Posts Tagged ‘commands’

Teaching One Dog to Teach the Other

July 13, 2009

Teaching your dog tricks or obedience type behavior is really not that hard. With the exception of teaching Lexi to bark, I think most every new behavior/trick takes 3-5 days of repetition. Yes, all dogs are different, and your results will most likely vary, but that’s what I see.

Unless you have two dogs. Teach only ONE of your dogs something and see how long it takes the other one to ‘get it’.

One example: If you’ve followed for a while, we’ve had Lexi for a while and have taught her to ring a bell when she needs to go out. (*No, I’ve still not got Lexi to bark on command. More on this in a moment; I have a new plan…)  This is NOT a natural thing for a dog to do. So after several days, Lexi did get to ring the bell using her nose. And we’ve reinforced the habit by asking her to ring it to “go potty” when we take her out before bed, going away, etc. This was before we got Murphy, our Golden Retriever, we’ve now had for a week.

So sometime during the week, I decided that I should probably teach Murphy to ring the bell too. He wanted no part of it. Okay, to be fair, Murphy didn’t like his nose being directed towards a strange object that makes noise any more than Lexi did. So, long story short, I taught Murphy the behavior once, MAYBE twice.

But as we let out Lexi, Murphy observes the behavior. Next day my son says (we were gone most of the evening and he works afternoons), “When did you guys teach Murphy to ring the bell?” Yup. Less than two days of watching, Lexi taught Murphy to ring the bell.

Another; Murphy LOVES to chase/bring back a racquetball. When he brings it back, he drops it at your feet… sorta. He drops it and immediately steps on it, but pushes really hard on the ball, then pulls back on his paw making the ball bounce up a couple inches. Then he catches the ball in his mouth. This is a behavior he taught himself. Oh yeah, and Lexi, watching him return the ball, thought that looked pretty cool and started doing it on her own when she fetches.

So my next scheme for getting Lexi to bark on command… Murphy is a more natural barker/house guard dog. Mostly silent, but barks on any sound he doesn’t like/know. I’m pretty certain a couple days of work will have Murphy barking on hand signal. We’ll see. Then we’ll see how quickly Lexi observes/learns. Stay tuned.

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Fun at Garage Sales

June 15, 2009

Okay, I’ll be honest right off the bat. I am sure there are home owners who would prefer that you don’t bring your dog to their garage sale. But as we work with our ‘new’ addition, Lexi, we find it a great way to socialize her and reinforce training.

This last Saturday there were two allotment-wide garage sales in our area. For me, that’s like saying, “Hey, there’s a dog obedience exercise in our neighborhood this weekend!”- Okay, I’ll be there!

As you’ve read before, Lexi has been progressing from learning to Heal, to loose-leash, to off-leash. As a professional dog trainer, it is soooo cool to walk up a long drive with your German Shepherd off-leash (healing at your side), hearing people comment on how well behaved, etc., then hear, “oh my gosh, Fred, that dog isn’t on a leash!” I love that!

This also gives us a great opening to talk about training, obedience and dogs in general. On a totally different subject, I also love to ride motorcycles. Coincidentally, two things people love to talk about are dogs and cycles! It’s so easy with a well trained, obedient dog to start conversations with people!

I think I could’ve sold Lexi about 10 times on Saturday. NO chance! She is such a sweet dog and GREAT with kids. I always ask parents if it’s okay for their kids to pet her. If positive, it gives us a great chance to make sure the kids know and understand their ABCs. No, not those ABCs; whenever we can, we teach kids AABC: Always Ask Before Cuddling (any animal); first ask your parents, then have your parents ask the pet owner before proceeding!

In any case, look for opportunities to train your dog and work them a bit. Most dogs love to learn new things and practice old things. And make sure your pooch can handle the responsibility you give it!

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.

Lexi, the German Shepherd and House-training

May 21, 2009

As you know, Lexi came home with us from the pound last Wednesday, so we’ve had her now just over a week. It’s both frustrating and fascinating to not know ANYTHING about a dog when you adopt. Maybe I should say nothing about their past as we DID know she was female and that it’s pretty obvious that Lexi is 99.5% German Shepherd.

But we don’t know for sure. Two things; One is that we could do a DNA test and know for sure, but everything about Lexi, from her marking to her radar-dish ears tells us all we need to know. And that’s point Two; we really don’t care ‘what’ she is, breed-wise. We fell in love with her loving, quiet personality.

Lexi has really progressed too! I started the blog talking about house-training which can be challenging to say the least! She’s not yet gone in the house. That’s part of that “not knowing”… was she house-trained before? Was she an outside dog only and so only knows to go outside???? Sigh, who knows? I’ll take it! She’s also pretty much going on command at this point too.

So, a little house-training for your pooch, which you can find everywhere on the net!… Take your dog to the same spot in your yard whenever possible. Take your pooch out at any obvious time they may need to go out… when they awake, if you’ve been away for a few hours and they’ve not been outside, a while after they’ve eaten (each dog/diet is unique). Tell your pet, “go potty” or any other phrase you wish to use. Remember, it’s not the word, it’s the consistency of that phrase when they are going. If you don’t like having a “potty mouth”, use a goofy word like, “tractor”. Just realize if anyone ever watches your dog for you, they might not get your special word.

After a few days, your dog will begin to “get” what they’re supposed to do and when. Also REALLY important is to praise your pup whenever they get it right! Don’t Surprise your dog by YELLING, “GOOD DOG! GOOD DOG!!!” the minute she squats or you may give her a fright! Just nice soft words will do!

And finally, remember that your dog is trying to figure out what you want. Yes, some dogs ARE willful- But I tire of hearing trainers always talking about how a certain dog is “fighting” or resisting house-training. Give your dog a break!! It doesn’t speak your language, may not yet know your body language or energy. Give it time to adjust and don’t punish. Your dog will just get confused and possibly just find a better hidden place in your home to have the accident.

Praise and consistency wins every time!!

Catching up with Lexi

May 20, 2009

We’d really love to know the story behind Lexi. She is such a quiet spirit. She is very content to be in her kennel even though she has the run of  the house. She appears to be fully house-trained. Since last Wed, Lexi has now learned the basic commands to Sit, Come and Loose-leash Heel. We’re currently working on other commands like Down, JUMPing, Fetch, Bring, Drop…. and on and on. She seems to get some things nearly immediately and at times you wonder if you just imagined training her!

But I think you get some of that with a 10 month old pup with a sketchy past.

We have been spending loads of time with her.  She goes to the dog park often, we take her on all of our dog training appointments and are trying to socialize her as much as possible.

More tomorrow (I hope)!