Archive for the ‘Commands’ Category

Tell me again why you called??

December 3, 2012

As you may have read, I’ve moved to TN. In the work to get this off the ground here, I met Anita from Doe Valley Pruning (my snazzy embroidered shirts!) and she was kind enough to invite me to a networking meeting. One gentleman said he had a referral for me (a relative who was at wits-end to get their two young lab mixes under control) and would have them call me when they were ready.

This was well over a month ago. This past week the gal finally called me for an appointment.

First let me say that nobody calls me and says, “I have two perfectly behaved dogs that we just are sooooo happy with. Just wanted you to know.”  No… my phone rings when people are up to “here” with bad dog behavior. One assumes the owner has finally gotten up to “here”. You might be wrong.

So, tell me again why you called?

So, today I arrived at the appointed time, greeted by one mostly well-behaved dog “Skippy”  (Names have been changed to protect the guilty). Skippy didn’t jump, just INTENSE sniffing and one dog being held at arms length by the owner. Owner let go and “Goober” starts jumping and pawing and mouthing/nipping at my hands. Seeing this wonderful behavior, Skippy thinks its a good idea and begins to jump too. Owners try several (failing badly) strategies to keep the dogs from jumping, etc. Didn’t work. Skippy jumps with front paws on counter. Owner,” Sign, we’ve been trying to stop that for months, too.” (hmmmm…)

As I give the dogs no energy or real contact, they finally lose interest. He owner, she owner and I start to talk.

Me: So is this the behaviors I’m here for (jumping, nipping)?

Her: yes, that and not heeling on a walk.

They have two kennels for the dogs. I ask if they go in their kennels eaisily

Her: Yes//Him: No  (hmmmm)  Her: Well, I give them a treat to go in.

Me: Why a treat?

Her: so they’ll listen.  Him: (rolls eyes)

On hearing about treats I ask about their diets.

Her: well we’re vegans and all the dog food on the market is crap (points at dog food they are using), so we give them table scraps too.

Me: did you know giving a dog human food can shorten their lives 3-5 years?

Her: I’ve read that, but it isn’t true and besides we’re health nuts, so they only get healthy food.

At this point I can see where this is heading. She thinks a human vegan diet is great for a canine.

So I start asking about how they discipline.

Her: well, I’m not hitting my dog.   (Me: Looking to find the voice that said someone had asked her to hit the dog)

Her: My father comes over here. He’s really stern with the dogs (no he doesn’t hit them either). They listen to him. When we go outside they follow HIM. (This last said with distaste as the dogs follow the “mean” guy)( not the owners with no rules, boundaries, or limitations.)

Anything I mention about structure, expecting the dog to behave with NO treats is met with a look of disdain, bordering on hate. He and she are sitting on their couch now, but don’t offer me a seat. Part of the reason is the only seat left is the “Dog Couch”. I know if I sit on my own, I’ll have two labs on my lap and have to deal with it.

I ask about keeping the dogs off that couch. YIKES daggers of death!!! I asked what happens if her 90 year old grandma comes over and a 40# dog jumps in her lap? Or the dogs both jump on her at the door like they did me, she falls and breaks her hip??

Silence…… then finally, Her: I hadn’t thought of that.   (huh, really? How self-absorbed are you??)(No, I didn’t ask that).

Her: But I WANT the dogs on the couch.

Me: Is there anything wrong with you “owning” the couch and they could get up if invited?

Her: I want them to have their own couch. (Note they each have a nice kennel with blankets and pillows and all kinds of carpet to lay on. I just don’t like all this “Dominance” stuff you’re talking about. You’re like my dad. I don’t want to dominate my dogs. I want to be able to spoil them. They’re my kids for now.

At some point in an evaluation, when I can see people are struggling with the discipline issue, I’ll ask if they have a spare bedroom (especially if I know/think they do…). After an unusual look I’ll say, “Tell ya what, I’m gonna move in this weekend. I expect to get room and board. I may tear some stuff up now and then. I usually will make myself a pesk when ANYONE comes over to visit and embarrass you. Oh yeah, You’ll have to make sure I get fed on time, you take me out to pee in the yard and cover all my medical. What do you say? Heck, I’ll even play ball with you!!!”

I ALWAYS get a “Probably not”. My point? EXACTLY. The dogs gig here is pretty good. And all you REALLY want is for them to behave?? Not surprisingly, I got silence from them on that.

Me (at the limit of patience now): Sp do I hear you saying that your dad fully expects the dogs to behave and they do. You don’t expect them to, in fact you just told me you expect to spoil them and they don’t listen to you? I’m not sure why you called me. Did you know that these (all) dogs are 98% gray wolf and expect to have a pack leader?

Her: I read that and that’s not true. They’ve had thousands of years to adjust without a pack leader. They don’t need that.

Me: I’m sorry. I can tell that we’re too far apart. I can see even if you hired me, we would butt heads. I choose at this point to part as close to friends as we can get. — I shake both their hands and leave.

Total elapsed time? 14 minutes. One of the shortest evaluations I’ve ever been on.

So tell me again, if all of your fantastic research is working so well and you have it so “under control”… WHY did you call me??

Sigh.

So, if I CAN help you, and you’re willing to accept training from an expert, please stop by the Perfectly Pawsible Dog Obedience web site!!

-Grant

Good (OFFICIAL) Morning from Tennessee!

October 24, 2012

We love Tennessee. We’ve moved to the Elizabethton, Tennessee area. Between the mountain and the river, we LOVE it here!

Tomorrow will mark three weeks ago that I rescued Axle from the pound in Cambridge, OH (just before moving to Tennessee). It’s been amazing to watch his transformation from “a dog” to “my dog”. As German Shepherds are known to do, he has bonded well and is now off-leash in the yard all the time.

While at the pound, he had shown no recognition of human commands. Now he knows (most with hand signals) Sit, Down, Come, OFF, Drop and more. We’re working on “holding”. I don’t teach a dog to “stay”. They are taught to hold the last command- so when told to “sit”, for example, they are to hold that without a “stay” command.

He’s learned to Wait at the door (no command anymore), Speak on command (hand signal) and more. I’m so proud of him.

Axle loves to chase and gnaw on the stick

Axle loves to chase and gnaw on the stick

He really loves to run and play! I attached a short video here. It’s fun to watch a big dog run with a stick that probably weighs more than some toy dogs! Well, time to run.

If you need help with dog obedience in the area of Elizabethton, Tennessee; Johnson City, Tennessee; Kingsport, Tennessee, Bristol, Tennessee- anywhere in the Tri-Cities area (in Tennessee), even into North Carolina or Virginia, please call us at (423) 930-8191 or visit our website at www.PerfectlyPawsible.com.

Dog or Training?

June 10, 2009

Why do we put so much concentration on anniversaries? “It’s been six years…”, “Five Months!”, “four weeks”… why don’t we say, “We’ve been together 34,567,890 seconds!”? – okay, maybe some teens do. Well, today is Lexi’s four week anniversary in our home. Four weeks ago, we were able to rescue Lexi from the Tuscarawas County Dog Pound.

When we picked up Lexi (our German Shepherd) from the pound she knew no commands, was nervous to human touch (like when you pressed her butt down to “sit”), but otherwise a nice, well-behaved dog.

We started with the basics; Sit, Down, Come, etc. Some of your may wonder about “Stay”. We assume that we wanted the dog to sit and hold the sit until the next command is given, so “Stay” may be fine for you and your dog, but consider teaching your dog to ‘Hold’ the command! Then tell her to “Break”, which means, “you are free to go”.

Fast forward four weeks to today’s anniversary. Lexi knows: Sit, Down, Heel (Lexi is loose-leash easily and can pretty much be off-leash now), Come, Go Potty, Break, Bring it (fetch), Car (as in ‘get in the’), Place, Up, Off, No, Okay (we use “Okay” as a release for a treat. “Okay, you can get it now”). She is learning; Jump (an obstacle), Lay (on her side), Border (the yard boundary).

So in four weeks she has learned (understands) over 10 commands and is on her way to 20. Not bad, eh? So, is it the dog, or the training? Honestly, it’s both. A bad trainer can mess up a smart dog. However, the right, consistent training with most any dog can have amazing results.

Remember to be your dog’s pack leader! Remember to be consistent. Remember your dog lives to please you and wants to learn!

Luci is taking off, but Scout?

June 1, 2009

Last post, I introduced Luci a Shepherd/Collie mix we are working with and promised to bring you up to date.

When we got to Luci’s last training appointment, we worked with Luci on not charging the door. Her human was doing a GREAT job being assertive. It didn’t take Luci long to figure out that she was to stop about 6 feet from the door.

We worked with ‘natural’ landmarks for her so she’d get it faster. One door has a short hallway 6 or 7 feet in length, so we worked with her stopping there. At the front door, there are two carpeted openings to the tiled entrance. So we worked on stopping Luci at the carpet edge.

Give your dog a nice hard, “SIT” when they are at the limit you wish them to respect. The first few times might be done with a lead, so you can tug at the same time as the command, right at the border you are teaching. Also, work on a hand signal to give the dog at the same time. Little by little, just use the visual and soon enough you won’t need to say anything. Won’t be long before the dog will know to go to that line at the door bell and wait for you.

Make sure when training that you don’t overwhelm your dog. Too many people giving the command, too many commands, too many different commands, can exhaust and confuse your dog. As we often do training appointments with two of us, we have a general rule when training that the person with the lead is the one that gives commands. The other person can help where needed.

Overwhelm: You may see your dog “shut down”; go to a neutral corner and hide; or head for its kennel or quiet spot. Make sure to remove your dog from that shut down area with a lead if needed. Just gently tug her out. It might be a good time to not train again for a while or anymore that day. Praise your dog quietly and pet them. Let them know you’re understanding. Then next time, go at it a little gentler and simpler. Your dog will get it!

We started working with Scout last week too. Scout is a Terrier/Something Else dog. She is a furry ball of sweet fun. Scout’s yard was smaller, on a hill and had an electric fence. That made it a challenge to stay in the boundaries and still work with her. By the end of our first session, she was beginning to understand a loose-leash heel and to sit when we stopped.

More on Lexi’s barking (or lack thereof), her progress and whatever else comes up next time!

Luci, you got some ‘splainin to do…

May 29, 2009

A couple of weeks ago we started working with Luci, a Shepherd/Collie mix. Among Luci’s issues were charging the door, jumping on people, pulling when on lead and occasionally herding a car or two.

As you may know, our German Shepherd, Lexi goes on all our appointments with us. She’s a great example of a calm, submissive dog. (BTW, we’ll soon have our website ready to go and will have a quiz there you can take!)

But I digress. The reason I mention Lexi going on training visits with us, is that when we visit Luci, it doesn’t take long before we start calling Lexi/Luci and Luci/Lexi and well, if WE’re confused, imagine the poor dogs!

Anyhow after our orientation with Luci’s owner and laying some basic groundwork, we saw Luci starting to understand commands she learned while in that first session. It was obvious that Luci was really smart, really wanted to please, and that she’d learn very quickly. After just a few trips up and down the street with trainer Aaron, Luci was loose-leash heeling!

Next post I’ll get to our most recent visit and relate Luci’s progress, as well as our new client, Scout; a Terrier mix.

Oh, by the way, Lexi is still a reluctant barker. I’m actually glad! Last night around midnight after the Cavs won (Go CAVS!!), I took Lexi out. She went past the edge of the back of our house. The house across the street (probably 120′ away) has a white-ish fountain/planter/thing in the front yard. Last night Lexi saw this for the first time and proceeded to ensure my safety by barking it down. Funny. Good opportunity to encourage her to “Speak”, which is another way to use a behavior your dog has and encouraging it with a command.

Teaching Lexi to Bark…

May 26, 2009

Okay, you don’t really have to teach a dog to bark, per se. In fact, across the street is a nice little white dog that barks and barks and barks an…you get the idea. From the minute she’s put out to potty, “Miss Barksalot”… barks… a lot. She barks at nothing in particular, she just barks.

Why would you live with that?

So on to our German Shepherd, Lexi, that we’ve now had for almost two full weeks. Lexi is on the total opposite spectrum as MissBarksalot. Lexi pretty much doesn’t bark. When we picked her up at the pound (which is WAY out in the country), she barked at some deer on the hill. I think she’s barked twice inside our house – one night when she heard something outside she wasn’t sure of.

So, today we started our goal of teaching Lexi to at least bark when asked to. If you’d like to feel real silly, please stop by and we’ll let you bark at Lexi and try to get her to bark back at you. She doesn’t get it. She just stares at us with those big Shepherd eyes & EARS and looks at us like we’re insane. In fact, as I think of it, she looks exactly like she does when she stares at the dog across the street when she barks.

Today while our other trainer, my son Aaron, was working with her, she saw something down the street that did cause her to bark. We ran with that, encouraging her to “Speak Lexi!” She actually responded for a bit. Sigh.

I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world if your dog only barks at ‘legitimate’ threats instead of that leaf that moved, but it will be interesting to get to bark on command. Work on your dog. Our last dog was trained to only bark on command or at his decision. Buddy knew when to bark. Just like Lexi seems to. But when my wife was alone and someone called on the phone she didn’t know, she made sure to give Buddy the hand signal to bark. Or when someone came to the door, he pretty much knew to bark at the door bell. Makes people think twice.

Stay tuned, we’ll let you know how she progresses.