Posts Tagged ‘obedience training’

Knowing When to Say When… Again

January 26, 2010

You might have noticed that our blog posts are getting fewer and farther between… two weeks ago our blog post was titled: “Knowing When to Say When” which carried an announcement of my latest adoptee, a German Shepherd named Shayna, being put up for adoption after more than six weeks of training with the professionals here at Perfectly Pawsible. This post falls under the same objective: after roughly eight months of blogging, it has been determined that writing is not ‘my thing’ – obedience training is (and singing, but that is a topic for another venue).

With the New Year, our old processes were evaluated, and Perfectly Pawsible’s Dog Blog will no longer be written.  I encourage you to become a fan of our Facebook page. Here we will keep you posted of upcoming pet events in and around Stark County, Ohio, and provide tips for pet care as the thoughts arise and the seasons change.

By the way: Shayna is still available. She loves to cuddle, be petted and is nearly always right by my side. She LOVES to get out and run and play, but also is perfectly content to go in her “box” (cage/kennel) and nap for hours. If you might be interested in adopting Shayna, please contact me directly through our website contact page.

Thank you all so very much for your loyalty and friendship!


Leads, Leashes & Collars, Oh My…

October 6, 2009

I was trying to make that come out like, “Lions, Tigers & Bears” but just couldn’t pull it off.

I had an interesting reaction to a post a few weeks ago, so thought I’d follow up…

I commented on thinking Halti Collars are pretty much worthless. In the middle of all the other stuff this kind of stuck out I guess. So let me backup and tell you why:


1st: there is NO MAGIC in ANY training device.

We only use a certain type of collar when we train. I know it’s the easiest collar for us to work with, I know that dogs understand the collar when used, and most importantly, I know its the easiest collar for owners to understand how to use effectively.

So, I’ll officially back off my “Halti” statement above, yet back up my belief. I see more dogs put on the collar because they’ve been told it will “fix” their dog. Without proper training many people will not understand how to use a given training tool. The issue with Halti’s is that they’ve gotten a great reputation, but I’ve seen as many badly behaved dogs on a Halti as not. So THAT is my point, and I’m sorry to anyone that misunderstood my plodding into the point unprepared. I tend to forget my audience doesn’t know what I’m thinking.

Heck, I often don’t know what I’m thinking!

So another point I hope I can transfer better:
I believe there are few badly behaved dogs, but plenty of owners that don’t have the tools to understand dog behavior. And why would they? Most people are not trained or educated to “know” what to do in given situations. Take some time and drop back through past posts.

We fully believe that your dog can be a great member of your pack, no matter what the behavior problem. It can be solved in a way your dog understands naturally. And when you hire a professional trainer, you’ll get their best approach to your dogs needs!

Till next time: I’ll try and stay out of hot water!

Please Don’t Help Me Train My Dog!

September 8, 2009

Or Please DO!

Make up your mind, Grant! Do you want help training your dog or not!?

Great question. Many of the dog obedience problems we see as professional trainers are caused by owners that don’t understand HOW to train their pet. That makes sense. Most people haven’t been trained professionally to train dogs. Arguably, the simplest/best thing you can do to help your dog is provide a consistent environment.

A month or so ago, we adopted Murphy. Murphy, our Golden Retriever The people we adopted Murphy from had given him the “uncontrollable” tag. Maybe you saw this “uncontrollable” dog in the video with the baby? Well, anyhow, on our first walk (later the day we brought him home) that I took Murphy on, a couple streets over I saw a couple with two Golden Retrievers out in their yard. Of course you have to stop and swap dog stories. As I approached, one of them basically told me their dogs weren’t really well behaved (great). I noticed they were giving their dogs some watermelon as a treat. So, when I got close, the guy asked if Murphy could have a bite. I told Murphy to sit. While I’d worked with Murphy a bit, we were still getting to know each other. Remember, I’d just gotten him. So as I tried to get Murphy to obey, the guy holds out the treat about six inches from Murphy’s nose. Hmm… Brand new owner vs. nose/treat; guess who wins? So I’m standing there saying, “Sit Murphy, Sit” and this dufus gives Murphy the treat. Had Murphy sat yet? NO. And the guy wonders why his dog misbehaves?

Lesson 1: Don’t reward your dog for unwanted behavior! To this guy: Get a clue and DON’T help me train my dog!

Murphy is still learning borders (no electric shock collars or electric fence, just command/recall). Murphy is also the typical Golden-“I love people and getting petted”-Retriever. When my next door neighbor has guests and Murphy is out, he has to go see people. He’s getting better, but cannot help himself YET. So, as the people (that know Murphy) got out of their car, I was able to stop him twice with, “Murphy, no” or “Murphy, sit”. Now, One would ASSUME that when that owner over their is telling his dog to sit and not come over here, the people would KNOW that I: 1) Want him to obey ME; and 2) stay in his yard. So what do they do? They get out of the car, bend over, slap their thighs, and say, “MURPHY!!”   REEEALLLY??? This is where in a cartoon you see the steam coming out of someone’s ears. So now Murphy is next door getting more attention than he deserves (none in my book- he didn’t obey) and as the guy sits there and pets him, I’m continuing to say, “Murphy, YARD; Murphy, YARD” (We use ‘yard’ as a return call as opposed to ‘come’). And the guy pets Murphy and says to him, “daddy’s gonna be mad, you shouldn’t be over here!” (yes, and continues to pet Murphy).

Lesson 2: Don’t reward MY dog for unwanted behavior! To this guy: Get a clue and DON’T help me train my dog!

Or, could you help? If someone you know, or quite frankly even a stranger on the street, is working their dog, or trying to achieve a given behavior, please don’t work against them! I cannot believe how often I am working a dog (and it’s obvious, trust me) that someone walks up to pet the dog and doesn’t ask, just interrupts the whole process. Dogs need consistent, repetition. A dog like Murphy that hadn’t been expected to obey (see “This Dog is Uncontrollable“) that is also a people pleaser doesn’t need to have a session interrupted!

Breitenbach Winery Labor Day Party and Dog Show Saturday we were at a “pet event” where we had a table/booth.  We always have a jar of treats out for people to give their dogs. I’ll be the first to admit that this is highly hypocritical. I rarely give my dogs treats (they really DON’T need them) and seldom/ever allow them to get them from strangers. That said, it helps draw people to the booth and is the friendly thing to do (?). Anyhow, first I’m amazed at how many people come up, take a treat and ask if they can give one to MY DOGS. REEEALLLY??!! I’m sitting here for three hours and wasn’t able to give my own dogs a treat? Thanks for stopping by and saving me/my dogs! Sigh. “No Thanks” I always say. Saturday, this lady responds, “Oh, it won’t hurt them” and proceeds to give the treat to Murphy who was totally relaxed lying at my feet. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!

Lesson 3: Don’t reward MY dog (period!)! To this lady: I’m not even sure what to say that would be remotely professional. “Stay home” comes to mind.


Sorry if this blog is somewhat a rant, but that’s what blogs are supposed to be: “What’s on my mind” right now. I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend. Back to the grindstone!

Quit Being Nice…

August 31, 2009

This weekend a good friend had a salesman in her home. He refused to leave when asked nicely. While things turned out okay for her, it did shake her a bit. I’m constantly telling women to “Quit being nice!” I’m not saying to be mean! I’m saying that in a given situation, you need to insure your safety. And in this case, possibly insure the safety of others in the future!

I could go on about safety for women, but this is a dog-blog. So what’s the point? Well; Quit being nice! First admit that you know there is a difference  between being “nice”, being “mean”, and being “neutral” (and all the other shades in there too!). Many owners we work with think they can either be mean to the dog, or be nice. So what do we end up with?

1) We end up with owners that are nice to the dog. “Oh, I couldn’t hurt Sassy!” Who said anything about hurting the dog? They get the dog a treat when the dog wants it. They cater to the dog’s every whim, and then are surprised that the dog acts like she owns the place. Hmmm…
2) We have people that think they have to be mean to get a dog to listen. So they growl at the dog, keep a rolled up newspaper handy, constantly yell at the dog, then wonder why Spike cowers in the corner and gets snappy when someone reaches for him. Hmmm…

How about being neutral? A Calm, Assertive approach is what we teach our clients. Why? Because dogs ‘get’ rules, boundaries and limitations. They get discipline. Notice I didn’t say punishment, they get discipline! “No” means “no”.

I’m always sad when we work with a client and dog to correct behaviors that the owner has allowed to occur. We leave and everyone is happy. The dog is more obedient, the owners are more relaxed. Then comes the slip. Today, they didn’t make Zeke get off the couch and by the end of the week, their lack of reinforcing discipline is allowing him to get up on the counter, and somehow it’s the dog’s fault. So they get mad and punish the dog. When all the dog needed was consistent reinforcement of the rules.

I am constantly amazed at what my dogs pick up on their own. They just need help in understanding what we want. Wait for your dog to THINK. Give the dog TIME.

NICE: Stop being nice; require your dog to behave and follow the rules. I often teasingly ask a client I am meeting for the first time, “If I started jumping on you and licking your face, how long would it be before you kicked me out of your home?” Homeowner: “Not very long!” Me: “Then why is it acceptable behavior for your dog?”

MEAN: Why do you HAVE a dog? If you are so without skills that the only way you can relate to an animal is to punish, beat, hit, maybe you should get some fish? About being mean, I always ask clients, “Do you speak (insert some unlikely foreign language here) Latin? No? Well, what if we landed you 600 years ago in the middle of some European city. Some guy runs up to you and starts shouting at you in Latin. After a moment of your obvious confusion, he yells LOUDER (if you ever travel abroad, remember that volume does NOT improve translation), then after you don’t take off your glasses, he hits you with a rolled up newspaper.” Make any sense?

Of course not. So don’t expect your dog to know any different. Quit being Nice. Quit being Mean. Start being a calm, ASSERTIVE pack leader. Your dog WILL respond!

This Dog is Uncontrollable!

August 19, 2009
Murphy at Sunrise

Murphy at Sunrise

Murphy, our Golden Retriever, was adopted a while back from a couple that “Can’t handle this wild-unruly dog”. You can read the story here: Our New Family Member. We’ve worked with Murphy using our standard methodology. As with the shoe-maker’s children, I don’t get as much concentration with Murphy as I would like. That said, the changes in his behavior are dramatic!

In case you don’t go back to the article above, when we went to adopt Murphy he was in a really small house with owners that wouldn’t walk him because he pulled so badly, jumped on everyone, and more. Murphy now has the run of the yard with Lexi, our German Shepherd. He still has a tendency to ‘blow through’ our yard border (no electric fence, just on-going obedience training) when he sees our neighbor lady out (he DOES love people), but is easily recalled now with just a whistle.

However, two things happened today that let me know Murphy is truly “in a different place”.

A friend stopped by today. He’s never been to my house and so Murphy has never met him. While Murphy was very, very excited, he never once even acted like he might jump up. Nice for the dog that “couldn’t be handled”.

Second was the gal that does some in-office administrative work for me. She always brings her baby. While getting ready to leave, she put her little boy down on the floor by Murphy (She knows Murphy!). Slowly he crawled over to the little tyke and very respectfully showed interest. The video isn’t great and will be re-processed, but you can see Murphy here and watch his reaction to the baby. And look at Murphy’s tail: a constant “I am sooooo happy” wag!! thump, thump, thump. Just remember this is the dog that “didn’t know how to relax or settle down”! Most facinating to me was when the baby reached for Murphy was his reaction to the reach and then his reaction when the BABY pushed on his head. I nearly cried! HOW COOL!!

Moral of the story: with the right training and attention, most dogs can learn basic obedience and learn respectful rules!

I think the video is proof!

Gone to the Dogs…

July 21, 2009

So, who’s out there? I had hoped that writing a dog blog might help:
          1) Draw others with similar interests
          2) Get comments from others
          3) Maybe bring a client or two

Maybe it’s too early? Maybe I write lousy blogs? Maybe I’m not holding my tongue right when I type? Dunno.

At first, I’d planned to write a short blog every day. Even though for years I’d operated a web business and consulted with clients about the danger of starting a blog or newsletter without sufficient content, you already know that I did.

I mean, how hard can it be to write about my dogs for a bit every day??

Harder than I’d ever imagined. Now, I’ve been consistent with once a week and am really wishing I could write more. I love to write, it’s just that I love to be working and playing with the dogs so much more than writing that I find stopping to write about them is a distraction from our daily routine.”

How about you? Do you enjoy the blog? Have something you’d like me write about? Lemme know – I’d greatly appreciate your ideas! And if you are on FaceBook and can join our page as a fan, I’d appreciate that too!

Let Go of the Past

June 22, 2009

I think Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer) is a genius. I watch every show of his I can. I think (even when watching re-runs) that I pickup something new nearly every time I watch the show. One of the most positive things I learned from the show is how much we humans hang onto the past, even when our dog is living in the now.

I’m not sure that Cesar is saying that dogs don’t remember, I think he’s saying that they live in the here and now, so we should too!

When doing evaluations, many times we see the owner ‘stuck’ on some past situation in a dog’s life. A week ago or so, I spoke with a lady about her little lap dog. She was having a discipline issue. The first thing she told me was about how the dog had gone to the groomers two years ago and came home with bruised lungs (YIKES). After a few minutes of discussion, it was clear she still felt badly for that experience (that she really had nothing to do with), and thus, was being ‘nice’ to the dog, instead of establishing discipline and boundaries.

When I suggested that she “let go” of the past and deal with the dog “today”, she said she wasn’t living in the past!!! I then asked her why that one story was the first thing she told me about when we started talking about her challenges. I could tell I had gotten through. After a moment, she then related how she realized she HAD been still trying to protect the dog from ANY harm, as if setting boundaries and expecting certain behavior was some kind of punishment.

Are you holding onto something in your dog’s past that is keeping you both from living in the here and now? Take a look and make sure you are allowing yourself and your dog to move forward! Yesterday is a history lesson. Learn from it, but release it! Live in the NOW!

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!

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!