Dog Training Tips

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How can I teach my dog a fun new trick?

The Balancing Act

Whether you have an old canine or a puppy, any pooch can learn new tricks. Teaching your dog is fun, and there is more for your pet to master than ordinary commands like sit and stay. Teaching your dog to balance and catch a treat takes patience but is fairly simple.

The best way to teach this trick is through repetition. Place a treat on your dogs nose, tell them to wait and gently hold the dog's head to encourage stillness. If your dog does not like being held, then concentrate on using commands and a hand motion to keep your dog in place.

After dogs understand wait, making any encouraging noise or gesture lets them know to get the treat. They naturally throw it up in the air and try to catch it. The secret to catching the treat lies with the owner not the dog. Using an appropriate sized treat for your pet and positioning it correctly helps your dog complete the trick. This could take trail and error, but soon you and your dog will be professionals at this balancing act.

   
What is Canine Good Citizen training?

Canine Good Citizen Training

Many people put their dogs through obedience classes to learn the basics like sit, stay, down and come. Intermediate and advanced obedience training are also available through many organizations. These courses refine and hone a dog’s mastery of the obedience commands.
Beyond basic obedience cues, however, is the Canine Good Citizen program, or CGC. Developed and certified through the American Kennel Club, the CGC course teaches dog owners to be responsible and dogs to behave in all situations and conditions. Many pet owners use this training as a stepping stone to making their dog a therapy pet. Others enroll their dogs in order to be eligible for lower home insurance rates or to negate breed restrictions by insurance companies. Whatever the reason for choosing the CGC program, the result is a well-mannered dog.
To be certified as a Canine Good Citizen, a dog must successfully complete a 10-step test administered by an authorized trainer. The steps are: 1) greeting a friendly stranger; 2) sitting calmly while being petted; 3) good grooming and appearance; 4) controlled walking on a loose leash; 5) calmly walking through a crowd; 6) sit, down and stay on command; 7) come on command; 8) good behavior when interacting with another dog; 9) proper reaction to distractions; and 10) good behavior under supervised separation from the owner.

   
My dog tugs on her leash. What can I do?

Puppy Tug-O-Leash

If you've got a puppy who's tugging at the leash, you can train her to stop. Say you're going for a walk and she does her best "puppy forward plow". Simply stop in your tracks and wait. Once she's loosened the leash, you can move forward. You'll probably play a game of stop and go several times over, but be patient and consistent. She'll soon get the idea that if she wants to go anywhere at all, she'll have to stop tugging.

   

Don't bite back

Besides barking, most puppies love to chew and bite. It's their way of socializing, playing and showing affection, as well as showing aggression. As part of your puppy training, you need to work early and often with your puppy to make sure you keep their mouthing and biting under control. Here are some tips:

* Socialization is hugely important: Your puppy needs to spend time with you and members of your family, but also with other dogs. The dog can then get used to being with humans and dogs and get over any fears it may have. If your dog is playing with another and some growling breaks out, stand back if you can and let them work it out. It's an important part of socialization.

* Don't hit or severely reprimand the dog for biting. If the dog is using his mouth too much on you, gently push his nose away and try to substitute a chew toy. Praise and reward the dog for using the chew toy instead of a human, dog or other animal.

Remember, if a dog bites it's going to be your fault 99 percent of the time. Proper puppy training, socialization and respect between dog and owner will keep biting out of the picture and make puppy training a lot more fun.

   

Barking - How to do it better!

EVERY dog will bark - it is their natural job to do so.

We humans have expectations in regards to barking and dogs... and believe they frequently bark when they are not supposed to. Many of the frequencies of sound are above (or below) the human ear to hear. For example - electronic garage door openers, key locks on cars, some radio band frequencies commonly used, etc. So just because you can't hear the sound, that doesn't mean your dog can't!

If you notice persistent, unwanted barking observe what is going on around your dog when it occurs. Is the garage door opener used by a neighbor as they pull into their driveway? Does your dog bark a few seconds before you hear that garage door being raised? Is the speaker on your TV or HDTV sound system sitting on the floor, vibrating in on your dog's level as they lay by your feet asleep, causing them to wake up and start barking without warning? These are all things to look for, discover and remove prior to blaming the dog for 'unneeded barking' and becoming aproblem.

If you can find no reason for unnecessary barking (and there is a difference between alert barking - there is someone at the door barking - and unnecessary barking), use a trick from us dog trainers. Fill several squirt bottles with water and position them around your house in easy reach. The second your dog starts this type of barking, squirt them in the hindquarters with a sharp "NO BARK" command (hopefully he already knows the NO command). It will startle them, not hurt them physically, but re-channel the behavior. With repitition, dogs quickly learn when they bark for this reason, they will get wet and startled from behind.

But what happens when you are not at home and in easy reach of this training tool? Citronella collars are readily available on the Internet and in most reputable pet stores. Attached to the neck, the mechanism lies beneath the dog's throat and when vibrated by the sound of the bark, shoots a small stream of citronella spray outwards. It achieves the same goal - when a dog barks, they smell a scent they don't like. I recommend this collars only in extreme cases however and they should not be used 24/7 for a dog as they lose their effectiveness as a training tool otherwise.

The best advice is to become a 'pet detective' and figure out why your dog is barking first, then to be a great pet owner and eliminate the barking trigger; finally to work via training and re-train the reaction to the sound. Allow times for your dog to bark (and bark on command), for this is their natural way.

In the end, TOGETHER, you and your dog can overcome an unnecessary barking habit with just a bit of work! And it will be MUCH quieter too!

   
What should I avoid when training my dog?

What Not to Do

When training your dog, whether it be leash training, potty training, or teaching your dog how to sit, it's important not to lose patience or overreact if your dog isn't behaving the way that you would like. Say you're going for a walk and your canine decides to he'd rather pull in the opposite direction throughout your entire walk. It's easy to become annoyed, but never yank on the leash, resort to yelling, or other angry behaviors. Your canine will not understand what you are trying to communicate to him. You need to stay disciplined in terms of keeping the leash loose, praising proper behavior, and not losing your temper. Remember that patience and consistency are the keys to dog training.

   
My puppy is all over the place during a walk. How can I gain better control?

Gently Lead the Way

If you have a puppy who has his own ideas about which way to go during an entire walk, you can try using a gentle leader. Gentle leaders fit over your dog's muzzle and wraps behind his head. You gain better control over your puppy by guiding his head in the direction that you want him to go. You should be able to use minimal correction to the leash to get your puppy walking in the right direction.

   

Chewing: Take care of it now

If you have a chewer, you need to remember that with puppy training, it's all about rewards, not punishments. That's going to be hard when you come home to find your new leather jacket or favorite shoe gone. Here some tips for dealing with puppy trainnig for chewers:

* GET SOME CHEW TOYS: Buy lots of solid rubber chew toys and make sure they are always available. Praise your dog for using the chew toys. And if you come home to find a that nice leather shoe in your dog's mouth, replace it with a favorite chew toy. Don't punish the dog; he won't understand. Instead, try to make the dog see that you'll play with him and the chew toys.

* Chew-proof your house: Keep nice leather items out of the dog's reach. Make rooms with fine furniture off limits.

   
How can I train my puppy not to jump on people?

Curb the Jumper

The first time your puppy jumps on you, it may be cute. After a number of times, you may try to push her off. To your puppy, a push can mean rough play. So she does what any normal puppy would do – she jumps with greater intensity to interact with you.

If you've got a jumper on your hands, the best thing to do is simply ignore the behavior. Your puppy will eventually learn that jumping gets her no response. Be patient and very consistent in ignoring your young canine. It may take several instances for her to get the message.

   
I've heard that you should not interact with guide dogs. Is this true?

At your service

A guide dog is specifically trained to lead her blind human counterpart. Since she responsible for the safety and well being of a human being, it is best to consider the following:

• Don't try to get the attention of a guide dog, by calling her or distracting her.
• Do not offer her food or treats to distract her from her duties or her daily routine.
• If you want to pet a guide dog, always ask the owner's permission first.

   
Why do dogs chase cats?

Chasing Cats

Dogs are instinctually predatory animals and although they are domesticated, they still retain many of the traits of their long ago ancestor (the wolf).

In general, a dog will have the tendency to chase anything that moves or runs from him. Cats will often perceive dogs as a predator and bolt. If you have a dog & cat home, this can be a potential for disaster. Leash your dog and introduce him to your cat, but have a spritz bottle filled with water in preparation for the dog's body language. If you observe more than an idle curiousity, the command "DROP IT" followed instantly with a squirt of water to the rear or in the face of the dog will quickly teach them the association of 'prey-aggression-squirt.'

   
Why is dog socialization important?

Socialization

Dog socialization is more than dropping Fido off at the park for playtime while you sit on your cell phone catching up with buds. Socialization is an important part of teaching your puppy or dog how to behave in a variety of situations, building of their self esteem (and reducing their fears at the same time) along with teaching them good canine manners both with humans and other dogs alike.

Socializing puppies begins at a very young age. Reputable breeders handle young puppies at three weeks of age and then start exposing them to unfamiliar people at six weeks of age after the first series of puppy shots. Socializing a dog is a life long task for without repeated exposure to situations, any dog will retreat to any fear-based bad behaviors.

When you decide to take on the responsibility of a dog, socialization becomes your job. Exposing your dog to other dogs, people, and situations is actually part of his training and helps to shape his personality. He'll learn what behavior is appropriate and what isn't and he'll be able to interact comfortably with dogs and people alike.

   
Should my puppy have a specific area to go potty?

Elimination station

Whether you're paper training, litter training, or housebreaking your puppy by taking her outside, it's always best to have a designated area for her to relieve herself. If you're paper training or litter training, pick one area of your home, whether it be a portion of the kitchen or a bathroom, and teach her to eliminate in that designated area. When teaching your puppy to go outside of the home, try getting her to eliminate in an area relatively close to your house. Consistency will help your puppy figure out sooner where she can and can't eliminate.

   
What are some of the basics of puppy training?

You've Got a New Puppy. Now What?

So you've got a cute new puppy who is soft, cuddy, loveable, and lots of fun. And she's also chewing on everything in sight and tearing up the house. What do you do?

• Your puppy is new to the world and is looking to you for direction. Establish yourself as the leader of your "pack". Take charge and show her what behavior is acceptable and what isn't.

• Socialize your puppy so that she is accustomed to a variety of situations. Bring her out on errands, take her to the dog park, and bring her around different people.

• Enroll her in puppy kindergarten training. She'll learn basic obedience and spend some time around other dogs and people.

• Begin housetraining immediately. Your puppy needs to learn right away where she can and can't eliminate.

   
My puppy whines incessantly. Why doe he do this?

What's all the Whining About?

Whining is a behavior often exhibited by puppies. If your young canine is whining, he's signaling a need. This could be anything from, "I'm lonely" to "I need to go out for a potty break." As puppies mature and become dogs, they may continue to whine. Dogs are quick learners as to what will get your attention and if whining does, they will continue to do so. One way to curb the whining is by offering your puppy plenty of attention, playtime, and affection. Make sure you are addressing his needs. If he has difficulties with being left alone, get him adjusted gradually. Put him in his crate alone for short periods and then gradually lengthen the amount of time that he spends alone.

   
I hate barking, what should I do about that?

To Bark Or Not To Bark

If you are trying to choose a breed of dog with minimal barking, keep in mind that most dogs can and will bark --- though some may do so more than others simply because of their breed's characteristics. There are breeds that do not bark much at all or rarely.

However, keep in mind that there are other characteristics besides just barking to consider.

For instance, the Basenji is a breed of dog that does not bark. However, they do make a yodeling and screaming noise that may not be for every dog lover. The Basenji also comes with a high degree of health issues. The Shiba Inu seldom barks, but makes a sound that can be equated with shrieking and is a fiercely independent dog.

Bassets and Beagles tend to bark more (as do a lot of the 'baying' hound breeds). The smaller the dog, the higher tone of the bark generally and Chihuahuas have a very high pitched bark that can be annoying. Highly excitable dog breeds or those that frequently alert are more prone to bark if not trained properly.

   
What new tricks can I teach my dog?

Teach Your Dog To Spin

Most dogs know how to sit, stay and speak, but you can wow friends and family when your dog knows a unique trick. Teaching your dog how to spin takes patience but is worth the novelty of the trick.

Getting your dog to spin is the most difficult part. Use your dog's tail, a toy, or a treat to direct your dog in a circle. Reward your pet when the action is correctly performed, and let your dog know good behavior by praising the dog and naming the trick performed. Once dogs know you view something positively, they try hard to mimic and learn the behavior. When the dog is getting familiar with the trick, replace the object used with a circular hand motion along the with the command.

You may be able to help your dog by adjusting the dog's body in a circle and gently encouraging the correct movement. This is easier to do when just using praise as a reward or the dog will be too focused on a treat to pay attention.

The results will be amusing at first, but eventually your dog will master the spin and happily prance in a circle.

   
How can agility training improve my relationship with my dog?

Agility Training

Agility training can play an important role in your dog’s overall training regimen. Even humans and dogs that have little competitive drive -- and will never enter an agility trial -- can benefit from agility work.

Incorporating an obstacle course into your daily dog walk, for example, will deepen the bonding process between yourself and man’s best friend. Working together toward a common goal, the two of you will celebrate each success, learn from each mistake and generally spend quality time together.

Interspecies communication also improves, as you learn to read your dog’s body language to look for signs of anxiety, confusion or willfulness as it approaches each station. The dog, in turn, will become more adept at interpreting your vocalizations and hand signals, as you guide the canine athlete through the agility course.

Agility training can even help with problem behavior. Burning calories on the obstacle course can drain energy from dogs that might otherwise apply excess ergs to chewing the furniture or barking inappropriately. For shy or nervous dogs, mastering a single station on an obstacle course can build confidence -- with happy spillover into daily life. The mental stimulation of an agility run, which promotes problem-solving skills, can snap a bored dog out of the sleepy doldrums or out of digging in the flower garden.

Many pet supply companies sell sturdy, reliable equipment for agility training. But if you want to save money -- and give yourself some mental stimulation -- you can fashion your own agility course. Make your own hurdle with PVC pipes. Create your own jump with a tire suspended (securely) at the right height for the canine athlete. Look around the house and yard for likely challenges: a board fence that can double as a squeeze-through station; a staircase that is optimally situated along a likely course; a bench that can serve as an obstacle to be cleared; or a board that can be reworked into a ramp.

   
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