Dog Training and Puppy Training in the Columbia and Lexington Area
The Leash Connection dog training tip of the month should help you with your dog obedience training problems, dog housebreaking and crate training problems and dog behavioral issues.
June - 2021- Attention Training For Your Dog
Where Are Your Eyes..... by Richard Martinez
.watch me, watch me, pay attention. Do these words sound familiar? Go to almost any training class and this is what people will be chanting, but this is what your dog will be hearing *@#$!@%#*%, and this is what your dog will be thinking (WHAT in the Hell do you want me to do). Believe it or not dogs do not understand English. It seems that when we teach the other exercises in obedience we always put an action with the word that we use as a command. When we start training a dog it seems that we automatically think that our dog should give us its undivided attention or that our dog will just do it. WRONG! Attention work is just like any other exercise it is definitely a trained response. Dog attention solves so many of your problems that if you dedicate yourself to teach your dog this basic exercise you would wonder how you trained so long without it. But it takes hard work and a mental picture of what your final goal should look like. With out the mental picture how do you know when you have achieved your goal.
The use of a release command is to let the dog know when it is working and when it's ok to relax. It does not mean he can pull me over to what ever distraction that catches his eye. When you finish giving your dog a command and he has completed the act - tell him OK and play for a few seconds. While you are doing this stay standing upright - do not bend way over to praise. You want to start getting your dog used to LOOKING UP and making eye contact with you. With your praise voice or by stroking upward under your dogs chin your dog might start thinking that it is not so bad to look upward at you.
Goal For This Exercise: When you give your dog the OK command your dog can play with you or just hang out.
Week 1 - RESPONSE TO NAME: The first thing we teach in the attention work is to get the dog to respond to his name. Put the dog on a 6' foot leash and let him wander ahead of you or get interested in something else besides you. When the dog is not paying attention I will call the dogs name, give a pop on the leash and start moving backwards for about 8 to 10 paces while praising the dog in hopes that the dog will try to catch me. The second your dog reaches you, you should give him a treat or piece of food with a lot of praise for doing the correct response. After a few seconds we start this catch me game or Beat The Jerk as I call it all over again. If you play this game right you will start to see the dog looking up at you and not wanting to leave your side. When we can no longer fool the dog we need to start adding distractions. A distraction can be anything your dog finds more interesting or appealing than you. One distraction that you can use is another person or dog. Let someone call the dog and when he gets close to the person call the dogs name, give a pop on the leash and move backwards while praising your dog for coming. Within a week it should be very hard to fool the dog into not coming on leash to you. Remember the timing of the pop and praise is the KEY to keeping the dog up and happy. You should only use enough force with the leash pop to get the response of the dog coming to you eagerly and happy. End the session on a happy note.
Stationary Attention: Stationary attention is when your dog can sit on your left hand side and watch you regardless of distractions around him. When teaching attention you must give this exercise a name so your dog will know when it is supposed to be watching you. I use Ready or Watch. It really makes no difference what word you use for this exercise just remember to use the same word every time so your dog will start associating a word with an action.
Week 2 - SHOW: During the first week you should introduce attention without distractions or corrections. Have food readily available so you can reward your dog for doing the correct behavior which is to look at you. You can have your dog sitting in front of you or on your left side in the beginning. Some dog find it easier to sit in front of you. At the end of the week you should be able to do this exercise on the left side if you started with your dog sitting in front of you. With your dog in the sit position show him the food, now draw the food up toward your face so that the dog is now looking up at you. Now the second your dog gives you eye contact give him the Ready or Watch command as you give him his food reward while calmly praising the dog for watching you, then release him and play a few seconds and start over again. After a few times of getting eye contact with a single piece of food we start with the same game but we also start trying to expand the time the dog has to watch us by using the food and praise to keep the dogs attention on us. Remember when praising the dog you should talk to your dog not at him. At the end of the week you should be able to have your dog maintain eye contact with you while you feed him for at least one minute.
Week 3 - REINFORCE: We are still working in a distraction free environment and the food is still being used. Now we are ready to start adding mild corrections which are no more than a light pop straight up on the leash if your dog starts to look away. Anytime you have to correct your dog it should be followed with a food reward and praise the second the dog is watching you. At the end of the week most dogs will start to respond when they hear your watch command.
Week 4 - ADD MILD DISTRACTIONS: Never over power your dog with distractions. If you can't keep your dogs attention on you simply put some distance between the dog and the distraction. Some examples of mild distractions are another dog and handler working at a distance, someone clapping their hands, someone whistling, cars going by on a road at a distance etc.. Remember to correct for any lack of attention with a light correction followed with food and praise.
Week 5 - MOVE DISTRACTIONS : We are still CLOSER TO DOGl using a mild correction with food and praise. Now it is time to see if all of your hard work is starting to pay off. When the distractions start getting closer your dog should keep his eyes on you. Be creative with your distractions but remember if the distraction is to strong back up and make it a little easier so your dog can have some success and win the game by paying total attention to you.
Week 6 - FIRST CORRECTION IS GIVEN WITHOUT FOOD: Now we are going to start weaning away from the food. If while doing the attention exercise your dog looks away you simply give your dog a straight up pop on the leash followed by praise the second you have your dogs attention back on you. Remember it is very important to give the correction the second you dog starts to move his head and not wait until he has turned his head completely away. Be critical of head position.
Week 7 - SIT AND EXPECT PRAISE: Sit and accept praise is the next step we teach. When we start teaching this exercise I like to be in a distraction free environment so that the dog can focus on watching me instead of everything else. This exercise teaches the dog that he can be praised but still be under control, which is helpful in advanced exercises. With the dog sitting on your left side begin praising your dog lavishly. Correct the dog for ANY movement or lack of attention with a quick jerk up on your leash. The minute your dog quits moving or is doing the response you want start praising again. You need to determine how much of a jerk you will need to give as a correction, every dog is different so learn to read your dog. After a few seconds of praising and while the dog is doing the correct response give your dog his release command. Play with your dog a few seconds then start the sit and accept praise exercise over. At first if you can only get 10 seconds that should be a easy starting point. Over the course of a few days try to expand the time up to a minute before you release your dog.
Goal For This Exercise: To have your dog sit at your side and be praised for a minute without moving or getting up until released with your OK command.
Week 8 - MOVING ATTENTION: Teaching the moving part of attention work is where most people start having problems. Straight line heeling is the first thing we teach in the moving part of attention work. It is also the most important part of heeling. If a dog can't heel in a straight line with total attention the change of pace, turns and the halts will all suffer. With your dog on your left side and LOOKING UP at you start walking in a straight line trying to keep the dogs eyes on you. Your goal is for the dog to walk with his head up paying attention to you. If you lose his attention you MUST DO SOMETHING!
What you do when you lose attention should depend on why you lost attention and at what level of training you are at. You can break the exercise off with your OK or Release command or correct for lack of attention with a light pop straight up on your leash or take a side step to the right where you would pop toward you, praise and release. In the beginning only try to go a few steps while maintaining your dogs attention. Break the exercise after a few steps and praise, then get the dogs attention and start playing the game again this time trying to increase your distance a few more steps before you break and praise. When you can heel in a straight line with TOTAL attention for about 100 or so feet it is time to start adding distractions into your straight line heeling. We now teach the rest of the heeling parts in the following order, slow pace, fast pace, left turn, right turn, about turn and the halt. As always we will teach each separate part of heeling as a individual exercise. We will not start on another part of heeling until the dog has mastered the one we are teaching. I know we didn't talk a lot about heeling but this article is about DOG ATTENTION. I hope this will help with some of your training problems and until next time remember WHERE Are Your Eyes!
May - 2021 - My Dog Doesn’t Listen To Me
That statement is one of the top 4 reasons people put on their registration form when signing up for class.
Now, is your dog not LISTENING to you - or is it your dog does not UNDERSTAND you? Big difference.
I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but I will. Dogs do not magically know English! Let it sink in – dogs do not know English.
The good news is they can be taught English. We are taught what objects are called (chair, lamp, shoe) and how to communicate using English when we are little. Same for dogs.
By putting an action with a word you are teaching your dog English. For example Sit: butt goes on floor. Down: whole body goes on floor. Wait: do not move forward. Leave It: back away from object, etc.
After hundreds of repetitions and lots of patience your dog will understand you…and Listen…because you spent the time to teach him/her English. When training your dog get in the habit of using their name before each command. It will definitely help your dog to LISTEN to you as he/she knows you are talking specifically to them. Remember dogs hear us jabbering all the time – how do they know you are suddenly talking to them unless they hear their name? Keep it simple though, your dog knows WORDS not lengthy sentences so no need to carry on lengthy conversations. Unless of course your dog is your therapist then talk away, but don’t expect your dog to understand. You will feel better and your dog will be glad for the time spent with you!
Okay how many of you are saying “No, my dog knows what I am saying” Test him/her. Open the back door, tell your dog to go to the right corner of the yard and do a Sit Stay. If your dog does it – film it and become a You Tube star! If your dog doesn’t- then it is likely lack of understanding. Simple commands you have taught your dog are the best way to have your dog LISTEN to you.
April - 2021 - Dogs Need To Chew It is in their DNA. Our job is to provide them with natural dog chews designed to satisfy that craving. Chewing on natural products can clean teeth and help with tarter build up. Beef bones, rawhide bones, sterile bones, cow hooves and dental chew products will keep them occupied and happy. Supervision of your dog is important when you give them a bone or other chews until you know how they chew on individual items. Rawhide might last one dog days or weeks but another dog may chew it up very quickly. Rawhide can be okay as long as he or she chews it up very well and does not try to swallow big pieces. Aggressive chewers will do better with a natural bone or sterile bone. Supervision is still necessary with natural bones until you know how your dog chews them.
Rawhide and Pressed Bones – Rawhide bones are made up of rolled rawhide, pressed rawhide and what is called munchie rawhide (pieces of rawhide pressed into shapes).
Natural Cow Bones – At the Leash Connection we carry saddle knuckles, L bones, 2” and 7” center bones, kneecaps, rib bones, sterile bones and large Dino bones. Something for every size dog.
Cow Hooves – One of my favorite natural dog chews. I call it the Sugar Daddy Sucker of dog chews. Dogs wear it down but unlike rawhide dogs don’t bite off large pieces. Great for puppies that are teething.
Pig Ears, Cow Ears and Buffalo Ears – These are a quick chew for most dogs but other dogs will make an ear last.. Great as a treat.
Dental Chews – Since 1955, Nylabone has been manufacturing nylon chew products for dogs. Nylabone products are the most recognized dog chew product and carry the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seal of approval.
Chewing is an important part of your dog’s well being but it is not the only thing. Regular exercise is necessary so have vigorous playtime with your dog, it's good for you too.
March - 2021 - Customers ask I have a question.....How do I fix......(Dog Problem).....But I don't want to hurt him. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard this. If all it took was to hurt your dog nobody would have dog problems. Now I said HURT your dog not CORRECT your dog, Big difference. What is A Correction: It is a quick pop and release on the leash, not a pull. It is IMPORTANT to use only the amount of pressure necessary to achieve the proper response to your command. We do not punish dogs for being wrong, we just correct them. Your dog understands a correction when it is quick and to the point, then praised for doing the command you gave. Unlike a correction, punishment is long term and abstract to your dog so this is why we NEVER PUNISH a dog.
The Three Steps of Training:
1. SHOW is putting a word with an action (SCOO-BA-NOG)
2. REINFORCE they must do the action every time you ask. (Dog knows the command now we give a correction when dog doesn't comply with the command or breaks the command)
3. PROOF is to have them do the command anywhere and under any circumstance. (Adding distractions)
When training your dog sometimes you need to know when to help your dog and when to correct your dog because he is blowing you off.
February - 2021- Back Yard Dog - Front Yard Dog - When you first start training your dog it helps if you train in a low distraction area so you are not trying to teach a command and trying to keep your dogs attention on what you are doing. So now we have a few commands that our dog knows like Easy - Leave It - Heeling With Turns - Come When Called on leash and the dog seems to be doing pretty good. Now we go to a new place where the dog has not worked before and it seems like he just lost half of what you taught him, so whats up ?? New smells new distractions new sight picture, but the good news is it shouldn't take very long to get your dog locked back in to the commands you have already taught him. Your goal should be to work in new locations and get the same results that you have in your backyard or the place where you do most of your training.
January - 2021 - Let's play a game called SCOO-BA-NOG. Now we are going to teach our dog his first command. You will need a willing partner (human). Now face your partner and command him to do SCOO-BA-NOG, if he does not comply command him again SCOO-BA-NOG. If he doesn't comply this time take his arm by his wrist and raise arm and hand above his head now when his arm is raised command SCOO-BA-NOG and release his wrist. If your partner lowers his arm back down say NO and take his wrist raise his arm again and repeat command SCOO-BA-NOG then release wrist and see what happens. Once again if he drops his arm down repeat by raising his arm and repeat command. If your dog (human) keeps his arm in the air release your dog (human) with the command OK (now he can drop his arm because you gave him the release command). If he keeps dropping his arm down repeat raising his arm then giving the command SCOO-BA-NOG until he will hold arm in the air without dropping arm. Then give the release command OK and praise your dog (human). Now give your dog (human) the command SCOO-BA-NOG and see what happens. Your dog (human) should raise his arm when he hears the command. Why didn't your dog (human) comply the first time he heard SCOO-BA-NOG, you both speak English? He didn't comply because I used a made up word so you would have to put an action with a word.
1. Your dog does not understand English (If he did when you gave him a command he would obey). When you first start training your dog and you say SIT your dog hears SCOO-BA-NOG, when you say COME your dog hears SCOO-BA-NOG because you have not put an action with a word.
2. When training your dog you must put an action with a word (SCOO-BA-NOG means in this case to raise your arm when the command is given).
December - 2020 - Be Consistent - Be Consistent - Be Consistent ........Dogs learn by repetition – doing the same thing over and over. Therefore, you must do the SAME action and use the same command over and over consistently when training. We have all heard the saying “practice makes perfect”…I believe in “perfect practice makes perfect”.
Make sure that all family members are all on the same page when training the dog, If you are telling your dog “off” when he jumps on the couch and someone else is saying “down,” while someone else is letting him hang out up there, how on earth is he ever going to learn what you want?
Consistency can be your best friend or your worst enemy when training. Your dog is always watching you so pay attention to how you interact with him.