dog training

Motivation - what drives your dog?

Tilley in her prime

Tilley in her prime

Motivate - to provide with a motive or a cause or reason to act; incite; impel.

Incite - to stir, encourage, or urge on; stimulate or prompt to action:

So what incites or encourages your dog to keep their attention on you? Do the things that you ask and/or comply? Something that they consider to be of value. That is what you must find.

That said, what is a valuable reward for one dog will not be a reward for another. I would not stand in a long line to buy an iphone (I’m a Galaxy gal). But, if you told me I’d get to try a cool rock climbing wall if I stood in that iphone line for you, I’d be in. It is very much the same for our dogs.

Often it’s not even the idea of wanting to work for us but the emotional ability to function or not. Let’s take my girl Tilley who is now gone from us over 7 years (unbelievable), and her ability to work around a lot of people. Tilley came to us a very shy girl; she was not into crowds (neither am I) or people getting too close (me either). So when I asked her to be my demonstration dog at training classes, she had a tough time with it. I was almost about to give up when I considered her ball.

To say that Tilley was an avid ball retriever is an understatement. She was a mad, obsessive retriever who would do anything just to catch her ball. Later on her frisbee also became an object which she held in pivotal regard. I wore many a bruise when we were in our prime frisbee days as a result of picking up a frisbee or not paying attention. She was a force to be reckoned with when it came to retrieving.

So when I pulled out a tennis ball at obedience class and called to her, she charged to me in a heartbeat. Much different than the painstaking emotional turmoil she went through before the ball arrived. She no longer cared who was around or what they were doing. As long as there was the chance that she might be catching that ball, she was a different dog. In fact she was so different with and without her objects of retrieving that many people could not believe that the meek and soft Tilley was in actually the same highly driven, intense retriever that they witnessed. Fascinating.

So when I’m with a new client we go over drive, motivation and desire. What works for my guys might work for your dog but chances are it’s not going to. We start with low level food when working with no distractions. But if food doesn’t work we find something that does. It is essential to find what motivates your dog; it can be anything like a toy, ball, food, idea of tugging, catching…etc.

Little Mr. Riggs who turned 11 months old yesterday is a scatter brain when we go on walks. He is one of those dogs that very literally does not miss a thing and he quickly gets over stimulated causing all sorts of problems. Yesterday I pulled out a ball and tucked it into the sleeve of my t-shirt. With Riggs in his harness we head out on our walk. Structure is the key to our walks as he is learning about loose leash walking big time. I took out the tennis ball and bounced it several times to see if I was coordinated enough to do what I wanted to do with it. Riggs stopped in his tracks with dilated pupils staring at the ball, YES.

We had our entire walk with only a couple of catches and it worked so well that the ball came with us again today. He is doing much better on his walks and the ball has definitely done what no food could do. In the beginning of our training when Riggs was little, food worked but not anymore. Sometimes he is so stimulated by “things” around us that he won’t take any food from me at all. But the ball? Oh yes.

So it’s all about what makes your dog tick. Just like us, they are all different. It is our job to discover what motivates them. Do you know what incites your dog?

New Puppy Frustrations

Yep, you can do it. Just read this and you’l be ready to go.                                                 Buy this book

Yep, you can do it. Just read this and you’l be ready to go.

Buy this book

Do you have a new puppy? Are you going out of your mind with frustrations? Are you asking yourself “what the heck were we thinking?” Believe me when I say “this is normal and it too shall pass, more than likely.” There are those who completely change their mind once they have a puppy. They either had no idea what they were getting into; forgot what it is like to have a puppy or it may be a very bad match. No matter what the reason, there is a learning curve and hump to get over.

Believe me when I say “even dog trainers get frustrated with new puppies.” Truly. I think the most important advice that I give to new k9 guardians or those with a new puppy is “you can do it.” It is absolutely essential that you think that you can. I can guarantee that if you feel incapable of training, caring and teaching your puppy, you will be.

Having a puppy can be tough if you have no idea how dogs communicate, function or think. But with just a bit of information you can have an “AH HA” moment and be on your way to a wonderful relationship. I cannot tell you how many times my clients have said “Sherri you make it look so easy.” Well, that is because it is for me, it’s what I do. But it can be easy for you too once you understand what you are doing.

Hire a positive trainer, read a positive reinforcement book or new puppy book like the one I wrote (wink wink). Don’t be stubborn. After all we are humans and we barely get by with trying to communicate with each other let alone trying to teach another species. Help is close at hand.

There is a great deal to understand about guiding a puppy through the early years; even before the actual obedience training begins. It is all about understanding each other and yes you can.

YOU CAN DO IT, I KNOW YOU CAN!

Dog behavior issues

Learning manners

Learning manners

Are you dealing with k9 behavior issues? Do you feel like pulling your hair out daily because you feel overwhelmed about what to do? This is so normal…believe me, even dog trainers feel like this now and again. When I see a new behavior that I don’t like I take a breath and think. It is easy to go to a place like of helplessness; throwing your hands in the air and giving up. That’s usually when I get the call; and when we address the problem and the guardians ALWAYS wish that they would have called sooner.

As I always say each dog, person and problems are different. But hiring someone who can sit back and figure out either where the problem is coming from or how to fix it is easy peasy. With our new boy Riggs, we are dealing with lots of new stuff; many behaviors that I have addressed with client dogs but not my own. So in my home I have to consider how best to change it.

Many things factor into changing a behavior and the longer it has been going on, typically the longer it takes to change. A committed guardian is a big aspect; along with consistency and clear, precise directions and steps to take. The more complicated and foggy a solution to change a behavior is; the less likely the guardians are going to stick with it. I have long learned that people will only do what they find doable. This is huge to understand as a k9 consultant specializing in behavior modification.

I truly love helping people to smooth out a relationship with their dog. It is why I have a FB page and go live often on most of them. There are no stupid questions; asking questions makes you look smart in my books.

Canine evolutions

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Life is an evolution for all of us; each day brings with it new experiences and lessons. We should hope that we evolve and strive for evolution for both ourselves and our dogs.

Evolution - any process of formation or growth; development:

So how do our dogs evolve? Dogs evolve like we do, through experience and knowledge. It is not merely training…learning to follow specific behavior cues. Evolution is growth, so for our dogs it is learning how to live in our human world; acquiring life skills so that they can manage their way through without too much stress and anxiety. It is about learning about impulse control; something that Riggs is in the midst of. He is very VERY impulsive. Evolution means to grasp what is acceptable and unacceptable.

It is our job to help in the evolution of our dogs. When they come to us they are the rawest state of themselves. Of course the breeder has had a part in who they are at that moment; so they may be thriving with early life experience or lacking drastically. From the moment they enter our family, it’s up to us.

Helping our dogs in their growth to become a good canine citizen is a very big job. There is a great deal to know about your dog before you even attempt to assist them with their evolution. If you are a first time canine guardian then I recommend that you read and read and listen and listen until you feel prepared to help in your dog’s growth.

Your dog in your hands

I am a big fan of guardians doing the work. When you live with a dog in your home, they are a part of or should be a part of your family. The more you learn about your dog, the more you can help them to acclimate in our world. This in turn helps you in your own evolution; at least in your evolution to be a better canine guardian.

Life is an evolution of oneself. Is your dog evolving? Are you?

Dog lessons on the fly

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“Don’t stop” I shared with my client. I’d already explained why you should not stop when working with walking issues. But it’s hard for humans to not stop and address. The other day Elsa and I were out and about very early. I enjoy getting our walk in as the sun just starts to rise. It’s quiet, peaceful and just what we both need to start our day. Also as we are now into spring and nearing summer; early walks are an essential part of living in Southern California.

So we were out walking when I saw a man and his small, white fluffy dog far off. I’m a scanner, something I think is also essential when you are a canine guardian. I saw him as soon as he stepped out onto the path. Like I said, he was far off. He quickly kicked into his training mode when he spotted us. He told his dog to sit and continued to tell the white fluff that there was nothing to worry about. Clearly the dog had leash aggression. Where the leash aggression came from I do not know but this is how he was dealing with it.

He was addressing the issue wrong (in my opinion). Our dogs are master readers, meaning that they see everything that we do. Each and every movement or request we give is a cue to them. So what may seem like a reasonable control request can soon become a cue for an issue.

Let’s take leash aggression like the man mentioned above was dealing with. His dog may not have seen Elsa and I but as soon as the man stopped, the dog would have begun to scan. It is a cue that the dog takes when another dog is approaching. This man not only asked his dog to sit; cuing the dog of some impending danger but he did so from far, far away. They sat there for the longest time…like the Austin Powers steam roller segment in the movie.

What he should have done in lieu of stopping and waiting…forever, was to keep moving. Keep moving and show his dog that we were a non issue. When a dog has behavior issues with something; be it an inanimate object, other dogs, people with big hats or little kids; it is our job to show them that these things are non issues and keep moving. Of course this means that you must learn to reward on the fly.

Counter conditioning implementation on the fly can take some practice but it is well worth it.

Counter - contrary; in opposition

Conditioning - a process of changing behavior by rewarding or punishing a subject each time an action is performed until the subject associates the action with pleasure or distress.  

So if every time you see the trigger for your dogs reaction, you stop; then it only fuels that reactive behavior. When you keep moving you instill a “who care” attitude so that your dog can learn that it means nothing to you. Then by adding something good, a tug toy, treats or a ball to the situation; it then goes from a bad thing to a good thing. Make sense?

Love to hear from you. Leash issues are the biggest and most common thing that people deal with.

A New Puppy

First alone walk on the beach, big time life experience for baby Riggs.

First alone walk on the beach, big time life experience for baby Riggs.

You’ve got a new puppy, where do you begin? What are the first things you need to do? Let’s discuss.

With the addition of a new dog to your home and family, there is much to do. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard from new guardians “I don’t know what to do?” Puppies are a lot of work and there are many important things to teach them before you even get started on the official obedience stuff, that is other than “sit.” “Sit” is so very important to teach right away; it is the beginning of learning about manners.

We have a new puppy and it has been a ton of work; puppies are a substantial amount of work up front. But the pay off for all your hard work is a well mannered k9 member of the family. Like humans, all puppies are different; each comes with it’s own personality and issues. Some require more work than others; there is not a one size fits all when addressing the addition of a k9 to your family.

With Riggs nearing the 5 month mark, we’ve been busy. For the last 5 days my husband and I have been away on a family trip. What this means for us is getting back at it hard and intense. Much of the rules and regulations that I have instilled have gone by the wayside with my absence. So we have started off this day with strict rules and Riggs is remembering easily.

Without even addressing the obedience stuff (other than sit) there is so much to work on. Food guarding, nipping, jumping, house training, crate training, socializing (life experience) and so, so much more.

My book above covers all the things that you need to know when you have a new dog. Without getting into too much official “obedience;” it covers all the essential basics that you can address to avoid problem issues down the road. It is a must read for any k9 lover or guardian (if I do say so myself.) ;)

Our human world is vastly differently than that of the k9. It is our job to assimilate them into our world as best we can. Some have a more difficult time than others but they can all “get it,” with our help. As our dogs age and things start to become easier, we will drop the ball to a degree. This is how we humans work for the most part, myself included. So when we begin a new relationship with a canine we must start off with a bang.

That new little canine brain has got so much to learn in a very short time. And I have to say that I cannot believe what they can learn in a fraction of the time that we learn. They are amazing, truly.


Training and treating

Full attention

Congratulations, you have a new dog. You’ve done your research and decided that you are going with positive training. First, good for you; your dog will thank you for it. There is much to know about positive reinforcement training; the first and most important part is timing. Timing of the delivery of the reward, be what it may. Timing will be saved for another blog; today I’m discussing the actual treats or rewards. What do you use when?

The difference between the results of using a low value versus a high value treat can be amazing. Low value treats are used around the house when you want to say “yes, that is what I like.” High value rewards are used for difficult times, big distractions or major attention requirements.

Just the other day I took Riggs to a favorite walk destination where Elsa and I have frequented over the years. It is a marina/harbor on the coast. Dana Point Harbor is beautiful and a must see for anyone visiting from out of town. The walkways through the yachts, pelicans, squirrels and turquoise water is a hot spot for folks walking with or without a dog; and is a great place to get in some quality life experience.

Recently on some of my “live” sessions on FB I have explained how walking Riggs is very much like walking a kite. Well, that’s the best way that I can describe it so I knew that I’d need to up the value of my treats if I’d want some attention in such a high stimulus area. Armed with a full pouch of ground turkey and beef we head to the harbor. Yep, messy, messy.

The difference was incredible. As soon as the first piece of beef/turkey was delivered I had Riggs’s undivided attention. The contrast between low value and high value was remarkable. In fact I had to lower the value at times during our walk so that he could experience everything around him. When I needed undivided attention, I got it.

But positive reinforcement is not all about food; it is about incorporating whatever motivates a dog. I use a great number of reinforcers - tug toys, balls, catching , a squeaker, whistle etc. You need to know what motivates your dog.

If it is food then you need to dish out the rewards appropriately. That means that they need to have the right amount of value for the moment. Too little and they are useless; too high and the dog cannot even think straight. It is a juggling act.

Value - relative worth, merit, or importance: the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange.

It’s not what we consider to be valuable; it is entirely up to our dogs on what is valuable. This is why it is essential to know your dog. Or to have a trainer who can very quickly discover what motivates your dog.

Motivation - something that motivates, inducement; incentive:

If you aren’t sure what you are doing, hire a trainer. Buy a great book or schedule and online consultation for extra help or some questions that you might have concerning the whole “reward system” of positive reinforcement training.

Now, go train your dog.

Service dog in the making

Sheppelley, service dog in the making.

Sheppelley, service dog in the making.

I was excited to see her again. It had been 5 months since I first looked into those dreamy eyes. Just a week ago I spoke to this gorgeous girls breeder about seeing some of the puppies that I had temperament tested back in May and she told me about Sheppeley and Lindsey.

In April I had contacted Craig and Laura of Poodle Store about their beautiful puppies. We chatted back and forth about health and temperament testing and they asked me to come and temperament test their litter in May. I was thrilled, temperament testing is my favorite part of being a dog trainer. Spending a couple of hours with 7 week old puppies is never a bad thing. So in May I head to their home to test 9 seven week old puppies.

I love temperament testing; it is such a fascinating and enlightening test. Each puppy is brought out alone to a stranger (me) in an environment that they have never been before. They are put through a number of tests to see who they are and what sort of family they would best thrive in. After doing the whole litter I exclaimed “really nice litter.” Of course when I’m testing a litter I usually fall for one or two of the puppies myself. In this litter I had a favorite in the the girls and the boys. But the little brown and white girl with the beautiful eyes really stole my heart.

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Now I found myself meeting Sheppeley (Claire when I first met her), the little girl who had stolen my heart so many months before. It was at Sheppeley’s new home where I met her human; the one who chose her to be her service dog. Sitting down in their backyard, I watched. And what I was witnessing was pure magic. I have never seen such a devoted 7 month old. She watched her guardian like a dog much older than her age; and had a calm about her that made me wish I had brought her home with me when I met her.

After meeting Lindsey and seeing the amazing connection they have at only five months into their relationship; I was happy that I had not brought her home with me. Here is where she was meant to be and I have never observed such a kismet moment.

Lindsey is a phenomenal woman. At 26 years of age she has been diagnosed with Dissociative Disorder, Social Phobia, Bipolar and Rheumatoid arthritis. Sheppeley will be Lindsey’s psychological service dog; and the human/canine team are already extraordinary to watch. It is almost unbelievable to see Sheppeley at work at only 7 months old. Her job is all about watching her charge and learning to sit still.

As I listened and watched, Lindsey told me about her search for a service dog. At every turn she was brought to the Standard Poodle. Once she’d decided on the breed she searched for a breeder and was turned away many times because of her list of diagnosis. That is until she found Craig and Laura. She explained her situation fully to them and not only did they not turn her away; but they offered to pick her up and bring her to see the litter on a day when she was having severe driving phobia. They helped her pick out the right dog for her and have continued to stay in touch. Great folks going above and beyond.

Lindsey and I sat and talked for an hour and a half. Sheppeley was so well behaved for the entirety of our discussion. She had one little puppy moment of wanting to eat a leaf but other than that she was watching Lindsey and responding to anything she thought she might need to alert.

Sheppeley is learning her life tasks which will include:

  • finding exits in a building for Lindsey.

  • forward momentum pull, to ground Lindsey and get her moving.

  • physical support.

  • DPT - deep pressure therapy. DPT involves a dog using its weight and sometimes warmth to mitigate a psychiatric symptom, often either as a calming strategy or to minimize disengagement from the world. ... Large dogs can be trained to provide DPT by lying on the person's lap or chest when the handler is sitting or lying down. (taken from psychdogpartners.org)

  • cover, standing in front of Lindsey to get her needed space.

  • block, standing behind Lindsey to get her needed space.

  • corner check, checking areas where Lindsey feels insecure or paranoid about going in. Sheppeley will check it out before Lindsey goes in.

  • alerting Lindsey to her mood changes and anxiety.

  • bring Lindsey her medications.

Lindsey

Lindsey is a naturally amazing dog trainer. Not only does she need a service dog to help support her but she is training Sheppelley herself. Lindsey credits her earlier years with horses plus her good friend and dog trainer Charlie Ridge for producing her intuitiveness in training. Charlie’s unconditional support has given Lindsey her true passion for dog training and that passion emanates from her.

As we sat and talked, Lindsey’s attention never left her duty to Sheppelley. She is quick to give feedback and get Sheppelley on the right tract. After about an hour of watching them work together I said “you are always in trainer mode.” “Yep” she replied. So for now while Sheppelley is in training; if Lindsey is hit with anxiety or a mood change, she needs to be working through it while teaching Sheppelley, which is a huge challenge.

Lindsey told me that she was overwhelmed when she first brought Sheppelley home by the sheer magnitude of what lay head. She has since set to task for what needs to be done; knowing that in the near future she will benefit from her hard work and dedication. She has a lot of work ahead of her and has already run into some obstacles. She told me that because she is not in a wheelchair or visibly handicapped she has been judged about having a service dog. Especially now because there are so many fraudulent service dogs out there in public. But her attitude is to take the high road and try to educate when she can. I know I learned a great deal from her and much appreciate her candor in telling her story.

Being that I have lived with Standard Poodles for over 33 year I was curious about Sheppelley’s grooming. When I asked Lindsey about Sheppelley not looking “poodley” she stated that because she knows she may be judged for needing a service dog; she wants Sheppelley to look as much like a “working dog” as she can. Although from where I sat there was no doubt that they are working and extremely serious.

service dog

Sheppelley

Sheppelley is an extraordinary little lady. At seven weeks of age when I first locked eyes with her, I knew that she was special. She was a little pistol with something extra. She had that something that you can’t put a finger on, but know that it is there. At 7 month old now she is incredible and her dedication to her human, fascinating.

When I temperament tested this little girl; her eye contact was what drew me in. I love eye contact and she offered an abundance of it. She came readily and was very happy to meet me, a big plus. Sheppelley had little startle visually and offered more eye contact during the restraint test. Aside from a nice temperament test; she had that something extra that made me think she was going to be a very special dog for someone. I was not wrong.

Sheppelley will have a big job to do and I know that she is up for it. Seeing her sit and watch Lindsey’s every move at just 7 months of age gave me a glimpse of what she is capable of. Sheppelley’s natural ability to watch and respond to her humans needs are impressive to watch. It seems like she was born to do this job and is very happy doing it.

When Sheppelley is working she wears her Service Jacket. When she is not required to work she has it off and can do as she pleases. Her jacket specifies that she is in training and that you should not touch her. This is very important as she goes through her training and learning to pay strict attention to Lindsey. Sheppelley is well on her way to becoming a phenomenal service dogs, thanks to Lindsey’s need for her and natural talent for training.

Sheppelley will not only help Lindsey once she is trained; but already helps by simply being Sheppelley. Her need for around the clock canine daily care gives Lindsey a job that needs doing. Lindsey states that her life is fulfilled with Sheppelley in it. The two are quite clearly unstoppable and will make a mark on this world of ours.

Sheppelley is already alerting about 15 times a day for Lindsey. She is learning what needs to be alerted on and what doesn’t. Their partnership and connection is new but intense. I have rarely seen such a bond between new guardian and puppy at this age.

I want to thank Lindsey for sharing her story with me and Sheppelley for being the missing piece of the puzzle in Lindsey’s life. I would also like to thank Craig and Laura from Poodlestore for being wonderful breeders and humans. I feel honored to have met all these wonderful humans and Sheppelley.

You can follow Lindsey and Sheppelley on instagram at Simply_Sheppelley

Psychiatric Service Dog partners

Anything Pawsable

Counter conditioning canine behavior

counter conditioning

Counter - something that is opposite or contrary to something else.  

Conditioning - a process of changing behavior by rewarding a subject each time an action is performed until the subject associates the action with pleasure.  

Counter conditioning is a highly effective way to alter a dog's response.  It is commonly used to change how a dog reacts to a specific stimulus by changing the meaning of it.  

Example:  Your dog is terrified by the vacuum cleaner.  Every time you try to vacuum your dog runs for the hills, hides under the bed or behind the couch.  

Like most rehabilitation type behavior modification, baby steps in progression should be used to best facilitate success.  Depending on your dog's response you may want to start by just bringing the vacuum out of the closet or just open the vacuum cleaner closet.  Then link an enjoyable activity to it.  Maybe the closet door opens and you pull out your dog's leash.  Maybe it  means feeding time or time to play catch.  

This should be done until you are seeing a positive response from your dog.  Next would be to pull out the vacuum and create the same activity - feeding, playing, walking. etc.  

The goal would be - each time you pull out the vacuum, your dog associates it with something wonderful.  You start small and slow, only moving on to more intense work with complete success at each stage.  

Like desensitizing, counter conditioning is about association.  Counter conditioning is typically used to re-associate the stimulus that causes a fearful or stressful response.  It is on e of  most useful tools in positive behavior modification.  

Questions?

Leave it

Elsa doing a very nice "leave it" for demonstration purposes.

Elsa doing a very nice "leave it" for demonstration purposes.

The "leave it" exercise is one of the most useful things that you can teach your dog.  The "leave it" behavior is typically taught for leaving food items; but once your dog is accomplished at it, you can use it for anything.  Personally I have used it for gross items found on the ground during a walk, babies, bees, retrieving items, toys that do not belong to my dogs and so much more.  

Imagine if you could tell your dog not to touch an item and they didn't.  No pulling, no yanking, no yelling?  Wouldn't that be the greatest thing ever?  Well, it is up there with some of the greatest things ever, for sure.

Showing off their "leave it" skills.  

The "leave it," behavior, like most other behaviors is a progression of steps to get to a solid and reliable response.   Once your dog has it down and if you have used it extensively; it is often not needed in certain situations.  Dropping food off of the counter, table or hand can become a non issue once they understand that you control the items.  

The big secret to teaching a solid "leave it" is to reward it.  The exercise begins with a low level food item like toasted o cereal (cheerio type).   The food that is used to reward the dog should be of equal value.  So don't tell them to leave a piece of steak and then give them a cheerio for not touching the steak.  They are very smart and will soon be going for the steak faster and sneakier.  Makes sense right?  

  • Put Cheerio in your open hand and cover with your thumb.
  • They will NEVER be receiving the food in the hand that you have the cheerio.  You do not want them to think that at some point they will get the food in your hand.
  • Tell your dog to "leave it" and put your hand out.  They will typically try to get the food for a while but do not let them pry it out from under your thumb.  
  • As soon as they pull away from your hand for a split second, mark the behavior and reward with a cheerio from your other hand.  At the same time pull the lure hand back beside you.  
  • Do this as many times as it takes for them to "get" that moving away from your hand is what gets them the reward.  
  • This requires a great deal of patience.  
  • Be sure to tell them to "leave it" before you place your hand out.  Give them a heads up.
  • Try doing it with your hand on the floor, then put the food on the floor with your hand hovering over it.  NEVER let them get the item that you have told them to leave.
  • As they become more solid with the "leave it" you can get further and further from the item. 
  • Once they are super star professionals at "leave it" you can drop food from your hand and then the counter top; always rewarding them for not touching the item.  Don't forget to tell them to "leave it" before dropping the food.

Now that they are amazing at "leaving it" you can use it for anything that you don't want them to touch.  

Remember to only make the exercise harder when they have complete success as each step.  Too much challenge can mean failure.  Best to take baby steps during the process.  

 

 

Leash pulling

Leash pulling dogs

Sitting in the coffee shop, sipping my organic home brew I enjoy the view from the outdoor patio down by the coast.  My seat allows me a great vantage point for people and dog watching; a bonus activity after a business meeting.  The sky is overcast which lends itself to more human/canine out enjoying the weather.   As I sit savoring the view; a woman walks by with a HUGE mix breed.  She is literally being dragged down the street behind her dog.  Obviously her monster of a dog is on a mission.  It is unclear if the guardian is aware of the mission or not but she is being dragged along for the ride.   

I hate seeing guardians being dragged by their dog.  Why?  Because I know that the human part of the team is not enjoying their together time with their dog.  With a little training they could both be enjoying the walk instead of just the dog. 

Even tiny dogs can be a drag to walk if they are doing the dragging.  Why do dogs drag their humans on a walk?  They drag their guardians because no one ever taught them to walk differently.  It is as simple as that.  Leash training should start as soon as possible; as soon as you add that little bundle of fluff to your family, it should begin.  If you’ve added an adult dog to your family then start with them immediately as well. 

If your dog already has an ingrained dragging behavior; it will take longer to get rid of but you can do it.  Starting today, don’t allow it.  This means when your dog pulls, you cease to move.  Very literally STOP and don’t move until they offer you some slack on their leash.  No cheating, you cannot give the slack, it must be them.  So you stand completely still and wait for them to move back, offering the slack needed to keep walking.

You can also implement the reward system for loose leash walking.  When your dog walks without pulling, reward them.  Using tiny little bits of treats, keep them coming.  I like to use the “catch” behavior as well.  It not only keeps your dogs attention on you, it is a great behavior to fall back on.

A dragging dog is no fun for anyone, no matter what size they are.  You can start working on it today.

Frustration in dog training

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Every person is an individual; every dog is an individual.  

Individual - a distinct, indivisible entity; a single thing, being, instance, or item.

This reason alone is why dog trainers need to be very flexible in the training approach.  There is no one size fits all when training individual dogs.  Knowing how a dog reacts to stimulus is very important when working towards a positive training session.  

I am an instant gratification type person.  Not that I need reward instantly but when working on a project, I don't like the finished result being weeks or months out.  Which is why I love digital photography so much; snap an image, plug it into your computer, presto!

Some dogs need rewards or success more often.  I have seen dogs being trained who become frustrated when they don't succeed fast enough.  They may even shut down, cease working at all as they have given up.  So what does frustration look like?  

  • walking away
  • barking at you
  • stress triggered behaviors like yawning
  • quickly offering other already known behaviors
  • shutting down

If  your dog becomes frustrated easily; breaking a behavior down into tiny baby steps can help to eliminate this.  Some dogs need such tiny steps and constant positive feedback that you may need to pre-plan your behavior lessen.  Sitting down and figuring out the steps needed to get to the final behavior should be thought out.  

Some dogs will "get" the whole behavior taught at once; but many need it to be broken down to avoid frustration in the learning process.  Neither  is better or smarter than the other.   The success lies in the trainer knowing how to teach the dog.  The ability to see a dog struggling is so very crucial to happy and successful training.  

Teaching your dog to shake

shake a paw

After sniffing the treat, Yogi stopped and gave me eye contact.  Asking "what do I need to do to get this treat?"

 

Shake a paw.  Everyone wants their dog to shake, right?  Strangers often walk up to dogs expecting them to "shake."  

Shake a paw is cute and very easy to teach a dog to do.  It can be evolved into other cute behaviors like high five and waving.  So how do you teach a dog to shake?  Patience, much like many other behaviors; you need to wait until your dog offers a behavior.  The best way to ingrain a behavior is for the dog to figure it out themselves.  That means no cheating.  No grabbing their foot and shaking their paw for them.  

The way that I teach the shake exercise utilizes both lure and shape training.  The lure is a piece food in the hand and the shape is waiting for the dog to paw the food.  

Sniffing the treat under my thumb

Sniffing the treat under my thumb

Here's how

  • Put a small piece of food (not too high value) in the palm of your hand and cover it firmly with your thumb. 
  • Place your hand on the floor near your dog with your palm facing up.
  • You can break the exercise down into many baby steps but I normally prefer to wait for the pawing action.  But if a dog is easily frustrated I will then break the behavior down into baby steps (next blog) to avoid this. 
  • Wait for dog to paw at your hand and immediately open hand, rewarding dog.
  • Do this until the dog is reliably pawing at the hand immediately.
  • Then remove the food from the hand and put it into your other hand and behind your back.
  • Place the empty hand on the ground in the same position with thumb on palm and wait.
  • As soon as the dog paws at the hand reward them with food from the other hand.  Repeat.
  • Next paw attempt, hold your dog's paw gently while rewarding.
  • Move hand up from the ground and remove thumb from palm
  • Add verbal cue "shake, give me paw" etc. 
  • Gently add a full foot handshake while rewarding.
  • Be careful to never grab the dog's foot negatively (too hard, too long, too much shake).  This could create an unwillingness to continue. 

So there you have it, the shake.  

Yogi didn't get the shake behavior at my house on this day as we only worked for a few minutes on it.  I was showing his Mom what to do when she went home.  After a few moments at home working on it Yogi's Mom accomplished the highly prized "shake."  

Trying to nudge the treat out of my hand

Trying to nudge the treat out of my hand

You can evolve this behavior to the high five and wave by simply moving your hand slowly to different positions and rewarding.  

 

 

 

Dog training help now. Online Consultations!

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No matter where you are...

"I need help, right now" the email said.  The woman was having some huge canine issues with her new puppy and needed HELP!!!!!!  I replied right away "I can help right now."  I sent her the questionnaire and we began immediately.  

The new canine guardian had been ready to pitch everything.  She was starting to regret ever getting a dog and was ready to give up.  Sometimes you need help right away; and that help can come in many forms.  One form of help that I offer is my online canine consultations and I have to say that "I LOVE IT."  I love being able to connect with people right away.  The ability to get them started on their very personalized remedy to their problem with their dog, instantly is wonderful.

So what does my online email consultation look like and who can benefit from this service?  First it is a very cost effective remedy to your canine behavior issues.   We work via email which enables us to communicate back and forth over a period of time.  This lets you, the canine guardian get to work right away.  We can span the emails out as far as you like.  As you and your dog make progress we walk through new things that arise until you have a handle on your problem.

And it doesn't matter where you live, which is the greatest thing EVER.  

Online canine consultations are geared to those who want to address their problems.  That means that I tell you how to help your dog.  Then you tell me how its going and we work on fixing more, until you are happy with your dog's behavior.  Sound good?  

I offer local hands on behavior modification but I'm not limited to local anymore.  I love helping people all around the world with my online canine consultations.  

Often a couple of emails are all that's needed for a canine guardian to be on their way to complete success.  And I might add, they did all the work; which I believe is essentially important for the best possible outcome.  This is because a guardian needs to understand what's going on. With the personalized give and take of an online consultation, that happens very naturally.

So wherever you are and whatever your canine problem, shoot me an email.    

  

Dog training, Orange County, CA

Laguna Beach, ca

Laguna Beach, ca

I'm super excited.  Yep, I'm training again; the hands on fun stuff that I love.  I've been a dog trainer in South Orange County, CA for a long time but took a much needed break a while back to catch my breath and write some books.  Books are done, breath caught, sort of and we're back at it.  

Training and behavior is in my blood.  Even though I took a break from the hands on stuff I never stopped working.  I am constantly studying dog behavior both in the form of books, courses and live studies.  There isn't much more interesting research than watching dogs interact with other dogs and people for me.  I could literally watch and study 24/7.

My training focuses on a well behaved dog; whether it is a young puppy or uneducated older dog.  That means I come to your home where the work should be done.  Your home, your dog, your very personalized program.  I specialize in new puppies who come with lots of natural dog behaviors that we don't always appreciate as humans.  So work starts right away, as soon as that puppy joins your family.  

All training is done in a positive manner; no yank and choke type training EVER at Just Dogs.  This makes training more fun for everyone involved.  You will learn how dogs think and learn and how best to ensure a great connection and bond.  The whole family is invited to work and learn how to interact with your dog so that everyone is on the same page.

We have one time new puppy visits, house training specific, full course training and many more options.  Even if you are just thinking about getting a dog, I can help with that too.  

If you have a puppy or dog who needs an education, call or email me and I will show you how to train your dog.  Contact me now. 

Serving South Orange County, CA

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