Do you ever think ‘I’m too tired to train the dog today’, then feel guilty. You’ve had a long, hard day at work or you feel drained after being stuck in traffic or your train’s been delayed and you just want to get home and flop on the sofa and do nothing else? That’s usually when most people will come up with a reason to put off the ‘T’ word.
I know the feeling too, you might think I must spend all my days with my dogs, I wish! But running a business is a full time job and playing with my dogs all day isn’t going to pay the bills.
So there are definitely days when my brain feels like a big ball of cotton wool and I can barely string a full sentence together and I know that I should do something with my pups.
So here’s what I do…. and here’s why
Doing something is better than doing nothing
That may sound a bit blah but if there is one thing that makes you a true leader in your dog’s eyes, it’s consistency.
It’s one quality that all good leaders have, they do what they say they are going to do. If they didn’t you would probably stop believing them after a while, wouldn’t you?
If I really want to veg out when I get home I make myself a deal. 5 minutes spent with each of my dogs, one to one, doing something fun, but I initiate it. So whether it’s a game of Find it, a clicker training game or just practising something we’ve been working on recently, that’s my trade – off for putting my feet up, guilt-free with a glass of wine just a little later after I get home. And I usually find that I’ve enjoyed it because I get to focus on my great dogs and not work!
Making a plan and sticking to it, even if it’s only for 5 minutes a day will get both you and your dog into a good habit. That’s what consistency brings to the table, good habits. So no more excuses. If you have time to wait for the kettle to boil or the bath to fill then you have time to do this one little thing.
So next time you are on your way home and you’ve had a rough day, chuck the word Training out the window, think of that furry face that’s waiting for you at home and smile.
That waggy tail is your therapy, helping you forget the worries of the day and your payment to your furry therapist is some one to one fun every day, even if it’s just for 5 minutes!
Lets change how we look at training and start thinking more like spending quality time together.
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Are you house training a pup or adolescent dog? Are you trying to put down some basic rules and failing miserably? Well, you are in the right place if you are all a fluster with your little ball of fluff!
Having 4 dogs of my own, 2 raised from pups, and years of looking after numerous foster pups, I’m going to give you the secrets to housetraining and effectively setting down some boundaries your pup will understand.
They will make mistakes, of course … they are still young and learning. But your consistency is KEY to any training you do at this impressionable stage. First be clear in your own mind how you want to housetrain your puppy or dog and then do it with confidence.
4 Signs to Help with Quick House Training
Your puppy will want to go to the toilet as soon as it Wakes up, after it Eats, after it Drinks and after it’s done Playing. They will start to smell around and circle before they squat, so be alert and quick!
For the first few weeks of your puppy’s life, you will need to take them out to the toilet every half hour, just for a few minutes. Use a consistent word or command like, ‘Go busy’ or ‘go wee wee’ while they are out on the lawn or patio. When they do go, offer lots of praise in soft, excited tones! You are teaching your pup what you want them to do when you go outside and they hear this command; this way they can tell the difference when you’re out to just play.
From 10 to 12 weeks, you can take your pup out every hour. Again, you are getting them into a habit. By this time, you should be learning the signs your puppy will exhibit when they need to go out. Your timing is key to how long you will be out there and fewer accidents in your house!
If your pup doesn’t go while you are outside, pop them back into their crate or puppy pen and keep a close eye on them. Don’t set your puppy up to fail. And never treat the crate as a tool of punishment.
If they do have an accident while they are in their crate/pen, they will be doing it in their own place (which dogs intensely dislike and it encourages them to learn to “do their business” when they are outside). There also won’t be any stress or drama of finding a puddle under the table or a little “present” as you step on it in the bathroom doorway!
As your puppy begins to get the hang of housetraining (I believe girls get the hang of it quicker than the boys!), your puppy will start looking at you or heading towards the door when they need to go.
DO use a crate or puppy pen for housetraining, it teaches your puppy they can have their own safe, peaceful space; and again, puppies don’t like to go to the toilet where they sleep.
DON’T leave them in there for long periods of time; except when it’s sleep times and when you need to keep them out from under your feet at busy times in the home. A crate is not a place to punish your puppy, it should be treated like your puppy’s bedroom and a place they love to be.
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Are you a frustrated dog owner that feels you’ve tried nearly every method of dog training that’s available today? And do you always end up finding that nothing has worked for you? You know the pattern, they all sound great in the beginning, you try them for a while, but eventually your dog’s negative behaviours re-emerge or worse yet, escalate!
While I dislike being the fly in the ointment, is it possible that what’s really not working is your motivation and total commitment to stick to one method consistently, and over the long-term, to realize the results you’re seeking?
But, it’s not your fault!
Today we live in the reality of shorter attention spans, faster convenience, instant gratification and “Quick Fixes” being highlighted on most TV programs.
That’s all well and good when you’re watching a thirty minute TV program featuring your celebrity-dog-trainer-of-choice. But what people don’t see – and ultimately forget – is that all the long, tedious and boring footage has been edited out of the program to make it fit into less than 30 minutes, as well as making it more “dramatic” and “action-packed” to you the viewer; whether you’re sitting at home in your armchair or watching it on the train from your mobile device.
Unfortunately, what we humans have forgotten today (in the endless watching of YouTube “How To” videos and never-ending debates in online chat rooms about the latest harness vs collar or one training method over another) is one critical fact. The only way your dog is going to learn something new and positive is for you to close the laptop, shut off the TV and power down the mobile device and go and practice with them in the backyard. Yes, good old-fashioned work.
You see, your dog doesn’t know (or really care) it’s the 21st century. They don’t understand your always-on noisy TV, the endless tapping on your laptop or frankly, any other domestic contraption. They don’t comprehend the unspoken “rules of the road” that exist in their human’s world (but not in theirs). For example, WE know that it’s a definite no-no to pee on another dog or person. Or that it’s a serious social faux pas to happily hump another dog or even the leg of a guest that’s visiting your mum or dad. Mother Nature did not program these social idiosyncrasies into our canine’s DNA.
So, how do our dogs live in our fast-paced, contraption-filled, rule-abiding insane world without running back to the wild with their tails between their legs?
Simple, We Teach Them!
It constantly amazes me how well our dogs already adapt themselves to living in our crazy world that we accept as “normal.” Consider it for a moment; they live in high-rise apartments and walk down busy streets in bustling and noise-ridden cities throughout the world without as much as a blink of an eye! Or perhaps they live in the remotest parts of the planet, herding sheep at high altitudes on a snow-clad, icy mountain range, taking everything in stride.
Now look at your dog lounging at your feet. YOUR dog can do that as well! Why? Because that adorable creature, looking up at you with those huge puppy eyes, is one of the most intelligent and adaptable creatures who share this planet with us.
They have already proven this to us time after time as they help us with: Companionship, Security (police and customs), Herding (of almost any animal), Military (from bomb units to drug units), Assistance (guide dogs for the blind as well as other disabilities), alerting epileptic owners that a fit is about to happen, smelling out cancers in the human body
But all these incredible canines did not teach themselves how to do all those things. Their inspired dog owners saw the capability and intelligence in their faithful companions and challenged themselves to develop and enhance these innate dog abilities. We are a very resourceful race, us humans, but how did we get to a place where stopping your dog from jumping up or barking has utterly stumped us?!
So it really comes down to this simple question: how badly do you really want to change your dog’s bad habit? It’s really this simple, only those with the true commitment and dedicated motivation will succeed in creating their “perfect” dog.
Your full commitment is required if you want to make you and your dog’s life a better, more harmonious one. You have to be committed to getting over this behavioral hump and be able to visualize the ultimate potential. Motivate yourself to practice and work with your dog every day. You’ll not only be addressing and overcoming undesired behaviors, but also building a stronger bond with your dog.
If you find your knowledge is lacking and not up to the current challenge you’re facing with your dog, ASK FOR HELP! But ultimately, you have to commit to using that help and consistently follow through with it every single day.
DO NOT be embarrassed if you don’t know how to properly address the problem with you dog. There are always qualified professionals ready to help you with whatever situation or problem you might be experiencing with your dog. Professionals who can help you better communicate to your dog what it is that you really want.
Caution: the situation or problem with your dog will not fix itself; it will not fix itself in one session and cannot be fixed by someone else. Get back to the basics and practice, practice, practice with daily hands-on experience.
Just saying “this method doesn’t work for me” gets you nowhere, especially if you have only done it half-heartedly or inconsistently. Just like with any job, it’s time to engage a solid and committed work ethic – along with proper knowledge – in working with your dog!
Dogs aren’t robots, you can’t just type a command and it happens instantaneously! But, with patience, commitment and positive reinforcement, you’ll begin to see real, lasting results within a few weeks. Remember, dogs learn by experience; so go lead, teach and give them a positive, enjoyable experience and they will follow you to the ends of the earth!
I KNOW you have it in you!
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Do you go for walks with your dog happily trotting by your side? Or do you feel like you are being dragged behind a heat-seeking missile with absolutely no steering (or brake for that matter), just waiting for disaster to strike?!
Ever wonder how some dog owners make walking their dog look like pure pleasure?
Ever wondered how an 11-year old girl can easily lead her pony without being dragged in every direction? (Especially when full-grown adults are being dragged off-course by dogs half their size?!)
Want to know their secret?
The answer is simple; they were taught to behave this way.
Someone put the necessary time, effort and knowledge into teaching that pony (or dog) – at a young age and before bad behaviour set in – what is (and isn’t) acceptable behaviour. We all know that a child would not be able to hold onto something as powerful as a horse, especially if the horse was young, wild and untrained.
So why don’t we think in the same terms with our dogs?
Imagine if you were to alter your mindset when it comes to your dog. What if you put a wolf in the place of your dog; wouldn’t you show greater respect for that creature and treat it differently? Now, what if that wolf wasn’t properly trained with care and kindness? Imagine the mayhem, fear and even injury that could result! Wouldn’t you feel responsible if you were to get this wrong?
So why do we look at our dogs so differently? If left untrained, wouldn’t they be as likely to cause mayhem, fear or injury as the wolf? Of course! So let’s start working on that new mindset below.
Teaching Your Dog
Puppies and dogs learn in the exact same way, by experience. Those behaviours that feel pleasurable will most likely happen again. Using positive praise and rewards will work, but only if you give these at the right time. For instance, your dog starts pulling on the lead and you start speaking to him, telling him to behave, go easy, slow down and so on. But when he is walking nicely beside you, he gets very little positive interaction from you. So which behaviour do you think he is more likely to repeat?
I always teach my clients to get their pup or dog happily walking beside them at home without the use of a lead. Why? Because this helps your dog quickly learn that they can be part of the team and get your positive interaction without being coerced or dragged into place. The idea is to make it fun – almost like a game of “follow the leader” – to help your dog learn to walk beside you. With lots of short 5-minute “games,” you will begin to easily ingrain this “good” habit or behaviour as a natural way of your dog walking with you, without consciously thinking about it.
Practise walking in different directions, stopping and starting, while encouraging your dog to stay with you at your side. Keeping it short and fun means you will both want to repeat this as often as you have time throughout the day. Once your dog understands he needs to be consistently at your side, you can increase and decrease your pace and do more complicated manoeuvres. Once your dog can keep up, it’s time for the next step!
You will now add the lead to the equation; because it is no longer the tool to “make” your dog walk nicely at your side. You have already practised (and achieved) that part! The lead is used to keep your “wolf” alongside you if it sees other distractions and to keep it safe from making mistakes until it learns the “way of the world.” A lot of social spaces demand that dogs be on leads; you and your dog can do this easily and happily now, because you have taught your dog that being by your side is a really nice place to be!
Once out in the world, remember you must keep letting your dog know you are still playing the game with the same encouragement of praise and some rewards. If your dog gets distracted by something, just stop and stand quietly, then change direction and call your dog to you, praising it when he comes.
Don’t set yourself or your dog up to fail.
Start with a 5-minute walk and – if all goes well – increase the walk time in increments (instead of going from 5-minutes to an hour walk in one single leap). How about doing two 10-minute walks instead of a 20-minute walk? This keeps things fun and fresh (for both of you!) and it’s probably easier for you to find the time in your day instead of taking a 20- or 30-minute block out of your busy schedule!
So, as you’ve seen, there really is no “secret” to having a well-mannered dog, it just takes some well-invested time, patience and knowledge at the beginning to be able to enjoy your walks with your dog for the rest of your time together.
Once you get through the house training, setting your pups boundaries and probably some basic training and all is going well, be prepared. Because it isn’t all plane sailing from here, just when you think you have the perfect pup, things might start to go awry! Dogs hit their teenage stage usually between 8 month to 18months depending on breed. Obviously personality has a lot to do with this too as a strong boisterous personality might start testing you and your rules more than an easy going personality.
What to expect
Expect the unexpected and you wont be surprised! I know that sounds very general but if your dog who is usually quite compliant and comes when you call him all of a sudden starts doing their own thing or seems to be almost disobedient in some ways, this could be the start of some teenage behaviour. The age range I gave you above is a general guideline but some dogs can start ‘rebeling’ earlier than this or even a bit later, if you are really unlucky.
What do I do when my dog doesn’t listen to me?
That’s easy, you go back to basics and start building a strong and trusting relationship with them. They are looking for a leader at this stage of their lives, in the wild this is when they would now transition from ‘pups’ were they would get away with everything, to ‘adolescent’ and they would start learning from their adult pack members and babysitters. This is when adults would start reprimanding unacceptable behaviour and they would have to start learning to become a valuable member of their pack. In domestic terms, you are reminding them of the boundaries you set as a pup by being consistent with your own behaviour. Play can be very important here, dogs learn a lot through play through interactions with other members of the family, like whether they are allowed to jump up, knock you over, can they start the play and will you follow, obviously at this stage if your dog mouths you, this should be nipped in the bud asap, especially if you have children. Mouthing should be dealt with by quietly and gently taking the dog by the collar and putting to bed or in the back hall and play ends immediately. No eye contact or speaking to him while you do this emphasises to the dog he has done wrong because you no longer will interact with him. After a few times doing this you will find he will get this quickly and think first before he tries to mouth, your timing is the key here. All play should be started by you and finished by you, the dog then will see you as making decisions within the family. Dont fall for the big eyes, waggy tail and the ball or toy in the mouth while you are sitting watching TV or reading or usually doing something that doesn’t involve the dog, that is why he is trying to get you to interact! (Smart puppy!)
The main thing is stay firm in your rules and keep building that relationship. For more tips and help with your doggy dilemas go to my website 4dogenterprises.moonfruit.com or follow me on Twitter @Bernie_Browne
Are you house training a pup or adolescent, are you trying to put down some basic rules and you’re having problems? I can help
Having 4 dogs to look after, 2 from pups and numerous foster pups, I can tell you the secrets to house training and setting down rules or boundaries your pup will understand. They will make mistakes, they are still young and learning, but your consistency is Key to everything you do at this impressionable stage. Be clear in your mind what you want and do it.
signs to help with quick house training, a pup will want to go- as soon as it wakes up, after it eats or drinks, after playing, it will start to smell around and circle before it squats , so be quick!. Pretty much every half hour while it is awake for the first few weeks. Use a code or command like ‘Go busy’ or ‘go toilet’ while they are out on the lawn or patio and lots of praise in soft excited tones when they suceed, even if you are there 20 mins, you learn the signs, your timing is key to how long you will be out there!
stay tuned for more training & behaviour tips very soon – http://ow.ly/9nhHS