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Using every opportunity

Using every opportunity

It’s easy to get frustrated with your dog. They don’t understand what we’re saying and sometimes it seems like they really couldn’t care less about listening! It’s normal, don’t fret. Every dog owner has gotten irritated and upset with their dog, no matter how patient the person is. Now that we’ve admitted to getting upset with our dogs, let’s figure out what to do in those situations.

Take advantage of it! Punishing your dog isn’t going to teach them anything, so use the opportunity to teach your dog something new. It can be challenging, but once it becomes a habit, you and your dog will begin to understand each other much more. If your dog has a bad habit of eating everything off of the floor, use it as an obstacle course for an intense leave it. Here are a few examples of every day situations I use as practice for my dogs:

  • Every time we walk through a doorway/hallway/car I practice the wait command with my dogs. (Cannot cross the line until called)
  • My dogs must either sit, wait, stay, or lie down before being fed.
  • While walking to my locker at work, there is dog food spilled everywhere so we practice leave it for every item we pass by
  • As I am getting my items out of my locker, we practice stay.
  • Every time we play fetch, my dogs must sit and sometimes even wait or lie down.

My puppy Tucker is famous for grabbing items and running around with them or chewing them up. Instead of waiting for him to get something dangerous or valuable, we practice drop it with items every day; such as the stick in the picture above.

It is great to set aside time to practice commands with your dog, but there are so many things you do with your dogs every day that can easily be used to practice and make commands part of your daily routine.

Do you use any opportunities to teach or practice commands with your dog? If so, comment and let me know! 

 

 

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Fading the Lure

Fading the Lure

Does your dog rely on seeing treats to perform anything for you? Does he only listen when you show him a piece of food?

Well this is one of the most common issues I have seen with my clients. They lure their dog into doing several tricks with the treat but seem to miss the part where they are supposed to fade the treat out. It’s extremely important to fade out your luring by using hand signals and then eventually fade out the treats completely. Here is a very easy way to fade the treats out for your dog.

I made a quick video to demonstrate the process below. If you would like to not only read it, but see it, go to this link: Click Here

Step #1 • Show your dog the treat, get him to do something and then toss it to him

Step #2 • Pretend you have a treat (mimic the hand position), get him to do something, show him there is an empty hand and then give him the treat from somewhere else.

Step #3 • Show your dog the empty hand, pretend you have a treat, show him the empty hand again and ask him to do the behavior. Give him a treat from somewhere else.

Step#5 • Show your dog the empty hand, give him the hand signal, then give him the treat from somewhere else.

If you follow these steps, in no time your dog will not even need to see the treat!

Tips on how to not even use treats.

• Start varying the reward! Don’t give them treats for everything, use a toy, praise, and affection

• Give him treats once in a while for the behavior (without him seeing them) so he never knows when he’s getting one or not. Make sure to not give treats in a pattern! They will figure it out.

I hope this helps you and your dog learn how to fade the treats! Good luck.

-Amber

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Training tips

 

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The importance of the walk

The importance of the walk
Most people know that if you have a dog, you should walk it. It’s general knowledge that walking your dog is good, but how important is it really? Your dog probably isn’t terribly behaved, so why do you have to walk him?

Imagine yourself in his shoes for a moment. He is either stuck in your house or back yard every single day and the closest exercise he gets is chasing a ball back and forth. I don’t know about you but I would definitely lose my mind if I were that dog.

Lack of exercise is actually the leading cause of all problem behaviors! Does your dog bark constantly? Does he jump up on every single person without fail? Does he destroy things in your house or dig in your yard? All of these behaviors have a root cause, and it’s usually lack of exercise. I ask every single one my clients who is having constant trouble with their dog, “Are you exercising him? How often are you taking him on walks, jogs, or runs?” Their answer is always the same. Either they aren’t taking him out at all or they take him out every once in a while. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take your dog on walks every single day!

Now some people get lucky with a dog who doesn’t have to go on walks because she’s more laid back than the average dog. If you have one of these dogs, it does NOT make you and your dog an exception. Just because your dog is not destructive and doesn’t have any problem behaviors, doesn’t mean she won’t benefit from walking.

Taking your dog on a walk every day is an essential part of being a dog owner.

Taking your dog on a walk has MANY advantages.

Your dog will be calmer and better behaved. 

Your dog will have a longer and healthier life. 

Your dog will respect you more and have a stronger bond with you. 

Your dog will become well socialized with people and other dogs.

There are many other advantages but those are just a few.

I hope that this quick post will have encouraged you to start walking with your dog every day! Make it a routine and a part of your schedule. It will even help those who want to get in shape to stay motivated too! If you set aside time every day to spend walking, jogging, or running with your dog, both you and your pooch will live a much healthier, more enjoyable, and easier life!

As I tell all of my clients, as much as you can afford to walk your dog, do it! If you want to go on several walks a day, even better!

If you are wondering how to have a successful walk without pulling, lunging, ect. Keep reading as it will be coming very soon! Good luck and go take a walk with your dog today.

 

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Understanding your dog’s language

Understanding your dog’s language

Learning how to understand your dog’s language is something that will take a lot of observation. As you read through this post, I encourage you to watch your dog and notice how quickly they change their expressions.

Many people wait until a dog bites, barks, growls, or shows its teeth to realize the dog is telling them something, even though these are actually most dogs’ last resort. They will tell you several things with the way they hold themselves, the movements of their ears, tail, eyes, and every part of their body.

Now be aware that one signal on its own does not determine what your dog is saying, it is the combination of signals.

Since your dog communicates with so many parts of their body, we will just go over the three easiest for you to see in this post. The eyes, ears, and tail.

EYES

  • When a dog avoids eye contact, he is being submissive.
  • Dog’s don’t stare at each other because this is a very challenging behavior and could mean a threat. If a dog is staring at you with a tense body, this could be dangerous.
  • Many trainers (including myself) encourage eye contact from the dog, this is not threatening because the dog is not tense when he is looking at you.
  • Anytime you see the whites of the dogs eye, this can be a warning from the dog. He may be scared or irritated.
  • A dog will squint his eyes when he is submissive.
  • Pay attention to their eyebrows to see if there is tension or not.

EARS

  • Ears erect and forward are very alert. Alertness can quickly change into charging.
  • Any time the ears are tight against the head, this is a sign that can turn into an attack.
  • If the ears are laying back but not tight, this is very submissive and the dog is showing you ultimate respect.
  • When the ears are relaxed but towards the side, the dog is comfortable and very relaxed.
  • Ears pointing straight forward when intensely focused is a sure sign that your dog is going to charge.
  • When one ear is to the side and the other is forward, your dog is listening to several things and being calm about it.

TAIL

One of the BIGGEST myths about a dog is that a wagging tail means a friendly dog. This is FALSE, I cannot stress that enough. You can easily be attacked by a dog while his tail is wagging. 

When your dog’s tail wags, it simply means that they are excited, pumped up, have adrenaline, or simply a responder to being with someone else. The meaning of the wagging tail relies on the position of the tail itself.

  • As most people know, a tail tightly curled under a dog’s belly is a very fearful dog and can even lead to a bite.
  • A tail slightly underneath the dog’s belly is scared but also submissive.
  • A low wagging tail is my favorite tail! This is a submissive gesture and a very relaxed and content dog.
  • A tense straight tail is never a good sign, it tells you that the dog is either being very dominant or feels very uncomfortable in the situation. It can be an indicator to an attack.
  • A tail that stays within the middle, (around the line of their back) is a content dog but can be easily excited.
  • A high tail is a sure sign of a dominant dog. Two dogs approaching each other with very high tails need to be very closely supervised.

Now many of these signs by themselves won’t have much meaning so watch for when they are combined together. I will be making more posts about dog body language as I think it is essential for every dog owner to know.

Just remember, a loose bodied/ wiggly dog is a happy guy, a tense and stiff dog is a bad sign.

Hope this helps! If you have any questions on certain signs your dog is showing or how to really understand what your dog is saying, please write me a post at Facebook.com/apassionforpaws Good luck!

-Amber

 

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Your dog’s currency

Your dog’s currency

Every dog has at least one currency. Some dogs actually have two, but you’re very lucky if you have a two-currency dog because they’re so rare.

Currency is basically what you pay your dog with. The most common currency for people training their dog is food. Treats are a fantastic currency as most dogs will literally do anything for food. Hence the phrase, “Will work for food!”

Even though food is a fantastic motivator and an even greater reward for your pooch, there are several other types of currency that I believe are necessary to use for each dog.

I have had several clients tell me that their dogs will only do something if they have a treat. Now of course this is why we teach how to fade the lure, but if you only use food to reward your dog then those results are to be expected.

Other great rewards for your dog could be playing with a tug toy, affection, or just praise on its own. It’s really important to see what your dog is ultimately motivated by. Whichever he is most motivated by, that will be your most common reward. Now since food is typically the top motivator, it’s your job to make sure that when you use food as a reward you don’t try to use a tug toy at the same time. Most dogs will get a taste of the food and nothing else matters but the food.

The dogs who will eagerly take food or anything else over food are dual-currency dogs. 

When you’re teaching behaviors that are play-driven, such as tugging on a rope to open the fridge, or fetching an object, you really don’t want to be using food as the reward. If your dog is not a dual-currency dog, I guarantee that he will lose interest in the play-driven behavior that you are trying to teach. Be sure that when you are trying to teach a play driven behavior that you are rewarding with play and/or affection. 

To find out what your dog can use as a currency besides food, watch what their favorite toy is and what they get most excited about to play with. If it’s a squeaky toy, use it! If your dog simply wants your praise, then you have the easiest reward for your dog out there.

Hope this makes sense! If you have any questions or want to know more please go to:

www.Facebook.com/apassionforpaws

-Amber

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Training tips

 

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Rainy Day?

Rainy Day?

Even though the first post on this blog should be an introduction and things of the sort, I thought this post was absolutely necessary. Living in Miami, FL the past week has been an ultimate downpour! This got me thinking big time.

Most people don’t like to go out in the rain and those who are devoted dog owners who walk their dogs every day might even take a break from their daily routines because of the weather. Some people I have seen continue to take their walks anyways and the dogs who love water (mostly labs are what I’ve seen) actually enjoy the quick cool off from the blazing sun. What devoted people! Makes me smile.

Now I also have seen those dogs who refuse to go out in the rain no matter how hard their owners try to coax them. (One of my favorite students named Betsy for instance). My sister’s dog is also one of the cases where it starts raining and he completely shuts down.

If you have one of those dogs who doesn’t like the rain, don’t let this stop you from having a great time with them! You can think of loads of fun activities to do inside rather then going on your walk or going out at all.

A great game for your pooch, especially those who love to sniff, would be hide and seek!

Hide and seek could be with treats or anything that your dog really enjoys such as their favorite toy. Put your dog in one room, let them sniff the object, go hide it and then encourage your dog to find it! This is a great exercise for your dog and amazing for their mental stimulation. It will actually make your dog smarter by requiring them to think and use their nose for good. If your dog has a hard time finding the object, lead them over to it the first couple of times and make sure to really praise them when they actually find it.

Teach them a new trick! I teach several trick classes and some easy tricks to teach your dog would be Peekaboo, Spin, Dance, Target, ect. I will make posts about how to teach certain tricks later on.

If you are still able to go out, I encourage you to take your dog to a place indoors where they can run and play. One of my favorite students named Callie Blue, was a Petsmart with me on tuesday playing fetch and find all throughout the store. The store was relatively empty and so we let her run the whole store with supervision. If you decide to do this, make sure you have permission from someone working there. Callie was with me and so no one minded her running around with the dog trainer at her side.

I was so happy to see Callie’s mom being creative and instead of taking her to the dog park she brought her indoors to still play. Don’t let the rain stop you! It’s giving you a chance to think of something new to do with your best friend.

Keep it up!

-Amber

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Things to do with your dog

 

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