Positive Training using food

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Positive Training using food treats.
Dogs are not obedient to commands: they are obedient to the laws of learning.” Jean Donaldson
Anything that will increase the likelihood that an act will occur again is called a reinforcer. A positive reinforcer, in dog training, is something that the dog wants, such as food, a toy, petting or praise. Simply offering food treats as positive reinforcement to strengthen any behaviour is the most rudimentary part of dog training. And for a puppy, what can be better than a nice treat? Fortunately we do not have to teach a dog to eat. Behaviour that is already occurring, no matter how seldom, can always be intensified with positive reinforcement training. Read the rest of this entry »

Emergency stop

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Emergency stop
What would you do if your dog was about to run into a busy street?
All dog owners should be able to stop their dog at a distance in an emergency situation because it can save its life someday.
Over many years as a dog trainer I twice had to make use of such an emergency call.
Once, while looking for a missing cat I noticed that Coyote had gone across the road. As I called him back I noticed a car come speeding in our direction. A quick “Platz” had Coyote drop on the spot and once the car had passed he safely joined me. On another occasion, while we were playing with puppy, Polo on the sidewalk, Quanto had ventured across the road to check on some smells. As he started his return to us a car approached at speed and I again was able to stop him instantly and so avoid a bad situation. Read the rest of this entry »

Basic Obedience Training

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Basic Obedience Training
All dog training is based on motivation either positive or negative. This may take the form of food reward or withholding food, added pressure or pressure relief etc.
The dog must be an active participant in training and must understand the consequence of what he is doing. Show him what you WANT him to do and let him KNOW instantly, exactly what he has done right by marking and rewarding that behaviour. You cannot tell your dog to “Stand” when he has no idea what you are talking about.
Obedience Training teaches a dog to DO something like sit, stay, lie down, stand, fetch, watch/look, come when called and many other tricks.
Behaviour Training teaches him NOT to do things like jumping up, chewing, digging, barking, ignoring a call to come, chasing the cat or cars etc.
Both Obedience and Behavioural training form part of successful dog training intervention. Read the rest of this entry »

Stop Pulling on the leash

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Stop Pulling on the leash!!!

Without a leash you would probably be without a dog.” Dr Ian Dunbar.

The law requires that when you take your dog outside your property the dog must be on leash and for good reason. Unfortunately, taking a dog into a public area is quite often not a pleasurable activity for many dog owners. They need to overcome the most common problem that dog owners complain about …”My dog is pulling like mad when I take him for a walk – he is too strong and I cannot control him.”

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Becoming the ‘Pack Leader’

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To communicate successfully with our dogs, it is up to us to learn their language,” Jan Fennel
When we adopt either a puppy or an older dog, we invariably set out to care for and train him properly. As soon as possible we join a dog training club where we start obedience training with our best friend. We teach him his name, to sit and stay, to come when called, to walk nicely and many other things. Soon, however, many of us encounter behavioural problems because we were not taught the most important task: how to become the pack leader in the eyes of our dog.
Although we consider our pets to be part of our family, our dogs still believe they are members of a community that operates according to principles directly descended from the wolf pack where pack dynamics ensure the cohesion and survival of the pack. All dogs, regardless of breed, still display the same behaviour patterns drawn from their ancestry. Therefore, should we still think and reason like a human when we want to help a dog? Dog-dog behaviour is quite different to dog-human behaviour. Instead of viewing a dog as one who will conform to our wishes if we give it some training, we should rather view the dog in light of his ancestry.
What will give you the right and rank to lead your dog is to understand your dog’s ancestry and accepting that most of it is instinctive and therefore needs guidance.” John Fisher Read the rest of this entry »

Recall -Coming when called

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Recall – Coming when called
There are many reasons for calling your dog. Come to eat, to play, to go to bed or simply to be loved. However, loving your dog means that you will protect him from harm. Stopping him from getting into danger and calling him away from it are good reasons why you should train the recall command. It will allow you to give him more freedom, more room for exercise and more importantly you can go walking off leash.
The two most important things you must teach your dog is a reliable Sit-stay and to come when called (also known as a recall). Both can save your dog’s life. If your dog will not remain sitting when told to do so or have a reliable recall then you cannot let him off leash in an unprotected area- ever. Quanto is allowed to walk at his pace on the sidewalk and on the command “Sit” will wait for permission to continue again or to re-join me.
If you work hard to achieve a reliable recall with your dog you will have ten years or more to love him, but if you can’t trust that your dog will come and be controllable, you face a life-time of anxiety and always having to be on high alert .
For the purpose of this article the training of a reliable recall will be discussed. Read the rest of this entry »

Home Training Sessions

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Home Training Sessions
Dog owners are encouraged to have some practice sessions with their dogs at home during the week. This can be confusing if you’re not exactly sure how to conduct a dog training session at home. Understanding what makes a proper training session is an essential part of training your dog. Training sessions will differ from person to person and from dog to dog depending on the individual needs.
The following tips should help you with your dog training sessions.
What is a Training Session?
A training session is a short period of time you set aside each day or two to work on specific dog training commands, cues, actions, or behaviours. Dog training sessions don’t have to be the only time to train. Use the opportunities that happen every day to reinforce your dog’s training.
When to Use Training Sessions
You can use training sessions throughout your dog’s life, but they should definitely be used when you are starting obedience training. You can use dog training sessions to introduce and reinforce basic commands and other behaviours.
Keep Dog Training Sessions Short
Dog training sessions should last no more than 15 minutes. Young puppies or dogs who are easily distracted may need even shorter sessions. If you run your dog training session too long, dogs get distracted and bored, and there’s a good chance they’ll start making mistakes. If my dog does what I planned to do perfectly, my sessions often end after 3 minutes and we start playing.
Stick to One Thing
Before going out to train, spend some time deciding on exactly what it is that you want to improve. It may be something that was pointed out at the club meeting. It can be one aspect or more than one. When you set aside time for a training section, plan on working on just one command. The quick, intense lessons will help your dog learn, and sticking with just one command or behaviour will help the dog stay focused. You can train more than one command in a day but try to stick to just one command for each session. An exception might be if the session is not going well and you want to get your dog to do something he knows to end things on a positive note.
In this case, it makes sense to switch to a simple action your dog already knows.
Start with Little Distraction
When you begin training a new command, dog training sessions should take place in quiet areas with little distraction. Too much activity or noise when you are introducing a command can make it harder to train a dog.
Start somewhere quiet like your living room and work your way up to dog training sessions at the dog park. As your dog gets better, you can start adding in more major distractions, like other people or dogs.
End on a Positive Note
All dog training sessions should end on a positive note. This is one reason you don’t want to keep them going for too long. A good stopping place is when a dog is rewarded for doing a behaviour you like. By keeping training sessions short and rewarding, your dog will have fun and learn to love training. Again, if your dog can’t seem to perform the desired behaviour, switch to something easier for the last bit of the session. This will help you end the session with something positive. After the training session, ask yourself, “How did it go?” and, “What could be better?” or “What must I ask the instructor at the club?”

First time a mistake is made by the dog = an accident.
Second time the same mistake is made = your fault.
Third time the same mistake is made = habit.

Leash control

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Many countries and cities have passed legislation that requires dogs to be on leash every time they venture outside their properties and into public areas. Although laws may differ in cities and states, the main purpose of a leash includes, amongst others, preventing dogs from frightening or biting people or other animals. Also to prevent them from getting lost and endangering traffic – defecating and urinating in inappropriate places etc.


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By admin Posted in Basics, Training Tips, Updated posts / Comments Off on Leashes

The Tab Leash

A tab leash is a shorter leash and is usually from 6 to 24 inches long depending on the size of the dog. It is mainly used as a transitional leash before changing to off-leash obedience training. Tab leashes are on sale at some dog shops or you can make your own or shorten an old leash not being used any more.
During a period of remedial training of a dog with serious aggressive behavioural problems it is absolutely essential that the dog must be on leash every time you interact with or obedience train your dog. You must be able to show the dog in addition to telling him what you want him to do.
When the dog has responded well to the remedial training and is ready to start off-leash training, the tab leash can be used during this time. It is light, does not drag on the floor and is easy to grab to correct and guide the dog in the right direction. When a dog is slow on getting up from a down, a sharp upward tug on the tab leash may be necessary.

Obedience Training for Pups and Young Dogs

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Obedience Training for Puppies and Young Adults
Owners of medium and large breed pups and young dogs who want to do obedience training with them face a dilemma. On the one hand they want their dog to obey their commands but on the other hand they have a dog that has been running free of any restrictions since birth and has not been forbidden much. These young dogs arrive at dog training clubs and clearly do not like the idea of restraints being put on their behaviour. They do not like to be made to sit still in a special place and/or position. One sees it all the time. Read the rest of this entry »

Dogs and Food

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Dogs and Food
Treats in Training

If it is true that “Food is to a dog like money is to people” then it is silly not to make use of food treats in our dog training exercises. From experience we know that food treats can be used very effectively as a lure in puppy and novice dog training when we want to teach them the meaning of words and their hand signals. To capture a sitting position we simply allow a pup a brief smell on a treat before moving it over the nose and head and you instantly have him sitting so that you can give that position a name, “Sit.” Read the rest of this entry »

Converting Prey to Play

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Converting Prey to PlayFrisbee 01
Modern living in suburbia makes it difficult for owners of herding – and working breeds to redirect the strong prey drive their dogs are bred with. These intelligent, special talented dogs such as Border Collies, Aussies, Bouviers, German Shepherds and Boxers to name a few are most often only adopted as “pets” or because “we like the breed.” Their owners have little understanding of their special needs. Left alone they end up barking, chasing cats, kids and cars as they race up and down along the boundary fence and as a result often end up abandoned or given up for adoption. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Obedience Train your Dog

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Why Obedience Train your Dog?

There is a saying, “If a dog is old enough to go to a home, it is old enough to learn.” When puppy arrives on your doorstep he can already do lots of things. He knows how to sit, stand and lie down, run, jump and bark and also how to eliminate amongst others. This he can do without our help. Our task then is to teach him to do those things and more, on command. When I say so! We also need to teach him the rules and routines of our home – what is allowed and what is not allowed. Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Basics, Puppy, Updated posts / Comments Off on Temperament


gsdIMAGE_9A dog’s temperament is usually indicated by his behaviour towards people and other dogs. It can also refer to a dog’s steadiness and stability, his energy, alertness, loyalty and affection. It goes without saying that a well behaved dog with a sound temperament is a pleasure to live with. However, depending on how it was treated in the past, it can have a tendency to be aggressive towards people, have a fear of people, fear dogs or fight with dogs, be shy or hyperactive and you can have a lifetime of struggle with such a dog. Read the rest of this entry »

Body Language

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Body Language
Dogs don’t use words to speak to us but use their bodies instead to show how they feel or what they are about to do. It can be quite revealing at the club to observe the dogs as they arrive with their owners in tow who are usually quite oblivious of their own dog’s intentions. Some puppies want to play, others want to attack and some are more interested in smells on the ground. Yet their owners want them to say “Hi” to the other dogs even if the dog’s body language warns against it. They cannot tell the difference between a happy, friendly dog and a shy or scared dog or the body language of an aggressive one. Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Basics, Puppy, Updated posts / Comments Off on Play


“Playtime provides perhaps the perfect opportunity to combine fun with learning: there is no greater pleasure.” Jan Fennel. The Dog Listener.

Play PoloCan you ever resist your dog meeting you in the morning with a “toy” in the mouth and that begging expression on the face? This is how Polo often meets me and tells me she wants to play and she wants it “now.” During puppyhood my dogs start their day playing with a ball or a tug before feeding. So, in a way I am to blame for creating the love for play in my dogs. I invite my dogs to play with me and they invite me back.

All dogs learn to become dogs through play with their littermates and later with some others at puppy school. We see games of strength: Tug-of-War, Rough-and-tumble etc. Possession: Bury the bone, steal the ball, hide the hoof etc. Chase: Running away with the ball or stick. Come and get it etc. Killing: Shake the rag, stick, slipper etc. All these games help prepare dogs to establish pack dominance as well as developing hunting and killing skills. When they win an object it becomes a trophy that is carried to its kennel or bed. We think it is fun to see them pounce and hear them growl while playing and shaking toys yet for some breeds we need to be more aware about who initiates games and who is allowed to win. It could determine his position in the human pack with problems to follow. Read the rest of this entry »

Voice Control and “No”

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Voice Control and “No”
I once read an article by Gary Wilkes in which he asks, “If I sneaked up behind you and want to whack you behind the head, would you want me to say, “Duck”….
1) Before I hit you
2) As I hit you
3) After I hit you
One should not have any difficulty in deciding that Option 1) is the correct one because only if the answer is “Duck” BEFORE you get whacked that you can use the verbal information to get out of the way or change your behaviour. Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Basics, Updated posts / Comments Off on Commands


“Commands are opportunities the dog will eventually learn not to miss.” Jean Donaldson

In order to become a successful dog trainer you need to have a good understanding of how to use basic commands. It is the way in which commands are given and rewarded that will determine how a dog will progress. This applies to voice commands as well as to signals. Read the rest of this entry »


By admin Posted in Advanced, Basics, Problems, Updated posts / Comments Off on Heeling


For the average pet dog heeling is not an important exercise to learn. Yet, one often can find a pet dog out on a walk

being shouted at to “heel” while the owner repeatedly applies sharp tugs on the leash to get the dog to walk next to him.

Heeling is a position with the dog sitting or walking on the left side of the handler. To “Heel” simply means, to “hold that position.”

It is an attention exercise used in mainly two instances:

1) When in traffic, or crossing an

intersection, and you want your dog to pay attention and stay close to you. This is when you will want your dog to, “Heel.”

2) In obedience trails or competitions, when you want to show the judge that you have created absolute attention and

obedience in the required exercises to be performed, you “heel” your dog. Read the rest of this entry »

Treats And Toys in Training

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Treats and Toys in Training

2015-04-13 08.43.22Most handlers begin to use food as a reward in training their puppies when they join a club. The reason why treats are used is because it is such an effective method. We do not have to teach a puppy to eat and the puppy easily connects the offer of food to the preceding action like coming when called. It has been said that food to dog is like money is to humans and as a result it is silly not to make use of it when you start training your dog.
Food is also very useful when we want to capture a position such as the “Sit.” By moving a treat over a dog’s nose and eyes we can easily get the pup to sit down without actually touching or pushing the dog. The moment the pup reaches a sitting position we introduce the word “Sit” and at the same time the handler immediately feeds him. Now is also the time for praising and petting. Read the rest of this entry »

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