Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Squirrel? 10 Techniques for Training with Distractions

What Squirrel? 10 Techniques for Training with Distractions

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Use it or Lose it!

I always tell clients that if they do not practice the behaviors that their dog has learned, then the dog will forget those behaviors.  It is like learning Spanish and then never using it.  I took 2 years of Spanish in High School and can barely speak but a few words.  After high school I joined the USAF and never needed it.  Now I work in a school with many Spanish speaking students/families and wish that I had kept up with my Spanish.

So, a dog can very easily lose those fun amazing tricks/ behaviors that you worked so hard at teaching, if you do not practice them with your dog.  Keep your dog on his "A" game by continuing to practice and work on all those behaviors that he knows.  By practicing the behaviors/tricks he will stay sharp and you can continue building that bond and closeness with your best friend (your dog).

Keep a journal of the things your dog knows, so that you can make sure to practice everything.  Change it up by practicing in various locations with many different distractions.  Challenge your dog and keep his mind mentally stimulated.

"A mind is a terrible thing to waste!"

Monday, December 20, 2010

Puppy Training Tip

If you follow my blog, YouTube channel, or facebook page you know that I have a new puppy.  Well, he is now 7 months old and time sure flies.  Anyway, I thought that I would share a puppy training tip that has helped me with potty training and teaching my puppy to stay close to me.

If one allows their puppy to have free run of the house and is not yet potty trained, then in my opinion that puppy is being set up for failure.  A puppy running around a house is just like a baby crawling around the house without a diaper on.  In order to prevent house soiling there are a few things a person can do.  

1.  Crate the puppy when you are not able to pay CLOSE attention to him.  Crate training a dog is very important and can really help strengthen a puppy's bladder and help with house training.  If one trains a dog properly how to love his crate, then the dog will feel safe and comfortable in it.  Check out this video to learn more about crate training.  It is also really great to train your puppy to love his crate in case he needs to go to the vet, on a long car ride (well, in my opinion all dogs should travel in crates no matter how far the drive is.), when you are at work (until the puppy is house trained), when you take him to stay in a hotel, while you are at a dog sporting event, and much more.  Many people think that putting a dog in a crate is mean and cruel, but dogs actually love and feel safe in them.  Dogs are den animals and being in a crate is not any different than being in a den in the wild, except that I am sure the crate is more comfortable (with dog beds, treats, chew bones, kongs, etc... inside).  It is my opinion that putting a dog outside in the yard or tying them up outside on a tether is CRUEL and UNACCEPTABLE!  People do this because the dog is not reliable in the house.  Crate training is the first step in teaching a dog to be reliable in the house.  Dogs want to be inside with the family, where it is cool or warm depending on the time of the year, and where they are safe.  I have a lot more to say on that subject, but I am going to try to get back on the topic of puppy training.  :)  

2.  If you do not want to crate the puppy and you want him close by, then put the puppy on a harness, clip a leash to the puppy and tie that leash to your belt loop or around your waist.  This works well if you are doing dishes, laundry, etc... You will be able to keep an eye on your puppy.  You could tether your puppy to a heavy piece of furniture in plain sight so that you can also keep an eye on him, but make sure that the furniture will NOT move or tip over on the puppy and injure him. 

When I have my puppy tied to my waist I can reinforce all the amazing behaviors that he does that I like.  For Example:  If he just settles at my feet as I fold clothes, I can drop a few treats down for him, praise him, pet him, or give him a yummy chew bone.  If he is walking next to me, I can give him a treat for being next to me.  Before you know it you will have a dog that wants to be next to you and not because you are giving him treats, but because you have build up value for being next to you.  Being next to you = good things happening to the dog. 

3.  If you are moving around a lot and do not want to have your puppy attached to your body, you can use an exercise pen.  I like to sprinkle kibble around the X-pen to give the puppy a job to do as I am busy cleaning.  It also helps to sprinkle food around, because dogs do not like to eat where they go potty.  Sprinkling food around the X-pen sends a message to the puppy that the entire area of that X-pen is also his dinner area.  In addition, I like to toss in chicken, cheese, toys, chew bones, or things my puppy likes to build value for being in the X-pen as I walk past.  I want my puppy to really enjoy being in there.  

I have spent many many days with my puppy Twix tied to my waist and now at 7 months old, he will still follow me around, settle at my feet, hang out with me when I am doing my chores and he does not have a leash on.  At night when my dogs are tired they have a choice to go to a dog bed in any room of the house, but they choose to go to their crates that are located right next to our human bed.  :)  Right now as I type, my 3 dogs are hanging out with me (Bandit & Twix at my feet under my office desk and Isabelle on the dog bed next to me).  I would not want it any other way!  

Those are just little tips on what you can do to prevent house soiling as well as teach your puppy to stay close to you.  

Until next time, get out and have fun with your dog!  A dog's life is too short; spend time, train, play, and enjoy them!    

Pamela Johnson