it's okay to pull you over to the neighbor to say "hi".
Before you take your dog to his favorite spot to sniff and explore, ask for one polite skill so you can use that sniffing activity as a reward. Say his name in a fun tone and when he looks at you, reward with a minute or so of smells or pee-mail.
Do these things often enough so that the dog sees you as a part of the walking experience instead of an impediment.
I imagine that many of my clients would like to know how the Trainer's dogs behave. Some may picture my dogs as perfect canine companions with impeccable manners and no emotional issues.
Let me tell you, my dogs are great. They are not perfect, and I don't expect them to be. Bula has thunder phobia, Jazz likes to carry socks around in her mouth and as a puppy chewed up books and mail, Caesar is territorial about other dogs on our property and Baby, the puppy mill survivor, will never be completely housebroken and barks in alarm if we dance. (Yes, I said "dance").
We exist happily together and here are the rules we live by:
Chill out. Choose your battles.
Expect to get different behaviors in different contexts. If you need the dog to be fluent, you must train in many contexts and environments.
If you tell the dog to do something you will have to follow through, so choose your commands realistically.
Don't train in the middle of a crisis. Either the dog has the skill you're asking for or you need to practice it another time.
When you can't train, manage. Preventing the dog from repeating unwanted behaviors is just as valuable as training them to do something appropriate.
The rules can't change. Dogs need consistency and routine.
Let the dogs be dogs.
Find places for them to run and experience doggie joy.
Give them wonderful things to chew on.
Don't expect them to stay clean
Don't expect them not to bark
Treat them with respect. They are different than, not less than, humans.
If your house hold is calm, your dog will be calm
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive (safe) socialization before they are fully vaccinated.
The primary and most important time for puppy socialization is the first three months of life.
During this time puppies should be exposed to as many new people, animals, stimuli and environments as can be achieved safely without causing over-stimulation manifested as excessive fear, withdrawal or avoidance behavior.
Find a puppy class in a private facility where vaccinations and health can be verified. This isn’t possible in a retail box store that allows any dog to enter.
To read more, click on the article below.
Target: Zero Success Don't leave anything that looks, smells or tastes like food on counters or tables for a few months while you're training.
Train When It's Convenient
Set up training episodes so you have control over when you train. Don't train in the middle of the crisis.
"Did I Do That?!"
Corrections can't come from you. The dog will learn to steal the food when you're not around.
Safe Booby Traps
Place food tied to a string of aluminum pie pans and empty shoe boxes. When the dog pulls them down, there will be startling noise and objects falling down. Move the booby trap to different locations. Never use anything that will harm the dog.
Scavenging is Natural
Dogs are opportunistic scavengers. Be realistic. The dog does not understand that stealing food is illegal.
Keep Them Busy
Give them a reason to stay away from the counters. Rotate a variety of valuable, edible chew items in your dog's environment so they aren't always scavenging. Tennis balls and stuffed animals are not valuable chew items.