Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Trainer Tips--A "Place" Command

Besides the basics like sit and come, there are many helpful commands you can teach your dog to make both your lives easier.  Today we are going to discuss the "Place" command.

Teaching your dog to go to a specific spot, i.e. his "place," is an easy command to get started.  As with any new cue word, you may choose any word you like for this, as long as once you pick it, you stick with it.

Some Cue Word Suggestions:  Place, Bed, Spot.
I personally use the command "Bed" with my dogs because most of the time the "place" I am telling them to go will be their bed.  

To Begin:

Now to begin training this, you must first have some sort of object you can place on the ground that your dog can comfortable get onto.  Preferably something comfortable for the dog.  This can be a mat, rug, regular dog bed, or raised dog bed.  Anything that can be laid onto the ground with your dog on top.  Most people usually already have a dog bed for their pet at home.  That's a great place to start.  I do not recommend starting with something too large, heavy, or not easily moveable.  You want to be able to move the object (bed) to different locations to practice.

Be sure your dog is comfortable around his "place."  
Start by giving your cue word (whatever you have decided to call it...place, bed, etc), then Food Lure the dog onto the bed.  Once your dog is fully on the mat, rug, or bed, tell them your Reward Marker, "Good!" and reward with a tasty treat.  Repeat.

Food Lure:
This is something we use to teach many new behaviors and commands.  A food lure involves getting the dog to follow your baited hand into a desired position.  It is basically "attaching" your dog's nose to the food and encouraging them to follow it.

Reward Marker / Marker Word:
Use your chosen marker word:  “Good” or “Yes” (or the Clicker).
This is the word (or sound) that says to a dog, “Yes! That is exactly what I wanted you to do!” and is then followed with a reward.  Rewards do not necessarily have to be food.  Rewards are different for each dog but can include:  toys, bones, petting, praise, and even your calm energy.  

Improving the Command:
Once your dog starts to really get the idea, food lure less and less and instead start using the hand signal of pointing to the Place while saying the command word.  Once the dog goes to his place, calmly walk over and mark the behavior with your "GOOD!" and reward lavishly.  If you make the act of the dog going to spot a huge deal and reward him, he will want to do it and it will be easy to get him to him spot anytime you like.

This is also fantastic because you can now use the "Go to your Place" Cue to redirect a dog from bad behaviors such as barking or charging the door when a guest comes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Breed of the Month--Puli


Color:  Black, white, shades of gray
Height:  Males:  15.5-18 inches/  Females:  14-16.5 inches
Weight:  Males:  28-33 lbs/  Females:  22-28.5 lbs
Life Span:  12-14 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Hip and elbow dysplasia, von Willebrand disease, progressive retinal atrophy, patellar luxation.

Coat:  Double coat, weather resistant.  Dense, soft undercoat.  Dense, fine, soft, coarse, long curly outercoat.  Adult outercoat naturally forms cords.
Country of Origin:  Hungary

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

Western European sheepherding dogs eventually found their way into Hungary and began breeding with native dogs.  Many wars ravaged the country of Hungary and nearly extinct the Puli.  Emil Raitsits recognized the breed's herding value and began reconstructing the breed in the early 1900s.  Care was taken to preserve the breed's coat, size, and color.  Originally four sized of Puli existed; the most versatile middle size Puli is the true breed of today.

The coat of the Puli helps protect him from the outside elements, predators, and livestock.  The Puli still watches over livestock today, as well as excelling at agility and therapy work.  The Puli makes an exceptional watchdog as he is always focused and interested in getting the job done.  Once the Puli trusts you, you will have a friend for life.  If properly socialized from puppyhood, the Puli will get along with all kinds of other dogs, animals, and people.

The Puli will most likely engage in destructive behavior if not given a daily job to do.  The Puli needs plenty of regular exercise to stay happy.  Puli owners are encouraged to participate in trials and herding tests to give the dog an activity, or "job," to do.

Pulis shed very little.  After 6 months of age the hair will become long enough to form into cords.  Once a Puli has fully corded, coat maintenance is fairly easy.  One must only take a little time to occasionally separate and trim the cords.  Pulis do need regular bathes but can sometimes take a long time to dry, even a day or two.  The coat must only be brushed often if cording is not desired.

Using positive reinforcement training is a quick easy way to train a Puli.  This breed is eager to please and very responsive.  Early socialization is important to help the breed stay self-confident as an adult.