Dog Training Blog
This morning I was walking my dogs and saw a woman walking her dog. From the look of the dog's dry elbows and physical stature, I would guess he was about 5-6 years old. I have no way of knowing how long she has had the dog. He might have been newly adopted, or maybe she finally had time to work with him. What I do know is that she seemed extremely frustrated, her dog was not paying attention to her at all, he was pulling on the leash and she was lifting the dog off the ground with each turn. Also the dog was wearing a choke chain. I resisted the urge to go talk to her about positive reinforcement training, but I wanted to. I don't offer advice unless people ask, but it can be tough to keep my opinions to myself. I hate to see dogs being mistreated. And, yes, I believe a dog getting lifted off the ground on a choke chain is being mistreated. On the other hand, in ten years of professional dog training, I have worked with thousands of dogs and I can appreciate dog training challenges and the frustration that accompanies it. But, that never gives the excuse to use physical methods. If you are frustrated with your dog when leash walking, go back to the fundamentals. Stop walking, and ask for eye contact from your dog. That is much easier for your dog then expecting him to walk nicely by your side when he is completely distracted. Also, stay closer to home and warm your dog up before walking farther. Leash walking is not an easy obedience exercise, but if you focus on the fundamentals and build on them, you will make progress. To help you learn how to do this, you should watch my free dog training videos on leash walking and other free dog training videos to learn more. Keep an eye on the site for more videos on leash walking in the future. One easy way to make leash walking easier is to buy a Sense-ible Harness. This is the best dog harness on the market. You can also sign up for my free dog forums to ask me questions about leash walking or any other topics.
There are a few preventative measures you can do with your dog to lessen the likelihood of problems later on. Unfortunately, even if you have the best intentions and do all the exercises properly, there are no guarantees of eliminating the problem later on. Regular maintenance is also a good idea.
Retrieve and Frisbee are two great training exercises to work on with your dog. As always, focus on keeping your dog engaged and interested in each session instead of getting stressed out about finishing the final behavior in one session. Have fun with it and remember that the journey is just important as the final goal.
"Settle" is simply another name for an extended down cue. However, it is often used as an "off" switch for dogs that are a bit too exuberant, mouthy, or wild. There are many strategies to get a good Settle cue. â€¨â€¨I recommend that you first work in a calm manner at first and periodically ask your dog to "Settle" during training sessions. You should then continue practicing when your dog is more excited until you can eventually get the behavior reliably no matter how excited your dog is.
Wouldn't it be great if you could just sit a dog down and say, "Welcome to the house. Let's have an arrangement. I will walk you, play with you, feed you good food and give you medical care. The only requirements are that you don't destroy my house or urinate on my rug, ok?"
I frequently hear very similar questions from multiple clients. I also have random dog training thoughts that come to mind that might not lend themselves to a complete blog post. So, I thought I could blend the two and start this as an occasional series. This might contain questions and answers, observations or other dog training thoughts. When applicable, I will also reference other posts that expand on the answer for you.
Chicago is a wonderful place. It was ranked one of the most dog-friendly cities; there are lots of dog parks, a beautiful lakefront and tons of nice dogs and people for puppies to meet. However, Chicago's harsh, winter weather makes it a very challenging city to socialize a puppy in the winter months.
The Canine Good Citizen test is used to encourage the training of dogs to comply with guidelines that identify well-mannered dogs. Once a dog passes the test, they can receive a tag with the Canine Good Citizen designation. Sometimes landlords require this to live in their dog-friendly building. This is also the first step for dogs to gain the more advanced therapy dog certification.
Occasionally a client will mention that their dog pays attention to one family member more than another. The comments usually pertain to the fact that their dog gives one person more affection, follows the person around the house or listens better to training cues.
Want a fun training activity that you can practice inside and outside? Teach "Go Find Someone". The long-term goal is to ask your dog to find a family member by name and then your dog runs off and finds that person! If you are really savvy, you can combine it with a "Hold" and have your dog be the family messenger. Write a quick note to your son, 'Dinner in 5 minutes', give it to your dog and then say, "Go find Josh". Your dog will bring the note to Josh! How cool!
This is always a concern with dog guardians. Over-treating can lead to an overweight dog or intestinal difficulties if your dog is especially sensitive. Here are some tips to get your worries under control and avoid over-treating your pooch.
This morning I took my three dogs, Ranger, Trooper and Linus to the park. This is a necessity since I have two Collies and a Sheltie and live in Chicago. Until someone moves in with a flock of sheep to keep them busy, it is my responsibility to provide them with a heavy dose of physical and mental stimulation. So, I took them to a park near my house and played Frisbee with them and threw the Kong on a rope. As usual I also worked on training to keep them sharp. I asked them to stop, come, go left, go right, finish, stay, etc. They had a lot of fun and were their normal goofy, wonderful selves.
In my daily dog training life I am constantly asked a simple question: How much exercise does my dog need? The answer depends on your dog. When my Collie, Ranger was a puppy, he needed three hours of exercise per day. How did I know he needed that much? When I did not provide him that much he was agitated, barked in the crate, was destructive and was just not as enjoyable to be around.
Everyone is busy. My wife and I have a wonderful new baby boy and it is challenging to find time to work with my dogs, satisfy all of my client's expectations and have time to breathe.
I am sure you are busy as well and can never find enough time to train your dog. Here are some tips to help you find the time.
On Friday I met a client for the first session and met his wonderful 1.5 year old Labrador Retriever named Riley. Our session ended after some fantastic leash work, placement cues and some work on Stay. As I was leaving, my client opened the door for me just as a delivery man was opening the door on the ground level. My client immediately saw the worst. The door was open, the gate was open and Riley ran through both.