Posts Tagged ‘hand 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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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!

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.