Archive for » November, 2011 «

Effective Training Techniques for Dogs of all Shapes and Sizes:

The term obedience training is generally used for the various methods of helping your dog to behave in a more expectable manner. There are many different methods in dog training techniques such as positive reinforcement, reward training, collar and leash, marker training, dog whispering, and clicker training.

Accomplish the following with the right dog training:

Your dog wasn’t born programmed to meet your behavioral standards.  So don’t expect your dog to know everything right away!The key to training your dog to respond to verbal commands is repetition and consistency. He is looking to you as a guide to lay a good foundation for behavior.

The best corrective measures are rewards and praise. Unlike children, dogs don’t have the mental capacity to fully understand the consequences of their actions. Time outs and repeating “NO” may not be as effective as you would like. Instead, praise your dog when he has done what you have asked of him or her, and offer an appropriate reward. When your dog doesn’t follow commands, provide appropriate correction. Balance is a strong key when doing this.

Don’t punish for unacceptable behaviors your dog has committed when he has no way to know any better. Punishing your dog for a behavior that you have not spent time on or he has not been properly trained to do, if you ask me, this is unfair to your dog.

Make obedience training sharp and short for the both of you to enjoy. So take things slow. Having your dog to follow commands and respond the way you expect doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. It’s easier for your dog to master one command at a time then move to the next one, and build on the foundation you all have established. Stimulate and challenge your dog throughout the obedience training process.

The Benefits:

Effective dog training is the best possible thing you can do for you and your dog. This will allow for a very rewarding relationship. With the right kind of obedience training can make your dog an absolute joy to be around. When well trained, he is more trustworthy, and you as the owner can feel confident in your dog and his abilities as you extend more and more freedoms to your canine friend. Trust, respect, and boundaries are all keys for unlocking a healthy owner-dog relationship.

Dog Pregnancy Care Tips:

A pregnant dogs body is going through many changes as the puppies are growing inside her therefore her needs are going to increase. They need special care to ensure they are in tip top shape before the big day. A dog’s pregnancy generally last from 60 to 63 days.

The symptoms and signs of a pregnant dog:

Three weeks after mating, the female dog may have an upset stomach and not want to eat for about a week to 10 days. One way to tell if your dog is pregnant is to check her vulva. The swelling would not have gone down after her heat and looks enlarged. Thirty days after being bred a blood test can be done by a veterinarian to confirm pregnancy. At 21 days an ultrasound can be done to confirm pregnancy and at 45 days radiographs can be taken for an accurate count of puppies inside.

During the first 30 days of pregnancy she can eat her normal diet, only as long as it is a high quality dog food. This food has plenty of nutrients. During the last month of pregnancy start switching her over to a high quality puppy food, make the diet change over a week’s time. Also, be aware that there are some vitamin supplements that can cause birth defects so check with your veterinarian before choosing the wrong one. Do not give her any vitamin supplements.

Try to take her on several daily walks for a good source of exercise. It is important that she does not become overweight during this time and the walks will keep her in shape for delivery. Letting the dog run in the backyard is not equal to a walk, a walk is mental and physical exercise. During the last 3 weeks of gestation do not take her out and do not expose her to other dogs as added protection against disease.

Never give a pregnant dog any kind of vaccination. Some vaccines can cause still births. Vaccinations should be given prior to breeding so that the protection can be passed to the puppies by the mother’s milk.

One week prior to birth, start taking the mothers body temperature. A normal bodily temperature for a dog is about 100.5 – 102.5. About 24 hours before giving birth, her temperature will drop a few degrees. This will give you time for necessary preparations.

The Clicker Training Method:

Operant conditioning is a scientific description of the way animals learn from the consequences of certain behaviors. In dog training, positive reinforcement is a type of operant conditioning that is commonly used. A system based on sound equals rewards, allows your dog to learn difficult skills, without the use of force or punishment. Your dog will learn to quickly identify what behaviors are desired and which are deemed unacceptable.

The clicker is typically a small plastic box with a metal strip inside that makes a distinct clicking sound when you press it. To teach a dog the meaning of the click, a treat is given immediately after clicking, resulting in the dog learning the positive effects of the sound. The click is more distinct than verbally praised commands and is much more effective than only giving your dog treats.

Where did this method originate from?

At sometime in the recent past, behavioral researchers including Norm Guttman, Marian Kruse and Keller Breland, in a laboratory, were among the first to understand the clicker method. They had realized that rats always stop what they are doing whenever they heard their food dispenser make a sound, which indicates its time to eat. Under the instruction of B.F. Skinner, they decided to try using a sound to correct behavior outside the lab, such as in dogs.

How to conquer the clicker:

To get things started, begin teaching your dog basic commands in a quiet area. Make sure to have ready a sufficient amount of your dog’s favorite treats. The treat should be small enough to be consumed instantly. Press the clicker and immediately give your dog a treat. Repeat 5-10 times. You can test your success by clicking when your dog is not paying attention to you. If your dog instantly responds to the click by looking in your direction, then expecting a treat, you’re starting to get somewhere.

At the exact moment your dog performs the desired action, press the clicker. Follow with a treat and praise. One of the best things about the clicker is the accuracy. The dog associates his action with the click and, subsequently, the reward. Not only does your dog better understand what he is doing, this also makes him more likely to repeat the action when asked in the future. This allows the training process to be totally hands-off, aside from treat giving.

Teach Your Dog How to Skateboard!

Here’s a fun one!

Generally, when imagining a skateboarding dog, you might be thinking of a movie or commercial. So, what would it take to make this a reality for you and your dog, you ask yourself? To teach your dog a head turning trick like this will require patience, a handful of treats, determination, and a dog who listens well. So get your dog, grab a skateboard and get outside. Don’t be surprised to get some attention from this, who knows, you may even draw a crowd.

For Starters:

Try to get your dog to show some interest in the skateboard. Let him investigate by sniffing it and climbing on it. Try encouraging him to sit and stand on the board by giving him a treat. Try not to force your dog on to the skateboard. Work at it and he will begin to associate this with fun. Shaping your dog to do this can be complicated because the skill of riding a skateboard won’t just come naturally.

First, decide exactly what you want your dog to do. Do you want him to mount the board and just ride along or do you want him to use his foot to move? Give your dog an idea of what he’s up against by letting him watch as you ride around. Keep an eye out, he might be chasing after you.

How to Get Things Rolling:

Aim to avoid doing this in the streets. Use sidewalks if possible, just as a safety precaution. Set the skateboard in front of your dog. Place one paw on the board. Offer him a treat if he cooperates. Place second paw on the board until the dog is completely on. If he stays, then reward him with another treat.

Although, getting your dog to stay on the skateboard is a feat of its own, getting him to feel comfortable while moving, may become quite the task. On your first few attempts, try to keep a slow and steady pace. Then push the dog as far as he we will allow.

Try not to do more than 4 attempts a day. More than that can result in you and your dog getting burnt out. This can be a positive and fun experience for you and your dog. The both of you may get frustrated at times along the way. When this happens, just take a deep breath and come back to try again later on.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Safety Precautions – Inside and Outside the Home:

With all the everyday things that humans come into contact, such as certain foods and common household products. Many can be toxic to your dog or puppy so be sure to take necessary safety precautions.

Garden and lawn hazards such as more then a few plants, given a nibble or two, can turn your dog’s day upside down. Most just cause an upset stomach, but some can be fatal.  Make sure that if you do choose to have these plants that they are out of the reach of your dog at all times.

Play dough consists of just a few ingredients. Though, two of the three ingredients are perfectly harmless, the third worth mentioning is salt. Dogs may enjoy the play dough’s salty taste, just remember that if too much is consumed, it can cause salt toxicity, which unfortunately, there is no antidote for this reaction. So just be careful and stay observant the next time you catch your pup rummaging through your children’s things.

Splintering bones such as from a chewed chicken bone can be very hazardous to your canine. Pieces of the bone can get stuck causing damage in the dog’s intestines and throat. When a dog is given any type of real bone including cow leg, supervision of course, is always recommended as pieces of the bone can break off. So just stay cautious and be sure to pick up and take away any small pieces so they are no chances they can be ingested. A safe bet is to purchase a
bone specifically intended for a dog to chomp on.

Antifreeze is perhaps the number one hazard to a dog. Less than one tablespoon of anti-freeze could be lethal to a dog 20 pounds and under. Your dog will smell the sweetness and may want to lick it up. This is dangerous for your dog if ingested, so when storing antifreeze, keep it far and well out of reach. Check under your car every now and then to make sure it is not on your drive way, just to be safe.

Chocolate is another common household hazard for your dog. Although it may be one of your favorite thing to eat, it can be very dangerous for your dog. Chocolate contains caffeine which can make your dog very ill. This stimulant can raise the hearts rate, unfortunately to the point of being fatal. The effect it has depends both on the dogs size and the amount of chocolate that the dog has consumed.

The Sport of Dog Agility

Dog Agility is an international sport. Direct your dog through an obstacle course in a race against the clock to measure accuracy and completion. Neither the dog nor obstacles can be touched by the handler. Consequently the handler’s controls are limited to voice, movement, and various body signals, requiring exceptional training of the animal and coordination of the handler.

The History of the Sport:

The sport’s roots can be traced back to the late 1970’s to a demonstration that was held at Crufts Dog Show in the United Kingdom. Dogs were required to run around a course designed similar to horse jumping courses during intermission as a way to entertain the audience. It has since spread rapidly around the world.

What is an Agility Course?

Agility courses consist of several standard obstacles laid out by a judge. All obstacles are staged by the judge in a specifically sized area. The surface may consist of grass, dirt, or a rubber like material. Depending on the type of competition, the obstacles may have a different order in which they must be completed.

Expectations of the Dog Handler:

In the beginning, courses can be a rather complicated task for your dog. For the dog to correctly complete a course without the direction and training of a handler, just aint gunna happen. In competitions, the dog handler must first observe the course, decide on the best strategies, and direct their dog. Precision and speed are equally important.

What are the Basic Obstacles of a Course?

An A-frame is 2 broad ramps hinged together and raised so that the hinged connection is above the ground, roughly forming an A shape.

The Dog walk is 3 planks that connect at the ends. The center plank is raised to above the ground; so that the other 2 end planks form ramps that lead up and down.

A Teeter-totter is a single plank that pivots on a fulcrum, much like the traditional seesaw. It is constructed off-balance so that the same end is always on the ground.

The Crossover is a square platform, with ramps that descend from 3 or 4 of its sides. The dog must ascend and descend the correct ramp while changing direction.

A Tunnel is a long vinyl tube, through which the dog runs. The tunnel is constructed of flexible vinyl and wire so that it can be set in a straight line or curvy.

Private Education Lessons for Your Dog:

Are you afraid of a commitment to a six week class? Are your dog’s behavioral issues targeted to one specific area? Maybe you and your dog would just prefer a more intimate one-on-one training session? Look into private lessons for your canine friend. This is perfect if you always have a busy schedule. Realistic training goals personalized around your schedule.

Advanced Education Lessons:

An advanced education course will help to strengthen your dog’s maturity in everyday situations. After the completion of this intensive 6 week process, your dog will earn a Graduation Degree. Main issues covered such as, remaining calm while given affection, loose leash walking and how to heel, learning without giving in to distractions and specific games to build good reliability.

Intermediate Education Lessons:

An intermediate education course will help to develop your dog’s ability to further learn behaviors involving distance, duration and distractions. After making it through this extensive 6 week process, your dog will earn a certificate of completion. Key areas covered include, a brief review of basic commands such as to stay from a distance, heel, or stand. Learn how to focus despite any distractions, and games that will help to form your relationship.

Beginner Education Lessons:

Mostly intended for puppies but also welcomes adult dogs that have had no prior training. After this intensive 6 week process, your dog will earn a certificate of completion. Key topics covered such as simple cues, like sit, come, and to stay down. Learn problem solving and using respectable house manners. Take on health, grooming and proper dog nutrition as well as proper relationship building games.

Personal Dog Training Camp:

Make your dog’s day even more exciting by getting signed up today in a personal training camp. These sessions offer hands on training just for you and your canine friend. The pet training instructors arm themselves with positive reinforcing techniques to teach your dog some new skills, or to staying on top of a previous bad behavior.

Private Puppy Education:

Give your puppy the right start with classes that will encourage good behavior while helping you create that strong lasting bond with your pet. Specific areas including, introduction a simple command, such as sit, come here and stay there. Show basic manners and good social skills with other people and other dogs. Learn about relationship establishing games and problem prevention guidelines. Also, learn some tips about health, grooming and puppy nutritional facts.

The Different Competition Classes in Agility

Competition Classes in Agility:

Courses are designed by their own judges. They can also select from previously designed courses by using the rules of whom ever the funding organization. The course is laid out within a large area, with necessary distances between obstacles. Each class decides which dogs are worthy adversaries of achieving titles and how each task must be performed, but they all posses multiple similarities.

What are some common classes?

Junior courses are designed for the 18 and under crowd. These younger  dog handlers may compete with their k9’s at beginner, elementary, intermediate, and senior levels. Each section has more obstacles and generally gets harder the more you progress.

Standard and Regular courses are both numbered. They consist of at least one of three primary obstacles include jumps, tunnels, and several weave poles. A more advanced dog course might consist of as many as 22 obstacles. A more minimal course might offer only about 15. The dog must properly navigate the obstacles. This must be achieved in the correct order within the standard course time.

Jumpers or Jumping course is numbered. This consists primarily of various types of challenging jumps, weave poles, and tunnels. The dog must navigate the obstacles in the correct order within the standard time of the course. Most dogs will achieve their fastest speeds on this course because there are no contact obstacles in the way to slow them down.

Gambles, Joker, and Jackpot courses are all unnumbered. In the opening period, the dog has only so much time in which to conquer appropriate tasks. The points awarded are based on the obstacles that have been completed. A whistle is blown when time runs out for the opening period. That’s when the gamble begins. There’s approximately 15 seconds to complete the tasks and obstacles.

Power courses are not timed. This game features the contact equipment, weaves, table, a-frame, spread jump, and the long jump. If this section is navigated without receiving a penalty, the dog and handler are then allowed to advance to the Speed course, which consists of a timed jumping section.

In the end, of any competition course, the dogs and their handlers that have competed have earned either a rosette or a bronze, silver, or gold medal. With many available sets of obstacles and plenty of room for error, there are many classes of competitions that can be played on the fields of agility.

Tips to Tricks For Your Pup (Part 2)

Sometimes a dog will have trouble learning a new trick. For example, not all dogs can learn to fetch. Some dogs have more instinct (they are born with it) than others when it comes to carrying things in their mouths.

Beg:

Have your dog sit, facing you. Hold his favorite treat just above his head and tell him, “Say please.” Your dog will probably lift his front feet off the ground to reach the treat. As soon as the feet are lifted, even a little bit, give him the dog treat.

Tip
This is a hard trick for most dogs. Wait a little longer each time before giving the treat, but be careful not to let your dog fall over on his back. You are helping your dog develop his balance. Be kind and only do this a couple of times.

Kiss:

Here’s an easy one: Every time your dog licks your face, say, “Give me a kiss. Good boy! Give me a kiss.” If he isn’t a licker, put a little peanut butter on your cheek and say, “Give me a kiss.” When he licks it off say, “Give me a kiss,” again.

Tip
Tricks like this work because you put words with something your dog does. Pretty soon your dog hears “Give me a kiss,” and thinks about licking your face. Then you give him a hug, rub his ears and say, “Good boy!” Dogs love that.

Roll Over:

Start by having your dog lie down on his belly. You can stand over him or kneel beside him. Using a treat, hold it by his nose, and then move it around and behind him, so that he lies on his side and then rolls over. Tell him what a great dog he is!

Tip
After your dog has figured out what he has to do to get a treat, start throwing the ball two times in a row without giving him the treat. What you are trying to do is give him the treats less and less often so someday he won’t need the treats in the ball to fetch it.

Say Hello:

Start by sitting on a chair. While holding a treat, put your hand between your knees and encourage your dog to get it. As soon as your dog’s chin touches your leg, say “Say Hello!”. Then say “Release” or “OK” and give him the treat after he lifts his head.

Tip
Only give your dog the treat after you have released him. Increase the time his chin is touching your leg, so eventually your dog will keep it there while you pet him. Then release him and reward him. Your dog will soon charm your friends with this trick!

Go Back:

This is an easy one! Stand facing your dog and as you walk toward him, say “Go Back”. He will want to get out of the way and will automatically walk backwards!

Tip
If your dog doesn’t walk back in a straight line, practice up against a wall or in a narrow hallway. After your dog is walking backward with you, try walking toward him only a step or two. Eventually, you will be able to stand still and say “Go Back”.

Take a Bow:

When you see your dog take a big stretch, with his head down low, say, “Take a bow.” Every time he wakes up and stretches, say, “Take a bow.” Someday you will say, “Take a bow.” and your dog will take a big stretch, but it will look like he is bowing. As soon as he is finished, give him the treat.

Tip
Dog tricks like this work because you put words with something your dog does. It may take some dogs longer than others to figure this one out. Some dogs learn it in a week and some take years…yes, years! But one day you will say, “Take a bow,” and maybe, just maybe, your dog will take a bow.

Lay Down:

With your dog in a stand position, take a treat and hold it near the floor, under his nose. As your dog reaches down to get it (he may try to lie down), slip your hand under his belly to hold his rear end up. Hold him in that position and say, “Take a bow.” Keep the treat right by his nose, but don’t feed him. Stay there for just a second, release him, and then feed the treat.

Tip:
If you feed your dog the treat while he is in the bowing position, in the future he won’t bow until he sees the treat in your hand. If he learns that the treat comes later, he’ll be willing to perform for you without it right there all the time.

Tips to Tricks For Your Pup (Part 1)

Tricks help your dog to learn. If your dog can learn tricks, then it can learn obedience and good manners. Go ahead…have some fun and teach your dog a new trick!

The best way to teach your dog a trick, is to make it fun. Use praise and small treats to reward your dog.
Practice new tricks only a few minutes at a time. You never want your dog to get bored when learning new things.

Shake Hands
Start by having your dog sit. Say, “Shake hands,” and take his paw with your hand. Hold his paw and say, “Good dog!” Let go of his paw. Do this a few times every day.
TIP:
After a while, say, “Shake hands,” but don’t take his paw. See if he raises his paw by himself. If not, keep showing him what to do by saying, “Shake hands,” and taking his paw with your hand. Your dog is not slow; he is just learning!

Turn Around or Turn Left
Start by having your dog stand up facing you. Let your dog see a treat in your hand. Stand still and say, “Turn around”. Lead the dog’s nose around to the left (clockwise) with the treat so he walks in a circle. When he comes back to where he’s facing you again, say, “Good dog!” and give him the treat.
TIP:
After some practice, hold the treat in front of you so your dog can see it and say, “Turn around,” but don’t lead his nose. See if he is ready to turn around by himself and get the treat. Pretty soon, he will turn around faster than you can say ‘Lassie!”
If you choose to use the words, “Turn Left”, use them all the time. Don’t use “Turn around” sometimes, and “Turn Left” other times. Be consistent.

Twirl or Turn Right
“Twirl” is the same trick as “Turn Around” (see above), but this time your dog turns to the right (counterclockwise), instead of to the left.
Start by having your dog stand up facing you. Stand still and say, “Twirl”. Lead the dog’s nose around to the right with the treat so he walks in a circle. When he comes back to where he’s facing you again, say, “Good dog!” and give him the treat.
If you choose to use the words, “Turn Right”, use them all the time. Don’t use “Twirl” sometimes, and “Turn Right” other times. Be consistent.

TIP:
After your dog has learned “Turn Around” (or Turn Left) and “Twirl” (or Turn Right), you can put them together and have your dog look really smart. First have your dog “Turn Around” (turn to the left), and then say “Twirl” (turn to the right). Be careful, though, don’t get your dog dizzy!
Be sure to teach Turn Around and Twirl separately. Wait until your dog has learned the first one very well.

Crawl
Start by having your dog lie down. Hold a treat just in front of his nose and say, “Crawl.” If he starts to stand up, say, “No, down…crawl.” Pull the treat away, keeping it low, near the ground and say, “Craaawl.” When your dog moves even an inch or two without standing up, praise him and say, “Good dog! Craaawl.”

TIP:
Your dog must know ‘Down’ ‘ before he can learn this trick.

Speak
Choose a game that your dog loves to play, like catch with a ball, or hide and seek with a toy. Then get him excited by saying, “Let’s play! Want to play?” and show him the ball or toy. Jump and act silly so he barks and then say, “Good dog, speak!” Then play the game as his reward for learning “Speak”.

TIP:
You can’t make a dog bark, but you can get him happy and excited so he wants to bark. After a while, your dog will bark when you say, “Speak.”
Caution! If you have a dog that already causes trouble because of his barking, you might not want to encourage this behavior. If you decide it’s ok to teach it, be sure to teach “Quiet”, too.

Take a Nap
Have your dog lie down on his tummy. As you gently roll him over on his side, say, “Take a nap.” While he is lying on his side, keeping his head on the floor, say, “Take a nap.” Don’t give him a treat. Encourage him to stay there for a couple of seconds. Then say, “Ok” or “Wake up!”, let him stand up, and give him his reward.

TIP:
You can use the treat to lure your dog into a lying down position. Don’t give your a dog a reward while he is lying down. Give him a treat after he has completed the trick.