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.