Category Archives: training

How to Train Your Dog for Agility Competitions

By Linda Cole

Agility training is a sport that’s been gaining in popularity for some time. It’s a great way to give your dog plenty of exercise and stimulation to keep his mind and body healthy. You might be surprised to learn your dog isn’t the couch potato you once thought after watching him jump, weave, and run around a course having the time of his life. Agility training requires time and patience, but it’s worth the effort to have a sport you can do together. If you’ve taught your dog basic commands, then he’s ready to learn how to navigate an agility course.

Contact obstacles include a teeter-totter, dog walk and A-frame. They’re called contact obstacles because in order for the dog to successfully complete the task, he must touch a certain spot on one or both ends with at least one of his feet.

Teeter-totter – If your dog is reluctant to walk on the teeter-totter, begin with a square 4 x 4 piece of plywood on the ground with a small ball under it. Have him move around on the wood so he can get used to movement under his feet. Once he’s comfortable with movement, move to the teeter-totter. With your dog on a 6 ft. leash, give him a description command for each obstacle (teeter-totter, A-frame, weave, etc.) and move him towards the obstacle. Make sure he touches any required spots before going on. When he correctly succeeds at each task, give him praise and a treat reward. As he gets used to the movement of the teeter-totter, you can increase his speed.


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Do You Talk to Your Pet?

By Linda Cole

Everyone I know talks to their pet, but I don’t think all pet owners do. However, those who don’t believe animals understand our words are missing an important means of communicating – and bonding – with their pet. Research has shown dogs are capable of learning so much more than once thought. And we can learn what our pets’ whines, yaps, meows and barks mean, if we take the time to listen. Of course they don’t understand everything we say, but they can and do pick out the words that mean something to them. Conversations with your pet can help you nurture and strengthen the bond between you and your pet.

My cat Jabbers, pictured above, is a handsome black kitty with a splash of white on his chest and huge emerald eyes. He got his name because as a kitten he jabbered constantly, and still does. Jabbers and I have discussed everything from what’s going on outside, to a first base umpire who needs glasses, to what’s for supper. He doesn’t care what our conversations are about, just that I took the time to talk to him, and he’s definitely a cat with an opinion, which he freely expresses during our conversations. And he never disagrees with me; well… at least I don’t think he’s disagreeing. He rolls over on his back and sticks his front legs up in the air and rubs his head against my hand as I talk to him. Then he whirls around and sits up so he can talk to me. I had a cat years ago who would put one of his paws on my cheek every time he talked as if he wanted to make sure he had my full attention.

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A “Pointing Bird Dog” Training Overview

By Lynn Taylor

Training a pointing hunting dog can be a very simple process in some cases, and a long and complicated process in others. However, most people who wish to hunt with their dog, either for leisure or competitively, will find training a hunting dog to be somewhere in between those two extremes. Most hunting enthusiasts will agree the training process is greatly simplified if the chosen dog comes from strong hunting lines. Breeders who are seriously dedicated to promoting the dogs in their breeding lines as hunting dogs will take special care to ensure the litters they produce have traits which make them ideal for hunting. This is done through a process of selective breeding.

In searching for a good hunting dog of a particular breed, potential owners should look for kennels that breed specifically for hunting ability. Additionally, they should visit the parents of the puppy, and learn as much as possible about these dogs including the hunting abilities of the parents. However, even the best bred dogs will still require some degree of training. Many folks see a fine, trained gun dog in action and assume they could never accomplish that kind of performance with their own dog. If you devote some time every day to working with your pup on three basic commands – “whoa,” “come” and “heel” – and work toward getting to the point where the dog will unfailingly obey those three commands, you will have a fine bird dog.

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Pets for Vets Heals Hearts and Saves Lives

By Julia Williams

Last month, Linda Cole wrote about Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet, a wonderful organization that helps U.S. servicemen and women by providing temporary foster homes for their pets while they’re deployed overseas. Today I want to tell you about another important nonprofit organization that not only helps our military veterans, but countless shelter animals too! The Pets for Vets program brings together two wounded souls, so each can have a second chance at life.

Pets for Vets is a nonprofit organization created by 27-year old animal trainer Clarissa Black, in connection with local Veterans Affairs Hospitals. Their stated mission is “to heal wounds through friendship.” They do this by placing homeless shelter pets with veterans who need the special love and companionship an animal can provide. The Pets for Vets program is a way to give back to those who serve our country, while also giving shelter pets the opportunity to live in a loving forever home. It’s a win-win situation for humans and animals alike!

Many veterans suffer from physical and emotional injuries that make it hard for them to return to civilian life after military duty. As a result of their time in a war zone, many returning soldiers struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, addiction, nightmares, anxiety, anger management and other ailments. Pets for Vets believes that companion animals can provide the life-saving “therapy” these men and women so desperately need to turn their life around. In return, the veterans provide the pets with the friendship, affection and permanent home environment they deserve. In essence, together they help each other heal!

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How to Use a Clicker to Train Your Dog or Cat

By Linda Cole

Clicker training has been rising in popularity over the last several years as a useful tool for dog training. Many professional dog trainers never leave home without their clicker and use it in conjunction with treats and positive reinforcement. It works well for training both dogs and cats, but there is a trick to using a clicker the right way to reinforce the behavior you want to teach. It’s not hard, but it is all in the timing and knowing when to click.

Dog training doesn’t require a lot of time, but it does require commitment. A puppy’s training should begin the minute you bring him home. This way he grows up knowing what you expect from him, and he’s not as likely to develop behavioral problems down the road. An older dog whose training was neglected when they were young and now has behavioral problems can still be taught appropriate behavior using positive reinforcement. A clicker enhances the reinforcement with a quicker response from the person doing the training.

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How to Housebreak a Puppy

By Linda Cole

Puppies are so cute, until you find a little surprise waiting for you on the kitchen floor. Hopefully, you didn’t discover it in the dark. Housebreaking a puppy can be frustrating, but it’s not impossible nor is it the puppy’s fault. Stay calm and committed and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can train your puppy where to go.

A puppy can’t control his bladder muscles properly until he’s at least 12 weeks old, and he simply can’t “hold it” for very long. He doesn’t know going inside is bad. Housebreaking a puppy takes patience and consistent training to teach him where the appropriate place to eliminate is. Yelling at a puppy for going inside the house won’t teach him anything positive. He will understand you’re upset, but he doesn’t connect his mess to why you are angry with him. Because dogs live in the moment, he relates your anger with whatever he was doing at that moment. If he eagerly greets you at the door and you respond by yelling at him, he learns greeting you makes you unhappy and he’ll stop greeting you. You want your pup to have only positive thoughts about you. Inappropriate discipline creates unnecessary stress and a confused dog.

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