Posts Tagged ‘verbal commands’

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!

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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!!