Training Tips

The holidays are so wonderful.. to most of us! Our dog’s behaviors can cause us some grief and anxiety when thinking of having visitors and even when staying home and cooking – did the dog steal the meal AGAIN?! Let’s look at 3 simple tips to make your house more peaceful this holiday season!

1.Set your dog up to succeed! That may mean practicing greetings at the door or if your dog bolts out of open doors then keeping them either in a crate or closed room when visitors arrive will be best. The more they practice good behaviors the more they will offer those good behaviors! It works in reverse, too, which is why it’s so important to set up success at every corner.

2. Praise them every time they’re doing what they’re supposed to. If they are lying down on their bed quietly, then praise! If they’re sitting in the living room when you’re cooking – rather than jumping on the counters – praise!! Remember the above about success? This goes hand in hand.

3. Prepare ahead. Start practicing what your family is expecting this holiday. Expecting doors to open and close constantly? Or food to be left on tables that your dog can reach? The Stay and Leave It cues are perfect for those two situations. The more you can practice now, the better your dog will be able to perform in the thick of the events!

You’ve got this, my friends. And if you’re in over your head then call me about the Holiday Prep Program!
Asking for help can be your first step to more peace this holiday season.

3 Tips For “Come”!

Many dogs are troubling with coming when called. There are so many things they find interesting- read below to see how that can be an advantage for you. We’ve got the tips you need to get your dog to listen and run to you on cue! You’ll be feeling ease and pride by the end of this training. Let’s get to those 3 tips!

1. Practice inside first! Practicing without distractions will help your dog have several successes in a row. Once they understand what you’re asking them, then start calling them to come from further away. Starting with a few more feet and moving to different rooms. Game time: place your dog in a Stay in the kitchen, go hide in a back bedroom behind a door so you can see them through the crack, say their name and call them to Come! If they have tried for more than ten seconds then make a little noise or call Come again! Once they find you laugh, holler and enjoy the fun with your dog! The enjoyment is the reinforcement here! If your dog doesn’t think it was that fun, then use kibble or toys as rewards for a while longer.

2. Practice on a long line outside. There are more distractions outside. Let them wander around for a while before starting the training games. Keeping them on a long leash will ensure they can’t ignore you! Call them to Come and reward! Repeat.

3. Release to a life reward. Let them go have some fun in between repetitions. Life rewards are things that they enjoy in real time, such as getting to sniff mailboxes and bushes or getting to greet people and other dogs. Find your dog’s favorite life rewards and use them to your advantage after you’ve called your dog to come!

These simple steps will make a world of difference in your life with your dog. We’d love to hear your story! Share below or email us at lauren@happyhoundsandbeyond.com

 

 

Distractions- How to bring more ease into your life.

Have you experienced your dog ignoring you to be on his own schedule? Yes? I know, it’s frustrating and even embarrassing! Dogs do what is interesting and reinforcing to them. Let’s talk about how YOU can be respected and listened to by your dog, even in the face of distractions!

First off, practice your preferred skills often- like daily. Don’t make it a big hoopla- just use them in your daily routines. Ask for a Focus before they are released to go outside, a patient Sit prior to eating meals and mix your other desired skills into your routine, too. The more they practice, the better they’ll be- as long as the reinforcements are worth it to them!

Practicing in the neighborhood and at parks will give your dog a chance to generalize that Focus means Focus inside, outside and everywhere. Now, if they are having trouble then get into active training mode! 1) Repeat the cue WITH a hand signal. When dogs focus on something- sometimes they lose their other senses while they are hyper focused. Repeating your request with a hand signal uses the audio and visual senses- using two is better than one in the event of distractions! 2) Reward more frequently when they do get it right. Catch them getting it right more than correcting for getting it wrong. Hello Positive Reinforcement! 3) Use distance to your advantage. Move further away and get a successful cue- reward! Then gradually get closer and continue reinforcing good behavior. If they lose attention again then repeat these steps and work on it!

The more you’re able to practice successfully with distractions the better your dog’s behavior will be! More ease flows into your life when consistency is a big part of your training. You and your dog will be well on the way to a more peaceful existence, having more FUN and enjoying your lives together!

Dogs barking is one of the most frequent behaviors that I get questions about. ‘How do I make them stop barking?!’ is the one that stands out in most of these conversations. The answer is not the same for every dog, it’s important to understand why they are barking before we address the behavior.

First off, barking is a natural dog behavior. Breed background and personality are key ingredients to why our dogs are barking. Dogs bark to alert, to get attention, out of boredom, out of excitement among other possibilities.

Now, whether your dog is alerting to inform others of an intruder or to alert in order to hunt is for us to determine by first looking into their breed background. Once you have reviewed your dog’s breed history, there should be insight on whether they have a protective, hunting, herding, companion-bred or chasing-type background. Now, once you are aware of your dog’s background it should give you insight on why your retriever is staring at the sky barking at birds he is alerting to and why your shepherd is protectively barking at passerby in front of your home.

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Your dog’s individual personality will affect barking behaviors, as well. If the breed book says your breed commonly barks at strangers, but yours just happens to love meeting new people then your in luck! A dog’s personality and good socialization on your part can sway a dog’s natural behaviors.

Most any dog will figure out that barking gets them attention. This attention could be a greeting or it could be a holler to hush up! If a dog wants your attention bad enough then they may begin to bark. Some will bark until you look at them, some will bark until you get up and take them for a walk. Bored dogs will bark even to get negative attention, such as a reprimanding because to the dog any attention is better than none.

Dogs who bark out of excitement could be one just seeing a squirrel and begins to yip or in excitement of going to the park!

Finally, let’s review a few options to help you with your barking buddy! The best way to address attention seeking barkers is increase exercise and attention AND do NOT give in when they bark! Don’t even look, don’t touch, don’t talk to them while they are barking. Wait for 3 to 5 seconds of quiet and then give them attention. These dogs need to be engaged constantly, so play, play, play with them when they are quiet. Always tell them ‘good dog’ when they are being good, too! By doing these things we teach the dog that barking is an unrewarded behavior and therefore it will DECREASE while the rewarded behaviors INCREASE!

Another method is to capture the barking behavior, put it on cue, and teach them a ‘hush’ command. Capturing your dog barking is as easy as giving a food reward for a single bark. Begin saying “speak”, “bark” or “talk to me” each time he barks and give him a food reward. Wait for another bark and reward quickly. The key is to reward fast enough so they don’t continue barking and run off to look at the thing they’re barking at. Be quick and make sure your dog is engaging with you.

The hush command is pretty simple: when your dog is barking put a handful of irresistible treats in front of them and entice them to follow you back a few steps until they are quiet and they get the treats! Say “hush!” to them as you put the treats under their nose. Once they are quiet you must engage them and get them to follow you to a game or play session rather than looking back at the same thing to bark. Waiting for a few moments of quiet and then giving a stuffed Kong is an easy and effective solution.

If your dog barks at anything that moves then you’ll need to desensitize them to each item individually. It requires some commitment on your part and it is WORTH THE EFFORT! Reward them for staying calm at a distance from the item that usually causes barking and gradually get a little bit closer until eventually your dog can be near a squirrel or car without barking intensely. If this is the case for your dog, I’d suggest hiring a professional dog trainer to guide you through the best methods of desensitization and counter conditioning.

Although we wouldn’t expect our dogs to stop barking completely, a large decrease in barking can be feasible when the behavior is dissected and addressed properly. As we discussed, there are as many different types of barks as there are different reasons for barking. With these tips you have the tools to teach your pup that barking isn’t everything!

You may be wondering, ‘Why should I use rewards to get my dog to do what I want him to do?’ Think of it like you going to work. When you go to work, you offer a skill or service of some form, right? You expect to get paid in return for this action at work, yes? Now then, your dog needs rewards, too! Rewards maintain behaviors just like your pay check maintains you continuing to go to work.

Let’s say you reward your dog for coming when called. If you do not reward them then they’ll quickly learn that it’s not fun to come when called. However, if rewarded with food, toys or a release to go play again then they’ll be much more likely to come the next time you call them to come! Make those rewards random and they work even better!

Start out rewarding every correct response to a new cue. Once they understand what you expect then wean them down to random rewards. Changing the type of rewards from food to toys to life rewards! What are life rewards?

 

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Life rewards are anything your dog enjoys in life! Some dogs may enjoy sniffing for squirrels while others like to go swimming or meet other dogs. Let your dog be the judge of which activities are rewarding for him!

Those rewards pay off by reinforcing the behaviors we like and want more of! This is two-fold because it also means you’ll see less of the bad behavior he was performing before. He can’t do a good behavior and a bad one at the same time, right?! So, yes! Reward you dog for laying quietly while you are eating. Reward him for greeting other dogs nicely. Reward him for looking back at you on your walks! Get creative and your dog will keep their focus on you, wondering which good behavior will get them their next great reward!

 

Have you ever taken your dog to an outdoor eatery? Were you pleased with the way your dog acted? Let’s talk about some ways to improve your next experience!

Bring a mat for your dog to practice down stays while you are enjoying your meal. Toss a treat on the mat periodically for rewards.

Set your dog up to succeed! Success has a lot to do with the environment. If it is a busy place that you are visiting then request a quiet area to be seated. Your dog will have a better attention span with the distractions further away.

Stuffed Kongs will be your new master tool! Bring a frozen peanut butter or yogurt Kong for your outdoor dining to give your dog an incentive to stay put. This will also show your dog that it pays to stay put when you request a down stay!

Giving your dog a break every now and then will help relieve stress for your canine pal. Offering a sniff and potty break will be a necessary step in this process. You can eventually work up to fido staying for your whole visit, but think of your dog’s attention span and excitability while you are working towards this!

 


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