Saturday, March 28, 2015

BML2--Class #2

The Heel position is about the dog staying close to the handler and paying close attention.  We will start with the Basic Heel position, the Stationary Heel.
To do this, we will food lure the dog into the Heel position at our left side.  Use your left hand to food lure the dog into the position.  If you need, take a step back with your left leg to encourage the dog to move.  Once the dog is in the Heel position, practice a Sit and Look. 

Moving Heel:  
  1. Food lure the dog several times while backing up.
  2. Food lure the dog, now turn your body so the dog is now on the left side in Heel position (use the treat in your left hand).
—Always begin and end every Heel exercise with a Sit in the Heel position.
—When you stop moving forward, move your baited hand UP slightly to initiate the Sit position.
—As you are moving forward, the treat should be held up slightly from the dog so she is looking for it.  Gradually progress to moving your hand all the way up to the Look position.  

Come When Called:
(Puppy Ping Pong and Hide & Seek Games)

The Rules:
  1. Safety first.  Always have a leash or be in an enclosed area.
  2. When you say come, you have to see it happen.
  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 (or gently lead) the dog back to you.

Remember, each cue/command has three parts to build up or work on:  
  1. Duration (Time)
  2. Distance
  3. Distractions

To improve the Cue:  we will apply a Reward Grading Scale.  
This means that you must know what your dog likes best.  For this scale, we will reward with a low level treat for an okay recall.  As the dog improves on speed and direction, the training grade is higher, and therefore the reward should be greater.  Once the dog runs the distance quickly and directly to you, use a Jackpot Reward.  This means giving the dog several treats quickly after performing a behavior exceptionally well.

Practice Come when Called while adding Distance.  
We will start at a distance where we know the dog will currently respond to Come, then slowly start adding distance each time.  If the dog does not do well, take the training back a step (move closer to the dog).  Remember to progress slowly.  Be sure to attach your long line dog leash for this training.  For this, it is helpful to have two people for each dog.  This will make this exercise much easier to practice.  (Puppy Ping Pong Game).  Remember to practice all 3 Steps of Come When Called each time (as needed).  

Come when Called while adding Distractions.
Next we will try adding distractions to Come when Called.  To begin, we will start at a lower distance then was just practiced.  Keep your long ling training leash attached.  Now we will practice Come when Called while adding distractions.  For this we will use other dogs and people from class, as well as objects to try and distract your dog during the Come command.  Be sure to take this training very slowly.  Heavily reward your dog for ignoring the distraction(s) and coming to you.  Slowly add more difficult distractions.  Remember to use your Reward Grading Scale.  For better recalls, reward more lavishly with better treats.

Practice Look, Sit, Down, & Stand:
Finally we will practice some Basic Manners.  Practice each cue and make the dog hold the position longer before the reward.  Be sure to say your Reward Marker, “Good,” the instant the dog performs the behavior, but withhold the treat for a few seconds.  Make the dog wait longer and longer for the reward.  When rewarding, praise lavishly.

Practice Stay:

For Week 3 class we will be adding Distance and Distractions to the Stay cue.  So for this week, practice the Stay cue without distance and distractions.  Simply work on building up Duration, or time.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

BML2--Class #1

Basic Manners - Level Two:  Class #1
The first class is a review of all things learned in Basic Manners Level One...

3 Things on your body that are Rewarding to Dogs:
  1. Voice
  2. Eye Contact
  3. Touch

Anytime you engage your dog in one of these things, you are basically rewarding whatever behavior they are doing at that time.  This is important to keep in mind so we do not unintentionally reward bad behaviors.
You must catch a bad behavior within 2 seconds to change the behavior.

Marker Word:  “Good” or “Yes” or the clicker
This is what we say to mark the behavior we wanted.  Saying this is telling the dog, “that was exactly what I was looking for!”  The more you mark good behavior in a positive way, the more your dog will want to engage in good behavior.  

No Reward Marker:  “uh-oh” or “eh-eh”
This is to let the dog know that this is not what I was looking for you to do now.  We want to mark the behavior as not what we wanted, but we want to do so in a way that will still encourage the dog to want to learn.  When using an “uh-oh” while training, remember to take a step away from the dog to help “re-set” the brain, then try again.  Remember to only say cues ONE TIME, then wait 30 seconds to a minute before giving your “uh-oh” (give the dog a chance to make the right decision).

Basic Manners Review:
Look/ Watch Me:
We practice this command because we want a dog who looks to us for permission and direction.  Practice this cue both the simple way (directly from the dog’s nose up to your eye), and with the T position (start the same, then when the treat comes to your eye, move both arms out into a T position).

Come When Called:
The Rules:
  1. Safety first.  Always have a leash or be in an enclosed area.
  2. When you say come, you have to see it happen.
  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 (or gently lead) the dog back to you.

Loose Leash Walking:
When your dog pulls on the leash, you have two options…
  1. Stop and wait for the dog to move in a way that releases the tension of the leash.
  2. Say “let’s go” and go off promptly in the opposite direction.

Sit, Down, & Stand:
All these positions should already be well practiced.  Dogs should know the verbal and hand signals for each command.

This should mean to a dog, turn away from that, don’t pay attention to that, leave that thing alone.  Remember that whatever you are asking your dog to Leave It, he should NOT get that item at the time you are practicing the Leave-It.  Never practice Leave-It/ Take-It (this can teach a dog to leave something alone for a second, then take it anyway).  We want our dogs to know that when I say to leave something alone, you don’t touch it ever.
Making Leave-It harder:  1. Treat in closed hand, 2. Treat in partially open hand, 
3. Treat in open hand, 4. Treat in open hand on the ground, 5. Treat on the ground.

Means to your dog, stay in this position until I come back to release you.  This is not the same thing as Wait.  There are 3 parts to the Stay Cue:
  1. Duration (Time)
  2. Distance
  3. Distractions

Drop It/ Give:
When teaching this cue, we must be aware of possible Resource Guarding.  Remember to NEVER steal things from your dog’s mouth.  To teach Drop It/ Give:
Have the dog have a toy in his mouth that is not of super high value.  Once the dog has the toy and is engaged with it, present a treat or reward of higher value than the toy, as the dog drops the toy, say “Drop.”  It is very important to give the reward to the dog AT THE SAME TIME as you pick up the dropped toy.  Do not let your dog get into the habit of snatching the reward then snatching the toy back up.

For Week 2 class, please bring a long-line leash or long rope for distance work.  Also bring a squeaky toy that your dog loves.  This will be used to help the dog focus back on you during Distraction work.  As always, bring a variety of lots and lots of good treats that your dog loves.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Perfect Dog--Dog Apps/ Reference

Perfect Dog

iPhone Apps for Dogs/ Dog Reference
Updated:  May 8, 2013

This a wonderful app to add to your phone.  This reference gives you a list of all (or most) known dog breeds.  You may choose a breed and it will show you pictures of dogs in that breed and then give you basic information on the breed including:  breed origin, height, weight, history, appearance, temperament, and other names the breed may be known by.  

For a dog professional such as myself, this has been a very helpful go-to app during training.  For the average person, this app is still a great thing to have.  You can quickly and easily learn about your favorite breed, or look up a random dog you saw at the park.  I would recommend this app to anyone considering adding a new dog to their household.

There is also a section called "Match" on this app where you can choose characteristics of a dog you are looking for and the app will give you several suggestions.

GREAT APP!  I highly recommend this app to any dog lover or dog professional.

Select your breed.

It will first show you pictures of that breed.

One swipe over and you are given tons of info on that breed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

VIDEO: Puppy chases Bunny Slippers

A quick video of our 11-month-old Miniature Pinscher/ Chihuahua mix, Devo, chasing my bunny slippers.  Although this can be a fun game, we must be sure to teach the dogs that this is only a quick game and they are not allowed to chase your feet when you are not playing the game.  Also be sure to keep the slippers out of reach of your dog when not in use, so there are no opportunities for destruction.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Trainer Tips--Things People do to Dogs that should be Banned: Part 2

As a trainer, I often see many things that people do to their dogs that is not good behavior.  Some of these things make me very sad for the dog, others make me down right angry.  Below is the continued blog of some things that people do to dogs that should NEVER be allowed!

See Also:  Part 1 of Things People do to Dogs that should be Banned.

#5 - Puppy Mills

If you haven't heard of the puppy mill problem yet, you must be living under a rock.  Thankfully, this horrific and barbaric practice has received a lot of negative attention recently from the media and animal activists.  
responsible breeder will breed usually only one breed type, and will breed for health and temperament.  Responsible breeders usually have no more than 1-3 litters per year.  

puppy mill is basically a place where people breed dogs purely for profit. These people breed multiple dogs in poor conditions.  They pay no attention to health, temperament, or behavior of the dogs they breed.  Most of these dogs have little to no human contact during their lives of breeding, and are generally kept in unclean conditions.  Most times multiple cages are stacked on top of each other where these dogs live out their lives in wire-bottom kennels with no exercise or interaction with others.  
Pets that are sold in most pet stores usually come from a puppy mill.  So do your part to help curb the NOT buy your new puppy from a pet store.  Instead go to your local shelter or rescue.  If you do have your heart set a certain breed, do your research and find a responsible breeder:  one that breeds for health and temperament.  You should be able to see the puppies with the mom in the space they currently live.  If the breeder is not comfortable showing you this space, that is a big RED FLAG...they are probably a puppy mill/ back-yard breeder.  Do not adopt/buy from a breeder that refuses to let you see the puppies with the mom!

Also see an Article on Puppy Mills by Victoria Stilwell

#6 - Selling Dogs in Pet Stores

Again, most dogs that are SOLD in pet store are breed in a puppy mill.  DO NOT BUY A DOG FROM A PET STORE.  Instead, adopt from your local shelter or rescue.  
More recently, many pet stores have been partnering with their local shelters and rescues to adopt animals out of the store.  This is great!  You are still adopting a pet in need, NOT paying the puppy mill breeder.

#7 - Tethering

Although chaining or tethering your dog can be helpful, it should really only be used for short periods of time.  A dog should NEVER be left tethered while unsupervised!  Dogs can easily be injured or even killed when left tethered and unsupervised.

#8 - Punishment-based Training

As mentioned above, we have learned over the past few years that dogs actually learn faster and retain information longer when taught using positive reinforcement training methods.  Using punishment-based techniques can actually set training back, and create unwanted behaviors, including aggression, and can create a relationship of mistrust between dog and owner.

See also:

Positive Reinforcement & Dog Training Basics
The History of Dog Training
Training Programs
Dog Training Philosophies 
Training Terms Help

#9 - Retractable Leashes

This is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to dog training.  A retractable or Flexi-leash is made in a way so that there is always tension of the leash.  This leash actually teaches a dog to pull.  Besides being contrary to training, this type of leash is also very dangerous.  I have seen many times a dog take off and hit the end of the leash and either the leash breaks and they keep running (putting themselves in possible danger) or the owner falls down when the dog reaches the end of the leash (causing owner injury).  I also know of someone who actually lost a finer when the leash got wrapped around and the dog took off running.  Very very dangerous, silly tools!
Dogs should be walked a regular 4-6 foot leash (or use a long line for training).

Previous blog on Retractable Leashes.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Breed of the Month--Great Dane

Great Dane

Color:  Black, blue, brindle, fawn, mantle, harlequin
Height:  Males:  30 inches/  Females:  28 inches
Weight:  Males:  119 lbs/ Females:  101.5 lbs
Life Span:  7-10 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Hip dysplasia, cardiomyopathy, bloat, cervical vertebral instability, osteosarcoma, and lymphoma.

Coat:  Thick, short, and glossy
Country of Origin:  Germany

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

The origins of this breed are not exactly known, but believed to have been descended from a type of mastiff and possibly Irish Wolfhound.  Danes originally served as boar hunters, war dogs, and bull baiters.  The Germans refined the breed and declared it the national dog of Germany in 1876.

Today the Great Dane is more of a lover than a fighter.  The Dane retains a powerful protective instance for his family, but is very playful, affectionate, and patient.  The Dane enjoys children, but sometimes his size can be dangerous when leaning affectionately towards small children.  Great Dane's are very people oriented.

Although the Great Dane is quite large, he does not require a lot of exercise.  The Dane is happy with the normal walk twice per day.  The Great Dane is happy indoors and enjoys just hanging out with his family.  Although the Dane does not require a lot of physical exercise, it is important to keep him mentally stimulated.  Without regular mental and physical stimulation, the Dane can become quite destructive.

The Great Dane is an average shedder, and will require regular brushing, but the short coat is easy to care for.

The Great Dane can be somewhat of a challenge to train.  The Dane is intelligent, but was bred to be an independent thinker.  Holding the Dane's attention requires creativity and high rewards in training.  Socialization is very important to start as a young puppy with Great Danes.

One of our dog pack, Caravaggio, is part Great Dane.
You can definitely see this breed in his size, but also his temperament.
Although Caravaggio is well trained (as all my pack is),
he does have an independent mind and can become easily distracted.
With the proper training however, this is easily managed.
Great Dane's are amazingly gentle, loving dogs,
and we very much enjoy having one in our pack.

Our Great Dane/ German Shepherd/ Lab mix Caravaggio (right)
helping puppy Dora learn some leash skills.