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.
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.
Buying a new puppy is a great thing to do. However, once you get your bundle of joy home, you may not realize they are going to grow and get huge quickly. Since this is possible, here are some of the reasons why you should know exactly how large the dog is going to get that you have just purchased.
1. The dogs can easily outgrow your home if you get a large breed or giant breed dog for your smaller home. When this happens, you will either have to adapt to picking items up all the time or getting rid of the dog that you have grown attached to and love.
2. Amount of food these dogs eat is larger then what you are used to having to feed a smaller dog. So you can expect to have a higher food bill then what you are thinking you would have because large breed dogs can often eat a fifty pound bag of food in a week to two weeks.
When you are buying a new puppy you may not think about how large the dogs are going to get when they get older. However, this is one of the main things you need to think about. Once you find out about the size of the adult dog, you can make a choice on if the dog breed is proper for you or not.
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.
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.
Just because your dog is getting up in years doesn't mean he has to be stuck with his old habits. As with people, it can take longer to learn something new, but it is possible.
The key to teaching any dog is consistency. Dogs have the beneficial combination of being creatures of habit and wanting to please their people. This is a recipe for success in training, even when the dog is past his puppy years. Patience on your part is the added ingredient when working with an older dog.
Begin by capturing the behavior in your dog when he does it naturally. For example, if your dog has the bad habit of jumping on people when they enter the house, make a point to reward him when he keeps his feet on the floor upon someone’s entrance. You can do this with a small treat or a hearty petting and a “good dog!” The key is giving him that reward immediately. Capture that behavior as soon as the person sets one foot inside, before he even has the chance to jump. This will also serve the purpose of distracting your dog from the newcomer. He will become more likely to direct his attention to you whenever someone enters in the hopes of being rewarded for it. You can practice this behavior by attaching a leash to your dog and having him sit at the door. When someone walks in, step on the leash to prevent him from jumping. Once he starts making no move to jump when someone enters, reward him with the treat or attention.
This method can be applied to almost any behavior – sitting, lying down, and keeping off of the furniture, even tricks like closing doors and getting the paper. However, you have to make sure that everyone in the household rewards the proper behavior whenever it is displayed - consistency.
Giving the dog any kind of attention when he misbehaves only serves to reinforce the bad behavior. This is where your patience comes in. When someone knocks on the door or you know another family member just pulled into the driveway, get your dog on a leash and sitting by the door before they come in. Where a younger dog may learn the proper behavior in a week or two, a dog who has been free to jump for years and years may take a month or longer. So put the leash on every time and lavish the rewards whenever he remains calm and seated.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|