Archive for the ‘Dog Training’ Category

Trish Tip: Sit Happens (without a bribe!)   Leave a comment

This is a great tip from Trish’s Training, useful for weaning pups off visible food.  I wish I could figure out how to make the whole article appear on my blog, but clearly I am still learning.  Just click and voila it’ll appear…

Trish Tip: Sit Happens (without a bribe!).

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Why Everything You Know about Wolf Packs is Wrong   Leave a comment

Further to my previous posts about wolves and their relevance to dog training, have a look at:

Why Everything you know about wolf packs is wrong

If you need to remember how to smile, watch this!   Leave a comment

I’ve just watched this happy dog show with a broad smile on my face.  No matter what your opinion on dogs doing ‘tricks’ it’s clear these dogs are having a ball.

Key things I noticed:

  • between each little ‘act’ the dogs rush back to the handler for their treat;
  • the handler is full of exuberance and enthusiasm;
  • if the dogs had been maltreated or punished during the training they would not be giving such clear signs of having fun – dogs don’t lie;
  • not one sign of inter dog aggression or jealousy, it’s so satisfying to see a bunch of dogs working together;
  • I didn’t spot a single pedigree in the group.

Don’t underestimate what your dog can learn with the right attitude and patience on your part, plus a little imagination and a whole lot of time!

Dog Show.

Walking with the Woofs – Your Story   Leave a comment

So what can I advise from my own experience to help you achieve a happy walk?

  • It’s about your close relationship with your dog as well as obedience.  You’re a team or family, walking together, having fun.  Chat to your dogs a little, let them know you’re happy to be there with them, don’t let them go more than a few meters away from you, teach them that staying near to you is where the good stuff happens. 
  • Teach ‘watch me’ or ‘look’ so when you speak your dog actually tunes in.
  • Teaching ‘recall’ is vital – never, ever let your dog off lead if you’re not sure he’ll come back to you.  Practise recall on lead, using the normal lead or a long line, with many repetitions in all possible situations.  Once you have some confidence in your pup, let him trail a long (5 –10m) lead that you can quickly reach to ensure his obedience.
  • Walk with a toy on a rope that you and your pup play with at home.  When you call him, wiggle the toy excitedly and play ‘tug of peace’ when he comes in – you need to be more exciting than the other dogs – well, at least try!!
  • In the early days, arm yourself with treats in a treat bag and clicker as well as the toy.
  • Keeping moving quite quickly, humans are sooo boring when they walk slowly. Vary the route and direction, keep them guessing a little.
  • When you’re near other dogs, call your pup in closer to you and try to distract him from rushing up to them.  Young dogs often get into trouble in their enthusiasm which is unappreciated by older dogs.  It takes can take ages for a happy youngster to learn this (or at least it took ages for Minka!) but keep working at it until you just have to use a warning tone for your dog to respond.
  • Keep your dog away from dogs on lead – sometimes it’s because the other dog is aggressive and it’s not fair for your pooch to wind them up, besides being dangerous.
  • Pick up after your dog – ‘Bags on Board’ is a roll of doggie doo bags to keep in your pocket or clipped to the lead. 
  • I seldom actually ‘recall’ my dogs, they just never move that far away that I need to.  I think this comes about because I’ve done lots of heel work with them so being close to mom is in itself rewarding now.  Teaching with positive reinforcement methods means your dog will be ever hopeful of goodies or a game. 
  • Practise in your garden: move away from your pup, call him to your side and when he arrives, click and treat.  Move away again, click and treat.  You can lure him in close if necessary but only reward him when he’s in close to you.  This teaches him to come to heel and to watch what you’re doing because you’re unpredictable. 
  • Begin when your pup is just 9-10 weeks old by going to a reputable puppy school (with just 4 – 6 pups per trainer) where the emphasis is on dog-human relationship building and successful, controlled interaction between dogs.  It is NOT about wild play with other pups, it’s about him learning sensible, polite doggie language so he can behave appropriately when meeting all kinds of dogs.  They learn a lot in play, but also on lead in class.

So, once your pup has had all his vaccinations, get out there and begin a lifetime of pleasure and exercise!  The more you do it the easier it will get. 

Walking with the Woofs – My Story   Leave a comment

Lately I’ve been thinking about how to help people achieve relaxed, enjoyable walks with their dogs, using my years of experience walking German Shepherds and Jack Russell Terriers.

It starts with a good place to walk, preferably off lead, although it can still be a great experience on lead.  Off lead is where most guardians come unstuck, but if you can get it right, the pleasure of walking with your fast moving, free dogs is immense!

So here’s what happens with my dogs:

We go regularly to the park – a wonderful, huge space ringed by the Hottentots Holland Mountains, with sports fields and open grassed areas.  A river chortles along one side, at this time of the year it is boiling and tumbling rather than chortling after all the rain.  There are lots of trees along the river so it’s a pleasure even in summer.   Many locals run and cycle there, and of course it’s a dog walker’s paradise.  There are busy times of the day when you can pass more than 50 people and their dogs, depending on which way you go. 

Sometimes we go to the beach at Strand.  Here it can be more challenging for my big, energetic girls (GSDs) who cover so much ground quickly as the space is narrower with fewer options for changing direction and avoiding a possible problem.  I am so proud of them when they meet and greet and politely choose not to respond to silly little yappers, or jumpy youngsters.  They keep an eye on me and all I need to do is keep moving and maybe quietly call them away to have them break away and come after me.  Shepherd bitches are not known for their patience so I am aware of their tolerance limits.  Uschi usually chooses to not engage, but if she does she’s polite and disinterested.  If she’s carrying a toy she’ll warn with a growl but never anything more.  She’s a balanced dog with a happy temperament.   Her daughter Minka is more reactive and much more interested in interacting with other dogs, but not keen on playing anymore.  If a game starts I have to watch her that she doesn’t switch from ‘play’ to ‘prey’.  Rather bossy, in typical insecure child fashion.

We’ve had 3 Jack Russells over the years and it’s been just as much fun with them, despite their terrier tendencies to prefer going down a mole hill to keeping up with me!  Sometimes it was my 2 GSDS, Pepsi our JR and my dad’s JR Minchie too – 4 bitches all walking very happily together.  Sadly we had to put Pepsi (see photo in  post Reflections 27/12/11) and Minchie to sleep in May so now it’s just the big girls.

I’ll unpack my tips on achieving a happy walk in the next post.

Baby jumps   Leave a comment

Baby jumps

Coming Mom!

Ten Thoughts to a Better Relationship with Your Dog   Leave a comment

 

ONE   Your dog can never take responsibility for getting trained. You must take the responsibility, time and effort to educate your dog. This means that you must also take the responsibility of learning to communicate with your dog. Without communication there can be no education.

TWO  In the canine world there are no such things as equals. You will either lead or follow. Dogs’ reasoning ability is similar to a two-year-old child. A two-year-old child does not make an effective leader. You must be the leader. A leader is the decision maker, stays calm and takes responsibility, gives clear directives and praise – a leader does not shout, use physical force, increase stress.

THREE   Every time you interact with your dog, he is learning something. If you are not teaching him the right behaviour he is learning the wrong behaviour.

FOUR “Negative attention” to a dog, is still attention. If the only way your dog can get attention is by being bad, you will train him to act bad for attention. Remember to always reward your dog for good behaviour. Pay attention when he is doing something right and let him know that you like it.

FIVE    The consistency of your dog’s behaviour good or bad will mirror the consistency of your training. If you train your dog repeating the command 10 times, you can expect the dog to respond 10% of the time.

SIX  A dog’s concept of right and wrong is very different from ours.  Do not expect your dog to know what you may think of as right or wrong

SEVEN  If you are correcting the dog, are you certain that the dog understands why it is being corrected? Have you educated and then generalised the concept?

EIGHT  In nature there is no form of punishment, only consequences. If you can stop thinking punishment and focus on what the dog perceives as the consequences of his actions, you will make more headway in any situation.

NINE  If you are constantly reacting to the dog’s behaviour, it is the dog that is training you! You must decide what behaviour you want and educate the dog to that behaviour.

TEN  You are your dog’s primary role model. If you want quiet calm behaviour, then your must role model quiet calm behaviour.