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Archive for the ‘Dog Training and Behavior’ Category

Save your carpet, buy a kong

Blaze is a year and a half. I thought for sure we were done with our puppy chewing phase so I decided it was time to put the crate away. I am fortunate in that I work from home full time so he really isn’t loose very long in the house unsupervised. Our kids started back to school so in the mornings the dogs stay home unattended for 15 minutes. Did you know that most damage is done in the first 15 minutes of being left alone?

Blaze has developed this bad habit of pulling our carpet back and shredding the padding. He doesn’t eat it from what I can tell, just shreds it. Initially I left the dogs out back while we went to the bus stop to avoid him shredding the carpet, but what if I needed to be away for more than 15 minutes?

I broke down and bought a few kongs and now when we leave they get some sort of yummy kong to play with while we are gone. Over the past few days just a teaspoon of peanut butter in the bottom of a kong has saved our poor carpet from being mauled. Unfortunately we bought the wrong size and need to get larger ones (I recommend large or XL black for labs).

If you are struggling with your dog eating something when you leave and dont really want to crate them, try some kong products.

Check out more articles related to this topic:
Keep your puppy busy!
Kong Wobblers

Training, just 5 minutes a day

I’ve got a few things going with my dogs. Blaze is trying to finish his last task to complete his service dog demo tape and take over for Nitro. He is learning to push a door shut. Its hard for him for some reason. I wasn’t sure how to discriminate how hard he was pushing – in other words, click only when he pushes so hard. Well I figured it out today – watch how far the door moves. One of those “duh” moments. He is doing better and I’m keeping a high rate of reinforcement. Training him to close a door should move pretty quickly now.

Nitro is working on attitude. He has the behaviors but he doesn’t do it with much oomph. Thanks to Bridget Carlson’s motivation videos we’re working on a jackpot word (hungry) and rewarding any effort or fun attitude he gives me. I’m not specifically asking for anything yet just seeing if he will throw behaviors at me. So far its going great. He loves it and stays in the game longer.

All this for just 5 minutes a day with each dog. What can you do with your dog in 5 minutes?

Dogs Pulling on leash

I have a problem to admit to the world. I have a leash addiction. We have so many leashes hanging up, and my husband teases me endlessly about it. Honestly they all serve their purpose and I’ve used them at different times for different reasons. If you follow my blog you know that I have the worlds strongest dog who has successfully broken a few of my best leashes and landed me straight on my rear end.

With Blaze, I started with a flat buckle collar. Its my preference for most dogs. I quickly figured out I needed something better or my hands and shoulders were going to pay the price. I tried the gentle leader head collar. This seemed to rub on his eyes and he could still pull reallly well with it. The next choice was one of my favorite head collars the comfort trainer. I let someone borrow this but I would like to get another one to try again with him. Either way, he figured out he could flip his head and roll his body – it made our walks less than fun. Most of these I used with my leather braided 4 foot leash. He broke my 3 foot or I would have preferred that.

My next try was the gentle leader easy walk harness. I usually really love this harness. It works great, and is very adjustable. But for my dog? Nope, he pulled as hard as he could in the opposite direction.

I heard a recommendation for the Wags and Wiggles harness. It connects to the front and the back of the harness and has some nice padding on it to keep from rubbing. Well once I figured out how it worked with the special double ended leash, I got it on him and tightened it all up. We headed out and it seemed to work pretty well. The trouble with the easy walk was Blaze learned how to pull sideways, with this new harness it shifts from back to front so it gives me more control. We went for a longer walk and he did really great. Now, he can still pull, but I do’nt think its going to break the leash anymore and I feel like I can control him. When he starts to pass me, I walk backwards. When he is walking nicely beside me, I always reward him. I would have to say this is the Ferrari of dog pulling devices. This is for sale through our friends if you want to purchase one to try for your dog. Make sure you measure!

Rescues and the Truth

I’ve seen it SO many times. A person goes to a shelter or rescue group and I hear words the person coming up with creative ways to explain away behavior problems. I’ve also seen the other side, where owners wind up with a dog that honestly they would have never adopted if they knew what the issue was.

Well, one state is starting to battle that. In Colorado, they are now requiring rescue groups to give full disclosure to adopters. Its a huge step! I once witnessed a girl and her son looking at a dog. I asked after they left, did you tell him about the dog biting a man? Or being food aggressive? And the response was – that was a one time thing it probably won’t happen again.

I’m hoping that more states will come up with laws to protect not only the owners, but also the dogs. If the owner knows the problems, they have a choice to take the dog and work on it. If they don’t know its like bringing home a loaded gun, playing with it and not knowing its loaded.

Impulse Control in Dogs

I have a dog, who has no impulse control. He sees another dog and he pulls. He sees an open door and he rushes towards it. He sees a piece of food and he runs for it.

I’m using the Levels Dog Training by Sue Ailsby (and my awesome iphone app) to train Zen, which is kind of like leave it. He is doing well but we have to bump up the training to get to the more advanced levels.

The other thing I’m going to teach is wait. Wait for permission to go out of his crate, the door, and the car. We could do wait before he eats but he drools so I am excusing him from that behavior *g*

As a retriever, he loves to fetch, so we are going to start working on his stays and fetching. This will get him to start thinking before just doing something.

Finally, the last thing we have to work on is controlled walking. This is more difficult and takes longer but I just have to be diligent. My goal is to take his breakfast and do a walk every morning when he is hungry and use the method of backing up when he pulls or when he gets out of heel position. I’ll use the food when he is in a good position for a longer period of time.