Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Foster--Calvin, Day 2

On my return visit to Calvin's I was pleasantly surprised to see that his foster mom had been doing her homework.  She was walking Calvin every day, with some improvement, and playing structured games with him more at home to help get out his energy.  On the second visit we focused again on the jumping and nipping.

When dealing with any dog, but especially a very large one, it is important to remember how you carry yourself, what your body language is, and what that is saying to your dog.  Many times people become intimidated by their pet's unruly behavior, emotions like these will affect your training in a negative way.  Remember to say calm, but firm.  You are in charge, not your dog.  The key is to find what motivates your dog to do the things you ask of him.  For most dogs, and for Calvin, this is food.

Positive reinforcement training using treats is very fast and effective way of training your dog.  We worked on an "Auto-Sit" with Calvin while coming up to him to say hi, and at the door.  The more you can repeat these activities, the more chance your dog has to do the right thing and get rewarded for it, the more he will perform that behavior for you!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Foster--Petie, Day 1

Nothing like being jumped up and have a dog tongue directly in your face the second you walk in the door.  Hello Petie, Lab/ Retriever Mix.

Yet another bouncy lab mix.  What a cutie, almost all white fur, but not really.  I really enjoyed this pup!  However, I do not enjoy not only being jumped on, but being held onto with paws and claws when I try and turn my back.  First things first...DO YOU WALK YOUR DOG?

It was obvious right away that Petie was not getting enough exercise.  Petie's foster family and I went over the proper way to train your dog to Loose Leash Walk so that he can get more exercise without choking himself, wow do we like to pull.

Next, the biggest problem Petie has...I want to jump all over you.  After showing the fosters the basic, turn your back, and in Petie's case, walk away from the dog so he can't latch on, we went into teaching some more basic obedience commands.  Petie is VERY food motivated and picked up things right away.  We worked on Come when called and Auto-Sit (as opposed to Mega-Jump) when greeting guests.  Dogs as food motivated as Petie learn quickly, and he did.

Foster--Sassy, Day 1

Sassy, Australian Shepard

The first day I worked with Sassy and her fosters was the day they had to decide if they were going to officially adopt her or not...the pressure was on.  We worked heavily on the nipping issues with the family and I taught them a proper tug-of-war game they could play with there to help curb her nipping.  Sassy is also a very bouncy pup that likes to jump.  We combined working with her jumping and nipping problems with several exercises in the house.  We then moved on to a game in the yard...Come when called.  She immediately picked up the Auto-Sit when playing Come when called in the yard, and the family was quite impressed.  They had seen a great improvement in her behavior while fostering and taking Basic Obedience classes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Foster--Calvin, Day 1

I was very excited to get to work with Calvin, a Husky/ St. Bernard mix.  Having a very large (and tall) dog myself, I enjoy getting to work with bigger dogs that many people tend to somewhat fear, just based simply on their immense size.  I will admit, Calvin was definetly quite the hand-full.  Calvin was a very boisterous foster that liked to greet people by jumping on them.  Now I'm sure that I don't have to tell you that having a 100 pound+ dog jump on you is not exactly the greeting we are hoping for.

Calvin's foster mom and I worked on many things with Calvin, including some basic food lures and waiting for calm behavior.  Calvin is a big dog with LOTS of energy and needs plenty of exercise.  After working on some anti-jumping techniques, I took Calvin and his foster mom out for a walk.  It was a very, very slow walk.  I can see why he doesn't get walked at this point in time.  It took us probably close to a half hour to walk about 100 feet.  Calvin tries to pull you like a freight train.  Again, patients and consistency.

After our very tedious walk we tackled some fetch training in the back yard.  The foster mom had told me that Calvin was uninterested in fetch.  The key is finding a way to make it interesting.  For Calvin it was playing fetch with a rope toy and rewarding him with a little bit of tug-of-war when he brought it back.  Of course there should always be rules to teaching any game to a dog.  Amongst others, our rules included sitting and waiting calmly before throwing the toy again.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Foster--Chandler, Day 4

Unfortunately it is not always easy to match schedules with other people.  I was unable to walk Chandler for a few days, and it showed.  Although I had taken both of Chandler's foster parents on a walk with him (without my dogs of course) and showed them the proper techniques for keeping him from pulling on the leash, people do not always remember to follow instructions.

I say again, it is HARD WORK to properly train a dog.  If you are unable or unwilling to put in the time and effort it takes, you will not achieve the goals you set out too.

BE CONSISTENT!!!  Being consistent in dog training is one of the most important things.  Think about it...if it's ok to get on the couch when dad is home, but not when mom is home, you are not being consistent.  The dog will be confused and may get yelled at by mom because she was not aware dad let the dog on the couch.  This is a simple example, but holds true.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Foster--Chandler, Day 3

By the time our third walk with Chandler came around, I could see real improvement.  Chandler began walking very well on the leash today and rarely pulled.  When he did pull he stopped, backed up (to release the tension on the leash), and looked at me.  I was amazed.  This dog has come such a long way in a very short time.  It just really goes to show that if you put the work in, you can see the results almost immediately.

During this walk I added the "Wait" cue at street crossings.  Although we had always paused at these places in our previous walks, I waited until Chandler picked up the behavior before adding the cue.  When training any dog it is important not to try too much too fast.  This can confuse a dog and set back progress.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Foster--Chandler, Day 2

So I decided it would be best to try and take Chandler for some more leash training as soon as possible.  So they next day sounded perfect.

While training Chandler to Loose-Leash-Walk today I also added in a few extra cues.  One of these was, Watch Me.  During Loose Leash Training, once a dog picks up on the idea that he can't pull and continue walking forward, I like to up the anti a little and wait for the dog to not only stop and relax the tension in the leash, but also to look at me.  Teaching a dog the "Watch Me" or "Look" cue is one of the best commands to learn that will greatly benefit both you and your pet.  Dogs who are conscious of their owners and who look to their owners for permission and cues are much better behaved.  Plus, you can't train a dog that is not focused on you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


A few days ago I met a neighbor of mine who is fostering a dog for MARS (Midwest Animal Rescue & Services).  I chatted with them for a bit and asked if they were in need of any help.  They expressed interested in having their foster leash trained.

So today while taking my own two dogs for a walk, I also got to take Chandler.  Chandler had met my dogs previously when I had first spoken to the neighbor, so there were no "doggy introductions."  We went to their house, picked up Chandler, and continued on our usual walk.

Although adding a dog to your pack who is not leash trained is anything but a usual walk.  When leash-training any dog it is always important to have patients.  To really train a dog properly can take a long time in the very beginning, and so it did with Chandler.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dog Sitting--Blue

Our neighbors went out of town for the weekend and asked us to look after their dog, Blue.  Blue is an American Staffordshire Terrier and Bulldog mix.  Because of his beautiful silver color, they decided to call him Blue.  We only had him for a night, but enjoyed having the short power breed with us.  He was very cute, like a short little body builder.  Small, but tough and tenacious as his breeding dictates.  But because he has good owners that doing positive reinforcement training, he is a very gentle, usually calm puppy.  Thanks for hanging out with us Blue.

Caravaggio & Blue relaxing after playtime.

Blue hanging off the stairs and panting.  Playing is hard work you know.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Breed of the Month--Weimaraner


Color:  Solid color in silber-gray or mouse gray
Height:  Males:  23-27.5 inches/  Females:  22.5-25.5 inches
Weight:  Males:  66-88 lbs/  Females:  55-77 lbs
Life Span:  10-12 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Hip and elbow dysplasia, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, bloat, and von Willebrand disease.

Coat:  Two types:  1) Shorthaired:  sparse or no undercoat/ strong, dense, short outercoat,
2) Longhaired: may have sleek, smooth, short undercoat/ long, wavy, soft, flat outercoat.
Country of Origin:  Germany

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

Possibly descended from schweisshunds and the brackes, the Weimaraner was developed in Germany, where the dog was favored in the court of Weimar.  This breed was originally bred to hunt and track large game like wolves, bears, and big cats.  Over the years, hunters added bird-hunting abilities as the bird game became more abundant.  Today the Weimaraner is a champion in agility, obedience showing, hunting, and field trials.

The Weimaraner is alert, high-energy, obedient, and friendly.  This breed learns things quickly, but will bore easily if not challenged.  This athletic and talented dog needs plenty of time outside everyday and go socialization.  I have experienced several Weimaraners that are very nervous and anxious.  Socialization, proper training, and an owner's calm disposition are vitally important for the Weimaraner.

A Weimaraner craves some good time outdoors to sniff, hunt, and run in large areas.  This breed requires an immense amount of exercise every day.  If not properly mentally and physically exercise, this breed can become very distractive, very quickly.  This breed literally thrives on exercise.  The Weimaraner makes an excellent biking or jogging partner.

Occasional brushing and use of a hound glove are sufficient to keep his coat clean.  The longhaired version of this breed should be brushed weekly.  The Weimaraner's ears should be checked often and kept clean.

To develop confidence and trust, it's important for the Weimaraner to be well socialized.  This breed needs an owner who can remain patient, persistent, and calm during training, and he will learn quickly.  The Weimaraner bores easily if not challenged.

The Weimaraner needs plenty of daily exercise!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Breed of the Month--Finnish Spitz

Finnish Spitz

Color:  Shades:  reddish brown, golden red, white markings
Height:  Males:  17-20 inches/  Females:  15.5-18 inches
Weight:  Males:  26.5-35 lbs/  Females:  31-35 lbs
Life Span:  12-15 years

Breed Health Concerns:  None reported

Coat:  Double coat.  Dense, soft, short undercoat/ long, straight, harsh outercoat.
Country of Origin:  Finland

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

Hunting tribes traveling across Russia brought these ancient dogs with them 1000s of years ago.  Originally used for tracking elks and bears, the Finnish Spitz is now primarily used for hunting game birds.  Known as the "barking bird dog" of Finland.

The Finnish Spitz is playful and will actively seek interaction and attention from his family.  The Finnish Spitz is protective of his family and must be socialized early and often to keep him from being reserved with strangers.

The Finnish Spitz does not do well in heat, but needs regular outdoor exercise.  He is athletic and needs plenty of play time and long daily walks.

The Finnish Spitz sheds seasonally and needs regular brushing.

The Finnish Spitz was bred to be an independent thinker and great patience must be taken during training.  Remember to stay calm and use motivational but short training sessions.

Dog Birthday Party

Who says your dog can't have a birthday party too?
Our dogs were invited to their cousin's birthday party, and we were very excited to go.
There were party hats, games with tennis balls, and even cake made just for dogs.

Break out the party hats.

Caravaggio and his cousin Jasmine waiting for dog cake.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dog Sitting--Simba & Mattie

I was recently privileged to help out a few friends by dog sitting.  It just so happened that they needed a sitter at the same time.  So for about 3 weeks, we had 6 dogs in our house.  My fiancĂ© and I have two, our roommate has 2 dogs, and there were 2 dogs staying with us.  It was a fine time to be surrounded by so many loving creatures at the same time.

Simba is a 4-year-old, un-fixed, Golden Retriever.  He has the beautiful red-colored coat that many people seek.  I was amazed at how anxious this dog was.  Simba was the most anxious dog I have met in my life so far.  I am very happy to say that within three days we had him calmed down, on a regular exercise schedule, and seeming much more relaxed and happy over-all.  In the future I would like to get into a sort of "doggy bootcamp" program at my training facility.  ALL dogs who stay at my house, whether its just for a night or several days to weeks, must follow the same rules.  When Simba's dad returned to get him, he actually said to me, "he's like a different dog."  He was very impressed by his progress.  I informed the owner that Simba's not being neutered plays a large part in his anxiety.  I am VERY happy to say that he has since gotten him fixed!

Simba finally relaxing with Nekita.

Simba assimilating to proper feeding time.

Simba with Mattie (our other guest dog).

Mattie is an elderly golden retriever.  She was a very easy dog to care for.  Because she is older, she is very low energy and currently only needs the exercise of walking up and down the steps to use the bathroom.  We actually even had to carry her down the steps a few times.  Even though she was a little heavy at times, she was a real treat to have.  Mattie is a very sweet girl!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Breed of the Month--Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer

Color:  Black and silver, salt and pepper, solid black
Height:  Males:  14 inches/  Females:  13 inches
Weight:  9-17.5 lbs
Life Span:  15 years or more

Breed Health Concerns:  Allergies, renal dysplasia, urolithiasis, Cushing's syndrome, epilepsy, diabetes, myotonia congenita, portosystemic shunts, retinal dysplasia, megaesophagus.

Coat:  Double coat, dense undercoat, wiry, hard outercoat.
Country of Origin:  Germany

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

Germany has been using Schnauzers for farm dogs for centuries.  They are loving family companions that kill vermin and are very tough, hardworking dogs.  The smallest of the Schnauzers, small black poodles, and Affenpinchers were used to develop the breed.  Other breeds that may have contributed include:  Wire Fox terriers, Zwergspitz, and miniature pinschers.

Charming, charismatic, and lively, this rugged breed can make an excellent watchdog.  The Miniature Schnauzer is fearless but not aggressive, intelligent, and a devoted member of the family.  This breed enjoys being with his family and is a very social animal.

The Miniature Schnauzer is a high-energy breed that needs plenty of regular exercise and good daily walks.  It is vitally important to get this breeds energy out to avoid destructive behaviors.

The Miniature Schnauzer's coat requires regular attention by a professional groomer.  Show dogs must have their coat "stripped," while the family pet can be groomed with simple "clipping."  The hair around the face must be kept clean and out of the eyes.

This breed excels in obedience and agility.  Properly motivated, the Miniature Schnauzer will learn training quickly and be ready for more.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Management & Prevention OOPS

A big part of dog training is management and prevention.  I recently came across a picture of something one of my own dogs did when he was a puppy.  Caravaggio suffered from severe separation anxiety as a young puppy and was confined when we left the house.  He actually ended up chewing through his crate, through the carpet, and into the wood floor.  So we decided to try something new.  We began gating him in the kitchen so that he could be with his buddy, Nekita.  This worked much better in the long run.  However, one of us was not practicing proper management one day and left a cabinet door open.  I'm sure Vaggy had the time of his life pulling everything out of the cabinet.  We, on the other hand, did not enjoy cleaning it up.  This picture was actually taken after we already started cleaning.  Naughty puppy!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Breed of the Month--Miniature Pinscher

Miniature Pinscher

Color:  Black with rust markings, stage red, solid red, chocolate or fawn with rust markings.
Height:  10-12.5 inches
Weight:  9-13 lbs
Life Span:  15 years or more

Breed Health Concerns:  Epilepsy, heart problems, patellar lunation, Legg-Calve-Perthes, eye problems, cervical disk problems.

Coat:  Dense, close, smooth, shiny, straight, short
Country of Origin:  Germany

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

Although this breed looks like a smaller version of the Doberman Pinscher, the two breeds are actually not related.  The Miniature Pinscher comes from breeds including:  Italian Greyhounds, terriers, Dachshunds.  The breed comes from the word "pinscher," which refers to the way the dogs actually attack vermin.  The dog literally pinches his prey.  The "Min Pin" is the top toy breed in Italy, Holland, and Denmark.

It is important to properly socialize this breed and to not allow him to get too spoiled.  The Min Pin is a fun-loving, self-assured dog that bonds very quickly with his family.  This breed does enjoy using his voice and can become a real behavior problem if not properly trained and managed.

The Miniature Pinscher enjoys getting exercise by accompanying his owners anywhere, as much as possible.  He also enjoys draining mental and physical energy with obedience and agility.  A short walk each day will be enough exercise for this toy breed.

The Min Pin coat is easily cared for with occasional brushing and rub downs.  Keep the face clean.

This little dog is athletic and able; he does not need to be carried around everywhere he goes.  In fact, it is better for the dog to walk alongside his owner than to be carried by him.  Socialization is important and training from puppyhood is key.  Short, reward-based, and motivational training sessions are best.

Did you hear something?

I think I'm seeing double.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nekita & Vaggy play with a stick

Caught some cute video of my two dogs, Nekita and Caravaggio (Vaggy).  They both enjoy chewing sticks in the yard, and playing together.  Today we have combined stick chewing with some lazy playing...but still so cute.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Napping with pets

Recently I have come across many pictures of my fiancĂ© cuddling with our dogs.  As you can see, Adam enjoys cuddling with our animals, and has done so on many occasions, usually falling asleep with them.  It was just too cute not to share.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Breed of the Month--Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher

Color:  Black and brown, black with rust markings, fawn, blue, red with rust.
Height:  Males:  26-28.5 inches/  Females:  24-27 inches
Weight:  Males:  88-99 lbs/  Females:  70.5-77 lbs
Life Span:  10-12 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Cancer, chronic active hepatitis, von Willebrand disease, cervical vertebral instability, hypothyroidism, bloat.

Coat:  Close lying, short, smooth, hard
Country of Origin:  Germany

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

The Doberman Pinscher was created in the late 1860s by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, who was in need of a breed that was a tough, smart, reliable guardian.  The Doberman Pinscher gain traits from many breed including:  the Rottweiler, terriers, shepherds, and the weimaraner.

Today the Doberman Pinscher excels at many activities including:  police work, therapy, search and rescue, and protection.  This breed is very intelligent and graceful, yet intimidating to many.  This is a very powerful breed, and I would not necessarily recommend them for first time dog owners.  Owners of the Doberman Pinscher must do their research and truly understand the needs and strength of the breed.

Good daily walks and playtime everyday is very important for this breed.  The Doberman Pinscher is very intelligent and needs daily mental exercise as well.  This breed benefits greatly from interactive games that also drain energy.

The occasional soft brush or hound glove is sufficient for the Doberman Pinscher's coat.

This breed is very eager to please his owners and enjoys learning.  He is alert and responsive, and very highly trainable.  Socialization to all animals and people is important.  This breed enjoys being challenged.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Basic Indoor Potty Training Schedule

This is a basic guideline for an indoor toilet training schedule.  When toilet training, the thing to remember is that prevention of accidents is key.

Dog Toilet Training Schedule:
8:30a.m.         Wake up.  Remove dogs from kennel.  Place in confined potty area with breakfast.
9 a.m. Remove food bowls, leave dogs in potty area.  Praise lavishly for using the
        proper potty area.
9:10 a.m. Morning walk.  Praise and special treat for going potty outside.
9:45 a.m. Return from walk, place dogs immediately in potty area.  Praise lavishly 
        for using proper potty area.
10 a.m.        Supervised free time in the house.  Interrupt any mistakes.
11 a.m.        Dogs drink water.  Return to confined potty area and praise for proper
       toilet behavior.  Remove from confinement after proper potty.
12 p.m.        Baby gets ready for a nap.  Put dogs in kennel or confinement area.
1-2 p.m.        Dogs wake up from nap, remove from kennel and place in potty area.
3 p.m. Dog training or short dog walk.
3:45 p.m. After walk/ training/ play time, return dogs to confined potty area.
       Praise and treat for proper toilet behavior.
4 p.m. After dogs have used proper toilet, supervised free time in the house.
5:30-6 p.m. Husband returns home from work, greets dogs warmly for 1-2 minutes,
        then places both dogs in confined potty area.
6:30 p.m. Dinner time.  Dogs are confined to kennel or area while humans eat.
7 p.m. Feed dogs dinner.  Place in confined area with food.
7:30 p.m. Remove food bowls.  Release dogs for supervised free time if they have
        used the proper potty area.
9 p.m. Confined potty area.
10 p.m.        Give dogs 10 minutes in confined potty area, then crate for the night.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2 Italian Greyhounds

This client came to me with a rather interesting problem.  She has two Italian Greyhounds, Maggie & Toby.  Their problem is improper toilet use throughout the house.

Italian Greyhounds as a breed tend to be harder to properly potty train, especially for those of us who live in inclement weather.  The two were once successfully potty trained to go in the house in a designated area, but a house move and new baby in the house have thrown them off their routine.

The number one reason most people have problems toilet training is because of the lack of a proper exercise schedule.  All dogs, no matter their size, must be exercised with a proper walk every day.

Below is a basic list to keep in mind.  For this client, the things listed as "basics" are the most important to remember and focus on.

Toilet Training:
Regular exercise including walks
Keep to a schedule
Confinement when unsupervised
Lots of encouragement for proper toilet behavior, excitement and praise!
Immediately take to toilet area after:
*removing from kennel 
*waking up from a nap
*drinking water
*rigorous play time
*excited time (when you come home)
*returning from a walk
*first thing in the morning
*before bed
Reduce food portion:  feed 1/3 to 1/4 cup twice daily.
Use extra food for training.
Prevention is key.  When caught in the act, clap hands loudly and say no.  Do NOT yell, scream, or get angry.  Immediately and calmly take dog to the proper toilet area.  Immediately clean up mess with proper enzyme cleaner.
Praise dog lavishly EVERY time they toilet in the proper area.  Give special treat after they have gone potty (these treats are ONLY for going potty in the correct area).
The dog’s crate/ kennel should never be used as punishment.  This should be seen as a special, safe, comfortable place by the dog.
Toilet Training Action Plan:
*What type of indoor bathroom do you want to use?
-Using an indoor grass/turf bathroom will help with being able to go outside as well.
Products at
*Where do you want the dog bathroom to go?
-Choose ONE spot for the bathroom to go.  Somewhere that may also be used as a confinement area with only enough room for food and water bowls, bed, and bathroom.
*What phrase to use for the command to go potty?

Since Italian Greyhounds are extremely reluctant to use the bathroom outside in the winter, it is important to give them a proper option inside the house.  In this case I would recommend purchasing an indoor dog bathroom that resembles grass so the dogs will be less reluctant to use the bathroom outside.  This will help ensure that they are able to use their indoor bathroom in a proper manner, but to also be able to go potty outside without hesitation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Breed of the Month--Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhound

Color:  Black, white, fawn, cream, blue, any of these broken with white (no brindle)
Height:  12.5-15 inches
Weight:  8-11 lbs
Life Span:  12-15 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Autoimmune disease, hypothyroidism, patellar luxation, dental problems, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, epilepsy.

Coat:  soft, fine, glossy, short
Country of Origin:  Italy

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

There is evidence in the tombs of Egypt of this breed on artifacts and relics from 2,000 years ago.  The breed received its name, Italian Greyhound, around the 1500s as their popularity grew across Europe.

Also known as "Iggy," the Italian Greyhound bonds quickly to his family and is very affectionate.  It is recommended that you have more than one Iggy to keep them happy, as their fragile physique is too delicate for most other breeds and small children to play with.  Extra care must be taken when adding this breed to your home.  Potty training this breed can also be a bit of a challenge, especially if you live in area with inclement weather.  The Italian Greyhound may need you to give him a coat in cold weather to keep him warm and healthy.

The Italian Greyhound tends to be a nervous, anxious breed.  It is very important that owners of this breed do not unintentionally encourage this behavior.  Never pet or comfort a dog that is shaking or trembling with fear.  By giving attention at this time, you are communicating to the dog that this anxious behavior is good.  You are telling your dog to continue that behavior, which we do not want.  It is important to have a calm, relaxed demeanor at all times with this breed, and especially during training.

The Italian Greyhound will generally adjust to what the activity level of your household is.  The Iggy gets plenty of exercise with a short walk each day, and following his family around.

The Italian Greyhound has thin skin that must be kept warm and clean.  This breed's coat is easy to care for with a simple wipe-down every now and then.  The Iggy's face requires extra attention to stay clean and free from infection.

Socialization is key for this breed, the Iggy is a shy breed and will learn how to cope with all situations if properly socialized.  Train this breed from puppyhood to help encourage lifelong basic manners and good listening.  Proper motivation and quick training sessions are the best way to train your Italian Greyhound.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Common Training Terms

When beginning training your new dog, a LOT of information will be thrown out at you.  Everyone from the person you got your dog from, to the vet, to your next-door neighbor will be willing to offer you advice about how to train your new pet.  My advice?  Find a trainer that uses positive reinforcement methods and that you are comfortable with.  I highly recommend that EVERYONE take a basic manners dog class.  I have had dogs my entire life and had never taken a basic manners dog class until recently.  Even with everything I knew about dogs then, the information I learned in dog class was amazingly helpful.  Below is a helpful list of terms that you will probably come across in your dog training adventure.

Prior to asking your dog to perform a known cue or behavior, you show the dog something he values in an attempt to gain his compliance.

This is basically just waiting for a dog to do something specific, then rewarding him the second he does it.  Capturing training does not cue or prompt the dog in any way.

Using a lure is enticing the dog with something he values in order to lure him into a position or cue.  The food lure is used in positive reinforcement training.

This is actually physically placing the dog into the position you desire.  This is not generally recommended.

No Reward Marker.
This is a simple sound or phrase like "eh-eh," or "uh-oh" that communicates to the dog that the behavior you just presented me is not what I was looking for.  This is telling the dog, "that's not it, please try something else."

Proofing is the process of testing the dog's knowledge of a known behavior.  By testing where your dog is at with a cue, you can determine what he needs to work on and where to go from here.

A penalty that the dog does not like that will decrease the likelihood the dog will repeat that behavior.  This can be as simple as removal from an area, or as harsh as a physical correction (not recommended).

Anything that will increase the likelihood a dog will repeat a behavior.  Reinforcers are different for all dogs but generally include things such as:  treats, toys, attention, eye contact, and talking to a dog.

Surprising the dog with something he values after performing the correct cue or behavior.
Example:  you ask a dog to sit, he sits, he take our a hidden food treat and give it to him.

This is rewarding any slow progress the dog makes towards the desired goal.  This is something that is helpful to be used with shy dogs.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Breed of the Month--Boxer


Color:  Brindle, fawn shades, white markings, black mask
Height:  Males:  22-25 inches/  Females:  21-23.5 inches
Weight:  Males:  66-70.5 lbs/  Females:  55-62 lbs
Life Span:  11-14 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Allergies, Boxer cardiomyopathy, bloat, ear infections, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, congenital deafness, subaortic stenosis, hypothyroidism.

Coat:  Tight against body, smooth, hard, shiny, short
Country of Origin:  Germany

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

Boxers are descended from the Bullenbeisser, originally bred to pull cars, hunt, and bait bulls.  The Boxer breed itself was refined in the late 1800s in Germany.  After World War I, the boxer was brought over to the United States, and has been a very popular breed ever since.

The boxer is known for his playing move of "put 'em up," as he seems to raise his paws up to play.  Boxers are energetic, curious, high-spirited, and playful.  Amazing with children, the boxer is a loyal family member.  Early socialization is key.

I have met many Boxers and would advise that socialization is the most important thing for a dog of this breed.  If properly socialized early on and throughout life, the Boxer will get along with humans and animals alike.  If this breed is not socialized well, they can become somewhat aggressive towards strangers and other animals.

The Boxer is a very high-energy breed and very athletic.  This breed needs a large amount of exercise each day.  Activities, lots of play time, and long walks every day are important.

The Boxer's short coat is easy to care for, but the folds in the dog's face require extra attention to be kept clean and free of infection.  The shortened muzzle of the dog can contribute to drooling.

The Boxer needs a fair but firm hand when it comes to training.  This breed's problem-solving ability and intelligence can make him a challenge to manage.  Basic obedience and socialization from puppyhood are very important.