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Training "Litter Mates" by Jean Marcellus, PCE Trainer/Daycare Supervisor PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Saturday, 02 June 2012 10:48

With summer approaching, many people & families ask me about getting a puppy.  What could be better than one? Why TWO DOGS of course!  But training Litter Mates is a little more challenging than working with just one.

While there are many positive reasons to own two pups at the same time, there are also a few negatives to be considered.  One thing to remember, is the financial impact.  Everything costs double; crates, leashes, food & of course veterinary fees.  For many, this is a non-issue.  So what about the Training?

You'll need to treat each puppy as an individual - not as a unit (or pack).  Reason being?  Puppies must bond with their humans first.  That's why you'll need two crates.  The crates will allow you to train them as individuals. It's always a good idea, to put one pup in its' crate, while training the other.  You can also feed them in their crates - this allows you to monitor their feeding needs, and discover which pup is learning 'house breaking' or not.

While it's great to let the puppies play together & wear themselves out, more than half that time should be spent one-on-one with their humans.  When walking them, times should be set aside to walk them separately.  If you have a partner for walks, plan to walk in different directions, again so the puppies can bond with their human.

Nurturing them as individuals, will help in the development of their personalities, and form a strong human bond.  Once that's accomplishished, you can let them spend more time with each other. If you allow the puppies to “pack” with each other, they will tend to ignore their humans. (and that's not good!)

These hints do not have to pertain to just litter mates.  They're also excellent reminders, when training 2 different dog breeds, of similar age acquired around the same time - to live with a person or family.  May your dogs always look to you, as their "Pack Leader" smiley Jean


"LEAVE IT!" (part 3) - by Jean Marcellus, PCE Trainer/Daycare Supervisor PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 22:14

Over the last few months, we've been teaching the “LEAVE IT” command around scent (food). This month we'll work on visual distractions; ie. what does your dog see that excites them & makes them lose control?

It could be one thing or many things.  Is it a person or dog walking down the street, a cat or smaller animal? Is it a car, bike or ball? You'll have to choose which one is less important & work your way up, to the most important.

Knowing WHEN to correct & HOW to correct your dog will have to be practiced alot - timing is everything! You need a leash & collar, and some great treats to reward with.  Start with something of low importance visually.  If a moving ball or skateboard makes your dog crazy, start with the ball or skateboard lying on the grass with no one near it. If it's people or dogs moving, have the person or dog at a distance away from you, and very still.

When is it best to CORRECT?  When your dog’s gaze becomes a stare.  Ears perking up and the tail starting to rise are tell-tale (or should I say 'tell-TAIL') signs.  Correct this behaviour NOW!  DO NOT WAIT 'til the dog lunges at the object, person or animal - as it will be too late by then!  You may have to get someone to watch your dog, and tell you WHEN to correct him/her.

The correction should start with the verbal “LEAVE IT”.  If your dog ignores you, it’s time for a correction.  A quick “leash pop” to the side (think of a wet towel twisted up & snapped at another person to deliver a sting).  If done properly the dog should look at you.  Reward with a “GOOD LEAVE IT"” & treat.

Do not drag the dog to you, or physically hold it back.  If the dog still ignores you, you'll need a stronger leash pop or a couple in quick succession.  Once the dog is refocused on you, reply “GOOD LEAVE IT”, & reward with the treat.

Remember timing is VERY important and you'll need to practice this technique quite a bit at first.  Once your dog understands what you want, and starts to “Leave it” without correction, you can slowly increase your distractions.  May your dog always re-focus on YOU! smiley Jean

"LEAVE IT!" (part 2) - by Jean Marcellus, PCE Trainer/Daycare Supervisor PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Sunday, 01 April 2012 09:19

For a quick refresher on "LEAVE IT!" (Steps 1&2), scroll down. Now as you proceed to Step 3, your dog should be starting to stare at YOU, waiting for permission to “take it”. 

Step 3: Place the treat on the floor (be prepared to put your hand over the food, to keep them from getting 'free' treats!)  Move the food around, sometimes close to the dog, sometimes further away.  Keep practicing until you're sure your dog will “LEAVE IT”...until you tell them it's OK to: “TAKE IT”.

Step 4: You're now going to drop the treat on the floor; use a treat that's going to land on the floor (not bounce around or roll like kibble).  Try a small piece of hot dog, cheese or even a banana slice.  Drop the treat from about waist height & say LEAVE IT.  If you've built a strong foundation of practicing, your dog should pass this step with flying colours.  Be prepared to stop the dog from getting the treat, if they try to go for it. Repeat this exercise until you're sure they understand "Leave it!”

Step 5: At this point, you're going to test or 'proof' what they've learned.  We're going to change the rules a little.  We've been telling them to “take it” after a 5-to-10-second pause.  But if something fell on the floor that was really hot or poisonous, we would NOT want them to take it.  So, find something that unappealing to them, like a lemon or orange peel.  Place it on the counter, and pretend you're making something to eat.  Your dog needs to be close by watching you.  Knock the lemon peel onto the floor.  Use your “LEAVE IT" command.  If the dog leaves it, pick the peel up, and get a good treat as a reward.

Increase the value of the treats you knock off the counter or table.  Sometimes allow your dog to “Take it”, and other times?  Pick it up, and treat them with something else for a "GOOD LEAVE IT!"  I'll tell you about another use for "LEAVE IT", next time! smiley Jean

"LEAVE IT!" (part 1) - by Jean Marcellus, PCE Trainer/Daycare Supervisor PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Thursday, 01 March 2012 07:49

I use this command, in many different situations. 

"LEAVE IT" means..."Leave it alone, and pay attention to ME."  You can use any other word or words - just use ones that are different from other commands you have in place.  When should you use it?  Here's one example: When the steak you were cooking for dinner, falls off the counter onto the floor!  OK, let’s get started.  Have your dog ready along with some favourite treats.

Step 1: Show your dog the treats, let them smell only, not consume. Put the treat in your hand, close your hand around the treat to make a fist; then place your fist directly in front of your dog’s nose.  Don’t move your hand away from the dog.  The object is to get your dog to back away or turn their head away from your fist. Tell your dog to “leave it” in your normal talking voice.  You’ll have to repeat the command every 5 seconds until the dog pauses for a 2 second count.  You then tell your dog “good leave it”.  Now, "take it” as you open your hand and reward with the treat.

A few different things could happen:  Your dog actually 'leaves it' (you're very lucky to have such a smart dog) or the they may lick/aw or try to nip at your fist. Just use your “negative command word or sound” ("NO"?) to stop the behaviour.  Keep your fist at their nose, and they will pause at some point so that you can offer the reward.

Repeat 5-10 times, and each time will become easier.  Practice over 3 to 4 days and move onto step 2.

Step 2: Place the treat on your open hand, and tell the dog to “leave it”.  Move your hand towards the dog’s face. If they try to take the food, just close your hand into a fist - use your negative word or sound - and try to open your hand again.  When your dog pauses for 2-3 seconds tell them “good leave it”; then reward by saying “take it”.  Practice for a few more days, until you are not having to close your hand or use any negatives.

Around this time, you should start to see that your dog is starting to stare at YOU waiting for permission to “take it”.  This is a great sign that they're beginning to understand the “leave it” command.  Practice makes perfect!  Next time, we'll continue this exercise with a few more steps!  'Til then, May Your Dog "LEAVE IT" when asked! smiley Jean

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 March 2012 08:09
"The Treadmill" - by Jean Marcellus, PCE Trainer/Daycare Supervisor PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Wednesday, 01 February 2012 21:00

How many of you have a treadmill in your home?  How many would think to use it to walk your dog?  Treadmills are very useful, especially in winter when you don’t or cannot walk your dog outside. Depending on their age & size, the training can be accomplished in anywhere from an hour to as long as a month, but it can be done.

Step 1:  Take the dog to the treadmill & place some treats around it; if they approach like it’s no big deal, move to the next step.

Step 2:  Place some treats on the treadmill.  NOTE: The treadmill is not to be turned on yet. When your dog approaches & eats the treats, move to the next step.

Step 3:  We're looking for the dog’s feet to touch the treadmill; use treats to lure them up onto the treadmill. Some will just walk onto it; others will look at you like 'you’re crazy'.  Reward for any paw touch. If you have a dog that just walks on, show them how to turn around & walk off by luring them with a treat.

With nervous dogs, you must go slow.  Reward for one foot on the treadmill, then wait until you get 2 feet on, & so on.  You may have to treat your dog on the treadmill for a few days or weeks until they show no sign of fear when standing on it. 

So far we haven’t forced the dog to do anything. We’ve rewarded it for any forward movement as well as standing on the treadmill in a relaxed manner.  Now, repeat Steps 1 & 2 with the treadmill ON or 'running' until the dog is relaxed with the sound. We're now in the last stage - the time-line for which could've been an hour or 3-4 weeks, depending on the dog.

Step 4:  Make sure the dog’s collar is on tight, so they can’t slip out of it.  Attach the leash & get some really good treats.  Have 2 friends or family members around to help. The trick to this step is to keep the dog on the treadmill until they're walking comfortably, and not trying to get off. One friend should be at the front of the treadmill, rewarding treats and: to also stop the dog from jumping off.  Someone else should be at the the opposite end, to stop them from trying to jump off the sides.  YOUR job is to keep your dog centered on the treadmill via the leash and  stop them from sliding off the back.

Remember: always start on the SLOWEST speed (a very slow walking dog speed).  If you pull the leash straight up & a little forward for a few seconds it will cause your dog to move forward.  So in the beginning, go no longer than 2-5 minutes until they get used to it.  Always stop the treadmill at the end & allow your dog to turn around & walk off.

At first, the dog’s initial reaction is always the biggest - so be prepared!  The humans in the room should be relaxed & positive, never impatient.  Support your dog with hands, leash & voice.  When they're relaxed, you can slowly increase the treadmill's speed until they're doing a relaxed walk.  After approximately one minute, stop the treadmill, turn the dog around & let them walk off at the back.  Give your dog 'a party' of MUCH PRAISE, lots of treats, pats & hugs.  They just went for their first walk on the treadmill.   And from here on, everything will be easier, the next time.

Safety is of the utmost importance!  So never tie your dog to the treadmill.  Never leave your dog unattended. Never ask your dog to do more than they can handle, and please: Never put the speed up so that they have to run!  The treadmill is only to be used for enjoyable exercise. May your dog(s) learn to heart the Treadmill! smiley Jean

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 February 2012 21:38
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