Monday, July 30, 2012

Charlie & Calvin demonstrate "Watch Me"

When first teaching your dog the cue "Watch Me" or "Look," we put the treat in the dog's nose, and then directly up to your forehead.  This is food luring the dog into the Watch Me cue.  Once the dog gets the idea of what's going on and does it without to much lag time, it is time to add the actual verbal cue of saying, "Watch Me."  After you and your dog have progressed to where the dog is following this step of the cue 80-90% of the time, we add the "T position."  This is basically the same, but making the dog work a little harder to figure out that I want you to look at my eyes, and not the treat.  For this you begin as before:  put the treat in the dog's nose, then run your arm past your face as you reach both arms out into a T position.  The dog will look back and forth at your arms and face...WAIT for the dog to look you in the eyes.  Timing is very important here!  The instant the dog looks in your eyes, say good and treat.  To progress your training, wait longer each time the dog looks into your eyes before you say good and treat.  1 second, then 2 seconds, etc.  Remember not to move forward too quickly.  If your dog is not doing what you ask 90% of the time, move back to the easier version of the cue.

In this video, Charlie and her dog Calvin demonstrate a proper "Watch Me" using the T position.  Notice how Charlie waits for Calvin to look her in the eyes before saying "Good," and treating.

Trainer escapes dog bite.

In my current Basic Manners class I have a small black dog named Boo.  Boo is very reactive to everything and reacts by nipping and attacking.  In this video I was demonstrating how to teach the "leave it" cue.  Boo does what he is supposed to for the "leave it" cue and turns his head away from what I have told him to leave.  When he does this, I say "good" and immediately reward him with a treat.  While talking with the owners, I did not notice another dog that had momentarily come behind me.  Watch the video closely and you will see how Boo's body language changes after he sees the other dog.  While he is still in this state, I moved too quickly for him.  He became scared and did what he has learned to do in the past, which is to bite and lunge to make that thing he is scared of go away.

When working with a reactive dog such as Boo, it is important to remember to always be aware of your body language and movements.  I moved quickly after something had just happened that Boo had become aware of.  In Boo's mind, this was too much at once, which is why he lashed out.  Don't worry, he missed me.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Basic Manners Class #4--Notes

Basic Toxins for Dogs:
Over the counter Drugs

There are many reason to teach you dog to leave something alone.  The list above is just some of the basic household items that are toxic to your dogs.  Other things you want your dog to leave alone may include the stinky dead animal on the side of the road, or a small animal running in front of a car.

Leave It:
Means to your dog, you can't have that and/or don't pay attention to that.  Teaching your dog this cue will help develop your dog's self-control.

As with teaching any new cue, you first must get the behavior before you add the cue.  To teach the Leave It cue we start very simply.  Put a treat at the dog's nose level and say NOTHING.  Wait until the dog turns their head away from the treat, when they do, say good and reward.  When teaching the Leave It cue you NEVER give the dog the thing they are being asked to leave alone.  You reward the dog with a different treat.  Repeat this exercise until the dog starts to "get it."  At this point you may begin to add the cue.  This exercise is practiced in two ways.
1.  Treat in your hand.
2.  Treat on the ground (under foot).
Once your dog has been doing well with the Leave It cue with the treat in your hand, move onto putting the treat on the floor under your foot.  Remember to never let your dog get the treat they are asked to leave.

Watch Me Cue
The T position with treats in both hands
Can now add the verbal cue "Watch Me"

New Cue:
Means to the dog to stay in the position I put you in until I come get you or until I release you.
This is not the same thing as Wait.
Means to the dog stay here until I ask you to do something else.  Another cue will follow the wait cue.

There are 3 parts to the Stay Cue:
1.  Duration
2.  Distance
3.  Distraction

To teach the Stay Cue, put the dog into the Sit position next to you.  You will use a hand cue and verbal cue (shown in class).  Give the hand cue and verbal cue of "Stay."  With one hand holding the hand cue, rapidly deliver treats with the other hand as the dog stays.  Before you run out of treats, give the release cue.  NEVER deliver treats after the release cue is given.  We want to reward the dog for staying, not for being released.  Remember to not give all the treats in your treat hand before releasing the dog.  This may teach the dog that I am released when there is no more food, not when I tell you.

To improve the cue, begin adding time between the delivery of treats.  So instead of rapid delivery, treat, wait 2 seconds, treat...move on, treat, wait 5 seconds, treat....then wait 10 seconds, treat.

It is important to practice the Stay Cue as much as possible.  It is hard for many dogs to listen to this cue when something exciting is just beyond my reach.  Practice this cue before meal times and at doorways.

Back to the three parts of the Stay Cue:
To improve the cue, first we add duration.  Once a dog can stay for an extended period of time, you may add distance.  Once these two parts of the cue have been developed, you then add distraction.  It is important not to add too much too fast, and never add more than one part of the cue at a time.

Loose Leash Walking

Leave-It (impulse control)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Basic Manners Class #3

Using a food lure is the easiest and best way to teach a dog a new cue.  Keep in mind that teaching a dog the down position using a food lure can sometimes take longer than you might expect.  This is especially true of very small and very large dogs.  Remember to have patience and keep at it.  Once you can successfully food lured your dog 3-5 times in a row into the position, you may add the cue word, "down."

Athena and Lilly demonstrating how to properly do a food lure for the down position.

Below are some more pictures of the class practicing the food lure with Sit, Down, and Stand.

Finally, remember that ANY time your dog performs any behavior you are looking for, to give the dog LOTS of good praise.  "Good dog!!!" with a very excited, happy, up-beat voice.  I like to say, pretend its the best thing that's ever happened to you.  The better you are at marking your dog's proper behavior, the easier your dog will learn to do what you want.  Below is a picture of me demonstrating my excited, "good job" to a dog who's done well.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Basic Manners Class #3--Notes

Review of what's rewarding to dogs:
1. Eye Contact
2. Voice
3.  Touch

Anti-jumping / Auto-sit:
We want the dog to learn that anytime someone walks over to you, you put your butt on the ground.
(Demonstration and practice in class).  I walk around to all the dogs in class several times and reward behavior I like.  If I walk up to your dog and he offers a sit, I will say "Good" and treat.

When teaching a dog not to jump it is very important to remember to not reward the wrong behavior.  Therefore anytime a dog jumps on you, you will say nothing, you will turn your back and ignore the dog (often pulling your arms up and crossing them also helps.)  If a dog jumps on you do not say "No" (voice reward), do not push their paws off you (touch reward), and do not look at the dog (eye contact).  When a dog can remain with all four feet on the floor ("4 on the Floor"), say good and reward the dog.  This exercise can be a good one to work in what we call "real life rewards."  These are things like petting, being fed, getting a little extra love, etc.  You should always make your dog earn what he gets, even when considering "real life rewards" like these.

Practice "Watch Me"
Re-cap on the exercise and questions in class.

Food Lure Sit, Down, Stand:
We will use food lures (if necessary) to teach these cues to our dogs.  Some of these basic dog obedience cues may have already been learned.  This is good, we can use the dog's current knowledge of each cue and progress further to adding the hand signals.
(Demonstrated in class).

Practice, Come when called
Re-cap of the exercise and questions in class.
We now add all 3 steps of Come when called to the exercise.

Impulse Control:
Teaching a dog how to control his natural impulses can be very helpful in our everyday lives.  For example I don't want my dog to run out in the street in front of a car because he's chasing a squirrel or rabbit.  Controlling your dog's impulses helps keep him safe.

In this exercise we ultimately want the dog to look back to you for guidance when he is unable to get the treat.  When first beginning, however, we are simply looking for the dog to control his instinct to snatch the treat from your hand or off the ground.  We do this in two exercises.
1.  Put the treat in front of the dog's nose.  The dog must hold his head still in the presence of the treat to receive the treat.
2.  Toss the treat on the floor in front of the dog.  The dog must look away from the treat and at you to be allowed to get the treat.
(Demonstrated in class).

Remember, every time your dog does what you are looking, mark the behavior with your marker word "Good," and treat.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Basic Manners Class #2

Today was the second Basic Manners class, but the first class where people bring their dogs.  It's always a little bit hectic the first class with dogs, as there are many new things and distractions for the dogs.  Class seemed to go very well.  My husband came along to take some pictures.  Next week I will be focusing more on individual attention for each owner/dog team after demonstrating each new cue.

Athena taking time out for a quick photo before class starts.

Athena explaining a new cue to the class.

Athena demonstrating what we will be doing next, before demonstrating with one of the dogs.

Looking forward to next's weeks class :)

Basic Manners Class #2--Notes

Learning the "Watch Me" or "Look" Cue...

For teaching many new cues it is helpful to use a food lure.  Remember to use high value food rewards when training using food lures.  A food lure involves getting the dog to follow your hand into a desired position.  This is how we first teach many behaviors such as Sit and Down.

Using a food lure for the "Watch Me" cue is very effective.  This exercise is what you will do if your dog becomes distracted in class and unable to focus.  Place the stinky dog treat directly in front of the dogs nose, then up to your forehead.  As soon as the dog looks up at you, say your marker word (Good or Yes) and give the dog the treat.  After you have done this a few times and the dog is starting to quickly look up at you (preferably at your eyes), then you can add the verbal cue of "Watch Me" or "Look."
  Stinky treat in the dog's nose, then up to your forehead.  Dog looks, "Good!" and treat.

Teaching a dog the "Watch Me" cue is an excellent way to help build a good bond between you and your dog.  You want a dog that pays attention to you and looks to you for guidance.

Food luring a young puppy into a sit is an easy and effective way to teach this behavior.  In class I will demonstrate this technique.

When teaching new behaviors and cues it is often helpful to have both a Verbal Cue and a Hand Signal.  These basic hand signals will also be demonstrated in class.

Come when called:
The Rules:
1.  Always have a leash.
2.  When you say come, you have to see the dog come to you.
3.  NEVER punish a dog for coming to you.

The Steps:
1.  Say the dog's name, and Come, one time only.
2.  Have a party.
3.  Lure the dog back to you.

When teaching a dog the Come Cue for the first time we start with Step 3, luring the dog.  Put the treat in the dog's nose, say "Name, Come!," quickly back up a few steps.  When the dog follows stop, say "Good," and treat.  (Explained and demonstrated in class).

Loose-Leash Walking:
Helpful tools for teaching a dog to properly walk on a leash:  gentle leaders, easy-walk harness.
Loose Leash Walking (LLW) means the dog walks nicely, not pulling on the leash.
(Also see previous post.)

Now, loose leash walking is not the same thing as heel.  LLW means the dog is walking nicely on the leash, but in no specific place.  Heel is when a dog walks next to you, directly at your side.  Heel is a step up from LLW.  Teaching a dog heel is like going to college, but before we can go to higher education, we must first start in Kindergarden with Loose Leash Walking.

Teaching a dog to proper walk on a leash is actually quite easy, but requires a LOT of patience!  Patience is the most important tool you can bring when teaching this to your dog.

Its quite simple really.  To begin, go out for a walk using a regular 4-6 foot leash (NEVER use an extenda-leash), and a buckle color properly fitted to your dog's neck (so they cannot slip out).  As you begin your walk, as soon as your dog pulls, stop directly in your tracks.  Do not pull on the leash, just freeze yourself and wait for your dog to release the tension on the leash.  Once s/he does, mark that behavior with a "good girl," or "good boy," and continue on your walk.  When the dog pulls again, stop, wait, the dog releases the tension, "good dog."  Like I said, very simple but requires an immense amount of patience!!!
(Demonstrated in class).

Homework for week 3:
Come when called
Watch me
Loose leash walking

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Trainer Tips--Good Behavior

Sometimes we get so focused on the bad things our dogs do we stop noticing the good things.  One helpful tip that I always try and focus on for all my classes...anytime your dog does what you want them to do during training, pretend its the best thing that's ever happened to you.  Sounds crazy, but its true.  The better you mark the good behaviors, the more likely the dog will engage in more good behaviors in the future.  This is especially true for any behaviors or cues that your dog has extra problems with.  For example, if your dog isn't so great at Sit, when the dog does Sit well, you should acknowledge that with a "Good Boy!  Good Girl! or Good Dog!"  Praising your dog with positive reinforcement in an upbeat, happy voice goes miles further than yelling at them when they do bad things.

Don't forget, praise, praise, praise for ALL good behaviors!!!

After the dog performs the desired behavior, treat while saying your marker word "Good/ Yes."

Lots of praise with an upbeat, happy voice.  Good girl!

Extra petting.

Extra petting and love for a job well done, especially for cues you are having trouble with.'s the best thing that's ever happened to you :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bath Time

So our dogs do NOT especially enjoy getting their bathes.  In the summer when its nice and warm outside we bathe them with the hose in the yard, and then let them dry in the sunshine.  Although they both would rather not get bathed, they always feel really great after.  They run around and shake and do a little "after bath dance."  Nekita especially enjoys being wiped off with the towel.  Here is some video of her silliness as my roommate dries her with a towel.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Basics Manners Class #1--Notes

For the first class do NOT bring your dogs.

The fist class of Basic Manners training is all about information.  A lot of things will be thrown out at you for you to absorb.  This is why taking notes is very important.

First, training class is about training the HUMAN, and teaching the human how to communicate with the dog so we can motivate the dog to work and learn.  When a dog misbehaves it is really a breakdown in communication.  Dog do what works, don't assume they know better.

We start by picking a marker word (Reward Marker) for when a dog does something you like.  Most people either use "Good" or "Yes."  It does not matter what your word is, as long as you always use the same word (this is true of every cue).  Remember to keep a happy and upbeat voice when saying "Good."  Do not have any anger or frustration.  If you feel angry or frustrated, you should put training on hold until you can calm down and try again.

Basic Manners class is Kindergarden.  We start at the bottom level when we begin teaching.  You can not go to college without first passing through Kindergarden.  Remember to move training at the dog's pace, not your own.  Keep calm and do not do repetitions too many times.  It's better to quit while you're ahead, than to push the training further than the dog is ready for.  The dog will lose interest and stop learning.

To begin training you first need to know what motivates your dog.  Humans need motivation, so do dogs.  Would you go to work every day if they didn't pay you?  Many dogs are highly motivated by food, but not all of them are.  Some dogs are more motivated by toys or petting.  You need to figure out your dogs order of rewards.
What are your dog's "Like its?"
What is your dog's "Love its?"
What is your dog's "Gotta Have It?"
If your dog is motivated by food, hooray!, your training will go a bit easier.  If not, you will need to adjust your rewards for training.

3 Things on our body that are rewarding to dogs:
  1.  Voice
  2.  Eye Contact
  3.  Hands/ Touch

Anytime you engage your dog in one of these things, you are rewarding them.  So try and remember not to unintentionally reward your dog for bad behavior.  For example, you don't catch the dog's paws when he jumps on you (touch); that is communicating to the dog that you want him to keep jumping up on you.

What do you do with behaviors you don't like that your dog does?
1.  Ignore
2.  Avoid
3.  Re-direct

It's important to manage your dog's behavior in-between training sessions.  You must help prevent bad behaviors from occurring.  Behaviors usually get worse before they get better.  You must catch a dog "in the act" within 2 seconds to change the behavior.

Homework for Week 2:
Choose your marker word:  "Good" or "Yes" or something else.
Go home and give your marker word, then treat your dog.  Your dog doesn't have to engage in any good behavior at this time.  We are just building a positive association between the marker word and a treat.  Using this marker word is telling the dog "yes that's exactly what I want you to do," once you begin training.  By pairing the word with a treat, we are teaching the dog the first steps for positive reinforcement training.

So, "Good," treat
Good, treat
Good, treat

Do this 5- 10 repetitions 2-3 times per day until next week's class.

Things to remember to bring to your next class (week 2)...

Notebook and pen
Poop bags
2-3 cups special treats
regular buckle collar and leash (or gentle leader or easy-walk harness)

Most importantly remember to bring a good sense of humor and a lot of patience!