Praise & Reward

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Praise and Reward

A very important aspect of training a dog is rewarding good and correct behaviour. It stands to reason that the more times a dog is rewarded for a task the quicker he will learn. That is why we create situations where the dog can be praised repeatedly for correct behaviour. We break down a task into small steps and make it as easy as possible for the dog to get it right and be praised. To get the puppy or dog to willingly follow our instructions we reward him with some form of food, kibble/pellets or make use of a toy such as a ball on a string. Read the rest of this entry »

Harnesses

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Harnesses

Many owners complain that they have difficulty in controlling their dogs on walks because of constant pulling. In many cases we find that these dogs are fitted with standard harnesses that are mainly used for tracking and pulling. The harness fits around the dog’s chest and the leash is attached on top. This does not give the handler any extra control over the dog on a walk. In fact, the easiest way of teaching a dog to pull is to put him in a harness.

Harnesses were originally designed for dogs, such as huskies, to pull sledges. The harness enables a dog to use his entire body weight to add to the pulling momentum. It also provides unrestricted freedom for the dog to get its nose to the ground and makes it a useful tool in tracking. Read the rest of this entry »

Control over your dog

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Control over your dog

There is no point in having a dog that is only obedient if he is on leash or if you have food on you.” Dr Ian Dunbar.

Most of the dogs I am asked to rehabilitate have owners who find it too difficult to control them. These dogs are what can be termed, “Under cooked.” Their owners took them to Puppy school, bought books, watched TV dog programmes or did some training at a club but did not fully understand the training concepts or stopped before they had mastered proper control over their dogs. They spend nearly all their time and energy controlling the dog instead of getting the dog to control itself. I tell my dog, “You can get what you want as soon as you calm down and control yourself.” You need to be patient but also very insistent.

The following training concepts should be re-visited if you find that your dog is disobedient or listens only when on leash or when food is available. Read the rest of this entry »

Fireworks

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FIREWORKS
 
 Fireworks are usually associated with spectacular displays or fun activities. Although it may be enjoyed by family and friends it can be a nightmare for our much-loved animals. We need to think of their safety as we would the safety of a small child.

Some dogs don’t seem to care about gunfire or fireworks. Others express mild distress and always want to be close to humans for comfort. Still, many poor soals are absolutely terrified of big bangs. Cats seem to disappear when fireworks can be heard.

Symptoms of fear in dogs include restlessnesss, pacing up and down, following humans, panting, trembling, barking, trying to escape and salavating. Read the rest of this entry »

The Stand

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The Stand

The average dog has little difficulty in learning the sit and down commands but can easily become confused with an order to stand. This is particularly true if the Stand is not introduced at a fairly young age. Because the Stand is taught from the sit, it should only be introduced when a puppy is happy and confident in the sit and down. Read the rest of this entry »

My Dog Does It Perfectly At Home

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My dog does it perfectly at home.”

A remark many owners pass at the club when their dogs refuse to retrieve, come when called or break a stay.

Most dogs can tell the difference between the ringing of a doorbell on television and the one at home. When a dog barks on TV he ignores it, but when one barks down the road he charges to the gate and starts barking. This tells us that the dog is able to discriminate
between the different barking dogs.

That same dog may sit or go down perfectly at home, but at the club or at a different location fails to obey the same commands equally well, because he has not yet been able to generalise the commands and movements he obeyed so well at home. He does not see the commands at different places meaning exactly the same thing. This becomes worse with distractions when he can act real silly. The
dog does not see that the training at the club is the same as that done at home. Read the rest of this entry »

Timing a Correction

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TIMING A CORRECTION

In dog training a correction is aimed at telling the dog to…” Stop doing what you are doing.It can take the form of a verbal reprimand, “Watch, No, Uh etc.” or it can be a quick “pop” on the leash.

Timing is the moment when the correction is given. It is the present moment during training when the dog is making a mistake and needs to be corrected.

To clarify this concept we need to explain what is meant by present moment. Read the rest of this entry »

Training Equipment

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Training Equipment:

All good trainers will ensure that they have the correct and good quality training equipment before attempting to train a dog. What is important is that the correct instrument is used to solve a particular problem as it is encountered.

The Leash/Lead:

Medium to large dogs should have either leather or cotton webbing leads that must be at least 750mm long.
Nylon is suited for small dogs. Chain leads are painful on hands and useless for training but can be used for dogs that chew their leads. For training purposes the 5m and 10m long leads/lines are essential as well as the short Tab-leash for off-leash control.

Read the rest of this entry »

Walk, Walkies, Heeling

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WALK, WALKIES, HEELING There is often much confusion about the concept and difference in training for these activities.

Dog owners know that their dogs need exercise and usually maintain a fairly set routine of taking them for walks. This often turns out to not be enjoyable for both because it becomes a struggle to control the dog or worse, the dogs become aggressive and start barking and lunging at people and dogs.  Some owners get dragged along the route; dread the thought of meeting another dog or walking past the gate where other dogs are barking. Others expect the dog to “heel” when they are supposed to be relaxed and enjoy the outing.

I make a difference between Walk, Walkies and Heeling the dog.  Read the rest of this entry »

Training Basics

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Training Basics.

We do not have to teach dogs to sit, lie down or stand because they already know how to do it. What we do teach them is English as a 2nd language and to want to sit or lie down, reliably when we ask for it.

Food is used as a reward for performing a command and hand signals are used instead of words. The dog learns that he only gets rewarded if he sits when told to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Start: Attention & “come”

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Puppies and untrained dogs:

Aim: To teach your dog: 1) to pay attention and look at you. 2) To come when called.

Equipment: Clicker / treat / tug toy. Code: C/T = Click and Treat (See article “Clicker”)
1) Getting Attention:

Getting a dog’s full attention on command can be very difficult. If a dog does not pay attention to you, you cannot teach it anything. Start by selecting a distraction free area at home such as a spare room, a passage, the stoep, garage or a quiet area in the back yard. I prefer the kitchen where I have started the training of all my puppies. Young dogs are easily distracted and if you train in an area where the dog gets distracted and it becomes necessary to repeatedly correct the dog for lack of attention, it soon begins to associate training with “pops” on the leash, becomes stressed and starts giving calming signals such as yawning, smelling or licking of the lips. Read the rest of this entry »

Socialising

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Socialising your pup is probably one of the best things you could ever do for him/her. Socialisation involves exposing your puppy to a wide variety of places and situations which he may encounter at some stage in his life and arranging for him to have as many positive experiences with humans and other canines as possible, so that pleasant associations can be built up with the outside world. It also involves protecting your pup from experiences which may be traumatic and cause emotional damage. A pup that is undersocialised may grow up to be afraid of a variety of things: people, dogs, noises, certain objects and new situations. As the dog matures this fear often develops into aggression as the dog attempts to protect himself from what he perceives to be a threat. Fear-aggression can make life miserable for both you and your dog and it is therefore essential to do all you can to prevent it from developing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Heel exercises

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Training Programme. 

General:

Heeling is Teamwork and the dog’s attention must be kept for increasingly longer periods of time.

In training, do not work off lead unless ordered to do so by a trainer. At home, train exclusively on lead.

The dog’s head must be UP and be looking at the handler. Use food or a toy to maintain attention. Read the rest of this entry »

Destructive chewing

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Dogs are animals and animals love to chew. This is especially true for puppies and young dogs. What they do with their teeth can be both instinctive and learnt behaviour. Thus it is perfectly normal for dogs, especially puppies, to explore their world through their noses and their mouths. They chew to ease teething discomfort, to play, to satisfy hunger, to establish dominance, and to relieve boredom. Chewing releases tension which builds up in the dog’s mouth and face and is often related to stress/ anxiety (e.g. separation anxiety) or a lack of mental and physical stimulation. Once puppies have their adult teeth they continue to chew to settle them into the growing adult jaw. This can continue up until 12 to 14 months of age. During this time the dog has a biological need to chew. It helps to exercise and develop their jaws and to keep their teeth and gums healthy. If they do not have something suitable to gnaw, they will find something else to get their teeth into. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting started: Heeling

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Heeling. With acknowledgement to Paul Anderson.UK.

Aim: To teach the dog to follow your left hand. C/T = Click and Treat
Equipment: Tasty food in the left hand and Clicker in the right hand.
Instead of the Clicker you can say, “Yes” and treat. Read the rest of this entry »

Basic training rules

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Basic Training Rules:

Never correct or scold your dog after calling him to you or punish him after he has done wrong!

Pick up after your dog. Do not allow your dog to play or interfere with other dogs in training. Play with and exercise your dog every day.

Be patient! Never lose your temper! Never use violent tugs or slaps or kicks to punish your dog! Remember, you are going to have fun with your dog. If either you or your dog is frustrated, take a break and try again later. Read the rest of this entry »

Training tips

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The Settle Down command

The “settle down command.” To teach this command you have your dog on a leash, You have it lie down beside you and you put the leash under your foot so that if the puppy tries to get up, it self-corrects it.You’re not pushing the dog down; the leash is holding it down. Do that for half an hour at a time each day and it teaches your dog to be quiet. A lot of people who have a very active dog think “oh my god, I’ve got to take it out for another hour’s exercise.” All you’re doing then is giving yourself an incredibly fit dog that needs four or five hours of exercise a day.What the dog really needs to learn is to settle down by your foot. Eventually you’ll be able to take it off the leash and your dog, no matter whether your home, at the office or at a friend’s house, just sits down by your foot and stays here. Read the rest of this entry »

Sit – stay

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‘SIT – STAY’ Basic command broken into small component parts to be mastered by the dog.

Start dog training in a quiet area away from too many distractions. (If your dog already has done some obedience training, a clicker can be used to pinpoint correct behaviour instead of the verbal “Good dog, Good sit.”) Read the rest of this entry »

Come

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“COME” Basic command training steps.

Training rule: Never correct your dog after calling him to you!
If he deserves a correction, go to him and give the correction.
“Stop doing what you are doing!”

Step 1 Teaching the meaning of “Come” with food:

The aim here is for an immediate response from the dog and at the same time to make it a pleasurable experience for him. At home, on walks etc always have food handy to reward your dog when he comes to you; Click and Treat, make a big fuss, “Good come“, and “Good dog“.
In an enclosed area two or more family members can take turns calling the pup (or untrained dog) back and forth. Sit or bend down when you call the dog.
It is important that the dog associates the word “Come” with something good such as food or hugs. Dogs soon learn that when they respond to “Come” a leash is attached to them and their freedom ends, so they become reluctant to come to the owner. So, call the dog, praise, hug and treat and send him to play some more before you call again. When the puppy or dog comes perfectly every time, the food treats or tug games are gradually reduced to about half the time. Treats are now reserved for the best efforts. When he starts reacting consistently to the word “Come”, we go on to the next step. Read the rest of this entry »

Down – stay

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‘DOWN – STAY’ Basic command broken into small component parts to be mastered by the dog.

The “Down” command is more difficult and is taught after the “Sit“. (If your dog has already done some obedience training, a clicker can be used to pinpoint correct behaviour and instead of the verbal “Good dog, Good down.”)

Read the rest of this entry »




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