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.

How Often To bathe A Dog.

That all depends on your pet. Factors include: his hair coat, hair length, how often he gets dirty, where he lives (if he is indoor or outdoors most of the time), shedding cycle, and any underlying skin problem. Some dogs need baths only a couple times a year while others need weekly grooming. It is beneficial to brush your dog about twice a week. Bathing your dog every month or two isn’t unreasonable, but some dogs will need more frequent cleanings. A good rule of thumb is to bathe your pet only when his coat gets dirty or begins to smell

Signs that my dog is unwell.

1. Lack of appetite – Anorexia is often one of the very first signs of illness in dogs. It can be difficult to determine if you feed your dog dry food only and keep the bowl full. For this reason, some veterinarians recommended feeding dogs a scheduled feeding at the same time every day so that you accurately assess their appetite.

2. Less active – Dogs that don’t feel well are often less active. Many times this “less active” sign is mistaken for “getting older”. If your dog is less active, the safest thing to do is have your vet check your dog out.

3. Weakness – Weakness can be displayed as either being “less active”, having a lethargic appearance, or by displaying a loss of balance and coordination. All of these are potentially serious signs and should prompt immediate evaluation by your veterinarian.

4. Lethargy – Lethargy is a general lack of interest in the environment. It is a very common symptom and can be an early or late sign of illness depending on the severity.

5. Weight loss – Losing weight is another common sign of disease or illness. Sometimes it is difficult to notice weight loss, especially in longhaired dogs or dogs that you see every day and may not notice subtle changes. If your dog feels bonier, lighter, or you can easily feel the ribs, this could be a problem.

6. Increased water consumption – Drinking more is often associated with a few diseases including kidney disease and diabetes mellitus. If you notice your dog is showing these symptoms, see your veterinarian.

7. Not grooming – Dogs that don’t feel well don’t groom or you just notice a dull lustreless coat. If your dogs coat changes, have him or her evaluated by your veterinarian.

8. Bad breath – Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can result from dental disease as well as other metabolic disorders.

“Greeting”

Puppies must be taught not to be rude and rush into the face of an older dog. They must greet slowly when they meet an adult dog they do not know. In the training class puppies soon get to know each other and will crash into each other. However, a puppy can get badly injured when rushing into an older dog that expects respect. The testosterone of a 5 month old pup is as much as 5 times higher than that of an adult male dog who will want to dominate the youngster. If the pup is slow in submitting, he can be injured.

“Children & Dogs”

Dogs must learn that they come after the children in a family in importance. When arriving home the dogs should at first be ignored until you have greeted the children. If your child arrives while you are playing with the dog, immediately leave the dog and pay attention to the child.

“Praise”

When your puppy or new dog comes when called or sit/stays, a very common mistake is to offer the dog a treat as a reward and then play with it. What you need to do is to first praise your dog like he won the Lotto and then slip the treat in at the same time. The dog must work for your praise and not primarily for the food which you can give as a bonus for very good work. This way he learns that YOU are the centre of his universe and he will not stop working if he knows that you do not have food with you.

“Wait”

This command is similar to “Stay” in that it requires inaction from the dog but is used mainly at doorways, gates and pavement crossings. The aim is to stop the dog from charging through doorways, across the road and into cars before you are ready for them. Say “wait” as soon as the dog begins to become fidgety and wants to charge ahead.

Start on leash at first. Walk to a door (preferably one that opens inwards towards you) say, “Sit” – “Wait.” Begin to open the door. As soon as the dog moves forward, quickly shut it again. Repeat the command and the opening and closing movements over and over until the dog realises that there is no point in charging forward when told to “Wait.”  At this point go through the door first and immediately invite the dog with a release command such as, “Come” or “OK” to follow you. Repeat the same procedure at the garden gate and at crossings. Patience, practise, praise and persistence will be required!

“Hot spots”

The 5 most common touchy or “hot spots” that trigger resentment or aggression from a dog when making contact with them, are: Tail, feet, collar and lips. As soon as those areas are identified, instead of, as often happens, owners start avoiding making contact with them, the dog should indeed be desensitised ASAP. The attitude of: “My dog does not like it so I avoid touching him there” is a recipe for potential disaster when children come into contact with that dog.

By offering high value, pea size treats such as cheese or dried liver or chicken next to the muzzle, gently start by lightly touching the “hot spot.” The dog must notice that it is being touched while at the same time he is being fed. If the dog objects he still gets the food. After the 3rd or 4th time quickly grab or squeeze the area and let go immediately. Continue in this way until the dog happily allows the areas to be handled. Start early because this procedure is a lot easier to follow with puppies than with a 3 or 4 year old rescue dog.

Stress

During training dogs are often “corrected” (punished) when they do not conform to the demands of the trainers. The dog becomes stressed and gives signals that says “please don’t be angry with me.” Handlers should take note of the following Calming signals and not continue with training when the dog shows signs of stress. It is time to play with the dog!

Head turning away from handler; Yawning; Eyes turning away; Licking of the lips; Sniffing; Panting; Biting the leash; Slow, reluctant behaviour; Complete body turns away from you; Raising the paw (as if to “Shake”) Sniffing; Lying down.

Many of the calming signals listed above are natural, normal behaviour but are often seen to start or come on during a training session. Yawning is normal at night when the dog is tired but becomes a calming signal when seen at the start of or during training.

Playing

“Playing with your dog creates more good feelings between dog and handler than letting him sleep in your bed.” (Bernard Flinks)

Vision

Dogs are not colour blind but their colour vision is poor compared to ours. Their Red/ Green/ Brown discrimination can be problematic especially when they want to find a red or brown ball on green grass. Yellow and multi-coloured toys are much easier for them to find, so next time you need to buy your dog a toy, keep this in mind. Their night vision is better than ours so that they are able to dash off in the dark without crashing into objects. They have a reflective layer at the back of their eyes which traps more available light. That is why their eyes shine in the dark.

Fruit

DO NOT GIVE GRAPES OR RAISINS TO YOUR DOG. In sufficient quantities they can cause kidney failure. The toxic dose for a dog weighing 25kg is just 10oz; for raisins it is less, because they are just concentrated grapes.

“Guilty” dogs

It is important to remember and accept that we cannot get dogs to think back and recall what happened in the past – not even a minute ago. Owners may call their reaction “guilt,” but dogs do not identify with this human response. They will only be scared and confused by ill timed corrections and punishment. If a dog is corrected immediately after he has done wrong, he will begin to understand. Delayed punishment does not work, no matter how “guilty” the dog may have looked.

On Leash Aggression

Many dogs become aggressive when on leash near other dogs.  Knowing that they are confined and cannot escape, puts them in defensive mode. Yanking the dog away from another dog, lifts the head higher and the state of arousal becomes higher and higher.

If a dog is not ready to walk on a loose leash around other dogs, avoid the company of other dogs until more training has been done..
One often sees owners allowing their dogs to edge closer to other dogs on a tight leash, thinking they will say “Hi” and become friends only to have them snapping at each other. More off-leash work with friendly dogs in a safe area is called for.

“Come” game.

When you are on your own and your dog has not yet learnt the “Stay” command, you can continue to build a positive relationship by playing this game that is fun and your dog will love.

  1. Throw a treat a few feet away. (Make sure the dog sees it!)
  2. Tell your dog to “Get it.”
  3. Run away fast!
  4. As the dog is coming to you, sit or crouch and say “Come” or whistle.
  5. When he gets to you, give lots of praise and play petting and treat with a jackpot. (All the treats in your hand one at a time.)

Successful Dog Training.

The success of dog training is to prove to the dog that obeying you is a great idea!

When called, the dog must willingly come running to you because you are going to praise and reward it for doing so. This implies that both dog and owner must behave in the right way. The dog must come and the owner must reward.

Make sure that your dog knows how you want it to behave and then praise and reward it lavishly for doing so. The dog must never be punished for rules it did not know existed. “If you have rules in your house, do not keep it a secret from your dog.” (Dr Ian Dunbar). Quanto knows, since he was a puppy, that he is not allowed in the lounge or any of the bedrooms and will not enter any of these rooms without permission.

Go lie down.”

As often as possible instruct your dog to “settle down” and be calm. Get him to lie down on his mat or under a tree or near where you are working several times a day. At first have the dog settle down right next to you so that you can control his movements. Gradually he can be taught to go further away. These little quiet moments will result in a lifetime of joy with your pet. Dogs need to be able to calm themselves! Older dogs who were not trained to do so as puppies may need to be tied down for a while to establish a new habit. Once the dog understands the command to settle down, it is time to repeat the exercise away from home. Coyote, Juno and Quanto have spent many hours relaxing in the back of the Ford Bantam. When I leave home and cannot take the dogs with me, I say, “Go lie down” and the dogs will quietly go to their respective settling down spots and not try to follow me.

Handler Frustration.

When your dog loves you he does not care about what others think of him. He will only want to succeed for you, be a star in your eyes! So, if you also want him to succeed, you need to concentrate hard on the exercises you want to teach him and not become casual in doing so. Make sure that you understand exactly what must be done so that you will be able to help your dog to succeed. Practise it over and over to make sure he gets it right. When things don’t work out we often become frustrated, raise our voices and speak louder and louder and we begin to use more force in the handling of the dog who soon only wants to get AWAY from you. When this happens, STOP. Rest for a while, and then go back to that part of the exercise where you can guarantee success so that you can reward and love your dog. Go home and try again.

Training should be fun!

  • Keep training sessions short; 3-5 minutes a few times a day is fine.
  • Concentrate on one behaviour in each session.
  • Train with a happy attitude. Stop when you become stressed.
  • End each session on a successful note. When the dog performed the exercise you are working on very well, end the session there.
  • Once a new behaviour has been learnt, incorporate it into your daily routine.

Socializing must be continued.

Socialisation must be continued throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Around eight months of age many formally well-socialised puppies suddenly become shy and are easily “spooked” by strange or loud noises, strangers with hats or beards, sudden movements and especially children. We regularly have to deal with dogs that attended puppy school, was socialised and later developed temperament and behaviour problems. Even if you do not want to attend a dog training class, you must continue to socialised your dog.

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