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Archive for January, 2009

Oh its cold outside!

I think our temperature actually hit around 12 degrees this morning. I know, that isn’t that bad. Some parts of the country get way colder than that!  How does this relate to dog training? Owners stuck inside, dogs stuck inside, house training nightmares!

For those with puppies, I’m sure you are struggling.  My oldest dog Dakota didn’t want to potty outside this morning. I didn’t watch him since it was so cold and a few hours later, he had an accident.  It was his first accident in probably 8 years so I know this was out of the norm.  But if you are house training your new puppy?  Then geeeez, you have a rough time of it!

What is my advice?  First, button up and head out with our puppy.  When they potty make a big deal of it and take them back in. Second, if you need to get a little coat or booties for your dog.  Most dogs are fine in cold weather, but at some point it just gets too cold! If you have a dog with not a lot of fur, then a coat is a must have.

I know its painful, but summer is just around the corner…OK well a few months away anyway!

Happy training!

How to house train a dog

The never ending question.How do you house train a dog? I have written numerous articles on this topic, and will continue to do so simple because I believe its the number asked question.  I believe is just a few easy steps to follow if I might just simplify it for a moment.

1. Schedule their potty and eating times. To effectively house train a dog, you have to take them potty at a regular time. Young puppies might need to go every 20 minutes, older puppies, every 30-45.

2. Watch them.  This means with a tether or baby gate.  Really pay attention! If you don’t see them sniffing you will miss the chance for them to use their house training cues.  They have to learn how to tell you its time!

3. Don’t punish the mistakes. When they start to go just run over and get them and take them out.  Its too late…they already started.

4. If they have an accident, change 1 or 2.  Make it more frequent to go potty or watch them better.When they go 3-4 days without an accident, slow down the schedule.  This is a process, not an overnight behavior.

When we potty train kids, it takes MONTHS!  Same for dogs.  Good luck and happy learning how to house train a dog!

Rain Rain go away…

Our yard is mud. Its rained off and on for the last few weeks.  Its January and its cold.  WAlking these poor dogs doesn’t feel like an option.  What do you do with a young dog when its nasty out and they haven’t had exercise?  You guessed it, TRAIN!

When you are training a dog with a lot of energy its a great idea to get them moving.  For example taking a hyper dog and working on stays is going to be very difficult.  There are two games I like to play that expend a lot of energy.

1) Target training.

I like this game because I can create  a lot of distance pretty easily.  Get a lid to a tupperware bowl – hold it out and ask your dog to sniff it (I say touch).  When they do, say “yes” and give a treat.  Repeat this a number of times and then start moving around.  You can even put your dog in a sit stay while you move around the room. Now, put the object on the floor, see if you can get the same behavior.  If you can you just created a fun game – run out, touch it, come back to me for the reward!  Obviously it may take some learning time but most dogs pick up really fast.

2) Place.

This is training a dog to lay down on command on something.  You treat the matt like a bullseye – and walk in circles around it asking for the down command. Once your dog is offering it, you can call it place or matt- whatever you like.  With dog training try to move slowly.  Wait for several right responses before you make it more difficult.  Once your dog lays down, toss a treat to the side, they will run and get it, and then you can ask for the behavior again.  Slowly create more distance between yourself and the mat and you have not only a training game, but a way to wear out your dog!

Have fun and happy training.

New puppy socialization information

Here are some more great puppy socialization ideas.  We already talked about sitting and meeting new people, lets think outside the box!

  1. Have your puppy do just that, play with a box!
  2. Walk on a wooden floor.
  3. Walk on a plastic floor.
  4. Step on a trash bag.
  5. Sit on a table (like at the vets office)
  6. Get in the bath tub – no water just yet! Or maybe just a tad warm water for fun.
  7. Walk on gravel.

Get the idea? Getting your puppy to walk on a variety of textures helps their brains develop and learn to overcome fear.  If your puppy is nervous, don’t just push them on the item. See if you can use your treats to get them to follow it. Try to make them comfortable and relax.  Its very important to go at your puppies pace.

My favorite all time obstacle here is the buja board. Don’t worry – it isn’t something you use to summon spirits :) You put a board on the floor and slowly raise the height so it wobbles a bit.  I like to use a mat I can fold up to make it more wobbly.  Remember, go slow, take it easy and help your puppy have fun!

Happy puppy training.

New Puppy : How to socialize

Whenever  I talk about socialization, many people always assume  I  mean  with other dogs and people.  Socialize actually means introducing to something new.  With young puppies the old theory was to keep them in the house until they were 6 months old.  Then it became don’t take them out until they are fully vaccinated at 4 months. 

We now know that is not true, and its a mistake.  The fear period begins around 16 weeks of age,so the most important time to socialize is from 10-16 weeks.  Does this mean you should take your dog to the dog park to play? Absolutely not!  But here are some new puppy socialization ideas that are safe.

Sitting  outside a coffee shop on a Saturday morning.  Its buzzing with different types of people and kids.  In order to make this productive, bring some of your dogs food and of course a  hungry puppy.  As people walk by, offer a piece of food for brave behavior.  Even if that means laying down and looking at them.  Don’t worry about keeping your pups attention, that isn’t  the goal here. If people want to pet your puppy, ask them to give him a piece of food first, followed by some good old fashioned puppy loving.

If you need to stand on your puppies leash so he doesn’t jump, that’s ok.  Try not to correct your puppy for anything, just manage his behavior so he is good.  Prevention is the key!

Another great place to go is outside a grocery store.  Think of all those noises,  cars, grocery carts,big bags…its socialization heaven. Try to venture out to a few different places a week, keeping safety in mind.

Happy puppy training!