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Archive for the ‘Dog Guides’ Category

Types of Dog Training Part 2

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Dog training is a vital aspect of pet care—without training, dogs may become unruly and even injure themselves or others. Training has other benefits as well, including vocational benefits—think ‘seeing eye’ dogs—and athletic and show benefits as well. It may come as a surprise, but dog training is actually a multi-faceted concept that includes not one, but four different types of training. The four different types of dog training are behavioral training, obedience training, agility training and vocational training. In Part 1, we talked about behavioral and obedience training. Now let’s take a closer look at two less common, but still important, types of training: agility training and vocational training.

Types_of_Dog_Training 2Tests of a dog’s agility and athletic skills, such as dog sports featuring obstacle courses and racing, are popular at dog shows and other dog-related events. Agility training is used to both increase a dog’s physical fitness and train them how to successfully complete ‘dog sports’ without the need for touching or rewarding on part of the owner. Agility training involves teaching a dog to respond solely to vocal commands and physical gestures, rather than the typical touch and reward system employed by owners for household commands and tricks. Although any dog breed can be taught with agility training, some breeds—specifically those with exceptional physical fitness and better intelligence. Dog sports, in addition to being entertainment, are especially beneficial for intelligent dogs that need to be mentally and physically challenged.

Like humans, dogs are capable of learning specific skills and tasks. Vocational training is training that is used to teach dogs how to perform skills, tasks and other jobs. Vocational training encompasses a wide range of vocational skills, including but not limited to: traditional skills such as hunting and herding sheep or other animals; performing search and rescue work for search and rescue teams; working and assisting law enforcement officials; performing various tasks for people with disabilities, including ‘seeing-eye’ dogs for the blind—and more. Most dogs can are capable of learning under vocational training—some breeds, however, are better suited to certain tasks than others.

Typically, vocational training services will select only the ‘best of the best’ dogs for their programs. This does not mean that a dog is incapable of vocational work, however, just that they may not be suited to a particular program or task. For example, golden retrievers are popular choices as seeing-eye dogs for the blind because of their intelligence, friendliness, and calm nature which is exceptionally useful during potentially stressful situations. They are not usually employed as hunting dogs, however, because there are other dogs—such as hunting hounds—that are better suited to that task.

All dogs are capable of learning under basic types of training—although they may not always be happy to listen to commands! In addition, most dogs are also capable, under the right hands, of learning well under more advanced types of training, such as agility training and vocational training.

Types of Dog Training, Part 1

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Dog training is a vital aspect of pet care—without training, dogs may become unruly and even injure themselves or others. Training has other benefits as well, including vocational benefits—think ‘seeing eye’ dogs—and athletic and show benefits as well. It may come as a surprise, but dog training is actually a multi-faceted concept that includes not one, but four different types of training. The four different types of dog training are behavioral training, obedience training, agility training and vocational training. Let’s take a more in depth look at the first two of these types of training, which are the most common types of dog training employed by everyday pet owners: behavioral training and obedience training.

Types_of_Dog_TrainingDogs are not born knowing what is expected of them around people, dogs, and other animals. Behavioral training is used to teach dogs how to behave well–in other words, how to make them good “citizens” in the eyes of society.Behavioral training includes training that targets unwelcome or unwanted behaviors in a dog and corrects them until the dog is capable of understanding the proper ‘etiquette’ in that situation.

A common example of behavioral training is housebreaking or bathroom training, which teaches a dog to urinate outside instead of inside of the home.  Bathroom training may differ depending on the specific needs of the dog and their owner. Some owners, for example, prefer training their dogs to sit near the front door when they need to use the bathroom; others may prefer training a dog to retrieve their leash and bring it to their owner—and so on. The goal of bathroom training is to take the dog’s unwanted behavior—going to the bathroom in the home—and replace it with the proper or accepted behavior, which is going to the bathroom outside. Behavioral training in general is about teaching dogs to replace unwanted behavior with wanted or expected behavior.

Both dogs and owners can benefit from a dog that is obedient to their owner. Obedience training is training that is meant to teach a dog to be obedient to their owner—and, in most cases, to anyone else in a position of authority giving a command. Obedience training includes training dogs to perform actions such as ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ ‘lay down,’ and ‘come here.’ This type of obedience is meant to both protect the dog and others from unintentional harm. For example: A dog that has gotten outside without their leash might attempt to run into the road—if that dog has had proper obedience training, their owner can command the dog to ‘sit,’ thus preventing the dog from potential injury. There is no guarantee that a dog will obey their owner every time, of course, but while a dog with obedience training will be likely to listen to their owner in a potentially dangerous situation, a dog without any obedience training at all is more likely to misbehave or otherwise pose a threat to themselves or even others.

Types of Training Collars for Dogs (Part 2)

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Dogs need to be trained by their owners in order to help ensure that the dog is able to safely and positively interact with its owner, other people, other dogs and other animals. Dog training comes in many forms, including obedience training, which is training that teaches a dog to obey commands given by people–and in particular, its owner. Obedience training encompasses a wide range of tools, techniques and tricks; a common tool that people use when training their dog is the training collar.

Types_of_Training_Collars_for_Dogs 2Ordinarily, a dog collar is meant to allow pet owners to attach identification to a dog and to give the owner something to hook leashes onto when taking the dog outside. Training collars, on the other hand, are especially designed for use when a dog is being trained. The most common types of training collars for dogs are shock collars, martingale collars, slip collars, flat collars, and prong collars. Previously, we discussed flat collars, slip collars and martingale collars. Now let us take a look at the remaining two popular types of training collars: prong collars and shock collars.

Prong collars are collars which are made from chain links that have a blunted, open end which is bent or turned towards the neck of the dog. The purpose of the prong collar’s ‘prong-like’ design is twofold: one, to create a limited circumference which places a limit on how far the collar can actually tighten or constrict on the neck of the dog; and two, to allow the prongs to put pressure against the dog’s neck. Because of the design of the collar, the prongs cannot get close enough to the dog to pinch its neck or skin; but they do put pressure on the dog’s neck when used properly. Prong collars are sometimes considered to be a safer alternative to slip collars and martingale collars, which have the potential to harm a dog if used improperly. But even prong collars must be used correctly: the prongs should never face away from the dog’s skin, as this could lead to a body or head injury; plastic or rounded tips may need to be placed on the collar’s prongs if the prongs are causing skin irritation, matting or—usually in the case of a cheap prong collar—skin punctures.

Shock collars, sometimes referred to as electronic collars, are collars which contain a device that has the capability of creating electronic shocks to the dog wearing it. There are two types of shock collars: automatic and manual. Automatic shock collars, such as electric fence collars, will automatically transmit a shock when the dog triggers something—such as, in the case of electric fence collars, passing a certain boundary point placed in the owner’s yard. Manual shock collars can only transmit an electric shock when a remote device used by a handler is operated. Shock collars, although relatively popular, are considered to be controversial: they are banned in some countries, and many veterinarian and dog training professionals condemn their use as unnecessary and cruel.

Types of Training Collars for Dogs (Part 1)

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Dog training is essential to the safety and happiness of dogs, their owners, and anyone—or anything—that may interact with that dog during its lifetime. There are several different types of dog training; one of the most common types of dog training is called obedience training. Obedience training is training that teaches a dog to respond to certain commands—or on other words, to obey its owner. There are hundreds of techniques, tricks and tools that pet owners can utilize during obedience training for their dog. The most common tools, and one that pet owners often turn to first, are training collars.

Types_of_Training_Collars_for_DogsTypically, a dog collar serves two functions: to allow pet owners to attach identification tags to the dog, which in some cases are required by law and can help the dog be recovered if it becomes lost; and to give the owner something to hook a leash on when the dog is being kept outside or taken for walks.

Training collars for dogs are collars specifically designed for use while a dog is being trained. Some training collars are designed with a specific purpose in mind, while others are designed for that catch-all period when a dog is being trained as a puppy. The most common types of training collars for dogs are flat collars, slip collars, martingale collars, prong collars, and shock collars. Let’s first take a look at three of the most popular training collars: flat collars, slip collars, and martingale collars.

Flat collars are simply the typical “regular collar” the most pet owners purchase in pet stores when buying a collar for their new dog. They are often used during puppy training because they can be made with quick-release latches that will ensure the dog is not choked or harmed if it becomes overexcited or overzealous during training. Their flat design is also more comfortable for sensitive dogs, such as most breeds as puppies.

Slip collars, more popularly referred to as choke chains, are collars made from either rolled material or metal links with a metal ring on each end. The concept behind the slip collar is to get the dog’s attention with a quick clicking sound, made when the collar is pulled. Slip collars are often used when dogs are being taught how to properly walk–for example, teaching a dog that yanking their leash or running ahead of their owner is unacceptable. Slip collars are declining in popularity, however, due to the fact that is very easy to misuse them—even accidentally—which can actually cause the dog to choke or become strangled. It is important to note that these collars should not be around a dog’s neck when the dog is unsupervised due to the potential for injury.

Martingale collars, which are sometimes referred to as limit-slip collars, are collars made from a flat material with a section that is fixed in length; when this section is pulled on by a leash, this section tightens up–to a certain extent. Martingales are popular because they are looser than regular flat collars when they are not tightened, but they are not as harsh or potentially dangerous as regular slip collars.

What Are Advanced Dog Commands?

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Commands are verbal trigger words used to train dogs to respond a certain way. Dog commands are important for both dogs and pet owners because they help the dog react appropriately with other people, other dogs and other animals. The most basic types of dog commands are those which are most commonly used by pet owners. These basic commands are typically listed as: sit, down, heel, come, and stay. These commands are the most commonly used; sometimes, pet owners might use different words for commands. The exact word that a pet owner uses is not important—consistency in use is what is vital to ensuring that a dog is trained to respond properly to commands. For example: Some pet owners use the word “lay” or “lay down” instead of the more simple “down.”

What_Are_Advanced_Dog_CommandsSome commands, however, are considered to be beyond basic commands like sit and stay. These advanced commands are those that train the dog to perform an action or behavior that is more complicated. Many advanced commands require a dog to have a strong grasp on more basic commands. The following are some of the most popular advanced commands taught to dogs by pet owners and trainers.

“Back up.” This command teaches dogs to back up on command; it is especially useful for owners of larger dogs, strong dogs, and dogs which may become aggressive.

“Growl.” This command is considered somewhat unusual, but teaching a dog to growl on command can be used to let people, such as potential threat, know that you and your dog want to be left alone. This command is not taught anas verbal command, however, and is taught by using a specific, small hand gesture.

“Go to your…” Teaching a dog to go to their bed, kennel or cage is an especially useful command for dogs that have a habit of getting underfoot. Some pet owners use this command when a dog is becoming unruly—for example, jumping up on house guests or becoming too play-aggressive with other dogs—in order to diffuse the situation.

“Drop it.” Dogs love to pick up things with their mouth. Unfortunately, not everything they pick up with their mouth is safe for them or others. Teaching a dog to drop whatever is in their mouth will help keep them, and potentially valuable or delicate objects, safe from harm.

“Attack.” An attack command should only be taught by a professional training program with the supervision and training of an expert in dog aggression and dog guard and attack techniques. This command is used as part of a guard skill program, which is intended to teach dogs how to protect their owners from harm. It should not—and this bears repeating—be taught without the assistance of experienced professionals.

“Give.” Give, sometimes taught as “give it,” is a command useful for dogs that tend to pick up fragile or personal objects that are better left alone; such as jewelry, clothing or pieces of paper.

What is Clicker Training?

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

There are many popular ways to train dogs; an increasingly popular training method is referred to as “clicker training.” Clicker training involves the use of a sound, usually a clicker, to tell an animal that they have done something in the right way. Clicker training is actually used by both pet owners and professionals to train not only dogs, but other animals—including wild animals used for films or entertainment shows—as well. The primary difference between clicker training and non-clicker training is, of course, the use of the clicker itself. Most clickers are small, handheld plastic boxes with a small metal tongue that, when pushed, makes a clicking noise. New, electronic clickers are also being popular, although due to their potential for short battery life or damage, most pet owners opt for manual, handheld devices instead.

What_is_Clicker_TrainingThe way that clicker training works is this: A pet is given the command to perform a certain behavior, such as “sit.” The moment that the dog sits down, the pet owner uses the clicker, which creates the clicking noise. Then they immediately give the dog a treat.

The reason that the clicker is utilized here is to let the dog know when they have performed a good behavior—in this example, when they sit down in response to the “sit” command. The dog will learn that the “language” of the clicker means he has done something good, which is followed by a reward. Some pet owners choose to help their dogs associate the clicker with a reward by using the clicker in the home outside of a training context, followed by treats. For example: The pet owner might sit with their dog in the living room and use the clicker, then give their dog a treat. The dog will then learn that the noise of the clicker means they are going to get a reward. And when the clicker is used when they perform something specific, like coming to their owner or going to their cage or sitting down, it further ties the sound with something positive.

Eventually, pet owners can dial back on the amount of rewards given for performed behaviors; for example, instead of giving the dog a treat every time they raise their paw in response to the “shake hands” command, they may only give the dog a reward when it reaches up higher than any of its other attempts.

One of the reasons that clicker training is so popular with pet owners and professional dog trainers alike is that most dogs can quickly learn that the clicking noise means they have done something good or something that will be rewarded. When pet owners do not use a clicker, they have to rely on their own fast praise to ensure that the dog associates their behavior—such as lying down—with a reward, such as a treat or affection. With the clicker, on the other hand, the immediate noise followed by a treat tells them exactly when they have done something that will earn them a reward.

Why Dog Commands Are Important

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Dog commands can sometimes seem like nothing more than a silly parlor trick. “Sit up,” “sit down,” “fetch”—do they really have any significant importance, or are they something that pet owners do so that they can show off a few tricks to their friends? The truth is: dog commands and overall dog training are important both to pet owners and dogs. Training a dog to respond to commands allows for the dog to learn household and social etiquette; in other words, commands help a dog learn and respond to what is expected of them. For example: If they are expected not to sit in furniture, the “off” command will teach them that they are expected to get off the furniture—whether or not they’ll listen when their owner isn’t looking is another story, of course.

Why_Dog_Commands_Are_ImportantAlthough some dog commands can be related to tricks—such as “spin around” and “shake”—most commands have a much more important purpose than entertainment. The purpose of dog commands can be boiled down into two main categories: keeping dogs safe and keeping people safe. Just about every type of command can actually accomplish both of these categories. For example: The command “off” can be used when a large dog is attempting to jump on a houseguest that it wants attention from—this keeps the house guest from getting unintentionally injured by the large dog. The command “off” can also be used when a dog jumps up on one end of the kitchen table where a hot candle flame is burning on the other end—this keeps the dog from burning itself by immediately telling the dog to get down from the table.

Dog commands may also be useful in the case of dog to dog or dog to other animal interaction. Although many dogs can get along wonderfully with each other and other animals, like cats, sometimes negative interactions do occur. Sometimes, these negative interactions can be prevented, avoided or even curtailed by a well-given command to a dog that has been properly trained to respond to them. For example: A dog is jumping around a cat, attempting to play with it; the pet owner can see that the cat is irritated by the dog’s behavior through its body language, which the dog does not understand or is perhaps even ignoring. If the cat is provoked for too long, it may respond by attacking the dog. This can be avoided by giving the dog a command that removes it from that situation, such as “come,” to make the dog come to the pet owner, or “sit,” to make the dog stop jumping around the cat. In both of these cases, a potential negative interaction that could have resulted in injuries for both the dog and the cat were avoided because of dog commands.

The importance of dog commands ultimately comes down to keeping animals safe when they are interacting with people, other animals, and the world around them.

The Toy Terrier – Yorkshire Terrier

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

The Yorkshire Terrier, classified in the toy group, is a breed well known for its luxurious coat, brave personality, and popularity around the world.

A brief history of the Yorkshire Terrier

yorkshire_terrierThe Yorkshire Terrier originated, not surprisingly, in Yorkshire. It is believed that the Yorkshire Terrier was initially bred from a variety of different small terriers, which were bred by workers who came to Yorkshire from Scotland. These breeds included the Maltese, the Paisley Terrier, and possibly various Scotch terriers. In the late 19th century, the Yorkshire Terriers were first classified in a dog show category called the “Rough and Broken-coated, Broken-hair Scotch and Yorkshire Terriers.” This confusing classification was criticized by dog breeders and eventually the breed was classified in the simpler toy group instead.

Earlier Yorkshire Terriers differed from the modern Yorkshire Terrier in some significant ways. The early breed consisted of various body types, sizes, and personalities–to quote an early standard of the breed, “almost anything in the shape of a Terrier having a long coat with blue on the body and fawn or silver colored head and legs, with tailed docked and ears trimmed, was received and admired as a Yorkshire Terrier.” This loose definition was altered in the late 19th century and early 20th century, when the modern and now standard Yorkshire Terrier was developed.

Characteristics

The Yorkshire Terrier is a small toy dog. Males generally reach no more than 8 or 9 inches at the shoulder, and will typically weigh no more than 4 to 9 lbs. They are well known for their luxurious coats which are traditionally grown long and parted down the middle of the dog’s back, although some owners choose to clip their Yorkshire Terrier’s coats shorter to make the process of grooming simpler for both the dog owner and the dog itself. Yorkshire Terriers are traditionally tan with blue saddle marketing. Other colors, such as tan with black markings or black with tan markings, may also be found.

The breed is well known for its upright, proud personality. They are often described as having an “important air about them,” meaning that they seem proud in their bearing. They are an active breed who requires exercise and stimulation, although due to their small size care should be taken not to over-exercise the dog. They are curious, friendly when socialized well, and are protective of their families and their homes. They are considered to make excellent watchdogs because of their protective personality.

Did you know? Trivia

  • The breed is lovingly referred to as the “Yorkie.”
  • Yorkshire Terriers were popular house pets during Victorian times, especially for aristocratic families.
  • Like other small dog breeds, Yorkshire Terriers are prone to dental disease and owners should be prepared to take special care of their pet’s teeth.
  • During WW2, American soldiers found a small Yorkshire terrier in a foxhole in the New Guniea jungle. The dog accompanied Corporal William A. Wynne during the war for the next two years, often traveling in his backpack, often living under harsh conditions with no access to vet care or food made for dogs. Amazingly, Smoky never became ill during this time.

The Energetic – Wire Fox Terrier

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

The Wire Fox Terrier, classified in the terrier group, is a breed known for its willingness to be trained, its agile athletic skills, and its wiry coat. The Wire Fox Terrier is sometimes also known as the Wirehaired Terrier and the Wire Hair Fox Terrier.

A brief history of the Wire Fox Terrier

Wire_Fox_TerrierThe Wire Fox Terrier breed is believed to have descended from a rough-coated working terrier breed which was once prevalent in Wales, Durham and Derbyshire. This rough-coated working breed, now extinct, was originally developed as a hunting dog. According to historians, the dogs were specifically bred to chase their prey–usually foxes or other fast, agile prey–into underground borrows. The dogs would be pulled out of the burrows by their owners, using their short strong tails as a type of ‘handle’ with which to pull them out of the burrow. Although several famous people, including Queen Victoria and her son Edward II, owned Wire Fox Terriers, the breed itself was not particularly popular as a companion animal until the late 1920s and 1930s. In 1929, the incredibly popular The Adventures of Tintin comic was first released–the character of Snowy (or Milou in the original French), who was a companion to the titular Tintin, was a Wire Fox Terrier who was a central character in almost all of the series’ albums. The widely popular film series The Thin Man also featured a Wire Fox Terrier, adding to the breed’s growing popularity as a companion or pet.

Characteristics

The Wire Fox Terrier is a small to medium sized dog, which typically does not grow to be any taller than 15.5 inches in height at the shoulders. It will typically weigh between 15 and 21 lbs. Female Wire Fox Terriers are smaller and weigh less than ales of the same breed. The breed’s most distinctive feature is its rough, wiry coat, which is usually predominately white with a ‘saddle’ marking that may come in black, sable, brown, red, and occasionally other colors.

The Wire Fox Terrier is known for being an energetic, intelligent breed which has a noticeably low tolerance for boredom, despite its relatively small size. The Wire Fox Terrier requires almost constant attention or stimulation due to its energy levels and its ability to get bored without something to do. Without proper redirection of their energy, which is mainly centered on hunting and chasing instincts, they are prone to destructive and negative behaviors. They may chase cars, bikes, people, or other animals; they may attack other animals after chasing them as if they were prey, etc. For this reason, many Wire Fox Terriers are abandoned or given to dog shelters. Wire Fox Terriers can make an excellent family pet: however, they require a consistent, firm owner who knows how to redirect the ‘prey instincts’ natural to the dog into acceptable behavior.

Did you know? Trivia

  • Wire Fox Terriers are popular in film because of how easy they are to train. Some of the films in which the breed appears are: The Thin Man, Moonrise Kingdom, Jack Frost, and Bringing Up Baby.

The Velcro Dog – Vizsla

Monday, July 29th, 2013

The Vizsla, classified in the sporting group, is a breed well known for its golden-rust color, its combination of pointer and retriever behavior, and its unique position as both a sporting and companion dog.

A brief history of the Vizsla

vizslaEarly forms of the Vizsla breed were known to be the favorite hunting dogs of the early Magyar tribes who once lived in the Carpathian Basin. There are stone etchings and other simple paintings depicting early Vizslas which are dated to around 900 AD; the first written reference to the breed is dated 1357. The breed was developed and kept by the aristocracy, who developed the breed’s hunting abilities while guarding them carefully. The breed survived many near-extinctions; including declining numbers during the Turkish occupation of Hungary in 1526-16969, the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-1849, both world wars, and the Russian occupation of Hungary. During many of these time periods, the breeds were crossed with various pointers, such as English Pointers and German Shorthair Pointers, which led to the near extinction of the Vizsla line.

After World War II ended, however, the breed was exported to the United States and the United Kingdom, where it’s popular grew immensely. Today the Vizsla is among the top 50 most popular breeds in the United Kingdom, and it is estimated that about 1,000 new Vizsla are registered with the Kennel Club of Great Britain each year.

Characteristics

Vizslas are a medium sized breed, which typically reach about 21 to 25 inches in height at the shoulders and weigh, as adults, between 40 and 66 lbs. Female Vizslas are usually smaller, both in size and weight, than males. Their coats are golden-rust in color at the most basic level, although some Vizslas exhibit small patterns of white on their neck or chest in addition to saddle markings in chestnut or brown.

The breed is high energy but loyal, affectionate, caring and gentle. Unlike some dogs in the sporting group, the Vizsla is considered to be both an excellent sporting dog and an excellent family companion. They often form close bonds with their owners, their family, and even strangers whom they deem worthy of their affection. Some owners teasingly refer to their dogs as “Velcro,” because of how attached they can be to people.

As a hunting dog, the Vizsla is unique because it is not only a great pointer, but a great retriever as well. The breed can retrieve on land and in water. Although they are excellent hunting dogs, they are considered sensitive and gentle and require soft training and gentle correction instead of harsh training or strong harsh corrections.

Did you know? Trivia

  • The pure Vizsla line was almost extinct at the end of World War I.
  • Vizslas have a unique ‘trotting’ run which leads many people to compare them to horses.
  • Vizslas become very attached to their owners—they often enjoy burrowing into the covers with their owners at night to stay by them when they sleep.
  • Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary, owned two Vizslas.