Author Archives: Sydney

The Benefits of Working With A Dog Trainer

Shouts from the rooftops ring out across the land. We’re getting a puppy! Exciting times to be sure.

The time to call the dog trainer is before the new addition comes home. A good coach will help you be ready and thinking about the right things to focus on from day one.

Many dog trainers offer free consultations to potential students. Why not take advantage of such an offer? You will get a sense of her or his style. You can ask questions. You will most likely learn something too.

Avoid stress that comes from being unaware of what to expect.

Woman let's out joyful whoop! While puppy lays on his back while pawing at an abacus

 

Raising a puppy has its share of joys and challenges. Let’s look at some of the benefits of working with a dog trainer from the get go.

4 Reasons

  1. A good trainer will help keep you focused on the fundamentals of training. They will teach you the correct order of things. Taking into account the pup’s age, capabilities and attention span. Often new puppy parents want to teach the pup to walk on a leash or stay. These are not ‘puppy friendly’ behaviors. Start with the base layers and work towards more complex behaviors. This helps ensure success for both puppy and human. Your trainer will help you set goals and reach them.
  2. Working with a dog trainer will add a motivation factor. This motivation factor will help ensure the important early work gets done. There is an immense amount of valuable information to glean from a trusted educator. Participating in a weekly class and doing your homework will keep you and the new pup moving along. They will keep you working at a pace that is realistic and fulfilling. This will help you reach your goals. The first year is the meaty stuff. The foundation that you put in place will help ensure you have a happy, well-adjusted pup for years to come.
  3. Even if you have raised a pup in the past, working with someone the next time around is always a good idea. Certified trainers must take part in continued education. This keeps them fresh and current in the ever-growing body of work surrounding pet dogs. If you are working with one of these folks you will enjoy this knowledge too.
  4. Your trainer is your sounding board, a trusted ally. Raising a puppy can be emotional. You can count on your coach to be there for you when you are feeling overwhelmed. You can also count on them to be cheering for you. They will celebrate your achievements right along with you.

Win Win

There is no down side. Don’t wait until your puppy is home and you are feeling the pressure. Do your homework, audit some classes and interview some trainers, book your space. Take advantage of all the wonderful information a good trainer has to share with you. This will enhance life for your pup and for you.

5 Ways You May Be Stressing Out Your Puppy

A woman on the left looks confused while a husky puppy on the right looks directly at the camera

1. Not providing enough structure.

Structure in the form of a crate, exercise pen, baby-gate or leash is a must for a new puppy. You pull quote: “There is a big difference in something the puppy loves, versus something you think the pup should love.”can not expect him to make the ‘right’ choices until teaching him what they look like. That is way too much responsibility to pile on a pup. Too much freedom equals chaos. Neglecting to provide a calm and contained environment leads to negative side effects. A handful of undesirable behaviours would be: destructive chewing, bathroom accidents and biting. It is of no service to a puppy to have too much freedom. Little by little teach your pup what you expect of him and how he can succeed. Do this and as he matures he will be able to handle longer stretches of freedom. Short cuts make for long journeys. Avoid having to do damage control to fix problem behaviours. Think prevent over cure.

2. Not using food to teach, motivate and reinforce.

Rewarding your puppy with food right after he does something you like will help ensure he does it again. It is a win-win situation. Using food to educate your pup is a no brainer. It keeps the learner (your pup) engaged, motivated and happy. Inadequate pay and poor working conditions lead to stress and unhappiness. Learn how to teach your puppy using food.

3. Expecting too much too soon.

Polite walking and learning how to stay are not puppy friendly moves. This is like expecting a pull quote: “Inadequate pay and poor working conditions lead to stress and unhappiness.”toddler to do high-level math problems. Look at the education of a pup as a series of layers. Time sensitive considerations like socialization and early prevention should get special attention. Teach the other behaviours in a thoughtful and strategic way, building on one another. Create a positive association with the learning process. Keep your goals and expectations realistic. This sets your dog and you up to succeed. Remember to take your pup’s age, attention span and the quality of your efforts into account.

4. Not providing appropriate things to chew.

Puppies bite and chew. When we give a puppy stuffed animals or ropes to chew on we are not practicing best chewing methods. They need to gnaw appropriate chews and animal bits that they love. They need to learn what is okay to gnaw on. These are things you must stay involved with. Provide the chews, teach the pup, and manage the chews. There is a big difference in something the pup loves, versus something you think the pup should love. Learning a pup’s preferences is essential. It goes far beyond tossing a dog a bone.

5. Not learning to speak dog.

Learn what your puppy is communicating. A dog uses his whole body. The secret life of dogs should not be a secret to anyone who wants to live peacefully with this creature. They have a have a whole other agenda. It makes for a lot of unpleasantness for a dog if we do not gain an understanding of their species-specific ways. Use compassion and the desire to understand what makes your dog tick. This will help create a heartfelt connection.

The fantastic Lili Chin has provided the following infographic on dog body language for all of us to use. Thank you Lili Chin.

Doggie Language starring Boogie the Boston Terrier

Illustration: Lili Chin www.doggiedrawings.net

Socialization Deconstructed

 

This is a black and white hand drawn sketch of a mind map about puppy socialization deconstructed. There is a puppy head (with the title your puppy) in the middle, surrounded by 5 think bubbles: When - age 0 to 16 weeks; What - Early exposure to oodles of people and experiences; Why - After 16 weeks of age the opportunity is gone. Fallout = Stress. Afraid of things. Compelled to bite or run away from the scary things; Where - Everywhere, Everyone, Everything; How - Pair introductions with something your puppy loves: Food + Toys

Mind Map

“I’m So Confused”

There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the term socialization and what it means for a puppy. The term comes from the description of specific stages of canine development. A pup goes through two socialization periods. In the primary socialization period they learn how to be a dog, in the human socialization period they learn how to navigate our complex world and everything in it. Combined, these development stages comprise only about 10 weeks; starting at about 3 weeks and ending at about 14 weeks of age. What happens or doesn’t happen during this time has a lasting effect on a puppy.

What Socialization is NOT

• A pup on leash meeting other dogs on leash.

• A puppy getting pets from the neighbor while you stand back and watch.

• A puppy sequestered in the house or yard until he has all his shots.

What’s The Big Deal?

Lacking a comprehensive understanding about this stage of development can literally make or break the quality of your dog’s life. If a puppy misses out on lots of positive early introductions during this time, serious behavioral issues are likely to develop. It’s crucial to have a robust game plan. You must be organized and strategic. Use our Social Schedule to stay on track, and use the Field Trip Worksheet to think critically about your outings. During this time social expeditions must be part of your daily routine.

Continued Reading

Giving Puppies Extra Socialization Is Beneficial To Them

Socialization and Vaccinations Belong Together

3 Simple Games to Play on The Move

A white and black puppy is staring upwards while standing between and woman’s legs, with it's paws on her feet. Clearing looking up at her face.

Moves on the go!

Teach your puppy watch, touch and a rock solid recall and hone these moves as you go on outings together. All of these behaviours have something in common. They reorient the pup back to you. This is helpful for building attention or asking for attention from your dog when you need it. On the go is a perfect time to perfect your pup’s moves. You have built-in distractions from mild, moderate and more. You can decide when and where your pup is ready for practice.

Adventures that present you with opportunities to play these games may range from hikes, walks in your hood, or errands in your hood while you are waiting with your pup for your shopping partner to return, romping on the beach, long-line park play or even while you are waiting for the light to change on a city street corner.

As with all of the behaviors you teach your pup, start at home in a distraction free zone, add distractions then take it on the road.

These are simple, fun, practical moves. With your pup proficient in these behaviors you will come to rely on them over and over again in lots of situations.

Watch

What’s not to love about the ability to get your pup to give you attention when you ask? There are so many situations where this cue will come in handy. Once you’ve got your dog’s attention that is when you are able to communicate in a clear way. You many want to get your pup to move in a different direction, to get him to look away from trash on the street, to pay attention to some training or a game or just for fun and a chance to pay him.

The goal behaviour is that your pup looks at your face, into your eyes, when you cue him to watch.

How to Teach Watch

1.  Use a clicker or verbal marker.

2.  Count out 30 treats. (soft, tiny and yummy to your pup)

Tip

Use a counter, table or ledge to keep your treats on. Between treats keep your hands still, at your belly button or on your lap, so your pup doesn’t get distracted and focus on your hands. We want him looking into your eyes.

3.  Set a timer for 2 minutes.

4   When your pup looks at you click and treat or say ‘Yes’ or ‘Good’ and treat.

5.  Practice this a few times per day

6.  When your pup is consistently looking at you add a verbal cue such as ‘watch’ or ‘look’ just before he looks up.

Tips

For a tiny pup it is sometimes easier to start this game while you are sitting on the floor.

If your pup isn’t offering you the behavior you can prompt him with a cluck or a kissing sound for a couple of repetitions to get the behavior started.

7.  Add distractions. Keep in mind you want your pup to look at you no matter what the distraction. When you are adding distractions go slow and steady. Build on previous successes.

Tip – distraction ideas

•  Stand with your arms open wide and wiggle your fingers.

•  Stand with your foot on a squeaky toy, give it one little squeak.

•  Build towards repetitive squeaks.

•  Have someone walk through the room.

•  Have someone bounce a ball from a safe distance away.

When you feel like the behavior is on cue with your distractions added it’s time to practice in public.

 

On the left a lab puppy is sitting facing a woman on the right. The labrador has his right paw up in the air touching the woman's right hand which is also coming out to meet his paw. Basically they are high fiving each other.

Touch

Teaching your pup to touch your hand with his nose is helpful for many reasons. It gives you a way to move the pup around hands-free (as in you don’t have to manhandle your dog into position). It can help redirect your puppy back to you. You can use your hand as a target to teach your dog how to sit, down and stand. You can use it to teach your pup to greet new people by having him touch the back of a person’s hand, very helpful for shy dogs and this can help redirect a jumping puppy. Your vet will be glad because it can come in handy there as well. You can practice recall between two people having the dog target each person’s hand. It is the foundation behaviour for more advanced targeting behaviours. It is fun.

The goal behaviour is that your pup touches the palm of your open hand with his nose when you ask him to ‘touch’.

How to Teach Touch

1.  Using a clicker or verbal marker

2.  Count out 30 treats.

3.  Set a timer for 2 minutes.

4.  Present your open hand, with your palm facing the pup, directly in front of the pup’s nose. Just a short distance of even a half-inch away from the pup’s nose for the first few repetitions.

5.  The dog’s natural inclination will be to sniff your hand.

6.  Click and treat or say ‘Good’ or ‘Yes’ and treat.

7.  As your pup progresses move your hand a little to the right and to the left.

8.  Gradually increase the distance you present your hand from.

9.  When your puppy is reliably touching your open palm on cue add your verbal cue ‘touch’.

10.    Try getting the pup to follow your open hand.

11.    Add some distractions.

12.    With the behavior on cue around your distractions it’s time to practice in public.

Recall

The benefits of being able to call your dog are many. A reliable recall is indispensable. There are some important factors to keep in mind when you are teaching your puppy to come on cue every time you call. Two of these considerations are to only call your puppy when you know they will, for certain, come to you. Always reinforce your puppy for coming. This means call them and give them what they love. This could be really good food or a quick round of their favourite game.

Calling your pup to come while on leash or a long line is practical, fun and effective. You will be confident that he will come since he is on leash. You are present ‘in the zone’ so you will be prepared with appropriate DOGPAY*, whatever that looks like for your pup. For recall it should be triple scale! If you are on a 6-foot leash you will be speedy so the amount of repetitions and opportunities to reinforce are plentiful. This is a winning combination for your pup’s education.

Playing ‘come to me’ on Leash or Long Line

1.  Using a clicker or verbal marker.

2.  Move to the end of your leash.

3.  Call your puppy to come.

4.  When he gets to you click and treat or say ‘Yes’ or ‘Good’ and treat.

5.  Repeat often.

Variations of this Game

One: Move to the end of your leash, call your puppy to come, as he gets there toss the treat past you and move off in the opposite direction.

Repeat.

Two: Move to the end of your leash, call your puppy to come, toss a handful of treats into the grass and your pup gets reinforced with a fun round a find it.

Run, Call, Reinforce

A fun game is to run a few steps, call your pup and treat. You can do 10 repetitions of this in a really short period of time. Lots of repetitions in a short period of time helps your puppy learn new behaviours more quickly. Lots of repetitions also mean lots of reinforcement, which is another factor in how quickly pup learns.

This is exactly what it sounds like. You run just a few steps, call your pup in an excited happy voice, reinforce quickly with food and or a game of tug.

Repeat.

The beauty of this game is the chase followed by the fast DOGPAY*. It is doubly reinforcing for your pup.

Tips

If your pup won’t come to you try kneeling down or use a squeaky toy, or make a kissing sound.

Is your puppy stressed? Is the distraction level too high?

Is your DOGPAY* high enough for this job?

Sometimes just a simple back and forth between you and your pup can be grounding and stress reducing for one or both of you. Having the ability to go into a simple game mode in a time of stress can change the emotions back to a place of calm.

These are just a few examples of simple, fast games you can play with your puppy while you are out and about. The main objective here is that you teach and PLAY; that your time spent together out and about is dynamic, interesting and creative. If you take the time to teach your puppy fun and useful things to do you will have a beautiful connection and a line of communication that is unbeatable. Get creative; make up your own games. We would love to hear about how you are teaching your puppy to be with you while you are out and about.

*DOGPAY is the food, treat or other positive reinforcement you award your dog with for their attention and efforts. Remember, dogs don’t work for free.