Saturday, June 30, 2012

Playing in the classroom

Sunday, June 17, 2012

House Training - APDT Article

The keys to successful house training are: 

• Your dog will not eliminate in areas where he is not allowed to go. Using a crate is an excellent way to quickly housetrain a dog as a dog will generally not eliminate in the same space where it sleeps. 
• If a crate is not an option, you can also contain your pet in a small area of your house such as a kitchen or bathroom using baby gates. 
• Keep your dog confined at all times when you are not directly supervising (100%!) him until you are sure that he is housetrained. 
• Another method is to tie a leash to your dog and loop the leash handle through your pant’s belt loop, or tie the leash around your waist, so that the dog must be with you at all times. This also makes it easy for you to quickly move your dog outside if he starts to eliminate in the house. 

• By adhering to a consistent schedule for food, water and walks, you will pattern your dog to the desired behavior. 
• Do not leave food down in a bowl all day for the dog, but rather give him 15 minutes or so to finish whatever you give him to eat. Then, pick up the bowl when he is done. Your dog should always have access to water however.
• By controlling when and how much your dog eats and drinks, you can better predict when he will need to eliminate. 
• Puppies will tend to eliminate a few minutes before or after he eats or drinks water.
• Puppies will typically need to eliminate:
o When they first wake up in the morning;
o After a play session (or even sometimes during!);
o After a nap;
o Just after drinking;
o Just before or just after he eats;
o After chewing on a bone or chew toy
o If he hasn’t been out for an hour or two.
• Remember, young puppies are still developing control over their bladder so be patient and give them time to both learn, and to physically gain bladder control.
• If you have rescued an adult dog, the best tactic is to pretend your dog is an 8 week old puppy and start from scratch!

• Always praise your dog enthusiastically when he eliminates in the correct place, as this will let him know that he is doing the right thing by going outside. 
• NEVER hit or yell at your dog for eliminating in the incorrect place, or rub his nose in his mess. Punishing him is counterproductive as it teaches the dog that eliminating in your presence is a dangerous thing, but doesn’t teach them not to eliminate in the house at all.
• If your dog eliminated in the house, it is likely because he was simply unable to hold his bladder for that long, or he was not confined properly or supervised properly. Dogs do not eliminate in the house because they were “mad” at you or “vengeful.” If your dog urinated on your favorite couch or fancy rug, the ONLY thought that was on your dog’s mind at the time was “hey, I need to pee!”
• If your dog starts to eliminate while you are supervising, use a sharp “eh-eh!” or clap your hands to distract him, and then quickly 
scoop him up or leash him up and run outside. When he finishes going, praise him and reward him effusively.
• Praise him when he is outside and eliminating – do not wait for him to come back inside to praise him. Otherwise he will think he is being praised for coming back inside with you (which is a good thing, but immaterial to house training!).
• If you want him to eliminate in a certain area of the yard, bring him out to this area on leash and wait for him to eliminate. You can add in a “Go Potty!” cue while he is eliminating so he can associate this cue with his bodily function.

Odor Removal
• When your dog eliminates in the house, the most important thing is to remove all traces of the odor, or the dog will continue to eliminate in the spot. 
• Using common household cleaners is typically not enough, and using ammonia products will actually encourage your dog to return to the spot to go again since the cleaner residue is very similar to urine. 
• Use products sold specifically to eliminate pet urine and feces odors that you can purchase at most pet supply shops. Nature’s Miracle and Simple Solution are two brand names for such products.

Other Tips
• Try to avoid paper training. The dog is still learning it’s ok to go in the house, albeit in a certain area, and it will make housetraining him take longer. Crate training is a better alternative.
• Don’t expect a puppy to be fully housetrained until they are at least 6 months or older. Puppies have very little control over their bladders until this age.
• If you bring the dog outside and you think he needs to eliminate but he won’t, take him back inside and crate him for another 10-15 minutes and take him out to the same place again. Don’t assume that he didn’t need to go after all and then let him run around your house unsupervised.
• Always take the dog outside to urinate on leash. Wait patiently until he eliminates and then let him off leash to play. If you let him wander around the yard on his own until he urinates, and then go back into the house, he will learn that his fun play-time outside stops when he urinates. You want him to learn if I potty first the I get to play!
• Likewise, if you do not own a yard and must walk your dog on the street, take your dog outside and calmly wait for the dog to eliminate before proceeding with your walk. You want the dog to understand that his fun walk is the reward for eliminating. If the dog goes before he comes back in, the dog will wait longer and longer to go, and sometimes they will hold it until you bring them back inside.
• Finally, another useful method is to have a rolled up newspaper ready at hand. Every time your dog eliminates in the house, pick it up and hit yourself over the head while repeating, “I forgot to watch my dog! I forgot to watch my dog!” Remember, house-training accidents are your mistake, not the dog’s.

For more information on the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, 
visit our Web site at or call 1-800-PET-DOGS (738-3647) or email

Sunday, June 3, 2012

When CAN you START TRAINING a Puppy?

When can you start training your puppy?

This is such a common question.  Back in the OLD DAYS when people used correction based training, they would recommend waiting to train a puppy until they were 6 months old.  The reason for this was because the CHOKE chain could do damage to a puppy’s neck.  Well, the TRUTH of the matter is that a CHOKE chain WILL do damage to a dog of any age’s neck, spine, and can cause so many problems!  The other problem with waiting to TRAIN a puppy is that by 6 months of age the puppy could have MANY behavioral problems.  A few of these behavior problems could include jumping up on people, soiling the house, chewing up the furniture, barking for attention or barking at people that pass the house and pulling the owner while on leash.  If these are the only problems the owners are having then they are probably lucky. 
So, when should you start training your puppy?
My suggestion is to find a positive CLICKER trainer and start training your puppy the very day you bring him home.  You can start teaching him right away what is acceptable by REWARDING EVERYTHING the puppy does that you like.  Will the puppy make bad choices? YES!  However, it is the owners responsibility to teach the puppy what is acceptable.  Set your puppy up for success!  
Puppies are learning every moment of every day.  The question is: are they learning appropriate behaviors or inappropriate behaviors?  You can start formal and informal training with a puppy as young as 8 weeks old which is usually about the age that puppies go to their forever homes.  
Formal training is teaching the puppy cues (cues NOT commands) such as a positive interrupter, their name, sit, down, stay, come, and how to follow and pay attention to their new best friend “YOU”.  Teach your puppy what the clicker means by conditioning it.  Then check for understanding when the puppy is slightly distracted.  When you start clicker training with a puppy, you are teaching the puppy HOW to LEARN.  Train your puppy to look at you when you make an interrupter noise (I use a kissy noise).  Condition a kissy nose the same way you would condition the clicker (see the attached video called: Clicker Basics).  Kissy noise, then give a treat.  Repeat Repeat Repeat!  Then wait until your puppy is slightly distracted and make the kissy noise.  If your puppy looks at you, click (capturing his attention of looking at you), then give him a treat (of REAL meat or cheese).  Later down the road this can help you interrupt an unacceptable behavior in a way that is NOT threatening, punishing, or forceful in anyway shape or form.  Capture the behaviors that your puppy does naturally.  When your puppy sits, click and toss him a treat and wait for him to sit again.  Repeat Repeat Repeat.  Once the light bulb goes on, the puppy will realize that he made you click and got rewarded for sitting.  Next, you will put it on a verbal cue, but only do this when he is repeating the behavior of sitting multiple times without you asking.  To put a behavior on a verbal cue, say the cue before the dog does the behavior, then click and treat when the pup does the behavior.  Only say the cue if you would bet $100 that he is going to sit anyway.  In no time you will have a YOUNG puppy sitting and downing.  Train your puppy to give you attention without asking or nagging your puppy.  To do this wait until your puppy looks at you, and when he looks at you click and toss a treat.  When he looks at you again, click and toss another treat.  You can put it on a cue if you want, but eventually your puppy will know that he can get amazing things just for looking at you.  Sure you can use other methods such as luring, but I have found that TRAINING goes so much faster when the puppy learns the CORRECT behavior ALL ON HIS OWN.  
Informal training is teaching the dog the rules of the house and how to behave in his new environment.  To me informal training is the most important training of all...  If you just make the excuse, “he is just a puppy and doing puppy things” then your puppy IS going to learn unacceptable behaviors.  
The KEY is to set the puppy up to succeed.  How do you do that?  Well, you MANAGE your puppy.  You WATCH him 100% when he is out and about with you.  Put him on a harness and leash when he is in the house, so that he has only a few choices.  He can choose to wander a few feet away which will not earn him a reward, or he can come in close to your side which WILL earn him a reward.  If you have him on leash and you are watching TV, you can REWARD him when he calmly lays at your feet.  If you have him on leash, he can’t run off and potty behind a chair because you will be watching him and looking for signs that he needs to go potty.  When you see the sign you can take him outside to his spot and when he goes potty, you can REWARD him with a treat, a ton of verbal praise, and or a fun game of tug.  I like to explain it as if your puppy is a child that has not yet been potty trained.  You would not let your child run around the house without a diaper on, so don’t let your dog run around the house unsupervised.  This is TRAINING, you are constantly watching your puppy and REWARDING all of his wonderful decisions.  If you do not reward the good STUFF your puppy is doing, then he WILL find things to do that gets your attention.  This is what I call, “environmental learning”.  The puppy learns that when he is barking, you yell and pay attention to him.  So, he just learned a behavior that you really did not want him to learn.  Why NOT just be PROACTIVE and reward the puppy when he is quiet and behaving how you would like him to.  We often do not think about rewarding a QUIET puppy, but we should!  Behaviors that are rewarded tend to be repeated often.  So, if you reward the barking by yelling or paying attention to him when he barks, then you have just rewarded that behavior.  Negative attention is attention.  If you reward the quiet puppy at your side, then your puppy will learn to be quiet and hang out with you at your side.
Twix with an appropriate chew bone at 11 weeks old.
Twix learning to chill out on a dog bed outside.
Twix at 8 weeks before I brought him home to live with me.
Reward the good behaviors your puppy does, before he learns fun things to do on his own.  Reward your puppy when he is hanging out in the back yard by giving him an appropriate thing to chew on or a fun acceptable puzzle toy to play with.  If you just leave your puppy in the yard, he will find something fun to do!  Usually his idea of fun does not always match your idea of fun.  Tearing up the patio furniture is great fun for a puppy as well as digging big holes in the yard.  
Manage behaviors that you do not have time to train.  For example: A puppy might love to get into the dirty laundry.  Well, instead of punishing him for doing that, which let’s be honest, he did not really know any better.  He just knows that that dirty laundry smells really wonderful to him.  Personally, I feel that it is the owners fault for allowing the puppy access to the laundry in the first place.  However, to manage the puppy and prevent him from being able to practice the unwanted behavior is simple.  COVER THE LAUNDRY with a lid or DO NOT ALLOW the puppy in the room that the laundry is in.  Problem managed!  If your puppy likes to chew on shoes, DO NOT LEAVE OUT YOUR SHOES!  A puppy just knows that the shoes smell and taste really good.  He has no idea that you paid hundreds of dollars for those shoes or that they are your favorite shoes.  Again, it is your fault!  MANAGE the behavior by PREVENTING the puppy from having access to those off limit items. 
TRAIN your puppy the MOMENT you bring him home!  Give your puppy acceptable things to do, play fun games with him, teach him his name, teach him to find you, and teach him to follow you, which are all FUN games for a puppy!  TRAIN your puppy to do what you want him to do instead of PUNISHING him for doing what you do not want him to do.  The bottom line, DO NOT WAIT ONE MOMENT TO TRAIN YOUR PUPPY!  Learning is on going and ALWAYS happening.  So, from the very moment you bring your puppy home, start working with him and teaching him how to be a part of your family! 
By, Pamela Johnson

Here are a few videos that can help you with your puppy.
If you would like to learn more fun games to teach your dog to come when called every time you call him, check out my website at and go to my products page.  I sell a DVD that has tons of games, advice, training tips, and step by step directions of how to play each game.  The DVD is called Play-N-Train Recalls
I also sell a DVD on training a dog to have a ROCK SOLID STAY, LOOSE LEASH WALKING, and have multiple ebooks on training a dog to do tricks on my website at   
Puppies can also learn tricks! Puppies are sponges and can learn anything that you would like to teach them. 

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Creating Encouraging Environments

This is a quiz from the book, "Easy to lLove, Difficult to Discipline" by Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D.  I would highly recommend it to everyone that is either raising children, teaching students, treating spouses, treating co-workers or even raising dogs.  :)

Do you tend to encourage or discourage yourself?  The following quiz can help you pinpoint your tendency:

1.  During the course of one day, I tend to focus more on:  (A) My assets and strengths  (B) My liabilities and weaknesses.

2.  Typically, I:  (A) Accept myself as I am  (B) Focus on what is wrong and needs changing (too fat, too thin, too something)

3.  I generally talk to myself in a way that: (A) Builds self-confidence (B) Makes me feel confused or inadequate.

4.  During the day, I tend to think about:  (A) What I currently am doing  (B) What I should be doing

5.  I notice:  (A) My efforts and improvements  (B) That I am not where I think I should be

6.  As life unfolds, I tend to:  (A) Judge events as good or bad  (B) Notice the turn of events without the need to judge

If you answer more A answers than B answers, you are probably good at encouraging yourself.  If you selected more B answers, you may tend to discourage yourself.  If you routinely discourage yourself, you will unconsciously discourage your children (or dogs).  Since change begins with you and then extends to your children (or fur kids), decide today to be kinder and more encouraging toward yourself.

To begin the change process now, say the following affirming statements out loud:

*  I will recognize and honor my own contributions to a better World.
*  I will allow myself to make mistakes and I will forgive myself.
*  I will encourage myself to be successful.
*  I will accept praise other people offer me because I know I am a valuable human being.
*  I will suspend my judgments long enough to allow my love to shine through.


Changing Behavior...

Changing BEHAVIOR requires MOTIVATION.  The MOTIVATION can come from FEAR or through LOVE.  The choice is YOURS!  Motivating with LOVE teaches the dog what TO DO instead of correcting what we don't like.  

Pamela Johnson, Pam's Dog Academy

Dog's, Stress, and LEARNING...

Your interactions with your dog literally shape their brains!

When one relays on fear based discipline, they trigger physical stress responses in a dog that will HENDER the dogs ability to LEARN.  When a dog experiences stress, stress hormones are released.  One chemical released is cortisol.  High levels of cortisol can damage brain cells in the hippocampus, which plays a major role in MEMORY and LEARNING.  If you keep the dogs stress levels low, you can IMPROVE the dogs agility to LEARN.

Pamela Johnson
Why do cat's hiss?

I have read that when cat's hiss they are mimicking snakes.   Cat's imitate snakes because most other animals including dogs are afraid of snakes.  So, when cats hiss they are attempting to scare away another cat, dog, or other enemy.  A cat will actually attempt to take on a snake like appearance.  The cat will flatten out his ears, widen his jaw, and wave his tail back and fourth before he hisses to scare away the enemy.  Sometimes the cat will spit when they hiss, which is similar to that of a snake when they are excreting their venom to paralyze their victim.  This is a cats way to communicate...  What ever you do, do not mimic the cat and hiss back.  Hissing at your cat might scare him (remember he uses this to scare others) and if you scare him, he might become afraid of you and you will not have a good relationship or the relationship you would want with your cat.  So, take the warning and give him space, if he hisses at you.

Just a little fun bit of trivia...

Pamela Johnson