Friday, August 23, 2013

Who Is Training Who?

Have you ever thought about why your dog seems so hard to train?   Consider these possibilities:
  • The dog training equipment you are using is not right for your dog’s temperament
  • Your dog tries every other thing except the action you are trying to teach
  • Your correction is not meeting the distraction level of your dog, resulting in no dog attention

 

Proper Dog Training Equipment & Application

dog training equipmentFor basic training, use a 6 foot leather lead and a choke or pinch collar. Begin with a choke collar, and if it seems successful, continue to use it.  If the dog has a high tolerance for corrections and a more effective tool is needed, then use a pinch collar.

A properly fitted choke collar is very important in training.  It should be the size of the dog’s neck plus 2 inches. Put the choke chain on correctly by dropping the chain through either ring and making the letter “P” with it.  Next, slip the loop in the letter “P” over the dog’s head.  If your choke chain goes over your dog’s head a little snug, it’s acceptable as most breeds have larger heads than necks.
With your dog on your left hand side, pop up on the leash and release.  The choke chain should also release the tension on the dog’s neck. If you are using a pinch collar, remember that it is not placed on the dog by putting it over the head. Rather, you must unhook it at a link in the collar, then go around your dog’s neck and hook the collar back together. You can add or subtract links from a pinch collar to change sizes. A pinch collar should fit semi snug on your dog. If a pinch collar is fitted too loose, it will not give an effective correction.


Ways That Dogs Resist Training and Learning Commands

Have you ever read a dog training book that said to teach command x, you must do y, but to your amazement it just didn't work with your dog? Dogs will most likely exhibit silly behaviors as a means of resisting training, and this must be addressed before a dog can be effectively trained to exhibit any particular behavior or action.  The signs of resistance are easy to identify so long as you know what to watch for.  Some examples include:

  • While heeling or walking with a leash, your dog: sniffs the ground, pulls on the leash, lags behind, goes to your right side instead of staying on your left, jumps on you, bites the leash, tries to grab the leash with its front paws, refuses to move forward, or lies down on the ground and refuses to move. 
  • When told to “sit”, your dog: won’t sit, lays down, lets its body go limp, stands stiff as a board, starts sniffing the ground and gets up, or tries to jump on you while you position it into a sit
  • When told “down”, your dog: braces itself with its front legs so you can't make it go down, rolls over on its back when it is down, tries to bite you or snaps at you, tries to crawl forward, barks or howls, goes down in the front but keeps its rear up, or won’t stay down after being placed in the down position.
  • When told “come”, your dog: sniffs the ground, tries running away even on leash, runs past you, freezes and does not come, or lies down and does not come.
  • When told “stay”, your dog: tries to follow you as you leave, dances around with its front feet, creeps forward, breaks the stay as you walk around it, gets up on the “down stay” command, or lies down on the “sit stay” command.


Corrections and Distraction Levels

What is a correction?  A correction is a pop and release of the leash, not a pull.  How much should a dog be corrected? A dog should only be corrected enough to gain compliance with a command or stop an unwanted action.

Each dog has a different threshold when it comes to a correction (this has nothing to do with a dog’s age, sex, breed, or weight), and you need to find your own dog’s threshold to be an effective trainer.  You will also need to understand that when your dog’s distraction level goes up, so must the correction level.  For example, if you are training your dog on a command like walking on a leash, the correction for your dog would be to pop and release on the leash if he starts to pull.  If you tell your dog to “heel”, and your dog complies with the command, but then meets another dog or person and the same amount of correction is ineffective, you will need to increase the correction due to the distraction of the other dog or person.


Dealing With No Dog Attention

At the basic level, the main things that will cause lack of dog attention are sniffing the ground and everything else your dog sees, pulling on the leash, and jumping. If you have your dog’s attention, it solves 80% of your training problems. In my 24 years of training dogs, I have found the easiest dogs to train are not sniffing, pulling, or jumping. So, if you can just get these three problems under control, you can train a dog that will learn new things very fast because it is now focused on you and ready to learn. I will let you in on a secret - sniffing leads to pulling on the leash, so if you stop the sniffing (while training), you will start gaining more attention towards you and the commands you are trying to teach your dog.  Understand that I am not saying that your dog can never sniff, I am saying it can't sniff while you are training.  When you release your dog from a command, it’s ok for it to sniff before relieving itself and when it’s exploring, but don't let it pull on the leash. I believe that sniffing (employ the “leave it” command to counter) is the first thing to get under control, then everything else falls into place.

About the Author: Richard Martinez has over two decades of experience and success as a seasoned dog trainer.  As the proprietor of The Leash Connection, Richard provides trainers and owners with the necessary dog training tools and information to be successful.  Visit www.dog-training.com today to find products that will make training easier and more effective, thus creating a great relationship between you and your dog.  

Crate Training a Puppy

puppy crate trainingA puppy comes into this world having no concept of what humans expect of it. Right or wrong, humans teach them everything they learn, so it’s best to teach them right from the beginning!  Why use a crate to train a puppy?  There are many good reasons: for the puppy's safety, for the safety of the home and its contents, and to preserve the sanity of the owner.

A puppy crate does three very important things. First, it makes the housebreaking process go a little
more smoothly by teaching a puppy where to go to relieve itself.  By using its own natural instincts, the puppy will not urinate or defecate where it sleeps, provided the owner does his or her part. Secondly, it relieves the stress of being alone while the owner is away. Thirdly, it will protect furniture and keep other belongings safe during the teething stage when a puppy is driven to chew on anything it can.

A Crate Training Example

There is no magic to house breaking. It’s accomplished by understanding the way a dog thinks and following a few simple rules.  A puppy should be on a daily food and water schedule.  For example:

7:00 A.M. - The puppy should be let outside to relieve itself.  After this, the puppy should be brought in and given water, then put in its crate with food for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes has expired, the food should be taken away.  Being fed in the crate keeps the puppy from being distracted and helps it focus solely on eating.  After this, the puppy should be given more water.

7:45 A.M. – The puppy should be taken outside again.  When an owner is not able to watch a puppy, the puppy should be in its crate. In this example, the puppy should be let out at least three times before the owner leaves so that it may empty its system.

9:00 A.M. – The puppy should be put in the crate before the owner leaves, and there should be no food or water left in the crate with the puppy. Because what goes in must come out, leaving food and water in the crate will make it more difficult for a puppy to learn the rules of house breaking.

3:00 P.M. – Let’s say that the owner comes home at 3:00 P.M.  The same above schedule should be repeated.  The same would apply if the owner came home at 5:30 P.M.

In this example, the puppy should never be fed past 7:30 P.M.  However, between 7:30 and the time the owner goes to bed, the puppy should be taken out often so that when it is crated, it can sleep all night without having to relieve itself.  Food and water should not be accessible at all times because food + water = GOT TO GO!!! 

During the course of the evening, it’s ok to give the puppy a little water to wet its whistle, particularly if it’s been playing.  However, letting the puppy drink too much water will most likely cause an accident during the night.  An owner should always take a puppy out just before going to bed. The more a puppy is let outside, the faster it learns where to go.

Know the key times a puppy needs to go outside:
  • 20 to 30 minutes after it’s been fed 
  • 10 - 15 minutes after it’s drank a lot of water
  • Every time it wakes up from a nap
  • Any time a puppy is playing or being played with. Remember, activity stimulates a puppy’s need to relieve itself.

For example, let's say an owner takes the puppy outside, it relieves itself, then the owner brings it back inside and starts playing with it.  After about 8 - 10 minutes of play, the puppy should be let back outside. If the owner is watching a puppy while it is outside the crate and it starts to sniff the floor while walking around in a small circle, the owner should immediately pick it up and take it outside. If a puppy has an accident in the house, it is the fault of the owner.

When taken outside, the puppy should be taken to the same spot every time, and the puppy should be praised after it relieves itself.  Both of these actions will teach the puppy what is expected of it.
Here are a few more important points:
  • If an owner can’t physically keep eyes on a puppy, the puppy should be in the crate. 
  • The crate should not be kept in a place which is isolated from the owner.  Dogs are pack animals, and an owner is part of the pack (hopefully the leader).  Even if a puppy is in the crate, it makes it much easier on it to be able to see and hear the owner.
  • For safety reasons, collars and harnesses should be removed when a puppy is crated.
  • The crate should never be used as punishment.  The crate is the puppy’s “room”, so it should always be a positive place.
  • When an owner first crates a puppy, it will most likely cry, bark, and howl.  This is typical puppy behavior, and the puppy should not be let out.  If an owner attempts to comfort a puppy when this happens, it only makes it more difficult for the puppy to get used to the new situation.  Within a few days of proper house breaking, such barking and howling should diminish. 
  • When an owner is home with the puppy, it should still be crated: one hour in, one hour out.  This teaches the puppy that the crate is a positive place and not just a place where it is put when an owner is not at home. 
  • As the puppy gets older, it can have more time out of the crate.  Many people make the mistake of leaving a puppy out of the crate too long to soon.  Doing so will cause problems, so patience and consistency are paramount in successful house breaking.
  • If an owner takes a puppy outside, the puppy gets distracted, and then doesn’t relieve itself, it should be brought back inside and crated for about 20 minutes, then taken back outside again.  After the puppy has relieved itself, it should then be given some supervised time out of the crate with the owner and/or owner’s family.

About the author: The Leash Connection is owned and operated by professional dog trainers with over 35 years of experience in the field.  They offer bulk discounts on dog grooming tools, dog kennel supplies, dog toys, dog training supplies, puppy crates, and more.  They also offer wholesale, competitive prices on individual dog training and grooming items. Visit:  www.dog-training.com.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

5 Commands That You and Your Dog Should Know

Training your dog to obey simple commands may seem like a daunting task (especially if you have no previous experience), but it doesn’t have to be. Just like anything else, it just takes practice, persistence, and patience. To get started on your way to having a well behaved canine, here are 5 essential commands to master with your dog and instructions for training. (If you have not yet read the “Rules for Training” blog, it is recommended that you read it before attempting the exercises below.) 




1. Command: “Leave It”

What it does: This command teaches the dog to back away from an object.

Goal For This Exercise: No sniffing the ground while training & leaving things alone when told.  

How to train:
  • Put a few pieces of food on floor and let dog approach. As he starts to smell the food, tell him “leave it”, hesitate (count 1–2 to yourself), then give a correction while backing away from the food. 
  • Praise your dog when he is away from the food. 
  • Repeat several times until your dog decides not to investigate the food. Food from your hand is okay when he is told he can have it, but anything on the ground is off limits unless told otherwise. 
  • This can apply to any item you do not want the dog to have. Train the item just like the food so that he understands that item will get him in trouble, best to leave it alone!  
 Proofing Ideas: Food on tables and counters, garbage pail, houseplants, small children, the cat, etc.

2. Command: “Dog Responds to Name”

What it does: This command teaches your dog two important things:
  1. Get back to you when you call his name regardless of what he sees, hears, or smells. 
  2. Not to pull or forge ahead while on a leash. 
Goal For This Exercise: Your dog should respond to his name under distractions and should want to stay closer to your side/not wander as much.

How to train: 
  • Put your dog on a 6 ft. leash and let him wander ahead of you. 
  • While he is distracted, call his name hesitate (count 1–2 to yourself), pop the leash (a correction), move backwards, and praise him as he is coming to you. 
  • Back up about 6 to 8 paces, stop, give your dog a piece of food, and praise when he catches up to you. 
  • Tell him OK and let him get distracted again. Repeat the above steps. 
  • Continue this until your dog no longer distracts himself but stays near you. 
  • Now it’s time to add tougher or different distractions. While he is checking out the new interests – call his name, pop the leash, and move backwards. Praise when he reaches you. I like to call this “beat the jerk”. Your dog learns to come when he hears his name. 
  • If you see him turn away from the distraction and come towards you as soon as he hears his name, you do not have to correct. Instead, just move backwards a few steps and praise. He did not get the leash correction and therefore “beat the jerk”. 

Proofing Ideas: Have someone call his name, roll a ball, squeak a toy, hold out a piece of food or have another dog on leash to distract him. Think of your own proofs. Anything your dog locks in on can be used to proof him.

3. Command: “Easy”

What it does: This command keeps the dog from pulling on his leash.

Goal For This Exercise: The dog should not pull on the leash at any time.

How to Train: 
  •  Play The Tree Game -  Begin with your dog on proper training collar and 6 foot leash.  You stand still, like a tree, with both hands through loop of the  handle on leash and hold on to leash. Hold hands waist high. As dog gets to end of leash and leash tightens, say EASY (count to yourself 1,2) then pop/jerk the leash for a correction.Praise when there is slack in the leash.  How much to correct? See Rules for Training Your Dog.   Repeat until dog does not want to tighten leash. Dog does not have to be by your side or on any command - like sit, down, stay - just make sure dog keeps slack in the leash. Now add distractions so dog understands no matter what happens, do not pull on leash.  Have a friend or family member position themselves 4or 5 feet PAST the end of the leash. You are still a tree but person helping can move around, but does not make physical contact with dog, and stays past the end of leash.  Have person clap hands, whistle, make noise(do NOT use dogs name as a distraction) to encourage dog to go toward them.  You say EASY (count to yourself 1,2) then pop/jerk leash if dog tightens leash. Repeat until dog keeps slack in the leash and does not want to go toward distraction. Praise when there is slack in the leash. Now you are ready to go for a walk.
  • The command EASY applies regardless of whether you’re walking or standing still and the dog is on leash.  

4. Command: “Off"

 What it does: This command teaches the dog not to jump on people or objects.

Goal of this Exercise: The dog should not jump on people or objects without permission.

How to Train:
  • Put your dog on leash and hold it about 18 to 24 inches down from the leash snap (your correction will be to the side and slightly down with your left hand). 
  • Now really entice your dog to jump on you. Use a very excited voice and pat your legs with your hands to get the dog to jump on you. 
  • When your dog jumps on you tell him “off”, hesitate (count 1–2 to yourself), pop the leash (a correction) and praise when the dog has all four paws on the ground. 
  • Repeat until your dog thinks that jumping on you is not so much fun. 
  • Do this exercise 2 – 3 times a day for a week. A quick training session only takes about 5 – 8 minutes for a single command. Once a dog is trained, you can still have him jump on you, but only by invitation. 

Proofing Ideas: Have friends/family ring doorbell, come in and be ready to correct when your dog jumps. This means the dog has to be on a leash. Practice this, you do not have wait till it’s the real thing.

5. Command: “Wait” (at door)

What it does: This command teaches the dog not to enter a doorway if told not to.

Goal of this Exercise: To get the dog to stop at a doorway if told to do so. The dog should not enter without permission.

How to Train:
  • With your dog on leash walk up to a door (it can be a door inside your home or a door going outside. A door going outside will probably be more challenging for you and your dog.) 
  • Your dog doesn’t have to be in a sitting position to do this exercise (if you haven’t proofed the sit, you will be fighting two problems at the same time, so just get your dog to be stable and not try get through the door ahead of you). 
  • Have your leash in your left hand with about 2 ft. of leash ready to correct the dog. 
  • Now crack the door slightly, if the dog starts to move toward the door give the command “wait”, hesitate (count 1 –2 to yourself), pop the leash (a correction), and make the dog put slack in the leash and become calm and stable. 
  • Keep opening and closing the door until your dog can wait calmly by your side. 
  • After your dog can wait at the door, start asking the dog to wait and as you walk back and forth through the door. The dog should wait until you say it’s ok to pass through the door. 

About the author: The Leash Connection is owned and operated by professional dog trainers with over 39 years of experience. As an online dog supply store selling dog supplies, puppy supplies, dog grooming supplies, dog collars, dog leashes, steel dog bowls, and more, The Leash Connection offers bulk discounts on larger orders, wholesale pricing, and competitive prices on individual items. Their selection of dog supplies can be viewed at www.dog-training.com.

Rules For Training Your Dog

dog supply store1. Equipment used: Use a 6 ft. leash of leather, cotton, or nylon. I prefer leather. For small dogs, use a 1/2” wide leash. For larger dogs, use at least a 3/4” wide leash. For a collar, we use a slip collar or choke chain. To make sure the collar fits properly, measure your dog’s neck just behind the ears and add 3”. This will give you the proper size. To put the collar on correctly, make the collar into a shape like the letter “P”, and with the dog in front of you, slip it over his head. Use a pinch or prong collar
if the slip collar proves ineffective.

2. The Three Voices of Dog Training: 
  • PRAISE - a high-pitch tone to keep your dog focused on you and let him know he is doing well.
  • COMMAND - a normal speaking tone to tell your dog a certain action. 
  • NO - a low-pitch, deep tone that tells your dog to STOP what he is doing. Does not mean “I am going to hurt the dog”, just means stop an action. 

3. What is a Correction: A correction is a quick pop and release on the leash, not a pull. It is IMPORTANT to use only the amount of force necessary to achieve the proper response to your command. When I say “the amount of force necessary”, I mean to start at a light correction and increase the correction to proper level that gets the response that I am looking for. We do not punish dogs for being wrong, we just correct them. Your dog understands a correction when it is quick and to the point, and then praised for obeying the command you gave. Unlike a correction, a punishment is long-term and abstract to a dog, so this is why we NEVER PUNISH a dog.

4. Correct Use of Praise: How you praise your dog should depend on how your dog acts. If you have a low-key dog, you will be giving lots of excited praise when he is responding properly to your command. If you have a high-energy dog you will be using calm praise to keep him under control while you are working. Praise MUST be sincere towards your dog. When praising your dog, talk to him not at him. Praise is the best way to communicate with your dog. Make your dog work for your praise.

5. How Long Do I Train: A training session should not be more than 20 minutes. Know what commands you are going to work on before starting each session. You can do more than one session a day, but give your dog at least an hour break in between sessions.

6. The Two Types of Exercises: Non-moving exercises consist of sit, down, and stay. Moving exercises are heeling and coming when called. When correcting during a non-moving exercise, the correction is followed with “NO”, and a repeat of the command. When correcting during a moving exercise, the correction is followed by praise to keep the dog focused on you. NEVER say “NO” when correcting a moving exercise –the dog will think he is doing wrong.

7. How A Dog Learns: Dogs learn by repetition – doing the same thing over and over. Therefore, you must do the SAME action over and over consistently when training. We have all heard the saying “practice makes perfect”…I believe in “perfect practice makes perfect”. Dogs learn by distinguishing between being comfortable versus uncomfortable. Your dog will learn it is more comfortable to do the command when asked than receive a correction.

About the author: The Leash Connection is an online dog supply store specializing in dog supplies, puppy supplies, and wholesale dog supplies. The proprietors have over 35 years of experience in training dogs, and they carry a great selection of dog grooming supplies, dog bowls, dog collars, and more. Their inventory can be viewed at www.dog-training.com.