Training Tips of the Week

When working with a fearful dog you must have patience. A fearful dog is not ready to learn many new behaviors. Getting frustrated with a fearful dog is a common human response. The best thing to do is focus on allowing the dog to slowly come out of their shell. Provide non-stressful walks, yummy treats, touch or message, and take it slow. Be patient and mindful that the dog’s training and socialization will be a process, not a quick fix.
Every interaction you have with the animal is a training session. So it’s important to be aware of what you may be doing to reward inappropriate behaviors throughout the day especially when you are not having planned training sessions. ~ Dr. Sophia Yin
I receive a lot of questions from parents about kids and dogs. This article includes tips for parents and dog owners to help keep kids safe.
Let your new dog gradually earn freedom throughout your home. A common error that many pet parents make is giving their new dog too much freedom too soon. This can easily lead to accidents relating to house training and destructive chewing. So, close off doors to unoccupied rooms and use baby gates to section off parts of the house, if necessary. One of the best ways to minimize incidents is to keep your dog tethered to you in the house and by using a crate or doggie safe area when you can’t actively supervise him.
Have realistic expectations. When training your dog have realistic expectations about changing a behavior and how long it will take to change a behavior you don’t like. Many times behaviors we don’t like are normal dog behaviors, such as barking, digging and jumping. You also need to consider how long your dog has been rehearsing the behavior. For example, if you didn’t mind that your dog jumped up on furniture for the last five years and now you decide you don’t want her on furniture anymore that behavior will take much longer to undo than if you had addressed it when she was a puppy. It’s never too late to change a behavior some will just take longer than others.
The fourth of July is next week, here are some tips to keep your dog safe and comfortable on the 4th.

1. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day.

2. Keep your dog inside during the fireworks.

3. Provide your dog a safe place to retreat. Many dogs prefer small enclosed areas when their scared. If your dog is comfortable in a crate, that is a good option. My dogs like the laundry room, so we will leave that door open for them.

4. If possible, keep the windows and curtains closed.

5. Make sure your dog is wearing ID tags with a properly fitting collar. (Many dogs escape on the 4th of July).

6. Leave your dog something fun to do – a frozen Kong filled with his favorite treats and peanut butter is a good option.

7. Play calm music for your dog. The music doesn’t need to be loud to be effective. If you don’t normally leave your dog with music playing, start now so he begins to associate the music with being calm and content.

Adolescence in dogs typically occurs between 6 and 18 months. Many people aren’t prepared for this “teenage phase” in their dog. Here are a few tips for dealing with this phase: 1) Make sure your dog gets enough exercise. 2) Don’t stop (or give up on) training. 3) Manage your dog closely. 4) Remember it’s just a phase! If you stay consistent, it will pay off.
Have you ever wondered if your dog did something out of spite? Dogs actually do not have the ability to think in those terms. If your dog goes to the bathroom on your bed when you leave, they did not do it because they were mad that you left. The reason they went there is because that is where your scent is the strongest. When dogs suffer from separation anxiety they try to find the place that has the strongest smell of who they are missing. To resolve this issue you must resolve their separation anxiety.
Are you doing SOMETHING with your dog every day? Are they a part of your appointment calendar if you are busy? If not, they should be. It takes little time to do a quality training session, take a walk, or provide them with a food puzzle. Make this a part of your day, every day.
One of the biggest influences on our dogs learning is the context of the lesson. For example, when teaching a young puppy to sit you will most often start in the house where there are few distractions. When you then take the puppy outside to work on the sit command you have changed the context of the lesson and often will have to teach the puppy what the word “sit” means in a new location with more distractions. Try it at home with your dog. Ask your dog to sit when you are in different positions. For example, we often teach our dogs the sit command while we are standing in front of them. So, try asking your dog to sit while you are sitting down, lying down, with your back turned to the dog or from behind a door. How did he do?
Do you have a puppy or new dog that needs house training? Crate training is the fastest and most humane method of housebreaking. If you make the crate a happy, safe place for your dog or puppy he will actually enjoy going in there. Have you ever seen a dog under a table, chair or bed? Dogs naturally seek shelter in an effort to feel safe and secure. A crate serves as a den for your dog.
Do you use The Beetlejuice Rule of dog training – do you have to say your dog’s name THREE times before he will come to you? Do you use the word “down” to mean different behaviors (lie down, get off the couch, stop jumping)? Teaching reliable cues is not as simple as it may seem. It’s not about finding the right word, but teaching our dogs what our words mean.
Learn to listen to your dog. If your dog appears to be uncomfortable meeting another dog, animal or person, don’t insist that he say hello. He’s telling you that he isn’t comfortable for a reason, and you should respect that. Forcing the issue can often result in bigger problems down the line.
Trying to convince a shy dog that you are friendly often makes matters worse. The more you pursue the dog telling them “it’s okay” the more they will back off from you. Approach the dog from the side, do not make eye contact, and let the dog come to you on their own terms. Holding out your hand with a treat (without looking directly at the dog) or tossing a treat to the dog can also help.
If you watch trainers on television, be sure to listen completely. Remember, the dogs they are dealing with are not your dog. Your dog may have a different issue. It is important to get a professional evaluation of your dog if you are having behavior problems, since some techniques can make a dog worse if used improperly.
If you are doing something to your dog that he considers unpleasant (trimming nails, bathing, or applying flea/tick preventive) try giving him food, like a bit of peanut butter smeared on a plate or slowly feeding him a handful of treats, throughout the interaction. This will distract him during the task and at the same time counter condition him, so that this task becomes less unpleasant each time.
Get outside and play with your dog! The weather is getting warmer and we can all benefit by spending some time outside. Playtime for dogs is important when it comes to developing social skills, bite inhibition, physical development and a way to blow off the stress and excess energy. Some outdoor activities you can do with your dog are: walking, hiking, playing fetch or Frisbee, agility and swimming!
Participating in a dog sport can strengthen your bond with your dog by giving you something active, challenging and fun to do together. Dog sports have a positive impact on your dog’s behavior by providing mental stimulation and a social outlet. Being active in dog sports can also increase your dog’s confidence and overall attitude. Some examples of dog sports are: Agility, Rally Obedience, Canine Scent Work, Treibball and Dock jumping/dock diving.
Just because your dog gets excited over a certain type of treat at home doesn’t mean that same treat will be as enticing and get your dog’s attention in a new environment. In new environments, such as group training classes, you will often need to bring different types of treats to keep your dog’s attention. You won’t be able to teach your dog to “sit” if the other dog next to him is more exciting than you and your treats! Soft and chewy treats are usually more exciting for your dog than hard and crunchy treats. I often use hot dogs, turkey dogs or cheese. Keep your eyes open for what he enjoys.
The idea of using treats to train is often equated with bribery. Truthfully, dogs do what works. If using treats gets them to do what you want, then why not? You can also use the world around you as a reinforcement. Every interaction you have with your dog is a learning opportunity, so when you think about it, you probably don’t use food very often except during active training sessions. So why does your dog continue to hang out? Because you reinforce him with praise, touch, games and walks. Just remember, the behavior should produce the treat; the treat should not produce the behavior.
By exposing our dogs to different people, animals and environments, which involves everything from dog obedience classes to vet visits to walks in the park, we can help them develop confidence and ease. No matter when you adopt your dog, you can work on socialization to help him or her be a more stable, happy, trustworthy companion.

Socialization does not end at puppyhood. While the foundation for good behavior is laid during the first few months, owners should encourage and reinforce social skills and responsiveness to commands throughout the dog’s life.

Our Hounds on the Town class is a great way to socialize your dog with new people, places and other dogs!

Different dogs learn in different ways and at different speeds. Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t seeing the results you want right away. You should never compare your pup against another of the same age. Even if they are from the same litter, their learning ability can be very different. Be patient, clear and consistent. If you need some help, give us a call!
Be consistent with your expectations. If the rules keep changing your dog will never figure them out.
When teaching your dog the Come command make the training fun!! This is a great command to reward with treats, praise, petting and play. Make yourself more exciting than the distractions around you and your dog. When starting out, have your dog on a long leash so he does not have the option of ignoring you. Never use “come” to call for punishment or making your dog do something your dog doesn’t like (a bath, nail trimming).
Several of my clients with new puppies are dealing with puppy nipping. There are several techniques to stop your puppy from nipping. Here are two of my favorites: 1) Redirect the nipping from your flesh to a toy or chew bone. As soon as your pup starts to bite your hands just let out a firm “No!” and replace your fingers with the chew toy. 2) Make your puppy think he is hurting you each time he nips at you. This method is the same way dogs sort out biting amongst themselves. When puppies are biting and nipping each other it only stops when one puppy lets out a yelp. We can use this natural way dogs learn by letting out an “Ouch!” every time our puppy’s bite. The trick is to startle your dog with your voice, and then walk away and stop playing with your puppy for a short time. Your pup will soon learn that when he starts to bite, his playmate (you) goes away.
Teaching your dog the “watch me” command can be useful when you want to distract your dog’s attention from something (another dog, squirrel, jogger). I often use this command for dogs who get overly excited on the leash when they see another dog. For more information about training the watch me command check out our latest blog.
Dogs need to use their brains. They love to investigate, solve puzzles and learn how to do new things just as much as we do. Here is our latest blog with some ideas on how to keep your dog mentally stimulated with food puzzles:
Dogs care about your body language and actions more than your words. Therefore, you should focus on the messages your body is giving, pay attention to your pet’s response, and cut down on the words you use.
Use your everyday routine as part of training. Once your dog has learned a command, start rewarding them with “life rewards” rather than always using a treat. For example, have your dog sit at the door before going out for a walk. Once they sit, they are rewarded when you open the door and go out for your walk!
Teach your dog desired behaviors as a way to eliminate undesirable behaviors. Often times we get hung up on what our dogs do wrong instead of taking the time to teach them what is right. For example, instead of asking “how can I get my dog to stop jumping on people?” the question we should be asking is “how can I teach my dog to sit politely when visitors come in my home?”. Once your dog learns that sitting politely earns them the attention and petting they are looking for and jumping does not, they will preform the desired behavior. Training this behavior takes some time and practice, call us if we can help!