Archive for the ‘Dog Training’ Category

Graduation   Leave a comment

Graduation

Merlot – a super duper puppy with great owners! You see, even Jack Russells can learn to be calm – just!

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Training Tip: Will I have to use treats forever?   Leave a comment

Training Tip – from ThinkingPets Sept Newsletter. See whole newsletter @ ThinkingPets.com.

We get a lot of questions from concerned owners about food rewards and where it ends. “Will I always have to carry around a treat to get my dog to do what he’s told?” No you won’t. Food rewards help you initially teach your dog the behaviour that you want, such as ‘sit’ or ‘down’. After your dog knows the command off by heart, you can start to fade out the food rewards.

  • The key is to do it gradually. Start by asking your dog for a behaviour such as sit without any food in your hand. When he complies, reward him with multiple treats.
  • Once your dog can do that reliably, start asking for two behaviours before giving a reward. So ask the dog to sit and then down, for example, before giving the treat. Later you can ask for three or four behaviours in a row.
  • In the beginning, reward your dog 9 out of every times with a treat. The rest of the time you can simply use a click or say ‘good boy’. Once that is going well, start rewarding every 8 times out of 10 and so on.
  • Do make sure that you don’t accidentally always reward the ‘sit’ and not the ‘down’ with food, for example, when varying rewards.
  • Random reinforcement works very well; for the dog it’s like gambling. He will do his best every time, just in case this is the time he’ll get that cookie!
  • Never totally stop rewarding your dog. But you can work with your dog so that sometimes when you are without a treat, a good cuddle or ‘good dog’ will do just as well.
And now from me:
When you use reward based training, you have to find a reward that your dogs really wants/likes, not just one that you think he “should” like.  So do a bit of research trying out foods – for some dogs bits of apple can be as rewarding as biltong.  Ideally the food should keep well when out of the fridge if you’re not using it immediately.  There should also be a heirachy of treats – the less interesting ones for easy stuff, esp perhaps at home where there are few distractions, and exciting yummies for the park/training class.
I use a mixture of treats for my classes: Eukanuba puppy biscuits break easily and are well liked by the pups, plus thin slices of viennas dried in the oven, chopped up droe wors, cat pellets, dry liver biscuits.  All these keep well in an airtight container between sessions.
Just had a wonderful weekend at Langebaan where we had fun walking our friend’s dog on the beach – her friendly play invitations to the other dogs around weren’t always well received but she found a few pals to charge around with, such a pleasure to watch!  It’s what I encourage my clients to aim for – a well socialised animal, but obedient to it’s humans so it can go out and about and be a pleasure to have around.

Person – dog: spot the difference!   Leave a comment

I’m a person  – it’s a dog – so why would I expect the dog to do human?  We humans are so arrogant in our ‘master of the universe’ attitude that we choose to bring another species into our homes and then expect it/them to change to suit us.  We shout and moan, smack and punish, teach it “I’m the boss”…yeah, right!  We expect the animal to know what we want without teaching what that means, then feel justified in dishing out punishment because our wishes are not obeyed.   We know that keeping a pet is expensive, but we moan about vet fees, training fees, food prices, and ask for discount or head off for the animal welfare to help us out.  I despair for the human race when we cannot even get the pet thing right, never mind bringing up our kids, or world peace!

Ok, rant over for now…but did you know that the majority of puppies don’t get to see their 2nd birthday?  That’s why I do puppy classes, and love my clients who bring their babies while they’re still cute to begin on the right path so that their dogs will become truly part of the family, a joy and not a burden.  They’re the good guys and I respect them for trying to do things the right way.

Another book I’ve downloaded is by Ian Dunbar, vet and behaviourist extraordinaire:  “Before You Get Your Puppy“.  Here’s his take on what needs to be taught asap, preferably pre 16 weeks:

The Most Important Things To Teach Your Puppy

1. Bite Inhibition

2. Socialization with People

3. Household Etiquette

4. Home Alone

5. Sit and Settle Down Commands

6. Dog-Dog Socialization

The Most Urgent Things To Teach Your Puppy

1. Household Etiquette

2. Home Alone

3. Socialization with People

4. Dog-Dog Socialization

5. Sit and Settle Down Commands

6. Bite Inhibition

If these basics are instilled then the next steps are easier, and having a fluffy companion becomes a pleasure, not a stress.