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.