Category Archives: basic commands

Training Dogs to Respond to a Silent Whistle


By Linda Cole

Whistle training is usually only done by hunters or herders to control their dog while out in the field. But using a silent whistle to give your dog commands has its advantages. I started using a silent dog whistle years ago when I learned that my Siberian Husky was an escape artist. Instead of having to walk the neighborhood yelling, I could simply blow on the whistle and she could hear it better than my voice. Training your dog to respond to a silent dog whistle is just like teaching them to come to you when you call them using a voice command. It’s easy to do, as long as you are consistent, patient and have plenty of treats and praise for your dog.

A silent dog whistle makes little to no sound that humans can hear, but dogs and even cats hear it loud and clear. The only thing we hear is our breath as it goes through the whistle. You may hear a whistle depending on how you have the pitch set. But it isn’t very loud to us because the sound the dog whistle emits is up in the higher range we can’t pick up.

If you have an outside cat you would like to train to come to the dog whistle or would like to train your inside cat to respond when you blow the whistle, the same training techniques used for a dog would be applied. Cats don’t always come when called, but they may surprise you if they think there’s something in it for them, like food. A sharp blast gets their attention almost as good as a can opener, and all cats understand what that sound means.

Depending on where you buy your dog whistle, the price can be anywhere from $1.50 up to $50.00. You don’t need an expensive whistle, and the ones under $10.00 are just fine. You can buy them with or without a lanyard, but I’ve found having a cord attached to the whistle makes it easier to find because you can hang it in a convenient spot and hang it around your neck when using it.

Training your dog to respond to a silent whistle

The first thing you need to do is decide which commands you want your dog to learn. The dog whistle works well for calling your dog if you’re hiking and he’s off leash, if he’s a country dog that’s wandered down to the back forty or if he has become lost. You can use the whistle inside the home as well and train your dog to come, sit or stay by using long and short whistles. There is no wrong way to do it. Start by getting your dog accustomed to the sound of the silent dog whistle. If your dog is out of the room when you blow it and responds to the sound, give him a treat and praise.

Once you have his attention, pick one series of whistles for the command you want him to respond to. For instance, I use two short whistles for “come.” If you want your dog to sit or stay, you will need different whistles for those basic commands. Each time your dog does what the whistle asks, give him a treat and lots of praise.

Using a silent dog whistle is just like using your voice. Be patient and only use the series of whistles meant for each command. When your dog is in the same room with you, it’s best not to use the whistle and a voice command is more appropriate.

If you are blowing the dog whistle and your dog pays no attention to it, adjust the pitch on the whistle and keep testing it until you see your dog’s ears move. That’s an indication he does hear it. It’s very important to keep the whistle tuned to that particular pitch and frequency, because just like the sound of your voice when you speak a command, your dog will learn what that sound means and respond accordingly. Like any training session, make it a game and have plenty of CANIDAE Snap-Biscuit® or Snap-Bits™ treats around to reward him.

One of the worst feelings I ever had was the first time my Husky pulled out of her collar and took off. That was when I began checking into silent dog whistles and started using it around the dogs to get them use to the sound. The only command I’ve taught the dogs is to come when I blow the dog whistle. Hopefully, if one decides to roam, the silent dog whistle can help them find their way home without me yelling and disturbing the neighbors.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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How Smart is Your Dog?


By Linda Cole

We like to think our dogs are the smartest and cutest dogs around. Some breeds are more intelligent than other breeds, but they aren’t necessarily good with children or even other pets in the home. Responsible pet owners choose a dog based not on intelligence but how well they fit with their specific lifestyle and living quarters. Still, if you’ve ever wondered how smart your dog really is, reading on for a few ways to test his intelligence.

There are three types of intelligence in dogs: adoptive (problem solving), obedience (how well they learn commands) and instinctive intelligence (inherited or genetic behavior). IQ tests to determine a dog’s intelligence are used to measure their adoptive intelligence. All dogs can learn basic commands, although some may learn slower than others. A motivated dog is eager to learn, and a persistent dog is also a good sign of intelligence.

If your dog doesn’t perform well for all of the following tests, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not smart. He may need better motivation, or a rest. Make sure to have his favorite CANIDAE dog treats on hand.

The towel test. Have your dog sit in front of you and carefully place a towel over his head. Count how many seconds it takes for him to remove the towel. The faster he gets it off, the more points he gets. Score 3 points for less than 15 seconds, 2 points for 15-30 seconds and 1 point for 30 seconds or more.

Hidden treat test. How smart is your dog? Can he find a treat hidden under a can? Take three cans and place his favorite treat under one while he’s watching. Turn him around a few times and then let him find the treat. If he picks the right can the first time, he gets 3 points, two tries gets 2 points and 1 point for getting it on the third try.

Find your favorite spot test. Take your dog out of the room and rearrange the furniture. Score him by how long it takes for him to find his favorite spot. He gets 3 points if he goes right to his spot, 2 points if he has to look around for more than 30 seconds and 1 point if he just picks any spot.

Let’s go for a walk test. Pick a time you don’t usually go for a walk. With your dog watching, do what you usually do when getting ready to go for a walk. If he responds immediately when you pick up his leash and gets excited, give him 3 points, if you had to walk to the door before he gets the clue, give him 2 points, and if he doesn’t respond, 1 point.

Chair puzzle test. This one is designed to see how smart your dog is at problem solving by making him work to get a treat. Place a treat under a chair or table that sits low enough that he will have to use his paws to get the treat. If he gets the treat out in a minute or less, he gets 3 points, if he has to use his paw and his nose, only 2 points, and if you have to get it out for him, 1 point.

Go around a barrier. Using cardboard, make a barrier five feet wide and taller than your dog when he’s standing on two legs. Cut an opening in the middle of the cardboard going from the top to the bottom, but only large enough for your dog to see through. Toss a treat on the other side of the barrier. If your dog walks around the barrier in 30 seconds or less, 3 points, 30 seconds to a minute scores 2 points and if he tries to get through the hole in the middle or doesn’t respond, 1 point.

Scoring:

16 points or more – your dog is a genius
13 to 16 points – above average
9 to 12 points – average
5 to 8 points – below average

IQ tests only measure how smart your dog is at problem solving. The above tests are standard IQ tests you can make into a game while testing your dog. Don’t try doing all of them at the same time if he doesn’t seem interested in the game you want to play. To truly measure your dog’s intelligence, take his entire learning ability into consideration. Some dogs respond to commands better than others , and some have superior instinctive intelligence.

Regardless of how the score turns out, you know your dog best – and his loyalty and love can’t be measured by a few tests. How smart is your dog? With the right kind of motivation and patience, he just might surprise you.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Teach Your Dog the “Drop It” Command


By Linda Cole

Dogs are great at finding things around the home or hidden in the grass. Sometimes they find things they shouldn’t have for one reason or another. Instead of engaging in what he thinks is a game of keep away with you chasing him, the easiest thing you can do is teach your dog to drop it. This is one of the more important commands for your dog to learn, and it can save you a lot of wasted time and energy trying to retrieve whatever your dog has in his mouth.

Anyone who’s raised a puppy knows how inquisitive they are. As far as they’re concerned, anything on the floor or within their grasp is fair game. They have no idea how harmful something they’ve grabbed may be to them. If you try to take the object or food from them, that’s a signal to the pup to run and if they can get you to chase them, all the more fun. Too many times, the puppy ends up swallowing what he had in his mouth.

When one of my dogs was a puppy, she had a hard time understanding what I was trying to teach her. At the same time, one of my cats was very interested in the treats I was using to help teach my dog. The cat would sit beside us, pick up one of the small toys I was using and when I commanded the dog to drop what she had in her mouth, the cat dropped his toy and waited for his treat. I still laugh when I think about the cat sitting there with a frog toy in his mouth waiting patiently for me to tell the dog to drop it. My dog learned to drop it when she saw the cat getting treats. So I was able to teach two at the same time. When the cat wanted a treat, he would bring the frog and sit down in front of me, waiting for the command.

Some dogs learn to drop it easier than others. And, as I found out, cats can also learn the command, even if it’s by accident. It was a good lesson for me because until that training session, I never considered trying to teach a cat to drop it.

Playing catch is more fun when you’ve taken the time to teach your dog to drop it. Instead of having to pry a slobbery ball out of his mouth every time, the drop it command puts it at your feet or directly in your hand. It also keeps you from having to grope around in his mouth searching for something he picked up that was more interesting than the ball.

Stay patient and calm when engaging in any training sessions. If your dog is more interested in playing than learning, put him on a leash to keep him from running away. Let it drag on the ground so you can step on it. Make the training fun and keep it short.

Before you start to teach your dog to drop it, gather several of his favorite toys. The idea is to have your dog take one of the toys in his mouth and play with it for awhile. Give him the command and wait for him to drop what he has in his mouth. Only say it once. Don’t attempt to take the toy because he’ll be more defensive and less willing to drop it if he thinks you’re trying to take it from him.

Entice your dog with a favorite treat, and give it to him as soon as he drops the object. Add lots of praise along with the treat. This might take a little time, especially if he wants the toy more than the treat. Don’t try to teach your dog to drop it right after a meal. If he won’t give up the toy, find something else he might be more willing to trade for a treat. Of course, you want to make sure the treat you use is irresistible to your dog. CANIDAE Snap-Bits and Snap-Biscuit® dog treats are two great choices.

If your dog takes his toy and runs away, don’t chase him. Let him play for awhile and try again later on. It’s not difficult to teach your dog to drop it, but it could take more than one training session. Keep at it because it’s important for him to learn, and it could save him from a trip to the vet and you from an expensive vet bill.

For more information on training your dog to obey basic commands, read Teaching Come and Stay, or Heel and Stand.

Read More Articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What Qualities Does a Therapy Dog Need?


By Julia Williams

Last month I wrote about some of the many hard working dogs I admire. Naturally, therapy dogs are among this elite group of canine good citizens who contribute to our society. A therapy dog’s “job” is to visit nursing homes, retirement homes, hospitals, schools, prisons and other places where their emotional support is needed. Therapy dogs bring happiness, comfort, love and vitality to seniors, sick people, the disabled, and others who can benefit from the special spirit-lifting attention of a canine.

What exactly does a therapy dog do? Sometimes they provide much-needed companionship, and sit or lie quietly while being petted and talked to. Therapy dogs may work with disabled children, or visit elementary schools to help kids learn about humane treatment of animals. They might also visit patients in pediatrics, oncology, and other hospital wards or hospice centers.

Though sometimes thought of as service dogs, therapy dogs aren’t classified as such because they’re not trained to stay with people and don’t directly assist them with tasks. Therapy dogs also don’t require the intensive specialized training that service dogs do, but they must still be taught basic canine obedience, as well as how to properly act in a variety of settings and situations.

Have you ever wondered if your dog has what it takes to be a therapy dog? The good news is that virtually any breed of dog, large or small, young or old, can become a certified therapy dog. However, not all dogs have the personality and temperament needed to be successful at it. A therapy dog must be friendly, even-tempered, consistent, gentle, confident, comfortable meeting new people, and reliable in unusual environments. Above all, they must love people and truly enjoy being around them while being hugged, kissed and petted.

Qualities that make a good therapy dog include:

Good Canine Manners

A therapy dog needs to walk nicely on a leash, at the handler’s side. A dog that pulls on their leash can pose a safety hazard. They should not jump up on people or bark during a visit.

Naturally, therapy dogs need to be properly socialized with people. But they also need to be socialized with other dogs as well as cats, birds and even rabbits, since a facility might have any one of those as a resident. Very often, dogs and handlers will do team visits, so it’s important that a therapy be able to get along well with other dogs.

Therapy dogs need to be very obedient, and come reliably when called, even in high-distraction environments. They can’t jump onto beds or laps uninvited, or put their mouths on people. They should be able to greet people and respond to affection while maintaining a “sit,” so they don’t overwhelm frail patients or frighten people who aren’t used to being around dogs.

Therapy dogs must respond to commands given in a calm, quiet voice. Besides basic commands such as sit, stay and down, many therapy dogs know commands such as Paws On (put your paws up on a bed or chair) and Paws Off (put your paws back on the floor).

During a visit, therapy dogs may be exposed to bits of food on the floor, buffets, meal trays and other tasty morsels. Good therapy dogs respond reliably to commands to resist such temptations, such as “leave it,” which is essential for their own health as well as the patients they are visiting.

Comfortable Being Touched

A therapy dog must tolerate being petted on every part of its body, including the ears, tail and feet. Some patients may have problems with motor skills and muscle control, and their petting can be awkward or inadvertently rough. Any signs of aggression towards people would disqualify a dog as a certified therapy dog.

Social Skills

Therapy dogs may encounter all sorts of strange and startling things, such as loud voices and noises, shouting, crowds and unexpected noises. They can’t be expected to ignore these things, but should be able to recover quickly and not try to bolt away.

Therapy dogs will likely encounter many strange pieces of equipment and unfamiliar objects such as crutches, wheelchairs and gurneys. They need to remain calm and be comfortable and confident around these things.

Cleanliness and Good Health

A therapy dog needs to be bathed and brushed often, especially right before a scheduled visit. Their nails need to be kept short to avoid accidental scratches. Their skin and coat should be healthy and free from any sores or skin irritations. They require current vaccinations and annual vet check-ups.

Disposition

Good therapy dogs tolerate being dressed up in silly hats, costumes or capes that make people laugh and brighten their spirits. While this is certainly not a requirement or an everyday thing, it can be a way to add extra joy to holidays or other special occasions. It also doesn’t hurt if the dog knows a people-pleasing trick or two.

CANIDAE is proud to sponsor several therapy dogs, including Stitch, Riley and Sophie, a trio we profiled a few weeks ago. You can read their touching story here, or check out other special canine achievers on the CANIDAE website.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Train Your Puppy to Obey Basic Commands


By Suzanne Alicie

Puppies are cute and cuddly, and generally out of control. One of the first things a new puppy needs is training in basic commands. Sit, Stay, and Lie Down are the most basics commands to teach a puppy. When it comes to training a puppy it is important to be firm and consistent. Puppies learn from consistency and repetition, and responsible pet owners know that proper training can turn a wild puppy into a well mannered dog.

Teach Your Puppy to Sit

Initially you will need to get down on your puppy’s level and help him sit. A gentle push on the haunches while saying “sit” to your puppy will help him get the idea. When your puppy sits upon command the first few times, be sure to reward him with praise and a treat. One of the things we do in our house is make the dogs sit while we prepare their food bowls. It is a ritual that helps even hyperactive dogs contain a bit of that energy and mind their manners when being fed. Sit is a common command and one of the easiest to teach, even a young puppy.

Teach Your Puppy to Stay

This is a command that is a bit more difficult to teach. Puppies tend to want to follow, because they simply want to be close to you. To teach this command initially, you don’t want to step away from the puppy and tell him to stay. The easiest way to teach a young puppy to stay is to use a treat. Since repetition is the key it may be easier on your puppy’s tummy to break treats into many pieces, or use smaller treats like the CANIDAE Snap-Bits™.

Place a piece of the treat on the floor in between you and your puppy. Tell him to stay and hold a hand in front of him so that he can’t reach the treat. Scoot the treat closer to him until it is right in front of his nose, while repeating “stay.” In time you will find that when you say “stay” your puppy will do so, but it takes repetition. Consistency is the key, as well as not overwhelming the puppy with too many commands to learn all at once. Concentrate on one act at a time.

Teach Your Puppy to Lie Down

Lie down is another simple command, and an easy transition from sit. Many times when your puppy is sitting if you tap the floor under his nose he will lie down to touch your hand. So once you have repeated this action several times, start to say “lie down” when you reach toward the floor. Before you know it your puppy will lie down as soon as he hears the words. Again, treats and praise along with the repetition and consistency will help your puppy learn the command quickly.

Puppies are loving and eager to please. If you begin training early and consistently, it should not be difficult to train your puppy to obey these basic commands, and then you can move on to other tricks. Puppies can learn just about anything you feel like taking the time to teach them, from sitting pretty to dancing, jumping and speaking.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

11 Basic Commands Every Dog Needs to Know


By Linda Cole

We teach our children basic commands they need to know in order to stop them from running out in front of a car or putting something dangerous in their mouth. Puppies should also be taught certain commands for the same reason. Whether you adopt a puppy or prefer an older dog because it fits better with your lifestyle, there are certain basic commands every dog should know. Their safety could depend on it.

“Come” means to stop what he’s doing and return to you. It’s an easy command to teach, and important in an emergency, if he should break loose from his leash or pen, or rush out the front door when company arrives. The come command helps you control situations much easier, and allows you to keep your dog out of harm’s way.

“Sit” is another easy command every dog should know. Dogs get excited when they’re getting ready to go outside or go for a walk. Some have a hard time waiting while supper is being prepared and some dogs go bonkers when the doorbell rings. Teaching your dog to sit and wait helps subdue their excitement so you can answer the door, finish their supper or get their leash attached to their collar. The sit command also works well to keep them from jumping up on people.

“Stay” is harder for some dogs to learn, but it’s well worth the time and patience it takes to teach it. Dogs don’t always understand they could be in danger, and using stay can stop them from running in front of a car or grabbing something they shouldn’t have. It gives you time to remove the danger or wait until it’s gone. Staying can be hard for a dog to do when he sees something he wants, especially if it’s a cat or squirrel in the yard across the street; however, it’s an essential command every puppy and dog should know.

“Drop it.” How many times have you tried to wrestle something out of your dog’s mouth? They don’t know that the chicken bone clamped between their teeth is harmful for them. Instead of you prying their mouth open to retrieve whatever they’ve picked up, the drop it command makes life much easier for you. Knowing this command also makes playing fetch more fun when your dog returns the ball to you and drops it at your feet or in your hand so you can give it another toss.

“Leave it” is another good command for dogs to know, because it can give you peace of mind knowing they won’t grab something they shouldn’t have. Dogs can easily swallow whatever they’ve picked up if they think you want to take it away from them. And dogs have been known to swallow needles, safety pins and other small objects before their owners could retrieve the item. The leave it command tells the dog it’s not for him.

“Wait.” This command is sometimes used in conjunction with stay although they are two different commands used for different reasons. A more energetic dog may need to be held in check for a short time. Wait tells him it’s not time to go and he must stay where he is until you let him know he can move.

“Okay” is a command every dog should know because this releases them from any other command you’ve given him. Okay simply means the dog is free to move.

“No” tells your dog he can’t have something, or to stop doing what he’s doing. No should be used to stop unwanted behavior like chewing, jumping up on you or someone else, or biting.

“Heel” helps you control your dog while on a walk and when you are around other people or dogs. Instead of allowing your dog to pull on his leash, heel puts him by your side where you have better control of him should you meet another dog or person while walking.

“Off.” Not everyone enjoys having a dog jump up on them. This command tells them to stay down and not to jump up on you or someone else. It also keeps your dog off the furniture.

“Stand” is a command every dog should know because it makes it easier when you are trying to give him a bath or groom him. Teaching him to stand is also a big help during vet examinations or when you are trying to examine him yourself.

These eleven basic commands can help you keep your canine companion out of danger, and you will have a well mannered dog who understands and follows your wishes. For information on how to teach your dog some of these commands, read Basic Commands for Dogs: Heel and Stand, and Teaching Come and Stay.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.