BIG SKY DOG TRAINING

Develop an optimal relationship with your dog


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How to Walk The Excited Dog – Five Things to Dog Before You Head Out the Door

Re-print from Whole Dog Journal, 10/26/2019


You contemplate taking your dog for a walk with mixed emotions. You love the idea of going for a stroll through the neighborhood together, but it’s a major hassle to get out the door. When you pick up his leash he becomes the Tasmanian Devil – body slamming you, racing around the foyer, and bouncing off the glass door with such intensity you’re afraid he’ll crash right through it. Here are five suggestions for creating the enjoyable outing you dream of.


(1) Exercise first. Spend 15-20 minutes tossing a ball for your dog in the backyard, or providing intense mental exercise with a heavy duty shaping session. You’ll take the edge off his excitement, reduce his energy level, and make leashing-up and walking more relaxed and enjoyable for both of you.

(2) Teach him to “Say please.” Reinforce your dog’s “sit” behavior so thoroughly that “sit” becomes his default behavior – the behavior he chooses to offer when he doesn’t know what else to do. Then wait for him to sit (say “please”) to make all good things happen: sit for his dinner bowl; sit to be petted; sit for you to throw his ball; sit to have his leash put on; and sit to make the door open.

(3) Pick up his leash throughout the day. He gets amped up when you touch his leash because it always means the two of you are going for a walk. Of course he gets excited! If you pick up his leash numerous times throughout the day, sometimes
draping it over your neck and wearing it for a while, sometimes carrying it from room to room, sometimes picking it up and putting it back down, sometimes clipping it on his collar and then unclipping it, the leash will no longer be a reliable predictor of walks, and he won’t have any reason to get all excited about it. Note: This will take a while. Hope springs eternal in the canine heart.

(4) Use negative punishment. No, we don’t mean a bonk on the head. It means setting up the situation so that doing the behavior you don’t want causes a good thing to go away. Here’s how it would work in this case: If, when you pick up the leash, he goes bonkers (the behavior you don’t want), say “Oops!” in a cheerful tone of voice (what’s known as a “no reward marker,” it simply tells him no reward is forthcoming), set the leash down, and walk away. When he settles down, pick the leash up again. If he sits (say please!), proceed with attaching the leash and going for a walk. If he winds up again, do another “Oops!” and set the leash down. You’re teaching him that getting excited makes the opportunity for a walk go away; staying calm makes walks happen.

(5) Reduce the significance of other “walk cues.” Other things you do as part of your walk preparation routine can also feed his energy – getting out treats, putting on your jacket, grabbing your cell phone and keys . . . The more you randomize your ritual, the less these steps contribute to his growing excitement over the pending event, and the calmer he’ll stay as you leash him and walk out the door. For example, put your keys and cell phone in your jacket pocket before you eat breakfast. Happy walking!

For more tips on turning your dog into a more pleasant walking companion, check out Whole Dog Journal’s Walking Your Dog ebook.


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Teaching A Puppy or Dog To Stay

Often, teaching a dog to stay in one spot is critical to his safety and might be used in combination with other commands. They are undoubtedly several ways to accomplish a stay. This is just one of the methods that has been successful for many of the dogs and puppies I have worked with.

Pre-work –

Your puppy should have started attention and focus on you.

Your puppy should know how to sit. – However if the dog stands during the stay command, it is okay.

Let’s start with 2 people. One person will hold the dog on a leash with the puppy at their side, this person is called “the Tree.” They do not talk, move or interact with the puppy. The second person is called “the Trainer.” This person is going to walk up to the puppy and ask them to sit (facing the puppy). They can use a treat or toy and hold it at their chin to keep the puppy focused on them. The other hand will be straight out with the palm facing the dog, in a stop sign fashion. The trainer will ask the puppy to stay. They can use the puppy’s name just this one time, i.e., “Spot, stay.”

The “Tree” person is still standing facing the trainer and has taken the slack out of the leash, but not holding the leash too tight, just enough so there is no loose leash. Again, they say and do nothing but hold the puppy in one place.

The trainer then walks backward away from the puppy for a few steps, and repeats the word “stay” to the puppy without using the puppy’s name. The use of the word “Stay” is teaching the dog the English word and the hand signal is teaching the dog a non-verbal signal. After the trainer walks back a couple of steps, they then walk directly back to the puppy. If the puppy stands up when you walk back, just re-ask the puppy to sit. Mark the good behavior with a verbal “Yes” then reward the puppy with the treat, if used.

Note: Do not say the puppy’s name while you are asking the puppy to perform a stay. By using the name during a stationary exercise the puppy might think you are going to ask another command or exercise.

As you work on this exercise, continue to lengthen the distance you move away from the puppy, however always remember, you must go back to the puppy. DO NOT call a puppy or dog from a STAY. Stay means, stay they until I come back and get you. If you want to work on recall, use the word “Wait” instead of “Stay” and do not do the exercised during the same training session. By doing them at the same time, the puppy will get confused!

When you are ready to move to a one person Stay, put your thumb through the handle of the 6 foot leash and hold your hand in a stop sign position. Take the treat or reward in the other hand and hold at your chin. Ask you puppy to sit and then Stay. Take one step back and one step forward, mark the behavior, then treat/reward. Then repeat the exercise moving further and further back. Eventually you can use a long line and move the exercise outside, which holds more distractions.

Remember, if the puppy is failing, back up a step or two and/or lower the distractions.

5 Types of Rewards; treats, touch, loose leash, play, voice.

 

Call or e-mail if you have any questions, good luck

Montana C. Hayes

847-997-4707

montana@bigskydogtraining.com

 


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When & How to Reward Your Dog

When rewarding your dog, it is important for you to provide a combination of rewards. Remember you have five rewards to offer: touch, voice, play, treats, and loose leash.

  • Toys and treats are a great way to lure your dog for the “puppy come” game.
  • If you use treats as a reward, you don’t have to give them each time.
  • You can always use your dogs’ food as treat rewards.
  • If you use treats as a reward, remember to cut down on the quantity of food you feed.
  • Using multiple rewards provides your dog with a clear understanding that he “got it right.”
  • Remember to train for short periods of time (5-10 minutes), multiple times per day.


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Practice Socialization Weekly

Socialization is important for a happy, well-behaved dog. I suggest making a habit out of the following tips:

  • Take your dog to 1-3 new places each week and meet 2-5 new people.
  • Remember to use dogs greeting manners. Invite one friend over who will help you teach greeting manners.
  • Be sure to give visiting guests treats to give your dog when he exhibits appropriate/good behavior. Tell them about the multiple rewards you can offer the dog.
  • Be sure to keep up on your dogs social skills with you meet new people.
  • Keep up K-9 social skills (meeting other dogs). Remember always ask permission of the other dogs’ owner prior to introducing the dogs. Remember to greet with a loose leash.
  • If you have or are planning to have children, or grandchildren, now is the time to socialize with small children.
  • Reminder: rewards are given this week for everything “good” or “right” that your dog does. Bad behavior should be ignored if it is not dangerous.


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Socializing at the Dog Park

Just as with our human children, socialization is an important part of raising a well-behaved canine companion. Dog parks are great places for a dog to experience some of what life has to offer and to learn and grow. Dog parks are similar to preschool and kindergarten as they offer a wonderful environment in which your dog can learn and practice skills, from dealing with different personalities and temperaments to learning proper play. Older dogs can practice more advanced distraction training, meet a new playmate, or just burn off pent-up energy.
Despite the growing number of dog parks in the Chicago area, they are still relatively rare and, therefore, crowded. As long as you are a vigilant owner, though, the benefits far exceed any risks.
Preparing for a Fun-Filled Visit to the Dog Park
 

At a Chicago Area Dog Park

Before starting off for the park for the first time, you should be sure your dog is fully protected.  For starters, make sure your dog is fully vaccinated and ready for such an experience. If your dog has a problem behaving with one or more dogs or is timid or aggressive, you should discuss the matter with a behaviorist or trainer. Proper training can be affordable and fun. Look for a trainer that teaches only humane, positive, and motivational methods to help build a great relationship between you and your companion. If your dog has previous or on-going medical conditions, talk to your veterinarian before going to the park to  prevent more serious problems or complications.

If this is your dog’s first visit to a dog park,  take it slow. Consider keeping your the dog on a lead outside the fenced area for while. This helps him or her remain calm and get use to the commotion. A dog who typically has a high level of energy may need some exercise before going into the park. Watch carefully and learn your dog’s threshold for stress and exhaustion. At the first signs of approaching either, it is time to go home. If your dog does nothing but bark, dig holes, bullies others or just appears uncomfortable, you should remove him or her from the situation.

Socializing at the dog park is great for all ages.

Above all else, use your common sense and knowledge of your dog. Remember to remain vigilent and never rely on another person to do the right thing. You should feel comfortable intervening on behalf of your dog whenever needed. Most importantly make sure you and your dog have fun at the park. If you get stressed, your dog also will get stressed.

When you are ready to go, remember to follow park etiquette:
  • Always clean up after your dog
  • Never bring glass into the park
  • Never bring food or treats into the park, including natural or artificial bones
  • Do not over-exercise your dog in excessive heat or cold
  • Be sure vaccines and license are up-to-date
  • Use a correctly fitting collar with ID tags
  • Do not leave a harness or prong collar on your dog in the park
  • Use a proper-length lead to and from the entrance
  • Keep an eye on your dog and intervene at the first sign of poor behavior
  • Only use safe toys manufactured specifically for dogs
  • Leave females who are “in heat” and small puppies at home. Intact males are not usually allow at dog parks.
  • Use extra caution if you bring a small child
  • Check with each park for local protocol, paid passes, and other rules

Having a fun, safe time at the dog beach.

What to Bring:

  • Extra water
  • Towels or rags – Clean dogs paws off with cleaning wipe or soap.
  • Extra lead and collar
  • Extra poop bags
  • First aid kit and vaccination paperwork
  • Knowledge of nearby animal hospital locations