Category Archives: dog training

Tips on Caring for and Training a Blind Dog

ffac151f-0247-4040-ba24-a9af9c1ac28cBy Laurie Darroch

Blind dogs may find ways to adapt to being partially or fully blind on their own, but might also need help adjusting in a world where visual cues are one way of communicating and getting around. A blind dog can present a special challenge in training and daily living, but you can make life easier for them by using some tips to help them adjust and cope.

Alternative Senses Cues

Because a blind dog cannot respond to hand signals and other visual cues, focusing on the functional senses they do have and using those productively when training the dog is key. Using a consistent sound in training will let them know precisely what they need to do. Try using a clicker or rattle to guide, and some healthy, natural CANIDAE dog treats as a reward when they achieve each step in their training and to help them cope daily even after they have learned. Like any other dog, it may take some practice to help them understand and learn. Be patient.

Blind dogs can be taught to use sense of smell as a guide, but it’s a good idea to use that in a very specific way. Anything with a smell leaves trails of scent, and blind dogs do not have the added benefit of vision to sort out the mixed cues. If you use a scented cue, place the object at the spot or target you want the dog to focus on. Don’t move it around or toss it since the scent travels around in the air as well, which can confuse your dog.

Blind dogs can also use touch, smell and feeling with their muzzles, paws and bodies to determine where they are and what is around them. As they are learning to cope with blindness, you can help by guiding them to specific places and using a guide word for each thing, such as bed, food, step up or down.

In the beginning, think like you were blind too and learning to cope. Put yourself in their position and walk the house with the dog to see what they may need help with.  Cover dangerous or sharp parts of furniture. Use a child gate on steps to keep them from falling down them. As they learn to cope without vision, they will map the house with their senses until they learn and are comfortable enough with their surroundings to get around easily. If you change things around in your home, guide the dog around to learn the new placement of things so they don’t get confused or injured.

Simplify Verbal Commandscebed1f7-d2f1-4ac4-91ca-cc81838b1c7a

Keep your commands and guide words simple, so the dog knows precisely what they need to do or not do and where they need to go or not go. Establish a specific command word that lets them know they are in danger and immediately stops them from an accident or injury.

Consistency

Be consistent when you are guiding or training a blind dog. The consistency will give them a sense of security and help lessen any possible confusion. Repetition and consistency in training gives the dog structured guidelines. Once they associate certain sounds, verbal cues and smells with specific needs or requests, they will easily find their way around daily activities and your home. Be sure to include all family members or housemates in the training and learning the various commands and cues.

If you want to try a little experiment to give you an idea of how the world seems to a blind dog, turn off all the lights at night time and walk around the house in the dark. You will quickly learn what obstacles your dog may need help with to overcome.

Blind dogs can lead very normal lives. The added training you do as a responsible pet owner will make life more pleasant and easier for both of you. Love is blind!

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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What Dogs Hear When We Talk to Them

what dogs hear jeffreywBy Linda Cole

I’m fairly certain I’m not the only person who has one-sided conversations with their pet. Dogs are, after all, very good listeners even though they haven’t the foggiest idea what we’re saying most of the time. However, dogs do have the ability to understand our tone of voice and listen to intonation cues in our words to get a general idea of what we’re trying to get across to them. When talking to your dog during training sessions, your tone and intonation make a difference in getting his attention and helping him understand what you want.

Tone of voice reflects the attitude or emotional mood of the person speaking. Intonation is the fluctuation in our words. It can be a little confusing to tell the difference, but they are two different parts of language. When we speak, our tone tells someone how we are feeling – sad, happy, angry, tired, etc. Intonation is how we express our words with the upward or downward movement of sound. An upward intonation is how the voice rises at the end of a sentence. “Way to go!” “Are you hungry?” A downward intonation is how the voice goes down at the end of a sentence. “What is the matter?” I would love to go, but I have to work.”

When making a positive statement, the intonation cue is usually higher to signal that the intent of the sentence means you are happy, excited or pleased. The intonation cues in a negative statement take a lower pitch and reflect sadness, disappointment or bad news. Understanding the difference between the two is important when giving commands to your dog, because he can tell the difference and it can impact his understanding of what you expect from him.

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8 Dog Commands That Can Make Vet Visits Less Stressful

vet visits jespajoyBy Linda Cole

If most dogs had their way, they wouldn’t put one paw inside the vet’s office. It can be a scary place with unfamiliar smells, slippery floors, cold exam tables and strangers poking them. A routine checkup can cause even a laid back dog to feel stressed out. You can help your dog feel more at ease by teaching him some simple commands.

Go to Your Mat

A mat with a nonslip bottom gives your dog a familiar and safe place to rest while waiting to see the vet. It provides a gripping ability for his feet while on an exam table, the floor, or while being weighed. When training your dog to go to his mat, only use it for positive and pleasant interactions. You want him to learn it’s a secure and happy space. Some dogs might prefer using their favorite blanket instead of a mat.

Shake

Asking your dog to shake hands is a good way for him to willingly give his paw to someone. The more he shakes hands, the more comfortable he will be with having his feet handled. Encourage your dog to shake hands with your vet and other staff members to help him develop a relationship with them. This will be helpful when your vet needs to trim your dog’s nails or examine a leg or paw.

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Do Dog Whistles Really Work?

dog whistle andreaBy Langley Cornwell

Have you ever seen those whistles that people blow and no sound comes out? I’ve always been intrigued by the thought that our canine friends can hear something that makes no perceptible sound to the human ear. When I think of a dog whistle, that’s what I think of, those whistles that make no sound. But we were at a pet expo recently, and there was a demonstration that involved police service dogs performing a variety of exercises. Throughout the program, the dog handlers used whistles we could hear. What’s more, the whistles were different for different dogs. In other words, each dog had a whistle that was specific to him.

When I was young, my dad taught me to curl my tongue, shove two fingers in my mouth and blow. I can make a whistling sound that you can hear in the next time zone. I don’t overuse this super skill, but sometimes when the dogs are hiking with us off-leash and they get out of our range of sight, I let the whistle rip. When they hear it, they come back immediately. Could my fingers be considered a dog whistle? What is a real dog whistle?

The Background

A curious genius and relative of Charles Darwin developed the first dog whistle, kind of by accident. Sir Francis Galton was interested in human hearing and how it all worked. In 1876, he developed a small brass whistle with a slide so he could alter the whistle’s frequency, thereby testing the range and limitations of man’s hearing. Thus the Galton whistle was born.

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Two Award Winning Dog Writers Worth Reading

dog writersBy Linda Cole

Dr. Patrica McConnell and Dr. Stanley Coren are distinguished dog experts and award winning writers who share their lifelong love of and knowledge about canines in their many published works. I first ran across Dr. McConnell in the late 1990s while channel surfing; a program on Animal Planet called “PetLine” grabbed my attention. McConnell was co-hosting the show, which dealt with animal behavior. Some of you may be familiar with her from a radio show she co-hosted for fourteen years called “Calling All Pets.” Dr. Coren is someone I came across online several years ago while researching aggressive dog behavior.

Dr. Patricia McConnell is an expert on human/animal relationships. She earned a PhD in zoology in 1988 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has been teaching a popular course since 1991 called “The Biology and Philosophy of Human/Animal Relationships” at her alma mater as an adjunct professor. McConnell is a certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB). She gives lectures and conducts seminars throughout the world, has been a dog trainer since 1988 working with canines that have serious behavioral issues, is an expert on canine and feline behavior, and author of fourteen books about animal behavior (ethology).

Her first published book in 2002, “The Other End of the Leash,” is read worldwide and published in 14 different languages. She also finds time to appear regularly on several radio shows and an occasional TV appearance. She writes articles for major magazines and participates in fundraisers to benefit animal shelters – most recently in the Midwest and Texas.

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How to Tell if Your Dog is Smart

By Langley Cornwell

Our two dogs are sweet, lovable, and have completely bonded with us. Those are some of the traits they share. A trait they do not share is intelligence. I have had the great good fortune of sharing my life with a menagerie of animals with a wide range of behaviors and characteristics. Of all the animals I’ve ever lived with, however, the big boy I have now is, well, he’s the least smart of the bunch. That’s right, he’s just not that bright.

Not bright, but so willing to please. We call him “the little gentleman” (even though nothing about him is little) because he’ll come and sit down right in front of you as if to say “what do you want me to do now?” If there’s a group of us standing around talking, he’ll walk into the middle of the group and sit properly with his ears and eyes alert, just waiting for someone to tell him what to do. This dog will do anything you ask of him, if only you can get him to understand the request. That’s where things start to break down. He just doesn’t get it. In fact, he doesn’t get much.

I know this is just his nature because we have another dog that is bright. She understands our requests, responds well to training and commands, and clearly exhibits thinking characteristics. She makes wise decisions and seems to know what is expected of her with minimal urging. She has a large vocabulary. I would classify her as a smart dog.

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