Category Archives: training dogs

What Does It Take to Train a Service Dog?

By Langley Cornwell

Don’t we all marvel at the calm, focused demeanor of service dogs? My husband and I were being seated for lunch last week when I immediately noticed a giant Newfoundland calmly lounging under the bar. The dog wore a bright red “service dog” vest. My eyes traveled up to the gentleman sitting above the pup, eating his lunch, and I gave him a weak, polite smile. I didn’t want to gawk, but the dog captured my attention and it was hard to turn away.

Some time later when I was convinced the gentleman wasn’t looking, I stealthily pulled out my camera phone and snapped a photo. Don’t judge! Have you ever seen a Newfie service dog? It was a sight to behold. Congratulating myself on my sleight of hand, I snuck a look at the image. The photo was blurry. I’m clearly not cut out for the spy business.

I really wanted a closer look at this dog before the guy left, so I approached him, introduced myself and told him I was an avid animal lover and was mesmerized by his dog. He beamingly said she was one of only a handful of Newfoundland service dogs, told me about her special training, and allowed me to pet her. When I got up to leave, he said “Do you want to take another picture? I’m sure the first one didn’t turn out too well.” I laughed and told him I was trying to be sneaky. He confirmed that I need to keep my day job.

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Six Ways to Boost Your Pet’s Brainpower

By Linda Cole

When it comes to learning, dogs and cats process information in two different ways:  “fluid intelligence” (smarts they are born with) and “crystallized intelligence” (how they process what they’ve learned). This is according to Stanley Coren, PhD, a psychology professor and author of How Dogs Think. We can’t do much about our pet’s fluid intelligence, but we can help them expand learned intelligence and boost their brainpower by introducing them to new things that keep their mind sharp.

Increase Their Vocabulary

Most of us talk to our pet daily, but what we don’t do is teach them what a word means. Training is the art of teaching a dog or cat to associate a command (word or phrase) with an action. Even when we aren’t consciously trying to teach, our pets pay attention to what we say and can learn word association on their own. If you tell your dog “go do your business” and then praise him for doing it, he learns what that phrase means. Our furry friends are comforted by our voice and pay more attention than you may realize. Never underestimate a dog or cat’s intelligence. They can learn if you take the time to teach.

Work on Training

Teaching your dog basic commands helps the bonding process because of the time, attention and positive reinforcement you give them. Learning is a healthy workout for the mind, and daily reinforcement of commands will help boost your pet’s memory. Some dogs may be stubborn, but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach them. Cats may seem incapable of learning, but they just need a little more incentive and motivation. With patience, dedication and commitment, you can teach a dog or cat anything that is within their ability.

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Training a Sensitive Dog

By Linda Cole

Dogs have different personalities just like we do. Each one is an individual who does show us how they feel, as long as we pay attention. Dogs can be confident, laid back and eager to please their owner. Others show a more sensitive side. It can take a little more prodding to train a sensitive dog, because you first have to gain his trust. If your dog seems hesitant, he may be sensitive.

We’ve been taking care of a friend’s dog since late winter. Dozer is a gentle and loving dog who acts like he wants to do what we ask, but he’s sensitive. Because he belongs to a friend, we were hesitate to get too involved with training him, but he needs to know basic commands whether he’s here or with his owner. We began a normal training program with him and failed miserably. Since conventional methods weren’t working, we needed to change tactics to gain his trust and help him find his confidence.

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How to Deal with Food Aggression in Pets

By Linda Cole

You may have a loving pet who would never do anything to hurt a family member – as long as no one touches his food. A food aggressive dog or cat is more apt to be given to a shelter or put down because their owner didn’t know how to deal with the problem. Food aggression doesn’t mean you can’t live with the pet; it simply means you need to change their behavior to one that’s acceptable to you. Here are some tips on what to do (and what not to do) when dealing with food aggression in pets.

Food aggression in dogs is a serious and potentially dangerous issue that needs to be stopped before it gets out of hand. When a dog growls at other pets or people while he eats, or even when his bowl is empty, he’s showing food aggression. It’s never cute, and a puppy who shows signs of food aggression needs his behavior changed before he grows into an adult.

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What is a Martingale Collar?

By Linda Cole

I was searching for a new collar for one of my dogs awhile back and ran across an odd looking one I’d never seen before. I had no idea how it even went on the dog, so I hung it back up and continued my search. Recently, I learned what it was – a Martingale collar – and why it’s one I need to consider. What is a Martingale collar, and what makes it better than some of the other choices we’ve had in the past?

What threw me when I saw the Martingale collar was the little loop on the back that appeared to have no function that I could see. However, that loop is what makes the collar a more humane one over the chain choke collar I’ve been using on my dogs.

I had a female Siberian Husky who kept escaping from her buckle collar. After so many times of chasing her down the street and screaming her name in vain as she raced away, I decided I needed a collar she couldn’t wiggle out of. She always came back, but that’s beside the point. I sure could have used a Martingale collar back then, but at that time, my only choice was a chain choke collar.

Choke collars are controversial for good reason. They were made for training purposes and aren’t supposed to be used as a regular collar for a dog. However, many owners find them useful in controlling their dog or as a collar for dogs like mine who wiggle out of a buckle collar. They should be used with extreme care though. If used incorrectly or by an overly aggressive owner, a choke chain can be very harmful to dogs.

A choke chain does exactly what the name implies. It can also damage the dog’s soft muscle tissues and  trachea, and can cause injuries to a dog’s spine, especially if the collar is put on wrong. The skin can easily be pulled through the metal ring of the collar or pinch the skin. Worn incorrectly, the choke chain won’t function properly during training sessions and the dog becomes confused as to what’s expected of him. He did what was asked, but if the chain doesn’t release its tension, the dog thinks he’s still being corrected. This type of collar should never be used on any small breed dog or on puppies.

A Martingale collar works in a similar way as the choke collar, but it can’t be pulled so tight it chokes the dog or causes injury to the neck. It tightens just enough to get the dog’s attention and releases the tension when the leash is relaxed.

This collar was originally designed for dogs with heads smaller than their necks, mainly the sight hounds like the Greyhound or Saluki. However, this is a good collar for any dog owner who has a wiggly dog who can escape a buckle collar or a larger breed that’s harder to handle and likes to pull on his leash. When the dog pulls on his leash, the Martingale collar will tighten just enough to keep the dog from backing out of it. Once the dog relaxes and stops pulling, the collar loosens on his neck. It’s also called a limited slip collar or Greyhound collar.

The proper fit of a Martingale collar is gauged by the two metal rings on the back of the collar holding the little loop that’s attached to a leash. When the collar tightens, the two rings should never meet. If they do, the collar is too big and the dog will be able to back out of or wiggle out of this collar. The purpose of the rings is to allow the collar to tighten just enough to keep the dog secure. Once you have the correct fit, it can be taken on and off the dog without having to readjust it.

A Martingale collar is not a half-check collar. It looks similar, but the Martingale is made entirely of nylon which reduces the chance of the dog’s hair or skin getting caught in chain. They’re sold in narrow or wider widths for better control. You can find Martingale collars with the little loop made out of chain.

It can be used as your dog’s regular collar, but the small loop can get caught on things, so it’s highly recommended to remove the Martingale collar anytime the dog is left unattended or allowed to wander on his own, especially while hiking. Put a regular buckle collar on your dog as his main collar and use the Martingale when he’s on a leash for safer control for you and him.

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.

Dog Training with Consistency and Patience

By Linda Cole

Most of us are not professional dog trainers, but our canine companions still need basic training to help keep them safe. As long as you stay consistent and patient with your dog, he will learn what you’re trying to teach him. As responsible pet owners, we understand why a dog needs to learn basic commands like sit, stay, down and no. And of course, every dog should know to come as soon as they’re called. The hard part, especially with a more head strong dog, is how to do it without a professional dog trainer. If you don’t have access to one or can’t afford a professional trainer, don’t worry about it. Get yourself lots of CANIDAE dog treats and a good leash, and stay calm. Training your dog might take a little longer when you aren’t sure what you’re doing, but rest assured you can do it.

Understand your dog’s breed characteristics to help you know what you can expect from him, even if you have a mixed breed. Some dogs learn faster, but all dogs are capable of learning basic commands as long as you’re willing to commit to dog training. Some breeds have a stubborn streak and others are laid back and eager to please. Some dogs respond well with only praise and some need more incentive with a tasty treat. Either way works, but make sure to include lots of praise with or without treats.

Exercise your dog before starting. Begin with a walk or some play time, just enough to get rid of pent up energy so he’s ready to concentrate on learning. It helps him focus on your commands once you begin training your dog. A walk is also the perfect time to work on heel and sit.

Make dog training a game, and keep it simple. When you’re ready to train your dog, the more fun he has learning, the more willing he’ll be to learn. Don’t get stressed out if he’s not paying attention, and never hit him or yell at him. You don’t want to give your dog negative feelings. An anxious dog can act out if he’s frustrated and doesn’t understand what he’s doing wrong or why you’re yelling at him. Keep it fun so he’ll look forward to the next dog training session.

Stay calm, and be patient. You can’t force a dog to learn. You may be ready to train your dog, but he may not be ready. It doesn’t mean “now” isn’t the right time. He just may need a little encouragement to get into the game. Staying calm will transfer to your dog. He understands your moods by your body language and tone of voice.

Stay consistent with your commands. If you’re teaching your dog to sit, use the same command every time. Don’t confuse him by using different words for the same command and expect him to learn each one. “Sit” should be sit or sit down, but not both.

It’s not necessary to use your dog’s name before each command. He knows you’re speaking to him. If you’re training more than one dog, don’t try to train them together. It’s much easier when you don’t have to divide your attention, and they won’t feel like they have to compete with each other.

Don’t let your dog intimidate you. When you’re trying to train your dog and he doesn’t want to have anything to do with learning, don’t give up. Few dogs can resist their favorite treat. To keep your dog from running back to his spot on the couch or racing around the backyard, put him on a leash. You’re now in control of the dog training session. Start with easy commands like sit and lay down. With lots of praise and good treats, he’ll be eager for his next lesson.

Stop when he gets bored. Sooner or later, learning turns into boredom. You don’t have to spend a long time teaching him commands. Once he understands what you want, practice each command every day to reinforce it. When he knows the basics, then you can start teaching him some tricks.

Don’t get mad if he isn’t paying attention. Dog training requires your dog’s full attention. If he isn’t hungry, a treat won’t work. If there are other activities going on around him, it’s hard for him to concentrate if he’d rather be playing or keeping an eye on the neighborhood squirrels. Try again later.

Most dogs learn basic commands quickly. Don’t give up! Dog training isn’t difficult or time consuming, but it does require staying calm, consistent and patient.

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.