Category Archives: dog training

Are You Missing Teachable Moments with Your Dog?

By Linda Cole

It’s always easier to see what someone does wrong and miss what they do right. The same is true when it comes to dogs. We train canines so they can learn how we expect them to behave, but so often we miss teachable moments that can reinforce and enhance what we want our dogs to learn. Sometimes distractions can cause you to miss when your dog is being good and pay attention when you suddenly notice he’s doing something that’s unacceptable.

Most dogs want to please their owner, but it’s not always easy for them to understand what we want because we have a tendency to send conflicting messages. Our body language doesn’t always match the words we use when communicating with our furry friends, and many dog owners aren’t as fluent as they could be in the “language” that dogs use. Understanding how to tell what a dog may be thinking helps prevent unnecessary confrontations between humans and dogs. So often, we miss opportunities to teach because we don’t notice obvious and subtle signs our dogs give us.

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How to Correct Leash Pulling and Other On-Leash Issues

By Linda Cole

Going for a walk with your dog should be an enjoyable outing for both of you. However, it isn’t much fun if your dog drags you down the street or you spend the entire walk trying to get him to behave. Some dogs grab their leash and chew through it before you know what’s happening, and others bark or lunge. These are common on-leash issues that can be corrected with practical solutions to put you back in control.

Leash Pulling

Walking nicely on a leash isn’t something canines instinctively know how to do. It’s a process we need to teach them. Leash pulling has nothing to do with a dog trying to exert dominance, nor does it mean he doesn’t respect you and is challenging your leadership. Eager dogs pull because they are excited to sniff out smells that interest them; in their mind, pulling on the leash is just a faster way to get where they want to go. The tighter you hold onto the leash, the harder your dog pulls.

It doesn’t matter if your dog walks beside, in front or behind you, as long as he isn’t straining at the end of his leash. His reward for not pulling as hard as he can is getting to do what he wants whether it’s going into the dog park or investigating smells he comes across. Teaching your dog how to walk on a loose leash isn’t something that happens overnight, but if you’re consistent and patient you can teach him how to walk on a loose leash.

Your dog’s favorite CANIDAE treats or toy can help you get his attention during walks. Instead of yanking back on his leash when he pulls, stop and stand perfectly still. Hold the leash next to your body and don’t move. Offer him a treat to direct him back to you or just wait for him to come back on his own. When you begin to walk and he starts to pull, stop and wait. You want him to learn the walk continues when he isn’t pulling on his leash.

Another option is to change the direction you’re walking and gently pull his leash as you turn, but don’t jerk it. This helps him learn to pay attention to you instead of forging ahead like a locomotive. Reward him for walking on a loose leash by letting him sniff under a bush or around a tree he indicated he was interested in. For dogs that need a verbal cue, pick a sound like “Ooo-Ooo” or a word like “yikes” that tells him he’s pulling.

Biting or Chewing the Leash

Some dogs see their leash as a tug-of-war toy, and others like to chew on it or carry it around in their mouth. Dogs chew on their leash because of fear, frustration, to get attention or to play. Some dogs enjoy carrying things in their mouth. An easy solution to stop a dog from grabbing his leash is to use a heavy duty choke collar as an extension to the end of his leash. Attach a double ended snap you can get at hardware stores to his collar and clip the other end to his leash. The chain isn’t as fun to chew on as a nylon leash is.

Another option is to use a harness and attach a leash to his collar and another one to his harness. When he grabs the leash in his mouth, drop that one and pick up the extra one. If he grabs it again, drop it and pick up the other one. A drag line also works. Attach it to his collar along with his leash and alternate between the leash and drag line. Tie knots in the drag line so it’s easy for you to grab off the ground. Dogs that chew through their leash and run off are at risk of becoming lost or injured. If your dog simply enjoys carrying things in his mouth, give him a toy or ball to carry during walks.

Lunging or Aggressive Behavior

Some dogs bark and lunge towards other dogs, bikers, walkers, joggers, cars etc. The leash restricts their ability to get to whatever it is they see and it can be extremely frustrating for some dogs – to the point of causing them to become overly anxious. To them their reaction is normal, but it’s an emotional one that causes them to feel Dog Animated - no offeruncomfortable or even afraid. A dog wanting to chase an animal, person or car can feel frustrated by his leash that’s holding him back.

Lunging is a common leash problem, but the solution usually requires help from an animal behaviorist or professional trainer that only uses positive reinforcement. It’s important to remember to never punish your dog for barking, snarling or lunging. It will only make things worse and can cause your dog to have a negative association with whatever the trigger is that’s upsetting him.

Top photo by Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr
Bottom photo by Andy Blackledge/Flickr

Read more articles by Linda Cole

How to Talk to Your Dog

talk to dog madabandonBy Langley Cornwell

True confession time: we sing to our pets. My husband would vehemently deny that statement but it’s true, and I can prove it. In fact, we have three pets – two dogs and a cat – and we have a song for each one of them. What’s more, they all know which pet we’re singing to at any given time. Sure, each one’s song has his or her name in it, but even if we hum their specific tune, the appropriate animal responds. It’s fun for us and I think they like it, but I’m not sure.

What I am sure about is this: the way we talk (or sing) to our dog is important. It’s not just what we say but the manner in which we say it. Tone and pitch are critical in forging a strong bond and establishing good communication between you and your pet.

When talking to your dog, if you institute three different and specific tones—one for commands, one for corrections and one for praise—it will improve the flow of understanding between the two of you.

Here are some tips for how to talk to your dog:
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When Couples Differ on Pet Training Techniques

dog training couples andreaBy Langley Cornwell

When two people who live together decide to add a four-legged family member to the mix, the household dynamics can change dramatically. The main thing that complicates the domestic flow is that the new family member speaks a different language from everyone else in the home. The family oftentimes expects this new member to fit in seamlessly, to be obedient, to know when and where to sit, where he’s supposed eat his CANIDAE dog food and other things. They expect him to immediately understand how to behave in his new set of circumstances without being properly trained.

Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything (cough, cough) but I’ve heard that some couples have different philosophies on how to interact with this new family member. They have a different set of ideas when it comes to training techniques and methods of establishing household rules and boundaries.

Any dog will be anxious when he first arrives in his new home, and he desperately wants to please his new family. Of course he won’t know how to communicate with these strangers at first, but if the people start out giving him muddled or conflicting instructions, his anxiety will be exacerbated. Differing approaches will confuse the dog and disrupt the progress or even derail any chance he has of learning how to cohabitate with his new family harmoniously.

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Tips for Training a Hyper Puppy

hyper-puppy-fizzyBy Laurie Darroch

A hyper puppy can be a challenge to live with and train. At times they can test your patience. They will push the limits of behavior if they can. This is not abnormal, but it is behavior that needs to be rerouted, retrained and controlled.

Here are some simple tips to help you deal with their bursts of high energy and inappropriate impulses.

Channel Bouts of Energy  

Very active and energetic pups need outlets for all that pent up energy. Expecting them to sit around all day or calmly be the perfect house mate is not realistic if they cannot release some energy in a healthy way. If they don’t do it in a positive, constructive way, they will find other ways that are worse.

When your hyper puppy runs around at high speeds crashing into objects, grabbing, nipping or uncontrollably acting out, they need to get more exercise. Give your dog exercise every day. For some dogs, more than once a day is needed. Take your puppy to a place they can run full out, walk for long periods, swim, chase balls or a stick, play fetch, or even practice on an obstacle course; these are all good energy releasers.  A high energy dog needs to have purpose and focus to maintain composure.

hyper-puppy-RLHLearn Cycles

During the worst times, your hyper puppy will seemingly forget training, act out, avoid you when you try to control him, ignore commands, and vie for attention in whatever way possible. This is when a puppy turns into a four-legged terror.

Puppies play and sleep in cycles. You will begin to notice that often their extreme burst of hyper activity come at specific times of the day. Those times when they seem out of control are the most difficult time to make them behave. For your puppy, they are also the most difficult times to control their own excessive behavior. Working together with your puppy can help them learn how to act more appropriately.

Pay attention to the way their impulsive behavior cycles throughout the day; it will give you clues to know when to focus more on behavior management. If you learn the pending signs, you can be prepared and help teach them to channel their boundless energy into less destructive behavior. Cut off the problem before it takes hold.

Have Patience

A hyper puppy can push your limits. They can make you react in anger and frustration, which is exactly what you should not do. In a hyper state, an energetic, out of control puppy will feed on your negative energy. Use a calm voice and gentle, but firm actions. Dogs read body language as well, so stay as relaxed as possible no matter how much your puppy is pushing your buttons.  You want to burst that energy bubble and get the puppy to behave. Filling it with negative energy will only exacerbate it.

Remember, a puppy is still learning how to behave, the same way a human child learns as they grow. Good behavior is not automatic and often takes repetition and patience to teach. It takes time for your puppy to learn.

Provide Alternativeshyper-puppy-beverly

When your puppy is wound up like a top and acting out, give them alternatives to channel that energy. Play ball or chase, give the puppy a chew toy, take them outside to defuse the situation. Distracting your puppy at hyper times will teach them to find alternate ways to use all that energy.

Reward Appropriate Behavior

Praise, a fun activity and a favorite CANIDAE dog treat will reinforce the calmer behavior. The puppy will start to associate the loving attention with the good actions instead of negative attention for bad behavior. They respond better to love, reward and praise than anger and punishment. Be consistent in your training and positive reinforcement.

Overly energetic puppies can wear you and your patience out. Be the responsible pet owner in control of the situation. Help your beloved puppy learn the right way to channel and use all that energy.

Top photo by Fizzy Pup/Flickr 
Middle photo by RLH/Flickr 
Bottom photo by Beverly & Pack/Flickr

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

When Should You Start Training a Puppy?

puppy train michael gilBy Laurie Darroch

The moment you bring home that adorable ball of fluff, you are committed to a lifetime of supervision and “parenting” this new family member. Puppies are like human toddlers in many ways. They get into everything, explore the world around them, and are full of boundless energy. Training is an ongoing process, and it is best to start early and quickly before bad habits take hold.

The sweet, gentle gnawing at your finger and on your belongings may not be as appealing when the puppy grows up. A tiny puppy jumping up on you may feel like nothing, but when that little dog becomes big and is jumping on visitors or knocking things out of your hand in his exuberance, it is not so pleasant.

In the early weeks, a puppy will spend a lot of time sleeping. They play hard and fall asleep quickly, often on the spot. As they grow, they need less sleep and have plenty of energy that needs to be vented in acceptable ways.

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