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What Training Collar is Right for My Dog?

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

For many first time pet owners, the challenge of picking the right dog collar during their dog’s training is not always an easy one. Many people mistakenly assume that dog collars are all alike—after all, “a collar is a collar!” However, there are actually different types of dog collars; some of these are made with specific types of training or behavior in mind, while others may simply be up to the dog owner’s preference. Let’s take a look at the types of dog training collars to help you choose the right kind of collar for your dog-in-training.

Traditional Collars

Types_of_Training_Collars_for_DogsSome dog owners choose to use traditional collars during training. Traditional dog collars are usually made of a thick nylon material which should be fitted comfortably around the dog’s neck–snug enough to fit two fingers between the neck and the collar is usually a good rule of thumb. Traditional collars should not be too loose, which can cause them to become snagged and possibly choke the dog; but they should not be tight enough to cause coughing or restrict breathing. If you are training a puppy, you may need to loosen the collar frequently as they grow or purchase a new collar for safety.

Traditional collars, for many dog owners, are a perfectly acceptable type of training collar. If the dog has an agreeable disposition and is not experiencing much difficulty being trained, then a basic collar combined with a traditional leash and other training methods–such as a clicker and treats–may be all that they require.

Pronged Collars

Prongedcollars, which are sometimes referred to as pinch collars, contain blunt prongs on the inside of the collar. The pronged collar is designed to be used as a temporary collar for dogs which are very stubborn or difficult to train, especially when it comes to proper walking behavior. When a pronged collar is gently pulled, the prongs will cause the dog discomfort.

Pronged collars are only recommended as a last resort for dogs that have proven to be very stubborn or difficult to train. Physical correction–in this case through the use of prongs–is generally considered to be a last resort as well.

Chain Slip Collars

Chain slip collars, more commonly referred to as choke collars, and are commonly used for dogs that are persistent leash pullers, strong-willed or are not responding to training using a traditional dog collar. A choke collar uses a pull-and-release action, which will let the dog know that their behavior is not acceptable and that you desire a different type of behavior. Like pronged collars, choke collars are considered to be best used for stronger, stubborn breeds who do not respond as easily to traditional collar training as other dog breeds.

Choke collars should only be worn during training sessions, and should not be used for dogs that have delicate throats or tracheas, such as smaller breeds. If you intend to use a choke collar, you should have a professional dog trainer demonstrate the proper and safe way to use it before using it yourself.

Even More Unusual Dog Tricks (part 2)

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Dog tricks can be a great experience for dogs and dog owners alike. Intelligent and easily bored breeds will likely get mental stimulation out of additional trick training, while owners can benefit from practical tricks and enjoy the entertainment and bonding value of teaching a dog more advanced, unusual types of tricks.

In our previous installations, we talked about unusual tricks such as teaching a dog to put laundry away, to play the piano, and even to dance! Now, we will be looking at an unusual trick that is not only interesting and unique, but practical as well.

phoneIt may come as a surprise, but you can actually teach your dog to answer your home phone! Not only is it an interesting trick, it can be helpful for people with disabilities who may have trouble getting up to answer the phone in time. This particular trick is frequently taught to service dogs who work with disabled people, such as those with vision problems or physical disabilities. This trick only works with cordless phones.

If you are disabled or are otherwise unable to train the dog yourself, you may wish to enlist the help of a friend, family member or professional dog trainer.

To achieve this trick, you will need to complete the following steps:

Step One

First, place the cordless phone you will be using in the home on the floor near the dog. Call the phone from another phone and let the phone ring. When your dog directs its attention to the phone, praise the dog and give the dog a treat.

Step Two

After you have rewarded the dog, answer the phone with an excited voice and praise your dog—saying they are “such a good boy/girl,” etc., is typically used. Then hang up the phone. Repeat this action several times until your dog looks at the phone every time that it rings.

Step Three

Once your dog is looking at the ringing phone, begin to pretend like you don’t notice the dog is looking at the phone–in other words, do not praise the dog simply for looking at the phone. This will in turn encourage your dog toramp up their behavior in order to make sure that you’ve noticed they are acknowledging the phone. Reward your dog with a treat and praise when it goes further—such as touching the phone with their paw or nose.

Step Four

Repeat step three until your dog has begun to pick up the phone. This may take several training sessions, as some dogs will take longer than others to get the idea that you want them to pick up the phone with their mouth. When this has been achieved, you can use the “bring it here” or “come here” command to teach them to bring you the phone receiver. Reward them with exceptional praise and treats when this occurs.

Step Five

Practice the behavior until it becomes “natural” for your dog to bring you the ringing phone.

Even More Unusual Dog Tricks

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Dog tricks are beneficial to both dogs and dog owners. Dog tricks are an excellent way to keep a dog’s busy mind occupied, which is especially important for intelligent breeds who may get bored easily. Dog tricks can also entertain family and friends while allowing the dog’s owner and family to bond and spend more time with the dog. Common dog tricks include behaviors such as roll over, play dead, fetch, etc. However, there are a number of unusual tricks which show off even more advanced dog behaviors! Unusual tricks, such as teaching a dog to “play” the piano or put dirty laundry in the laundry basket, can be practical or just for fun. Let’s take a look at some even more unusual dog tricks that you can teach your dog.

Dancing DogsNote: Most of these tricks involve using prior commands, such as “drop,” “touch,” “pick up,” etc. You will likely want to train your dog to perform these tricks before embarking on advanced dog trick training.

Dance

You won’t be able to teach your dog to do the cha-cha, but you can teach your dog to do a little dance with you! Your dog will enjoy spending time with you and your family will get a kick out of seeing your dog “dance” to your favorite family dancing tunes. This trick works best with large dogs rather than small breeds

To achieve this trick, you will need to first train your dog to stand up on its hind legs. This is typically done by placing a treat by the dog’s noise, raising it while giving the command “Up!” until they stand up. Once this command is achieved, you will need to keep the command going for an increasing amount of time to help your dog keep their standing up stance for a longer period of time.

Then, you will need to gradually teach your dog to walk backward and “follow” you and walk forward so he will back up, thus creating a “dance” like motion. This can be achieved by making encouraging noises when you back up and move forward, such as “kissy” noises or calling your dog’s name in an affectionate way.

Some dogs do not enjoy the dancing behavior. If your dog appears uncomfortable during this training, it is recommended that you discontinue the training, since it is not a practical behavior that needs to be taught

Note: If you have taught your dog to not jump up on people, this trick may send a confusing or mixed message to the dog. If you believe that your dog is becoming confused between the “dance” command and your previous command to avoid jumping on people, discontinue the dancing training.

Unusual Dog Tricks

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Dog tricks can be beneficial for dogs and dog owners alike! Many dogs enjoy the challenge and mental stimulation that comes with being trained to perform tricks, while owners might get practical benefits from teaching their dogs certain behaviors; training a dog can also increase the bond between a dog and its owner or family, and teaching a dog to perform tricks is the perfect way to have a child involve in raising the family pet.

pianoThere are countless numbers of dog tricks which can be taught to a dog, although some breeds are more receptive to trick training than others. More common dog tricks include commands such as roll over, fetch, and play dead—but there are even more unusual tricks out there, which can be fun or even helpful to the household! Let’s take a look at some of the more unusual dog tricks which you can teach your dog.

Note: Many of these tricks involve teaching your dog prior commands, such as “touch,” “drop,” “pick up,” and so on. You may want to reinforce these types of commands before attempting advanced tricks to avoid frustration.

Pick Up the Laundry

Feeling a little too tired to put your dirty laundry in the basket at the end of the day? You can actually train your dog to pick it up for you! This unusual trick will take patience and practice, but the payoff is not only a great trick to show off to friends, but it will give your pet something to do!

To train your dog to do this trick: Start by teaching your dog to drop an object, such as a favorite toy, in the laundry basket. This can be accomplished in two steps: First, by teaching the dog to drop the object in a basket placed under his head; second, by teaching the dog to pick up the object and drop it into the basket. Then gradually replace the toys with dirty laundry. With practice, your dog will be able to pick up any laundry that fits safely in their mouth!

Play Piano

Your dog may not be a Mozart, but you can still teach him to play the piano! This creative parlor trick will impress party guests and family members alike. To teach your dog this trick, you will first need to teach your dog to paw a specific object, such as a disc. Place the disc on the floor and reward your dog every time he paws it. Eventually, he will learn that every time he touches the disc, he gets praised.

Once the dog has made this association, you can replace the disc with a smaller object. Continue replacing the objects with smaller and smaller targets until you can place the target on top of the piano keys. Repeat the training until the dog will paw the piano keys without the target.

Three Ways to Train Your Dog to Stop Jumping

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Few things are less desirable to a dog owner than a dog that jumps on them—or guests—when they walk through the door. A dog might accidentally knock over your packages or grocery bags, you’re your clothing, or get dirt on your new coat. Unwanted jumping behavior in a dog can be more than a nuisance—it can be dangerous! This is especially true for strong dogs and larger breeds, who do not realize their own strength. The key to solving this unwanted behavior in a dog is to train your dog to stop jumping on people without permission. There are several ways that you can train your dog to stop jumping on people; the following are the three most common ways to train your dog to stop jumping.

Method 1: Use the Ignore Method

Can_a_Dog_Be_Impossible_to_TrainThe ignore method involves ignoring your dog when it exhibits jumping behavior until it exhibits a desirable behavior, after which it is rewarded and praised.

To use this method, use the following steps:

Step 1: As soon as the dog’s feet leave the ground, turn your back on the dog.

Step 2: Ignore the dog, even if it is jumping up and pawing at your back or your legs. If the dog runs around in front of you, turn your back again and continue to ignore thedog.

Step 3: Continue to ignore the dog until it exhibits a desirable behavior, such as sitting, laying down, or standing still. As soon as the dog exhibits this behavior, turn your attention on the dog and reward them with praise and petting. Repeat until the dog stops exhibiting jumping behavior.

Method 2: Use the Sit Method

The sit method involves teaching your dog to sit instead of exhibiting jumping behavior. To use this method, use the following steps:

Step 1: Teach your dog how to sit, if you haven’t already taught your dog this command.

Step 2: When you are coming into the home or leaving–whenever your dog tends to exhibit jumping behavior–give your dog the “Sit” command before they jump on you.

Step 3: Do not give your dig positive attention unless they sit down. Eventually, the dog will learn that you want them to “sit” before you greet them.

Method 3: Use the Toy Method

Some dogs are simply too excitable to achieve much benefit from the sit or ignore method. For these dogs, owners will likely see results by using the toy method, which uses a toy distraction, rather than sitting or ignoring. To use this method, use the following steps:

Step 1: Place one or more of your dog’s favorite toys by the front door.

Step 2: When you enter or exit the home, draw your dog’s attention to the toy rather than you, to help direct their excited energy from jumping on you into playing with the toy.

Step 3: Repeat every time you enter or exit the house. Eventually, the dog will likely realize that they prefer to play with their toys than jump on you when you enter the house.

Should You Train Your Dog to Do Tricks?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Every dog should know basic commands. Basic commands, like sit and stay, are typically related to keeping a dog and anyone, or anything; the dog interacts with happy and safe. For example: Dogs which are taught to sit can be commanded to sit down when someone comes into the door, to avoid the dog jumping over that person and potentially hurting them or making them uncomfortable. It is generally accepted that these basic commands are something every dog owner should teach their dog. The list of basic commands may vary depending on the breed of dog and, if applicable, their role—a sheep herding dog, for example, will have a different list of “basic commands” than a family pet.

Unusual_Dog_Tricks 1Basic commands are a necessity. But what about tricks? The distinction between a dog command and a dog trick can be a fine one. Dog tricks are generally defined as taught behaviors which are intended for entertainment and stimulation rather than social or physical necessity. For example: Dancing, shaking hands, and playing dead are common tricks taught to family pets. Teaching a dog to shake hands is not related to the well-being of anyone or animals which interact with the dog. However, teaching a dog to shake hands—or other tricks—can help strengthen the bond between a dog and its family, keep a dog mentally stimulated, and entertain the family as well.

Tricks might also be taught to dogs in order to have them perform in other ways. Dogs which are used in the entertainment industry, such as film, television, and theater are often taught complicated tricks to help coax a “performance” out of them that would not be possible using only basic dog commands. Some people also consider behaviors learned by service dogs, such as seeing eye dogs, to be tricks; although because their behaviors are related to the well-being of the person they are helping, these are generally considered a command and not a trick.

When faced with a dog, some dog owners may face the question: “Should I train my dog to do tricks?”

The answer will depend on the breed of the dog and the dog’s personality. Some dog breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, not only learn tricks easier than others, but they require mental stimulation to keep them content and happy. Teaching this type of breed new tricks is an easy and stimulating way to keep their minds and bodies occupied. Other breeds, however, such as the Pekingese, are more stubborn when it comes to being taught tricks; they may prefer to be mentally stimulated in other ways, such as being played with, rather than taught new trick commands.

If a dog owner notices that their intelligent dog is becoming restless and bored, teaching them new tricks can be a way to keep them occupied while strengthening the bond between the dog and the family. Teaching a dog tricks can also be an easy way to include children in raising the dog.

How to Train Your Dog to Heel

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

It is important to teach your dog basic training commands in order to keep yourself, your pet, and any other people—or animals!—who interact with your dog safe and happy. Most dog trainers would agree that the most important commands are those which relate to how your dog interacts with you and its environment. “Heel” is an often misunderstood training command. Many people mistakenly believe that “heel” refers to stopping your dog in its tracks. However, “heel” actually refers to a command used when walking your dog on a leash—“heel” is intended to teach your dog that they should be walking at your left side with you, or at your pace, rather than dragging you ahead or lagging behind.

Why_Dog_Commands_Are_ImportantTeaching your dog to heel is not difficult, although dogs which are known to have trouble with leashing and walking may require more patience and training than breeds which are quicker to learn. The following are the basic steps to teaching your dog to heel. Remember: Patience is the key to training your dog any command, but especially commands related to walking and leashing.

Step One

Before you begin training your dog to heel, it is important to remember that the command is intended to teach your dog to willingly walk beside you—not to force them into place with the leash. The leash you use should be long enough to be slack between you and the dog. Think of your walking leash as an extension of your hand, and not as a tool to be yanked for correction.

Step Two

First, you will need to get your dog’s attention. First, stand with your dog sitting next to you on his leash. Then, you will need to achieve your dog’s focus and attention–this may be done by calling their name, snapping your fingers, or any other way that you typically call your dog’s attention to you. If your dog has difficulty paying attention to you, you may want to teach them a “Look” or “Look at me” command before training them to heel.

Step Three

Once you have your dog’s attention, slap your hand against your left hip and say the command you are going to be using for heel. “Heel,” “get up here,” and “right here” are all commonly used.

Step Four

Now it is time to actually walk. It is recommended to begin heel training on concrete because concrete does not have all of the distracting sights, smells and sounds that grass and natural ground does. As you walk, keep careful attention of what your dog is doing. If they are attempting to lead you by running ahead, make a sharp (but not forceful) turn to make them walk in your lead, and not the other way around. If they are lagging behind, use the earlier command while slapping your hip and do not praise them unless they obey. As you are walking, using the command (“Heel” or a substitute) while slapping your hip should—with most dogs—eventually teach them the command.

How to Train a Dog to Come When Called

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Basic dog commands are considered an essential for any dog owner. Basic commands, such as sit and stay, can help keep dogs out of trouble—and keep dogs from exhibiting unwanted behaviors, like jumping on guests or chasing after other animals. Training a dog to come when it is called is often considered a basic command which can help dog owners retrieve loose or lost dogs, and help keep dogs from going into areas that they shouldn’t — such as neighbor’s back yards!—or getting into other mischief.

Training a dog to come when it is called is relatively easy. Most dog breeds respond well to this type of command, although certain stubborn breeds—such as the haughty Pekingese—may not always obey the command when it is given. The following are the necessary steps needed in order to train your dog to come when you call its name.

Step One

How_to_Train_a_Dog_To_Come_When_CalledFirst, you will need to find an area that doesn’t have many distractions. This can be a large room in your house, an enclosed back yard, or a front yard during the daytime when not many people are walking around. If you are not in an enclosed space, remember to use a long leash to make sure your dog is not able to run away or run loose.

Step Two

Next, you will need to show your dog a treat or something else rewarding, such as its favorite toy, a small piece of meat, or anything else that your dog will find very desirable.

Step Three

After you show your dog this item, quickly move away from your dog. Then, crouch down and keep your hands close to your body, but still in front of you.

Step Four

Once your dog begins to move closer to you, say “Yes!” and praises them. Wait until the dog reaches you to give them the treat or other reward.

Step Five

Repeat steps one through four. Once your dog begins to respond correctly–in other words, come to you after you move away–begin using the command “Come” with your dog’s name in front of it. (“Pepper, come!”) Some trainers recommend beginning to use the command in a happy, excited voice, while gradually switching to the normal voice you would likely use when giving this command.

Step Six

Practice until your dog is capable of coming to you without you moving quickly away or crouching down. It is essential to gradually introduce distractions during this type of training—never solely train your dog without distractions, as the situations in which you would use this command are typically ones which would be full of them.

Fun Dog Tricks to Teach Your Dog

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Most dogs love to learn something new. It is important for pet owners to teach their dogs basic commands, like sit and stay, in help curb bad behaviors and keep them—and anyone around them—safe from harm. But not everything you teach your dog has to be a command! Dog tricks can be used to help stimulate intelligent dogs that need mental stimulation, to strengthen a bond between a dog and its family—or even in a professional capacity! These tricks aren’t really essential commands, but they can make owning a dog even more fun. Let’s take a look at some fun, interesting tricks that you can teach your dog.

Touch the Bell

touchung the bell

How do you know if a dog has to go to the bathroom? Many pet owners will teach their dog to fetch their leash or sit by the doorway. Or—you could try the bell method. This method will teach your dog to ring a bell whenever they need to go outside. You will first need to teach your dog to touch the bell, which can be done by using a training stick to indicate the bel


Spin Around
l to the dog—when they touch it, reward them with praise and a treat. Once the dog has associated touching the bell with praise and reward, start having the dog touch the bell every time before it goes outside. Soon, the dog will associate ringing the bell as the precedent to taking them for a walk!

This cute trick may not be practical, but it does make for fun bonding time and an adorable trick to show off to friends. To teach your dog to spin around, use a training stick or touch stick guide your dog in a circular motion. Once the dog has made a full turn, reward them with a treat and praise. After this has been accomplished a few times, add a physical gesture—such as spinning your index finger around—while using the training stick. Once your dog is capable of spinning without using the touch stick, add your command to the physical gesture. Keep practicing until your dog is able to spin at your command!

Roll Over

If you ask anyone on the street what the most famous dog trick is, they’ll probably answer (after giving you a strange look, of course): “Roll over!” To teach your dog this popular trick, you will first need to teach your dog to lie down. Then, you can gently move them onto their side using your hand or training stick. Reward them with a treat. Then, using your stick or hand, lure the dog onto their back–this will likely take time and patience for most breeds. Reward them a treat. Continue luring the dog until they have rolled all the way over. Reward with them exceptional praise and a treat. Continue practicing until the dog is capable of rolling over smoothly, and then add the “Roll over” command. It may be helpful to also include a physical gesture, such as moving your hands in a circle.

Dog Training Tips

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Dog training is essential to the well-being and happiness of any dog. Most dog behaviorists recommend that basic commands—including sit, stay, come here, and so on—in addition to basic dog and social etiquette are taught to dogs in order to ensure their overall well-being. Dog training can be useful in emergency situations, such as when a dog attempts to run into the road, as well as everyday situations, such as when family or friends come to visit. Without training, dogs tend to behave in ways that are less than desirable—jumping on people, chewing on furniture, and even going to the bathroom inside of the house. In order to combat and prevent these behaviors, training is necessary. The following are some of the top dog training tips which will help a dog live a happy, healthy life.

Tip #1: Reward desirable behaviors when you see them

2_More_Dog_Training_MistakesDon’t think of dog training as being a temporary, part-time situation. Any interaction that you have with your dog can be a type of training session. If you see that your dog has sat politely instead of jumping on someone when they came through the door, reward your dog with immediate praise and affection. Let your dog know when it is doing something that you disapprove of—likewise, let them know when they are doing something that you disapprove of as well.

Tip #2: When training high energy dogs, exercise before training.

If you are attempting to train a dog with a significant amount of energy, start your session by giving the dog some brief exercise. This will help bring their energy levels down to a more manageable level, which will make it easier for them to focus on the training and not on playtime or another way to expend their energy.

Tip #3: Be realistic in your training goals

Not every dog is made for every type of training or every type of command or trick. You must take the dog’s breed and natural behaviors into account. For example: You will have a hard time training a low-energy Pekingese to perform in dog show obstacle courses—likewise, you will have a hard time training a Bloodhound to cease sniffing and hounding behaviors when walking or exercising outside. Unless the command is essential for your dog’s safety, it is best to let it go when it becomes apparent that your dog is simply not interested in learning a certain behavior.

Tip #4: Use positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is generally considered to be the most effective and healthy way to train your dog. In the past, corrections—often done through choke collars and pinch collars—were commonly used; today, however, most dog trainers agree that dogs can be just as effectively taught using positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement can come in the form of positive attention, such as praise, petting, energetic words, treats, playtime, and favorite toys. Your dog will enjoy training sessions much more when they know that they will be getting positive attention.