Category Archives: Obedience

Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called

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Having your dog come reliably to you is one of the most if not the most important behaviors for your dog to perform for you.

A good first step is to temporarily eliminate your dog’s food bowl for a few days and place what you feed your dog into your treat-training pouch not into their food bowl.  Walk around your home, start at a short distance then call your dog in a very happy voice and give them a piece of their kibble. Keep walking around all parts of your home and repeat calling and treating your dog until all the kibble is gone. Repeat this process daily for every meal until you have a reliable recall in your home, slowly add distractions and distance away from your dog during this process, starting with low level of distractions and distances then gradually building higher levels of distractions and distances as your dog succeeds. As the distractions increase it may be helpful to add a leash or long line to your dog’s collar to help guide them away from that distraction. Also remember that the higher the palatability of your treat the more incentive for your dog to come and the more power you have drawing your dog to you.

Once your recall is reliable in your home then try a different location, maybe your yard would be the next choice. Repeat this process at various locations and you will eventually have one of the best recalls in town.

 


Back to Schedule

It’s that time again: time to go back to school. Parents everywhere are rejoicing while kids everywhere are groaning. But really: why the difference in emotions? Why do parents long for this time of year? Are parents really that anxious to get rid of their offspring for a few hours a day? Let’s delve into this topic for a moment.

All joking aside the real reason is because we are now back on a schedule and though a lot of us adults don’t want to admit it, we love our schedules and routines. Wake up at 5:30. Take a shower. Get dressed. Make coffee. Wake the kids. Eat breakfast. Feed the dogs. Pack lunches. Adios! See you at 3:00. Work. Home at 5:30. Eat dinner. Homework and entertainment. Kids in bed at 9:00. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. What’s not to love about that? You can plan your life!

When you first have kids, there are only pseudo schedules. Bedtime is flexible because there is really no reason to need to be up early. Lunch time varies on your morning activities and dinner can happen whenever because…why not? School forces a child’s schedule to be upheld much the same way that work does for adults.

Why are we talking about adults and kids when this is about dogs?

Now that the rest of the family is on a schedule our pets should be on one too. Dogs are pack animals that thrive on routines, schedules and work. If they lack structure they are more likely to act out and have bad manners. Our schedules are pretty cut and dry and are largely put in place for us without the need to do much thinking about it. Our places of employment determine our hours of work during a day and our commute determines when we get home at night and when we need to leave in the morning. The school’s hours dictate when our children must arrive at school and when they leave and their bus schedule says when to be ready to leave and when they’ll arrive at home. Perhaps it would help to give our dog’s lives some of the same structure by providing a daily schedule for them. While they do not have the demands on their time that we do they still crave structure but lack the means or ability to give it to themselves, so it is up to us to lend them a hand, or paw.

Begin by making their meals a part of your morning routine: pour your bowl of Cap N’ Crunch…I mean…Total, and then give them their meals for the morning. Before leaving for the day give them a raw bone in their crate or if they have free run of the house, perhaps a stuffed Kong, Bob-A-Lot or some other Prolonged Release Interactive Food Dispensing Device. If you think to yourself that you would like to get your dogs to daycare try to make it a habit of coming on the same day. Many of our clients have specific days that they come for daycare and have made that part of their dog’s lifestyle and routine. Believe it or not after a while they’ll start to know which day it is and wait by their door to come to play with their friends.

Daycare is a great option for providing structure, exercise and social interaction for our dogs. While visiting daycare at Misty Pines dogs are able to participate in a variety of activities that include obedience training, agility work, nature walks, afternoon snacks and more. Though the benefits of daycare can largely speak for themselves there cannot be enough said about the importance of giving your dog extra activities to break up their day and help keep them mentally sharp. Even a 15 minute training session can go a long way towards shoring up their manners and giving them some much needed mental stimulation. After all, it can’t all be playtime.

Much like our children we love to see our dogs playing and having a good time but there comes a time when they need to take a break from the play and refocus. At Misty Pines we give each dog a break from playtime while they are here for daycare but that break is really not a substitute for a good, well suited activity. If your dog loves to fetch and play ball, then a session of play ball time would be the best option for your dog. Or maybe your dog enjoys running on a treadmill or agility or sniffing through the woods; no matter what your dog enjoys we have a program that they’ll love.

Beyond just daycare, think of incorporating your dog’s needs into your families evening routine as well. Get the family together for a few minutes of fun obedience work, such as fetching objects and returning them or a game of hide and seek to work on recall. Evening walks can be used for more than just letting Scruffy check his “pee-mail,” you can incorporate behaviors that you have learned in your obedience classes such as; easy, heel, this way, pull or even sniff. Challenge your dog’s minds by making them heel through portions of the walk and make random stops to make them sit. Frequent direction changes with a “this way” cue will keep them alert and keep their minds sharp. If you would like to give them a work-out, have them “pull” you up a long or steep hill. There are ways to include training into everything you do with your dog, just be creative.

Most of our evenings end with personal grooming before bed: brushing hair, brushing teeth, showers, cutting nails and so on. Don’t forget that your dog needs groomed as well. Take 10 minutes to brush out your dog’s coat each evening as a calming down time before bed. Use this time to examine ears, nails, feet and all your dog’s parts to make sure they’re healthy and staying clean. Dogs often need help keeping up with their ears, so this is a great time to clean their ears as well. A simple cotton ball with some wintergreen alcohol will remove the waxy build-up and leave their ears smelling nice and fresh. If you’re comfortable and have had some practice you could even cut their nails. If you’re not up to that particular task feel free to bring your pup to Misty Pines and we’ll get those nails trimmed in no time. As a matter of fact, Misty Pines can handle all your grooming needs but even our professional groomers can’t make up for the daily brushing and care of your dog’s skin and coat.

    Let’s recap how to include your dogs into our daily lives and give them a schedule to provide a stable routine:

  1. Include your dog’s feeding into your morning routine.
  2. Provide mentally and physically stimulating activities such as Interactive toys or bringing the dog to daycare.
  3. Feed the dog during or around your dinner time.
  4. Incorporate your dogs into your evening family time with fun obedience games.
  5. Include training into your walks to provide mental stimulation and keep your leash handling skills sharp.
  6. Provide for your dog’s grooming needs with evening brush outs and examinations.

If you have any questions regarding how to help your dog have a schedule or how to incorporate your dog into your lifestyle please e-mail or call Misty Pines and our professional staff will be happy to give you suggestions. While speaking with our staff you may also schedule daycare or grooming visits.


Training Your Dog To Walk Politely On A Leash

Keep calm and walk the dog

Walking a dog on a loose leash is one of most difficult behaviors for a dog and human to perform together reliably because of much longer durations, distances, distractions (scents), compared to other behaviors. Teaching a dog to stay for a couple minutes, is much easier compared to loose leash walking ten blocks for a couple minutes. Walking your dog on a loose leash is a mental and physical exercise for both you and your dog. It is one of the many ways to connect and bond with your dog.

There are several behaviors and combinations of these behaviors for you and your dog to walk on a loose leash. Training these behaviors make a walk fun and challenging for both you and your dog.

“Heel” is a formal walking behavior where your dog’s front right shoulder is parallel and  eight to twelve inches away from your left leg at whatever speed that left leg is moving, and when that left leg stops, a dog sits promptly facing the same direction as the handler. While heeling, your dog’s head is up and not sniffing the ground. “This Way” is a walking behavior where the dog is trained to turn and follow you while you hold the end of a loose leash, just as a horse would follow you at the end of the lead rope.  “Easy” means to walk slowly. “Pull” means to pull you only on command on a taught leash, which comes in handy when walking uphill. The majority of dogs enjoy pulling. “Take a break” allows the dog to go to the end of a loose leash and sniff the ground. Smelling the environment is an extremely valuable reward. Dogs have 220 million scent receptors and love to investigate, explore, and check out odors in their environment. Saying “Take a break” or “go sniff’ to your dog to check out the environment can be highly rewarding and enjoyable.

Walking your dog should not be a time for your dog to be spreading their pee-mail (scent-marking)   profusely throughout the neighborhood. When dogs profusely scent mark, they are defining their territory. In turn the other dogs in the neighborhood scent mark over your dog’s scent mark. For some dogs scent marking is often perceived as claiming the deed of the territory by other dogs and this can lead to competition, and strong on leash growling reactivity when they see another dog walking towards them.

To teach your dog to heel gather up and loosely hold the leash in the left hand. Begin by shaping this behavior by luring them with a treat or a small toy held in the right hand say “heel” and walk forward, keeping your dog’s right leg parallel to your left leg and keeping their attention on the object or treat in your right hand. Take two steps, stop and simultaneously cueing your dog to “sit” parallel to your left side facing in the same direction as you. Reward with calm praise and a food treat. Repeat “heel,” gradually taking more steps between each stop to sit. Change direction of your walk periodically to keep your dog thinking, and use an upbeat animated tone in your voice to keep your dog’s attention. Start phasing out the lure once you feel the behavior has been shaped. 

Reward your dog whenever it heels beside you. Read and listen to your dog’s body language, before they indicate that they are going to pull, stop and instruct them to sit and to look at you, reward and start “heel” again.  Train “heel” in short progression sequences of distance. Ensure your two step heel is reliable before moving on to a four-step heel, then to a six-step heel and so on. Using a hand signal cue simultaneously as your left leg stops often helps dogs to sit expediently and parallel on your left side. If your dog is pulling without being told to, stop, encourage your dog to come closer to you and start the heeling over again. Certain breeds are more inclined to pull because of selective breeding for this trait, such as the Siberian husky, Alaskan Malamute, or Bernese Mountain Dog. If your dog continues to pull without being asked, a head halter type of collar will be helpful. There are many types of collars and harnesses to aid you in teaching your dog to heel.

Dogs heeling with owners.

It is outside the scope of this article to discuss all the various techniques and methods of teaching owners and dogs to walk politely on a leash. Seek out professional help to teach you the various techniques and methods of teaching your dog to heel, and the other walking behaviors. Once these behaviors are trained into your dog, you and your dog will enjoy and gain the many benefits of walking politely on a loose leash.


How To Appropriately Play With Your Dog

During each of our two monthly Orientations we have a section that reads “How To Appropriately Play With Your Dog.” We show two videos, the first is a boy out of control with a little chihuahua and the second is a video of our Kids Camp demonstrating integrating training and play. The first video is typically the part that makes dogs bark and owners cringe; as a matter of fact, Jeff cringes each time he sees the first video. After showing the fist Jeff always asks, “Who has this going on in their homes?” and it’s startling how many people raise their hands.

DON’T STOP READING!

This is a short refresher course. Please watch the following two videos and do a self-evaluation of our home and see if you need to make any changes.

How to INappropriately play with your dog

How to appropriately play with your dog

When playing with your dog it is not a good idea to promote wildness. As seen in the first video when you continue to ramp up the dog’s intensity and allow things to get out of hand the situation can quickly become disastrous. If you pay attention at the end of the first video the boy ends up getting bit by his own dog. The bite is likely not hard enough to break skin but with continued practice of out of control play this type of situation could result in a more serious bite in time.

Contrasting the first video with the second we see the results of integrating training into playtime yield happy, energetic dogs that can play and have fun but have learned to settle quickly and sit. These dogs are much less of a risk to bite for any reason than the dog that has been taught to be wild. In the second video, if you listen closely, you’ll hear Jeff say, “Ok, turn ’em off…” These dogs are beginning to have an “off switch” that can take them from arousal to calm very quickly. This will not only help to control wild play, but any situation where the dog needs to calm down in a hurry.

Dogs are happiest when they have a job, and one of the jobs they can perform for all of us is to be enjoyable, well-behaved members of the family. As Spring and Summer arrive and we are venturing outside for activity, remember to integrate training into playtime. Your dogs will thank you for it.

**Side note: Notice the difference in the children in the two videos. When you involve your children in wild play they will become wild also but if you teach your children to help train the family dog by incorporating a few sits and downs into their playtime you’ll see that they will respond eagerly and will learn self-control themselves in the process.

And speaking of children, don’t miss your opportunity to register your kids for Kids Camp this summer. We have two sets of dates available: July 11th, 12th and 13th and July 25th, 26th and 27th. Spaces are limited and will fill up fast. Click the banner below to register now!


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