Spring is here. The sun transformed my backyard swamp into hardened grass-covered clay. It’s a perfect place to train the puppies I raise for a service dog organization. So many smells and distractions.
But distractions have limits. And when a neighbor’s unleashed dog (we’ll call the dog Fluffy) continually charges into my unfenced backyard barking and growling, a training distraction turns into a nightmare, especially if I’m training a puppy with fear periods.
The owner, a very nice lady, eventually presents herself. She stands in the yard and yells the dog’s name, telling Fluffy to “Come here right now!” over and over and over. It grates on my nerves, and Fluffy totally blows her off. I would, too. Why? The owner is a nag. Her dog is giving her the paw.
Fluffy has no boundaries. And coming into my yard to retrieve barking Fluffy, picking her up and telling her “No!” doesn’t mean what the owner thinks it means. In Fluffy’s world, this is a game. I growl and bark, make the neighbor’s dogs back up, and MY OWNER COMES, picks me up, cuddles me and carries me home. What fun! (more…)
Big dogs or small dogs, all dogs need training. But what exactly do you expect your dog to do? What role does the dog have in your family life? What is your envisioned goal?
I have two golden retrievers. I am also a service dog puppy raiser. When I began training my pet golden retrievers, I trained with the mindset of advancing through the classes until the dogs became Canine Good Citizens. They did.
The certificates are figuratively on the wall. The tags are on their collars.
But one cold snowy morning, my prey-driven golden retriever escaped through an open garage door and ran across the street. Her goal was geese. She did not listen to the come command. She did not listen to the drop command. I had to physically retrieve my retriever from a water retention basin in nothing more than jeans and a shirt.
In this month’s issue of Your Dog, a newsletter from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, columnist Betty Liddick asks:”How Has Your Dog Trained You?”
Her column speaks to the issue of wonder dogs who excel at training and comprehend hundreds of words. It also speaks to the average dog owner who does not regularly train their dog.
In fact, their dogs train them. We’ve all had those days.
Like training a child well, training a dog well is an endurance test. Sometimes stubborn and oftentimes manipulative, dogs possess endless stamina for doggie interests, yet at times show little staying power for droning commands like “sit” or “come” sans a Scooby snack.
Forget the wonder dog. For me, a well behaved dog most of the time would suffice.
So how do we make progress with our dogs? Consistency and fortitude. We do our very best to endure and train right through their stubborn periods. We take our furry kids to classes. We practice what we learned at home. Then we end all training sessions on a positive note with the dog being successful. Sensible advice.
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More and more puppy owners are taking training seriously by enrolling their new pups in dog obedience class. Call it puppy kindergarten, basic puppy or household manners class. It doesnâ€™t matter. The results are the sameâ€”a better behaved dog and a better trained dog parent.
Yet many dog owners discontinue training after one or two classes. They and their dogs do not return. I am not one of them. Iâ€™m a lifer.
Dog training is a lifetime commitment of reinforcing wanted behavior and discouraging or reminding pets of behaviors you find undesirable. Hopefully, with consistency, repetition and praise, the good behavior wins. But there is more to dog training class than instruction. Thereâ€™s bonding.
Bonding is the human/dog connection. Since the vast majority of dogs love people, you would think that bonding was a no-brainer.
Dogs long for human attention by word and touch. It strengthens the human/dog bond. It reinforces trust. Yet some dog owners think filling an empty water dish or tossing Fido a bone equals a relationship. Not so. (more…)
Clicker training is a fabulous method of encouraging dog behavior. Clicker training has taught my dogs to do all kinds of tricks!
It’s a great way to exercise the body and the brain. In fact, when my eleven-year-old golden retriever started lying around, I carted her to clicker class for some mental stimulation. The sparkle in her eyes returned (no doubt from all those brain cells firing), which proved to me that like human beings, getting old doesn’t have to mean giving up.
The method behind the clicker madness is to mark wanted behavior with a click and then a treat. The dog then understands that when it does a certain behavior, it will hear a certain sound and receive a certain treat. Wonderful!
What is not so wonderful is the handler’s timing, which has to be precise! But when that timing is right, something beautiful occurs. (more…)