Training

  • Training

    The Heel Command

    For many people, being able to walk their dog without constant pulling and lunging would seem enough. However, while calm, controlled walking is sufficient in some situations, all dogs should know and respect a true “heel” command. Training your dog to reliably obey the heel command ensures that you can keep him safely under control when you are passing other dogs or groups of children in the park, crossing the street or walking near traffic, entering or exiting the veterinarian’s office, and in other situations of potential danger or distraction. The heel command allows you to set a steady brisk pace that will make your walk a healthy exercise outing rather than a “stop and sniff” ramble.  Most importantly,…

  • Training

    Complete Control

    Why Your Dog Needs You to Provide an “Off Switch”  At a recent competition, my dog Fyte was attacked and injured by another dog. We were not near each other; our dogs did not make eye contact: there was no reason or provocation for the attack. Worse yet, based on the nature of the injuries, it is clear that the other dog’s intention in attacking was not to fight, but to kill. In spite of the unexpected aggression directed at him, my dog followed his training and did not respond with aggression. As a result, we were able to separate the dogs relatively quickly (although at the time, it felt interminable) and Fyte’s wounds, thank goodness, will heal without permanent damage.   We cannot predict every…

  • Training

    Always Err on the Side of Caution

     Often, I am called to do an evaluation of a dog and the prospective client says, “I’m not sure how he is going to be. Sometimes he is nice, and sometimes he tries to bite.”  At the other extreme is the super-friendly dog. This dog gets so excited when meeting new people that his ability to focus on and obey a command is a 50/50 proposition at best.  Although these two types of dogs seem like polar opposites, they have one significant trait in common: They are unpredictable. Young dogs are particularly likely to be unpredictable. However, dogs of any age can be unpredictable. If you have any doubts about how your dog will act or react in any given…

  • Training

    Avoiding Insanity

    Being Prepared to Address Unacceptable Behavior  I always say to my clients, “If your dog does something one time, it is a coincidence; if he does the same thing twice, it’s becoming a habit.” If the behavior is annoying or undesirable, two times should be the limit! If you do not address the problem early, the habit will become ingrained and it will become extremely difficult to change the behavior. And if you think the behavior is annoying the first and second time. . . imagine how aggravating it will be on the twentieth, fiftieth, or hundredth time your dog engages in the behavior!  For example, let’s say you take your dog for a nice long walk each morning.  Upon returning, when you are safely in your own yard, you remove his leash. One…

  • Training

    Moving to a New House:

    Helping Your Dog Stay Safe and (Almost) Stress-free The stress of moving to a new home can be overwhelming.  And although you understand that the stress is temporary, your dog, unfortunately, is clueless as to the reasons for the upheaval. Poor Fido is faced with confusing changes before, during, and after the move. These changes can frighten your dog and may even cause undesirable behavior.  Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help your dog make a smooth transition to your new home.  Don’t skimp on the exercise. Preparing for your move requires almost all of your time and energy. Your time is limited, but it is important to make sure your dog continues…

  • Training

    Use of Rewards

    In learning theory there are several schedules of reinforcement that we can use. A schedule of reinforcement is basically the frequency in which we deliver rewards when the dog performs a behavior. To simplify this we will concentrate on 2 general schedules: fixed schedule of reinforcement and random or variable schedule of reinforcement.   A fixed schedule means that we always reward the dog after the same amount of repetitions of the behavior. For example, on a fixed schedule of 1, we always rewarded the dog after he performs 1 repetition of the behavior and on a fixed schedule of 3, we reward after 3 repetitions of a behavior (for example,…

  • Training

    The Walk

    A few years ago, my German Shepherd Dog Anya was selected for a part in a movie that was filming in New York City. Anya had to play the role of a stray dog “meandering” on the streets of Manhattan. “Meandering” was a big stretch for a bitch that does everything fast, but as always she lived up to my expectations and then some.   Although being part of a movie sounds glamorous and exciting, it involves a lot of sitting around waiting before there is any action.  We waited about five hours for the crew to get to our scene and prepare it.   Fortunately, it was a great June evening and the city was alive.  I had the opportunity…

  • Training

    Warm Weather Fun

    By the time winter finally ends, most of us are just about going crazy from being cooped up indoors.   If you think you had “cabin fever,” imagine how your dog must feel!  So as you get ready to head outside to enjoy the warmer weather, choose some activities that you can enjoy with your dog. Bring on the sun, the swimming, and the hiking.  Just remember to consider your dog’s abilities, behavior, and needs. When you plan appropriately, you and your dog can share warm weather fun that is safe and enjoyable for both of you.   Safety First  No matter where you take your dog or what activity you choose, there are some basic safety considerations you must keep…

  • Training

    Are You Rewarding Bad Behavior?

    Often, my job consists of breaking a dog’s bad habits or changing bad behavior.  A family may have been trying for weeks or even months to correct an undesirable behavior, and they cannot understand why the dog is not responding to their training. When I am called in, I usually find that the dog IS responding to the training. The family has been training the dog to repeat the bad behavior by rewarding it in ways they don’t even realize!   Unknowingly Reinforcing Misbehavior  When your dog is doing something wrong, your first instinct is to get him to stop—in the fastest way possible. When you use these “panic tactics,” you are unwittingly rewarding the behavior and practically ensuring that it will be repeated in the future. Your actions indicate to the dog that the behavior must be good…

  • Training

    Welcoming Your New Dog

    Preparing for a new puppy or dog in your home involves much more than buying a leash, bowls, and food. You must also prepare to adjust your schedule, your attitude, and the physical environment of your house.   Prepare your home to be a safe, healthy environment for a dog.  Prepare yourself to be your dog’s leader.  Prepare your schedule by making time for exercise and play.  Your dog will be a part of your life for many years to come. Get off to a good start by welcoming your new puppy or dog in the right way.   The Easy Part  The easiest part of preparing to welcome your new dog is getting…